Mom’s Fruit Salad Dressing

mom's fruit salad dressingNote: This is a very versatile dressing. It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator and can be used to dress nearly any mixture of fruit.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup evaporated milk or half and half
Dash of salt

Directions
1. In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients.
2. Cook over medium heat until it just comes to a boil, stirring constantly.
3. Chill before using as a dressing. It will thicken as it cools.

Recipe from Lois Linke’s mother, the late Irene Peterson, and photo by Linke.

Hot time in the Summer….

garden lanscape toolsWhen it comes to Nebraska weather, we all tend to forget how quickly our feelings can switch. Why, only six months ago many of us complained about how cold it was outside. Many pleaded for Mother Nature to give us a bit of warm weather to remind us spring would soon return. Only two years ago, we were entering the beginnings of the Drought of 2012, the soil was parched, plants were withering, and many lawns were turning brown. Without moisture, the grass was going dormant in the heat.

This spring and early summer has been enjoyable with rainfall that is more normal and at times cooler temperatures. There isn’t anything quite like summer in Nebraska. The old adage “If you don’t like the weather – wait five minutes – it’ll change” certainly comes to mind. But every year Mother Nature turns up the heat and sends us more normal summer weather, and that normal weather will drive many of us into the cool respite of air conditioned houses and outside searching for shade to avoid the heat.

July and August for many is a time for vacations, celebrating the Fourth, and enjoying the sweet taste of vegetables from our vegetable gardens. For those of us in the nursery industry we spend our time helping clients try to keep their landscapes and gardens looking their best. For some that could mean dealing with disease and insects, others it could mean assistance with caring for their plants, and for others installing new plantings. Yes, I did say planting.

While the summer is not a time to “plant and forget,” it can be a great time to plant. Many have extra time and possibly some help from kids out of school or are simply spending more time at home caring for their kids over the summer. While some days bring terrible heat, most summer mornings or early evenings usually bring moderation to the heat making it actually enjoyable to be out working in our landscapes and gardens.

When we talk about planting in the summer, it is with some understanding and care. Simply put, people who plant in the summer usually tend to care for their plants better than those who wait for fall. The nicer weather in spring encourages people to believe that Mother Nature will take care of new plants without our help. We see our plants standing strong and tall and mistakenly believe that we will not have to do much because the plants are looking great. However, with our Nebraska summer we need to make sure we are caring for our plants, whether we planted them last fall, this spring, or this summer. Keep an eye on any plant younger than about 12 months, make sure you water them about once or twice a week and you should do fine.

For those who are itching to add a few plants or simply have finally found time to work in the landscape, summer planting can be rewarding and offer great success with proper care. A young plant, whether it is planted in the cool spring or the hot summer, simply needs a bit of assistance to make sure it survives until it can set its roots and begin caring for itself. How long this takes will depend on the plant. Check with your local nursery professional for specific care instructions for your specific plantings.
When it comes to caring for your older plants while they should not need as much supervision, do not worry if they are not looking as good as they did in the spring. A bit of timely watering, maybe some trimming to shape the plant, and a bit of mulch to help hold the moisture around the root system of all your plants can do wonders to help them through the summer. With a bit of care, plants showing stress in the heat should perk right back up and yes, even thrive, in our challenging summers.

Now when we talk to clients about summer plant care the first thing we mention is to try to walk the landscape at least once a week even in the heat. Check for weeds, look for insect or disease issues, and generally try to catch problems before they can get out of hand in the heat. A bit of work in the heat could solve a problem with minimal effort versus waiting until the weather is cooler but now the problems have grown and it might take lots of work to get things back in shape. Many of our clients usually do this walk around when they mow their lawns.

As you walk your landscape keep an eye out for insects eating on foliage, red spider on evergreens, bagworms, turf damage from grubs or webworms, and fungal issues on roses, turf, and other plants. Most problems, if noticed before too much damage occurs or pests are allowed to get out of control, can be controlled with timely treatment. While many chemicals are labeled for plants and pests, always follow label directions and consult a nursery professional with questions and to get help picking the right control for your situation.

As long as you are able to check on your plants once or twice a week through the summer and add a bit of water as needed, and possibly deal with a problem before it gets out of hand, you should be able to keep your plants growing well and looking good even in the heat of summer.

Overall Mother Nature can be our best friend or worst enemy. Which one we believe she is all depends on what she brings us each day, and I for one have said a few choice words about her already this year. However, if we are there to care for our plants here and there, the summer time in Nebraska can be an enjoyable and often fulfilling time in the landscape.

Remember these 5 tips:

• Keep watching for insects and disease in your turf and plants. The added stress of summer heat can make any problems they cause affect your plants even worse.
• Check your turf for grub issues. Consider applying preventative treatments if you have had grub issues in the past. Otherwise, keep an eye out for damage then treat ASAP.

• Watch your watering! It is just as easy to over water your plants as it is to under water. Best results are to water at least a day or two apart and apply the water slowly and have it sink deep into the soil to encourage plants to establish vigorous root systems. Aim to water for longer duration less frequently for best results.

• Dead head old blooms as needed to encourage plants to re-bloom faster or to give a cleaner appearance on plants done blooming for the season.

• Keep an eye out for fungus. With higher humidity this time of year, we are seeing fungal issues. Use preventatives if you are worried as prevention takes half the material and effort as attempting to cure will take.

Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. A Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member, Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. http://www.campbellsnursery.com.

