Go ‘Bananas’ for Summer Treats

July is National Ice Cream month and even has its own day on July 17th in 2016! Ice cream as we know it is made from dairy products, sweeteners, gelatin, flavorings, fruits and other ingredients. America loves ice cream. In fact, the average American consumes nearly 22 pounds of this delectable dessert per year (IDFA.com).

But look out ice cream, there’s a new ‘one ingredient ice-cream’ in town and it’s taking the internet and media by storm! It’s low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and is a great source of dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. Further, it’s perfect for those looking for a guilt-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free, or vegan treat with no added sugar. What is it?

If you guessed BANANAS, you are right!! Thanks to banana’s high pectin content and a bit of kitchen wizardry, bananas make a wonderful soft-serve treat. And because it’s a simple, make-it-yourself treat, you can personalize it with additions of other fruits, nut butters, chocolate chips, nuts, cocoa, spices, or any other add-in desired. Or, bananas can be the only ingredient.

Besides bananas (and any other fruit or add-in desired), you will need a high-powered processor to pulverize the fruit. There are designated frozen dessert soft-serve processors on the market which work very well such as the Yonanas, Big Boss, and Dessert Bullet. However, a blender or food processor will usually work equally as well as long as it is powerful enough to pulverize frozen bananas.

So how do you make this magical treat? It starts with the bananas. Always use bananas that are ‘cheetah spotted’ or over ripe. 20160531_223140These bananas are the sweetest and have developed their pectin potential. 20160531_223509

 

Peel the bananas and cut into ¼-inch coins if using a food processor or blender; if a designated dessert processor is used, follow the manufactures directions.20160531_223744

Place the banana pieces in an airtight freezer bag and freeze for at least 2 hours before using; 24 hours is best. Do the same with other fruits you intend to use with your bananas. Remove bananas and other fruit from the freezer and let thaw for 10-15 minutes before making your treat.

One large banana will make two servings especially if additional fruit is used. The ratio of banana to other fruit is about one banana to 3/8 cup fruit. You can make a bigger batch as long as the food processor or blender is big enough and powerful enough. If using a designated dessert processor, follow the manufacturers’ directions for preparing your soft-serve treat by feeding the fruit through the tube into the pulverizing part of the machine.

20160609_203407If using a blender or food processor, follow these instructions: place the frozen banana pieces (and other frozen fruit , if using) in the blender or food processor and pulse. At first the banana pieces will look crumbled, then mushy and gooey something like oatmeal, and suddenly they will magically become smooth and creamy. You will have to stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and help move the fruit into the blades. After the magic happens, continue to blend for a few more seconds to add a little air and blend in any nut butters, cocoa, flavorings or spices desired. 

20160609_204819The banana soft-serve is now ready to eat. Stir in any additional whole or chopped add-ins or top off as desired. OR, put it in an airtight container and freeze until solid or for later use.

Recipe ideas are endless. To get started, check out Banana “Ice Cream”, Chocolate Banana Ice Cream, and the Yonanas recipe website and let your imagination go. Enjoy your ______-free treat!

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Plants to avoid this summer

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are all things that we want to avoid when spending time hiking, camping or even golfing (can you tell I have looked for a few golf balls in the woods). The first and most important part of prevention is learning to identify the plants. The attached links show what these plants look like to help you to know which ones to avoid when you are out having fun!

Here are some things to remember if you come in contact with any of these plants.

  • It is important to wash the oil off as quickly as possible with soap and water. The oil enters the skin quickly and can leave skin with an itchy red rash with bumps or blisters. Make sure that you pay attention to your fingernails as well.
  • The rash does not spread by the fluid from the blisters. Once the urushiol oil has been washed off the skin it will not spread from person to person.
  • Most people don’t react to the urushiol immediately. It can vary from 6-8 hours or it may even be days before you see the rash develop.
  • All items that have come in contact with the plant oil need to be cleaned well. The oil remains on tools, clothing, shoes and pets for a very long time. If you come in contact with those items in the future it can cause the rash to return if it was not cleaned off.
  • Keep your pets from coming in contact with these plants so the urushiol doesn’t stick to their fur which can spread to you. If you think your pet has been exposed give your pet a bath and use long rubber gloves to keep from spreading it to your arms.
  • Wash all of your clothes immediately in your washing machine. Be careful to not have the clothes touch the outside part of your washing machine or the floor. If you feel those areas may have been exposed wash with soap and water. Remember to wash sleeping bags, jewelry, gloves or anything that may have come in contact with the oil.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when you are walking in areas that may have these plants.
  • Do NOT burn poison ivy, oak or sumac to get rid of it. The resins can be spread in the smoke and anyone breathing it could have severe reactions. See a medical professional immediately if you are having trouble breathing and you think you may have been exposed to smoke from the burning of these plants.

