Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fall Cleaning the Refrigerator

My Summer of activities are over and I am able to take some vacation time.  This is the time of year I usually do my "Spring" cleaning.  My list is long, but I really did not have a desire to get started, but an accident inside the refrigerator motivated me to tackle one of the items on my list.  A bottle of wine leaked causing the doors to stick.

Regular cleaning of the refrigerator is important to make sure the food you serve is safe and tasty.  Spills should be wiped up when they happen and weekly the refrigerator should be checked for leftovers that seem to disappear into the back.  Doors and handles should be wiped down weekly.

Many home organizing experts offer tips for cleaning a refrigerator in 5 minutes a day.  I believe that even with a good cleaning routine, it is important to completely take apart the refrigerator and clean shelves and walls at least once a year.  So yesterday was the day at our house.

Ideally, bring an ice chest or two in to store the food while you clean. Remove shelves and wash with hot soapy water.  If you have food residue that does not remove with soapy water, scrub with a baking soda paste.  Don't forget the shelves in the door.

After shelving is clean, wash the inside of the refrigerator with warm water and baking soda.  Don't forget to rinse!  This will help your refrigerator smell better too!  Pay attention to the seal around your door.  Wash with hot soapy water.  If mold is starting to form add a little bleach to your water.

When dry, put your shelving back in and then start putting the food back.  Wipe the bottles of condiments with a damp rag.  Be sure to check the dates and throw out all expired items and of course any old leftovers.

Once your refrigerator is clean, help keep it that way by defrosting food on a tray and setting up a schedule to clean a shelf every few days.

After you finish the refrigerator portion, move to the freezer, following the same steps.  You may need to turn off the freezer while you are wiping down the inside, so your water does not freeze on the sides.  Be sure to check the food for freezer burn and rotate older food to the front or top to be used right away.

The final step is to wash the outside of the refrigerator with warm soapy water or an all purpose cleaner.  Then stand back and enjoy your shiny new refrigerator!  It is worth the effort.  Ours is done just in time for a weekend of cooking and storing food with chile. 

Monday, August 15, 2016


Get Moving Quay County 5K Fun Run/Walk is scheduled for October 1, 2016. This gives you time to begin preparation.  These tips were prepared for your use in preparing for this event, if you choose.  Good luck and we’ll see you October 1st!

1) Current research shows that stretching is not best performed until after exercise. To avoid injury, begin a gradual warmup of 5-10 minutes. This should consist of marching in place, kicking the legs forward and back, several body weight squats, and swinging the arms like a windmill. Finally, a few jumping jacks or short bursts of jogging will complete the warmup, provided you have no joint pain in the knees/hips.

2) Drink 8-12 ounces of water 30-60 minutes prior to your exercise, and consider keeping additional water with you. You may want to ingest 4-8 ounces of water each additional 20-30 minutes, but remember to sip and consume slowly to avoid bloat and cramps.

3) Be prepared. While we never want to turn someone away from a last minute decision to workout, do not attempt to exceed your preparedness. If you have 4-6 weeks to prepare, utilize it. Start by attempting to run or walk ½ of a mile and tack on 1/8 of a mile every other day.

4) Know your surroundings. Preparedness is the best defense against any accident or injury. When possible locate things like water, alternative routes, fenced (or loose dogs), and areas without cell phone reception. Gaze at the ground for snakes and imperfect flooring. 

5) Remember the importance of footwear and proper clothing. Wear a walking or running shoe/sneaker and dress in comfortable fitting clothing, preferably a cotton or cotton blend top, with sweat pants or athletic mesh shorts. Avoid sun burns and poisoning by applying sunscreen when necessary. You may also want a hat or sunglasses, depending on whether or not you are facing the sun. Consider heat and forecasted weather to ensure the best experience possible.

Prepared by:
Phil Tafone, MS – Director of Fitness & Wellness
Mesalands Community College

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Extend the Life of Your Produce

Often when I visit the Farmers' Market, I am excited to see the fresh produce and purchase more than my family can eat in a few days.  If you have this same problem, here are a few tips to help you store your produce for a longer shelf life.

Refrigerate ripe fruits and vegetables to slow down the enzymes that begin to break down produce once it is picked.

Refrigerate fruits and vegetables in perforated plastic bags to help maintain moisture yet provide air flow. Unperforated plastic bags can lead to the growth of mold or bacteria. If you don’t have access to commercial, food-grade, perforated bags, use a sharp object to make several small holes in a food-grade plastic bag (about 20 holes per medium-size bag).

Wash produce before you use it, NOT when you bring it home! Fresh produce has a natural protective coating that helps keep in moisture and freshness. Washing produce before storage causes it to spoil faster. Remove and discard outer leaves.

Vegetables such as potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool place in a bag that allows air flow.  Do not store where they will freeze.

