Know How, Know More Connecting You with Your Food, Farmers and Community Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 DIY: Red Pepper Flakes Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Every summer, gardens at home are hit or miss on what grows and what doesn't. Sometimes a plant just grows and grows! This was the case for the gardener who brought me multiple bunches of hot peppers – jalapeños, poblanos, and lots of small red hot peppers.

Just for fun, I decided to string and hang the red peppers to dry. For instructions on drying peppers on string, I recommend reading Heat up summer with peppers (University of Missouri Extension) and Using Chile to Make Ristras and Chile Sauce (New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service).

I air-dried these peppers indoors, which took a little more than a month. If you want to dry the peppers faster, look to a dehydrator for help. Once dry, I thought I could make cayenne pepper with the dried skins, but what my experiment became was red pepper flakes. And, boy, are they HOT and SPICY!

Download this infographic for instructions on what I did. Besides sprinkling on pizza, what recipes do you spice up with red pepper flakes? Tell us in the comments.

And read my post on red pepper flakes on Healthy Eats and Repeat for a tasty recipe.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Mellendorf. Caitlin Mellendorf, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.

Kokedama String Gardens Mon, 07 Jan 2019 15:49:00 +0000 Kokedama String Gardens

Get creative with your houseplant displays this winter and try hanging a few plants in the window to create a string garden. The term String Gardening is a term that has become attached to a style of Japanese bonsai known as kokedama, which literally means "moss ball" in English.

Instead of growing plants in a traditional container, the root ball is replaced with a special soil and wrapped in moss and string. These living planters can make a distinctive display piece in your home as they can be hung, fixed to a piece of driftwood or bark, or nestled into a container or tray.


Here are the supplies and tools need to create your own kokedama at home:

Lightweight potting mix or peat moss

Akadama bonsai soil or clay based cat litter

Sheet moss or Spanish moss

4-5" container plant





Bucket- to mix in

Newspaper or a tarp- to protect your work surface

How To Make a Kokedama

1. Moisten the moss if it is the dried variety by soaking in a bucket of water for an hour. Squeeze it out and lay aside until the last step.

2. Mix together your soil mixture composed of 70% peat moss or potting mix and 30% bonsai soil (akadama) or clay cat litter. Add water gradually to your mixture until the medium can be gathered into a ball. Press it firmly all around to adhere the soil mixture into a ball.

3. Remove your selected plant from its container, dust off the excess soil and gently break apart the root ball.

4. Make a hole in the clay ball big enough to push in the roots of the plant. Push the clay around the roots and compact it around the base of the stem.

5. Press the moss around the form until all the surfaces are covered. Use twine or string to wrap

the moss onto the ball with at least two passes around the surface.

6. Cut away the excess string and fix the ball to a piece of wood, hang in an appropriately lighted

area or place in a container.

Kokedama Maintenance

Watering is your main maintenance task with a kokedama and you can use your finger to check the moisture level of the ball and or check the weight. If the ball feels light, it's likely time to water.

If watering is needed: Fill a bowl, bucket or sink with room temperature water. Place your kokedama in the water, plant side up. Push the moss ball down so that it is fully submerged and begins to absorb water. Allow to soak for 10-25 minutes, or until bubbles stop coming up. Remove the kokedama from the water, and gently squeeze the moss ball to allow excess water to drain. Allow to drip dry in a colander before replacing it to its given home.

The Nuts Around Us Fri, 21 Dec 2018 11:29:00 +0000 Fudge, tea rings, macaroons, baklava, pralines, and brittles! These are some of the nutty holiday sweets we indulgence in this time of year. Besides these delectable offerings, unshelled nuts to be eaten in their natural state are common around the holiday season as well. I'm going to date myself, but stockings at my house didn't have toys, but a wonderful mixture of fruit, nuts and candy. The preponderance of nuts in the fall and early winter of course relate to the natural time of harvest- and a reason why so many holiday recipes call for them.

To a botanist, a nut is a hard surfaced fruit containing a seed (the part we eat). Most people refer to this edible part as the nut; so before we get too nutty about it; let's agree that anything you think is a nut is a nut- except for peanuts, which are actually legumes!

Many nuts we enjoy, including pistachio, macadamia, almonds and cashews, grow in warm and even tropical climates. In Eastern North America we are lucky enough indeed to have a few native nut (trees) of our own, and the opportunity to grow them successfully. The filbert (hazelnut) is a great one, American Chesnut hybrids immune to Chesnut blight, and the hardy Northern Pecan grown a little farther south of here are the more common ones.

A tree we are likely most familiar with is the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra). Once ubiquitous in our surroundings, this tree is often scorned as messy and a bad team player in our urban landscapes. Yes, some plants are sensitive to the chemical jugalone it produces, (those in the nightshade family come to mind), but way more species are actually okay with it.

Black walnuts don't make themselves easy to love either when it's time to harvest. Thick outer husks and hard inner shells make them, let's say 'challenging' to get to the nut meat. Driving over the husks with a car back and forth or pounding them a mallet are common ways! That's why they are hard to find in many a grocery store, and expensive when you do.

