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Lee County Extension Extras

Our office will be closed Monday, July 5th for the Independence Day Holiday.

Exhibit Days

Do your hobbies include photography, painting, sewing, or home canning? If so, we have just the opportunity for you. Lee County Board of Supervisors sponsors Exhibit Days providing you a chance to display your work. See the information listed below and give our office a call if you have questions.

  • Location: Plantersville Middle School
  • Check in: Monday, July 26 from 3:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Viewing: Tuesday, July 27 from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Check out: Wednesday, July 28 from 2:00-5:30 p.m.

All exhibitors should live in Lee County. No professionals may enter exhibits in their area of specialty. A professional is one who teaches or sells goods or services for a fee in their area of specialty. Individuals ages 19 and older on July 1 may participate. The exhibitor must have completed entries since July,2020. To expedite registration, it is recommended that you obtain an Exhibitor number and entry tags from the Extension Office prior to check-in.

Adult exhibitors are limited to 20 total entries. Each category has a maximum number of entries per exhibitor. Each entry will be judged based on its own merit. .

Best of Show ribbons pay $15; Blue Ribbons pay $8 and Red Ribbons pay $5. White Ribbons or disqualified entries pay no premium.

Division 1 – Expressive Arts (Maximum number of entries allowed – 3)

Creative Writing and Art (Name of exhibitor must not appear on front of exhibit)

Division 2 – Photography (Maximum number of entries allowed – 8)

Photographs must be at least 4x6 in size, framed and able to stand alone.

Division 3 – Sewn Items (non-purchased) (Maximum number of entries allowed – 3)

Division 4 – Creative Stitchery (Maximum number of entries allowed – 3)

Includes Knitting, Crocheting and Miscellaneous Needlecraft

Division 5 – Quilting (Maximum number of entries allowed – 3)

Includes hand and machine quilting – any technique

Division 6 – Hobby Skills and Crafts (Maximum number of entries allowed – 6)

Includes Ceramics, Pottery, Holiday Decorations, Non-Sewn Fabric Crafts, Paper Crafts, Wood Crafts and miscellaneous crafts

Division 7 – Canned and Dried Food (Maximum number of entries allowed – 6)

Includes Jellies, Jams, Preserves, Pickled Products, Pickled Vegetables and Fruits, Canned Fruits and Vegetables and Dehydrated/Dried Foods

May only enter one of each item: Example, can enter strawberry and apple jelly but not 3 jars of strawberry jelly. Jars must have proper headspace.

Unsealed jars will not be allowed.
Entries must have bands on jars and be rust free.
Only standard canning jars accepted.
Items should be canned according to USDA guidelines, including proper headspace.

Home Canning Tips

Different foods require different equipment and canning methods. Make sure you are using the proper preservation method and that you have the right equipment for the type of food you are preserving. Also, make sure it is in proper working order. These steps will help ensure you kill bacteria that can cause dangerous and potentially deadly food-borne illnesses.

What you should do:

  • Always use the right equipment
  • Always use research-based recipes
  • Invest in the right type of thermometer
  • Check all equipment parts and clean them according to the manufacturer’s instructions before canning begins. Check the dial gauges on steam pressure canners to be sure they are accurate. (Our office can test dial gauges)
  • Be sure all canning jars and lids are in perfect condition and clean them with hot soapy water and rinse well. Some pieces may need to be sterilized.

What you should NOT do:

  • Never use conventional ovens, microwaves, dishwashers or the open-kettle method.
  • Never use electric pressure cookers. While some of these appliances have recipes in their manuals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure canned foods reach the correct temperatures to kill dangerous bacteria.
  • Never use canning powders. These powders are useless as preservatives. Canned foods must be properly processed with heat.
  • Never use jars with wire bales and glass caps. One-piece, zinc, porcelain-lined caps also should not be used. Although they have flat, rubber rings for sealing jars, they often fail to seal properly.

For more detailed and specific information about home food preservation read these Extension Publications:

P1152, “The Complete Guide to Home Canning”
P0220, “Pickles, Relishes, Jellies, Jams, and Preserves”
IS0845, “Food Preservation—Selection, Use and Care of Canning Equipment” P0993, “Home Canning Questions Answered”

Salt vs. Sodium

Although people tend to use the terms "salt and sodium" interchangeably, salt and sodium are two different things. Sodium is a mineral that is essential to life. Table salt by weight contains about 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

The American Heart Association says 9 out of 10 Americans eat too much sodium, but surprisingly, the saltshaker is not the culprit. About 70% of the sodium we consume comes from processed, pre-packaged, and restaurant foods. A diet high in sodium can increase the risk for high blood pressure.

Consider taking these steps to reduce your sodium intake:

  1. Know the salty six: pizza, sandwiches, soups, bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, burritos and tacos. Watch your portions when you eat these items.

  2. Read the nutrition facts label, and choose products with the lowest percent daily value (DV). Items with 5% or less per serving of sodium are considered low-sodium foods.

  3. Prepare more meals at home. Season with spices, herbs, and citrus to boost the flavor. Try making your own salt-free seasonings with the recipes in Extension publication 3586, “Nutrition and Wellness Salt-Free Spice Blends.”

  4. Look for reduced or low-sodium versions of condiments. Ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, and pickles can be sky-high in sodium.

  5. Ask for light seasonings at restaurants. Many restaurants have options for low-sodium seasonings, but you have to ask.