Consider freezing excess produce for use later.

Before using any produce rinse under clean, running water just before preparing or eating. Don’t use soap or detergent as it can get into produce and make you sick. Rub briskly — scrubbing with a clean brush or hands — to clean the surface. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Cut away bruised and damaged areas.  Rinse fruits and vegetables even if they have a peel which will be removed (such as melons and citrus fruit). Bacteria on the outside of produce can be transferred to the inside when they are cut or peeled.

Make Plans To Walk With Us!

Only Three Days Until The County Fair!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Red Onions Everywhere

We received a 35 pound bag of red onions from a neighbor today and learned that an onion truck was in a wreck.  Then several people mentioned that they had onions to give away.  What can you do with this many onion?  We enjoy sauteed onions and vegetables, but don't want them every day.  Red onions are also a nice additions to salads and great for making salsa and pico de gallo.

Dry bulb onions should be kept in a cool, dry, well ventilated place. Do not store whole onions in plastic bags. Lack of air movement will reduce their storage life. They should kept a month or two.  Sweet onions have a higher water content than storage onions, making them more susceptible to bruising, and a shorter shelf life than storage varieties. One way to extend the shelf life of a sweet or high water content onion is to wrap each one in paper towels or newspaper and place them in the refrigerator to keep them cool and dry.

To reduce tearing when cutting onions, first chill the onions for 30 minutes. Then, cut off the top and peel the outer layers leaving the root end intact. (The root end has the highest concentration of sulphuric compounds that make your eyes tear.)  Slice the onion from the top, leaving the root until the end.

 With all of the activities coming up I decided we should preserve some of ours and looked up the directions.  I have never tried this, but what do we have to loose.  The manuals do not recommend freezing because the quality is poor.

To freeze onions for use in soups and casseroles: peel and clean as for eating then water blanch the whole bulb for 3 to 7 minutes until the center is heated.  Cool promptly and drain.  Then package in a freezer appropriate container with 1/2 inch head space.  This sounds easy.

To make onion rings: wash, peel, and slice onions.  Separate into rings.  Water blanch for 10 to 15 seconds.  Cool promptly in ice water, drain and coat with flour.  Dip in milk.  Coat with a mixture of equal parts cornmeal and pancake mix.  Arrange in a single layer on a tray.   Freeze.  Pack into containers using plastic wrap to separate layers.  Seal and Freeze.  To prepare fry frozen rings in 375 degrees oil until golden brown.  I plan to try this over the weekend.

A great way to preserve onions is by drying them.  Remove outer paper shells and wash.  Remove tops and root ends, slice 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  You do not need to blanch, just lay on trays in a single layer.  Dry 3 to 9 hours in a dehydrator.  I plan on trying this tomorrow night.

Onions can also be pressure canned or pickled.  Call the Extension Office, for details on how to can onions.

So just for fun, you may even want to make this for the fair next week, here is a recipe from the National Onion Association.  I bet red onions would make a tastier cake.

Caramelized Chocolate Cake

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, soured with 1 tablespoon vinegar
Easy Fudge Icing (recipe follows)
Melt chocolate in saucepan, stirring over low heat, or in microwave oven. Caramelize onion by sautéing over medium low heat for 8-10 minutes in 2 tablespoons oil in skillet until soft. In large bowl, beat remaining oil with sugar, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes. Beat in warm melted chocolate and caramelized onions. Mix flour with baking soda and salt; stir into batter alternately with milk. Divide batter evenly into 2 well-greased and floured 8-inch round layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until a pick inserted into center comes out dry. Cool 15 minutes then invert onto wire racks to thoroughly cool. Spread on icing. Makes 12 servings.

Easy Fudge Icing: melt 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate with 1/2 cup butter in saucepan, stirring often over very low heat. Mix in 1/2 cup hot water then turn into mixing bowl. Beat in about 5 cups powdered sugar, a portion at a time. (Adjust as needed to make a good consistency.) Quickly fill and frost cake while icing is still warm. If some icing gets too cool to spread easily, place it in microwave safe bowl and microwave shortly just until softened and lustrous. Makes about 3-1/2 cups.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why Fiber Is Important To Your Diet

What can fiber do for you? Numerous studies have found that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber are associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes, digestive disorders, and heart disease. However, since high-fiber foods may also contain antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, and other substances that may offer protection against these diseases, researchers can't say for certain that fiber alone is responsible for the reduced health risks.   Recent findings on the health effects of fiber show it may play a role in:

CANCER: A 1992 study by researchers at Harvard Medical School found that men who consumed 12 grams of fiber a day were twice as likely to develop precancerous colon changes as men whose daily fiber intake was about 30 grams.

