July 4th Cookout Costs Less This Year, Still Under $6 Per Person

A Fourth of July cookout of Americans’ favorite foods including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk will cost slightly less this year and still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation.

CS15_075 July 4th Marketbasket Survey_2015Farm Bureau’s informal survey reveals the average cost for a summer cookout for 10 is $55.84, or $5.58 per person. That’s about a 3-percent decrease compared to a year ago.

“Based on our survey, food prices overall appear to be fairly stable. Prices for beef have continued to increase this year, but prices for other meats are generally declining. Dairy product prices are also quite a bit lower,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist at AFBF.

“Meat production is starting to increase substantially. Beef prices have started to stabilize but have not declined yet. On the other hand, retail pork prices have been declining all year,” Anderson said.

“Fuel and other energy prices have also generally been lower so far this year compared to last year,” Anderson said. “This helps keep prices down on the more processed items in the basket. Energy is an important component of the final price for these products.

“As a nation, we continue to enjoy a consistent, high-quality supply of meats and poultry at prices that are remarkably affordable for most consumers,” he said.

AFBF’s summer cookout menu for 10 consists of hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, deli potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, lemonade, chocolate milk, watermelon for dessert, and ketchup and mustard.

A total of 88 Farm Bureau members (volunteer shoppers) in 30 states checked retail prices for summer cookout foods at their local grocery stores for this informal survey.

The summer cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey and two “everyday” marketbasket surveys on common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home. A squad of Farm Bureau members across the nation checks retail prices at local grocery stores for the marketbasket surveys. AFBF published its first marketbasket survey in 1986.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

July 4th Cookout for 10 Costs Less

Items Amount 2013 Price 2014 Price 2015 Price % change
1 Ground Round 2 pounds $           7.86  $       8.91  $       9.10  2.1%
2 Pork Spare Ribs 4 pounds $         12.29  $     13.91  $    13.44 -3.4%
3 Hot Dogs 1 pound $           2.29  $       2.23  $       2.19 -1.8%
4 Deli Potato Salad 3 pounds $           8.77  $       8.80  $       8.58 -2.5%
5 Baked Beans 28 ounces $           1.99  $       1.96  $       1.83 -6.6%
6 Corn Chips 15 ounces $           3.37  $       3.37  $       3.26 -3.3%
7 Lemonade 0.5 gallons $           2.07  $       2.00  $       2.05  2.5%
8 Chocolate Milk 0.5 gallons $           2.62  $       2.82  $       2.65 -6.0%
9 Watermelon 4 pounds $           4.56  $       4.53  $       4.21 -7.1%
10 Hot Dog Buns 1 package $           1.64  $       1.63  $       1.57 -3.7%
11 Hamburger Buns 1 package $           1.67  $       1.68  $       1.50 -10.7%
12 Ketchup 20 ounces $           1.55  $       1.36  $       1.46  7.4%
13 Mustard 16 ounces $           1.23  $       1.25  $       1.14 -8.8%
14 American Cheese 1 pound $           2.73  $       3.12  $       2.86 -8.3%
Total $         54.64  $    57.57  $    55.84 -3.0%
Per Person 10 $           5.46  $       5.76  $       5.58 -3.0%

Breakfast Bacon And Maple Meatballs

a5 Recipes- Breakfast Bacon & Maple MeatballsIngredients
1 lb. breakfast sausage (no sugar added)
1 medium sweet potato
4 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
½ yellow onion, coarsely chopped (approx. ½ cup)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
5-6 slices of bacon
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375º.
2. Fry/cook bacon until crisp. Drain, cool, and crumble.
3. Place sweet potato in food processor with shredding attachment. Shred. Remove sweet potato shreds. Replace shredding attachment with chopping blade.

4. Place shredded sweet potatoes, onion, mushrooms, and minced garlic in food processor and chop together. You want the sweet potatoes fairly fine.
5. In large bowl, combine sausage with all other ingredients.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop for uniformity, scoop out meat mixture and roll into balls using your hands. Place meatballs on baking sheet.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until meatballs are golden brown and completely cooked through.
8. Serve immediately with favorite breakfast accompaniments.


Give it a Couple of Weeks…

gardenJune is one of my favorite months of the year. The kids are out of school, many of us have been working hard to get our landscapes and gardens planted with beautiful plants and vegetables, and the start of summer is just around the corner. But while June can be such a wonderful month, the best is yet to come because in just a couple of weeks it will change.

As can happen in spring, our landscapes are flush with growth and color, our vegetable gardens are moving along nicely and everything seems to be growing strong. It almost seems like a magic trick. Plant the plants, wait a couple of weeks then POOF, our plants are looking good and growing strong.

Spending time planting our crops – whether for food or interest – and then waiting to see how everything grows, to some, is like waiting for Santa Claus to come. Will our new plants grow as well as we expect? Will we have a bumper crop of vegetables to savor or weeds to deal with? Will Mother Nature send us enough or as we’ve seen this year too much rain? Will everything grow into the dream landscape we have envisioned in our minds? Simple – just wait a few weeks and we’ll know.

Now that the plants are growing, some of us could be fighting insects, weeds, or diseases; and we’ll be waiting to see the effect of our care. As some plants have bloomed and are finishing, we’re waiting for the next plant to come into bloom. Now that the vegetables are growing well, we’re waiting to harvest our first crop. Every time we think it’s been a few weeks and we’re done with one issue or enjoyment, a whole new crop of concerns and delayed gratification can happen.

