As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Feeding America estimates that more than 50 million people (including 17 million children) live in food-insecure households in the United States. Do you want to find ways to maximize the availability and access to food in communities like yours? Join the Purple Plow H2 Grow Challenge this spring.
What is Purple Plow?
Purple Plow is a special project created by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. It’s meant to encourage students to learn more about food production as well as hunger and sustainability by building their own prototypes to solve specific problems.
Who can enter?
All Purple Plow challenges are open to individuals or teams in grades five through 12. Students can participate as part of an in-school or homeschool assignment, or take on the project with an after-school club, Scout troop, or other groups.
What’s the challenge?
The H2 Grow Challenge invites students to design, build and maintain a sustainable food production system that combines raising fish and growing edible plants. Known as aquaponics, this integrated system should use the waste from the aquatic environment to provide the plants with essential nutrients. It should also maximize food production in the allotted space while ensuring healthy environments for plant and aquatic animal life.
How do you win?
In order to successfully complete the challenge, students must:
• Create and maintain environments that are suitable for plant and aquatic animal life
• Harvest a plant-based food source within 90 days or show the progress of plant growth within a specified timeframe
• Produce a presentation about what they learned and post it on social media
Entries must be submitted to the Purple Plow website by 11:59 p.m. EST on July 31, 2021.
A note for educators
You can find detailed instructions for the challenge, including lesson plans, suggested materials and timeline, a rubric and a student guide with reflection questions online at purpleplow.org/challenges/h2grow-challenge.
Milkshake with local strawberries
It’s strawberry season! Enjoy these sweet berries by the handful, in jams, jellies, and pies, or whip them up with milk.
• 7 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups vanilla ice cream
• 1/2 cup milk
1. In a bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, and vanilla. Let stand to macerate for one hour.
2. Pour the macerated strawberries into a food processor, saving a few for garnish. Add the ice cream and milk. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency.
3. Pour into pretty glasses and garnish with strawberry slices.
This summer, cool down with a cocktail
This summer, enjoy lounging on a restaurant patio or in your own backyard with one of the following delicious cocktails in hand.
• Hard lemonade. Lemonade is a hot-weather staple. Jazz it up with some bourbon served neat or on the rocks. If you want some fizz, try a sparkling vodka lemonade.
• Irish ice. This simple cocktail has only two ingredients: Irish cream and ice cream. Smooth, creamy, and ice-cold, this treat is perfect on a hot day.
• Sangria. Whether made with white or red wine, sangria is everything you want in a festive summer cocktail. If you’re making it yourself, shake things up by using different types of fruit or another wine like sparkling or rosé.
• Daiquiri. Put your own unique spin on this classic cocktail. There are endless flavor variations — from strawberry and lime to lemon to pear.
• Mimosa. This low-calorie cocktail is a brunch must-have. In addition to the traditional mix of orange juice and champagne or sparkling wine, indulge in an updated version with strawberries, watermelon, and mint.
Cheers to summer!
Make the classic Reuben sandwich at home
The sweetness of corned beef paired with the salty sourness of sauerkraut, nutty Swiss cheese and tangy Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing, all on earthy slices of rye bread.
The messy, glorious Reuben is a classic American sandwich for a reason: It’s incredibly delicious. And with just a few very common ingredients, it’s easy to prepare at home. Make just one for yourself or whip up a pile of them for family or guests — either one won’t take much time. This recipe makes four sandwiches, but scales up or down easily.
8 slices good-quality rye bread
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 c. Russian dressing (or you can use prepared Thousand Island dressing)
8 slices Swiss cheese
3/4 pound corned beef
1 c. sauerkraut, drained
For the Russian dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
First, prepare the Russian dressing (if desired). Whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire, sugar, and paprika until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Next, butter each slice of bread on one side. Spread Russian dressing on the unbuttered sides of each slice. Top four slices with cheese, corned beef, and sauerkraut, then top each sandwich with the remaining slices, dressing side down. Place sandwiches in a skillet over medium heat and grill until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted — two to three minutes per side.
25 foods you should always have on hand
Here are 25 food staples you should always keep in your kitchen.
In the fridge
4. Condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise
6. Deli meat
In the freezer
8. Vegetables like peas and corn
9. Boneless chicken
10. Fish fillets like cod, salmon, and sole
11. Ground meat like pork, beef, and turkey
12. Pre-cooked seafood like crab, pollock, and shrimp
14. Sliced bread
In the pantry
15. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
16. Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
17. Canned tuna
18. Pasta like macaroni, penne and spaghetti
19. Rice like brown, basmati, and jasmine
20. Condensed soups like tomato, celery, and mushroom
21. Canned tomatoes
Visit your local grocery store to find everything you need to prepare delicious meals.
5 tips for making mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes pair well with a variety of other foods. Here are five tips for making this side dish great every time.
1. Use the right potatoes
You can use any kind of potato to make mashed potatoes. However, Idaho®, russet, and Yukon gold potatoes are ideal for mashing because they provide superior texture and taste.
2. Adjust the cooking time
Boil your potatoes in a pot of heavily salted water. You can peel them or leave the skin on. The potatoes are ready once you can easily poke through them with a fork. Peeled and cut potatoes cook faster. However, they absorb more water, which can affect their texture.
3. Add butter immediately
Coat your potatoes in butter before mashing them. This will help lock in the starch and give your mashed potatoes a silky texture.
4. Don’t over mash them
For an even texture, use a potato masher with small holes. However, make sure you don’t over-mash your potatoes. This can make them gummy and unappetizing.
5. Add milk at the end
Adding milk helps prevent your potatoes from becoming gluey. If you want, you can heat up the milk in the microwave to prevent your mashed potatoes from cooling down too quickly. If you want to make this side dish more decadent, swap the milk for cooking cream.
5 clever cooking tips
Whether you’re new to cooking or have been whipping up gourmet dishes for years, there’s always more you can learn. Here are five tips to level up your cooking game.
1. Don’t overcrowd the pan
Food releases moisture as it cooks. Therefore, if you overcrowd your pan, the food will steam instead of sear. This will leave you with mushy, dry, and unappetizing food.
2. Taste as you cook
It’s a good idea to taste your food while you cook. This will help ensure the dish is cooked properly and isn’t over or under-seasoned.
3. Preheat your pan
Always let your pan heat up for a few minutes before cooking. Carefully hover your hand over the pan to feel when it’s hot. If you’re using butter, simply wait for it to melt.
4. Don’t add oil to your pasta water
Putting oil in your pasta water prevents the sauce from sticking to the noodles. Instead, drizzle your cooked pasta with a bit of olive oil.
5. Read through the entire recipe
Making sure you understand the recipe you want to use will help you manage your time wisely so that the entire dish comes together at the right time.
To get the cooking supplies and ingredients you need, visit your local stores.