 

Chicken-Tuna Chow Mein Salad

chicken tuna chow mein saladIngredients
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup minced onion (red onion or green adds nice color)
2 cups finely chopped chicken or tuna (well drained)
1 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cups Miracle Whip salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons half & half (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Chinese Chow Mein Noodles

Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine carrots, onion, meat and celery.
2. In a small bowl, combine salad dressing, mustard, half & half/milk and salt.
3. Pour dressing mixture over the vegetable mixture and toss lightly. Chill until serving time.
4. Just before serving, add Chinese noodles. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

 Recipe from Lois Linke’s mother, the late Irene Peterson, and photo by Linke.

Dublin Potato Salad

dublin potato saladIngredients
3 large white potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
12 oz. cooked or canned corned beef, cubed
1/4 cup chopped dill pickle
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk

Directions
1. Cover potatoes in lightly salted water and boil until tender.  Drain, peel, and cube.
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, and ½ teaspoon salt; drizzle over still-warm potatoes.  Cover and chill.
3. Just before serving, gently fold in cabbage, corned beef, pickle, and onion.
4. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; pour over salad.  Gently toss.

Yield: 8 servings

Recipe from Country Living Magazine and photo by Lois Linke.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Safe and Sweet

A new study came out about food fears and why people avoid certain foods, like high fructose corn syrup. According to the study, of a 1000 mothers surveyed, those who avoid high fructose corn syrup get their information from internet. Now we all know, if it’s on the internet it must be true right? Realistically, if you already have a per-existing opinion or fear of an ingredient, you are sure to find information to back-up what you already feel on the internet. To combat the fear, let’s separate fact from myths. So, let’s tackle high fructose corn syrup.

cornhuskingHigh fructose corn syrup is simply a sweetener made from corn. It is very similar to sugar and honey and our bodies don’t really know the difference. It tastes very similar, actually better. (I will take a regular Pepsi over a Throwback Pepsi any day!) Our bodies absorb and metabolize it the same as sugar. (Same amount of calories!) And, it’s all natural! (No synthetic ingredients. No color additives.)

But what about all those commercials and web pages that say HFCS isn’t healthy? Early on HFCS was thought to be impacting America’s obesity rate. This was merely a hypothesis, but of course it caught attention and made headlines. Since then, this myth has been dispelled. While consumption of HFCS has decreased over the years, obesity continues to climb. Since sugar and HFCS are so similar, you can’t really say one is “healthier” than the other.

Is HFCS sweeter than sugar? No. It is designed to be very similar to sugar so our taste buds wouldn’t know the difference. If anything, it is actually less sweet than sugar. The name itself, high fructose corn syrup is actually misleading. It’s not actually higher in fructose than sugar and the glucose added to the composition balances everything out. We should consider it just corn syrup. The FDA say HFCS is a safe ingredient and recognizes it as a natural ingredient.

I keep preaching how HFCS and sugar are basically the same thing, so why bother producing HFCS? Well, it’s cost effective, it’s versatile and it tastes better. In fact, you might not recognize some of your favorite foods if HFCS was taken out of the recipe. I’ve decided to include a link to a study on HFCS just so you can see for yourself how safe this ingredient is.

Farm Girl For the Weekend

It doesn’t happen as often as it should, but trips back to the family farm are quite a treat. I made the rare trip last weekend. My dog, Rosco, was due for a check-up. And since I’m loyal to the family vet, we made the two and a half hour trip north. He loves those car rides. A chance to feel the breeze in his ears. And when we get there, no leash. No fence. Just free. He becomes a farm dog for the weekend. And I become a farm girl again.

It’s nearing the end of calving season on the my family’s farm. I’m always excited to find out how many “babies” Dad has had and what funny names he comes up with. Inevitably there is always a “Buster” or “Baby.” This year it’s “Bobo,” a bucket calf of a cow who didn’t want him. It was dinner time. So dad mixed up the bottle, we jumped on the 4-wheeler and were off to the pasture. I asked Dad “Which one is he?” I should have known. Bobo was licking his lips and hopping towards the 4-wheeler. He knows Dad brings him food. Calf DrinkingCalves Done

After Bobo has had his fill, or at least drained the bottle, he scampers back to the herd. Dad drives me around the pasture pointing out his new calves and which cows are still due for theirs. (He’s had some of the mammas for 15 years. To him, I think they’re somewhere between pets and work.)

 

 

 

 

 

A little background on my family’s farm. My dad raises cattle and crops. (I will briefly explain the cattle and get into the crops another time.) Dad has the same “mama” cows he keeps year after year. Each year, they have a calf. Dad will raise those calves until a certain weight and the time is right for selling. He will evaluate the female calves, maybe keep one to become a heifer for breeding. (Heifer is a fancy term for a young, female cow who has not had a calf.) Otherwise, they’re all sold and move on in the typical life of cattle.Cow in the Field Done Bull Done

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the animals are fed, it’s time for the family to eat. My little sister and I help our mom prepare the most country of meals. T-bone steak with baked potatoes and sweet corn. (And yes. That steak was once a cow.) Now, I’ve never grilled steaks before. My husband is usually in charge of grilling at our house. But, since he didn’t make the trip, I try my hand. They came out closer to well-done than medium, but they were juicy and delicious. Steak and Potatoes Done

Sitting at the dinner table, I realize this is the culmination of why family farms exists. People, just like my dad, all over the state, work hard to feed a hungry world. They stand in pouring rain to welcome a calf into the world. They bring a young lamb inside on a cold night. They toil in the field during a dry summer, hoping for something green. They don’t clock out at five. They don’t get vacation. And when things don’t go their way, they don’t give up.

So when you pick up that perfectly plastic-wrapped steak at the grocery store for Fourth of July weekend, don’t forget the farmer or rancher who made dinner possible.