Foodie Friday: August Menu

I’ve been working on my August menu and my mouth is literally watering right now. Let me tell you, I cannot wait for August! As usual, you can get the recipes on my August Menu Pinterest Board.

August Menu

August 1: Pizza burgers and green beans
August 2: Osso bucco, mashed potatoes, southern salad
August 3: Summer Hoppin’ John Salad, cornbread
August 4: Take out pizza ( gymnastics night )
August 5: Grilled hot wings (the little wingettes like you get in a restaurant tossed in                    sauce that I bought from said restaurant) green salad, roasted potatoes
August 6: Chili citrus salmon with strawberry avocado salsa, broccoli, rice
August 7: Frittata Waffles (frittafles), fruit, yogurt
August 8: Mini Mexican Tortas, homemade tortilla chips
August 9: Oven fried catfish, green tomato relish, spinach salad, bread
August 10: Grains and Fruit Summer Salad with grilled chicken
August 11: Tomato-avocado-mozzarella grilled cheese, side salad (gymnastics night)
August 12: Slow cooker pork carnitas, guacamole, corn salad
August 13: Shrimp n grits with green tomatoes, green beans with red pepper and onion
August 14: Banana-pecan pancakes, bacon, fruit salad
August 15: Indian tacos
August 16: Roast chicken, blue cheese wedge salad, baked sweet potatoes
August 17: Pesto pasta salad with cold shrimp
August 18: Maple mustard dogs, steamed broccoli, fruit (gymnastics night)
August 19: Enchiladas, fiesta corn, salad with Mexi-buttermilk dressing
August 20: leftovers and lemon-coconut bars
August 21: Breakfast patty melt, breakfast potatoes, fruit
August 22: Bacon and bleu burgers, sauteed green beans, tomatoes
August 23: Green chile chicken, baja black bean salad, green salad with Mexi-buttermilk   dressing
August 24: Sesame chicken salad, toast
August 25: Slow cooker brisket and onions, mixed veggies, salad
August 26: Pan fried cod with mustard-caper sauce, roasted root vegetables, bread
August 27: Left overs and Hello Dolly Bars
August 28: Ham and cheese breakfast casserole, fruit
August 29: Low-country boil packets, salad with dill-buttermilk dressing
August 30: Strawberry jam and goat cheese turkey burgers, chili-lime corn on the cob
August 31: Panzanella

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Garden Pests

I discovered aphids in my garden last week. To get rid of them in a very inexpensive and environmentally friendly way, mix up some dish soap with water in a large spray bottle. Mix it pretty thick– lots of soap. Shake it up and spray it on the affected plants. Spray all over the stalks, leaves and fruit. The soap won’t hurt anything and it’s nontoxic. Check the backs of leaves for eggs. Scrape them off if you find them. Repeat daily until your pest is gone.

*Disclaimer: This does not work for all pests. For more information, contact your county Extension Office.

Choosing Your Best Fair Exhibits

Win the Blue Ribbon

As the summer rolls on, it is time to start gearing up for the Lincoln County Free Fair! Each year our county fair sees hundreds, if not thousands, of indoor exhibits from quilts to canning to fresh vegetables to cupcakes. We see many common mistakes in exhibit selection, and I want to give you a few tips to ensure that your own fair exhibits have a fighting chance at a blue ribbon.

Canning: When I have been asked to judge canning exhibits at other fairs, I go through a quick process to weed out the worst exhibits first. Here’s how I do it: First, I take the rings off, then I check the seal and the headspace. These three things typically cut my exhibits in half. Next I look to make sure all the food is beneath the canning liquid, that the food moves easily when I move the jar and that the canning liquid is clear. If I still am trying to choose a winner between two or three exhibits, I look at the uniformity and attractiveness of the food itself. Is it cut in a nice way? Are all the pieces the same size and shape? Choose your very best jars to enter and hold them back from the pantry so you do not eat them before the fair. Clean them up if they are sticky. Make sure that everything about the jar is correct– seal, headspace, clarity of liquid…Follow my tips and you just may do better at the fair than you ever have!

Textiles/Construction: The three most common mistakes I see in this category are: dirty items, wrinkled items, and unfinished seams. When you are making a garment, bag, or quilt for the fair, do not use it before the fair happens. This runs a major risk of the item getting stained or damaged. Make sure you press your item (if the fabric allows) and make sure your seams are finished with a serger, pinking shears, binding, or a zigzag stich.  There are other techniques to finish seams, but these are the most commonly used. Use whatever finishing technique you like, just don’t leave it unfinished!

Baked Goods: If entering cookies or some other item that requires multiple pieces, make sure they are uniform in size and shape. Let baked items cool completely before placing them into bags for the fair. Putting hot items into an airtight container can cause condensation of moisture inside, which leads to either a soggy product or possibly mold growth. Taste you food before entering. You may not realize that you made a mistake just by looking at the product. Do not enter anything that is undercooked or overcooked.

Fresh Vegetables: Choose pieces that are uniform in size, color and shape. Choose pieces that are free from any blemishes or damaged areas. Choose pieces that look like something a savvy consumer would choose in a supermarket. DO NOT enter food purchased as a supermarket. The judges will know.

