Author: UConn Extension

Halloween’s Mascot

Common Garden Spider (Argiope urantica) Note the zig-zag web Photo by Susan Gannon

It lives in dark places. It is creepy. It causes some people to scream and run away. It has bulging eyes and eight legs. It’s a spider!

Spiders have long been associated with all the scary images of Halloween, including white filmy webs that can trap insects and even people who wander through them. How spiders came to be associated with Halloween is based in medieval folklore when festivals noted the change of seasons from summer to autumn and winter. The colors of orange and black also represent this change with orange reflecting the color change in the leaves and black forecasting the increased darkness with winter’s arrival and foliage death of the harvested plants.

Folklore also suggested that the power of witches was at its height during this time of year. Black bats and rats, as well as spiders, were considered companions of witches since they were all generally found in caves, dungeons and other dark, scary places. Spiders were especially associated with witches because of their magical powers to spin webs that could trap victims.  It didn’t help the arachnid’s reputation when movies including Tarantula (1955), Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) starring William Shatner, and Walt Disney Studios Arachnophobia (1990) cemented spiders in the world of the creepy and dangerous. Despite EB White’s attempt to demystify spiders in his award-winning children’s book Charlotte’s Web, spiders continue to instill fear in some people.

But spiders don’t deserve a bad reputation since they are as varied in their habits and characteristics as other living groups. Spiders are not insects but belong to a class known as arachnids that also includes scorpions, mites, ticks and others. Features common to most spiders include two body parts connected at a thin waist, eight legs, fangs, two to eight eyes, and no wings or antennae. All spiders are predators but they don’t eat other living animals, and some eat plants. In the US, only three groups of spiders are poisonous and only two are found in Connecticut. The northern black widow, a native, and the brown recluse, a non-native that arrives in produce and containers from other regions, both avoid interaction with people and will bite only if threatened. If bitten, victims should seek immediate medical help.

As temperatures drop and seasons change many spiders, but not all, will seek out new places to call home. Often this is inside houses where warm temperatures provide sources of water, shelter and food, such as other insects and pests. Spiders are found everywhere except in the ocean and on Antarctica.

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Meet Kim Bradley, our CT Trail Census Coordinator

Kim Bradley recently joined UConn Extension as the project coordinator for the Connecticut Trail Census. Welcome, Kim!

Kim Bradley and a canine companion on the trailKimberly Bradley is dedicated and passionate about engaging individuals and communities in outdoor activities and connecting them to our public lands and educating others to maintain resilient ecological systems. Her involvement in the conservation and trails communities includes serving on the Board of Directors as President and Stewardship Chair for Avalonia Land Conservancy; as a member of the Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Watershed Coordination Committee, supporting the Outreach and Education and Goodwin Trail Coordination Subcommittees; serving as president of the SECT Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, and on Regional Board of Directors; serving on the Town of Salem Inland Wetland and Conservation Commission; and supporting the Connecticut Envirothon Program, as the previous Aquatics Chairperson and Steering Committee Member.

Kim holds a M.Sc. in Biological Oceanography, and a B.Sc. in Environmental Science with a focus on Ecological and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut. She worked as a Research Assistant for the National Undersea Research Center at UConn Avery Point while earning her graduate degree, and upon completion of her M. Sc.,  worked as a senior environmental and ecological consultant for close to ten years building a strong network of engineering and natural resource colleagues and municipal representatives across Connecticut.  Kim then moved into the role of Project Specialist for UConn’s Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) supporting the grant funded planning, development, design, implementation and evaluation of workshops, webinars, and outreach materials on living shorelines, green infrastructure. Kim loves exploring the trails and open spaces with her family, especially her two young daughters and lab Huckleberry, by foot or on their mountain bikes.

Pumpkin’s a Good Pick for Your Health!

