Many people subscribe to the notion that "everything is better with bacon." Imagine being able to control the quality and flavor of pork products, and knowing just what went into producing delicious bacon?

In an era of growing uncertainty about commercially produced food, many agriculturally inclined people are raising livestock right on their properties, and small-scale pig farms can be a successful venture.

Despite pigs' reputation as dirty animals, the animal resource PetHelpful indicates they are actually one of the cleanest farm animals. Pigs tend to wallow in mud only if they do not have proper shade and a clean, steady water supply to regulate their body temperature. Furthermore, giving pigs plenty of space to roam will enable them to keep dry, clean and cool.

Pens should be large enough so pigs can sleep and eat on one end and use the other end for soiling. Pigs also are intelligent animals that will adapt to routine. This means it may be easier to care for pigs than some other farm animals.

Even though pigs can grow to be quite large, they do not need to live on an expansive farm. Many pigs can live quite well on an acre if their pen and foraging areas are rotated periodically. Data from the past 50 years shows that today's pig farms use less land and other resources to produce one pound of pork, according to the National Pork Board. Therefore, raising pigs can be a sustainable undertaking.

According to Mother Earth News, when selecting pig breeds for a pig farm startup, these are popular as lean-meat producers and shouldn't be hard to find: Yorkshire, Duroc-Jersey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Poland-China, Chester White and Tamworth. Choose sows (females) or barrows (castrated males) for the best-tasting meat. Also, keep in mind that pigs are social animals, and even though the average family will do just fine with one pig's worth of meat, pigs do better if raised in pairs or more.

Pigs need a varied diet to thrive. Diets should include grain, milk, fruits, vegetables, and greens from pasture. Experts suggest novices ask a veterinarian or another pig farmer about feeding. A family garden or bartering with other families nearby for food materials can keep feeding costs minimal.

Many pigs can be butchered by the age of six or seven months. After pigs reach that age, they begin to grow quite large and become a much larger investment of time and money.

Pig farming can be a worthwhile venture. More in-depth information on raising pigs is available at 

To say that COVID-19 transformed daily life would be an understatement. Few, if any, aspects of life were untouched once the virus hit.

One aspect of daily life that changed considerably is the way people shop for food. As recommendations to remain home and out of crowded places spread, many people felt that shopping in bulk, or at the very least, meal-planning and buying necessities for a few weeks at a time, would reduce the number of trips they needed to make to supermarkets or small food stores. In addition, due to shortages on popular foods, many people have purchased items they did not necessarily need in anticipation that such foods may not be available in the coming weeks or months.

Large packages of meat and poultry can be broken down and frozen easily. But what about the fresh produce that many people rely on for important nutrients? Fresh vegetables only last so long, so people need to learn how to safely freeze fresh vegetables to avoid throwing them out. To freeze vegetables properly so they retain their flavor and texture, it is important to freeze them within a few hours of picking them from a garden or taking them home. Certain vegetables can be frozen in their raw state. The texture might change slightly upon thawing, but they will remain flavorful. Other vegetables may require blanching before freezing. Blanching requires scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a brief time. Blanching helps stop the enzymes that cause vegetables to decay, a process that can occur even in frozen storage. Items that do well with blanching include spinach, kale, winter squash, and broccoli, according to

Another way to freeze produce is to remove the air that can compromise the food. You can do so by filling containers or bags and pushing out the extra air. Vacuum sealers can work to remove the air and help preserve items in the freezer longer; otherwise, use a tray pack method to freeze items. Place chilled and drained blanched vegetables in shallow trays or pans. Freeze them until the vegetables are firm and then quickly fill freezer bags or containers, says the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Remember to label and date containers so items can be used in the order in which they were packed. Most vegetables maintain high quality for eight to 12 months at 0°F or lower, according to the University of Georgia.

Freezing fresh vegetables is an option when stocking up on essentials. Flavor and texture can be retained and items will not need to be discarded before they can be eaten. 

Booze vs. Boredom: Half of Iowans say boredom led them to experiment with stronger liquor during the pandemic, reveals survey.

  • 1 in 5 say their alcohol tolerance has increased since the start of lockdown.
  • Half of drinkers say they started making their own cocktails at home during lockdown.
  • Infographic showing results across the country.

