Have you ever read the book Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman? It is a wonderful story, with a sewing theme, of sewing/creating something beautiful over and over again. My fervent hope is that the 4-H sewing camp participants feel the same way about all of their creations generated during sewing camp!
Recently, the Tallahassee Chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG, part of a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the art and love of sewing) generously volunteered their time, talent, and supplies to enrich the experience of every 4-H sewing camp participant.
The ASG philosophy, coupled with the 4-H history of helping youth “learn by doing” is a good fit. Both organizations focus on teaching new topics and life skills development through experiences thus enhancing self-confidence through skill building.
In today’s world, sewing is seemingly no longer a necessity. Sewing can even be expensive! But, can we put a price on self-confidence or creativity, sustainability or even a life skill?
4-H Sewing Campers Photo source: Heidi Copeland
Think of all the things learned while sewing. Sewing helps teach:
- Finger dexterity and the development of fine motor skills.
- The value of patience.
- Systematic following of directions – both verbal and written.
- Vocabulary as well as techniques.
- Pride in accomplishment for a job well done!
Moreover, sewing truly integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). And it is FUN! Campers:
- Learned first-hand about fibers (science).
- Experienced technology using various sewing machines and equipment – some even computer driven.
- Became adept at trouble shooting their own machine repair (engineering).
- Artistically bedazzled their creations.
- Utilized practical applications of many mathematical concepts to measure and sew as well as critical thinking and problem solving.
The 4-H Club pledge says, “I pledge … My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world”. ALL of the campers contributed to a community service project sewing a pillowcase destined for the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Read a Child to Sleep campaign. This fostered the idea that empathy, sharing, nurturing relationships and giving is important too.
Sewing certainly did not stop when camp ended. A budding entrepreneur posted on Facebook she is taking orders for her creations while another camper is helping a local theatre group fashion costumes to obtain her community service hours fulfilling a high school graduation requirement.
There is no better feeling than the pride of accomplishment. Sewing campers learned by doing and while they were at it learned a skills they will carry throughout life.
To find out more about the American Sewing Guild: https://www.asg.org/
To find out more about Leon County 4-H programs: http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/4h
If you are interested in learning more about 4-H, go to florida4h.org.
Save money and the environment by reducing the amount of food thrown in the trash. Credit: Kendra Zamojski
A hot topic in kitchens and restaurants these days is food waste. Chefs, restaurant managers, and even consumers are looking for ways to save money and the environment by reducing the amount of food tossed in the trash.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates about 31% of food is lost at the retail and consumer level. Much of this food loss ends up in the landfill. The USDA is challenging consumers to reduce, recover and recycle their food waste.
The Basic Level:
If you know your family is tossing a lot of food in the trash and you want some easy ways to reduce the waste, try these:
- Plan your meals using foods you already have on hand and choosing foods you know you will use before they go bad. Substitute ingredients to include food you already have in the pantry or refrigerator.
- Create grocery lists using your family meal plan and checking for foods you already have on hand.
- Plan to use or freeze leftovers for dinners or lunches throughout the week.
- Watch what is being tossed and reduce your purchase of these items.
The Intermediate Level:
If your family is already good at the basic level and you want to take food waste reduction to the next level, try these steps:
- Make food purchases with packaging in mind. Choose items with minimal packaging.
- Store foods properly, with food safety in mind. Use food storage guides to properly store food items safely.
- Freeze what you can’t use in time. Follow these guides for freezing vegetables and freezing prepared foods:
- Use edible parts that you don’t usually eat when it’s safe. For example, save broccoli stalks and stems or potato peels for use in soups and casseroles.
Food Recovery Level:
If your family is ready to divert food from the landfill, try these steps:
- Compost your food waste. Contact your local Extension office for more information. Check out this resource on composting.
- Donate unused, unspoiled food.
Next time you throw food in the trash, take a minute to think about taking the challenge to reduce food waste. A few easy steps can help save your family money and the environment for future generations to enjoy.
Kendra Zamojski is a Regional Specialized Agent in Family and Consumer Sciences with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension. For more information, contact Kendra at email@example.com.
Photo credit: NW Extension District
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the term sustainability has emerged because of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of our world’s rapid growth. Sustainability is based on the simple principle: Everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Therefore, sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in harmony, fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.
WHEW! A mouthful, to be sure. Nevertheless, issues of sustainability are often overlooked on the individual level.
Did you know that during the United States’ (US) participation in World War I (from 1917 – 1918), the US had a US Food Administration (USFA) agency? This agency was responsible for food distribution to the US Army overseas and the Allies’ food reserves. This agency also organized a campaign to encourage Americans to support this effort through individual food conservation messages, media campaigns, and food education programs.
Now, 100 years later, this food conservation effort is still applicable.
