Posts Tagged ‘Delaware’

Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

We love delicious local, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving meals, so we asked the head of Delaware’s Division of Public Health, Dr.Karyl Rattay, to provide some tips on food safety for the holidays.  You might also enjoy our previous post on local, fresh Thanksgiving options.


Dr. RattayGuest Post from Dr. Karyl Rattay: I am especially thankful for the time spent with family and friends during the holidays. Like many Delawareans, I often travel with my family to share Thanksgiving dinner with relatives and bring some dishes to pass.

fruit saladGood nutrition, food safety, and preventing illness are as important during the holidays as the rest of the year. For our meal, I find that fruit salad is a refreshing, healthful dish that travels well. When transporting a dish, it’s important that cold foods stay cold, and hot foods stay hot. I make sure that we have plenty of ice packs in our cooler for the ride.

cutting boardWhen cooking at home, I like to use several cutting boards and different knives for bread, fruit and vegetables and meat and poultry. This is a system that helps assure that bacteria from one food do not get passed to another. Glass or plastic cutting boards are a good choice since those surfaces do not absorb liquids from foods, which can spread illness.

I’m also a fan of sterilizing utensils, cutting boards and other cooking items in the dishwasher. It really is the best way to clean these items and prevent food-borne illness.

Clean HandsWe all want our loved ones to stay healthy and happy as we share special times. Unfortunately, health professionals have recognized a link between people gathering for the holidays and an increase in influenza and other respiratory illnesses. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot and continue practicing preventive measures like hand washing, using hand sanitizer, and covering coughs and sneezes, at home and while visiting.

Our staff at the Division of Public Health’s  Food Protection Program offer these additional tips for preparing the holiday turkey.

Plan your menu before the holiday:

  • If you plan to buy a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1-2 days prior to cooking and make sure it remains refrigerated until ready to cook.
  • Avoid fresh pre-stuffed turkeys because harmful bacteria can grow in the stuffing.
  • Be sure you have a roasting pan large enough to hold your turkey and a food thermometer.

How to thaw:

  • In the refrigerator: Allow approximately 24 hours per 4 -5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
  • Under cold running water (70°F or below): Completely submerge bird under running water in the original wrapper; cook immediately after thawing – do not refreeze.
  • In the microwave: Remove outside wrapping and place on a microwave-safe dish. Do not refreeze or refrigerate after thawing in the microwave.


  • Roast TurkeyUse a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey preferably in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the bird.
  • Do not use the color of the meat to determine if the bird is thoroughly cooked.  The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.


Local Delaware Food – Perfect for Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Since the weather is getting cool and the holiday season is upon us, we asked Anne Fitzgerald, the Public Information Officer at the Department of Agriculture, to share her plans for feeding her family with Delaware’s incredible offering of local food.  WARNING: if you’re hungry, you might not want to read this…  If you’re not hungry, you probably will be by the time you finish it.


Buying local doesn’t end with the close of Farmers’ Market Season

Roast Turkey

Guest Post from Anne Fitzgerald, Dept of Agriculture: It’s November and I am making plans to shop, shop, shop for local food and other items.  First on my list is what Greatmamma called Thanksgiving’s “groaning board” feast – turkey time for my family. I have reserved a yummy, all natural, tender turkey from TA Farms in Wyoming that will feed about 20 hungry people and provide leftovers for the week after – love that turkey salad and turkey soup.

It will be picked up on Tuesday and roasted on Thursday (Thanksgiving morning) – nothing better than a freshly roasted turkey with homemade stuffing and giblet gravy.  I use my grandmother Mommoo’s recipe for stuffing that is rich with sage, pork sausage and sometimes apples, which means shopping for local sausage, such as Kirby & Holloway or Milton or Haass sausage, and local apples from Fifer’s, T. S. Smith’s, and others.


Delaware Fresh: apps.delaware.govFor the appetizers and sides, I have checked the Delaware availability chart and perused this year’s Farm Market Directory for on-farm markets that carry in-season vegetables and fruits into November, e.g., greens (turnip / collard / kale / spinach), Brussel sprouts, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, turnips, leaf lettuce, mushrooms, parsley, and pumpkin – all prepared in loving fashion from tried and true family recipes.

I can also use the Delaware Fresh App to find these products while I am out and about. If time catches up with me, as alas, it often does, I will choose frozen and canned items in our grocery stores from local processors that contract with Delaware farmers and provide jobs in Delaware, i.e., Hanover, PictSweet, and Vlasic.