Drinking away the boredom… With the closure of many bars across the Amercia during strict lockdown at the start of the pandemic, it appears many drinkers have resorted to making their own “Quarantinis” at home. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the sale of stronger spirits across the country increased by 34.1%, while comparatively, wine sales increased by 30.1% and beer sales went up by 12.6%. With limited opportunities to spend time with loved ones during social distancing, have Americans been drinking the time away?, a provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment resources, surveyed 3,050 adults (aged 21+) across the country and found that nearly half (48%) of Iowans say boredom prompted them to experiment with drinking stronger liquors other than wine and beer since the start of the pandemic. Given the mental and economic stress brought on by the pandemic, it could be that people are turning to stronger spirits. An average bottle of hard liquor – such as vodka, rum or whiskey – has around 40% ABV (alcohol by volume). By comparison, wine has 12% and beer has 5% ABV.

Broken down across the country, this figure was highest in Tennessee with 62% saying boredom prompted them to experiment with stronger alcoholic drinks. Comparatively, Idahoans were least experimental with just 8% abandoning their beers.

View these results across the America with this infographic (Missouri is at 38 percent)

With a higher alcohol content, hard liquors get you drunk faster. Considering one serving size of hard liquor is 1.5 ounces (at 40% ABV), is far more intoxicating than wine (5 ounces at 12% ABV) and beer (12 ounces at 5% ABV), nearly 2 out of 3 (64%) people say they would talk to a friend or family member if they noticed they switched to start drinking stronger liquor.

Additionally, nearly 1 in 5 (17%) people said they have noticed their alcohol tolerance has increased since the start of lockdown. Often after continued alcohol consumption, drinkers can develop a tolerance to its effects, meaning increased amounts are needed to produce the same effect. This could contribute to the development of alcohol dependence, organ damage, ineffectiveness of certain medications and increased risk of alcoholism.

A shot for social distancing: With social distancing measures in place, it is more difficult to make plans to meet up with friends and loved ones. However, it’s easy to take a couple steps to the kitchen and pour a drink to help pass the time. In fact, 1 in 3 respondents admit they reached for an alcoholic drink out of boredom during lockdown. Additionally, nearly a quarter (24%) say spending more time at home this year has relaxed their views on drinking alcohol more often.

Lastly, half (50%) of drinkers said that since they weren’t going to bars during lockdown, they started making their own cocktails at home. This could also have to do with the fact that people may have a bit more time on their hands since working from home and are looking to learn new skills.

“In early addiction recovery, boredom and isolation can become a dangerous situation that significantly increases the likelihood of relapse, so it is not surprising that boredom has inspired experimentation with very strong alcohol,” said Dr. Shahzad Allawala, medical director at Greenhouse Treatment Center and spokesperson for "Stronger alcohol will certainly result in inebriation faster, and is more damaging to physical health including the liver. Additionally, boredom can quickly lead to overindulgence, which can be dangerous. If you suspect that a friend or loved one may be utilizing alcohol of any kind to cope with boredom, or any other aspect resulting from the pandemic, it is imperative to address the issue before the situation becomes far worse.”


USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for eligible certification expenses paid between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020, are due Oct. 31, 2020. “For producers producing food with organic certification, this program helps cover a portion of those certification costs,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “Contact your local FSA county office to learn more about this program and other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help you succeed.”
OCCSP provides cost-share assistance to \ producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA -accredited certifying agent. Eligible expenses for cost-share reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments, and postage.
To learn more about organic certification cost-share, please visit the OCCSP webpage, view the notice of funds available on the Federal Register, or contact the FSA county office at your local USDA Service Center.

These dishes are sure to please everyone at your Memorial Day barbeque this year! 


Sausage Kebabs 



1 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-in. pieces

2 tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper


1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-in. pieces + 1 cup grape tomatoes

8 oz mushrooms, halved + 1 yellow pepper, cut into 1-in. pieces

8 oz fresh pineapple + 4 scallions (both cut into 1-in. pieces)



  • Heat grill to medium-high. Choose a veggie combo. In large bowl, toss sausage and vegetables with oil and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.
  • Thread sausage and vegetables onto skewers and grill, turning occasionally, until sausage is cooked through, 10 to 12 min.


Blue Cheese Slaw



1/2 c. reduced-fat sour cream

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp.  sugar

kosher salt


1 tbsp. fennel seeds

1/2 small red cabbage

1/2 small onion

1 Granny Smith apple

1/2 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 oz. blue cheese




  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir in the fennel seeds (if using).
  • Add the cabbage, onion, and apple and toss to coat. Fold in the parsley and all but 1 tablespoon blue cheese. Sprinkle the remaining blue cheese over the top before serving.


