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Features

  • When I read other cooking columns, and I read quite a few, I have always enjoyed the ones that included some food history and food trivia. If you are a regular reader of this column, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the obscure facts and trivia associated with that week’s highlighted food ingredient.

  • Some folks who move to southeastern North Carolina in the middle of summer may wonder if the heat and humidity will ever end, but one of the paybacks for surviving the summer heat is our mild winter. With the right garden plan, we can have something flowering almost every day of the year.

    So what’s blooming in the winter garden now?

  • Bluebirds are flying over the area in search of accommodations. It’s a little early, but like some other smart animals, it’s time to plan ahead.

    Bluebirds are particular in their nesting habits. Don Adams of Southport has provided the following information on how to attract these beautiful little birds to your garden:

    Cavity nesting bluebirds are in need of man-made nest boxes. The change from wood fence posts with cavities to steel posts and the cutting of hollow trees for firewood has reduced the natural nest sites.

  • The year 2008 could not depart without leaving an imprint on the Pelletier household. Thanksgiving was celebrated with a mysterious illness that struck the lord of the manor and kept us running from doctor to doctor with hospital outpatient calls in between. There were weeks of “ruling out” before anything could be ruled in. At this writing, healing has begun but no specific cause identified.

  • Johnny Cash is gone, but on Thursday, Jan. 22, you can relive the music and spirit of the “Man In Black” when Rockabilly Hall of Famer Rusty Evans performs his “Ring of Fire” tribute at Brunswick Community College.

    With a voice like rolling thunder and a spirit of gentle rain, Evans has been wowing audiences from Nashville to San Francisco with his tribute to the Man In Black.

  • KURE BEACH—2009 marks the 144th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

    To commemorate the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will stage “Fort Fisher Then and Now,” an all-day event on Saturday, Jan. 17, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • Although the company is named after Fred Waring, a popular entertainer of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, Waring did not actually invent the blender. He did, however, perfect the original version and introduce this version to retailers and consumers, which ultimately became a big success.

  • Even in this era of e-mail and instant messaging, gardeners still use the cool evenings of January to peruse those gorgeous garden catalogs and make plans for the fast-approaching spring season.

    Get your name on one list and you’ll have a mailbox overflowing with catalogs of everything garden-related.

  • My guess is gardening resolutions for the New Year are still sounding good and achievable this early into the year. So what happens later on to those resolutions? Hopefully, they were made based on some sense of reality.

    We must learn how to cope with things beyond our control. Ground pearl and certain invasive weeds come to mind. Major weather events had us scrambling last year to keep our plants alive. You can’t always be able to correct some of these problems and the best we can do is minimize their impacts on the landscape.

  • Do you want to develop healthy lifestyle changes for 2009? If you are interested, please join me by adopting the following tips developed by Alice Henneman, food and nutrition extension specialist, University of Nebraska:

    Health: Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease.

    Attitude: A positive attitude may not cure a disease; however, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.

  • Winter is prime time for planting spring flowering bulbs. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus bulbs will happily burst into bloom for you this spring.

    Be aware tulip bulbs rarely bloom more than one time in this part of the country. They need a long winter chill to set flowers. When planting, work some fertilizer into the soil surrounding the bulbs rather than just throwing it into the hole. The developing roots will get a more even boost this way.

  • I was intrigued by the movie’s title, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” My interest was further piqued by the dichotomy of opinions regarding its three and a half star rating. While some praised its story, others found the nearly three hour viewing period to be boring, slow, and generally not worth their time.

  • KURE BEACH—2009 marks the 144th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

    To commemorate the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will stage “Fort Fisher Then and Now,” an all-day event on Saturday, Jan. 17, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • Now is a great time to launch a new shape-up program with the Brunswick County Parks and Recreation Department’s 2009 spring fitness schedule.

    A variety of classes are slated throughout the county, kicking off this month and continuing in coming weeks. They range from Zumba fitness and Aido Shokai JuJutsu martial arts to cardio and strength training and dance classes.

    For more information or to register, call 253-2670.

    The schedule and fees are as follows:

  • Fennel is a perennial, aromatic plant indigenous to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia that grows to a height of 4-5 feet.

    Savored by the ancient Greeks, it has been utilized throughout history to treat an assortment of physical maladies, including keeping witches at bay during medieval times. Perhaps this is how fennel pollen, an expensive spice still popular in Italy, came to be known as the “Spice of Angels.”

  • Garden gurus like Jerry Baker often suggest there’s nothing better for your lawn than a brewski.

    According to them, beer contains vitamins and minerals for better growth and has beneficial microorganisms that will help develop great roots. This recommendation has always sounded bogus to me, but, believe it or not, someone finally did a scientific study to find out if a bit of beer builds a better lawn.

  • Many residents in the Cape Fear region are looking for ways to lower energy costs and may supplement their energy needs for heating by using firewood.

    January and February are typically our coldest months for the winter. I am always looking for some good information to pass along to clients when I came across this information on firewood from John Church from the Rockford Extension Center, affiliated with the University of Illinois.

  • (The following information is provided by Bob Westerfield, Cooperative Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.)

    Perhaps no landscape plant is more durable or comes in as many shapes and sizes as the holly.

    Hollies come in more than 300 recognized varieties, with more introduced each year. They belong to the genus Ilex, which is native to every continent except Antarctica.

  • As I marched determinedly through Walmart many months ago, an intriguing book title caught my eye. “Eat, Pray, Love” was its command. Thinking it was another of the many spiritual books on dieting and knowing I’d not follow through, I continued my trek through the store. Groceries purchased and placed in my various tote bags, I drove home. But the book title sang in my head, a mantra that impelled a future trip to the library so I could peruse the writing at my leisure.

  • Now is a great time to launch a new shape-up program with the Brunswick County Parks and Recreation Department’s 2009 spring fitness schedule.

    A variety of classes are slated throughout the county, kicking off this month and continuing in coming weeks. They range from Zumba fitness and Aido Shokai JuJutsu martial arts to cardio and strength training and dance classes.

    For more information or to register, call 253-2670.

    The schedule and fees are as follows: