Tag Archives: jeannie nichols

Pumpkin everything

Giant wooden bins filled with pumpkins, trees in the background.

You can tell it’s fall when you start seeing pumpkin everything: pumpkin lattes, pie, muffins, soups, cookies, cakes, coffee creamer, ice cream and Cheerios – what? Today, I thought I’d point out some great resources that our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educators have created to help us get into the pumpkin spirit.

First, we’ll need to know how to pick the perfect pumpkin. Good thing we have the “How to Choose the Right Pumpkin” resource by MSU Extension educator Jeannie Nichols with information on finding fully mature and delicious pumpkins.

Once we’ve found the right pumpkin, we turn to MSU Extension educator Lisa Treiber who prepared a great Michigan Fresh bulletin on using, storing and preserving pumpkins with detailed instructions and recommendations.

In case you’d like to dive deeper into pumpkin preservation, MSU Extension educator Stephanie Ostrenga has some important information in her “Pumpkin Preservation Safety Tips” article.

MSU Extension educator Stephanie Marino also has great advice on “Incorporating Pumpkin Into Your Diet This Season” with recipes included.

To fully immerse ourselves in all things pumpkin, the MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi is hosting their annual Pumpkinfest Oct.7–8, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that draws about 6,000 visitors. This will be a fantastic event for the whole family with a children’s straw maze, educational exhibits, music, pumpkin bowling, antique tractors, the MSU Bug House and more. On Sept. 27, we received MSU Extension educator Alan Jaros’ email encouraging us all to attend, represent our program areas at the event and bring interactive elements to engage the crowd. This is a great opportunity to show off what we do and celebrate all things pumpkin. If you have questions or if you would like to sign up, contact Aba Holmes at holme146@anr.msu.edu. Hope you can make it.

Happy pumpkin season, everyone!

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Filed under Children and Youth, Events, Food, Food safety, Health and Nutrition, Horticulture, Nutrition, Resources

MSU Extension staff members receive NEAFCS awards

Many of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues received awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual session in September, in Big Sky, Montana.

Individual awards:

Zelda Felix-Mottley won the Continued Excellence Award, which goes to an NEAFCS member of at least 12 years. It recognizes active involvement in professional improvement programs, promotion of professional development and leadership. This is the highest honor awarded to NEAFCS members. Zelda has been with MSU Extension for 23 years and is based in Berrien County (District 13). She teaches face-to-face nutrition and physical activity workshops alongside her staff. She recruits agencies and organizations to participate in MSU Extension programming and connecting. She also builds relationships and rapport with legislators, commissioners and community partners that in turn support MSU Extension.

Diane Fair and Shannon Lindquist both won Michigan and national Distinguished Service awards. These awards are given to members of 10 years or more to recognize Extension family and consumer science educators for leadership, outstanding programs, and personal and professional growth. Diana is a disease prevention and management educator in District 13, and she provides diabetes and other health-related programs. Shannon is a member of the social-emotional work team, making efforts to provide these important programs in the seven counties of District 6. She facilitates trainings with parents, childcare providers and youth.

Michelle Jarvie, food safety, nutrition and physical activity educator in the U.P., received the New Professional Award. The New Professional Award recognizes outstanding accomplishments of NEAFCS members within their first three years of employment. The award is to encourage the use of innovative and effective methods of conducting Extension programs.

Brenda Reau, senior associate director of the MSU Product Center, received third place in the central region for the Communication Award for Educational Publication. This award recognizes a supplementary educational information piece that is designed to inform, update and make the reader respond in a positive manner.

Financial and homeownership educator Erica Tobe received first place nationally and also in the eastern region for the Social Networking Award for her project Twitter Chats and Google Hangouts for Financial Education Outreach. The project is focused on improving financial literacy through innovative technology approaches and involves a multistate collaboration. The award recognizes innovative online social networking efforts.

Team Awards:

Health and nutrition educators Eileen Haraminac, Jeannie Nichols and Jane Hart received two awards: the first place and regional Food Safety Award and the third place central region Communication Award for Internet Technology Communication. The Food Safety Award recognizes NEAFCS members for outstanding educational programs conducted for families, school nutrition workers, food industry employees or managers, church workers preparing meals, home care providers, and other groups/individuals preparing and/or serving food. The Educational Technology Communications Award encourages excellence in communication through computer programs, web pages or computer-generated presentations.

Holly Brophy-Herb and MSU Extension team members Kendra Moyses, Carrie Shrier, Maria Millet, Kylie Rymanowicz and Alan Pilkenton won the first place national award and central region award for Human Development and Family Relationships for their Building Early Emotional Skills (BEES) Parenting Program. The award recognizes innovative human development/family relationship educational efforts focusing on child care, parenting, relationships through the life span, marriage enrichment, communications (parent/child), retirement, aging, stress management and related issues.

Lastly, Tracie Abram and Michelle Jarvie received the Family Health and Wellness Award first place nationally and in the central region. The award recognizes innovative programs that promote and improve the health and wellness of families in areas such as nutrition, fitness, family meals, meal planning, time or stress management, and healthy lifestyle.