Pumpkin PuddingRemember, I said feast, not diet, and so on to the desserts! I am torn between pumpkin pudding and Sap’s pumpkin rice pudding – one is mine and the other is made by our local entrepreneur, John Sapienza.  I think I will have both.

Ice CreamOf course, no feast is complete without ice cream, especially that made in Delaware.  Ice cream fanciers can buy local by looking for Woodside Creamery, Hopkins Creamery, University of Delaware Creamery, and Hypoint Dairy brands at markets or in ice cream shops across the state.  I have tried them all and they are the best.  I am sure family and friends will bring pies, but just in case they don’t, shop your local on-farm markets for that wonderful home made taste.

Apple CiderLet’s not forget the beverages, Delaware pressed cider, local brews and wines from our growing number of breweries and vineyards will complement the most sumptuous meal.

Most importantly, Thanksgiving is not just about food, it is about family, friends, and sharing.  Hope you enjoy.

Walk on the WILD Side of Volunteering

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

The fall is a great time to be outside (probably not today though).  And…it’s always a great time to volunteer.  That’s why we asked Lynne Staub, our volunteer coordinator for the Division of Fish and Wildlife to tell us more about the incredible variety of volunteer opportunities they offer.


Lynne Staub, Division of Fish and Wildlife

Have you ever listened to frogs calling on a warm summer night, or gotten so close to Delaware’s shorebirds you could almost count their feathers? Have you ever had an opportunity to help restore wildlife habitat with a simple pair of loppers? Volunteer with DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of exciting activities such as these and much more!

Volunteering with Birds!The Division is committed to the conservation and restoration of wildlife species and habitats, and to providing safe and enjoyable fishing, hunting and boating opportunities.  Volunteers play a key role by monitoring wildlife species, restoring native habitats and helping teach environmental education programs.

So if you want to come over to the WILD side of volunteering, DNREC offers plenty of programs to unleash your inner-environmentalist.

Just next month, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help with three projects in state wildlife areas:

The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s volunteer activities range far and wide, covering fish and fowl and plenty in between.

  • Happily Volunteering with DNRECWant to do more toward helping wildlife? Check out the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, which include monitoring opportunities for frogs, shorebirds, piping plovers, osprey, bats and breeding birds.
  • Is education a little more up your alley? The Division is always looking for volunteers to assist with educational programming at the DuPont Nature Center near Milford, the Aquatic Resources Education Center on the Rt. 9 Greenway outside Smyrna, and with the hunter and boater education programs throughout the state.
  • Or just wanting to get outside a little and get moving? Why not sign up for a wildlife area project and help to maintain duck blinds and deer stands, plant trees, remove invasive plants, or keep an eye out for other restoration projects!

Speaking of restoration projects, click here for the calendar of upcoming volunteer opportunities and visit this page to see the broad range of activities. (Please note: there are some age restrictions). Please call ahead to register with contact information in case of inclement weather:  Lynne Staub at 302-735-3600 or

Do something wild and lively this fall,

and get outside with Fish & Wildlife!

Volunteer with DNREC!

Guest Post from…Smokey the Bear!

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

We’re excited to feature a guest post by…none other than…Smokey Bear!

Smokey and Governor MarkellDid you know that wildfires have burned almost 8 million acres in the United States this year? And did you know that most of these wildfires were caused by humans?

In 2010, humans caused 64,807 wildfires, while 7,164 were started by lightning.

That’s nine times as many fires due to human carelessness than any other reason!

This is why I simply can’t “bear” the fact that some people haven’t gotten the important message about wildfire prevention and fire safety.

Smokey Bear greets students at South Dover Elementary

Smokey Bear greets students at South Dover Elementary

Even though Delaware is small, almost a third of its land area (around 30 percent) is still forested. Not only do these scenic areas provide cleaner air and water, the woods are where some of my dearest friends – squirrels, raccoons, deer, and birds – make their homes.

Trees are a sustainable source of paper, building materials, medicines and other goods that make life easier and provide jobs and income for many people. But a tree lost to a needless fire is gone forever. That’s why our forests depend on us to protect them so that future generations can enjoy their many benefits.

