Sustainable Living through Permaculture

Permaculture.jpgImagine your pesky garden weeds as flowers, fertilizers, and salad greens. What if you could swap your sprinklers for rain showers?

Welcome to permaculture—a “permanent culture”—that mimics the natural world in useful ways. Whether you want a greener lifestyle or just another way to cut down your weekly grocery spending, permaculture can help.

A New Perspective

Permaculture doesn’t just teach you how to garden; it gives you a new perspective on life. This perspective is a holistic view, where every system—living or man-made—connects into a greater whole. Through permaculture, you realize sustainable living is the route of less work and less expense. You see that the same things that are healthy for the land can be healthy for you.

For example, we can use water, energy, and natural resources without depleting them.  We can design the land with an eye to regeneration. In areas where over-use or poor management destroyed the environment, we can revive the soil so that lush vegetation returns. Different species don’t need to live separately—they can work together.

USU Extension’s Permaculture Initiative

Since 2013, the USU Permaculture Initiative has provided research, teaching, and outreach on permaculture design. This includes permaculture as a community resiliency design framework in light of projected climate change impacts for the Southwest. This year, with partners like the Logan Library, the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and Moab Bee Inspired Gardens, we’re providing several workshops and presentations.

In February, local Logan area expert Shane Richards gave a hands-on fruit tree pruning demonstration. In March, Brigham City resident Liz Braithwaite presented on the paradigm shift that comes from permaculture. Want to participate? Find out more at

This article was written by Roslynn Brain, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist with USU Extension, Moab

Spring Cleaning with Homemade Products

Spring Cleaning Products.jpg

Try these DIY cleaning products to get your home sparkling clean this spring.

As spring approaches, our thoughts are turned to…spring cleaning!  We’ve been cooped up in our houses all winter and we’re ready to see the shine of clean walls, windows, and floors!  But with the plethora of products available, it is difficult to decide on which ones to choose and which ones we can afford!  So the answer is…homemade cleaning solutions. Now is a great time to revive an article written by Carolyn Washburn, a USU professor from Washington County.  Thanks to her list of homemade cleaning products, we can have products that are less expensive, less toxic, and are safe and effective.

Some of the basic supplies needed include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, cornstarch and salt.  Here are a few of her recipes:

Four recipes for general cleaning:

  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon liquid detergent, 2 cups water.
  • 1 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, hot water.
  • ½ cup ammonia, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, 1 gallon water

Five recipes for cleaning windows:

  • ½ cup vinegar and 1 gallon water (2 tablespoons to 1 quart).
  • ½ cup ammonia and 1 gallon water.
  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons denatured alcohol, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons dish detergent and 1 tablespoon “Jet Dry” in ½ pail of water for outdoor windows.

Other cleaning solutions she suggests include:

Baking Soda

Baking soda neutralizes acid-based odors in water and absorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens and fiberglass. For laundry, add up to a cup per load to eliminate perspiration odors and neutralize the smell of chemicals. It is also a useful air freshener and carpet deodorizer.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. They are natural cleaning products as well as disinfectants and deodorizers. Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish and remove dirt from wood surfaces. Vinegar can be used as a softener in laundry cleaning. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to make a cleaning paste.


Borax is a natural cleaner and bleach. It can boost other cleaning products, but be cautious when using it since it can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Don’t use borax around food, keep it out of the reach of children and pets and be sure to rinse it out of clothes and off surfaces.


Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets. As a window cleaner, use it with water, vinegar and ammonia. To use on stains and to polish, use a mixture of water and cornstarch. Sprinkle on carpets to remove stains and odors.


Salt as a cleaner is one way to be a little “greener” at home. It is inexpensive, does not harm the environment and is readily available. Salt mixtures can remove yellowing, clean tarnish, remove lipstick, get rid of mold and can work as a drain cleaner.

Soap vs. Detergent

Liquid dish soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials. Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so they don’t react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. If you have hard water, buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes. If you have soft water, you can use liquid soap.

Ammonia and Denatured Alcohol

Additional cleaning products are ammonia and denatured alcohol. Be careful not to mix ammonia with a bleach product, as it can produce a harmful gas. These toxic products need to be stored carefully and used in well-ventilated areas. Be sure to keep all homemade formulas labeled and out of the reach of children.

