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Holiday 911 for Family Caregivers

Thanksgiving turkey
The general rule in buying a bone-in turkey is to allow one pound per person. If additional white meat is preferred, consider buying a larger turkey or an additional turkey breast.

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November 29, 2011

It’s time to talk turkey with an expert and whip up a meal that your senior loved ones will treasure. And, if there’s a need for additional help, call on other family members or a CAREGiverSM from the local Home Instead Senior Care®.

Q. My 85-year-old mother has always prepared the holiday meal, but she had a heart episode last month and will not be able to do that. It’s up to me this year. Do you have any tips on preparing dinner? I’m a little stressed out trying to care for her as well as plan a meal.

We’re no cooking experts, but we know who can help. Karen Blakeslee, a Kansas State University research and extension food scientist, answers about 1,500 food and food safety questions annually, shares frequently-asked questions and her answers about preparing a turkey dinner:

Q: How much turkey should I buy?

A: The general rule in buying a bone-in turkey is to allow one pound per person. If additional white meat is preferred, consider buying a larger turkey or an additional turkey breast.

Q: Is there a fast way to thaw a frozen turkey?

A: Consumers who may have forgotten to put the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw can use a cold-water method. Submerge the turkey (in its store wrap) in cold water in a clean, large sink or bathtub. Allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound. Drain and replace cold water every 30 minutes during the thawing process.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions to thaw a smaller frozen turkey or turkey breast in a microwave oven. Thawing meat and poultry products in a microwave oven begins the cooking process, which will need to be continued immediately.

Q: What is the recommended roasting time and temperature? Is it necessary to pre-heat the oven?

A: Set the oven at 325 degrees F and allow 20 minutes per pound. Add 45 minutes for a stuffed turkey and about 15 to 20 minutes for a turkey to set up after it has tested done (165 degrees F) to make carving easier. Roasting is a slow process, so it’s not necessary to preheat the oven.

You might need other help while preparing your holiday feast. Why not consider hiring a Home Instead CAREGiverSM? The network’s CAREGivers can assist you with the meal and your senior loved one with meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping while you’re getting dinner ready.

For more food preparation tips from Kansas State University, see http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/story/turkey_dinner111809.aspx.

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