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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Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron has made a resurgence recently. As a friend and I were discussing it she mentioned she did not have a cast iron skillet but was interested in purchasing one. We were especially interested because King Arthur Flour’s  Recipe of the Year is a pizza made in a cast iron skillet! 

Cast iron provides a nonstick surface that’s free of synthetic chemicals and requires less oil. It has great heat retention and provides superior browning. It is the only cookware you can buy that can actually improve with age! 

As we headed out in search of a new cast iron skillet we found several options on the market. Neither enameled nor traditional is “best”. A lot depends on personal preference. Some people prefer to go to garage sales or auctions to find one that has been well used. The new high-quality cast iron you find on the market however still provides excellent nonstick surfaces that also only get better with use.

Cast iron skillets work well on either gas or electric stove tops and of course in the oven. If you have an electric stove, it may take a little longer to achieve the same results since the cast iron is slightly slower to heat on an electric heating element. My friend has an electric glass top stove. Cast iron will still work successfully on that but she is going to need to take extra care when moving it so it doesn’t scratch the glass top.

One drawback of cast iron can be it’s weight. We found skillets weighing anywhere from 6 and 1/2 pounds to 9 pounds. The really thick pans take longer to heat and could potentially get too hot making it difficult to brown food evenly. Cast iron skillets also do not cook as evenly until the cooking temperature is reached. Some people work around this by preheating the pan in the oven or on top of the stove.

Once you have purchased your cast iron skillet remember it needs to be seasoned to make cleaning easier and prevent sticking. Enjoy cooking with cast iron!

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.

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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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.

More Posts - Website

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

Pears

December is National Pear Month with December 8th designated World Pear Day. Pears are one of my favorite fruits. Because of overlapping seasons of availability pears are in season nearly year round but I find are especially good this time of year.

Pears are a good source of fiber especially if you eat them with the skin on. One medium pear supplies around 100 calories and 24% of your RDA. Pears are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C. They contain no saturated fat, sodium or cholesterol.

There are 10 major varieties of pears:

Green Anjou: sweet and juicy with a hint of citrus flavor

Red Anjou: juicy and slightly tangy

Bartlett: probably the best known; sweet flavor

Red Bartlett: super juicy and sweet

Bosc:crisp, sweet, brown skinned

Comice: sometimes known as the Christmas pear; succulent and creamy

Concorde: crunchy and sweet

Forelle: tangy and crisp

Seckel: bite size; kids usually enjoy eating these

Starkrimson: bright red with a floral essence

When choosing pears, look for those that are firm to the touch and free from bruises and blemishes. Pears ripen from the inside out. Allow them to ripen at room temperature. Most pears will show little change in color when ripe. To test for ripeness, gently press on the neck of the pear. It should give a little to the pressure if it is ripe. If your pears are already ripe and you want to slow the process down a little bit you may put them in the refrigerator.

Pears may be eaten raw or cooked. The best varieties for poaching, baking or grilling are Bosc, Anjou, or Concorde. They have a denser flesh, hold their shape better, and keep their flavor. Pears will turn brown once they have been cut. To help alleviate the problem brush the cut surfaces with a solution of half water and half lemon juice.

If you find your pears have gotten overripe they can still be used in smoothies, sauces, soups and stews.

Spend Smart Eat Smart has a delicious recipe for a Crisp Fruit Salad using pears, apples and raisins.

I hope you will enjoy eating some pears during National Pear Month!

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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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

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