Georgia Department of Agriculture

Consumer Q's October 2013

Q: When is your next auction of rehabilitated horses?
A: The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s next auction will be held on Saturday, November 16, 2013 at the Mansfield Impound Barn, 2834 Marben Farm Road, Mansfield, Georgia 30055.
     The horses may be inspected at the facility beginning at 10:00 a.m., and the sale will start at approximately 11:00 a.m. The sale catalog with photographs and descriptions are on the department’s website at http://agr.georgia.gov/equine-health.aspx. If you have any questions, contact the department’s Equine Health Office at 404-656-3713. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The auction is pursuant to Section 4-13-7 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (Humane Care for Equines Act).
    Horses currently planned to be auctioned are Hope, an eight-month-old palomino filly; Jack, a nine-year-old red dun Quarter Horse gelding; Hatchett, a five-year-old black-&-white mare; Judge, a 15-year-old blue roan gelding; Creek, a 5-year-old bay mare; Gilly, a 10-year-old buckskin gelding; Cody, a 12-year-old dark bay Thoroughbred gelding, tattooed; Pistol, a six-year-old gray Arabian gelding; Zack, a nine-year-old bay gelding and Moses, a 22-year-old sorrel gelding.

Q: There are a lot of turtles in my farm pond, but not many fish. Are the turtles eating them? What can I do?
A: The wildlife experts we consulted with said that turtles in your pond are not responsible for your lack of fish. Actually, turtles do not seriously affect fish populations. Studies indicate that the diets of most water turtles contain less than five percent fish. These studies further show that most of the fish eaten are dead at the time water turtles find them.
     You may need to take steps to enhance your pond’s conditions for fish. Consult a pond expert to help you determine how to move forward to get more and larger fish in your pond. For example, you may need to provide more cover for the small fish or suitable places for the fish to lay eggs or perhaps you need to improve the water quality. Your county Cooperative Extension office may be able to help.

Q: How long does it take to bake a pumpkin? What is the best way to bake one? Can you cook it in a microwave oven?
A: Pumpkins are easy to cook, and fresh pumpkin is better and more versatile than canned. Here are two methods, but there are many variations:
Select a pie or sugar pumpkin, not a giant pumpkin bred for carving or ornamental purposes. Wash the pumpkin with water and a vegetable brush to remove any dirt from the outside. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and any filaments attached to them. Place the halved pumpkin, cut sides down, in a pan. If you don’t have a big enough pan, cut the pumpkin into fourths. Add water to the pan to cover about ¼ inch of the pumpkin. Place it in a 350° oven for one hour or until tender. The exact time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the pumpkin. Let the pumpkin cool, then scrape out the soft flesh with a spoon and discard the rind.
     To cook it in a microwave oven, follow the same initial procedures but cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces. Place the pieces in a glass bowl and cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Cook on high until tender, about 15 minutes. Move the pieces around twice during cooking. Cool, then scrape out the soft flesh with a spoon and discard the rind.
     You can substitute butternut squash for pumpkin in recipes. Because they are smaller, they are easier for some cooks to handle. You cook them the same way.
     Look for Georgia Grown pumpkins and winter squash at farmers markets or when you visit farms in the fall. 

Q: Should I rinse or wash raw chicken before cooking it?
A: No. Rinsing or washing poultry before you cook it is ineffective at killing germs and can actually spread them. You can contaminate the kitchen by splashing and dripping on utensils, countertops and other food. Recent university studies re-confirm this. Bacteria present on the surface of the meat or in the meat are destroyed by cooking it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Q: I read that a cake mix had been recalled for an undeclared ingredient. What is an “undeclared” ingredient?
A: When a manufacturer fails to list an ingredient on the label, the ingredient is said to be “undeclared.” The manufacturer failed to “declare” it on the label. 
     Food manufacturers must list the ingredients on the product label. Some ingredients cause allergic reactions in some people. These reactions can be severe and even fatal. That is why companies recall foods that do not list or declare all ingredients.
     People want and need to know what is in the foods they consume. Besides the health and safety reasons, there may be religious or ethical reasons why a person needs or wants to avoid consuming a certain ingredient.