DIGESTIVE DISORDERS: Because insoluble fiber aids digestion and adds bulk to stool, it hastens passage of fecal material through the gut, thus helping to prevent or alleviate constipation. Fiber also may help reduce the risk of diverticulosis, a condition in which small pouches form in the colon wall (usually from the pressure of straining during bowel movements). People who already have diverticulosis often find that increased fiber consumption can alleviate symptoms, which include constipation and/or diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, and mucus or blood in the stool.

DIABETES: As with cholesterol, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates to slow their digestion and absorption. In theory, this may help prevent wide swings in blood sugar level throughout the day.

HEART DISEASE: Clinical studies show that a heart-healthy diet (low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables and grain products that contain soluble fiber) can lower blood cholesterol. In these studies, cholesterol levels dropped between 0.5 percent and 2 percent for every gram of soluble fiber eaten per day.

As it passes through the gastrointestinal tract, soluble fiber binds to dietary cholesterol, helping the body to eliminate it. This reduces blood cholesterol levels, which, in turn, reduces cholesterol deposits on arterial walls that eventually choke off the vessel. There also is some evidence that soluble fiber can slow the liver's manufacture of cholesterol, as well as alter low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles to make them larger and less dense. Researchers believe that small, dense LDL particles pose a bigger health threat.  In a Finnish study, each 10 grams of fiber added to the diet decreased the risk of dying from heart disease by 17 percent; in the U.S. study, risk was decreased by 29 percent.

OBESITY: Because insoluble fiber is indigestible and passes through the body virtually intact, it provides few calories. And since the digestive tract can handle only so much bulk at a time, fiber-rich foods are more filling than other foods--so people tend to eat less. Insoluble fiber also may hamper the absorption of calorie dense dietary fat. So, reaching for an apple instead of a bag of chips is a smart choice for someone trying to lose weight.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Flour Recall was expanded

The Gold Medal Flour recall has been expanded to include Betty Crocker Cake Mixes. This recall is for E. coli that could be present in the flour.

FDA and Gold Medal Remind us:

​Do not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour. Flour is made from wheat that is grown outdoors where bacteria are often present. Flour is typically not treated to kill bacteria during the normal milling process.

Actions you should take
Do not eat dough or batter made with raw flour.
Properly cook or bake food made with flour. Bacteria (such as E. coli) that might be found in the raw flour will be eliminated.
Check your pantry and throw away any products that match the recalled products listed. If possible, save the product name, UPC (bar code) and Better if Used By Date to help our Consumer Relations team assist you with a replacement coupon. If you no longer have the flour package or have any doubts, throw away the flour.

Here is the recall information with product dates and codes included in the recall.

generalmills flour info

If you have chickens, read this blog

The Center for Disease Control is reminding people of the danger of contracting Salmonella from you backyard chicken.  So far in 2016 over 600 people have contracted Salmonella from their own flocks in 45 different states.

How do people get Salmonella infections from live poultry?

Live poultry may have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks) even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. And germs also can get on the hands, shoes, and clothes of people who handle the birds or work or play where they live and roam.

People become infected with Salmonella when they put their hands or other things that have been in contact with live poultry in or around their mouth. Young children are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to put their fingers or other items into their mouths. Some people who have contact with items in the area where poultry live can become ill without actually touching one of the birds. Germs on your hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces, which is why it's important to wash hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.

Reduce the chance of Salmonella infection by:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
  • Don't let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • If you collect eggs from the hens, thoroughly cook them.
  • Don't eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Avoid kissing your birds or snuggling them, then touching your mouth.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers.
Find out more here

Keeping Backyard Poultry

Thursday, August 4, 2016

IRS Does Not Call!

We received our second scam IRS call today.  The first was yesterday, saying we owed money and they needed account info.  Today, they told my husband warrants had been issued for our arrest unless we pay this IRS bill.

I know I do not owe the IRS, but just hearing those words or seeing a letter from the IRS makes me nervous.  A couple of years ago we received a letter from the IRS after we had sent in our tax return.  I was too nervous to open it.  It turned out to be good news.   But I still remember the sinking feeling that I had.

These feelings are what scammers rely on.  They also prey on older people they talk fast and try to confuse you.  Beware, be on guard, and if it does not sound accurate, ask them for contact information and tell them you will check with your accountant and call them back.  Chances are they will hang up on you.

The other big scam that we receive calls on often are the companies stating that our computer is messed up and sending messages out and they can fix it if we log on and give them access to my computer.  Do not fall for this.  They are very persistent and do not be nice to them or carry on a conversation or they will call back repeatedly.  

The other scam going around is through e-mail.  These e-mail look real and they are telling you that there is a problem with your account and to log in and check your account.  Do not use the e-mail link to log in.  If you have an account or credit card with the bank and you think it is legitimate, then log in your normal way and check.  I have been getting daily ones from PayPal on my office computer and I do not even have a PayPal account.  Just hit delete on any of these e-mails and protect your account.