Happy Cleaning!


GaeLynn.jpgThis article was written by GaeLynn Peterson. Gaelynn is a long-time resident of Wayne County where she serves the residents as Utah State University faculty with an emphasis in FCS and 4-H. She has an M.S. in Psychology and has worked with at-risk students before joining the USU family. As a mother of seven and grandmother of 28, she has had a lot of experience working with youth, and she loves it! She enjoys traveling, camping, Lake Powell, and any beach.


Learn more about homemade cleaning products:


Quick and Easy Reading Pillow

Reading Pillow GraphicSnuggle up with a good book and a pillow.  Make this quick and easy pillow with a built-in pocket to hold a favorite book and maybe even a few toys and a snack.  Use it at home or on the go.  It makes the perfect personalized gift.  This is a great beginner’s project.  

Materials Needed:

  • ½ yard of fabric for front and back
  • Fat quarter of fabric for pocket
  • Matching thread
  • Iron-on letters, fabric for applique or embroidery machine for the letters
  • 16” x 16″ pillow form

Cutting Instructions:

(1) 16 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ fabric for front

(2) 16 1/2″ x 11″ fabric for back

(1) 16 1/2″ x 20″ for pocket

Sewing Instructions:

  1. Fold pocket fabric in half so that it measures 10″ x 16 1/2″.
  2. Apply letters by method of your choice — applique, purchased iron- on letters or with an embroidery machine.   Choose a word that you want on the pillow.  It can be “READ,” a name or whatever you want.
  3. The word should be approximately 3″ from the bottom edge and 3″ from the right edge.READ Pillow Image 1
  4. Hem one 16 1/2″ edge on both back pieces.  Fold over 1/4″ and press.  Fold over 1/4″ again and press so that the raw edge is enclosed.
  5. Stitch along each edge.
  6. Baste pocket piece to the bottom of the front fabric piece.READ Pillow Image 2
  7. Lay the front pocket piece right side up.
  8. Place the two back pieces right sides down onto the front piece so the corners and edges match on the top and the bottom and the hemmed edges overlap in the center. Overlap the two back sections.READ Pillow Image 3
  9. Pin in place.
  10. Sew 1/4″ seam on each side.
  11. Turn right sides out through the back enclosure and put pillow form inside.

Ask an Expert // What should I do with all these dried beans?

Dried BeansDried beans can be a great addition to your pantry and food storage. Read on to find out how to properly store and preserve dried beans.

This time of year, case lot sales are common. Among bulk items being offered are several foods known to store well for several years, when handled properly. Among those food items are several types of dried beans, sold in paper or plastic packaging.

Unless your family cooks with beans on a regular basis, a 25-pound bag of dried beans may seem a bit intimidating, or even impossible, to use up within the foreseeable future. If this sounds like you, here are some storage options to consider so you will have quality beans available when you need them for months or years ahead.

Utah State University Extension provides the following information to consumers wishing to add dried beans to their long-term food storage.

Storing dried beans

Quality & Purchase. For the most part, dry beans are graded U.S. No.1 (best) through U.S. No. 3, based on defects. Lesser quality beans are generally graded “substandard” or “sample.”

Packaging. Like most stored foods, beans are best stored in the absence of oxygen and light. Oxygen can lead to rancidity of bean oils and light will quickly fade bean color. The best packaging choices are #10 cans or Mylar-type bags. Canning jars are suitable for smaller quantities providing the jars are stored in a dark place. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen from the packages to extend shelf life and minimize off-flavors.

Storage Conditions. Beans in normal polyethylene (food-grade) bags have a shelf life of 1 year or more. Like most stored foods, colder storage temperatures will increase shelf life. When packaged in #10 cans or Mylar-type bags, with the oxygen removed, they have a shelf life of 10 years or more. A BYU study indicated that samples that had been stored up to 30 years had greater than 80 percent acceptance by a consumer taste panel for emergency food use.