Q: Is it safe to set out snapdragons in the fall? I see them for sale at nurseries. I thought they were planted in the spring.
A: You can plant snapdragons in the fall as well as in the spring. Snapdragons are quite cold hardy. If you plant in the fall you are likely to get blooms in fall and sometimes even in the warm parts of the winter, and your fall-planted snaps will have a jump on the ones you plant in the spring. For colorful beds or containers in fall, winter and spring, combine snapdragons with pansies, violas, ornamental kale and cabbage, dusty miller, dianthus and curly parsley.  

Q: Do you have a recipe for wilted lettuce?  
A: Wilted lettuce (also known as scalded lettuce) is an old-time recipe. People who are only familiar with cold uses of lettuce will be intrigued and may warm up to a different way to use this leafy vegetable.  
     Here is a basic recipe: Pack lettuce leaves (tear them in pieces if they are too large) into a bowl. (Leaf lettuce and lettuces with thinner, greener leaves such as Bibb or Boston are better for the recipe than the paler, thicker-leaved iceberg types.) Don’t use wet leaves. The lettuce should be washed beforehand and allowed to dry before you begin. Mix in some finely chopped green onions. Pour on a heated mixture of bacon grease (or a liquid oil substitute such as olive oil or peanut oil) mixed with vinegar, sugar and salt as if it were a salad dressing. The ratio of oil or grease to vinegar is a matter of taste. Cover the bowl with a lid for a few minutes to allow the lettuce to wilt. Season with black pepper or herbs if you like.
     There are plenty of variations to this recipe that you will find in old cookbooks and by surfing the internet. Some people toss the lettuce with the heated mixture and serve immediately. Some cooks chop the cooked bacon pieces and serve them on top along with tomatoes and chopped hardboiled eggs. Other cultivated and wild greens such as mâche (corn salad), creasie greens, chickweed, dandelions and sorrel can be used to make wilted salads.

Q: Is it true that cooked pumpkin may be good for dogs?
A: Please consult your veterinarian before adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet. Some veterinarians may recommend mixing a little cooked pumpkin with regular dog food to add vitamins, minerals and fiber to your dog’s diet or to address certain health conditions. If you choose to add it, be sure to select canned pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling. The pie filling has sugar and spices that are not good for dogs. Instead of canned, you may want to cook your own pumpkin or butternut squash and use that instead.

Q: What are some tips for succeeding with pansies?
A: Prepare the bed beforehand by adding compost, especially if you have heavy clay or sandy soil. If planting in containers use high-quality potting soil and the largest containers possible. Make sure the containers have a drainage hole at the bottom. Plant the pansies where they will receive at least four hours of unfiltered sunlight each day. Provide morning sun if possible. To fertilize, use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 and follow directions on the label. It is always better to under-fertilize than to use too much. Water your plants, especially those in containers, before a hard freeze. Keep the old flowers pinched off so they don’t produce seeds. This is called deadheading and encourages the production of more blooms.

Q: I noticed something in my lawn that I thought was left by a stray dog, but when I scooped it up it seemed to be a leathery material and at the center some black dust poofed up. Do you know what this could be? Should I spray the spot?
A: It sounds like the remnants of a puffball mushroom. The dust is the spores that are part of the reproductive cycle of the fungus. You do not need to spray or take corrective action.

Q: I just came across a recipe for roasted chicken that calls for celery root. What is celery root? Do we grow it in Georgia?
A: Celery root is another name for celeriac, a variation of celery. The name “celery root” is actually a misnomer in that you are not eating the roots but the bulblike stem. Celeriac is comparable to Florence fennel which is a bulbing form of fennel and kohlrabi which is a bulbing form of cabbage.
    There may be a few farmers and home gardeners growing celeriac in Georgia. Your best bet to find some Georgia Grown celeriac for sale is to visit local farmers markets.
     Celeriac is sometimes called "turnip-rooted celery" since the edible part resembles a turnip. Celeriac’s flavor is starchier and sweeter than celery. It is peeled and served raw in salads, boiled, fried or cooked in vegetable soups and mashed potatoes. It is also roasted with chicken or roasted with onions, parsnips, beets, carrots, rutabagas, turnips, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, winter squash and other vegetables.

