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Holidays

Día de Reyes: A Time for Friends, Feasts, and Food Safety

Nothing brings people together like the Holidays, or Navidades for us Spanish speakers.  Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day) would not be complete without some excellent eats. Many Hispanic-Americans have a favorite dish during this special season – from lechón to pasteles to tamales to atole.

Nothing brings a party down like poor food safety though.  No one wants to be down for the count during this time of the year–think of all the parties that will be missed! With the information we’ve given you over the last several weeks, you should be able to cook a food safe feast.  So put your knowledge to the test with these Hispanic treats for Día de Reyes, this January 6th.

It's all about the Sides

Main dishes may dominate most holiday tables, but the space on your plate will probably be filled with more sides than whatever holiday meat is served. Proper food handling and cooking will make sure these items come out just as safe and delicious as your main meat.

Making a safe side dish can be even harder than making a main dish safely because side dishes usually contain many ingredients. The more ingredients in the dish the greater the opportunity there is for cross-contamination. By keeping your side dish components separate, you can avoid cross-contamination.

Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Roast

The traditional centerpiece of many holiday meals served this time of year is the roast. Whether you use pork, beef, goose, turkey, or chicken, the most popular means to cook your meat of choice is in the oven.

The roasting recipe that was handed down to you from your great grandmother may need a little updating though. Whether it asks you to marinate at room temperature overnight, or cook until ‘the juices run clear,’ some instructions in heirloom recipes might be outdated. To help you make the dish your great grandmother intended, we pulled together a list of holiday roasting tips.

Directions to a Prosperous Rural America

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

If you’re like me, the holidays are a time to pack our bags and set off to visit family members and loved ones.  When my family goes on a road trip -- with what seems like half the country doing the same thing -- the driver is always asked helpful questions like, “Do you know where you’re going?” or “Are we there yet?” At USDA, we’re often revisiting the same questions and potential solutions as we develop plans to strengthen the rural economy.

Tackling the problems rural America faces is not unlike a family road trip.  Directions are needed to help steer USDA programs supporting rural America toward our goals:  “Do you know where you’re going?”  As it turns out, the answer to this question is an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

Happy Holidays ... Waste Not, Want Not!

November and December are traditionally times of celebration of various holidays in America, religious and secular.  This is a time for enjoyment and fellowship in the company of family, friends, and neighbors.  The celebrations almost always include gathering at dinner tables over feasts of the bounty our farmers provide.

Unfortunately, this is also a time when, after the celebration and feasting are done, a significant proportion of the leftover edible food is tossed in the trashcan or put down the disposal.  Much of this food ultimately ends up in landfills.

The Economic Research Service estimates that over 130 billion pounds of edible food goes uneaten per year at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, equating to over 1,200 calories per day per man, woman, and child.  On average, this suggests that as a nation almost one-third of the edible food that could meet our caloric needs goes uneaten.

Even Paul Bunyan is Overshadowed by the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree - and a Precious 10-year-old Boy

A foggy mist did not deter a crowd of onlookers, politicians and U.S. Forest Service employees as a 10-year-old Maryland boy in a wheelchair enveloped by warm blankets flipped the switch to light the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Front lawn of the nation’s Capital.

C-SPAN recorded the event, including the moment when Speaker of the House John Boehner handed the controls to Aaron Urban, who flipped the switch on the 88-foot white spruce from Minnesota. The ceremony culminated more than a year of work to find, select, harvest and transport the tree found on the Chippewa National Forest. Children from that state made more than 10,000 ornaments – many of them dream catchers in the tradition of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa.

Ready, Set, Lights! U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Delivered, Decorated and Ready to Shine

After a 2,700-mile, 30-stop journey from Minnesota, the 88-foot white spruce tree harvested from the Chippewa National Forest is delivered, set up in Washington, D.C., decorated by Architect of the Capitol employees and ready for the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Speaker of the House John Boehner will light the tree on the Capitol's West Front, where it will remain lit from dusk until 11 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. The tree is a gift from the American people, hence the moniker “The People’s Tree.” Hundreds of people attend the lighting ceremony.

U.S. Forest Service Harvests 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Minnesota

On a cold afternoon in late October, about 500 people, including local area third graders who had made ornaments for it, gathered to witness the cutting of the 88-foot, 13,000-pound 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the Chippewa National Forest in north central Minnesota.

To help stay warm and nourished, attendees were offered hot chocolate or coffee, a wild rice dish, fruit, sandwich wraps and cookies, all courtesy of the Leech Land Band of Ojibwe. The official festivities began with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Spiritual Advisor Larry Aitken blessing the Tree, distinguished guests sharing their congratulations, and poignant drumming performances by two groups of tribal youth; one group was accompanied by young tribal dancers in full regalia.

What's On Your Plate This Fourth of July?

Happy Birthday America! It’s the Fourth of July and time to celebrate American life. What do you have planned? A family reunion at the beach? A backyard barbeque with family and friends? A picnic in the park? Or a few friends on your patio? Here are some quick and easy tips to make your family’s Fourth of July meals and snacks healthy and delicious!

Get creative and let MyPlate be your guide.

Happy Valentine's Day from MyPlate!

This Valentine’s Day, give something for the heart. Sharing a heart healthy gift is a great way to let the people in your life know you care.  Instead of offering an over-sized piece of cake or a box of sweets, give something that takes care of the heart.

For Your Spouse or Partner:  Make a healthy meal together.  Cooking a meal can help you to control portion sizes and the ingredients in your food. Find a healthy recipe to make at home or attend a cooking class at your local mall or community college.  For healthy recipe ideas, visit the FNCS Recipe Box.