Congratulations to all of our NEAFCS winners, and thank you for the work that you do for MSU Extension and the people of Michigan.

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Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

A pumpkin pie with a piece cut out and sitting on a dish.

Photo by alcinoe at Morguefile.com

I don’t know about your offices, but here in the Director’s office, we get a lot of calls in November with questions about preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and food safety. Our educators have done a great job of getting out that information and resources on our website. I thought I’d mention some here in case you get any questions in your office or even from friends and family.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Looking for a new recipe to try with your turkey leftovers? Beth has a quick and easy turkey soup with vegetables that will be perfect for those chilly couple of days after the holiday.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.

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Filed under Food, Food safety, Uncategorized

Michigan Fresh has even more to offer

In a March 27 Spotlight, I mentioned how our Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh program educates on fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals as well as food safety, food storage, food preservation and gardening. In addition to this long list of important subjects, the Michigan Fresh work team is also busy on many other projects.

Extension educator Eileen Haraminac took over the coordination of the Michigan Fresh team upon Kathe Hale’s retirement.

Extension educator Joyce McGarry is busy heading up new fact sheet development. The team consists of Mary Dunckel, Michelle Jarvie, Ronald E. Kinnunen, Amanda Knox, Laurie Messing, Jeannie Nichols, Jeannine Schweihofer and Rob Weber. Team members arecompiling information on meats: pork, lamb, poultry, beef and fish. In the future, they will compile information for fact sheets on dairy products. Michigan Fresh fact sheets have been available at many of the farmers markets throughout the state as well as online. The fact sheets are also available in Arabic and Spanish. Find them on the Michigan Fresh website: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh

Other future fact sheets will focus on Michigan chestnuts (Erin Lizotte, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute) and growing hops (Greening Michigan Institute Extension educator Rob Sirrine).

Extension program instructor Stephanie Bruno heads up the team that’s developing recipe cards. The team consists of Jennifer Berkey, Becky Henne and Connie Kurple. These new recipe cards will be distributed at several farmers markets to encourage consumers to purchase Michigan-grown food to use as simple ingredients.

 Kristine Hahn and Eileen Haraminac as well as Sean Corp and other MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications staff are collaborating with the Eastern Market Corporation to promote a new product ‒ Michigan Fresh Frozen fruits and vegetables. The group is working on recipe cards to be distributed at Detroit Eastern Market and through the Peaches & Greens mobile produce trucks. The cards will promote both the Michigan Fresh program and the new Eastern Market Corporation Michigan Fresh Frozen products.

Eileen said, “We want to encourage people to choose nutrient-packed frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh are unavailable. Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing are processed at their peak ripeness ‒ time when, as a general rule, they are most nutrient packed.

Extension associate program leader Becky Henne heads up the social media team. Team members are busy working to build a smartphone app and to develop additional videos. They hope to have the app ready to roll out for the 2015 season. This group is working with Dr. Dru Montri, executive director of Michigan Farmers Market Association; Colleen Matts, farm to institution outreach specialist with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems; and Dr. Norm Lownds, curator of the 4-H Children’s Garden. Additional team members from both the Health and Nutrition Institute and the Greening Michigan Institute include Julie Darnton, Joanne Davidhizar, Dawn Earnesty, Kristine Hahn, Sheilah Hebert, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills.

Dr. Cheryl Peters, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills have been working with the Michigan Fresh team to develop a common evaluation tool for Michigan Fresh cooking demonstrations offered at the Detroit Eastern Market and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. These cooking demonstrations benefit the promotion of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and videos. The free, public demonstrations are designed to inspire people to purchase and consume more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. The evaluation tool will gather information from cooking demonstration observers. Recipes used in the cooking demonstrations come from the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With coordination from Extension educator Terry McLean, MSU Extension will staff a kiosk at the Flint Farmers Market this spring.

Michigan Fresh is a great collaboration not only between our own institutes but between local organizations and farmers markets as well.

If you are interested in promoting the Michigan Fresh campaign materials at your community farmers market, please contact Eileen Haraminac (haramin2@anr.msu.edu) for more information.

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Enjoy your turkey ‒ or your turducken ‒ this Thanksgiving

We have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. It’s the beginning of the “high season” for the turkey industry, with a focus on turkey dinners as the focus of family gatherings from now through the end of the year. I enjoy the annual effort to select, prepare and roast (I’m not a fryer) the turkey for our family gathering. We usually stick to traditional fare, though my favorite twist from the norm is to substitute a sweet potato pie for the more traditional pumpkin. The secret ingredient in my sweet potato pie recipe – a distilled product from the state of Kentucky – really adds a special flavor to dessert.

Other people take even more license with the traditional menu for Thanksgiving, and one you can learn more about from Michigan State University Extension is the turducken. I’m not making this up! This is a substitute for the traditional turkey that is a layered poultry dish consisting of a deboned chicken inside of a deboned duck inside of a deboned turkey. This is not April Fools! Folks also come up with hundreds of ways to cook a traditional turkey rather than just stuffing it and popping it into the oven.

