This week the kids will be trying kumquats and dates.

Kumquats are often very tart and slightly bitter when you first bite into them, but as you chew them they get sweeter and sweeter. I have found that describing it to kids as being like cry baby gum or war heads candy is a good analogy. It is painfully tart at first, but you chew through that tart burst and the sweet surprise is very worth it. You eat the entire kumquat, peel and all. Kumquats are so great fresh, that I have rarely had enough of them to cook with. I did use them chopped up into a mango salsa with mango, onion, chili and kumquat bits instead of lime juice. It was delicious over a grilled or baked fish fillet. Kumquats would also make excellent marmalade. Finely chop whole kumquats and substitute for the orange in your favorite recipe.

Dates are something that people relate to holiday baked goods and forget about the rest of the year. Dates are very sweet, almost like caramel bites. Dates can be chopped and added to cereal, oatmeal, cookies, cakes and other sweet baked goods. Dates can also be used in savory dishes where an accent of sweetness brings a nice contrast. Try a ham glaze of date puree, clove, cinnamon and allspice. Dates are a great substitute for more processed forms of sweetness. I have used pureed dates to make energy bars or in place of honey or sugar in recipes. It is more dense that sugar, so you might need to modify recipes to reflect that. No one will guess where the delicious caramel sweetness came from.

By Judy Halterman  20150904_074229 (1280x720)

As the cold weather appr20150817_081331 (1280x720)oached the school garden at Yerington Elementary School, it was time to say good bye to the beautiful vegetable plants and winterize the garden. Over the course of the growing season, the garden produced around 525 pounds of fresh veggies that ended up on families tables that were in need, and also in the school cafeteria for the students to taste. The Kindergarteners and First Graders helped to plant the inside of the Hoop-House with green beans, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, swiss chard, potatoes, watermelon, and red onions. Several boys and girls came down from the Boys and Girls club, twice a week during the summer months to help out with more plumbing, planting, harvesting, and weeding in both the hoop-house and outside growing area. Outside20150902_092445 (1280x720)20150821_064257 (1280x720) the kids planted winter squash, corn, more green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, sunflowers that produced seeds, and of course, pumpkins. We even planted several pollinating wild flowers along the perimeter of the gardens to attract our bees.

Speaking of bees, we got to experience cross-pollination. There was a big zucchini-watermelon looking veggie/fruit. The bee had pollinated the watermelon, and then found its way to the zucchini, or so we thought! It turned out to be a pumpkin!!! The children and the extension office were in awe. The children learned where their food comes20150825_105322 (1280x720)20150904_074713_001 (1280x720) from by interacting in the school gardens. Some were very well educated before they came into the gardens by growing veggies with their families. It was refreshing to see these students explain things to their classmates. Yep, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!! Well…… maybe one thing! We had an intruder move into the hoop house underneath the tomato plants. Mr. Gopher was causing all kinds of tunnels to collapse! By the end of the growing season he had vanished!! Not sure what happened to him, and by the same token, didn’t ask! The students helped to harvest everything inside the hoop house. Next it was time to rototill and plant the fall ground cover crop to help enrich the soil for next year’s crops, and then close the doors for the winter.20151007_153656 (1280x720)20151105_125911 (1280x720)

This week, the kids will be trying green cauliflower and  cara cara oranges.

Green cauliflower is a hybrid of broccoli and white cauliflower. Broccoli and cauliflower are the same species of plant, but due to selective breeding for agriculture and because humans like it. The various colors of cauliflower have slightly different vitamin composition, but nothing significant enough to make much nutritional difference. The colored varieties are becoming fairly common and can be most easily and are highest in quality in the spring or fall with other cabbage related crops. Cauliflower is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. Steamed or roasted cauliflower can be substituted in may recipes for mashed or roasted potatoes to reduce calories. It is a very neutrally flavored vegetable and can be incorporated into sauces or soups when pureed for thickening and to add texture.

Cara cara oranges are a variety of navel orange that has red flesh that is less acidic and sweeter than the traditional cara cara oranges. Oranges are sweetest when they have a smooth, firm skin and no soft spots. In all citrus, you may notice some brown discoloration on the surface of the skin. One of the defense mechanisms of citrus plants to feeding on the fruit is to send additional sugars to the fruit. This “gums up” the mouth parts of the insects that are feeding on the fruit. If the skin discoloration is not associated softness, the fruit will be much sweeter. The fruit will dry out faster reducing the time it can sit on your table, but I have found the better flavor to be worth it.

IMG_7005 (1280x1179)We are excited to announce the November Leader of the Month is Elaine Greene. Elaine has been volunteering with 4-H for over almost 40 years! She got a start early in 4-H as a member as a youth. She has been involved in a variety of clubs over the years, but currently volunteers with clubs in Smith Valley. Volunteering for 4-H is important to her because she wants youth to be able to showcase their hard work by doing well in the show ring. Using a hands-on approach, she loves to work with the kids on improving their showmanship and animal quality. Her best day is when her kids have a big smileIMG_6823 (1280x1179) on their face when they do their best. Elaine wants to make a difference and be there to support each of her kids throughout their projects.

All the livestock programs in Lyon County benefit from her hard work. Elaine is the first one to show up for set up and one of the last ones there cleaning up the space. Her programs give back to Smith Valley community, serving at dinners and providing man-power for events. Sheep are her passion but, swine, skiing, snowmobiling, outdoors, and community clubs have benefited from her life-long involvement in 4-H.


There could be a radioactive gas in your home that causes lung cancer and you wouldn’t even know it’s there. Lung cancer kills more individuals than any other cancer and radon is estimated to cause 21,000 of those deaths each year in the U.S. Radon is a deadly, naturally occurring radioactive gas that is a health issue in Nevada, as well as worldwide. Once diagnosed with lung cancer, there is only a 15 percent five-year survival rate.

Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for those who do not smoke. Smokers who are exposed to elevated levels of radon have an even greater chance of getting lung cancer. However, radon-caused lung cancer is preventable through testing and mitigation.
Reducing the risk of radon-caused lung cancer can only happen through education, as Nevada lacks any protective statutes or regulations specific to radon. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Radon Education Program educates Nevadans about the radon health risk, how to test for and fix radon problems, and distributes low cost test kits to residents. The simple test can determine if a home has a radon problem, a possible problem or no problem at all. If a radon problem is found, a minor home repair can reduce radon levels and lower the risk of lung cancer from radon.

Cooperative Extension also offers presentations to schools, civic and community groups, homeowner associations, realtors, builders and the general public. They also exhibit at company wellness events, health fairs and home shows. If your group is interested in a presentation, contact the Nevada Radon Education Program at 1-888-RADON10 or myself at 775-463-6541.

From Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers free radon test kits (normally $7 each). In Lyon County, you can get a test kit at the Lyon County Cooperative Extension, 504 S. Main St.

To find out more about radon, call the Radon Hotline at 1-888-Radon10 or visit