Being out in the woods is a fun summer activity but being aware of your surroundings and able to identify these plants is important. Teach yourselves and your kids what to look for and what to do if you are exposed.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Too many berries? Freeze a pie!

imageMy family loves pie! My son, who lives on the east coast, firmly believes you can’t find a pie there that equals what you can find in the Midwest. With berry season here, you may want to consider making some extra pies now to freeze for later use.

If freezing an UNBAKED filled pie, add an extra 1-2 Tablespoons flour or ½ Tablespoon cornstarch to compensate for the extra moisture that will exude while baking. Do not cut vents in the top of double crust pies before freezing. Wrap, label, and freeze for up to three months. Bake unthawed pies at 425 degrees 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 25-35 minutes. For easier clean-up, bake the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

BAKED and filled double-crust pies may be frozen up to 6 months. Be sure to wrap them well and label them before freezing. When ready to eat the pie, loosen the wrapping, and thaw in the refrigerator. Warm thawed pies in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning if necessary.

I plan to freeze some pies for my son for the next time he comes home!image

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Am I saving money by canning my own food?

Home food preservation has been pretty popular during the time that I’ve been working at AnswerLine.  We certainly get lots of calls about it; but one question is rarely asked. I think BWB1callers assume that they are saving lots of money by preserving food at home.  If you are canning or freezing food only because you think you are saving lots of money, you may want to take a deeper look.

There really are many reasons to preserve your own food.  Gardeners really enjoy tasting produce from their gardens year round.  Some people with health issues are happy to spend time and energy ensuring that the food they have is free from added salt or sugar.  Some people are committed to the idea of local foods, and some people really just enjoy the process of canning or freezing food.

Both of the common forms of food preservation, canning or freezing can provide a lot of entertainment.  However, if you are only interested in the financial aspect of the process then we should consider all the “hidden” costs of preserving your food at home.

You will need to consider:

  1. The cost of buying the freezer and maintaining it
  2. Electricity to run the freezer
  3. Material costs for freezer containers or freezer bags
  4. Ingredients such as water, fruit juice, sugar, anti-darkening solutions
  5. You may also want to consider your time, unless it is a hobby that you truly enjoy
  6. The cost of a canner
  7. The cost of the jars, rings, flats
  8. Electricity or gas for you stove
  9. Canning tools, such as funnels and jar lifters
  10. Repair to the canner, including gasket replacement or gauge testing
  11. The actual cost of the produce you are preserving–either seeds or purchase price
  12. The cost of your recipe books for safe, tested recipes

If you add up all the costs and compare them with the cost of food purchased at the grocery store, you may find you are not saving much money after all.  If you want to calculate the cost of freezing food, Colorado State University has a handy chart to help you calculate.

I’ve always enjoyed the process and using my home preserved foods.  I’ve never really worried about saving money; we just enjoy the food.  Happy canning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Campfire Safety Tips

Campfire SafetySummer fun often includes hiking, camping, and campfires. There’s nothing like sitting around an open campfire with family and friends, roasting hot dogs on a stick, toasting marshmallows for one more s‘more, and swapping stores or singing as the evening darkens.   Keep in mind, that while it is a magical and memorable activity, it is also an activity that poses dangers.  Campfire safety is of utmost importance.

With that in mind, here are 10 great campfire safety tips provided by the US Forest Service and the American Burn Association:

  • Choose a protected spot noting the direction of the wind and fire restrictions
  • Build fires in a designated ring/pit at least 15 feet away from all flammable objects or materials
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance with a “circle of safety” at 3 feet from the fire’s edge
  • Use long sticks or skewers to roast hotdogs and marshmallows
  • Have water and a shovel nearby
  • Keep the fire small
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Gather tinder, kindling, and approved firewood to start your fire; never use a flammable liquid
  • Talk to children about campfire safety
  • Completely extinguish the fire with WATER

While all of the tips are important, extinguishing the fire properly is of upmost importance. According to the US Forest Service, it is the least adhered to rule and is the leading cause of injury and destruction.  Follow Smokey Bear’s  Drown-Stir-Drown-Feel method to make sure it is done right:

  • Drown the campfire with lots water; never bury a fire with dirt or sand
  • Stir the ashes and drown with water again
  • Check to make sure the campfire is cold by holding your bare hands just above the wet ashes
  • If you feel heat, stir again and drown with water

Discover more by visiting these websites: Smokey Bear’s Campfire Safety Guide or the American Burn Association’s Campfire Safety: Cool the Coals.

