First, the bad news: Ohio has the third most cooking fires on Thanksgiving in the country, and Michigan is No. 6.
Now, the good news: The numbers aren't high, just 21 in Ohio between 2005-2010, and 15 over the same period in Michigan.
Now, the bad news: That is still 21 (and 15) too many, and they were all avoidable.
These numbers come from State Farm insurance, which also reports that more grease and cooking-related claims occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, twice as many as an average day in November.
The culprit, according to the insurance folks, is the rapid increase in people deep-frying their turkeys. To cut back on fires and serious injuries, the company offers a number of suggestions to improve safety:
● Use the turkey fryer outside, away from any buildings, trees, or wooden structures such as decks and patios.
● To find out how much oil to use, put cold oil in the pot and lower in the thawed turkey. Add or subtract oil as need. Remove the turkey before heating the oil.
● Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to prevent flare-ups in case some of the oil spills over.
● Only use a fresh or completely thawed turkey.
● Never use ice or water to try to cool down the oil after use or to put out an oil fire.
● Keep a fire extinguisher handy that is approved for cooking or grease fires.
● And never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
You probably saw the recipe for Cinnamon Roll Apple Cobbler, which won Week 3 of the Pillsbury Rookie Bake-Off Challenge.
OK, you probably didn't see it. But if you did, you probably noticed that it was submitted by Jean Gottfried, of Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
Ms. Gottfried has been entering baking contests for a while, but this is the first one she has won (think of the Rookie Bake-Off Challenge as the AAA farm team of the big league's Bake-Off Challenge). For her victory, she picked up $500 and the admiration and respect of millions.
The recipe had to include one Pillsbury refrigerated dough product and up to four other ingredients.
If you didn't happen to see it, or even if you did, here is the recipe:
Cinnamon Roll Apple Cobbler
1 (8 ounce) can refrigerated flaky dough sheet
1/4 cup caramel flavored sundae syrup, divided
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (21-ounce) can apple pie filling
Preheat oven to 375°. Unroll dough sheet; press into a 13x8-inch rectangle.
Spread 2 tablespoons caramel sundae syrup on dough. In a small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over dough. Starting with a short end, roll dough up. With a serrated knife, cut dough into 12 slices.
Spread apple pie filling over bottom of a 9-inch baking dish. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons sundae syrup over apple filling. Arrange dough slices 3 rows by 4 rows, cut-side down, on apple filling. Bake 23 to 28 minutes or until apple filling is bubbly and dough slices are golden brown.
Good food, officially
And speaking of awards, the finalists have been announced for the annual Good Food Awards, celebrating food producers and farmers who strive for craftsmanship and sustainability in creating good food.
The 100 finalists include Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, which is made on a family farm near Defiance. The cheesemakers won for their Charloe cheese, which the family describes as "smooth and creamy with hints of toasted peanuts." Yum.
A little farther afield is Ann's Raspberry Farm and Specialty Crops, which won awards in two categories. Based in Fredericktown, Ohio, northeast of Columbus, the farm won in the pickles category for its Savory Brussels Sprout Relish (yes, that does say Brussels Sprout Relish) and in the preserves category for its Jalapeno Raspberry Gourmet Jam & Red Raspberry Gourmet Jam.
Pickles and preserves were winners for Michigan companies, too. McClure's Pickles, out of Detroit, was a finalist for its McClure's Garlic Pickles, and the Petoskey, Mich.-based American Spoon won for its Heirloom Tomato Preserve & Wild Thimbleberry Jam.
Your chance to win
And speaking of speaking of awards, the 6th annual Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off is on, baby. At stake is a grand prize worth a not insubstantial $25,000.
Most of that prize, it should be pointed out, comes in the form of Maytag appliances, another part is a trip to New York City, and a small part is a crystal trophy. But the rest is cash. And just think of how lovely that crystal trophy will look sitting on top of those new appliances.
All entries must include Manischewitz broth and at least one other Manischewitz product. The company makes a bunch of products, from soups to crackers to gefilte fish to potato pancake mixes to Yahrzeit candles (hint: Don't use Yahrzeit candles). The entries must have no more than 10 total ingredients, including the broth -- salt, pepper, and water are not counted in the total number -- and they must be kosher.
But they don't have to be traditional Jewish dishes; any ethnicity is welcomed, as long as it tastes like home cooking. And they can't be too difficult: The entries will be judged in part on how easy they are to make
A list of Manischewitz products, as well as a brief guide to what is and is not kosher, is available at manischewitz.com. The full set of rules and the official entry form are all available at the same site. The deadline for submitting entries is Jan. 15, 2012.
Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks before an event to: firstname.lastname@example.org.