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Feeding our Fine Feathered Friends

This is a great activity for kids during these never-ending days of winter. This post first appeared on the HomeFamily blog in January, 2012.

By Nancy Schneider, Professional Home Economist

Winter is well upon us; the ground is covered with snow, what a great time to see whom you can invite to your yard. For many of us living in the city our chances to interact with nature decrease when winter arrives. There are many ways to encourage birds to visit your yard, offering great learning opportunities and hours of entertainment.

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How to Zest, Juice and Freeze Lemons and Limes

By: Getty Stewart, PHEc, B.Ed., Author of Prairie Fruit Cookbook and www.GettyStewart.com

January to April is citrus season. The produce aisle is filled with fresh citrus fruit including limes, lemons, tangerines, clementines, Cara Cara oranges, Moro blood oranges, navel oranges, grapefruit and Honey Pomelo just to name a few. Not familiar with some of these varieties? Learn more in this article on 5 Varieties of Citrus.

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Not only will you find the freshest and juiciest citrus fruit this time of year, but you’ll also benefit from great prices. Bags of limes, lemons and oranges are great bargains. Store them properly and they’ll last for several weeks, giving you plenty of time to make your favorite recipes or preserve them for later use.

When it comes to limes and lemons, I like to freeze the zest and the juice for use when fresh citrus is harder to come by. Here are my techniques for zesting, juicing and freezing lemons and limes.

How to Zest, Juice and Freeze Lemons and Limes

1. Wash and scrub the outside of the citrus fruit very well.

2. Remove the zest (leaving the white, bitter pith behind) with a lemon zester or a microplane. A zester (shown with the lemon) will give you long thin strands while a microplane (shown with the lime) will give you small bits of zest.

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  3. Place zest in a small container or bag, label and freeze. Use in place of fresh zest called for in any recipe.

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4. Cut the citrus in half and squeeze out the juice using your favorite juicing tool. For tips on getting the most juice out of citrus read 4 Tips to Get More Juice from Citrus.

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5. Pour juice into ice cube tray and freeze.  Once cubes are frozen store in a well-sealed freezer bag or container. One cube is equivalent to about 1 Tablespoon.

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Can you freeze Whole Lemons and Limes?

Frozen whole lemons and limes are soft and mushy, being suitable only for juicing. But if you’re in a pinch, it can be done.

A better option would be to quarter or slice the lemons and limes (or other citrus) before freezing. Cut to desired shape and size, lay out on a baking sheet and freeze individual pieces. Once they are frozen, you can seal them in a freezer container and take out however many you need at a time. These frozen segments can be added to beverages such as fruit punch while still frozen. This option works well if you have leftover lemon or lime slices after hosting an event.

The Center for National Home Food Preservation also has recommendations for freezing citrus fruit segments in a simple syrup solution.

How to Use Frozen Zest and Juice?

Using frozen lemon or lime juice and zest is easy. Simply use as much frozen zest or juice as you would fresh in any recipe.

I like using a frozen lemon juice cube with honey ginger to soothe sore throats and frozen lime cubes in homemade guacamole. Both the frozen zest and juice work well in these Luscious Lime Bars.

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Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener. For more articles, recipes and tips on Making Home Cooking Easy and Enjoyable visit her blog at www.gettystewart.com.

Funding for this article provided by the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.

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If you’re happy and you know it – Special Chair

by Nancy Schneider, PHEc, M.Sc., C.I.M.

It’s wonderful to watch the joy and excitement of a young child who discovers or accomplishes something new. As we grow, we hide our enthusiasm and joy over our accomplishments. However, no matter what our age, we all enjoy being recognized and appreciated. As a family, it is important to recognize all members’ contributions and accomplishments. Here is a simple way you can incorporate recognition into your daily lives.

The Special Chair. Find a way to designate a chair as “the special” chair. This might be a special bow that gets placed on the chair, or perhaps some balloons tied onto the chair. Or maybe you can sew a slip cover for the chair. Not a sewer? No problem, just use a pillow case.

You might be fortunate enough to find a pillow case that will actually fit over the chair but if not there is a simple solution. Cut some holes on each side of the pillow case about 1.5 inches from the edge. Then, cut the sides of the pillow case almost to the top.   Now you can slip the pillow case over and then “tie” it onto the chair. You can use ribbon, string, or yarn to lace through the holes. Make sure the pillow case is on the chair then, tighten each side and tie a bow at the end to hold the case in place.

The ties will add some decoration to the pillowcase, but you can certainly do more to make it the “special chair”. You may have been luck and found a pillow case that had a print that makes the chair look special. But if not here is our chance to get the kids involved. Simply use whatever you have handy to decorate the case. You may want to do one or both sides, just keep in mind that someone will be sitting with their back against one side.

You can use fabric paint, stickers, glue, stencils, markers and whatever else you have on hand. Perhaps you want to have multiple cases (especially if you have multiple children). So each child can decorate a pillow case. When their case is used on the chair they will know they are the special person!

Sometimes families want to recognize someone as special, but won’t be sitting down together. A quick and easy way to let someone know you appreciate them and recognize what they have done is to use cards. You can use actual blank cards, or buy blank business card sheets. Then let everyone create their own notes. The small size will allow you to slip these into lunch bags, briefcases, purses or even pockets! A great surprise to find throughout the day.

Whatever method you choose will help to bring your family closer together and more aware of each person’s accomplishments.

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Nancy is a Professional Home Economist and has been employed by the University of Manitoba for over 27 years.  She has held management, administrative, and instructional appointments.  Her educational background includes child development, communication, human resources, and management.  She has experience working with pre-schoolers and their families, university students, as well as adult learners.

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