Because October is National Fire Prevention Month (and Delaware’s forests are very beautiful this time of year!), I’m partnering with Governor Jack Markell and the Delaware Forest Service to visit first-graders in the state’s public and private elementary schools this month. I’m happy to report that I’ve met some very smart and enthusiastic students who’ve been quick to learn my “Five Rules for Fire Safety”:

  1. “Only you can prevent wildfires!”
  2. Smokey’s A-B-C’s – “Always Be Careful” with fire.
  3. Never play with matches or lighters.  If you find matches or a lighter or see a fire, tell a grown-up quickly.
  4. Always watch your campfire.
  5. Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it.

Last year, I visited 102 schools in Delaware and met almost 9,000 children. I cannot express how extremely happy I am when a child shakes my hand, looks me in the eye, and tells me: “Smokey, I promise to never play with matches.”

But remember, fire safety isn’t just for young people. If you’re over 13 years of age, you can take the Smokey Pledge (click here) and also sign up for a free newsletter. You can also learn about my story and find out how I got started in wildfire prevention.

Don’t forget, I’m counting on YOU.

South Dover Elementary School students listen to Henry Poole of the Delaware Forest Service talk about the importance of fire safety and wildfire prevention. The visit is part of the annual Smokey Bear educational programs for Delaware first-graders.

South Dover Elementary School students listen to Henry Poole of the Delaware Forest Service talk about the importance of fire safety and wildfire prevention. The visit is part of the annual Smokey Bear educational programs for first-graders.

Guest Post: Joseph Masiello, 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Last October, Joseph Masiello — a sixth grade language arts teacher from Cab Calloway School of the Arts in the Red Clay Consolidated School District — was named State Teacher of the Year for 2011. As this year’s 20 nominees prepare for Tuesday night’s award banquet when they will learn who will be the 2012 State Teacher of the Year, Mr. Masiello shares one last message as Delaware’s “Top Teacher.”

Joe Masiello, 2011 Delaware Teacher of the Year

Each day teachers arrive early to their classroom and work late into the afternoon hours — often times bringing work home to be completed throughout the weekend hours as well. We know we will never be paid the salaries of Wall Street employees and we most likely will not receive the recognition that many people get in other careers.

But we continue to teach each and every day knowing that our rewards are far greater than any monetary accolade could provide: We know that we have an opportunity each day to change the world.

A teacher comes in contact with thousands of lives throughout his/her career and has the amazing opportunity to change outcomes, to send a child down a path that he or she never may have considered. Teachers have the opportunity to influence our world, to make it a better place to live in.

As the Delaware Teacher of the Year, I was fortunate to meet many teachers from our great state, and I came to realize that there are hundreds of teachers who are worthy of the same title that I was fortunate to hold for the 2011 year.

It became my mission to speak for those teachers: teachers who come to work each and every day, teaching in innovative ways , inspiring their students to reach higher and to push just a little bit harder. It became my goal to tell the people of our state that we have so many amazing teachers in Delaware and they too are working tirelessly to motivate, inspire and educate the children of our schools.

I am proud and humbled to have been given the opportunity to represent such a stellar group of Delaware teachers. Thank you!

Last year  I sat in the very same seats as this year’s 20 nominees, trying desperately to convince my family and friends that I would not be selected as the Delaware Teacher of the Year. I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed, and as I talked on and on, I realized no one was paying attention to me. I later pulled my partner aside and asked him if they weren’t listening because they were so sure I would be chosen.

He said something I will never forget: “Joey, no one is here to see you accept an award. You’ve already won — you won when you first became a teacher, you won when you took that first job 29 years ago making $10,000 a year, you win every time we’re out in public and a student comes up to you to say ‘thank you’ for being their teacher. We are here to celebrate all that you’ve done for the kids you have taught every day of each year you have been teaching. Tonight is not about choosing a winner, that’s already been done.”

My message to each and every teacher in the room tomorrow night is you already have won. You all are amazing, and the night is all about you.

Cool Spring Farmers Market – Rain or Shine Tonight

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Delaware Fresh:

The leaves are turning and it’s a great day to get outdoors.  We helped kick off the Sussex Outdoors Summit this morning and we’ll be celebrating the success of Cool Spring Farmers Market in Wilmington this evening.

It may be getting colder, but you can still get fresh fruit and vegetables.  There are plenty of ways to enjoy Delaware agriculture this season – there are a few farmers markets still open; you can visit on-the-farm stands and shops; and for a more hands-on experience you can pick your own pumpkin!

The Delaware Department of Agriculture has put together this great guide with plenty of options.  You can also download Delaware Fresh for Androids or iPhones – it will lead you to the closest farmers market or stand.

