IL AITC Virtual Teacher Training

Check out all that Illinois Ag in the Classroom has to offer with this line-up of virtual teacher training sessions!

McLean County teachers who complete at least one workshop will receive a FREE book & materials to implement the lessons in their classroom!!

All sessions are FREE and will be conducted via Zoom. Sessions will also be recorded & can be viewed on your own schedule.

Tuesdays from 9:00-10:00 AM

  • June 2: View From the Cab: An Overview of Illinois Ag in the Classroom
  • June 9: Legen-dairy Lessons about Milk and Moo-re
  • June 16: STEM and Leaves: Innovative STEM Lessons with an Ag Connection
  • June 24: Scrambled States of America: Ag-Themed Books for Every State (in conjunction with the National Ag in the Classroom Virtual Summit)
  • June 30: The 3-Legged Stool: Finding Classroom Connections with Ag Sustainability
  • July 7: Plowing Through Our Past: A Look at the History of Ag in Illinois
  • July 14: Don’t Be a Bad Apple: Tasty Apple-Themed Lessons That Pack a Crunch
  • July 21: Give ‘Em Pumpkin to Talk About: Engaging Pumpkin-Themed Texts and Lessons

Special 5-hour Mini-Conference:

  • July 30: The Cultures of Agriculture: Exploring the Diversities of Food and Farming (9:00-noon and 1:00-3:00 with help from Illinois Commodity Groups)

Register Here

Farm Fresh Podcast: Ag in the Classroom

Connecting kids to the farm and helping them understand where food comes from is a major part of the Ag in the Classroom program. Find out about all the activities plus grant opportunities for teachers in this Farm Fresh Podcast featuring Bridget Caldwell, McLean County Ag in the Classroom Coordinator.

For 6-12 grade teachers interested in applying for an Ag Science Grant from McLean County Farm Bureau Foundation, click here.

Listen every week for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC Radio Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Dutch Apple Pie

Dutch Apple Pie

How do you like your apple pie? For me warm & a la mode is the way to go. I think ice cream is especially delicious atop a slice of Dutch Apple Pie, which features a crunchy streusel topping instead of pastry crust.

My mom always bakes this pie inside a brown paper grocery bag – an old fashioned technique that helps steam the filling and keep the top from browning too dark. I’m a little gun shy, however; as the bag could catch fire if it comes into contact with the sides of the oven or one of the elements.

In all the times my mom made this pie growing up, it only happened once. My dad happened to be home at the time and responded to the fire call from the kitchen when the paper bag began to smolder because it was too close to the top element. Mom grabbed the fire extinguisher, but dad said, ‘No, that will ruin the pie!”

Instead he pulled the pie out of the oven with leather gloves, ripped the burning bag off the pie and stomped out the fire with his boots. Yes, he managed to save the pie from becoming a burnt sacrifice…a story he’s still proud to tell many years later.

And it should give you an idea of how delicious this Dutch Apple Pie is, that it would cause my dad (who is also a volunteer fireman) to attempt such heroics.

To avoid such excitement, I just cover the pie with an aluminum pie pan to achieve a similar effect.

Dutch Apple Pie

Ingredients

Single Pie crust – purchased or homemade

Filling:

  • 3-4 large baking apples (about 5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter

Instructions:

To make filling:

  1. Peel and core apples. Cut into bite size chunks.
  2. Stir in sugar, spices, flour and lemon juice until apples are coated. Let sit.

To make topping:

  1. Cut butter into sugar and flour with a pastry blender.
  2. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.

To assemble the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place crust in a 9 inch pie pan.
  3. Pour apple filling into the center.
  4. Sprinkle topping over the topping and press lightly to cover the apples.
  5. Fold edge of crust over and pinch to form fluted edge.
  6. Cover pie with an aluminum pie pan (upside down) and place in the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover for the last 5 minutes.

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What’s Cooking Wednesday: Crockpot Apple Butter

Apple Butter

The math is pretty simple for this recipe: 12 cups of homemade applesauce & 12 hours in a crock pot yields 6 pints of sweet & spicy apple butter. Apple butter makes a tasty topping biscuits, rolls & toast…or if you find it as hard to resist as some people I know, you can eat it all by itself out of a bowl. And as a bonus – making apple butter makes your house smell amazing!

The rich brown color of apple butter comes from a combination of brown sugar, cinnamon & cloves, but part of it is also due to oxidation of the apples. Just like a sliced apple turns brown if it’s exposed to air long enough, the oxygen in the air reacts with the apples as they cook.

Enzymatic browning is not harmful, but discoloration on a fresh apple is somewhat unappealing. Recently some scientists and plant breeders  figured out how to  ‘turn off’ the genes that cause enzymatic browning to create Arctic Apples which will be available in Granny Smith & Golden Delicious varieties initially.

Arctic apples are so new you can’t buy them yet – some growers have planted trees but it will take a few years before they will bear fruit.

Did you know there are more than 7,500 apple varieties in the world? About 100 of those varieties are grown commercially. Check out this handy overview of apple varieties from Modern Farmer for more information.

For this recipe, I would recommend Yellow Delicious, Fuji, MacIntosh or Jonathon apples.

Please note that fresh apple butter (like this recipe) needs to be kept refrigerated or frozen. The only real challenge is making all the applesauce, which should be done the day before. When it comes to cooking the applesauce into apple butter – you pretty much set it & forget it.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups homemade applesauce
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Instructions:

  1. Pour 12 cups applesauce into large crock pot
  2. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook on low uncovered for 12 hours. Stir occasionally (about 4-5 times during the cooking process).
  4. Transfer to jars or containers. Let cool for 10 – 15 minutes then refrigerate uncovered overnight. Cover with lids & freeze or pass it out to friends & neighbors to enjoy.

 

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Baked Butternut Squash

Bakes Butternut Squash

Butternut squash receives much less fanfare than it’s botanical cousin, the preeminent and ever-popular pumpkin. And while pumpkin will like remain king of fall flavors for the foreseeable future, one taste of this baked squash recipe just might cause you to rethink your palate priorities.

My freshman year of college, I took my roommate to my parent’s house for a home-cooked meal and baked butternut squash was on the menu. In my roommate’s words it ‘made her believe in the possibilities of squash,’ a vegetable she had never previously liked.

This recipe for baked squash came from my grandmother and is a perennial fall favorite for my family. The combination of squash, apples, sugar and spices make for a delicious side dish almost good enough to be called dessert and one that pairs particularly well with pork.

One warning: this is one dish that doesn’t taste as good as leftovers, so only make what you plan to have eaten….not that eating all of it should be a problem!

 

Baked Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 -2 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a knife, cut the neck off of the butternut squash. Cut off the top and peel. Cut into slices about 1″ thick. Peel the bottom and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1″ slices/pieces.
  3. Arrange all your slices into a glass baking dish.
  4. Core, peel & slice your apple into rings. Arrange on top of the squash pieces.
  5. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in brown sugar, cinnamon & flour.
  6. Immediately pour the sauce over the apples & squash.
  7. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until squash is fork tender.

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