Stain Removal

We took a bit of a road trip over the weekend. My husband and I picked up one of our daughters and her three young sons for a trip to Nebraska to meet the newest member of the family. Our truck was fairly crowded with our 6-year-old, the 3-year-old, and the 3-month old baby grandsons. Their mom bought a couple of special toys for the older boys to help pass the time on our 5-hour drive. Both boys got a coloring book with Crayola markers. They seemed to enjoy coloring the pictures and it did take them a long time to tire of the books. On our trip home from Nebraska we noticed that one of the boy’s quilts had either a blood stain or a marker stain on it. We had the boys pass the red marker up to the front seat and when we compared the color, we were sure that it was a marker stain.

My daughter asked me how best to get the stain out of the quilt and I knew from my work at AnswerLine that generally a dye stain is removed with hot water and detergent. Since were still a long way from home, we decided to search the Crayola website to see if they had any cleaning tips there.  They have stain removal for clothing, furniture, appliances, and carpets.

The cleaning tips on that site are so detailed that they have them listed by product name. You may want to think about searching on a product website if your child or grandchild has an unfortunate stain on a special item. I’m happy to report that the marker stain was completely removed following the manufacturer’s directions.

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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School is just around the corner

I saw a blog post from the Science of Parenting Blog at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach a few days ago. Reading that post and visiting with my daughters about the preparations underway for the new school year ahead got me thinking about preparing the grandsons for school.

We think and talk a lot about routine this time of year. It is best if you can begin to establish the type of routine necessary once school starts a few weeks before the actual start day. Of course, if kids have been attending daycare all summer, the morning routine may have changed very little from the school year. The biggest change may be in the bedtime routine. Homework, packing a lunch, or laying out clothing for the next day may be important considerations. Also, fall sports and activities will be starting. Now may be the time to have a conversation about what activities interest your child. You may have expectations for music lessons, dance, or chores that should be discussed with the child.

If catching a school bus or walking to school will be new experiences for your child, you will want to prepare them in advance. Many schools have trial bus rides for new kindergarteners or back to school nights for the entire family.

You may want to discuss school lunches with your child. Will she or he be packing a lunch every day or will they need to know how to buy school lunch? If packing his or her lunch be a common occurrence, you will want to review what options are available. Will you be buying prepackaged treats to accompany a sandwich? Will you be baking some treats and putting individual packages of the treat into the freezer? Is your child old enough to choose items for his or her lunch box? You may want to have a food safety discussion with the child.

There should be enough time before the school year starts to ease your family back into the routine. Remember if AnswerLine can help answer any questions we would love to help.

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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Canning Salsa

August is a great month. By now the gardens are producing tomatoes, onions, and peppers. All the ingredients you want for a great salsa. We talk to a lot of people about salsa in August.

Tested canning recipes are designed to be followed exactly as written. It is important not to change the volume of low acid vegetables like onions or peppers. It is important not to add other ingredients not listed in the recipe such as beans or corn. The recipes were tested to ensure that here is enough acidity in the product to protect against the botulism bacteria.

These restrictions often frustrate callers and until a couple of years ago, the only recourse callers had was to freeze the salsa instead of canning it. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has come out with their Choice Salsa recipe. This recipe allows for a bit of creativity in your canned salsa. You must still follow the requirements for pounds of tomatoes or onions or peppers but you can customize the recipe a bit. We still do NOT recommend adding corn or black beans to your salsa. If you feel that salsa without those ingredients is just not salsa, consider separately canning those ingredients and adding them when serving. Remember you should heat the corn and beans and then let them cool before adding to the salsa.

Remember to follow those recipe directions carefully and enjoy that salsa.

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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Hummingbirds

Several weeks ago, while washing dishes, I noticed a humming bird feeding on my Easter Lilies. I was pretty excited when I saw it several days in a row as we had never seen any hummingbirds in the 41 years we have lived on our farm. I wanted to encourage the bird to continue feeding in my garden and perhaps to bring some friends. I’ve seen the bird several times a week for the last month or so.

I remembered that we have directions for making nectar in our AnswerLine files and I purchased an inexpensive feeder. I’ve been making new nectar and cleaning the feeder weekly.  I’ve written the recipe for Hummingbird nectar at the bottom of the page.  My feeder is in the shade all day except for the early morning so I have not had any trouble with evaporation. I have only seen the one hummingbird, as far as I can tell, in the several weeks I’ve been maintaining the feeder. I thought that it would be fun to do a little research on humming birds.

