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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

    Salt

    Pepper

    Paprika

    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.

  • There are various odd jobs to address in the garden once spring arrives. Well-timed chores can help us improve the performance of some plants, control others and eliminate some.

    Weeds are usually foremost on people's minds as they make their way back to the garden each spring.  There is no magic bullet for weed control, but we can take some common sense measures to devise an overall management plan.

    Diligence plays a role, as does timing and technique.

  • Sandy is a beagle mix that will make a great family pet. The children will love her. She likes to play fletch and be active in the yard. If your pet is missing, call the shelter-it may be there. For a complete listing of pets with pictures visit adoption@petfinder.com. The shelter reminds pet owners that all cats and dogs should have a rabies shot. To adopt an animal, potential owners must complete an adoption application. The animal shelter accepts stray or unwanted animals. The shelter is located off of KY 208 and is open from noon until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.

  • For the cow/calf producer this is a very important time of the year as far as calving goes. As spring is quickly approaching its easy to get too busy and sometimes forget about the basics.

    I recently read this article from the University of Kentucky and thought it would be appropriate for this time of the year.

    Spring-Calving Cows

    The spring calving season should be in full swing now, top priority should be to get a live calf and keep cows in sufficient body condition to rebreed early.

  • Do you have problems with fire blight, black spot, powdery mildew, Fusarium wilt, early blight and late blight?

    If this is the case plant disease resistant varieties this year! Sure old time favorites are what you are used to but try something different with them this year.

    Mail order catalogues promise a bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables without much work, but we all know that isn't how it works.

    However, there is one thing that we can do easily that will save us a lot of hassle this summer, variety selection.

  • Doc is a neutered male around 5 years old with long, black and white hair. He is a house cat, litter box trained and front declawed. If you are looking for a cat to hold and enjoy Doc is the one. If your pet is missing, call the shelter-it may be there. For a complete listing of pets with pictures visit adoption@petfinder.com. The shelter reminds pet owners that all cats and dogs should have a rabies shot. To adopt an animal, potential owners must complete an adoption application. The animal shelter accepts stray or unwanted animals.

  • Now that the economy has slid into decline and money is tighter, it seems it's time for us to get back to the basics. What better way to do that than to plant a vegetable garden?

    Mid to late March is an ideal time to plant your cool season or spring garden. Potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, peas and many other crops can be planted this month. Lettuce can also be planted, however you will want to cover it with remay fabric (tobacco canvas).

  • No other berry crop has gained the popularity of the blueberry.

    I am glad it has earned this distinction because blueberries are actually pretty easy to grow if you provide them with some timely attention.

    Once they are established some late winter pruning and fertilization is all you need to do to keep them in production.

  • Cornbread is comfort food to me-a fond taste memory from my childhood.

    My grandma Dillon made cornbread all the time, lots of different ways. Sometimes she'd make the fried cornbread common around here (she called it "Southern cornbread".)

    She also made regular cornbread in a cast iron skillet and sometimes in cast iron corn stick pans which I still have.

    She even made a special souffle-like cornbread, which she called "spoonbread." It was light and buttery, and sometimes we put gravy on it.

  • It is time to start preparing for the vegetable growing season in earnest: asparagus, potatoes, onions and leeks can be set out now; in a few weeks, as the soil is workable and warms to about 45 degrees, we'll direct seed radishes, turnips, parsnips, beets, carrots, peas, spinach and other greens and lettuces.

    Other cool season crops like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts do better set out in the garden as seedlings.

  • A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule could impact the disposal of dead farm animals. The rule, scheduled to go into effect in April, would prevent the use of brains and spinal cords of older cattle for animal food. The new rule covers all cows 30 months and older and is aimed at preventing the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.