Use from storage. All dried beans, except lentils and split peas, require soaking in water for rehydration. Typically, 3 cups of water are needed for every 1 cup of dried beans. Allow beans to soak overnight and then rinse them in clean water. To cook beans, cover rehydrated beans with water in a stock pot. Simmer for 2-4 hours until beans are tender. Once tender they can be spiced and used in cooking recipes. As dried beans age, the seeds become harder. This results in longer rehydration and cooking times. At some point, the seeds will no longer rehydrate, and in that case, must be ground as bean flour. 

Preserving Dried Beans

It is common for home food preservers to “bottle” or “can” dried beans so they are hydrated and ready to use in recipes. For safety reasons, it is important to follow current guidelines for preserving dried beans as described by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you are new to pressure canning, visit this website and read how to safely use a pressure canner or contact your local county Extension office.

Procedure: Place dried beans or peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain water. To quickly hydrate beans, you may cover sorted and washed beans with boiling water in a saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and drain.

Cover beans soaked by either method with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with beans or peas and cooking water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as a hot pack;  pints for 75 minutes; quarts 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure (altitudes 3,000-6,000 ft.) or 13 pounds with a dial-type gauge tested for accuracy by the local Extension office. WARNING: Do not place dried beans in a jar and add water as a method to prepare beans for processing. To guarantee safety, beans must be hydrated first!

Whenever you get in the mood for fresh-cooked chili, humus, beans and ham hocks or refried beans, having quality beans on hand that have been prepared and stored properly will be a great asset to your menus.

Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to or call 435-586-8132.


Healthy Homemade Ice Cream Alternatives

Homemade Ice Cream AltI scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Satisfy your sweet tooth, and make one of these healthy alternatives to your favorite frozen treat.

Ice cream is a widely loved treat. It’s used to celebrate special occasions, keep cool on a hot day or as a treat to satisfy a sweet tooth. However, sometimes you might want a treat that’s a little bit healthier. Here are three ice cream alternatives that can be a healthier choice, are just as delicious, and are made with real fruit. Plus, you can make them at home with the whole family!

Banana “Ice Cream”

  • 4 bananas, sliced and frozen
  • ¾ cup milk, any type (non-fat is the healthiest choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the banana and milk. Add more milk for a “soft-serve” consistency.

Add the cocoa powder, adding more for a dark chocolate flavor. Add vanilla.

For different flavors, add in shredded coconut, slivered almonds, walnuts, cashews, cinnamon or peanut butter. Leave out the cocoa powder for a vanilla flavor. To make a strawberry flavored banana “ice cream,” use the below recipe.

Banana Strawberry “Ice Cream”

  • 4 bananas, frozen
  • 4 cups strawberries, frozen
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more or less milk to produce desired consistency.

Strawberry Sherbet

  • 1 16 oz bag frozen strawberries (or 3 cups chopped fresh strawberries)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ to ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Combine strawberries and sugar in food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped. Mix buttermilk and lemon juice together; slowly add to strawberries. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more buttermilk mixture as necessary for desired consistency. Serve immediately or freeze in freezer, stirring occasionally.

Raspberry Sorbet

  • 2 ½ cups (12 oz) fresh raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave syrup

Combine raspberries and honey/agave in a food processor and blend on high speed until smooth.

If you use frozen raspberries, you may get sorbet immediately. Serve immediately or transfer to a container and keep in the freezer.

If using fresh or thawed raspberries, pour mixture into ice cream maker, and follow ice cream maker’s instructions. Serve immediately or transfer to container and keep in freezer.

Lemon Frozen Custard

  • 1 can (12 oz) low-fat evaporated milk (chilled)
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or bowl. Milk mixture will thicken as soon as the lemon juice is added. Place in a shallow dish and freeze. Stir once or twice while freezing.

* This recipe needs a little milk fat to have a custardy texture. Non-fat milk freezes hard, more like a popsicle.

This article was written by Kelsey Chappell, Family and Consumer Sciences Intern, and Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County

Fall Bucket List


Cooler temperatures and colorful leaves are on their way. We’re welcoming fall with more than 50 fall things to do around Utah. Pick and choose your favorites to create your own custom fall bucket list. 

