Category Archives: Holiday Ideas

Ideas for all holidays in Baton Rouge

10 Things You May Not Know About Mistletoe

Probably a holiday staple in your home during the holidays. Here’s some fun facts about what it really is you’ve been kissing under.

1. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, commonly found on Oak Trees. Often found growing on top of another mistletoe, it takes over five years to flower once it begins growing.

2. Perhaps it’s kept up high for more than just kissing purposes: mistletoe can be extremely hazardous to children and pets when ingested, so be sure to keep it out of reach.

3. Ancient Druids believed mistletoe could scare off evil spirits and keep the threat of witchcraft at bay. After sacrificing two white bulls, Druid priests would cut the plant with a golden knife and use it to make medicines and “life-saving” elixirs.

4. In Medieval England, women would strap mistletoe around their waists to promote fertility.

5. Scandinavian Norseman refused to fight battles if mistletoe was present and revered it so highly, they would call a truce until the following morning.

6. The sticky juice from mistletoe berries was once used as an adhesive to catch small animals and birds.

7. It is sometimes believed that if a woman burns a sprig of mistletoe, she can predict her relationship status for the next year. If it progressively burns, then the woman will have a healthy marriage. If the flame continuously flickers, she will be single for another year.

8. It is believed that the myth of kissing underneath the plant came from Frigga, the Norse Goddess of love. When her son Baldour was born, Frigga made every plant and animal promise not to harm him – forgetting about the mistletoe. When the evil deity Loki shot and killed Baldour with a mistletoe dart, her mourning caused the other Norse Gods to take pity on her and bring Baldour back to life. Frigga declared the plant would always be known to bring love into the world, and not death.

9. The proper ritual of mistletoe is that the kisser at the party must pluck one berry each time he/she steals a kiss under the plant. Once the berries are gone, the privilege ceases.

10. In 2001, Suzanne Somers caused a small media frenzy when she rejected chemotherapy for Iscador, a mistletoe extract, causing many doctors to publicly fight against advocating this homeopathic remedy.

How to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey (Safely)

By Fiona Haynes, Guide

How to Cook Turkey
If you get nervous at the very thought of cooking a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are many resources available so we can prepare our feasts without fear of giving Auntie May food poisoning, or bringing a burnt offering to the table. So long as you follow basic food-safety rules, monitor the turkey while it’s cooking and have a timetable for preparing the rest of the meal, chances are your Turkey Day will go off without a hitch. Here are some helpful tips on how to handle your turkey:

Thawing a Frozen Turkey
If you are buying a frozen turkey, allow plenty of time for it to defrost. You can defrost the turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water. Never defrost a turkey at room temperature.

* Defrosting the bird in the refrigerator is the safest method, and also requires the least maintenance. Leave the turkey in its original wrapping and place it in a baking pan, breast side up. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every five pounds of turkey.

* If you choose to use the cold water method, put the turkey, still in its original wrapping, in a large sealed bag to prevent contamination. Place the turkey in a basin or bath and cover with cold water. Change the water completely every 30 minutes. You should allow 30 minutes of thawing per pound. Undoubtedly this is a faster (though labor-intensive) method, but there is a risk of bacterial growth near the surface of the bird as the interior continues to thaw. Once thawed this way, the turkey should be cooked immediately.

Handling a Raw Turkey

Make sure you use a separate cutting board and utensils for the turkey to avoid contaminating other foods. Be sure to wash your hands with hot, soapy water before touching anything else in the kitchen. Wash the cutting boards and utensils used for the turkey as soon as you are done with them. Use paper towels instead of cloths for clean up wherever possible.

Stuffing the Turkey
If you choose to stuff the turkey rather than cook it separately, stuff the bird just before it goes into the oven. Be sure to remove the giblets and rinse the turkey in and out with cold water first. Place the stuffing loosely into the turkey’s cavity. Remember, you will need to allow a longer cooking time if the bird is stuffed.

Cooking the Turkey
People have different ideas about how to cook a turkey. So long as you roast the bird at a minimum of 325 degrees until the thickest part of the inner thigh registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, you will be fine. The breast meat should register 170 degrees, and if the bird is stuffed, the stuffing must reach 165 degrees. See below for approximate cooking times.

Out of the Oven
Once out of the oven, allow the turkey to rest for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to settle. The temperature of the bird will continue to rise. After carving the turkey, allow leftovers to cool slightly (but no more than an hour), then place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Store leftover stuffing separately. Use within three days.