Q: Do you have a recipe for a true whipped cream? I am tired of the oily, fake whipped toppings.
A: Imitation toppings cannot match the clean, sweet taste of real whipped cream, and the good news is that fresh whipped cream is simple to make.
Marcia Crowley of the Georgia Department of Agriculture demonstrates how to make whipped cream and peach-blueberry parfaits in a Georgia Grown Spotlight at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wial7CsCF-M. Here is the recipe she uses:

Basic Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Chilled whisk or beaters
Chilled mixing bowl (Chill bowl and whisk or mixing beaters by putting them in the freezer 15-20 minutes beforehand.)

Whip cream until it reaches the soft peak stage. (When you lift the whisk or beaters, a soft peak of cream will hang on.) Add sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until thick. It will store in the refrigerator for up to two hours.

Homemade whipped cream is the perfect topping for pecan, apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, peach, strawberry and blueberry pies. You can also use it to top fresh strawberries, peaches, sundaes, hot chocolate, gingerbread and slices of pound cake. Whipped cream and Georgia Grown products are a combination that can’t be beat!

Q: I was served something last week I had never heard of before: salmon salad. It was like tuna salad but canned salmon was used instead of tuna. Is this a Georgia thing? I liked it better than tuna salad. Do you have a recipe?

A: Salmon salad is not unique to the Peach State, although you can certainly give it a Georgia flair by using Georgia Grown products to make it.
     Salmon salad has been around a long time. We found a recipe for it in a Georgia cookbook published in 1872. There are as many ways to make salmon salad as there are ways to make tuna salad. The basic recipe is to drain one can of salmon and mix in one or more tablespoons of mayonnaise. (You do not need as much mayo as for tuna salad because salmon is not as dry as tuna.) Add chopped hard-boiled eggs and celery stalks. You can also add chopped sweet and/or savory pickles, chopped green and/or black olives and minced Vidalia onion. Finely chopped Georgia pecans add texture, flavor and more antioxidants. Some people may add a few capers or sprinkle fresh dill or tarragon on the salad.
     Salmon salad is good served with Georgia Grown cucumbers or tomatoes. It can be eaten as a salad on fresh spinach or lettuce or as a sandwich spread. If tomatoes and cucumbers are not available, serve it with wedges of Georgia Grown apples. If you don’t want to use canned salmon, use cooked fresh salmon that has been chilled and then flaked. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Q: Beautiful, large, yellow butterflies are all over my flowers. They are an almost solid, pale yellow. They are not as large as tiger swallowtails. I started seeing a few in August, but there were at least eight or nine here today (Oct. 2) fluttering around. Do you know what they are? What can I plant to attract more?
A: They sound like cloudless sulphurs. (Some entomologists call them cloudless giant sulphurs.) Sulphur is an older spelling of sulfur, the mineral whose color is a perfect match to these butterflies. There are other species of sulphurs, but the cloudless sulphur is one of the largest. It is called “cloudless” because some of the other common sulphurs have gray patterns or markings on their wings. Cloudless sulphurs are more abundant in Georgia gardens in late summer and fall. They are beautiful butterflies, and are one of the few species that will migrate south for the winter.
      Planting or protecting the larval plants (plants the adults lay eggs on and that the caterpillars eat) along with planting some of the nectar plants the adults feed on are the best ways to attract any butterfly.
      Adult cloudless sulphurs prefer to feed on the nectar of many of the flowers that hummingbirds do. Among their favorites are pineapple sage (Salvia rutilans), firecracker vine (Manettia cordifolia), Turk’s cap mallow or wax-mallow (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), anisacanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii), Texas or tropical sage (Salvia coccinea), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and single-flowered zinnias. They also like native asters, goldenrods and blazing stars (Liatris spp.)
     Caterpillars of cloudless sulphurs feed on partridge pea, clovers, Argentine senna (Cassia corymbosa), wild senna (Cassia marilandica) and other legumes, especially sennas (Cassia spp.)

Consumer Q's is written by Arty Schronce. If you have questions about this column please call him at 404-656-3656 or write him at arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov. For more garden information, click on Arty's Garden or subscribe to the Farmers & Consumers Market Bulletin.

 


 

 

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