Farmers markets can help you live healthier, but they’re also a lot of fun.  Come out today (Thursday, Oct 13, 4pm – 8pm) to celebrate the success of Cool Springs Farmers Market, offered by West End Neighborhood House’s Bright Spot Ventures Program and the Cool Springs Neighborhood Association. It features a selection of Delaware produce from leading farmers’ market producers: Tommy Eliassen and Fifer Orchards Farm and is located in Cool Springs Park at 10th and Jackson Streets in Wilmington.

A variety of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, spreads, and homemade pastas, breads and snacks are available for sampling and purchase while enjoying live musical performances.

In addition to providing the community with healthy alternatives, several farmers have donated portions of their unsold crops for distribution through the emergency food closet and for healthy cooking workshops conducted by the Life Lines program for former foster care youth.

The market is also providing employment opportunities and training for a group of former foster care youth through the Bright Spot Ventures social enterprise. They have been doing a great job setting up and taking down the market every week, as well as selling some of the fruits and vegetables.  A portion of all sales are given to Bright Spot Ventures to support continued vocational training.


For more information on how to enjoy fresh produce and Delaware agricultural activities, check out the Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Agricultural Directory.

3 Delaware Schools to Bring Home Blue Ribbons

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Guest post from Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery

Educators, in partnership with invested parents and community members, are working hard across our state to close achievement gaps and ensure every child is succeeding. Some of that work recently led to national honors.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized three Delaware schools, among about 300 nationwide, this month as 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools whose students achieve at very high levels or have made significant progress and helped close gaps in achievement, especially among disadvantaged and minority students.

Long Neck Elementary School in the Indian River School DistrictNellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School in the Caesar Rodney School District, and West Park Place Elementary School in the Christina School District are among the public and private schools that will be honored at a November awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Long Neck Elementary students at work

Long Neck Principal David C. Hudson, Stokes Principal Corey Miklus and West Park Place Principal Ledonnis A. Hernandez — each accompanied by a teacher representative — will represent the state at the ceremony.

Each year since 1982, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored public and private schools based on one of two criteria:

1) Schools whose students, regardless of backgrounds, are high performing. These are schools ranked among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on tests referenced by national norms in at least the most recent year tested; and

2) Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

You can learn more about the Delaware winning schools, their student bodies and how their children are succeeding on state exams by visiting the schools’ profiles on the state’s website.

The Delaware Department of Education’s vision is that every single student in our system will graduate college and career ready, with the freedom to choose his or her life’s course. Key in that statement is the phrase “every single student.” Until every achievement gap is closed and every student — regardless of race, economic background or any other factor — is excelling and leaving our classrooms ready to compete with global peers in the college classroom or marketplace, our work is not complete.

We have a plan to get there and, thanks to the state’s first-place win in the competitive Race to the Top program, we have $119 million in federal grants to get the work done.

While not taking our eyes off the work ahead, we also must celebrate the progress being made and the milestones achieved by these outstanding schools and their dedicated educators, students and parents.

A list of previous Delaware winners is here.

Stokes Elementary celebrates its win


West Park Place Odyssey of the Mind students show off their creative thinking

If You Really Knew Kirk: How Delaware Kids Stand Up to Bullying

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Our kids are back to school – and as parents, we worry when they’re not around.  Across the country, many students, parents, and educators are concerned about bullying.  Bullies can make kids – and adults – feel weak.

But often, kids can surprise and inspire us with their strength, their passion, and their creativity.

To honor the memory of their classmate, John Sullivan, a team of middle school students at Kirk Middle School created “If You Really Knew Kirk.” Working together, the students created a program for their peers that confronted four issues: grief, acceptance, family and bullying.  You can learn more about John and his classmates here.

Now the students have come together again to tell their story by video.

Please take some time to watch it, share it and be inspired.

Watch on YouTube:

Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance: Deadline Approaching

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Guest post from Delaware State Housing Director Anas Ben Addi.

DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi

Have you seen all the Sheriff Sales in the newspapers?  I have, and the numbers are staggering.  With the downturn in the economy over the last few years, more families than ever are losing their home to foreclosure.

If you, or someone you know, have fallen 90 days or more behind on their mortgage due to unemployment, under-employment, illness, or injury – there is help available!

Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) offers the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (DEMAP).  The goal of this program is to stop foreclosure and keep families in their home. DSHA’s DEMAP program recently received a huge boost of $6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to help even more families save their home.

