TSA says a little bit of gravy okay to take on a plane; a grenade is not

One of the greatest byproducts of having kids is that the grandparents visit us during the holidays. Traveling around Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a nightmare so I’m glad we’re not navigating airport gates and TSA security screening today with the millions of other modern-day pilgrims. If we were, I wouldn’t be taking food. According to TSA, food complicates the screening process.

When it comes to bringing items through checkpoints, we’ve seen just about everything. Traveling with food or gifts is an even bigger challenge. Everyone has favorite foods from home that they want to bring to holiday dinners, or items from their destination that they want to bring back home.

Not sure about what you can and can’t bring through the checkpoint? Here’s a sample list of liquid, aerosol and gel items that you should put in your checked bag, ship ahead, or leave at home if they are above the permitted 3.4 oz.

   * Cranberry sauce
   * Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
   * Gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings)
   * Gravy
   * Jams
   * Jellies
   * Lotions
   * Maple syrup
   * Oils and vinegars
   * Salad dressing
   * Salsa
   * Sauces
   * Snowglobes
   * Soups
   * Wine, liquor and beer
You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening.

So are grenades, as Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips found out in Oklahoma City.

Post thanksgiving gravy, some creamy dips, or salsa aren’t the best things to transport without refrigeration, less than 3.4oz or not. Gravy has been linked to lots and lots of outbreaks, particularly those associated with Clostridium perfringens. Julian Grass, MPH, a surveillance epidemiologist at the CDC Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, and colleagues presented a summary of C. perfringens outbreaks at International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in March 2012.

C. perfringens outbreaks are often the result of improperly cooled food or food held at room temperature for extended periods.

Grass was cited as saying, “We thought it was particularly interesting that outbreaks peak during the holiday season, when people tend to gather in large groups to eat foods such as roasts, gravies, and poultry that are cooked in large batches or prepared ahead of serving.”

Grass told Medscape Medical News, “Our finding that meats are by far the most common vehicle of C. perfringens outbreaks speaks to the need for proper cooking, cooling, and hot holding of these foods.”

Pretty hard to properly hot- or cold-hold gravy during airplane travel. Jelly should be okay.

She Don’t Use Jelly from Slow•Nerve•Action on Vimeo.

Clean up the spilled gravy or get sued if someone slips

A far north Queensland woman is seeking more than half a million dollars in compensation after slipping on gravy at a bowls club (that’s what they call lawn bowling in Australia).

Eeva (Eeva) Johanna Watchers, 35, filed documents in the Cairns District Court this week saying she had fallen near a buffet at the Edmonton Bowls Club in July 2008 and dislocated her right knee.?? Ms Watchers says the slip left her with permanent knee damage and she’s been unable to return to work.

Top Chef: Medium-rare lamb is 140F and soy sauce is the secret ingredient in perfect gravy

Jennifer and daughter Ingrid brought the lamb, I did the cooking, and Amy’s mom flew in from Vegas. Another Thursday night in Manhattan (Kansas).

What better occasion to try out alleged perfect gravy that scientists with the U.K. Royal Society of Chemistry have determined contains drippings from a roast on a bed of halved onions, carrots and celery and the left-over water from boiled cabbage.

Add salt, pepper and a sprinkling of flour to thicken and …  a touch of soy sauce.

Dr John Emsley, a chemical scientist, says soy sauce should be used in place of traditional gravy browning because monosodium glutamate from the soy sauce brings out the meaty flavour.

A spokesman for the society said:

“Chemistry and cooking are basically the same thing. Both need to have the correct formula, equipment and procedures. Just think of Heston Blumenthal.”

Eww. Blumenthal makes me think norovirus and barf.

And I didn’t take pictures of Thursday’s dinner, but Top Chef on Wed. night also struggled with lamb, and none of the hot-shot chefs could agree on how to define medium-rare lamb.

Chef Kevin (left):

“We’re having temperature issues with the lamb. What I think of as medium-rare, is apparently what she thinks of as rare. I don’t know who’s right or wrong, I don’t know if there is anyone who is right or wrong.”

The judges knew:

“This was seared raw lamb that was horrible.”

“Severely underdone.”

“Center was like jello.”

“A little too bloody.”

The lamb shoulder roast we had last night was cooked to 140F. There’s even a chart on the Internet that says medium-rare lamb is 140F. I have no idea where the numbers on the chart came from, but it seems about right.

Genius chefs and judges: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

The gravy was delicious.