Everyone can do his or her part in combating waste of all kinds. According to the USDA, reducing consumer-level loss is an important step toward reducing food waste in the United States. USDA estimates that almost 30 percent of the available U.S. food supply was lost from human consumption at the retail and consumer levels.
Every one of us can promote practices to strengthen our natural environment and quality of life. Even the EPA has some suggestions for reducing personal food waste:
- Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
- Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- Be creative! If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons and beet tops can be sautéed for a delicious side dish.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables – especially abundant seasonal produce.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
Reducing food waste – a simple action of sustainability. Let’s give it a try! And pay homage to this 100-year-old sustainability campaign that can resonate for the next century.
For more information, visit https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/resources/consumers.htm and
Peanut Butter Challenge Champion
Picture credit: Angela Hinkle
So you say you never win anything? Taking the Peanut Butter Challenge is a competition you’re guaranteed to win.
You can help feed the hungry in Florida’s Panhandle this year by donating peanut butter during the annual Peanut Butter Challenge, coordinated by UF/IFAS Extension. Thanks to a partnership between UF/IFAS Extension and the Florida Peanut Producers Association, food pantries from Pensacola to Monticello will receive thousands of jars of donated peanut butter this December.
From October 1 through November 22, you can donate unopened jars of peanut butter at your UF/IFAS Extension county office. Since 2012, UF/IFAS Extension faculty and volunteers have collected jars of peanut butter from residents, volunteer groups, and businesses in 16 northwest Florida counties. Last year, UF/IFAS Extension county offices received 3,236 jars of peanut butter! In addition to these donations, the Florida Peanut Produces Association also contributes, supplying more than 3,000 jars each year to the Challenge.
We hope to surpass last year’s total! This year, citizens throughout the Florida Panhandle counties are asked to help by donating peanut butter and becoming Peanut Butter Challenge Champions.
“The Peanut Butter Challenge not only raises awareness about the important contribution of North Florida’s peanut growers to the state peanut industry, but also helps provide a healthy, locally produced product to food-insecure families in northwest Florida,” said Libbie Johnson, Agricultural Agent in Escambia County.
Why peanut butter? Peanut butter is the most requested item at food pantries. See https://youtu.be/fPFvSgzmM3Y to learn more. A serving of peanut butter is loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and “good” fats. Peanut butter is a shelf-stable item – meaning it does not have to be heated or refrigerated. And people really like the taste.
How do you become a Peanut Butter Challenge Champion? Look for peanut butter BOGOs and other discounted sales at your local stores. Keep a jar for yourself and give the other unopened jar(s) to the Peanut Butter Challenge.
Voila! Everyone’s a winner! And you may proudly say, “I am a Peanut Butter Challenge Champion!”
Do you remember the 3 R’s? If you are over the age of forty you are probably thinking of a classroom, a teacher, and learning about Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. These are the basic standards for learning, of course. However, it is now 2017and the 3 R’s have a new meaning to a new generation of young people: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
In today’s society, we constantly hear concerns about the environment and how we need to implement changes to make a positive impact upon its future. It is nearly impossible to pay attention to any media without feeling bombarded by messages of conservationism. “Go Green!” “Green… it’s the new black.” “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” However, are these sentiments new? Think about it. “Give a Hoot… Don’t Pollute.” “Keep America Beautiful.” “Keep Our Forests Green.” The use, or abuse, of our natural resources has long been an issue debated by our nation. It has more or less been the price we have had to pay for progress; but regardless of one’s political views and beliefs, the fact that Earth is the only planet that will sustain human lives is a hard fact to deny. It is therefore critical that everyone promote principles of conservationism for our future generations.
The practice of reducing, reusing, and recycling may be easily incorporated into many aspects of your everyday lives. As YOU reduce, reuse, and recycle in your daily lives, you will be teaching by example to your own children at home. Knowing that youth learn by seeing and doing, they will be much more likely to implement the practices of reducing, reusing and recycling into their own daily lives if they see you practicing the 3 R’s in yours.
How does the Environmental Protection Agency describe each of the 3 R’s?
Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you throw away. One way is to turn off or unplug lights during the day. Doing so will save energy and help your lights last longer. Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic wastes to create a compost pile. Adding the compost you make to soil increases water retention, decreases erosion, and keeps organic materials out of landfills.
Reuse containers and products. There are many creative ways to reuse items, which might normally find their way into the waste stream: old shoeboxes may be used for storage, plastic containers for planters, etc. You can also donate or give away items rather than throwing these items away. For a large number of unwanted items, you can hold a garage sale. It is also encouraged to shop at garage sales before buying new!
Recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content. Recycling includes collecting, sorting and processing certain solid waste into raw materials for re-manufacture into new items. These all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. They conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy.