BUT…. These nuts are so, so good; with more intense and slightly tangy taste than the imported English Walnut, you'll want them in your special dishes anytime of the year. Plus, there is a certain satisfaction experienced when the work is worth the effort. Try purchasing them this year to try in your favorite recipe; and maybe next year you'll be Black Walnut hunting the way some people morel mushroom hunt. The walnuts are easier to find, and are deee-licous!

Turkey Q&A Wed, 07 Nov 2018 09:00:00 +0000 How well do you know Thanksgiving turkey safety tips? Let's find out!

Thanks to the "Turkey for the Holidays" website from UI Extension for these tips!

Q: How long does a turkey take to thaw?
A: Allow about 24 hours of defrost time for every 5 pounds of turkey. For example, a 20 pound turkey will take 4 to 5 days to thaw.

Q: What is the lowest oven temperature I can cook my turkey at?
A: The USDA does not recommend cooking turkey in an oven set lower than 325°F.

Q: What temperature should my thermometer reach?
A: Cook turkey until temperature in the innermost part of the thigh reaches 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the wing and the thickest part of the breast too.

Q: Can I stuff my turkey the night before? That seems like a good time saver.
A: Nope! Why? Harmful bacteria can multiply in the stuffing and cause food poisoning even when the stuffed bird is refrigerated. The cavity of the bird actually insulates the stuffing from the cold temperatures of the refrigerator and acts as an incubator for the harmful bacteria.

Q: Our family grazes on food all day on Thanksgiving. How long can I leave cooked turkey out?
A: Put turkey away two hours after coming out of the oven. Remove stuffing from the cavity, cut turkey off the bone and refrigerate or freeze all leftovers for later use.

Q: Can I eat on leftover turkey all week?
A: Nope! Leftovers should be eaten within four days. On day four, eat the rest, freeze it, or throw it out!

Turkey Bone Broth

Turkey carcass and all bones from leftover turkey
2 coarsely chopped carrots
1 celery rib with leaves, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 clove of minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley with stems
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Water or canned chicken broth (if you are short on bones)

1. Break up turkey bones and place in a large pot. Add remaining ingredients and cover with 2 quarts water or canned chicken broth or a combination of the two. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, skimming for 2 hours. Strain and boil down to one quart.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Mellendorf. Caitlin Mellendorf, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch of Oak Sat, 29 Sep 2018 01:00:00 +0000
A problem that seems to be an increasing across the area with oak trees is Bacterial Leaf Scorch. Up until about 2012 or so, this disease was considered a minor problem that oak trees typically overcame. Here recently, this disease is causing a slow decline of our older oak trees once they become infected.
What do the symptoms look like? The first noticeable symptom is premature browning of leaves in mid-summer. Symptoms worsen throughout late summer and fall. Leaf margins turn brown, beginning with the older leaves and moving outward, spreading to leaves toward the branch tip.
The only way to confirm the diagnosis of bacterial leaf scorch is through laboratory analysis. This can be done by sending a sample to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. The best time to test for the presence of this disease is in late summer or early fall, when the bacteria count is at its highest.
This disease is transmitted by leafhoppers and spittle bugs, when they feed on the succulent, terminal shoots of susceptible host trees, transmitting the bacteria. The xylem vessels become clogged with bacterium as it travels within, multiplying and infecting other parts of the tree. There are no viable control options for the insect vectors. The cold-sensitive bacteria overwinter in protected areas within the xylem of the tree, and their populations begin to climb again as the next growing season progresses.
What can you do if your oak tree is diagnosed with Bacterial Leaf Scorch? Maintain the tree's vigor. Keeping susceptible trees healthy and thriving can help them resist infection and survive longer once they are infected. Otherwise practice good sanitation and prune out infect branches.Disinfect pruning tools with a 10% bleach solution between pruning cuts. AND think about planting a resistant tree that is not susceptible to Bacterial Leaf Scorch, such as Elm, Hackberry, Linden, Maple and Tulip Poplar.
CSA Weeks 15-16: Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes Sun, 23 Sep 2018 09:00:00 +0000
The sweet potato in our share was a LARGE 3.25 lb one!  We had a fun time weighing it.

Weeks 15 and 16 Recipes. Download the recipes here, and watch videos of these recipes on social media (@nutritiondmp) too!
Scale in the Landscape - It Saps 'em Thu, 20 Sep 2018 15:25:00 +0000 Do you have landscape plants that the leaves are stippled or showing yellow sickly spots and a few leaves are twisted as though they are wilting? You may even notice a few little white spots on some of the leaves and stems. You may have an infestation of the scale insect. The scale insect sucks fluids out of the plant, so the plant can die from lack of food and water, even though there is plenty of water and sunlight.
Those little white spots are actually young mobile scale insects in the "crawler" stage. The "adult" scale insect, which as you can see look as though they part of the plant's stem, are attached to the stem and lay eggs which hatch under the adult's outer shell. The young immature scale are called nymphs and in its early stages in mobile, the "crawler" stage that moves to other parts of the plant. As you can see, these Euonymus plants are infested. The good news is we can control this insect, but it will probably require several applications of a pesticide, organic or non-organic.