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Article Published November 20, 2015

Holiday Entertaining Tips

By By Sue Cornell

Let's have frustration free and safe holidays with the tips we've assembled from a variety of expert sources... Some, you may say, are just plain common sense but we often forget to exercise them when we're all scurrying to prepare and get ready for the guests to arrive...

Your Oven: Leads the list for a trouble free holiday...

You think, "I need to self-clean the oven a day or so before all the serious cooking starts..."   Big NO on this one!  One of most common causes of oven or range failure is during or following the oven self-clean cycle. Oven temperature rises to volcanic heat levels during the self-clean cycle.  High heat is one of the main causes for service calls to repair the oven's temperature sensor and the primary cause of warped oven racks.

Most ovens today have heating elements hidden beneath the oven floor that prevents food from spilling onto the heating element. This means elements must work harder than in the past to bring the oven to self-clean temperature.  Plus, since those elements are hidden, they're difficult to ventilate—especially when the interior temps get so high. All that trapped heat winds up damaging your oven's internal components, popping fuses and burning out electronic components.

Manufacturers know this is a problem, but they include the self-clean feature anyway because customers won't buy ovens without them. What is your alternative?  Go back to basics and give the inside of your oven a wipe down with a cleaning product recommended for today's ovens.  We carry several safe cleaners here at Page's and recommend Easy Off - No Fumes. Stop in and we'll help you select the product right for you.  Even if you have used your oven's self clean feature without issue in the past, we suggest that you wait until after the holidays to try a self-clean cycle.  Last but not least, always refer to your Use and Care Guide and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Starting with a clean oven? This tip will help keep it clean during cooking...

Use oven rack liners to catch spills and splatters. We carry a two pack by Hefty for under $6 in our Housewares section.

Never use these liners or aluminum foil on the oven floor. It will

cause food to heat unevenly and, over time, can damage the oven. We commonly hear of cases where aluminum foil welds to the oven floor.

Two Birds are better then one...

Planning to buy a 24 to 30-pound bird to serve the family? Consider this tip from our Thermador Appliances chef...

Buy two 15-pound birds and cook one the day before. Carve the bird and place it in an oven safe serving dish, then put it in the refrigerator.

The day of your holiday, cook the other bird and use the finished bird for table presentation. Heat the meat you cooked the day before in the oven at 250 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.  Now you have prepared the main feature in half the time and half the stress.

Ventilation-  Keep the Kitchen (the house) free of odors...

Five minutes before turning on any of your range's burners, turn your ventilation hood on low to create a draft. As soon as steam and heat develops, it will find its way out through the ductwork rather than into your cooking area.  This is the same principle as opening the flue before starting a fire in your fireplace or wood stove.

Once the intensity of your cooking increases, raise the blower's power level.  Then, we recommend cracking open a window to make up for the air that is taken from the kitchen area. Running ventilation at high blower power levels will draw a great deal of air from a well insulated home and it is a safety precaution to keep a steady flow of fresh, oxygenated air coming into your home, to prevent fumes from being drawn into your living area from your home heating system.

Food Safety...

Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours after serving.  Bacteria develops at 42 degrees and increases at an alarming rate as the temperature rises. So take the food from the table and refrigerate it well before bacteria has a chance to start.  We recommend storing food in clear, re-sealable containers so guests can easily find the food they are craving without standing in front of the open refrigerator too long.

The Food disposal...  Today is not the day to jam it!

There is a load of clean up following the main course in preparation for serving the desserts. Our best advice to avoid a jam in your sink's food disposal is to minimize the amount of food going into it. Scrape off as much as you can into the kitchen pail.  This will avoid unscheduled maintenance to free up the disposal allowing the sink to drain.

Your Refrigerator's ice maker. Fresh ice and an adequate supply for the holiday.

The freezer compartments of most refrigerators don't have or need air purification filtering systems. The only item in most freezers subject to collecting odors is the ice storage compartment. If you don't frequently use ice for beverages, the ice will develop a stale odor and taste. It is recommended that you dump the old ice out a few days before the holiday and allow the unit to make a fresh batch of ice.

If you'll have a house full of guests, it's best to plan ahead to have plenty of ice for entertaining. The ice production level of the freezer won't work fast enough to handle the demand, so the day before, buy a bag of ice from the convenience store and put it in a cooler or your spare garage fridge.

We hope our short list of holiday entertaining tips is helpful so you can better enjoy your family and friends...

Sincerely,

The entire Page Hardware and Appliance staff