I learned that hummingbirds do migrate. I won’t delay the birds from heading south by leaving my feeder full late into the fall. So I plan to put it away for the year when the first frost is predicted. I did not know just how early they return; now I know that I should get the feeder ready in late April. I also plan to plant more flowers that will attract humming birds next spring. The vibrant blue delphiniums in my garden seemed to be a favorite for the hummingbird.

I’ve also learned about hummingbird metabolism. I knew that they required a speedy metabolism to support the rapid fluttering of the wings but I did not know that they had the ability to hibernate.  Hummingbirds can go into a sort of deep sleep called Torpor.  When the bird is in the Torpor state, the metabolism is lowered by 95%.  Hummingbirds will use almost 50 times less energy in this state.

I tried to capture a picture of my hummingbird enjoying the feeder last night. He is a bit hard to see, but is on the left side of the feeder.  I hope to be able to share my hummingbird with my grandchildren the next time they visit.

 

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

1 cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Let cool in the refrigerator before using.

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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Grilling those summer veggies

Now is the time to enjoy all of the great fresh vegetables from our gardens or the farmers markets. There is plenty of time left this summer to grill and you may want to try something different. Grilled vegetables are great with some grilled meat and can make any meal special.

Starting with a clean grill grate will ensure both good tasting and safe vegetables.

Be sure to wash all of your vegetables before cutting into them. Slice or cut your vegetables so that they are thicker than the grill grate openings. Pieces cut too small will slip through the cracks. Vegetables that contain the most water do best on the grill. Consider using summer squash, onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, or corn on the cob. If you want to use more dense vegetables like onions or carrots, pre-cook them to avoid burning the outside of the pieces before they are cooked soft enough to eat.

There are several options for cooking your veggies once they are prepared. You may want to make kebabs by using a wooden or metal skewer. You can use a grilling basket which allows you to use smaller pieces or cook them on aluminum foil or in an aluminum foil packet. The first three methods will truly grill the vegetables, the foil packet will steam the vegetables more than grill them.

It should take about 15-20 minutes for your vegetables to cook. Grilled vegetables are best if they are cooked enough to become tender but not cooked long enough to become mushy. Turn the vegetables only once; this will keep the vegetables looking their best.

You can brush the vegetables with plain olive oil, or add some red wine vinegar to make a great tasting marinade. Bottled Italian salad dressing—the oil and vinegar kind—also tastes great on grilled veggies.

After writing and thinking about grilled vegetables this afternoon I’m ready to go home and fire up the grill after work today.

 

 

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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Tips for a safe picnic

I’m just back from a camping trip and at the State Park we stayed at there were several large picnic areas. I was wondering just how full those picnic areas would be over the Fourth of July. That got me to thinking about picnics and food safety. This is a perfect time to think about planning a safe holiday picnic.

Here are my tips for a fun, safe picnic:

Start with clean hands, cutting boards, and utensils. Soap and water are still the best way to clean your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Remember that washing your hands with soap and water, rubbing between fingers, and washing up the arm a bit will ensure clean hands. Sing the Happy Birthday song twice or recite the alphabet so that you know you have washed them long enough. If you find yourself at an area without running water be sure to pack antibacterial wipes for hand cleaning. Hand sanitizer is not a good option, especially if your hands are soiled.

Always wash your hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, handling garbage, touching raw meat, blowing your nose, or playing fetch with your pet.

Keep everything that touches food clean. Keep all utensils, bowls, and cutting boards clean. Use separate boards for raw meat and raw vegetables. Always use a clean plate for cooked meat; never use the same plate you used to put the raw meat on the grill to serve the cooked meat. Before you leave home, be sure to scrub all items that will touch or contain food. Wash in hot water and use an abrasive cloth (think terry cloth) or brush. Rinse well with hot water. You can sanitize with a solution made of 2 teaspoons of fresh chlorine bleach in a quart of cool water. You can put this in a spray bottle and spray the sanitizer on the items. Let the sanitizer solution sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Then let the items air dry.

Stay out of the danger zone. The danger zone is between 40°F and 140°F. In that temperature range, bacteria can grow exponentially. Thaw your picnic foods safely by using the refrigerator for thawing. Keep foods cold by putting dishes of salads or other foods that are temperature sensitive into a larger bowl containing ice. Keeping foods in an ice chest until you are ready to eat will also help keep food safe. Remember to get those leftovers back into the ice chest within an hour or so, depending on how hot it is the day of the picnic. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use an instant read thermometer to know when grilled meat is safe to eat.