Broccoli Artichoke Dip


4 c. chopped broccoli florets (about 1 lb) 

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp. tarragon

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 c. nonfat Greek yogurt

1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving




Heat the oven to 400˚F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss broccoli and garlic with oil, pinch salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Roast until broccoli is golden brown and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine artichoke hearts, scallions, and shallot.

Add broccoli along with tarragon, cumin, and paprika and mix to combine. Stir in yogurt and Parmesan. Season with pepper to taste and sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Halloween is a day many people, including adults and children, eagerly anticipate. Steeped in tradition, Halloween is a day that's always good for a scare and, of course, some candy.

Many Halloween traditions are rooted in customs from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain marked the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of the cold winter. Celts believed that the boundary between the world of the living and the dead was permeable on the night before the new year, when it was possible for ghosts to return and wreak havoc.

Halloween 2020 will likely feel a little different than it has in years past, as a global pandemic has forced people to limit their interactions with those who live outside their homes. But even if trick-or-treating or other social gatherings are not possible, there are many ways to enjoy the Halloween festivities.

Build a Samhain bonfire

Gather the supplies for a bonfire - albeit on a smaller scale. Light a fire in a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. While ancient Celts burned crops and other things as sacrifices to Celtic deities, your bonfire can be what you make of it. If you want some dramatic effect, the science resource ScienceStruck notes the addition of metal salts can change the color of flames in the fire. For example, iron fillings produce gold sparks and copper sulfate will make green flames. Wear costumes and make s'mores while around the Samhain fire.

Make a witch's brew

Images of witches stirring a bubbling cauldron are ubiquitous on Halloween. Families can create their own Halloween "spells" and mix up a batch of potion over a campfire or on the stove. It can be a favorite soup or stew recipe, or cocktails and mocktails for the kids. Here's a recipe for "Witch's Brew," courtesy of the Food Network® and Sandra Lee.

Pour one 6-ounce package of lime gelatin into a large bowl. Slowly stir in 2 cups boiling water. Stir for at least 2 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in 3 cups chilled pineapple juice. Let cool to room temperature.

Purchase a plastic cauldron from a party supply store and one block of dry ice. Break up the dry ice and place (using tongs or heavy-duty gloves) into the bottom of the cauldron. Pour a little water on top just to cover to get the ice to start "smoking." Place a punch bowl that fits inside the cauldron on top of the dry ice.

Pour the drink mixture in the punch bowl. Slowly add a two-liter bottle of chilled lemon lime soda or ginger ale. If desired, add two cups chilled vodka. Stir gently to mix. Enjoy.

Organize a community

jack-o'-lantern carving contest

Large turnips and potatoes were once reserved as canvases for Halloween jack-o'-lanterns, but pumpkins now are the gourd of choice. Ask neighbors if they would like to participate in the festivities and contribute toward supplies for a Halloween gift basket as a prize. Each household then carves a pumpkin and places it on their doorstep Halloween night. One person can serve as judge and choose the winner. Whoever is chosen gets the basket, which can be filled with treats and trinkets.

Everyone can enjoy some Halloween fun even if they have to stay closer to home this year. 



COLUMBIA, Mo. – How does your garden grow? No grow or slow grow? It could be your H2O. How and when you water your garden often makes the difference between healthy or diseased plants, says University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Tom Fowler. Fowler offers some simple watering tips that can provide a bushel of benefits.

First, water at the right time for the best results. Watering in the morning allows leaves to dry if they get wet. If watered at night, plant foliage stays wet longer. Secondly, do not spray water on leaves. Try to water only in the root zone. Wet leaves create an environment where diseases, especially fungi, thrive. Give your plants’ roots a good soaking. Light, daily watering creates shallow root systems. Long, less frequent watering allows the soil to remain wet 6-8 inches below the surface. Fowler suggests keeping a long screwdriver or similar device near your garden spot. If the screwdriver tip easily penetrates 6 inches or so into the soil, it is watered enough. Drip or trickle irrigation also provides good results in home gardens, Fowler says. Watering by hand allows water to go only where needed. Water during dry spells and during critical plant development stages such as flowering. Most Missouri gardens need about 1-3 inches of water per week. Finally, Fowler recommends soil testing to determine your garden’s nutrient needs. See the MU Extension publication “Steps in Fertilizing Garden Soil: Vegetables and Annual Flowers” at for more information. Fowler shares other gardening basics:

Choose your garden site well. Garden plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Plants prefer morning to early afternoon sunlight. Avoid locating gardens near trees. Tree roots can extend 30 feet or more and take water and nutrients that garden plants need. Walnut and pecan trees produce a chemical that causes wilt in some fruits and vegetables. Gardens should slope to allow proper surface runoff and subsoil drainage. Locate gardens near water sources to avoid carrying water or running long hoses. For more gardening tips, go to MU Extension’s Master Gardener website at or contact your local MU Extension center.

