Thanksgiving dinner help is just a mouse click or phone call away, thanks to a number of consumer hotlines and Web pages (social media, too) focusing on the holiday season. Whether sponsored by government agencies, trade groups or food companies, these outlets are resources for useful answers to your pressing cooking problems; they offer shopping pointers, recipes, food safety tips, advice for leftovers and practical storage ideas.
Here are a few to check out:
USDA: Seasonal food safety tips are available from the United States Department of Agriculture, www.fsis.usda.gov. Click on Countdown to Thanksgiving for ways to prep the turkey and Let's Talk Turkey for ways to safely roast the bird. Or, speak to a food safety expert at the toll-free meat and poultry hotline, 888-674-6854. The hotline is open Monday through Friday and on Thanksgiving Day. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service posts food safety tweets on Twitter. Or go to Ask Karen, a resource for various cooking and food safety questions.
Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: For 34 years, Butterball operators have been talking turkey with consumers. Call 800-288-8372 for help on weekdays (also the weekend before Thanksgiving and until 4 p.m. on T-Day itself). The company emphasizes what it calls the “Four T’s of Food Safety”: Thaw (24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey), Temperature (use a meat thermometer), Two-Hour Storage (window after cooking for refrigerating leftovers), Three Days to Eat (refrigerated leftovers).
Crisco Pie & Baking Hotline: Call 877-367-7438 or go to crisco.com for help with your baked goods and pies. The hotline is open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving) through Nov. 23 and Dec. 19-23.
King Arthur Flour Baker’s Hotline: Ask questions about pies, yeast rolls or whatever else you’re baking. Call 855-371-2252 (4 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST weekdays or 5 a.m to 6 p.m. weekends) or email using the form on the website, www.kingarthurflour.com.
National Turkey Federation: This trade association at www.eatturkey.com/thanksgiving offers instructions and tips on prepping, cooking, serving and storing the bird, plus a history of Thanksgiving and turkey, recipes and wine suggestions.
Ocean Spray: The cranberry folks have a toll free line for questions, weekdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. PST, 800-662-3263, or go to http://www.oceanspray.com/Who-We-Are/FAQs.aspx for FAQs and recipe links.
Sara Lee Pie Hotline: Call 888-914-1247 for pie tips on weekdays 5 a.m to 4 p.m. PST (including Thanksgiving until 11 a.m. PST). Or tweet your questions to @saraleedesserts using the hashtag #PerfectPie during hotline hours.
The Bee’s Kathy Morrison contributed to this report