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Displaying Quilts in Your Home

Quilt1

In a previous blog, we discussed methods for cleaning the quilts you may have in your home.

 

 

 

Here are a few tips for hanging that special quilt:

 

  1. If the quilt is an older one or a on the delicate side, consider sewing a lining to the entire back of the quilt. The lining will help protect the quilt from dust and will help support the hanging weight of the quilt. Use an unbleached muslin that you have washed and dried a few times. This will soften the lining and allow the quilt to drape or hang more naturally.
  2. You can also make a casing the width of the quilt. You can use leftover scraps from the quilt if you have them, or use the unbleached muslin again. This casing helps distribute the hanging weight of the quilt more evenly.
  3. If you put a casing at both the top and bottom of the quilt, you can change the direction it is hanging occasionally.
  4. Remember not to hang the quilt in direct sunlight. Even indirect sunlight can cause the fabrics in the quilt to fade. Dark fabrics are affected more rapidly than other colors.
  5. Avoid areas with extreme temperature changes; such as near a heat duct or a window. Over time this can damage the quilt.
  6. Change the quilts you have on display periodically. Old quilts may stretch or tear if hung on display for long periods of time.
  7. Avoid hanging quilts in kitchens were dust and grease fumes can soil the quilt rapidly. Also avoid areas where people or pets will often touch the quilt. Skin oils will also add to the soil and stains on a quilt.
  8. NEVER hang a quilt by directly tacking or nailing it to the wall. NEVER hang a quilt with clip-on metal curtain hangers. The weight of the quilt gradually creates small tears where it is clipped.

If you have a number of quilts, you will want to store them carefully between the times that you choose to display them on your wall. Of course, the easiest way to store them is to use them on a bed that is seldom slept on. Otherwise, the best methods for storing quilts are:

  1. Acid-free boxes or papers would be best for storing quilts, but if unavailable, quilts can be wrapped in clean cotton sheets or washed, unbleached muslin.
  2. Quilts can be stored folded in acid-free boxes or storage units or rolled around cardboard tubing. If you choose the rolled method of storage, it’s best to purchase acid-free cardboard tubes from an archival supply vendor (see attached list). If an acid-free tube is not used, cover the tube with a protective barrier layer of tin foil, then muslin or acid free tissue. If quilts are stored folded, folds should be padded with acid-free tissue paper in the folds
  3. .Plastics should generally NOT BE USED for storage. They contain harmful vapors which contribute to the deterioration of the fabrics. Plastics which are particularly harmful: dry cleaner’s bags, heavy duty garbage bags, garment bags and Styrofoam.
  4. Newspapers and cardboard boxes are NOT OKAY because they are full of harmful decaying agents — just remember how your newspaper looks after being out in the sun for only a few minutes. Think of what contact with your quilt can mean!
  5. Don’t stack too many folded quilts on top of each other or else the weight of all of the quilts will create creases that are hard to get out. For the same reason, unfold and refold your quilts every 3-6 months to avoid severe creasing.

 

Enjoy the quilts in your home. I have quilt racks in most of the rooms in my home; several rooms have two or three quilt racks. I enjoy rotating the quilts seasonally.

 

 

 

 

 

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Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Salad tips plus a dressing recipe

saladSummertime is Salad Time! Here are some tips for making a delicious salad:

First, buy the freshest greens you can find and buy a variety to add interesting tastes and textures. Farmers Markets are a great source for greens this time of year.

Store your salad greens correctly. Remove any excess water from the greens when you bring them home. Head lettuces can be shaken out, wrapped in paper towel, and stored in a plastic bag. Loose greens can be put through a salad spinner or wrapped in a kitchen towel and shaken. Storing all greens in a plastic bag with a paper towel in the crisper keeps them fresh longer.

Make homemade dressing if possible. Many take five minutes or less to make and do not contain preservatives. Spend Smart. Eat Smart. has a wonderful video and some dressing recipes.

Use your hands to toss the salad to prevent bruising and crushing tender greens.

Toss vegetables separately and place on top of tossed greens. This prevents them from ending up on the bottom of the salad bowl where they may or may not get coated with dressing very well.

If you prepare your favorite protein to add to the salad you have a quick and easy Summertime meal!

