Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Food-safety during the summer season

July 3rd, 2015

Many are getting together for potlucks with family, friends and co-workers this holiday weekend. It is also a time for a potential increase in food-borne illnesses as a result of improper food handling, according to Peter Oshiro, environmental health program manager in the Hawaii Department of Health's Sanitation Branch.

Peter Oshiro, DOH

Peter Oshiro, DOH

"As consumers, we're all concerned about eating at restaurants with proper food-handling procedures. The Department of Health holds restaurants to high standards and they are motivated to correct any violations and make any improvements to retain customers," said Oshiro, who oversees the restaurant placard program that was launched in Hawaii six months ago. "However, many people do not realize that many food-borne illnesses are not from restaurants, but from the home."

Oshiro said his group holds public facilities accountable for food safety, but in the home, it is the individual's own responsibility to adhere to safe-handling practices. Whether you're hosting a buffet party or bringing a dish to a potluck, here are 10 holiday food safety tips to have safe holiday celebrations and prevent giving friends and family a case of food poisoning.

Food left out for long periods of time leaves the door open for uninvited guests - bacteria that cause foodborne illness. This makes foods at potlucks and buffets especially vulnerable.


1. Shop and Store Food Properly

Safe food handling starts when you're buying the ingredients. Shop for your groceries last and do not leave perishable foods in your vehicle. Bring a cooler with ice or ice substitute to store your milk and other perishables, if you have a long drive home, or if you have other stops to make. Make sure all perishables are placed in your refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get home.

2. Wash Your Hands / Make Sure the Cook is Healthy

Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling any food. Be sure to wash your hands after handling any raw meats or poultry because they may be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Do not prepare food if you are not feeling well -- especially if you have experienced any vomiting or diarrhea in the last 72 hours. You do not want to share your illness with friends and family. Ill food handlers are one of the major causes of food illnesses.

3. Prevent Cross-Contamination

Make sure that both you and the grocery store bag all raw meats and poultry separate from each other, and all other foods to prevent blood and other raw meat juices from contaminating any other foods. Arrange or plate ready-to-eat foods, like salads, poke, and, baked goods first. Poultry should be prepared separately if possible from other raw meats. Thoroughly wash and clean all surfaces between poultry and raw meat preparation so you don't cross contaminate ready to eat foods or other food items during their preparation.

You should also keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean.  Always serve food on clean plates, trays, or platters - never re-use containers or plates that were previously used to hold or prepare raw poultry or meats.  Bacteria that may have been present in raw meat blood and juices can cross-contaminate the food to be served.  Prepare ready to eat foods or foods that do not require cooking on separate cutting boards from the ones you use for raw meats and poultry.

4. Cook Meats and Poultry Thoroughly - Use a Cooking Thermometer

If you are cooking foods before your party, cook foods thoroughly to safe temperatures. When taking temperatures, make sure that the tip of the probe is in the center of the thickest portion of meat. Cook beef, veal, lamb, pork, fish and other seafood to at least 145°F.  Roast whole poultry to 165°F, and ground turkey and all other poultry to 165°F.  Hamburger, meat loafs, and other should be cooked to 155°F. Using a cooking thermometer not only ensures safe temperatures; it also prevents overcooking your meats, so you can always have that perfectly done, moist cut of poultry or meat.

5. Proper Food Cooling and Heating

Cook no more food than your kitchen's refrigerator/freezer and oven can handle.  Most home refrigerators cannot safely cool large quantities of food. Keep cooking in advance to a minimum. If you must cook large quantities in advance, place food in large re-sealable bags, squeeze out the air and bury completely in ice to chill a few hours prior to placing in your refrigerator or freezer. Reheat chilled foods rapidly to 165°F for serving. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250°F), or cold in the refrigerator until serving time.

6. Maintaining Foods at Proper Temperatures

Foods that have been cooked to the proper temperatures should be held at 135°F or warmer by using the oven, chaffing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 41°F or below. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice, otherwise use small serving trays and replace every two hours.

7. Thoroughly Wash Fruits and Vegetables

Always thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables prior to preparation and serving. Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

8. The Two-Hour Rule

Foods left out for long periods at potlucks and buffets are especially vulnerable to uninvited guests - bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Perishable foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting out on the table and immediately refrigerate or discard anything that was left out for more than two hours.

9. Storing Leftovers

After the meal is over, put away all leftovers promptly, remembering the two-hour rule. All meats should be cut off the bone and placed in re-sealable bags and buried in ice to chill quickly. If ice is not available, place in shallow containers (less than 2" deep) to chill and store in the refrigerator. This same quick-chill method should be used for all other perishable foods that need cooling. If ice is not available, use shallow containers to refrigerate or freeze promptly. Don't forget to refrigerate the noodles and rice, too!

10. Preparing Leftovers

Use leftover meats, turkey, stuffing and other perishable cooked foods within three to four days. If you do not plan to use these foods in this time frame, consider dividing them up and freezing them for later use. Always reheat all foods rapidly to 165°F prior to eating.

Officially Eight

June 29th, 2015

"I'm not technically eight yet," Olivia informed us in the days after her birthday.

"What makes it official?" we queried.

"A party." We had set a party for a week after her actual birthday, due to timing and scheduling issues.

"Not really," I corrected. "If I was only as old as the number of parties I've had, I'd be 25."

"So you've only lacked four birthday parties?" charmed Claus. Oooooh, GOOD ONE, Husband. He got points for that.