Follow these tips for a safer picnic this summer.

 

 

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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Keep Kids Safe in the Bathroom

A friend’s grandchild slipped in the bathroom and crashed into the sink causing a bad bump on the lip and a lot of bleeding. If you have a child that has been recently potty trained that is now spending a lot more time in the bathroom, you may want to take some steps to child proof your bathroom.

 

  • You can try installing a latch on the door to prevent entry without an adult but that can be a bit counterproductive if the child has just been potty trained. You should be sure that the child cannot lock themselves in the room or at least be sure that the key is easily accessible if the child does lock the door.

 

  • Remember that it only takes a few inches of water for a child to drown so never leave children alone while bathing. You may also want to ensure that children cannot fill the bathtub when they are unsupervised. It only takes a moment for an accident to occur. It is a good practice to have everything you will need when bathing a young child ready before putting them into the bathtub. Then you will not need to turn your back on the child for even a minute.

 

  • Even locking the toilet lid shut is a good idea for curious toddlers. They are top-heavy and if a toddler falls into the toilet, she may not be able to get herself out by herself.

 

  • Falls in the bathtub can be minimized if you use the no-slip strips on the bottom of the tub. You may want to remove throw rugs from the bathroom if the floor is a bit slippery. That could prevent a child from taking a hard fall against the bathtub, sink, or toilet.

 

  • Prevent scalds or burns by adjusting your water heater so that the hottest water available from the tap is no hotter than 120. Always test the bath water to be sure it feels warm and not hot. If your child runs the water by himself, teach him to turn the cold water on first.

 

  • All medicine should be placed out of reach for small children. Even if the bottles are out of reach, they still should have child-proof tops. Toothpaste, shampoo, and soap should also be kept out of sight or on a high storage shelf.

 

  • Electric appliances like shavers, radios, electric toothbrush chargers should be stored inside a cabinet; preferably a locked cabinet. Curious toddlers could easily place them into a tub or sink of water. Electricity and water do not mix. You will also want to be sure you have GFI circuits installed in your bathroom. The circuit breaker for the bathroom should also be GFI.

 

These are just a few basic ideas to keep your family safe in the bathroom. Let us know if you have any other suggestions.

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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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Freezer food for after baby arrives

Last week, we had another grandson. That brings my total number of grandchildren to 13.   It also means that it is time to make my traditional baby gift for the family. I like to prepare and freeze meals for the family. I plan enough meals to feed the family for an entire month. I know what you are thinking, but it isn’t as much work as it seems. When I make a recipe, I divide it up into amounts that the family will eat in a single meal. I may get 4 meals out of a pan of lasagna. I use disposable pans to eliminate dishwashing. Lasagna or other casseroles can be put into disposable loaf pans. I tightly wrap the pans and put all cooking instructions on the foil. This allows either mom or dad to bake dinner. The meals can be taken out of the freezer the day before and allowed to thaw in the refrigerator overnight for quicker cooking. Sometimes, the day doesn’t quite go as planned and the family decides mid-afternoon that they want a frozen meal that same day. No problem, simply cook the meal one and a half times as long as a thawed meal.

I also make some rolls or garlic bread to accompany a meal. These too can be easily thawed or cooked at meal time. I like to make rolls from scratch and then freeze them before baking. The rolls can be thawed and baked while the rest of the meal is baking. Fresh rolls and a home cooked meal can make life with a new baby so much easier.

About a month before the baby arrived, I asked my daughter just what food they might enjoy after baby number three arrived. This way, I can prepare and purchase ingredients as I see them on sale. They can purchase vegetables or other fruits and salads to accompany the meals and have them on hand. This is a project that I do while staying with the new family and helping out with meals and cleaning after the baby arrives.

I thought you might like to see some suggestions for foods that work well for new families.

  • Chicken noodle casserole
  • Pepper Steak
  • Beef and noodles
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Breakfast casserole
  • Lasagna
  • Goulash
  • Tater tot casserole
  • Cheesy potatoes
  • Beef pot pie and chicken pot pie
  • Enchiladas

This is not a complete list of appropriate foods, just foods that are popular in our family. I can’t wait to get started.

 

 

 

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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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When should I harvest garden crops?

