Move More

Young woman practicing iyengar yoga at home in her living room.

New Years resolutions are often broken by the time we reach mid-January. Last week we talked about the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website and all the amazing information you can access on that site. Today I wanted to mention the Move section of the Spend Smart. Eat Smart website.

The Move section details some of the many benefits of leading an active life. There is also information listing the different types of exercise and the amount of exercise you should do to live a healthy life. The site encourages movement and exercise and provides detailed explanations of the moves required to do the exercises with perfect form.

There are also several videos that you can watch and follow along to get in a good work out. Check this site out today if you feel your New Years resolution slipping away.

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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Feeding birds

Several birds are feeding around a bird feeder during a heavy snow. There is a red cardinal and some other birds on and sitting on a wire beside the feeder, in the background you can see the heavy snow with many trees of a forrest in the background. A very scenic and tranquil scene of winter and some lucky birds.

It has been such an odd winter, with temperatures rising and falling and no real snow cover. I always have my bird feeders out in the winter but the lack of actual winter weather had me wondering if it was still necessary to feed the birds. I wondered what information was available through our Extension and Outreach resources that could answer my questions.

I’ve learned that birds will eat from feeders all year and that birdseed is only a part of a wild bird’s diet. Habitat around the feeder is important so I’m grateful that we live out in the country and my feeder is placed at the edge of a pasture. The trees and bushes in the pasture provide shelter and a place to hide for the more timid birds. We often attract a wide variety of birds; Cardinals, Blue Jays, various Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Grackels, and Starlings.

I have often purchased bird seed without really understanding what I was buying. This chart provides information on which seed is preferred by different species of birds. I have a greater understanding of how the seed I have in my feeder affects which birds are attracted to my feeder. As much as I enjoy the Blue Jays, I will be sure not to feed peanuts as the squirrel is attracted to them.

Also, I did not realize that corn can be a source of aflatoxins which can kill birds. I should be cleaning and sanitizing the feeders on a regular basis. In the past, I have scraped out dried and crusted feed. Now I plan to take the feeder inside the house and wash it out. It will make it so much easier for the birds to use the feeder.

It looks like I have some work to do when I get home tonight. I hope the work helps the birds in my yard.

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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Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

Man preparing a healthy meal at home

If you are one of the many people that resolved to eat better or lose some weight in 2020, we have a great resource for you. Did you know about the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website? This site is a great resource that everyone should check out. They have great recipes for healthy living. This site, as the name implies, also can help you save money on groceries.

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart website is so complete. They have information on shopping, reading food labels, videos with demonstrations on preparing vegetables, and also a smart phone app so you can have their information available while you are grocery shopping. So MUCH information, and all of it free for you. Take some time to check out this website. You won’t regret it.

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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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade chocolate chip cookies

This is a great time of year for 4-H members to start working on their cooking projects. Often members start out by baking something very familiar; chocolate chip cookies. We were looking at some information on the Nestle company website today and found the following information about altering the Toll House chocolate chip recipe. These alterations are specifically for their chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you try these with other recipes, you might not get the desired result. We thought it may be interesting to you or a 4-H member in your family to see how small changes to the ingredients can change a cookie.

  • If you want cookies that are a standard chocolate chip cookie, follow the Toll House chocolate chip recipe exactly as written on the package.
  • If you want a softer and more chewy cookie, reduce the amount of white sugar to 1/2 cup and increase the brown sugar to 1 cup. Brown sugar has a higher moisture content which will soften the cookies and make them a bit chewy.
  • If you want a thin and crisp cookie, increase the amount of butter to 1 1/4 cups and increase the amount of white sugar to 1 1/4 cups. Added butter will make the cookies flatter and this results in a crisper cookie.
  • If you want a soft and cakey cookie, use 3/4 cup of butter and reduce the amount of brown sugar to 1/2 cup. This way, there is more flour in the cookies which results in a more cake like cookie.