Michigan State University Extension educator Jeannie Nichols has produced articles on this subject. Check out two articles titled “Downright Unsafe Ways to Cook Your Turkey” offered in Part I and Part II.

She’ll let you know the safe way to cook a turducken in case you’re wondering. And if you have a hankering to cook your turkey all night in the oven, she’ll tell you the proper way to do that. If you want to cook your turkey in paper bags or even in trash bags, Jeannie’s advice is to nix both ideas and use a food grade commercial cooking bag.

Of course, she bases all of her advice on research from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

In addition to Jeannie’s article, MSU Extension educator Lucia Patritto wrote three articles titled “Extension Professionals Are a Good Resource for Thanksgiving Food Questions.” I agree! Read these articles to find answers to questions such as “How much turkey should I buy?” and “What’s the safest way to thaw a turkey?”

So enjoy your turkey – or your turducken ‒ this Thanksgiving, but please enjoy it by using safe methods of preparation following expert advice.

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Moving into the possibilities at Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Sometimes we have a good idea, it works out well so we branch out and use that same idea elsewhere. Actively promoting our Michigan State University Extension programs at the Detroit Eastern Market proved successful. We had a great reaction and so when the opportunity came to join the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, we were ready and excited to be a part of it.

In the June13 Spotlight, I mentioned plans to house MSU Extension staff in office space in the new indoor market. The plans are now a reality. Community food systems educators Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler are officially moved in as of Sept. 1 and are working on site full time. Diane Smith, innovation counselor from the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio, joins them one to two days a week.

Our presence at the market is a great opportunity to educate the public and establish relationships with people who produce local food as well as those who buy it. The way I think of it is although market shoppers may not expect to see MSU Extension at the market, when they do see us, they immediately “get it.” In a way, it’s a place where we belong because it’s a place where people are seeking information along with their food, and we can help them whether it’s in providing nutrition, cooking, food safety or gardening information and education. And we want them to associate us with receiving access to dependable, unbiased, research-based information concerning food as well as other issues that affect their families and their communities.

The market has both an indoor market open every day and an outdoor market open two mornings and one evening a week. The indoor market officially opened on Labor Day, Sept. 2. According to WZZM ABC News, nearly 30,000 people showed up for the grand opening.

 We’ve already been active in the outdoor market since it opened May 4, promoting our Michigan Fresh campaign and educating about healthy eating, and safe food preparation and preservation.

In addition, we’ve used the indoor facilities for educational sessions. In the Aug. 15 Spotlight, I wrote about two health and nutrition educators, Jeannie Nichols and Rita Klavinski, who facilitated a ServSafe class to 23 participants.

We intend to continue offering educational programs using the indoor facilities, which include demonstration and teaching kitchens, greenhouses and a commercial kitchen incubator.

Jeannie will hold a Cooking for Crowds session on Oct. 9. Cooking for Crowds is an educational program focusing on food safety for nonprofit groups who prepare food for their members or for the public as fundraisers.

Jeannie and Diane will co-teach “Starting a Successful Cottage Food Business in Michigan” on Nov. 7. The program combines the business and food safety aspects of preparing and selling cottage foods safely and successfully.

Extension educator Glenda Kilpatrick reports that Kent County 4-H program coordinators Kristi Bowers and Christine Mickelson have been offering youth programs on Tuesdays at the market as well.

Expect many more programs to come.

Read more here: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/extension_moves_into_new_grand_rapids_downtown_market

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MSU Extension programs inaugurate Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Previously, I wrote a Spotlight article about the plans of Michigan State University Extension to house staff in a new office at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. This will be an addition to our footprint in Kent County, complementing our county office location. Community food systems educators Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler will be based in our new office when the market opens officially in September. In addition to serving clients directly with their efforts to expand access to locally grown foods in institutional settings, they will help to connect clients with other programs MSU Extension offers as well.

MSU Extension educator Jeannie Nichols presents a ServSafe class at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market Aug. 14, 2013.

MSU Extension educator Jeannie Nichols presents a ServSafe class at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market Aug. 14, 2013.

On August 14, health and nutrition educators Jeannie Nichols and Rita Klavinski held our first official class in the Downtown Market, a ServSafe class that served 23 participants. Some of the participants were vendors with food businesses in the market. They also had several school food service workers and a few participants from the kitchens of local breweries.

Kendra reports that Jeannie and Rita did an excellent job working through the logistics of the new space and working around the ongoing construction. You can view a few photos on my blog that Kendra provided from the class. This was the first class for adults held in the new, state-of-the-art teaching kitchen space. Thanks to Kendra, Garrett, Jeannie and Rita for putting our footprints in the drying concrete.

MSU Extension educator Rita Klavinski presents a ServSafe class at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market Aug. 14, 2013.

MSU Extension educator Rita Klavinski presents a ServSafe class at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market Aug. 14, 2013.

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