Cast iron pot hanging over campfire

Thanks to 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello for hosting Illinois Extension and Monticello Elementary School for a day of education about pioneer lifestyle, including choosing items for a covered wagon journey, playing games, cooking and preserving foods, and learning about pelts and animals.

3 strip of deer jerky on white plate with blue background

Avid campers and hikers might keep jerky, or dried meat, with them when outdoors. Drying is one method of preserving food for longer storage. While you can buy jerky, you can also make it yourself!

Our office had one last package of deer meat from previous recipes in our Wild Eats series, so we made jerky. 

For more information on jerky, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation through the University of Georgia. 

Deer eating near tree

Partnerships are a big part of Illinois Extension programs.  This one started with a conversation about deer hunting and turned into recipe videos and a blog series.  So many ‘thank you’s to Sara Wade, MS, RD, LDN, with Kirby Medical Center for sharing her experiences.

Check out Healthy Eats and Repeats for Parts 2 and 3 of this series for more about cooking with venison and some easy recipes.

 

Most of us gardeners are itching to get gardening this time of year, which is why Extension offers lots of great programming in the winter to get gardeners excited and inspired! Next up on our gardening calendar is our new From the Ground Up program coming up at Allerton Park and Retreat Center on March 9.

I once had a squirrel enter my house from an upstairs window, which promptly ran downstairs to finish my breakfast of eggs and toast on the dining room table. My dog and two cats watched from the sidelines incredulously; no doubt asking themselves why they didn't get invited to breakfast.

Kokedama String Gardens

Get creative with your houseplant displays this winter and try hanging a few plants in the window to create a string garden. The term String Gardening is a term that has become attached to a style of Japanese bonsai known as kokedama, which literally means "moss ball" in English.

The spring of 2019 has gone down in the record books as being one of the wettest in Illinois history. According a recent article by the Illinois State Climatologist's office, "As it stands now, spring 2019 will rank within the top four wettest spring seasons in state history (March–May), with May 2019 ranking as the third wettest May in state history."

Farmer's market season has kicked off in many communities for the season.  We have a few tips for keeping your foods safe and at good quality.

Celery is one of the foods that tends to go limp in my refrigerator. I do not use celery as much in recipes as, say, onions or carrots. I never enjoy throwing out the limp celery, and set out to find a way to save as much as I could of my purchase.

Every summer, gardens at home are hit or miss on what grows and what doesn't. Sometimes a plant just grows and grows! This was the case for the gardener who brought me multiple bunches of hot peppers – jalapeños, poblanos, and lots of small red hot peppers.

A fellow Illinois Extension colleague shared a blog last year titled "Kitchen Scrap Gardening." You might have heard of these home kitchen experiments regrowing foods from leftover seeds, stems, and scraps.

On the heels of regrowing celery, I was inspired to regrow another veggie: green onions. For anyone looking for a fast return on investment, these green onions regrew quick!

A quick cut, a quick soak, and a quick planting in soil has yielded weeks of regrowth on green onions, with no stopping yet. I recommend cutting off grown onions, even if you do not plan to use it, as this encourages new growth.