With Spring finally here, and the days getting busier for families, easy dinners are a necessity. Here are a few tried-and-true recipes that are easy crowd pleasers: 

Sheet Pan Fajitas 

⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds chicken tenders, quartered
4 cups sliced bell peppers, any color
1 jalapeno thinly sliced 
1 onion, sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ lime, juiced

Combine vegetable oil, chili powder, oregano, garlic, onion, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken tenders, peppers, jalapeno, and onion; shake to mix
Marinate chicken mixture in the refrigerator, 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Spread chicken mixture onto prepared pan.
Roast in the preheated oven, stirring halfway through, until chicken is no longer pink and bell peppers soften, 15 to 20 minutes.
Sprinkle cilantro and pour lime juice over chicken mixture; toss to distribute.
Serve with warm tortillas, taco shells, or over a bed of salad greens.
Top with sour cream, guacamole, or salsa.


Air Fryer Ranch Chicken Tenders 

2 eggs, beaten
kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste 
1–1½ cups panko crumbs 
2 teaspoons from a dry packet of ranch seasoning
1¼ pounds chicken tenders (about 10–12)
Olive oil spray

Spray the basket of a 3.5-quart air fryer with cooking spray and set the air fryer to 400°F.
In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper, to taste. On a plate, mix the panko crumbs with the ranch seasoning mix. 
Dip each chicken tender into the eggs, then press into the panko, making sure to coat all sides. Spray the tenders with olive oil spray (or other oil spray) on both sides.
In batches (you’ll get 4–6 per basket), cook the chicken tenders for about 6–8 minutes on each side, turning halfway through, until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is crisp and golden.
Serve immediately with ranch dressing, for dipping


Barbecue Beef Cups

¾ pound lean ground beef
½ cup barbeque sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 (12 ounce) package refrigerated biscuit dough
⅓ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease the cups of a muffin pan.
In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, cook beef until evenly brown. Drain excess fat. Stir in barbeque sauce and dried onion. Simmer for a few minutes over low heat.
Flatten each biscuit, and press into cups of the prepared muffin pan. Make sure the dough comes to the top of the pan. Spoon a portion of the meat mixture into each dough cup.
Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 3 more minutes.


Festive Halloween treats can be easily concocted with a little imagination. Crafting a homemade chocolate and candy bark is one way to incorporate many of the candies and other treats synonymous with Halloween in a single delicious bite.

According to Baking Bites, an online source of recipes and cooking advice, chocolate bark is a sheet of chocolate that is usually covered with nuts, dried fruits, candies, or additional pieces of chocolate. Bark, which is an easily prepared homemade dessert, can be broken apart into pieces.

Making bark begins with a favorite melting chocolate. Individuals can use candy-making chocolate that may need to be tempered and poured, or they can melt down chocolate bars and chips. This is best done in a double boiler set over simmering water. Some people have success melting chocolate in a microwave on low until the right consistency is reached.

The chocolate should be spread out on a pan lined with parchment paper or another nonstick surface, such as oiled aluminum foil. While the chocolate is still tacky, add the desired bark ingredients. Come Halloween, cooks can use candy corn, pretzels, raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and even dried cranberries to give the treat a seasonal feel. Of course, the bark can be customized to any flavor profile. Another fun idea is to have gummy worms or other candies sticking out of the bark for a truly 3-D effect.

Some people may choose to use white chocolate or melting candies in different colors (orange and yellow) to add even more appeal to Halloween-theme bark.

Let the bark cool and harden. It can then be lifted off of the pan and broken into pieces.

Some occasions call for a light dish, and such occasions tend be more common in warm weather. Gone are the days of heavy, stick-to-your-ribs meals, and in their places are fresh, light and easy meals.

Salad is more than just lettuce and other greens, and that's notable in this recipe for "Salmon, Asparagus and Orzo Salad With Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette," courtesy of "Dinner's Ready" (Oxmoor House) by the Cooking Light Kitchens.

