This weeks produce is yam sticks and fresh pineapple.
There is often confusion between a yam and a sweet potato. While they have similar flavor and texture, allowing them to be used similarly in recipes, they are roots of completely different plants. Yams are from Africa and Asia and are closely related to lilly and grass species of plants. Sweet potatoes are from Central and South America and are closely related to morning glory plants. The confusion started when sweet potatoes were grown in the southern USA, where African slaves called the soft varieties of sweet potatoes “yams” because of the similarities to true yams that were part of their culinary history. Most produce available in supermarkets in the USA are sweet potatoes. Your students will be trying orange variety of sweet potatoes, aka “yams”, this week.
Sweet potatoes have a major role in southern cooking. If you want to try something a little different with sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, try making a sweet potato pie. You can find many recipes online, but I just substitute equal amounts of cooked, mashed sweet potato instead of pumpkin puree in my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. If you must have toasted marshmallows with your sweet potatoes, you can decorate the top of the pie with them and broil the top in the oven for a few minutes to toast the top.
Fresh pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. Do not be intimidated by the whole fruit, it is easy to cut into the bite sized pieces you find re-packaged in the store. You usually end up with more fruit for your money. I cut off the top and the bottom, then slice down the sides to “peel” the outside. Then cut into chunks. You can eat the core, but it is too fibrous for most people. Each little hexagon on the outside of the fruit was, at one time, its own flower. As the flowers mature into the compound juicy fruits that we eat. Most pineapples do not have seeds because growers exclude the main pollinator of pineapples which are hummingbirds. The crown of a pineapple, the cluster of leaves at the top, can be used to propagate new pineapple plant. You can try to grow the next pineapple you purchase by suspending the base of the crown in water until roots begin to develop and transplanting it into a pot with soil.
By Susan Howe
Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes from the decay of uranium. It can accumulate in homes and where it can cause lung cancer. This type of lung cancer risk is preventable, and the only way to know if a home has elevated concentrations is to test for it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) of air. If a home is found to have radon concentrations at or above 4 pCi/l, action should be taken to reduce radon levels, reducing the risk of lung cancer. Living in a home with a yearly average of 4 pCi/l poses a similar risk of developing lung cancer as smoking about half a pack of cigarettes a day. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States, killing more people than second-hand smoke, drunken driving, drowning or home fires.
In Lyon County, 29% of homes tested have elevated radon concentrations. The highest concentration found in Lyon County is 135 pCi/l (in Yerington), which is second to the highest in the state, 195 pCi/l (found in Washoe County).
From Dec. 1 to Feb. 29, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers free radon test kits (normally $7 each) at the Lyon County Cooperative Extension office, 504 S. Main Street and at other locations throughout the state. Educational presentation(s) will be be held. If your community group is interested in hosting a presentation or if your group is having a function where we could distribute free test kits, email Joy Paterson.
This week’s vegetables are blueberries and zucchini.
Neither of these are exotic, but they are foods that a lot of people have never tried fresh. Blueberries are great by themselves, added to a salad, or using them in baked goods is always popular. The blueberry council has great information, recipes and activities for kids and adults that relates to blueberries. Zucchini is often baked, fried or shredded for use in baking, but it is also great sliced thin into a salad or with a dip instead of chips. Vegetable gardens often have an abundance of zucchini. It can be preserved by dicing or shredding it into cubes and freezing to last into the winter months. Dehydrated slices can be used in soups or stews to add some fiber and sweetness.
by Kate Schnoor
Lyon County 4H is proud to announce our Leader of the Month for October is Linda VanPelt. Linda has been volunteering with 4H for 18 years and has played a crucial role in the Lyon County 4H Program. “I was not a 4-H’er as a youth but when my daughter wanted a guinea pig I suggested she join 4-H to learn how to take care of it and that was the beginning of my family’s 4-H career.”
Linda has been involved with numerous 4H clubs throughout her years as a volunteer; including, Clover buds, Community Club, Toe Painting, Cake Decorating, Dog Club, WHEP and Leaders Council. “I started as a 4-H leader when my little girl was 6 years old. Her Clover Bud Leader moved away and there wasn’t anyone to take her place. That was in 1997, and so it started.”
As leaders left, Linda stepped in so the 4H clubs wouldn’t close. “When the Toe Painting leader quit I became that leader, and when the Community club leaders left I once again stepped in with Windi Goodman. We are the” FCC” duo or “Laurel and Hardie” as we like to refer to ourselves.” If you have met Linda and Windi, you instantly see their friendship and love for working with youth.
Lyon County 4H has a program referred to as Leaders Council; this is a group of 4H Leaders who help with fundraisers, 4H events, fairs, awards and contests. Linda has been involved with this group for the past 6 years as the Treasure and secretary.
“I was awarded into the Lyon County Hall of Fame in 2010 and also at the state level in 2009. I have had a great experience with all the kids, they make me smile and make it worth all time and effort. I have met many wonderful parents and leaders all over the state. I liked being involved at the state level very much and hope those opportunities are available again to all the amazing, involved and caring leaders that are stepping up and moving our kids forward into new adventures. The University leaders were exceptionally knowledgeable, fun and helpful.”
“I am always amazed at how the kids and parents are kind and generous with their time and talents. Anytime I needed help I could count on anyone I asked to step in and help. I have loved being a part of 4-H. I will always bleed green and support 4-H.”
This week, the kids will be trying grapes and Chioggia Beet cubes.
I am sure that most of us have had grapes, but did you know that most wine and seedless grapes, Vitis vinifera, are not originally from North America, but were brought over by Europeans. Concord grapes, Vitis labrusca, are native to North America, and have been crossed with Old World grape varieties to produce many of the disease resistant grapes that are grown around the world today. California has some of the best conditions for growing grapes and wines, table grapes and raisins are shipped worldwide. Nevada is growing more grapes than ever and some varieties do well in our Northern Nevada climate. If you are interested in adding grapes to your gardens or landscape, contact us and we can assist you in selecting plants that will do well here.
I love vegetables, but I used to despise beets. Then, an office mate in graduate school introduced me to the roasted beet. I love them! Just like carrots caramelize and become sweet and savory when roasted, so will beets. Chioggia or Candy Cane beet varieties were developed in Italy and are a beautiful vegetable. This is a photo from my kitchen with 4 varieties of beets prepared to be roasted. Just peel the root, slice or cube, add a small amount of oil and salt and roast in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes until tender with brown crispy edges. I also have a great pickled beet recipe from an old cook book that is great. Email me and I will send you the recipe. Chard and beets are the same species of plant, just different varieties. You can eat beet greens just like you would chard. They can also be juiced or chopped into salads. Give beets a chance and you just might find a way that you like them.