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By Wini Moranville
As you continue to prep meals at home, using up what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry while limiting your trips to the store, you might have some cooking and food safety questions. To help, I thought I’d share some sources I’ve trusted in my 25 years of food writing:
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service focuses on ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. I often consult their fact sheets
, which answer all kinds of questions, such as what foods can be frozen (see answer
) and whether raw or cooked meat can be cooked from its frozen state (see answer
, under “Cooking Frozen Foods”).
The search window lets you ask food storage and safety questions that might be on your mind, such as “Does all cheese need to be refrigerated?”
I’ve been consulting the “Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease” page regarding the safety and ongoing availability of the U.S. food supply. So far, the news is encouraging.
• Cook’s Thesaurus:
Though not an official educational/government website, I’ve generally found this to be a good source for food substitution ideas. I particularly like their cheese substitution section. If you’d feel better consulting something more official, university extension websites are a good source. This one
from the University of Mississippi is one of the more extensive that I’ve found.
Another site I’ve been turning to lately is the Centers for Disease Control’s Coronavirus FAQ page
, which includes some information on food as well as info on how to protect yourself in general.
Meanwhile, because my recent trips to the supermarket have been so few and far between, I’ve been stretching my meat purchases even more than usual. Most recently I morphed one 14-ounce package of Kielbasa sausage into eight great servings. Here’s how to do it:
• One half of the package can serve two diners; heat according to package directions and serve with any ol’ vegetables and a starch (potatoes, at my house). And yes, during these times, mustard counts as a sauce.
• For something more “stretchy,” use the second half of the package in this classic Better Homes and Gardens Black Bean Soup
, a recipe I’ve made hundreds of times. I generally go with the shortcut version using canned beans. Out of black beans? Just about any kind of soup bean will do: I’ve used garbanzos, navy beans, cannellini beans and great northern beans, sometimes in interesting combinations. Definitely mash some of the beans (as suggested) for a thicker stew. Oh, and this soup freezes well.No black bean soup I’ve ever had measures up to this recipe, and I think it’s all about the peppery warmth of the dried coriander. I’m not sure I can suggest a perfect substitute for that, but here’s some great news: If you’re out of the ground coriander called for, Allspice now delivers locally. What a great service to local cooks! Find out more on the Allspice Facebook page.