Salmon, Asparagus and Orzo Salad With Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette

6 servings

6 cups water

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 cup uncooked orzo

1 (11/4-pound) skinless salmon fillet

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/3 cup Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add asparagus; cook 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove asparagus from water with tongs or a slotted spoon, reserving water in a pan. Plunge asparagus into ice water; drain the ice water and set asparagus aside.

3. Return reserved water to a boil. Add orzo, and cook according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

4. While orzo cooks, sprinkle fillet evenly with salt and pepper. Place fish on a foil-lined broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 5 minutes, or to preference. Using 2 forks, break fish into large chunks. Combine fish, orzo, asparagus, onion, and Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.

Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette

Yields 1/3 cup

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

By Edith Walsh
Contributing Writer
What good is a three day weekend if one can barely go outside for fear of turning into an ice sculpture?  We were enjoying such a delightfully mild winter, walking the dogs in a sweatshirt in the middle of January.  Then we lost the Superbowl and all heck broke loose, with the weather at least.  I will not, however, recall January as the month with great weather.  Unfortunately, I will remember it as the month three friends began fighting cancer.  Sometimes life sucks, it is almost always difficult and sometimes our earthly rewards seem to be few and far between.  It is at this point that I reach for my gardening catalogs. 
Faith is believing in the unseen, looking at seeds, and believing in tomatoes, beans, corn.  It's an earthly reward that is available to us all if we have a bit of patience and don't forget to water.  I know I'm tardy with my seed ordering.  Covid has apparently spawned an international interest in gardening and self-sufficiency.  My guess is that Pleasant Hill has always had a fairly high self-sufficiency rating (although not sure how diligent we have been in passing this along to the younger generation).  But we are ordering our seeds from the same catalogs as those city slickers and the seed companies are busy.  They may not have your first choice in stock and the delivery times will be longer - so if you are a procrastinator like me it's time to get moving.  Especially if you like to start seedlings indoors, that process will begin before you know it. 
If you are new to gardening, try to choose plants that are categorized as "easy" and that you know you like to eat.  I don't care to put time and effort into potatoes or carrots, those are always available at the grocery for a decent price and quality.  But really good tomatoes are not only hard to find, but they also won't be cheap.  Sugar snap peas are another example of deliciousness that is impossible to duplicate at the grocery.  Don't be apprehensive about gardening.  The possibilities are endless, just like seeds.  There is no right or wrong, just trial, and error. There is unlimited information on the internet and lots of helpful gardening neighbors to assist you.  Yes, it takes some work on your part, but it doesn't have to be expensive.  I know that veggies grown in my backyard will taste better than those grown in South America.  My veggies may not be as pretty, but I will know what chemicals have been used and that they haven't been sitting in a warehouse losing their nutrients.  So, as I prepare to suit up in 10 layers to venture out with a pickaxe to remove the dog doo from my yard, I remain optimistic.  I am a gardener, spring will come.  For those folks who are battling more than just frigid temperatures, be strong, for 'In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer'.

Rich, creamy, and decadent, cheesecake is enjoyed across the globe. There are many famous cheesecake bakeries in North America, and those who can't resist digging their forks into this beloved dessert may assume that cheesecake traces its origins there. In fact, cheesecake traces its origins to the ancient Greeks.

The first "cheesecake" is believed to have been created from a ricotta-type cheese base on the Greek island of Samos. Excavated cheese molds were found there that dated to around 2,000 B.C. Cheesecake was considered a good source of energy and there is evidence that even Olympic athletes were fed cheesecake during the first games. Greek brides and grooms also were known to rely on cheesecake as their cake of choice for weddings. Original cheesecakes were made from flour, wheat, honey, and cheese, then formed and baked, according to

After the Roman conquest of Greece, cheesecake was adopted by the Romans. Their name for this type of cake was "placenta" and it was baked on a pastry base or sometimes inside of a pastry case, advises What's Cooking America. Cheesecakes also were called "libum" by the Romans, and were used as an offering at the gods' temples. Cheesecakes also were introduced to other areas of Europe thanks to conquering Roman armies. By 1,000 A.D., cheesecake could be found throughout northwestern Europe, England, and Scandinavia.

Through the years, cheesecake's popularity spread elsewhere. However, New Yorkers say that cheesecake was not really cheesecake until it got an Empire State makeover in the 1900s. Many New York restaurants have their own versions of cheesecake, with Turf Restaurant laying claim to the first cream cheese-based cheesecake recipe in 1929. New York dairyman William Lawrence accidentally invented cream cheese in 1872 while trying to recreate a soft, French cheese known as Neufchâtel. Little did Lawrence know that this mistake would inadvertently revolutionize cheesecake recipes.