On a sunny Sunday, we held Olivia's eighth birthday party at A Cup of Tea in Kailua. I tried it once before and it got rave reviews from the little girls I took, including a direct request from Olivia to have her party there.

Request accommodated, and it was a hit with everyone. It was perfect for me, too. It was the easiest party I've ever hosted.


All I did was show up with a cake that I made her (and candles) and parasols for party favors, and the restaurant did the rest.


Cool air conditioning was a bonus. I would definitely recommend this!


Previous parties have been at the pool or my yard (lasting hours in the summer humidity) and while they've been fun, I've always been pooped after.


I think a tea party works really well for this age. I'm not sure younger girls would have done as well sitting politely for 90 minutes in a restaurant.


They ripped through the finger sandwiches, nibbled at the scones, and ravaged the dessert tray with mini-cupcakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and vanilla ice cream. They were kind of full by the time we sang the birthday song and cut my cake.

Because I like to bake, I have made Olivia's birthday cake every year, and this year I involved her in the process. She loves color, so I let her choose the colors to dye the cake batter, mix it, and decide what order to pour it in the pan.


When that was done, I also let her design the color and method of frosting the cupcake-shaped cake. (Striped bag? Swirled colors? Star or round tip? Pipe the frosting in a swirl, little rosettes, or stars? Etc.) She loved her cake.


She enjoyed picking the colors, deciding which order to put it in the bag, mixing the dye, helping pipe the frosting, and applying the decorations and sprinkles. I enjoyed watching her do this.


Olivia said she had a great time at her birthday party, and I love to hear that. Now I can rest for another 11 months until the next party!

Olivia's birthday

June 24th, 2015

Eight is a magical number. I can't believe eight years ago I gave birth to a daughter who I'm more in love with now, than I was then.

What a gift.

Olivia is a marvelous little human. I took the day off to be with her.


We opened presents in the morning and she was thrilled with all her gifts. She's so polite and thankful.

I took her to a movie and spent as much time looking at her, as I did the film. It delights me to see her happy.

Then we went to the grocery so I could make dinner - reminds me of fun housewife times! - and I let her throw all kinds of things in the cart... because it's her birthday!

I made her favorite dinner and then we played with her gifts. She was such a perfect girl. When she's good, she's very good.


It was a perfect day. I'm not sure if it was a better day for her, or me!


June 22nd, 2015

Our favorite neighbor gave Olivia a birthday gift that blew all our presents out of the water. Ha!


Vicki gave Olivia her entire UNICORN COLLECTION! Thirty-three beautiful unicorns made of glass, ceramic, clay, wood, and pewter.

This immediately became her favorite gift and we've had to play Unicorns non-stop. Everyone got assigned a name and when you're eight, the names are really funny, little-girl things like Fluffy, Puffy, Rosie, and Blossom.


Actually, to my surprise, she named one Sapphire, which is very sophisticated, though it is orange. When I pointed out that sapphire is a blue gem, she insisted she didn't care and that it's SaFire, because the orange looks like fire. OK.

So I'm sitting on the ground with her playing with these toys and I have no idea what the rules are. If you haven't played with a little girl for a while, it's pretty funny to see how their imagination takes flight.

First, we played hide-and-seek with the unicorns, who ended up using their amazing unicorn powers to find each other. Did you realize unicorn horns have heat-seeking radars to detect body warmth? What kind of cartoons is this kid watching?


Then, we lined them up and played Battle, which I always lost because her team had a force field shield around them that rejected all my horn-laster-destroyer efforts to penetrate and immobilize. She reached over and laid all my players down dead.

"You cheat! You can't touch my guys!" I protested.

"I can! My force field boomerangs your laser right back to your team and now they're all dead! You killed your own team!" she laughed gleefully.

"No way! I have extra-strong powers when all my unicorn horns combine to form one big laser pointer! You didn't give me a chance!" I whined.

Boy, little girls sure aren't all cinnamon and spice and everything nice. I'm sure this isn't what Vicki imagined her unicorns would be doing in their new house.

In the meantime, my team's in a coma until my surviving leader, Fluffy, can work out a truce with the other leader that could magically unfreeze them. Fluffy is going to have to do some serious thinking on how to achieve this. Wish us luck.

Father’s Day Father-Child Look-a-Like Contest

June 19th, 2015

The Hawaii Coalition for Dads and the State Commission on Fatherhood invites all Hawaii fathers, father-figures, and their families to the 17th Annual Celebrate Father’s Day celebration.  The Saturday, June 20 event at Windward Mall Center Stage runs from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and highlights the important roles that fathers and father figures play in children’s lives.

An increasing body of evidence indicates children are more likely to thrive with the support, guidance, and nurturing of both parents.  Yet, many children across the country are growing up without fathers.

As a result, they may lack appropriate male role models and face greater risks of health, emotional, educational, and behavioral problems during their developmental years.  The National Fatherhood Initiative reports that children and families function much better with an active, involved and responsible father in their lives.

The Hawaii Celebrate Father’s Day event features live entertainment, family-friendly resource tables and activities, and a Father-Child Look-a-Like Contest. Fathers and father-figures are invited to enter the contest with a child of any age.

Entries may include Father-Child, Father-Child-Grandchild, and Grandfather-Grandchild teams. A father and father-figure may be accompanied by more than one child.  Drop off entry forms at Windward Mall Center Stage no later than 12:30 pm on Saturday, June 20.  The contest begins at 1:00 pm.

Contest entry forms and rules are posted on the Department of Human Services (DHS) website  at along with information about other events celebrating Father’s Day 2015.