When it comes to sodium, keep these things in mind:

  • The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. For optimal health, the AHA recommends moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
  • Check ingredients lists for words like “salt,” “sodium,” and “soda.” The total sodium shown on the Nutrition Facts label includes the sodium from salt and sodium from any other sodium-containing ingredients in the product. Bottom line: Sodium can be found in foods that do not even taste salty.

Tips for Installing a Shade Sail

If there is one thing all Mississippians can agree on, it is that the summer sun can be brutal. I enjoy spending time on my back patio, but it is hard to enjoy without shade. I have noticed several restaurants, parks, and pools have installed shade sails to provide shade to visitors. Why not install one in your own backyard?

Shade sails are an inexpensive way to block harmful UV rays from your patio space, and they help cool off the area. You can purchase a sail online or at a home improvement store. Most sails come in a variety of colors, so it is an easy way to brighten up your yard.

Before purchasing, measure the space you want to shade to ensure you have a sail that properly fits.

Other materials needed:

  • A drill
  • Turnbuckles
  • 1/4” chain
  • Posts
  • Hook screws
  • Concrete


  1. Determine your anchoring points. Shade sails are commonly in the shape of a triangle or rectangle. Keep in mind you will need an anchoring point for each corner of the sail. It is smart to lay your sail where you want it to go and measure before installation. If you have a triangular sail, consider anchoring one end on the eaves of the house and the other two on posts in the ground. For a rectangle, add an additional hook on the eaves.
  2. Install wooden, steel, or metal posts in the ground. Make sure the poles are sturdy enough to hold the sail and endure wind. Secure the posts with concrete to ensure they are sturdy.
  3. Install hooks on each anchoring point and lace a chain with turnbuckles on the shade sail grommets. Install the turnbuckles to all hooks and tighten until there is no slack in the sail.
  4. Sit back and enjoy the shade!

Homegrown Tomatoes

There is nothing more satisfying than homegrown tomatoes. You do not have to be a gardening expert to grow delicious tomatoes in your backyard. Here are a few tips that will help you grow the best looking and tasting tomatoes out there:

  1. You want to buy tomato plants that are healthy. Check the leaves to make sure there are no diseases or evidence of insects on them. When buying plants, you want to avoid leggy and overgrown plants. Plants that are small, stocky, and healthy-looking are ideal.
  2. Plant them in an area that does not hold water and receives direct sunlight. When planting the seedlings, you want to plant them deeper than they were in the cell packets. Burying them deeply gives them ideal conditions to thrive and produce several tomatoes. Keep in mind that this practice does not work with other types of plants, only for tomatoes.
  3. One simple step that leads to successful tomato growth is watering. Tomatoes need an inch to inch and a half of water per week throughout the whole season, whether that be through irrigation or rainfall. If you see the leaves wilting, give them a good water.
  4. As your tomatoes steadily grow, you will need to build a wooden stake system for support. Staking is important to help keep tomatoes off the ground and ensure they grow upright.

Growing tomatoes will not be a walk in the park. It will take patience and maybe even a few trials and errors. One of the most common headaches that come with growing tomatoes is blossom end rot. If you notice black, firm areas at the bottom of your tomatoes, blossom end rot is likely the reason. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency and inconsistent watering.

Curled leaves may also cause you to raise eyebrows with concern. There is not need to worry about it. The curling is caused by high fertility when combined with high temperatures and plenty of water. The best news is that it does not impact the yield or quality of tomatoes.

Extension Publication 2975, “Tomato Troubles: Common Problems with Tomatoes,” is a handy resource that can help solve any problems that may arise. Information Sheet 1797, “Growing Delicious Tomatoes in the Backyard” also gives more information on how to successfully grow tomatoes.

Soft Granola Bars


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups regular oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped dates
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1/4 cup honey


  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 inch cooking spray. Set aside.
  1. Crack eggs into a large bowl. Wash your hands with soap and water after cracking raw eggs. Add brown sugar and vegetable oil, stirring until smooth.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except honey..
  3. Spread into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake 17-22 minutes or until set. Cool.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook honey until heated through, stirring constantly. Drizzle honey on top of granola bars.

Orange Delight Smoothie


  • 4 cups 1% or nonfat milk
  • 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate (3/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Put the lid on tightly.
  2. Blend for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Serve and enjoy.
  3. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Fruity French Toast Casserole


  • 8 cups bread cubes (try whole-grain bread)
  • 2 cups fruit, sliced or chopped, fresh, frozen, or canned
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For Topping:

  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose or whole-wheat)


  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Lightly oil or spray an 8-by-8 inch baking dish or 2-quaart casserole dish. Add bread cubes and fruit.
  3. In a medium bowl, blend eggs, milk, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar. Pour over bread cubes and fruit. Stir gently to wet all bread with egg mixture.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until all liquid is absorbed (about 30 minutes), or overnight.
  5. About 30 minutes before baking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Making the Topping:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the softened margarine, 1/4 cup sugar, and flour with a fork until crumbly.
  2. Uncover the casserole and sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Bake until completely set and starting to brown (160°F in the center), about 35-40 minutes. If you chilled the dish over- night, you will need to bake longer. Serve warm.
  3. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Ideas for Variations

  • For the fruit, try peaches, pears, berries, or diced apples.
  • Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon or other spices such as nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice, or cardamom at the end of step 2.
  • Try topping servings with a spoonful of yogurt.

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