Cheesecake technically is a pie and not a cake, and there are versions that are baked and others that firm up in the refrigerator without having to cook a custard base. Many cheesecake aficionados have a favorite cheesecake recipe. However, this classic and iconic New York cheesecake, courtesy of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand, is an ideal one to make your own.

New York Cheesecake

11/4 cups graham crumbs

1/4 cup butter, melted

5 packages (250g each) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened

1 cup of sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup sour cream

4 eggs

1 can (19 fl. oz) cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 325 F if using a silver 9-inch springform pan (or to 300 F if using a dark nonstick 9-inch springform pan). Mix crumbs and butter; press firmly onto bottom of the pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake for 1 hour and10 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Run a knife or metal spatula around the rim of the pan to loosen the cake; cool before removing the rim of the pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Top with pie filling before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator. 

SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI, JULY 21, 2020--- A new study from the University of Missouri finds significant growth and economic opportunity in the state’s craft distilling industry. Last year craft distillers brought $567 million in gross sales to the state. With many of the distilleries only a few years old, the growth in the industry is a welcomed surprise. Missouri distilling growth outpaces the national average according to the recent study, thanks to the interdependent relationships that distillers foster among the state’s forestry, agriculture, and tourism industries. Around the world, barrels made from Missouri white oak are the preferred choice for aging high-end spirits. Other raw materials, such as Missouri corn and other grains, sugar cane and fruits are also going into spirits production. “Now we’re using these natural resources right here in Missouri to create our own award-winning spirits,” says Gary Hinegardner of Wood Hat Spirits. And because of these ties, each job in a distillery creates 1.9 ancillary jobs within the state. To support this growing industry, craft distillers have created the Missouri Craft Distillers Guild, a nonprofit organization of over 35 distillers, which educates and advocates for the Missouri distilling industry. Formed in 2018, the Guild sponsored the “Missouri Bourbon” bill establishing a unique category designation. It also launched the Missouri Spirits Expedition, a free and highly interactive self-guided tour of craft distillery tasting rooms and distilleries spanning the state to encourage and promote tourism opportunities.

Prior to the emergence of Covid-19, the Missouri craft distilling industry was expected to double production in 2020. However, the closures of restaurants and bars along with the cancellation of festivals and events, distillery tours, and tastings have hurt the hospitality industry overall, making it hard for new distilleries to connect with new customers.

Notwithstanding these hardships created by Covid-19, distilleries found themselves in a unique position to help their communities at the onset of the pandemic. Emergency action from state and federal governments through the Food & Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and the Bureau of Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau allowed distillers to make hand sanitizer to meet local need during a national shortage.

Many Missouri distilleries started to use their equipment and professional knowledge of how to safely work with dangerous high-proof alcohol to make hand sanitizer. “We were just so happy that we could help out,” explains Nick Colombo, a Founding Member of Switchgrass Spirits, a new distillery in Saint Louis. Owner of Kansas City’s J.Rieger & Co’s, Andy Rieger adds, “we immediately pivoted all of our efforts to focus on getting hand sanitizer to those who needed it.”​ Across Missouri in cities, small towns, and farms, many distillers halted normal production and pivoted to production of hand sanitizer to meet the high demand coming from first responders and front line service personnel including transportation workers, post offices, banks, and grocery stores.

Tara Steffens from Pinckney Bend in New Haven , MO speaks for many local distillers when she says, “Now, more than ever, we appreciate your interest in our beloved spirits producers here in Missouri. When it is safe, we can’t wait to see you in our tasting rooms, on tours, and sharing Missouri spirits with your friends.”

Despite providing assistance within communities during the pandemic, Missouri’s craft distilleries face an uncertain future due to restrictive and unclear regulations. While beer and wine makers can ship products directly to customers in Missouri, statutes regulating in-state shipment of spirits are ambiguous and fail to offer Missouri distilleries the same opportunities for online sales and delivery to customers. Other states, like Virginia, are modernizing their laws now for online sales to meet the new COVID-19 business realities.

An additional hurdle unique to Missouri distillers is their licensing and taxing. Distillers pay three times more for permits each year in Missouri compared to beer and wine makers. They must also pay $2/gallon in excise tax compared to $0.46/gallon for wine and $0.06 for beer. In order for craft distilling to reach its full potential as a thriving industry in Missouri, the state must address the barriers to growth found in its regulations regarding liquor, most of which date back to the Prohibition era. As a united group, the Missouri craft distillers will continue to support their community with jobs, create award winning spirits, and advocate for changes that will help this rising Missouri industry.

