Our Saline County 4-H Pinterest Holiday Workshop is back by popular demand.
Youth, ages 8-18, are invited to join us from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Saline County Extension office for our Pinterest Holiday Workshop. 4-H members are encouraged to invite friends to participate with them so they can see what fun 4-H can be.
We plan to make a few fun Christmas crafts and a yummy Christmas treat, too. The group is limited to 20 participants due to room size, so call me or Melissa at (618) 252-8391 by Nov. 30 to reserve your spot. There is a $5 participation fee, which helps with supply costs.
We can't wait to see you there!
Everyone loves them! We smash them from catapults, carve intricate designs into their flesh and tell stories about them in folklore. Cinderella even rode in one, and Peter-Peter Pumpkin Eater put his wife into one, but that's a whole other story. It's pumpkin season.
We see them heaped into huge boxes at the grocery store, piled into wagons at roadside stands and growing in the fields as we drive along our country roads. Illinois is pumpkin country. In fact, we raise more pumpkins than any other state. Yes, here where corn is king, the lowly pumpkin would surely be a prince!
Pumpkins make beautiful decorations, but their beauty is more than skin deep. Pumpkins are super food -- low calorie and packed with nutrition. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 49 calories and is a major source of an important antioxidant, beta-carotene, which is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body.
Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offer protection against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.
Wow! If that isn't enough to make you want to try it, then consider how versatile it is. Way beyond pumpkin pie, the pulp of this fleshy squash can be used in sloppy joes and savory soups, dried for fruit leather and cut into chunks and roasted. If you don't want to scoop out the stringy seeds and cut up the shell, simply buy canned pumpkin. It is just as healthy. And, chances are, it came from Illinois; in fact, Morton is the pumpkin capital of the world (http://www.pumpkincapital.com/).
Impress your friends with these fun facts:
• The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over 5 feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar and 12 dozen eggs. And it took six hours to bake.
• Pumpkins are members of the vine crops family called cucurbits.
• Pumpkins originated in Central America.
• In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
• Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
Find recipes and more information at http://extension.illinois.edu/pumpkins/facts.cfm.
The University of Illinois Extension office in Harrisburg will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23 and 24, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The office will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 27.
• Nancy Lambert is the Saline County 4-H program coordinator.