The weather is starting to cool off, the leaves are changing and there is so much fun to be had.  Utah is full of great experiences, whether you want to spend time out in the crisp fall air or stay home working on simple projects.  Whatever mood you are, in it is nice to have a list of exciting ideas to choose from, and we have more than 50 suggestions for you to build your own fall bucket list.


  • Drive the Alpine Loop or other local canyons to see the leaves
  • Explore a corn maze
  • Visit the local farmer’s market
  • Go on a hike to see the fall colors
  • Go camping in the colors
  • Go apple, pumpkin, squash, pepper or tomato picking at a local “pick your own” farm
  • Go pick your own pumpkin from a pumpkin patch
  • Practice recreational shooting
  • Go hunting
  • Go Trick-or-Treating
  • Tell scary stories around a campfire
  • Go on a hay ride
  • Join in a family and friend turkey bowl football game



  • Do fall cleaning
  • Decorate the house
  • Host a football watching party
  • Host a Halloween party
  • Gather family for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Rake up and play in the autumn leaves
  • Clean out garden beds to prepare for next year
  • Plant spring bulbs
  • Plant a tree — Autumn is a great time to plant a tree, but be sure to water well if it is a dry autumn.


  • Do a chili cook-off
  • Make apple cider
  • Harvest fall produce and preserve it by freezing, drying or canning (jams, jellies, whole fruit, etc.)
  • Throw a homemade doughnut party – invite friends and family over for fun and doughnuts everyone can enjoy. Try them  baked or fried.
  • Make caramel apples
  • Try a new recipe for Thanksgiving (pie, stuffing, etc.)
  • Throw a party where everyone brings a different kind of pie
  • Host a crock pot party
  • Try a new homemade soup, like  Apple & Butternut Squash Soup (page 7) to help keep you warm as the days get colder.


  • Pumpkin carving – A tradition that never gets old. Find your favorite printable template or draw freehand to make your pumpkin carving creation.
  • Decorate/paint pumpkins to look like a favorite book character – Painting and decorating pumpkins is just as fun. They also last longer without wilting.
  • Boo” ding dong ditch the neighbors – Leave a bag of goodies on someone’s front porch and run away – once you have been “boo-ed” you hang an image of a ghost near your front door so others know you have been “boo-ed.”
  • Start a fall gratitude journal
  • Create a new autumn decoration
  • Make a new Halloween costume
  • Sew homemade hand warmers


This is a way to transport yourself and your little ones into another world of fun, adventure and fantasy. Cuddle up with a blanket and enjoy some of these favorites this autumn.

  • Scary chapter books:
    • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
    • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    • Doll Bones by Holly Black
  • Halloween picture books:
    • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
    • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams
    • Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michal Rex
    • Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson
    • Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
    • In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz
    • The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey
    • Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
    • Frankenstein by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale
    • Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson and Samuel Thaler
    • A Very Brave Witch by Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss
    • One Witch by Laura Leuck

    • Curious George Goes to a Costume Party by Margaret Rey
    • Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz
  • Thanksgiving picture books:
    • ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
    • Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
    • The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz
    • A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman and Jeff Shelly


This article was written by Kirsten Lamplugh, Intern at the Salt Lake County USU Extension office, BS in Family and Consumer Sciences 

Ask an Expert // Which preservation method should I use?

preserve foodInterested in food preservation, but not sure where to start? Here’s a great overview of the different methods for preserving food. Which one is right for you?

There are many ways to preserve food beyond the traditional bottling most people consider “canning.” All of the methods help you take advantage of seasonal abundance or food market sales.  Here are the Big Four, soon to become the Big Five, with pros and cons attached to help you make your decision

1. Freezing

Advantages: Freezing yields the freshest taste, and has the highest nutrition retention.

Disadvantages: In most cases, product must be thawed or cooked before use. Fruit can be limp when thawed. This can be overcome by serving fruits when still half-frozen.

Level of Preparation Difficulty: Easy— vegetables typically need to be blanched before freezing for highest quality. In most cases you simply put the product in a bag, label it, and put it in the freezer.

Cost: A freezer is a major expense, but they last a long time. Otherwise, cost is minimal: freezer bags or containers and electricity.

Storage time: For best quality, use frozen foods within three to six months. Frozen food is safe to eat as long as it is frozen.