To learn more about the Missouri craft distilling industry:
 The Economic Impact of Missouri’s Distillers - 2019 . This research brief was made possible by a grant from the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority. Contributors to information in this brief include Missouri Craft Distillers Guild, VisitKC, Independent Stave, Missouri Corn Growers Association, the Missouri Forest Products Association, and the University of Missouri.
 Missouri Craft Distillers Guild
 Missouri Spirits Expedition
 Missouri Bourbon Bill:

On January 9th, the Missouri Cattle Industry Convention was held at Osage Beach, Missouri, had its 53rd annual trade show and these are the top three winners for Missouri Beef Queen, all were from our congressional district. El Dorado Springs' Avery Schiereck was crowned the 2021 Beef Queen, with Krayson Leonard (El Dorado Springs) and Shaye Siegel (California, Missouri) crowned first and second runner-up, respectively.

"I am so proud of these young ladies for competing and promoting agriculture. Agriculture is an important industry for our state and Missouri ranks second in the nation in cow-calf operations. I am happy to see so many young people from our district participate in this endeavor and wish them well as they promote beef and educate others about beef production." said Vicky Hartzler

Hartzler also said, "Events and traditions such as these which showcase our remarkable youth make me truly honored to represent Missouri’s Fourth District."

Avery Schiereck from El Dorado Springs, Missouri, was crowned the 2021 Missouri Beef Queen at the 53rd Annual Missouri Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. Schiereck represented the Cedar County Cattlemen's Association and is the daughter of Jarod and Amanda Schiereck and she received a $1,000 scholarship.   

Representing St. Clair County Cattlemen's Association was Winning first runner-up was Krayson Leonard and she received a $500 scholarship. Representing Cooper County Cattlemen's Association, was second runner-up Shaye Siegel and she received a $250 scholarship. Last, representing Franklin County Cattlemen's Association was Lillian Gildehaus who won third runner-up. 

All contestants gave a speech on the beef industry topic and were interviewed by a panel of judges. The Missouri Beef Queen will be representing the Missouri beef industry at livestock shows, conferences, and events in 2021.   




Autumn evokes all types of cozy images. There are the chilly evenings spent around the fire pit outdoors or nights spent by the fireplace sipping warmed cider. Afternoons strolling through crunchy leaves or seeking out the perfect apples in the orchard also make autumn a special time of year.

Comfort foods are popular in fall, and many people have the tried-and-true recipes that they prepare when temperatures start to dip. Perhaps no fall meal is as coveted and enjoyed as beef stew.

Simmered for hours, stew meats fall apart, and soft potatoes and carrots perfectly complement the rich beef. This recipe for "Harvest Beef Stew" from "Crock-Pot® 365 Year-Round Recipes" (Publications International, Ltd.) from Crock Pot® Kitchens is a make-ahead-then-forget recipe that promises all of the flavors that make beef stew so delicious. Serve it with a fresh-baked loaf of crusty bread to soak up the mouth-watering sauce.

Harvest Beef Stew

Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

11/2 pounds beef for stew

1 quart canned or stewed tomatoes, undrained

6 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium onion, sliced

1 cup apple juice

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 teaspoons salt

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (optional)

1/2 cup warm water (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Brown stew meat on all sides. Drain excess fat.

Placed browned meat and remaining ingredients except flour and water in Crock-Pot® slow cooker. Mix well. Cover; cook on high 6 to 7 hours.

Before serving, thicken gravy, if desired. Combine flour and warm water in small bowl, stirring well until all lumps are gone. Add mixture to liquid in Crock-Pot slow cooker; mix well. Cook 10 to 20 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving.

This is a how-to article, for anyone who has not had success in the past with tomatoes.  


First, prep your area, whether it is a raised bed, in-ground garden, or a planter. You want loose, well-drained soil, with plenty of added compost or other amendments to help fertilize your plant. Then dig a hole down far enough that your tomato plant can be buried up to its first set of leaves. If you have a large plant, break those leaves off and plant up to the next set of leaves. The reason for this is because tomato plants will produce roots along their entire stem length if allowed, and the more roots a plant has, the more nutrients it can get, and therefore it can thrive. 

