Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Jan 2, 2009 06:10 AM

What Would You Do??

Hey Hounds

So here's the thing. How do you keep yourself safe and not offend anyone.

My in-laws have no concept of food safety. When I visit I try to do all the cooking and try to keep things as fresh and safe as possible. It doesn't always work as I found out on Monday but that's another story.

So this morning I awoke to the smell of onions cooking on the stove. I knew that meant my FIL decided to cook breakfast. I also knew that two things would be included in this breakfast. First of all, yesterday afternoon he cooked some potatoes. After they're cooked, he drains the water and they live on the stove until consumed. Secondly, he has ham in the fridge. We've been down here a week and it was there before we got here. I haven't had any intention of eating it because I don't know how long it's been in there. It's been over a week now.

If I don't eat it my FIL will be upset. If I do, my stomach will be upset (And/or worse).

So how would you handle this??


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. next time.....Offer to take everyone out for breakfast at a popular place known for their breakfasts in the area.

    1. Eat around the ham and get up early to get some bagels.

      7 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        First of all, I'm not getting up at 6am.

        Secondly, he's planned this since yesterday.


        1. re: Davwud


          New suggestion:

          Take that attitude & syntax to the FIL. He'd probably throw up his hands and surrender.

          No need to rip a suggestion from someone trying to assist.

          1. re: jfood

            Sorry jfood. I wasn't ripping it. I'm just pointing out that it's not gonna happen. Both because he's an early riser and secondly because he gets these ideas in his head and won't take no for an answer.
            Today he asked us if we could do something that was completely unreasonable and then got all offended when we said no.

            My FIL will not look upon anything as anything other than a "He doesn't like my food" insult. If you explain to him that the food might have cooties, he's gonna say "No, it's alright."


            1. re: Davwud


              I was hoping to beat him into the kitchen this morning but no luck.


              1. re: Davwud

                not to worry.

                there seem to be more issues than the cooked ham, like the ham cooking. jfood's mom made turkey for him once when he he visited, which was also the last time he ate there, and she was so proud that she woke up at 5 to cook the turkey and she had it sitting out since it came out of theoven at 930AM on the counter in the sun and it was now 530PM.

                The jfoods would not eat it and simply explained that they did not want to risk eating a turkey sitting on the counter for 7 hours. Was she offended? Yup. But c'est la vie.

                So either take the heat for telling him you'd prefer not eating it, explain why, eat it and take a chance, or move it around the plate.

                Either suck it up or suck it in.


                1. re: jfood


                  If it were my dad I'd have no problem saying something. Even considering how sensitive he is. But when it's my FIL I feel a certain need for respect.

                  I don't mind how he cooks the ham. He's old, diabetic and has heart problems. He needs to watch his fat intake. If I know when the ham was cooked, I'll use it no problem. Ham biscuits, red eye gravy and such.
                  The handling of all the food in the house that I don't have control over is a problem. If only from an ick factor. Food left uncovered for days that dries out and/or get's an icky skin on it. It's all just gross.

                  Their handling of utensils, cooking vessels and plates, etc. is also an issue for me. I wash everything before I use it. Always. I never know. MIL has Alzheimer's and will load the dish washer then when full, unload it without ever running a cycle.

                  They so need to be in a home or at least have some assistance in home but will have nothing to do with it. If you ask them, "We can look after ourselves." My FIL still doesn't believe the doctor who said that he had a stroke. After all, what would a doctor know??? LOL.

                  Happy New Year jfood.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Very nice D.

                    Jfood just returned from FL visiting MIL with the exact different problem. The kiychen is like an autoclave. It's the only house in the FL the ants boycot, not that that is so bad.

                    Happy New Year to you and yours as well.

          1. re: c oliver

            I've already read and posted about it.


          2. Sorry. I don't complicate my life like this:
            "If I don't eat it my FIL will be upset. If I do, my stomach will be upset (And/or worse)."