Important food safety note: Freezing does not kill any bacteria, the cold temperature only keeps the bacteria from growing. When frozen product thaws, bacteria starts growing again.

2. Dehydrating (Drying)

Advantages: Dehydrated foods are lightweight, and don’t take up much storage space, making great packable snacks or meals. Home dehydrated foods are healthier than many packaged snacks because they don’t have commercial additives. Dehydrating yourself is cheaper than buying commercially dried fruits and vegetables.

Disadvantages: Lowest nutrition retention of food preservation methods—but still healthier than a store-bought snack. Product shrinks down, which makes for easy storage, but also appears to have a small yield because of that. Rehydrating a dried product does not mean the produce rehydrates to the level of fresh. It will be chewier than a fresh product.

Level of preparation difficulty: Easy— children love to dehydrate. Produce needs to be sliced around 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.  Most vegetables (excluding peppers and onions) need to be blanched prior to dehydrating for best results.

Cost: Usually under $100 for a small electric dehydrator—at garage sales, even less.  Make sure to wash and sanitize a used dehydrator.

Storage time: Product is best when used within 6 months to a year, and is safe for longer if it is kept dry. Dehydrated products will mold if not kept dry.

Food Safety Note: Dehydrating is like freezing, it does not kill bacteria. It merely puts the bacteria in a state too dry to reproduce.

3. Boiling Water Bath Canning

Advantages:  Foods preserved in a boiling water bath canner do not need refrigeration, and can be used directly out of the jar. This method yields good nutrition retention, fresh taste, and is easy to use in cooking and food preparation. This is what most people think of when considering “canning.” Useful for fruits, pickled products, salsas, jams and jellies.

Disadvantages: This food preservation method can only be used for high acid fruits, jams and jellies, or pickles. It requires both the preparation time and processing time in the water bath canner.

Level of preparation difficulty: Moderate. Follow a research-based USDA or Extension recipe for safety and best results. See  for online instructions and recipes.

Cost: You will need a  3- 5 gallon stock pot with a lid that allows for a trivet to keep the jars from direct contact with the bottom of the pan, and is deep enough to cover the jars with 2 inches of water above the jars. Commercial canners are around $30 – $40. Electric water bath canners are available for around $130. Canning jars are between $8 to $10 per dozen, although garage sales often have canning jars for cheaper. Only real canning jars (Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, Mason are typical brands) can be used: Salad dressing or mayonnaise jars are not strong enough. Canning lids need to be bought annually, but the bands and jars can be reused for years. One-piece Tattler lids are not USDA recommended at this time.

Storage time: Foods preserved with this method should be used within 1 to 2 years.

Food safety note: The boiling water bath method kills most yeasts and molds in high acid foods. If you open a jar and smell fermentation or see mold, throw the jar away.

4. Pressure canning

Advantages: This is a great way to can low acid foods for home use. Properly done, it is as safe as commercial products, but there is more personal control over the content.

Disadvantages: Pressure canning must be done according to research-based methods in order to be safe! Canned low acid vegetables and meats are prime targets for the growth of the deadly botulism toxin.  See  for online instructions and recipes.

Level of preparation difficulty: Difficult, mainly because of the time involved. Once the food is prepared for the jars, the pressure canner must be closely watched to make sure the pressure consistently stays at the 13 to 15 pounds of pressure needed to be safe at Utah altitudes for the correct amount of time.

Cost: The cost of a pressure canner ranges from $150 to $300. A pressure cooker is too small to be a pressure canner. Electric pressure cookers that claim to also pressure can are not recommended because they cannot hold 15 pounds of pressure for as long as it needs to be held at our altitude for safe canning. The cost of jars and lids is the same as for water bath canning.

Storage time: Foods preserved with this method should be used within 1 to 2 years.

Food safety note: If properly canned using a USDA or Extension tested recipe, the temperatures reached in a pressure canner should kill botulism spores, which create the botulism toxin. It is recommended to boil any low acid canned product for 15 minutes before eating as an additional safeguard, but anything that seems suspicious of spoilage should be thrown away rather than eaten.

5. Home freeze-dryer

Advantages: This method yields fresh taste, great nutrition retention, and preparation is easy (same as freezing or dehydrating).