Overall this whole “wait a few weeks” idea can be both my favorite part and most hated part of working in the nursery industry. There’s always something happening in our landscapes and gardens, especially after the weather last fall and winter and our wetter spring this year in Lincoln. Something needs a bit of care, something is showing its beauty, weeds need to be pulled or sprayed, some vegetable crop is ready for picking, some plant has dead wood to remove, and on and on. I can guarantee you working with a landscape or a garden is never boring if you don’t want it to be. And June is one of the best months to experience it first hand.

DSCN4291June should be about making sure everything planted is ready to go into the heat of summer. Make sure your mulch is 2-3” thick to keep weeds down and to hold in the moisture. Even this year with more rain than normal, make sure you are ready to water your plants and lawn when Mother Nature doesn’t send us rain, because she won’t give us rain every time we need it for our plants. Have your sprayer handy to spritz spray the weeds when they are small with some roundup or keep ahead on pulling them before they get bigger. And, keep an eye out for dead wood in your plants or to dead head early spring bloomers for best appearance.

June should be about making sure your chemical controls to deal with Bagworm, Fungus, Red Spider, Grubs, Webworms, Aphids, or any of the other insects or diseases we may experience early summer are applied or ready to apply. And it’s a time to plant if you haven’t had the chance or need to fill some holes in the landscape. Annuals to perennials, shrubs to trees all can be planted through the summer with some care.

June could be about fertilizing your plants, both in the vegetable garden or your landscape, to keep them growing happy and producing well. And do make sure you are using the right fertilizer, for the right plant, and for your specific situation. By using the right fertilizer you will get the best results from your efforts.

And June should be about spending some time enjoying everything a bit before it gets too hot. Whether it is sitting on the porch with friends, visiting our many local Farmer’s Markets, or just spending a lazy afternoon enjoying the fruits of your labors, please enjoy the beginning of summer and try to enjoy everything you can in June because as we all know, in a few weeks things will change.

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. www.campbellsnursery.com of Facebook.com/CampbellsNursery

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

a5 Recipes- Strawberry RhubarbIngredients

2 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups rhubarb, cut in ¼” slices
½ -3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cookie Base
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats



1. Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and toss with wooden spoon to coat fruit with cornstarch and juices. Cook over medium heat until strawberries begin to break down, rhubarb is fork-tender, and juices have thickened. Set aside to cool.
Cookie Base

2. Preheat oven to 350º. Butter one side of a long piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper, cut to fit a 9”x13” baking pan with overhang on the two ends to serve as “handles” to lift the bars out later. Place foil/parchment paper (butter side up) into the pan.
3. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
4. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter for 2 minutes until smooth and silky. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, another 3 minutes. Turn speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, add vanilla, and mix until combined.
5. Add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. Mix in oats on low. Scrape bowl and stir by hand a couple turns to make sure all ingredients are incorporated evenly.
6. Press ¾ of the dough evenly into the lined pan. Place bowl with remaining dough in freezer for 10-15 minutes.
7. Pour cooled fruit compote over top of pressed dough; spread it evenly.
8. Crumble remaining chilled dough over top of compote layer. There should be some fruit peaking through.
9. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until crumble layer is golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
10. Once cooled, carefully transfer bars to a cutting board by lifting out by the “handles”. You may need to support the center with a spatula. Peel back foil/paper from edges; cut the slab into 24 squares and serve.

Marshmallow Cheesecake (no bake)

a5 Recipes- Marshmallow Cheesecake 2Ingredients


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup melted butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 package (about 40) regular-sized marshmallows
¾ cup milk
Two 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
One 8-oz. tub whipped topping


1. In a small bowl, combine the crust ingredients. Press into a buttered 9 or 10-inch spring-form pan. Chill at least 15 minutes before filling.
2. On the stove, in a medium saucepan, melt the marshmallows and milk together over medium-low heat. This takes supervision, intermittent stirring, and about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy.
4. Add the cooled marshmallow mixture to the cream cheese and beat to combine.
5. Fold in the whipped topping until thoroughly combined.
6. Pour this mixture into the prepared graham cracker crust.
7. Refrigerate to set.
8. To serve, garnish with fruit, chocolate syrup, nuts, etc.

Healthier Times: High Blood Pressure

Pg A13 - Amber Pankonin PhotoDid you know that high blood pressure impacts about 67 million people in the US. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is actually considered prehypertension and hypertension or high blood pressure is when the reading is 140/90 or higher. You would not be diagnosed with high blood pressure using a single reading, but if readings over time continue to be in that range, you would be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Knowing that hypertension is a risk for stroke and heart disease, it is important to take steps to lower your blood pressure. Those steps can include eating a healthy diet, losing weight, including physical activity in your daily life, stop smoking and taking medication if necessary. The DASH diet (Dietary approaches to stop hypertension) is a proven diet plan that can help lower blood pressure. The plan includes eating plenty of potassium rich fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, lean meats, and whole grains.

For more information on the DASH diet, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456


Amber Pankonin MS, RDN, CSP, LMNT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, passionate about food, nutrition science, and agriculture. She works as a nutrition communications consultant, adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and blogger at stirlist.com.

Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs

a5 Recipes- Bacon Cheddar Deviled eggsIngredients
6 hard-cooked eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 bacon strips, cooked and finely crumbled
1 tablespoon finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Slice eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks and set whites aside.
2. In a small bowl, mash yolks. Stir in the mayonnaise, bacon, cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper.
3. Stuff or pipe yolk mixture into egg whites.
4. Garnish with paprika or chives (optional).
Refrigerate until serving.