 

 

As the summer rolls on, it is time to start gearing up for the Lincoln County Free Fair! Each year our county fair sees hundreds, if not thousands, of indoor exhibits from quilts to canning to fresh vegetables to cupcakes. We see many common mistakes in exhibit selection, and I want to give you a few tips to ensure that your own fair exhibits have a fighting chance at a blue ribbon.
Canning: When I have been asked to judge canning exhibits at other fairs, I go through a quick process to weed out the worst exhibits first. Here’s how I do it: First, I take the rings off, then I check the seal and the headspace. These three things typically cut my exhibits in half. Next I look to make sure all the food is beneath the canning liquid, that the food moves easily when I move the jar and that the canning liquid is clear. If I still am trying to choose a winner between two or three exhibits, I look at the uniformity and attractiveness of the food itself. Is it cut in a nice way? Are all the pieces the same size and shape? Choose your very best jars to enter and hold them back from the pantry so you do not eat them before the fair. Clean them up if they are sticky. Make sure that everything about the jar is correct– seal, headspace, clarity of liquid…Follow my tips and you just may do better at the fair than you ever have!
Textiles/Construction: The three most common mistakes I see in this category are: dirty items, wrinkled items, and unfinished seams. When you are making a garment, bag, or quilt for the fair, do not use it before the fair happens. This runs a major risk of the item getting stained or damaged. Make sure you press your item (if the fabric allows) and make sure your seams are finished with a serger, pinking shears, binding, or a zigzag stich. There are other techniques to finish seams, but these are the most commonly used. Use whatever finishing technique you like, just don’t leave it unfinished!
Baked Goods: If entering cookies or some other item that requires multiple pieces, make sure they are uniform in size and shape. Let baked items cool completely before placing them into bags for the fair. Putting hot items into an airtight container can cause condensation of moisture inside, which leads to either a soggy product or possibly mold growth. Taste you food before entering. You may not realize that you made a mistake just by looking at the product. Do not enter anything that is under cooked or overcooked.
Fresh Vegetables: Choose pieces that are uniform in size, color and shape. Choose pieces that are free from any blemishes or damaged areas. Choose pieces that look like something a savvy consumer would choose in a supermarket. DO NOT enter food purchased as a supermarket. The judges will know.

Foodie Friday: Yogurt Parfait in a Jelly Jar

fruit and yogurt jessica

Using canning jars for stuff is all the rage, and I have certainly jumped on that cute little bandwagon! This morning for breakfast, I made a yogurt parfait in a jelly jar. These are great. They are easy, versatile and can be made ahead of time for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack.

I put some nonfat, plain Greek yogurt in a bowl and mixed in a little honey. You could sweeten it with brown sugar or fruit juice if you like that, or you could use a completely different kind of yogurt. It’s up to you!

Next, I put a dollop in the bottom of my jar, topped that with blueberries and repeated this two more times. You could use whatever fruit you have on hand.

On the very top, I sprinkled some chopped walnuts. I also like to use granola, pistachios, pecans…. anything crunchy and mild, really!

Sometimes I have made up 5 of these on a Sunday evening to have a whole week’s worth of breakfast all ready to go!

Home Food Preservation

preserved foods: fruits and vegetables

Last Friday I hosted a workshop for home canning. It is always a fun one and I hope the ladies who came learned some valuable information. I wanted to share some of it with my readers in case any of you are thinking of canning at home.

The number one lesson that I hope my participants take home from my canning workshops is this: ALWAYS use a recipe that is specific for the food you are canning, and is from a reliable source such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation. It is also very important to follow the recipe precisely. Deviating from the listed ingredients, processing time or canning method could lead to dangerous and disastrous results.

The next thing is to use the proper canning technique. Higher acid foods such as fruits, jellies and pickles can be processed safely in a boiling water canner. Lower acid foods like meats and veggies must be processed in a pressure canner for food safety. AND a pressure cooker is not a pressure canner. To be safe for canning, a pressure canner must be large enough to hold at least four quart sized jars.

I also want all of my home canning peeps to know that the county extension offices (in Oklahoma) can test your pressure canner gauge if it is a dial gauge from Presto, National, Maid of Honor, Magic Seal and Kwik Kook brands.  These dial gauges should be tested annually to ensure they are accurate. They can be replaced very inexpensively if they are not reading properly.

For canning newbies:

Water bath canning or boiling-water canning is processing fruits, jellies, salsas, pickles (high acid foods) in a pot of boiling water. The pot needs to be big enough so that the water level is one or two inches above the tops of the canning jars. The water must be boiling, and the lid must be on the canner for the entire processing time. A rack must be used in the bottom of the canner to allow for water circulation all the way around the jars.

Pressure canning is the use of a pressure canner that has been pressurized by a dial or weighted gauge with a locked lid. This is used for low acid foods like vegetables and meats. Again, a rack should be used in the bottom of the canner.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for recipes and instructions on canning, freezing, drying and curing foods. Some other great canning resources include:

  

As an Extension Educator, I am asked to judge county fairs,sometimes the canning section. The most common mistake I see when judging canning is the headspace. If you are using a specific and reliable recipe, it will tell you the proper headspace. Headspace is the amount of room between the top of the liquid and the bottom of the flat lid. The recommended head space will be 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 1 inch or 1 1/4 inch or 1 1/2 inch depending on what is being canned. A quick and easy reference for most headspace measurements is this little diagram:

headspace

 

If you would like to know more about canning, please contact your county Extension Educator for Family and Consumer Sciences. If you don’t have one, you could call me at 405-258-0560.

Happy canning!