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Alexa Horkachuck

Autumn is finally here, which means that pumpkin flavored products are flooding into your local grocery store. If you’re a fan, you will find everything from pumpkin cream cheese and pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin pastas and soups. There is bound to be a recipe that you would enjoy making and eating!

carved pumpkin on a tablePumpkin is a tasty vegetable that is packed with healthful benefits for you and your family to enjoy. It is low in calories, sodium, and fat, while high in fiber to help keep you full throughout the day. It is also a great source of beta-carotene which your body converts to vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant which helps improve your skin and eye health. Pumpkin also has vitamin C to keep your immune system strong through the upcoming winter. It also is packed with potassium, and low in sodium which can help prevent high blood pressure!

When cooking with fresh pumpkin, it is important to pay attention to what type of pumpkin you are using and how much of the pumpkin you need to use! For cooking at home, purchase fresh sugar-pumpkins (also called pie or sweet pumpkins), which are small and round. Field types of pumpkins are larger, have watery, stringy flesh, and are best used for decorating like Jack-O-Lanterns.

Check this out to learn about different types of pumpkins!

https://www.thekitchn.com/the-best-pumpkins-for-baking-ingredient-intelligence-211333

Fresh pumpkin is easy to prepare in an oven, check it out!

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-roast-pumpkin-4115845

You can replace fresh, pureed pumpkin with equal amounts of canned pumpkin in your favorite recipes. For example, substitute 1 cup fresh, pureed pumpkin called for in a recipe with 1 cup canned pumpkin.

  • Canned pumpkin is certainly more convenient and relatively inexpensive, typically costing around $1-2 for a 15-oz can. Be sure to buy 100% pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie “mix” by accident! The “filling and mix styles” add unwanted sugars that you do not need in most recipes.
  • Once opened, canned pumpkin can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. You can also stir canned pumpkin into oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, and vanilla yogurt for added flavor. Add it to soups and stews to thicken them.
  • Be sure to transfer any leftover canned pumpkin to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Here are two delicious ways to use fresh or canned pumpkin.  For more tasty, healthy, and low-cost recipes, visit: https://communitynutrition.cahnr.uconn.edu/recipes/

Pumpkin Soup Makes ~6 cups bowl of pumpkin soup on a saucer

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter

½ small onion, finely chopped

1 can (15 oz.) solid packed pumpkin

2 cups water

½ cup milk

1 tbsp. maple syrup

¼ tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often until very soft, about 8 minutes. Do not burn.
  2. Add pumpkin, water, milk, syrup, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking often.
  4. Let cool and then cover and chill. Bring to a simmer before serving.

Pumpkin Apple Cake Serves: 24

Ingredients:

1 package white cake mix

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

1 tsp. cinnamon

⅔ cup apple juice

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Nonstick cooking spray and flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Combine cake mix, pumpkin, cinnamon, apple juice, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour into a 12 cup Bundt pan or a 9” x 13” cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and floured.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the cake center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes. Then invert onto wire rack to cool completely

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Celebrate Seafood Month this October with these recipes

Jacques Pepin's fish tacos, made with local black sea bass fillets.
Jacques Pepin’s fish tacos, made with local black sea bass fillets. Local fluke or flounder fillets can also be used. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

Jacques Pepin’s fish tacos, made with local black sea bass fillets, are an easy and delicious way to celebrate National Sea Food Month this October.
Pepin, world-famous chef and resident of Madison, provided this recipe as part of two collections of 21 recipes from eight Connecticut chefs compiled by Connecticut Sea Grant.
Connecticut Sea Grant is offering these collections, first published in the Spring-Summer 2018 issue of Wrack Lines magazine, as part of the #ShowUsYourSeafood and #EatSeafoodAmerica campaigns this month.