Experimenting with these cookies may be a fun activity for a 4-H member and may be the basis of their exhibit for county fair. Remember that if you still have too many holiday treats left, these cookies will freeze well.

Reference to any commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporate name is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or certification of any kind. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use and should make their own assessment of the information and whether it is suitable for their intended use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.

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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Resolutions

New Year resolutions

New Years resolutions can be so hard to keep. If you have decided not to make any resolutions this year, consider resolving to use AnswerLine on a regular basis to answer your home and family questions.

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.

More Posts - Website

Holiday Stain Removal

Adult Woman Doing the Laundry.

Just last week, I had a colleague ask me why we didn’t have any information posted on how to remove tree sap from clothing. This person had gotten tree sap from a Christmas tree on her shirt and needed directions for removing the sap. It seems like a good time for a few stain removal tips for the holiday season.

Tree sap can be removed by spraying or sponging some dry -cleaning solvent (such as Goof Off or Goo Gone) on the stain and then rubbing it with some heavy-duty laundry detergent and scrubbing the stain in hot water.

Candle wax can be removed by spraying or sponging some dry -cleaning solvent (such as Goof Off or Goo Gone) on the stain and then rubbing it with some heavy-duty laundry detergent and scrubbing the stain in hot water. You may be familiar with the technique of ironing a wax stain away. Ironing candle wax between blotting paper drives the stain deeper into the fabric. This process is widely used, but not recommended. It more permanently sets the dye from the candle and makes it difficult for the detergent or solvent to reach the wax portion of the stain

Cranberry sauce stains can be removed by washing with detergent in hot water. Do not use a natural soap.

Wine stains can be removed by washing with detergent in hot water. Do not use a natural soap.

Chocolate stains can be removed by rubbing the stain with a heavy-duty laundry detergent before washing the garment.

Of course, there are many other possibilities for stains this time of year. Remember, when you have a stain problem, AnswerLine is just a phone call away.

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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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from the AnswerLine staff; Liz, Beth, Marcia, and Marlene

Happy Holidays. AnswerLine is closed December 24 and 25 but we will be open and ready to answer your questions the rest of the holiday season.

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.

More Posts - Website

Happy Thanksgiving

Turkey ready to carve

Happy Thanksgiving from the AnswerLine staff: Liz Meimann, Beth Marrs, Marcia Steed, and Marlene Geiger. Enjoy your day. We will return to work on Monday December 2.

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.

More Posts - Website

Thanksgiving two ways!

It seems that there are two different schools of thought about Thanksgiving. Either you want to make everything (or nearly everything) on Thanksgiving day, or you like to cook as much as possible ahead of time so that you can relax and enjoy the holiday. This theory holds true with our callers and the AnswerLine staff. We thought it would be fun to compare methods so that you can choose the right method for your family.

Liz:

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. There isn’t much to be done ahead of time, besides planning and grocery shopping. You don’t have to remember to buy gifts for everyone, think up costumes for the family, or make sure everyone has something new for Easter and dye eggs. In our family, the menu is fairly standard. We might try a new dish on occasion, but family members request the same old standards every year.

I like to do most of my cooking on the Thanksgiving day. I do make the dough for my crescent rolls ahead of time, and shape and then freeze the rolls. I take them out of the freezer Thanksgiving day and thaw them and then bake them fresh for dinner. I often make cheesecake or French silk pie for dessert. Both items need to be prepared the day before for best results.

I do get up very early on Thanksgiving and do have a very helpful husband. We get the turkey ready, no washing, but I do remove the neck, giblets and the plastic piece holding the legs together. I saute onions and celery as my husband tears bread for the stuffing. We always have a large turkey so it does take a while to cook. I do stuff the bird, but loosely to keep it all safe for my family. I usually get my tables set the night before, so all I need to do after the turkey is in the oven is peel potatoes, prepare sweet potatoes and make a vegetable or two. Often I do ask guests to bring a salad or vegetable or relish. Sometimes, depending on the number of guests, we may have them bring drinks or appetizers. Usually, everyone pitches in and we enjoy the day immensely.