Disadvantages: Freeze drying machines are expensive, noisy,  and take up space—they are quite large: the mid-size model is the size of a dishwasher, the small is the size of a student refrigerator. When the vacuum pump goes on, it is noisier than a dishwasher.

Level of preparation difficulty: Easy—the same preparation as for freezing or dehydrating. The time for processing is typically 24 hours or more, but it doesn’t need to be watched to do the processing.

Cost: Freeze drying machines cost $2500 and up, and require special vacuum pump oil.

Storage time: Home freeze-dryers are new, so definitive time studies have not been done. It is estimated the product is safe for around 10 years.

Food safety note: Freeze-drying does not kill bacteria. The same food safety recommendations as for either freezing or drying hold true here: once the product is rehydrated, the bacteria begin to grow again.

Home food preservation is an important skill to have. It saves money, gives control over content, and focuses your mind on healthy eating. Choose a process and enjoy the bounty!

This article was written by Cathy Merrill, USU Extension Assistant Professor, Utah County





Homemade Ice Cream // Be Safe, Not Sorry

Homemade Ice Cream.jpgDon’t risk foodborne illness when making homemade ice cream. Try this recipe for safe homemade frozen treat.

No doubt about it, homemade ice cream is one of our favorite summertime foods. There are many family favorite recipes circulating that include one ingredient that can put a real damper on summertime fun. That ingredient is raw eggs.

While eggs provide a nice emulsifying benefit to the creamy mixture and give it a more smooth feel by preventing large ice crystals from forming while the ice cream is freezing, this same ingredient has the potential to cause serious illness.

There are many folks who still believe that as long as the egg is clean and crack free, it is free of the pathogen Salmonella enteritidis. That is simply not the case. We now know that an infected laying hen can transmit Salmonella to the inside of the egg as her body is forming it, before the shell is even developed. So using raw eggs in ice cream, even clean and crack free, is not going to eliminate the risk entirely.

Sadly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths each year are caused by eating eggs contaminated with Salmonella, so this is something to take seriously. Here are some options to get the benefit of having eggs in your ice cream mixture without the risk.

  1. Use a cooked egg base, egg substitutes, pasteurized eggs or a recipe without eggs. To make a cooked egg base, mix eggs and milk to make a custard base and then cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, which will destroy salmonella, if present. Use a food thermometer to check the mixture temperature. At this temperature, the mixture will coat a metal spoon. Try to resist the temptation to taste-test when the custard is not fully cooked! After cooking, chill the custard thoroughly before freezing.
  2. Use pasteurized egg substitute products. These products are found in the dairy section of the grocery store, and one brand is Egg Beaters. You may have to experiment with each recipe to determine the correct amount to add.
  3. Another option is to use pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for uncooked eggs. Some local bakeries and ice cream shops may be willing to sell you pasteurized eggs…but that will require you to check around.

So, continue to enjoy your homemade ice cream…but just make some modifications. If you have ever had a case of foodborne illness, you know how sick you can become. Let’s not ruin the party or the ice cream with a case of Salmonella.

Ice Cream Base

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Milk or half-and-half
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups whipping cream

Prepare your ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions. In a large saucepan, combine eggs, 2 cups milk and sugar. Cook over low heat until mixture begins to bubble (stir constantly); cool in refrigerator. Pour cooled mixture into freezer container; add vanilla, cream and additional milk or half-and-half to fill line. (Yield: 1 gallon). Add any of the following variations…

“Very Berry” Ice Cream

1-pound bag of frozen berry medley — raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or blackberries

“Peach Pecan” Ice Cream

2 cups crushed peaches mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans

“Rocky Road” Ice Cream

4 squares semisweet chocolate* melted (add to warm egg/milk custard before cooling)

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

*Variation — may substitute white chocolate

This article was written by Teresa Hunsaker, USU Extension family and consumer sciences educator, Weber County

Sources: Center for Disease Control, Univ. of Minnesota Extension



Porch Plant Primer

Porch Plant Primer

This week we visited KSL’s Studio 5 to give some tips on porch plants. Here’s a list of the plants we showed, plus some bonus tips that didn’t make it into the segment.

