July is National Recreation Month – and national picnic, ice cream and hot dog month as well. And July 6 is
National Fried Chicken Day. What other excuse do you need to get out and enjoy some fun and outdoors
eating at one of the many recreation areas operated by the Brazos River Authority?
Nearly all public areas at
Authority lakes are free and
feature grills and sheltered picnic
tables surrounded by beautiful
scenery. For more information
about recreation areas at Possum
Kingdom Lake, click here. For
Lake Granbury, click here, and
Lake Limestone, click here.
But before you slap those hot
dogs and hamburgers on the grill
or slather a generous mound of
potato salad on your paper plate,
here’s some sage advice from the
U.S. Food and Drug
Administration to help keep your
picnic fun and safe.
Pack and transport food safely
Place cold foods in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold foods should be stored at 40 degrees
Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth. Meat can be frozen to help keep it cold longer.
Organize foods appropriately to keep cold and warm foods separate.
Consider placing sodas in a separate container so your guests won’t have to
continually open the cooler containing perishable food. Keep the cooler
closed to help maintain coolness.
Securely, tightly wrap raw meats and avoid their juices from coming in
contact with prepared foods to prevent bacterial cross contamination.
Rinse fruits and vegetables well before packing.
Serving food: keep hot food hot and cold food cold
Keeping food at proper temperatures - indoor and out - is critical in
preventing the growth of bacteria. The key is to never let your picnic food
remain in the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 degrees — for more
than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 degrees. Cold
perishable food should be kept cooler below 40 degrees and hot food should be kept above 140 degrees.
Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice, or in a
shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
Wrap hot food well and place it in an insulated container until
Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Cook food
thoroughly and have a meat thermometer handy to make sure.
Steaks, roast and fish should be cooked until temperature reaches
145 degrees Fahrenheit; pork and ground beef should be heated to
160 degrees and poultry to 165 degrees.
Also, don’t reuse utensils that you used to handle raw and cooking
meats. Find new utensils to served prepared foods.
Quick tips for picnic site preparation
Keep all utensils, platters and work surfaces clean when preparing
food. Also keep hands clean while handling food. If you don’t have
access to running water, simply use a water jug, some soap, and
paper towels. Or, consider using moist disposable towelettes to clean