Beth:

Our family tradition of cooking the turkey a day before Thanksgiving started one year when we were traveling and we were in charge of making the turkey. My dad cooked the turkey, cut the meat off and put it in a cake pan with the juices to keep it moist. It was cooled down, covered with foil and ready to reheat on Thanksgiving morning. The meat is put in the oven at 350 degrees to heat for an hour or two (depending on the size of your turkey) until the meat temperature reaches 165 degrees F. The best part is the meat is moist and tender especially when reheating in the juices and the messy part of cooking and cutting the meat off the bones is done! After the turkey is heated the juices are drained for making fresh gravy. Our family prepares the turkey this way every year now and we are passing this tradition down to our kids as they start to fix Thanksgiving meals themselves.

No matter which method you and your family prefer, we have experts at AnswerLine that can help you with your questions. Happy Thanksgiving.

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.

More Posts - Website

Lets talk about turkey

Frozen turkey

This seems like a fairly simple subject, but as we progress through the month of November, our calls about turkey change. When people are shopping for turkey, they want to know about servings per pound of turkey. We tell them to plan on about one pound of turkey per person. Plan on more if you want to have some leftovers.

Other callers want to know about buying a fresh turkey or thawing a frozen turkey. We tell callers to plan to use the fresh turkey within two days after purchase. Fresh poultry is very perishable. Frozen turkey should be thawed in the refrigerator, if possible. Allow twenty four hours for every four to five pounds of turkey you have purchased. If you are thawing in a spare refrigerator, like the one I use in my basement that doesn’t get opened very often, plan on the four pounds. If you thaw in a refrigerator that gets opened regularly, you should be able to thaw five pounds every twenty four hours.

If you forget to thaw the turkey, no need to panic. You can thaw a turkey in cold water in the sink. Leave the turkey inside the bag it came in and immerse it in a sinkful of cold water. Allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey. A 12 pound turkey should take about 6 hours to thaw. Keep in mind that if you thaw your turkey in the sink, you should change the water every 30 minutes. The thawing turkey will make the cold water much colder. Plan to cook the turkey as soon as it is thawed.

If you don’t have the time to thaw the turkey entirely before cooking, you should know that you can safely cook a turkey from the frozen state. Plan to take the turkey out after a few hours of cooking to remove the neck and giblets and then return it to the oven. You should allow an extra 50% cooking time with a frozen bird. So, a cook time of 2 hours would become 3 hours with a frozen turkey.

The safest way to cook a turkey is unstuffed. That allows the turkey to cook quickly, evenly, and thoroughly. Even if your turkey has the red pop-up indicator, you should use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thigh and breast meat. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, past the dimple in the stem. Be sure not to touch the bone with the tip of the thermometer. The bones conduct heat faster than the meat and might indicate that the bird is at a higher temperature than the 165 degrees Fahrenheit minimum.

If your family must have stuffing cooked inside the turkey, remember these tips. Prepare the stuffing and place it inside the turkey just before placing the bird in the oven. Fill the cavity of the bird loosely with stuffing. Check the temperature of the stuffing as you are checking the temperature of the thigh and breast meat. Stuffing, too, should be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember to store leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours. Slicing all the meat off of the turkey carcass will allow you to store it in a smaller space in the refrigerator.

If you have more questions about Thanksgiving turkey, ask us at AnswerLine. You can call us at 1-800-262-3804 in Iowa, 1-800-854-1678 in Minnesota or 515-296-5883 from anywhere else. During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, we will be open from 9-4. We work through the noon hour so you can reach us then if that is your only opportunity. Email us at answer@iastate.edu or comment on our Facebook page. We love to help and Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays.

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.

More Posts - Website

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