 

 

 

 

PDFs of Recipes of the Sea collections can be downloaded from these two links:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1985/2018/05/RECIPES.ofthe_.SEA_.pdf

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1985/2018/05/wracklines-Spring-2018-5_7-RECIPES.pdf

Journal examines role of ‘blue humanities’ in ocean literacy

humanizing the seas journal coverThis special issue of Parks Stewardship Forum, guest-edited by Connecticut Sea Grant Research Coordinator Syma Ebbin, looks at how the “blue humanities” can bolster the public’s ocean literacy and sense of stewardship for the seas. Articles in this issue make the case that the arts and humanities can and should contribute to marine conservation. In addition to her CT Sea Grant post, Ebbin is also associate professor in residence in the UConn Maritime Studies Program.

With a full title of Parks Stewardship Forum, The Interdisciplinary Journal of Place-Based Conservation, current and past issues can be found at these two websites: https://escholarship.org/uc/psf for scholarly reference and use; and https://parks.berkeley.edu/psf for online browsing and reading.

Featured theme articles in the current issue include two by Ebbin, “Humanizing the Seas: A Case For Integrating the Arts and Humanities into Ocean Literacy and Stewardship,” and “Immersing the Arts: Integrating the Arts into Ocean Literacy,” in which she discusses Connecticut Sea Grant’s arts support awards program. In addition, Colleen Franks, UConn research specialist, writes about the Connecticut Blue Heritage Trail in “Integrating Maritime Heritage and Ocean Literacy: Free-choice learning along the Connecticut Blue Heritage Trail.” In “Ocean Literacy and Public Humanities,” UConn Maritime Studies Professor Helen Rozwadowski argues that ocean literacy principles and the framework for carrying them out are well developed, but that the humanities and arts are largely — and needlessly —absent.

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Fall is Here – Stay Hydrated

Written by UConn Dietetics Masters Student Shawn Lada

person drinking water backlit by sun
Drink water the day before and during physical activity or if heat is going to become a factor. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, especially before strenuous exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

We may be having cooler days now, but it is always important to stay hydrated. Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart, brain, muscles, and joints to stay healthy, along with keeping you regular and preventing urinary tract infections! During hotter days and summer months your body needs more fluid because you lose fluid when you sweat. Guess what? Sweating also occurs if you are working out in a gym in the winter! Even if you are not working out, your body loses fluid every day and you may not be drinking as much fluid as you need to rehydrate1.

Bottom line: Be aware of your fluid intake each day and adjust as necessary.

Depending on your activity level, from low activity like washing the car and walking the dog, to high/athletic activity like running a number of miles or lifting weights–and even depending on your gender–you may need around 90 ounces to 180 ounces of water a day. (That is up to almost 1 ½ gallons or 23 eight-oz cups!) The good news is you get around 20% of your fluid intake from fruits and vegetables2.  Do you know how water packed they are? Think of sweet juicy watermelon and crunchy apples! That’s water making that ‘crunch’!

The other 80% of your daily fluids come from water, milk, coffee, tea, and other beverages3. Other sources of fluids include foods like plain yogurt, broth-based soups, and popsicles.

For the rest of your hydration needs–and to get into a healthy routine–keep a reusable water bottle nearby, or a glass of water if you are at home, sipping as you go through the day4.

Remember: if you’re feeling thirsty, listen to your body and drink up! By the time you are thirsty, you are probably already on your way to becoming dehydrated. A way of knowing if you are dehydrated is to look at the color of your urine. It should be clear or pale yellow5. If it’s not, it’s time to drink some refreshing water!

Struggling to take a liking to plain drinking water? Try adding sliced fruits, like lemons and limes, and vegetables like cucumber slices, or even some mint!