Gently tip your plant over and slide it out of the pot, avoiding squeezing the stem at all. Then place it in the hole gently, making sure that the leaves are just at soil level, and add some extra compost around it before filling in the hole. 

Gently fill the hole back in, tamping it down every so often, and if you did it right, your big tomato plant will look teeny weeny. (This is a good thing!) Next, just water it in thoroughly, and really give it a good drench, and give it another inch of water every day for the following week. Then back off to every other day, and you will have happy healthy tomato plants! 


First, prep your area, whether it is a raised bed, in-ground garden, or a planter. You want loose, well-drained soil, with plenty of added compost or other amendments to help fertilize your plant. Then dig a trench, as long as your tomato plant is tall, and just deep enough to cover the plant by about an inch. The reason for this is because tomato plants will produce roots along their entire stem length if allowed, and the more roots a plant has, the more nutrients it can get, and therefore it can thrive.

Gently tip your plant over and slide it out of the pot, avoiding squeezing the stem at all. Then place it in the trench gently, making sure that the top of the plant is tilted just slightly towards the sun, just at soil level, and add some extra compost around it before filling in the trench.

Water it in thoroughly, give a good drench and keep watering daily, about an inch a day for the first week. Then back off to every other day, and your plants will be thriving!

For more great articles check out

Orange Hat Dwarf Tomato


No one is immune to the occasional bad mood. Whether it's the weather, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, or another variable, various factors can have an adverse affect on a person's mood.

Food is one factor that can have a positive effect on mood. Certain foods have been found to positively affect mood, so incorporating them into your diet may help you stay positive even on those days when you get up on the wrong side of the bed.

· Fatty fish: A study from British researchers published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that a daily dose of an omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, helped patients with depression significantly reduce their feelings of sadness and pessimism. Hackensack Meridian Health notes that salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, trout, and anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

· Nuts and seeds: The minerals selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc have all been linked to mental health, and nuts are rich in each of those minerals. Hackensack Meridian Health notes that almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and peanuts are particularly good sources of the immune system-boosting minerals zinc and magnesium.

· Dark, leafy greens: Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards are rich in iron and magnesium, both of which can increase serotonin levels and help reduce feelings of anxiety. Dark, leafy greens also help the body fight inflammation, which can have a positive effect on mood. A 2015 study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that brain inflammation contributed to certain behaviors, including low mood, that appear during major depressive episodes.

· Dark chocolate: Chocolate lovers may be happy to learn that dark chocolate can improve mood. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that dark chocolate helped to reduce levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to stress. Hackensack Meridian Health notes that, when consumed in moderation, dark chocolate made of at least 70 percent cocoa can help people relax.

Various foods can have a beneficial effect on mood, potentially helping people to stay positive when doing so proves challenging. 

A community feasts and celebrates their harvest and enjoys a night to remember to fundraise for the food pantry and Meals on Wheels. There was live music, cocktail and appetizer hour, and Dan Bucher from the Creamery made prime rib and local favorite GIGI who used to own Grits and Grace Cafe in Pleasant Hill made her famous desserts.  There was a bounty of food and then some to go around as community gardeners gathered to celebrate their harvest.

Megan Klotz said, “I still can’t get over how fantastic our first ever Community Garden Farm to Table dinner went Saturday night. The food, music, and atmosphere were excellent! I can’t wait for us to host this event again next year. For those who missed this year’s dinner, I truly hope you come out next year as it does not disappoint! This was a fundraiser dinner to help further support our garden to continue to feed our garden members, local food pantry, and Lay Clergy.”

As the attendees walked in the door, they were met beautifully set tables with white tables clothes and a chandelier made from tomato cage and flowers from the garden hanging from the ceiling.

It all started with a dream. A dream to collaborate with others in a community in the art and science of growing food and bringing people in the community together.

Starting in the Spring of 2019, the Pleasant Hill Community Garden was organized by a Community Garden Committee. “There have been countless hours spent by many to plan and implement the Pleasant Hill Community Garden”, according to the website.

This community garden is located at the corner of Myrtle and Lexington and the type of garden that is being grown is called a Group Production Garden which is when individuals come together to share the tasks of growing food that will be distributed among the fellow member gardeners. Food that is not used by the gardeners is donated to the Pleasant Hill Food Pantry. No food is canned or stored but used immediately or donated to the community.

The garden is a half an acre large and divided into zones with teams with leaders. These teams care for their zones and all the fruits of the labor are shared.

Along with food, the gardeners also grow flowers and herbs.

More information can be found about the community garden at under the recreation programs link.

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