In addition, the three R’s save land and money communities must use to dispose of waste in landfills.These are all things we can do daily with just a little thought and effort. In fact, businesses are making it easier for us every day. We can reduce our trash in many ways, but an easy way is to reuse water bottles instead of throwing them away after each use. We can use the reusable bags that many stores now offer for our purchases; this is a great alternative to using plastic shopping bags. Of course, we can all make more of an effort to recycle by collecting our newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass jars for local recycling centers. If there are not recycling centers in your area maybe you should start one or pursue your community leaders about the importance of having one.
A few points to consider…
- The average American produces about 4.5 lbs. of garbage per person per day. This equal 235 million tons a year.
- Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees.
- Recycling 1 aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours, a computer 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours. (Currently, 45% of aluminum cans are recycled.)
- Reduce and reuse by donating old clothes and items to charities.
By instilling the importance of the 3 R’s into today’s society we will be helping clean the planet for the future. After all, “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.” As quoted by John James Audubon.
United States Environmental Protection Agency , https://www.epa.gov
It is that time of year when we think about giving special gifts to the people in our lives that mean the most to us. Your list might include teachers, neighbors, friends and co-workers. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, it is the thought behind the gesture that means the most to your friends and family. Whoever is on your list this year, think about using your kitchen as grand central for gift making. Gifts of food are heart felt and send a message that you spent time making something special that looks good and tastes yummy. These gifts say thank you in a thoughtful way. Don’t forget to include your kids in the process of cooking and assembling gifts to teach them something about budgeting and enjoying the simple pleasure of gift giving.
The way the gift is presented can be just as important as the food itself. Try to pair up containers with the food gift that will be used after the food is gone. This can be a gift that keeps on giving. Examples are a decorative plate filled with cookies, pie plate filled with your favorite pie or a trifle bowl filled with goodies. You get the idea. Another thought is to put together items that say “sit and take a break” like a loaf of quick bread paired with a pound of coffee, homemade salsa with chips and a favorite beverage. The main goal is to show that you put thought in the gift and spent time preparing the presentation.
With everyone watching their budgets this year, plan ahead to get the creative juices working by purchasing ingredients on sale and found locally. Local products in December include pecans, sweet potatoes, honey, peanuts, persimmons, satsumas and jams and jellies sold at local farmers markets. So get going and unleash your creativity, and give a few gifts from your kitchen and your heart. Have fun making these gifts, and remember to enjoy the process.
One of my favorite festive cookie is the Chocolate Crinkle. The crackle on top with the chocolate and white sugar says it is holiday time. These cookies make a good food gift as they stay firm and will last up to a week. They also freeze well if you need to make ahead of time. Package the gift by placing on a nice festive plate and wrap with clear wrap and decorate with ribbon.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
½ cup of shortening
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Two 1 ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate (melted)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup of milk
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Cream together the shortening, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the two eggs then add the melted chocolate. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture slowly to creamed mixture alternating with the milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in walnuts. Chill for 3 hours. Form in 1 – inch balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool slightly then remove from pan. Makes 48.
They are now ready to put in a container and give to friends. This cookie freezes well.
Prepare this nut bread then decorate with wrapping and ribbon. You might include the loaf pan as part of the gift. Include a brick of cream cheese along with a decorative butter knife for a complete package.
Cranberry Nut Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
1 1/2 cups Fresh Cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices). Bake loaf in decorative pan as part of the gift. Make sure you cool after cooking then replace in pan and wrap as part of the gift.
The Real Sweet Potato Pie
Use local sweet potatoes to promote locally grown produce. After baking, cool then give as a gift in a nice pie plate. Wrap, refrigerate with instructions on reheating for serving. For added effect, bundle with whipped cream and pie knife.
Prepare your sweet potatoes for the pie mix. Select 6 – 7 large sweet potatoes and cut in half or quarters. Boil potatoes slowly for about 30 minutes. Let cool. Peel potatoes after they cool. The peel should come off very easy. Measure six cups of sweet potato in a mixing bowl. Use a stand mixer to beat the sweet potatoes and do not scrape off any mixture from beaters. This will contain the stringy part and you do not want it in your pie. Discard the strings.
6 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup butter
2 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp butter flavoring
1 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer until well blended. The mixture should be smooth and free of lumps. The mixture will keep in the refrigerator up to a week and may be frozen for future use. Be sure to label with date and amount before placing in freezer.
For the Pie
Place mixture in unbaked pie shell and smooth to the edges. You will need about 2 ½ cups for each 9 inch deep dish pie shell. Mini tart shells may also be used for individual pies. This recipe makes about 3 pies or 12 individual mini pie tarts. Cook at 350 degrees until puffed and browned slightly on top. About 40 minutes.
Visit your local farmers market to purchase local nuts, honey, produce and jams and jellies. Be sure to look for locally grown and support our area growers. For additional information about local produce visit: http://wfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/panhandle-produce-pointers/