Visit this page for more inspiring ways to flavor your water! https://communitynutrition.cahnr.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3067/2020/08/Drink-Up-English-Spanish.pdf

Citations:

  1. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
  2. Appel, L. J., M.D, Baker, D. H., Ph.D., Bar-Or, O., M.D, Minaker, K. L., M.D., Morris, C., Jr., M.D, Resnick, L. M., M.D, . . . Whelton, P. K., M.D., M.Sc. (2004, February 11). Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2004/02/report-sets-dietary-intake-levels-for-water-salt-and-potassium-to-maintain-health-and-reduce-chronic-disease-risk
  3. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
  4. Water & Nutrition. (2016, October 05). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html
  5. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

2020 Herb of the Year

RUBUS (Brambles) 2020 Herb of the Year Red Raspberry, Black Raspberry, Blackberry & Wineberry

Article by Dana Weinberg, UConn Extension Advanced Master Gardener

Since 1991, the International Herb Society has chosen an Herb of the Year. This year’s choice is the genus Rubus. The name comes from the Latin word ‘ruber’ meaning red. Indigenous to 6 continents and readily hybridized, you can count up to 700 different species within the genus. It’s mid summer and the raspberries, wineberries and even some blackberries are bearing their delicious fruit. What a great time to explore some of the commonalities and differences in this wideranging genus!

A member of the Rosaceae family, all Rubus species bear 5 petalled flowers, like a wild rose. These petals are usually white, but sometimes pink. Each flower has several pistils. Each flower has numerous pollen-laden stamens which attract insects, but many Rubus species are also self-fertile with the ability to set seed on their own. All flower parts are attached to a central coneshaped receptacle (torus). Rubus fruit is an aggregate of small drupelets (individual fleshy fruits surrounding a single seed) attached to the torus.

Members of this genus thrive in well drained, humus rich soils in full sun to part shade. Their water requirement is modest. Rubus stems are called canes. Canes can be green to somewhat woody and are usually covered with bristles, prickles and/or gland-tipped hairs. They spread by seed, tip rooting, or suckering from stolon runners or rhizomes, depending on species.

Berries
Image by Stefani Ecknig, Getty Images

Rubus root stock is perennial, but the canes are biennial. With the exception of some special cultivars, first year canes (primocanes) yield flowers and fruit only during their second season (floricanes), then die. The floricanes are then replaced by new primocanes the following year. Canes can vary in length, depending on type. In the wild, canes tend to bend and arc. In cultivation, canes are commonly pruned and trellised.

Rubus plants have been used since antiquity for food and medicine. Stems, roots, flowers and leaves have been used in infusions, plasters and extractions to treat a wide range of maladies. These include treatments for diarrhea, nausea, stomach ailments, shingles and fevers, as an external wash for wounds, as an antivenom for snakebites, to strengthen gums, to reduce eye inflammation, to cool rashes and as a hair dye. Rubus fruits are full of fiber, antioxidants and vitamins and are delicious to eat.

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HardCORE CRUNCH: Apple & Pear Activity Worksheets!

apple and pear crunchOctober is National Farm to School Month and Put Local On Your Tray has apple and pear activity worksheets to share! These worksheets include a coloring page, apple fun facts, a maze, and a delicious apple-themed recipe from New England Dairy. The worksheets are in English and Spanish. These can be distributed and shared with teachers, with school lunches and special classes. 

Click here to fill out an order form.

 

Virtual Managed Retreat in the Age of Climate Change Workshop

salt marsh
Image by Judy Benson, Connecticut Sea Grant

When talking about community response to climate change issues, retreat is the “R” word. But it is already happening in coastal states throughout the country, including here in Connecticut. Is it a good or bad idea? Will we be forced to retreat due to sea level rise in 30 years or 50 years? What does it mean to a community and how do we manage it?

This workshop is intended to begin the discussion about managed retreat in the face of climate change. Dr. AR Siders, a national expert in managed retreat, will provide a national perspective. Attorney Marjorie Shansky will speak on legal issues. Other speakers will focus on issues and examples related to retreat in Connecticut.
 We would like to hear what you think and what questions you have about managed retreat.
LOCATION: ONLINE
DATE: November 13, 2020
COST: Free
Program runs from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm
To register visit http://bit.ly/CAA_register