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Experiment with White whole wheat flour!

white whole wheat flourAre you looking to increase the servings of whole grains in your diet but don’t enjoy the strong flavor that comes with whole wheat flour? You may want to try white whole wheat flour. It is milled from 100% hard white wheat and has the same nutritional value as traditional whole wheat but is lighter in color and flavor. It has a softer feel and sweeter taste. Because of its milder taste it is often called “sweet wheat” by the farmers who grow it. What white whole wheat is missing is the pigment that makes the outer layer of bran the traditional reddish color. That pigment contains an acid which is associated with the stronger, astringent taste of whole wheat.

How do you bake with white whole wheat flour? For best results substitute 100% in recipes calling for whole wheat flour; 50% in any recipe calling for all-purpose flour; and 25% in light-colored baked goods like cake and bread.

Whole grains are a great source of antioxidents, vitamin B, magnesium, iron and fiber. You might want to buy a bag and store it in your freezer and experiment! I experimented with some cookies this week and everyone in the office is enjoying them!S'mores cookies

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Caring for your quilts

Quilt2

Quilting is my favorite hobby, and the one that consumes most of my time. Since quilting has been popular for quite a few years now (I got started in 1980) it seems possible that you may have a quilt in your home that you need to clean.

If you have been using the quilt on a bed, it is possible that the quilt has stains from food or body oils. A quilt that has only used for display will probably have more dust and dirt from the air than stains.  Quilts can best be cleaned using one of two methods.

You can choose to vacuum a quilt or wash it with water. Vacuuming the quilt puts the least stress on the quilt.  You will want to use a small screen and a small vacuum.  The screen will be placed between the vacuum and the quilt.  The screen prevents damage to the quilt from the suction of vacuum on the quilt as you clean it.  You should vacuum both the front and the back of the quilt.  Pay special attention to the creases in the quilt and try to remove all dust from those areas.  Resist the urge to give the quilt a good shake outdoors.  The shaking can stress both the quilting stitches and the piecing stitching.  Additionally, if the fabric in the quilt is old and delicate, shaking can damage it, too.

If you must wash the quilt, you will want to check to be sure that all the fabrics in the quilt are color fast.  If the dyes run while washing, you will have more stains to clean than just oils and dirt.  Use the largest place possible to wash the quilt.  This may mean washing it in the bath tub.  Avoid over agitating the quilt and wringing it out.  Be sure to use a very mild soap, preferably use one designed for washing quilts.  Rinse the quilt well and allow it to drain as much water as possible before moving it to dry.  You can dry the quilt outside, in the shade on a sheet.  If you want to use the clothes line to dry it, make a hammock out of a large sheet and lay the quilt on it.  You may want to lay it over several different clothes lines to spread the weight of the quilt out over a larger area.  If the wet quilt hangs by itself, you may cause irreparable damage to the stitching in the quilt.

If you have more questions about cleaning your quilts, please call or email us at AnswerLine.  We would love to help you.

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Make your own Biscuit Mix or Master Mix

sourdough starter pictureWe sometimes get calls this time of the year from people who want to make their own baking mix.  It is readily available at the store, but much more economical to make it yourself.  Just remember to use clean surfaces and measure carefully.  These mixes are great for a camping vacation or a weekend at the cabin.

 

 

 

BISCUIT MIX

This baking mix contains less sodium than the commercial kind.             Yield:  15 cups

10 cups flour

1 2/3 cups nonfat dry milk powder

1/3 cup baking powder

2 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)

1 2/3 cups vegetable shortening

In a 6 to 8 quart container thoroughly mix the flour, dry milk, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until well mixed.  Store tightly covered in a cool dry place and use within 3 months.  Stir lightly before measuring.

Recipe from  Homemade Convenience Foods Made with Nonfat Dry Milk, Pm-1183 March 1985.

 

MASTER MIX                                                                                     Yields 13 cups.

9 cups sifted flour

1/3 cup baking powder

4 teaspoons salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons instant nonfat milk crystals

1 3/4 cups vegetable shortening

Stir baking powder, dry milk and salt into sifted flour. Sift all dry ingredients together until well mixed.

Cut fat into flour mixture until all particles of fat are thoroughly coated and mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Store in tightly covered container.  Mix will keep for 6 weeks in refrigerator.

 

To make Muffins use 3 cups master mix

1 egg or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried egg mix plus 1 tablespoon warm water

1 cup milk or water

2 tablespoons sugar

To make Pancakes use 2 cups master mix

1 egg or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried egg mix plus 1 tablespoon warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

butter or margarine for the skillet

Recipe from the USDA

Remember to store either mix in an airtight container.  It should be kept in a cool, dark place.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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