Here are some great tips to help you deal with scammers.

FTC Guidelines for dealing with Fraud

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Quay County Fair Starts Soon

Reduced Price Carnival Tickets On Sale

Carnival pre-sale tickets are available now. We only have 500 so when they sell out we can not help you with a reduced ticket. Get yours early. They can be used any night at the fair. You may pick up yours at Bob's Budget Pharmacy, Tucumcari Ranch Supply, Tucumcari Federal Savings and Loan, Mesaland's Commu
nity College, Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce, and the Extension Office.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

60 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

If you have diabetes, your family members are at risk for diabetes.  Work as a team with these ideas to help you reduce your blood sugar levels and help them to prevent diabetes.

1. Eat smaller portions
2. Drink a large glass of water 10 minutes before your meal so you feel less hungry.
3. Keep meat, chicken, turkey, and fish portions to about 3 ounces.
4. Share one dessert.
5. Use teaspoons, salad forks, or child-size forks, spoons, and knives to help you take smaller bites and eat less.
6. Make less food look like more by serving your meal on a salad or breakfast plate.
7. Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain that you are full.
8. Listen to music while you eat instead of watching TV (people tend to eat more while watching TV).
9. Try filling your plate like this: 1/4 protein, 1/4 grains, 1/2 vegetables and fruit, dairy (low-fat or skim milk)
10. Move more everyday.
11. Show your kids the dances you used to do when you were their age.
12. Turn up the music and jam while doing household chores.
13. Work out with a video that shows you how to get active.
14. Catch up with friends during a walk instead of by phone.
15. March in place while you watch TV.
16. Walk the Rail Trail or at the Fitness Complex. 
17. Choose Healthy Foods.
18. Choose to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
19. Cut back on high-fat foods like whole milk, cheeses, and fried foods. This will help you reduce the amount of fat and calories you take in each day. 
20. Snack on a veggie.
21. Buy a mix of vegetables when you go food shopping.
22. Choose veggie toppings like spinach, broccoli, and peppers for your pizza.
23. Try eating foods from other countries. Many of these dishes have more vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
24. Buy frozen and low-salt (sodium) canned vegetables. They may cost less and keep longer than fresh ones.
25. Stir fry, broil, or bake with non-stick spray or low-salt broth. Cook with less oil and butter.
26. Try not to snack while cooking or cleaning the kitchen.
27. Cook with smaller amounts of cured meats (smoked turkey and turkey bacon). They are high in salt.
28. Cook with a mix of spices instead of salt.
29. Try different recipes for baking or broiling meat, chicken, and fish.
30. Choose foods with little or no added sugar to reduce calories.
31. Cook with smaller amounts of cured meats (smoked turkey and turkey bacon). They are high in salt.
32. Cook with a mix of spices instead of salt. 
33. Choose brown rice instead of white rice. 
34. Eat healthy on the go. 
35. Have a big vegetable salad with low-calorie salad dressing when eating out. Share your main dish with a friend or have the other half wrapped to go. 
36. Make healthy choices at fast food restaurants. Try grilled chicken (with skin removed) instead of a cheeseburger. 
37. Skip the fries and chips and choose a salad. 
38. Order a fruit salad instead of ice cream or cake. 
39. Find a water bottle you really like and drink water from it every day. 
40. Peel and eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice. 
41. If you drink whole milk, try changing to 2% milk. It has less fat than whole milk. Once you get used to 2% milk, try 1% or fat-free (skim) milk. This will help you reduce the amount of fat and calories you take in each day. 
42. Drink water instead of juice and regular soda. 
43. Make at least half of your grains whole grains, such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, and quinoa. 
44. Use whole grain bread for toast and sandwiches. 
45. Keep a healthy snack with you, such as fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, and whole grain crackers.

46. Slow down at snack time. Eating a bag of low-fat popcorn takes longer than eating a candy bar.
47. Share a bowl of fruit with family and friends.
48. Eat a healthy snack or meal before shopping for food. Do not shop on an empty stomach.
49. Shop at your local farmers market for fresh, local food.
50. Make a list of food you need to buy before you go to the store.
51. Keep a written record of what you eat for a week. It can help you see when you tend to overeat or eat foods high in fat or calories.
52. Compare food labels on packages.
53. Choose foods lower in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, calories, salt, and added sugars.
54. Take time to change the way you eat and get active. Try one new food or activity a week.
55. Find ways to relax. Try deep breathing, taking a walk, or listening to your favorite music.
56. Pamper yourself. Read a book, take a long bath, or meditate.
57. Think before you eat. Try not to eat when you are bored, upset, or unhappy.
58. Be sure to drink at least 2 quarts of water a day.
59. Limit your screen daily screen time
60. Get plenty of sleep to help your body repair itself.

Adapted from National Institute on Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disease webpage article 50 Ways to Prevent Diabetes