Finney County Extension agents

The holidays are here, and with the festivities comes lots of food to enjoy. Here's some interesting research findings on holiday eating:

* Each guest adds 35 calories to your own food intake.

* Enjoy holiday music? Those festive tunes can add 100 calories to your food intake.

* It's game time! Eating during the game adds another 140 calories. Needless to say, it all adds up. And skipping meals prior to the big feast will only make you eat more.

So try these tricks to minimize overeating:

* Slow down! Put your fork down between bites.

* Nibble on holiday treats along with low-calorie foods.

* Don't feel obligated to eat every food. Save room for the special treats and avoid the mundane foods.

* Planning the menu? Fill half of the menu with low-calorie fruit and vegetables dishes.

* After eating, go take a walk! That will help burn off those extra bites.

(Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, November 2013.)

Buffalo Wings

A staple of many restaurant menus today, the Buffalo Wing snack food is a relatively new concept. In the Southern states, deep-fried chicken wings have been a staple for years. The idea of making them hot wings began in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y.

The owner of the Anchor Bar took leftover wings, coated them in hot sauce as a quick and easy snack for her son and friends. She served them with celery and bleu cheese dipping sauce. At that moment, "Buffalo Wings" were born and have been a party appetizer favorite ever since.

Super Bowl parties typically feature Buffalo Wings. The National Chicken Council estimates more than 25 billion wing portions were sold in 2012.

(Source: Kansas State Extension — You Ask For It.)

Any questions or concerns, contact LĂ©hisa de Fornoza, Finney County Extension agent, family and consumer sciences, at 272-3670 or

Holiday baking

Creating memories can add to the holiday fun. Children helping with holiday baking and cooking projects can be good family time.

Here are some ideas to make the holiday baking experience fun and safe for everyone:

* Set a time when everyone is rested.

* Make sure everyone starts with clean hands.

* Let children help choose recipes — either family holiday favorites or something new to start a tradition.

* Gather all of the equipment and ingredients needed.

* Make sure the task for each child is appropriate for their age and skills.

* Counting measures of flour can get the smallest child involved.

* Have paper towels and cloths or sponges ready to wipe up spills.

* Clean a little as you go, to save a large clean-up job at the end.

* Supervise use of knives and oven carefully.

* When decorating cookies, have lots of supplies and let creativity and imagination go free.

* Don't get upset if the end product isn't exactly like you might have made.

Remember, the important thing is for the family to spend holiday time together.

(Source: University of Illinois Extension.)

Holiday cookies

Holiday cookies can dress up any party. Here are some tips for misbehaving cookies.

* Too dense: Reduce flour by 15 percent; could be old leavening.

* Too puffy: Too little sugar or flour; use butter instead of shortening; dough is cold.

* Too crumbly: Needs more gluten from a higher protein flour.

* Too thin: Too much fat or sugar. Try shortening instead of butter. Replace some white sugar with brown sugar.

* Too thick: Too much flour or not enough sugar. Reduce flour by 15 percent. Replace some brown sugar with some white sugar.

* Too chewy: Too little fat; too little white sugar; or too much gluten. Replace some all-purpose flour with cake flour. Add 10 percent more butter.

Other tips include:

* Not over-mixing the dough. This develops gluten, making cookies tough.

* Space drop cookies about two inches apart for even baking.

* Check oven temperature for optimum results.

* Cool cookies completely before storing.

(Source: Fine Cooking, December 2013/January 2014.)

For 4-H inquiries and questions, please contact Barbara Addison, 4-H youth development agent, at 272-3670 or

Gift suggestions for gardeners

Do you have a gardener on your gift list and have no idea what to get? Here are some suggestions you can consider:

* Belt-mount holster for pruning shears. Or a clip-on "pocket" to hold a cell phone.

* Lighting system to help houseplants thrive during winter or to get seedlings started before spring. It can be as small as one fluorescent light or as large as a lighted, multiple-shelf unit.

* Ergonomic hand tools — trowel, dandelion digger, etc. — which now are sold per piece, in sets or as tool heads with one attachable hand grip.

* Gift certificate for a load of quality compost, manure or organic mulch.

* Good magnifier to help in scouting for tiny insects.

* Specialized gear, such as rubberized gloves rated for use around strong pesticides; tough, long-cuffed gloves for working with roses and other thorny plants; the new "bionic" gardening gloves that apparently provide needed support and "grip" while cutting down on calluses and hand fatigue.

* Tool sharpener or a serrated gardening knife.

* One of the many garden-related kits now available. They range widely and can include the materials for making or getting started with a windowsill herb garden, terrarium, personalized stepping stones, earthworm farm, mushroom "garden," temporary or permanent greenhouse, window box, microwave flower press, houseplant "tea," forced bulbs, garden labels, indoor topiary or birdhouse.

* A "relief" kit that includes, for example, sunblock, insect repellent, itch reliever, heavy-duty hand soap, Epsom salts, intensive-care lotion and sore-muscle ointment.

Master Gardener

Master Gardener training will be in Liberal at the Seward County Extension office. Training begins on Feb. 5 and continues for eight sessions every Wednesday through March 26.

The Extension Master Gardener Program is an educational volunteer training program sponsored by K-State Research and Extension. Through this program, individuals are trained and certified in horticulture and related areas. These individuals, in turn, volunteer their expertise and services to help others through horticulture projects that benefit the community.

Once trained, Extension Master Gardeners provide research-based information to the public on many topics, including water conservation, yard waste management, regional plant adaptability and the environment. The Master Gardeners work with their local Extension staff to develop educational programs that meet the horticultural needs of their local citizens. Examples include community landscape beautification projects, school classroom projects and demonstration gardens.

Master Gardeners volunteers are:

* Motivated to share their knowledge and expertise.

* Accessible to other Master Gardeners, horticulture and Extension professionals and the public.

* Service-oriented to enhance their communities and the environment.

* Trained by Cooperative Extension in current horticultural practices.

* Excited about meeting other people who enjoy gardening.

* Research ambassadors who provide cutting-edge horticultural information to consumers.

Anyone with an interest in horticulture can apply. If you are interested, application forms are available at the Finney County Extension Office. An enrollment fee of $80 covers the cost of all educational materials.

If you have any questions about Master Gardener training or any other concerns, contact David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, at 272-3670 or