I hear from many families who think they are too far behind and their home can’t be saved.  Many times, that’s not the case at all.

DEMAP offers up to $50,000 to bring your mortgage, taxes and insurance current, and may be able to help make your mortgage payments for up to two years.

I know this sounds too good to be true, but it’s not!  Even if you’re not sure that you will qualify, give us a call and let us try to help you. The $6 million in federal assistance is only available until September 30 – so call now!

The toll-free number is 888-363-8808, or visit


Delaware State Fair: Celebrating Agriculture and Communities

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

I’m looking forward to this year’s Delaware State Fair!  Here’s a guest post by Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee.


July in Delaware means it is State Fair time.

Secretary KeeThe Fair means a lot of different things to different people, but there is no doubt that celebrating our agriculture is the major theme.  After all, Delaware agriculture is based on 2,500 farmers and generates $1.2 billion in sales every year, which expands to $8 billion worth of economic activity in the state. 

Our state ranks 9th nationwide in the percentage of land area devoted to cropland.  Thirty-five percent of Delaware’s land mass is devoted to cropland, 42% of our land is in farms.  When cropland (35%) is combined with forestlands (31%), 65% of Delaware is open space.

The livestock competitions, the 4-H and FFA youth exhibits and contests, the produce and crop-judging contests and the incredible display of farm equipment illustrate that Delaware agriculture is alive and well.

In the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity and Education Buildings, virtually all of Delaware’s agricultural commodities will be on display.  The building will be full of farmers and producers to explain, demonstrate, and promote the farm products they depend upon to make a living.

All of this activity reflects the diversity of our agriculture.  We also have a great new display that illustrates Delaware Agriculture’s 300-year history and celebrates its critically important role for our state.

The Fair, to me, and I am sure to hundreds of others, is about people and the memories of being with those great people over the years.

I’ve kissed a pig, cleaned the stalls and laughed so hard my ribs hurt. Most of my best fair memories revolve around my great friend and former colleague Dave Woodward and all the other University of Delaware Extension workers and Department of Ag riculture staff who have been dedicated to the fair and what it stands for.  Of course, we were all there for the farmers and the youth, which is a great and continuing reason to be at the Fair.

I also must reveal my favorite Fair foods: The Grange chicken platters; the Farm Bureau cheeseburgers and milkshakes, and a long-gone lemonade stand sponsored by the Red Clay Lions Club.  Just thinking of those treats, brings back a flood of memories of fun and fellowship with a wide array of friends at the fair.

State Fair Cooking


Looking Back at the Legislative Session

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I want to thank the Legislature for a very productive session. We worked together to achieve many of the priorities I set forth in my State of the State address: enhanced tools to create jobs, investments in education and infrastructure, pension and health reform, public safety initiatives and responsible tax reductions.

Signing FY 2012 Budget

This session presented us with both a chance and a choice. A chance to make progress on the issues we care most passionately about and a choice on how we were going to get there — whether it was going to be through the kind of bitter and divisive debates that you see in other states, or whether we were going to work together.

We not only chose to work together, but we chose to do so in a way that was financially responsible. Here are some of the highlights of what got done this session:

  • Enhanced tools to help create jobs, including the New Jobs Infrastructure Fund and the New Job Creation Credit, based on practical feedback from employers.
  • Investments in infrastructure and higher education projects to create jobs immediately while strengthening our long-term economic foundation.
  • Responsible tax reductions to provide help for industries critical to Delaware’s economic core — manufacturing, small business and financial services — promoting job creation and our state’s competitiveness.
  • Pension and health reform, which will result in more than $480 million in savings over the next 15 years. We took a more respectful and inclusive approach, and it succeeded.
  • Landmark civil unions legislation, taking a step forward in civil rights that will make a real difference in the lives of many Delaware families.
  • Investments in early childhood education that will have a lasting impact on our economy and our children’s future.
  • Continued efforts to improve K-12 education with legislation to strengthen the charter school system, better enable schools to attract the best teachers, add more teachers, improve accountability, expand language education and deliver services for children with disabilities more equitably and effectively.
  • Concrete steps to improve public safety, working together with local law enforcement and moving forward efforts to keep guns out of the hands of people who are not legally eligible to have them.

To learn more about the FY 2012 Budget and read a more in-depth summary of our legislative accomplishments, please click here.

As we move forward to implement these efforts together, we want your ideas and feedback. Please join the conversation on our Facebook page, find us on Twitter, or contact us through

Scenes from Around the State