Studio 5 porch plantsGetting Started

First things first – consider the sun exposure your pot will get. Do you have a north-facing porch that is shaded all day? Does your front door face west, and get sunshine in the hottest part of the day? What about east-facing, where you get some cool morning sunshine, but shade in the afternoon? Then there’s south facing, which gets moderate sunshine most of the day. Don’t forget to look at the big picture –  you may have a south-facing porch, but it’s covered, or there’s a tree nearby that offers shade.

Once you’ve determined how much sun or shade your porch plants will get, consider what kind of plants you would like. Do you want something perennial that will come back year after year? If this is the case, be sure to select a pot that can withstand Utah’s cold winter weather. Plastic or resin are good choices.

There are a few different options you can go with as far as plant design. One that we’ve discussed here on the blog before is the thrill, fill, spill technique. Alternatively, you could plant all one type of plant, or even a single shrub or small patio tree.


On the Show

Curious what plants we used on the show? Here’s the complete list.


Shade Plants:

Screenshot (10)

  • Coleus
  • Red spike


Sun Plants:

Screenshot (3)

  • African daisy
  • Marigold
  • Million bells
  • Sedge grass
  • Creeping jenny
  • Creeping charlie
  • Sweet potato vine


Filtered Sun Plants:

Screenshot (15)

  • Hellebore
  • Coral bells
  • Ajuga
  • Creeping jenny


Pizza Garden:

pizza garden

  • San Marzano tomato
  • Hot pepper
  • Walla walls onion
  • Italian parsley
  • Oregano
  • Basil


For a salsa garden, use cilantro as the herbs, and a jalapeño pepper. Container gardens that will produce fruit are best for porches that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. 


Trouble Shooting

Can’t seem to keep your porch plants alive? Chances are, the problem is with water—either too much or to little of it. The best way to combat this is by monitoring the moisture in your pots. You can do this by sticking a wooden chopstick down to root level in the pot, and checking to see if it is damp when you pull it out. A foolproof way of doing this is with a digital moisture monitor. West-facing porch plants may actually need water twice a day to stay hydrated, while a shaded pot may not even need daily watering. The only way to know when your plants need water is to check the moisture level.

Using good potting soil will help retain moisture, but you can also find soil additives that will further maximize moisture retention. A new company out of Morgan, Utah, produces a soil additive that is a combination fertilizer and moisture retention product, and it is actually just made of wool! If you use an additive to retain moisture, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have to monitor moisture. The additive is just an extra step you can take to ensure that your plants are hydrated and happy.

Another tip for west-facing porches is to choose light-colored pots. Potted plants are extra vulnerable to hot and cold, because their root systems are more exposed to the elements than if they were planted in the ground. A lighter-colored pot will keep those sensitive roots cooler.

Here’s a trouble shooting tip for all porch plants, sun or shade: remove spent foliage and pests. If the flowers on your plants have bloomed and are headed downhill, remove them! You don’t want the plant to continue putting energy into flowers or leaves that are spent, so just clip them off. And of course, if you notice insects, be sure to remove them to prevent putting your plant into distress. (Distressed plants attract more bugs, and no one wants that).


Find Out More 

We learned all of this information by talking with the experts in our Salt Lake County Extension office. Your local Extension office is a great resource! Find your local office here.

All of our plants and materials used on the show (including the wool soil additive) were generously loaned to us from Millcreek Gardens.

For more gardening information, visit

This article was written by Marta Nielsen, Live Well Utah blog editor,

Hearty Beef, Barley & Lentil Soup Mix

Beef Soup MixMake a few batches of this soup mix for an easy weeknight dinner.



  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef or stew meat
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced celery
  • 1/4 cup dried carrots
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup imitation bacon bits (optional)



Brown meat in a soup pot. Add water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until lentils, barley, and vegetables are tender.

Make it a Mix:

Dry ingredients can be combined and stored in pint jars or ziplock bags to make dinner easy any night of the week.

Add other dried veggies for a more colorful and flavorful mix. My favorite is the red and green bell pepper mix.

This recipe was contributed by Suzanne Prevedel, family and consumer sciences educator for USU Extension in Duchesne County