You may have noticed when reading canning recipes list only unblemished fruits and vegetables at their peak size and degree of ripeness. You may wonder what the best size and degree of ripeness is for some of the vegetables you planted.  Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the weeding and regular care of the garden and it is easy to let some vegetables grow past their prime.  Here is a short list of common vegetables and descriptions of when they are at their best for food preservation.  I’ve used some information from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension; you can check with them for more information.

  • Cherries: Sweet cherries should be fully colored with the stems firmly attached. Sour cherries should be sampled to determine proper harvest time. Be sure they are fully colored and flavorful as they will not ripen further after harvesting.
  • Peaches: The background color of the peach skin is your best guide. Pick when the background color changes from green to yellow. The reddish color on the skin is not a good guide. Taste to be sure.
  • Plums:   Pick when the flesh begins to feel soft. The skin changes color before the fruit is ripe.
  • Strawberries: Pick when the fruits are uniformly red and beginning to soften.
  • Beans:  Pick when they are small in diameter and crisp enough to snap when picked.
  • Beets: Pull when the roots are between 1 ¼ and 2 inches in diameter. Some, but not all, beets will still have good quality when a bit larger.
  • Broccoli: Harvest when the head is fully developed but before the yellow blossoms open.
  • Carrots: Pull carrots when they are ¾ to 1 inch in diameter. Larger carrots can become woody.
  • Cucumber: The end use of the cucumber will determine when to pick. Pickling cucumbers are ready for sweet pickles when they are 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Dill pickles require 3 to 4 inch long cucumbers. For slicing choose cucumbers that are 7 to 9 inches long. Do not allow the cucumbers to yellow or become too mature.
  • Kohlrabi: Harvest these when the stem is 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
  • Okra: The pods are best when they are 3 to 5 inches long. Be sure to wear gloves when harvesting as the plants are spiny.
  • Onions: Green onions can be pulled any time. Onions for storage should be pulled with half of the tops are dried and the bulbs are at least 2 inches in diameter.
  • Summer Squash/Zucchini: Pick these when the fruit is young and tender. Your fingernail should easily pierce the skin of the squash. Use zucchini when they are 1 ½ inches in diameter and between 4 to 8 inches long. Check your garden every day as zucchini grow so very fast.
  • Sweet corn: Pick when the cob is filled with kernels and still in the milky stage. Use a fingernail to pierce a kernel. A milky liquid should be released. The silks should be dry and brown. Preserve within 4 hours of picking for the best possible result.
  • Tomatoes: Pick when the fruits are fully colored and firm. During hot weather you may want to pick tomatoes that are only pink and allow them to finish ripening inside the house.

Remember that if you need any advice or recipes to preserve these or any other fruits and vegetables you can call us and we will be happy to help. Happy gardening.

 

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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First Aid tips for kids

A friend’s grandchild was recently injured in a fall. Since the wound was to the mouth, there was a lot of blood involved. Accidents happen so quickly and sometimes adults are not present at the scene of the accident. As summer begins, it may be a good idea to review some basic first aid tips with your child.

A really important skill for a child is the ability to call 911 effectively that has the best crew to do first aid and CPR on the spot. The child needs to know their numbers, in order to recognize 9-1-1. You can also pre-program the number into your phone but make sure the child understands how to use the pre-programmed feature of your phone. The child also needs to be able to speak to the operator and describe the problem. It is even better if the child knows their address or the address of the accident.

In addition to knowing how to call for emergency services, it is also important to have a well-stocked first aid kit readily available. As a parent, you can create a kid-friendly first aid kit that includes essentials such as band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, and tweezers. You can also add some extra items such as ice packs, disposable gloves, and a thermometer to be better prepared for any situation. At eFirstAidSupplies, you can find a variety of first-aid kits that cater to different needs and situations. Having a well-prepared first aid kit can be ensuring that your child receives the necessary care before medical help arrives.

For young children accidents often involve bleeding. Whether a scraped knee, nosebleed, or a cut, bleeding can be a bit frightening for younger children. Teach them that when they see blood, they should apply pressure. Then they are likely to stop the bleeding before an adult can help. Teach them to use a clean cloth, if available, but if not available a bare hand will work. If they have the injured friend apply the pressure to themselves then your child will be free to go for help.

Teach the child that treating a burn means getting to some water to cool the burn. They should run cool water over the burn. Later, an adult can clean the wound and bandage it if necessary.

Review these first aid techniques with your child or grandchild so they will be prepared for the bumps and bruises of summer.

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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