Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas!  Hopefully you will be enjoying a delicious Christmas dinner soon.  The holidays typically bring some great food and those leftovers can easily fill up the fridge. The key is to safely store and use those leftovers, and today we’ll offer a few tips on that topic. 

First, food storage.  After food has been served, leftovers should be placed in clean, small, shallow containers, three inches or less in height, and covered completely.  Leftover food should be placed in the refrigerator within two hours or less.  Containers should be spread out in the refrigerator to allow air flow and promote rapid, even cooling of the food.  Food should not be refrigerated or frozen in large, deep containers as the food in the center remains warm for a longer time which can cause harmful bacteria to grow.  If you’re short on fridge space, use a cooler with ice packs or cubed ice to keep leftovers at a temperature of 40 degrees or less. 

When reheating leftovers, food should be reheated on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave until it reaches 165 degrees.  Slow cookers are not recommended for reheating leftovers. 

Plan ahead for using those leftovers.  If you’re having a Christmas ham, plan for omelets, casseroles,
Plan to use holiday leftovers, whether its
turkey sliders or scrambled eggs and ham!
sandwiches, or a pizza, for example.  Leftover turkey can become a base for a turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup, turkey wild rice soup, turkey enchiladas, etc. – it can easily be substituted for chicken in many recipes.  Leftovers can quickly grow tiresome, so another good option is to freeze them.  For example, dice up that ham and freeze in small Ziploc bags so that a serving can be pulled out in the morning and added to scrambled eggs. 

So, how long can you safely keep refrigerated leftovers?  Generally, leftovers should be used within four days but specifically the guidelines are as follows:

Those delicious salads should be
eaten within three to five days.
  • Soups and stews - 3 to 4 days
  • Gravy and meat broth - 2 to 2 days
  • Cooked meat, meat dishes, casseroles - 3 to 4 days
  • Opened package of deli meats - 3 to 5 days
  • Pasta and potato salads - 3 to 5 days·       

Now, I’m sure there’s lots of folks out there right now saying, “Oh, I eat leftovers way older than that and I’ve always been fine!”  Could be, but please remember that adults ages 65 and older, children younger than 5 years, pregnant women, and people whose immune systems are weakened due to illness or medical treatment are most at risk for foodborne illnesses.  So, while you may be able to handle that week-old turkey, Grandma, your pregnant wife, or your three-year-old son may not be able to. 

So, keep those hot foods hot and those cold foods cold, and quickly refrigerate leftovers!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Give a lasting gift to your farmer, rancher, or farm/ranch spouse this Christmas!

We’re just one week away from Christmas! If you’re still trying to decide what to get that farmer,
rancher, or farm/ranch spouse in your life, let me suggest a registration to the 2020 Montana’s Next Generation Conference, which will be January 31 – February 1 in Shelby. Currently, registration is at the ‘Early Bird Rate’ of just $25/individual/day or $40/couple/day so you can save some money on gift giving too!

Here’s 5 reasons why a Next Generation conference registration would be a great gift!

· The meals! Anyone who has attended the conference in the past has often remarked that the food alone is worth going for. TLC Catering of Shelby will be doing the food which will include pulled pork and the fixings for the Friday lunch, a delicious roast beef dinner Friday night, and wonderful soups and sandwiches for the Saturday lunch along with all the snacks you can eat in between! Saturday night, each participant will get a $10 meal voucher to use at numerous participating Shelby restaurants.

· Your gift has the potential to have a long-lasting impact. What if after attending Kristen Juras and Sarah Hamlen’s workshop, ‘Planning for Health Care after Retirement’ workshop your parents or in-laws develop a plan for their healthcare? What if after attending Jane Wolery’s Mending FENCES workshop, your family is able to sit down and have a productive and respectful conversation about communication expectations? What if after attending Korey Fauque’ s Reducing Inputs through Regenerative Ag your operation is able to try one or two new tools that will save time and money on the farm or ranch? A gift of the Next Generation conference is not one that will be put in the closet to collect dust, it has the potential to make a great impact on families! There are 36 workshops offered on Saturday, and there’s truly something for everyone!

· Pesticide points! 2020 is the end of the pesticide cycle for our region, which means applicators need their 6 recertification credits by the end of 2020. There will be 5 workshops with pesticide points at the Next Generation conference, on both crop and range related topics.

·Networking – The conference provides an opportunity to network with industry professionals and other producers. Where else, can you ask questions of accountants and lawyers for just $25/day?

· The gift of family – The conference truly has something for everyone, regardless of age. Whether it’s a beginning producer, someone who’s been farming or ranching for 20 years, or someone nearing retirement, there are workshops for everyone! There is also babysitting provided on both days for just $15/child, so the whole family can come!

If you are interested in providing a friend or family member with a registration to Montana’s Next Generation Conference, you can register online at If you call our office at 406-873-2239, we would be happy to mail or email a gift certificate that you can give to your recipient. Another added bonus - everyone who purchases a conference registration by January 10 will be entered in two drawings, one for a free registration and one for a free hotel room during the conference!

This Christmas, give a gift that won’t sit on the shelf collecting dust, give a gift of Montana’s Next Generation conference that can provide a lasting impact.