            There is ABSOLUTELY no question in my mind what I would do about this. Do NOT eat the ham. Do not EVER compromise your health. If you do, it is YOUR fault, not someone else's fault if you are scared of them being "mad." Do not tiptoe around the subject. your health is not something to tiptoe around. LET THEM KNOW or else, again, you only have yourself to blame. Take responsibilty for YOURSELF - you will be MUCH happier if you do.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gordeaux

              Yeah, I'd be polite though. I'd probably be like "That ham is still here?! How long have you had it?" and then if he says "2 months, it's fine" I'd be like "nah, I won't risk it ta".

              Day old potatoes are not too bad, but I'd put them in the microwave overnight because it's airtight (and I cant stand cold potatoes)

            2. I wouldn't eat that food. I just wouldn't. Or, more likely, I couldn't. I feel queasy just thinking about it. And, it's enough of a priority to me that I would bite the bullet and risk having my ILs miffed at me in order to explain to them, politely, why.

              I've had a similar situation before with my MIL, who was of the generation who thought it was just peachy to thaw ground beef out on the counter all day long. I told her, gently, why I wouldn't eat it. She wasn't happy with me. She got over it, but, honestly, if she hadn' long as I was respectful and kind in explaining my point of view, I don't much care. I'd rather be healthy, and I'm a grown-up. Ultimately, my safety and welfare is up to me, and if I get sick by doing something I believe to be risky, it's my own responsibility.

              Carbohydrates like rice and potato are quintessential breeding grounds for bad bacteria. That bothers me much more than the ham, even. Though, knowing me, I probably would have found a way to sneak around in the fridge and see if the ham had a use-by date on it (although--you didn't say whether it was still packaged or if it had been previously cooked and this was the left-over ham).

              So...whadja decide to do? And, most importantly, are you feeling all right? Chances are you'll be okay, if you did eat it. I know that sounds contradictory to my rant, Davwud; it's just that I don't take chances with food, if I can help it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Steady Habits

                I had food poisoning as a kid. I have to be careful. I don't have to be militant about it but certain things can trigger a steady parade to the bathroom. So I try to be good about things.

                The ham in question is a regular ham that he brings home and boils to get rid of a lot of fat. He then carves it up and puts it in the fridge. Most of the time it's not covered or if it is, it's loosely covered with aluminum foil. I always kid Mrs. Sippi that they feel that if the cooties can't see it, it'll be okay.

                Anyway, I had tried to be diligent on Monday with things. Somehow (I think it was an egg) I ate something wrong and ended up sitting in the bathroom lamenting my choices.

                This morning was actually pretty easy. I waited until they were out of the kitchen. I dirtied up a plate and put it in the sink. Mrs. Sippi wouldn't eat it either. She told me to put it in a container and put it in the fridge. "They'll never know." So that's what I did.


                1. re: Davwud


                  I'm so glad you found a way through that minefield.

                  I understand your POV, completely. I wrote previously on another thread about a friend who contracted E Coli. Six weeks in the hospital, recovered *mostly*, but now a compromised immune system for life. Foodborne illnesses, food poisoning, all those things...just not worth it. Now...I'm yer basic New Englander, which means, the older I get, the more plain-speaking I get, but I understand, too, that these are your in-laws and sometimes that requires a deft touch on the diplomatic front. Sounds like you're better at that than I am! So I'm glad you avoided risk to life and limb and were able to preserve the family relationships. :-) P.S. I liked the fact that your FIL boils off the fat, but, in my little bubble, sliced ham goes in the freezer if not consumed within two or three days. (I figure that practice goes in my favor to counteract the fact that two boisterous retrievers like to jump up and put their paws on the counter while they see if there's anything they'd like to graze upon.)

                  1. re: Steady Habits

                    I buy whole hams and make up freezer bags of them that'll only last us a few days. I probably get about 5 bags per ham.