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County Extension

  • Salsa is not just for chips

     Most of the time when people think of salsa, they think of the tomatoey mixture with onions and peppers that is served with chips. But the term salsa has come to mean just about any combination of chopped fruits and vegetables. The spiciness can vary from mild to hot depending upon personal tastes.

  • What’s all this rain going to do to my plants?

     As I was sweating it out in the gym the other day, a fellow asked a question that’s on lots of gardeners minds these days: “What’s all this rain going to do to my plants?” Some things are obvious.

  • Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes

     Whether you get them from your own garden, a farmer’s market or a pick-your-own field, there is still time for local tomatoes here in southeastern North Carolina. How you store and preserve these precious commodities is even more important now that we know the season is almost over.

  • For an alternative to the traditional sour cream dip, create your own tzatziki

     In an effort to eat healthier, many people are looking for an alternative to the traditional sour cream dip for their vegetables and whole-grain crackers. One product I’m seeing more and more of is called tzatziki.

    Tzatziki is a sauce that has its origins in Greece and the Middle East. It is frequently used as the sauce on gyros, but it can also be a salad dressing, sauce for grilled meats or mild fish or a dip. What’s nice about this tzatziki is that not only is it a lower fat alternative, it also contains a vegetable as one of its key ingredients.

  • Time to get garden items organized

     September is a transitional month for us as the nights begin to cool off and days flirting with triple digits are a distant memory. More pleasant working conditions mean it’s a good time to get garden items organized. For the folks who have a place for every tool and every tool in its place, this is a small chore. But, if you’re like me and your old pickup truck is vaguely reminiscent of something you’d likely see on “Sanford and Son,” it’s time to get busy.

  • Restaurant servers may be transferring germs to you

     Many years ago, I heard Dr. Charles Gerba speak at a conference. He is an internationally recognized environmental microbiologist and professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona. Some people call him Dr. Germ. During this speech, he talked about the germiest place in most homes. OK, guess what is it? Hint: it’s not the bathroom. It’s the kitchen sink.

  • Sponge or dishcloth?

     Well, what is it? A kitchen sponge or a dishcloth? I personally like cloths, but I know many people favor sponges.

    Sponges are great for wiping up spills and absorbing liquid and some have a scrubby side that helps clean grime from pots and pans and dishes. But, they also absorb harmful foodborne pathogens along the way. There have been some scientific studies showing the kitchen sponge or dishrag is the germiest thing in most homes and, if not cleaned between uses, can be a prime spot for germ growth.

  • The increasing/decreasing price of eggs

     Yikes! Have you seen the price of eggs lately? A couple of weeks ago I noticed they were close to $3 a dozen. This increase can be traced back to an avian influenza (some call it the bird flu) that lead to the death of about 50 million chicken and turkeys in the Midwest earlier this year. There are fewer chickens in the U.S. laying eggs, making the supply of eggs a little tighter. The egg industry says wholesale egg prices have already started to moderate and come down. I noticed this week the prices did seem to drop a little. That’s good news.

  • Think about food safety when grilling burgers this Labor Day weekend

     Although we can anticipate nice weather for several more months, Labor Day seems to mark the official last cookout of the summer. If you’re having a get together that involves food this weekend, I’m going to once again remind you to think about food safety.

    This time I’m thinking about hamburgers. Test your knowledge of burger safety by answering these two multiple-choice questions.

    Question No. 1

  • Garden success lies in the soil, Part 1

     By Sam Marshall

    Horticulture Agent

     

    Successful gardeners in our region have a dirty secret. And it isn’t that they are jumping over your fence at night causing all the “deer” damage. No, any successful gardener in this area will tell you the key to a beautiful lawn or garden starts with healthy soil and proper soil management. Regardless of what you hear about this area, our soils teem with life that, if managed properly, will alleviate the challenges of coastal gardening.