Today's Features

  • If you are thinking of purchasing a home in the next year, you should be aware of the tax credit that is available to first-time homebuyers.

    In February, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provides first-time homebuyers with a tax credit of 10 percent of the purchase price of a home up to $8,000 or $4,000 each for married persons filing individually. This credit can be used on the 2008 tax returns, due April 15, or 2009 tax returns due next year. Qualifying taxpayers must purchase a home by Dec. 1 to be eligible.

  • Here's a great little sweet that's really easy to make, delicious to eat and very pretty. These Mini-Cheesecakes keep well in the refrigerator for about a week, though I doubt that you'll have them that long.

    You can use a muffin pan with cupcake liners or the foil cupcake holders that stand alone.

    The first time I made these, I used the chocolate-caramel chips, because that was the only kind I had at the time. Since then, I have used regular semi-sweet chocolate chips and the half white/half chocolate chips. They all work equally well in this recipe.

  • I must admit that I am not an organic gardener; however my personal philosophy of gardening has changed a bit in the last few years. I used to reach for the nearest pesticide (as harsh as available) the minute I would spot a problem.

    Now, I guess I am older and wiser, lazier or just a little less of a perfectionist, or maybe it's that I have two beautiful daughters now and I don't want them being exposed to chemicals, whatever the case I don't reach for pesticides unless a serious problem occurs.

  • I have long been taught that fall fertilization is preferred over spring fertilization for many plants, but there are some exceptions.

    We had a tough 2008 growing season with late summer drought and a windstorm that only added insult to injury. Add ice and a generally windy winter and some plants are in need of a little energy boost.

    Summer drought and early fall leaf drop (or the severe desiccation that many deciduous plants experience from the wind storm) means that stored energy may be low.

  • This week I'm featuring sweet onions, two side dish recipes that I tried recently and was quite pleased with.

    The Baked Onions are so simple and delicious, great with grilled meat. (They could be cooked on the grill, too, I guess, though I haven't tried it.)

    The Scalloped Sweet Onions are terrific made with Vidalia onions, which are just showing up on the spring market.

    Baked Onions

    3 large sweet onions




    Butter 1-2 cans beef consommé

  • This week I have several things I wanted to let everyone know about as well as some gardening chores that should or should not be done now.

    It is time to uncover roses and strawberries but you should keep your mulch or covering material handy especially for the strawberries in case we have a late spring freeze.

    After pulling the covering off of the roses, you should incorporate a one-half cup or so of 10-10-10 around each bush to give them a little extra boost for their spring flush. After about four weeks, give them another dose to keep them fed.

  • Traditional farm programs have focused on supporting prices rather than revenues (prices multiplied by yields). The new optional Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program addresses declines in state revenue caused from declines in prices and/or yields.

    The inclusion of state yield protection allows for protection from droughts, natural disasters, and floods.  The ACRE program uses market-based prices and state yields in determining revenue instead of government targets, therefore allowing revenue to adjust to current market conditions as they move up and down.

  • I never met a shrimp I didn't like.

    I've tried hundreds of shrimp recipes over the years and even though some were definitely better than others, I can honestly say I had no trouble eating any of them.

    I think it's in my genes, as my father was also a shrimp-lover.

    When I was a little girl, we used to go to a wonderful restaurant in Danville, Ill., (home of Dick VanDyke and Gene Hackman) called Connou's. It was located in old railroad dining cars (green and silver, as I recall) and had wonderful food.

  • Here are a couple good meatless recipes that don't involve fish.

    The Mushroom Strata is delicious. My mom used to make a version of this that she served for Sunday brunch, but it's good anytime.

    The next recipe is from my Susan's Kitchen cookbook, page 81.

    My grandma and mom made this and it sure came in handy back when I first moved to Kentucky and had chickens.

    Mom served this on chow mein noodles, which is really good, but you could also use patty shells or toast.

    Mushroom Strata

    1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

  • The Marion County 4-H Council recently met and discussed the following upcoming 4-H events:

    • The 4-H Speech contests are underway in the schools beginning March 19 with Lebanon Middle School.

    Judges are still needed. If you would like to volunteer, contact the Marion County Extension Office, 692-2421.

    • The Marion County 4-H Council will once again be holding their silent auction at the Farm, Home and Garden Show, April 4 and 5. 4-H'ers, leaders and parents will be contacting local businesses for their support with this fundraiser.