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(To view a pictures of the Kids a Cookin' recipes, go to

Released: April 6, 2006

Briefly . . .

This week's news briefs . . .

1) The Ants Are Marching, One by One
2) To Wash or Not to Wash Bagged Salads?
3) Volcanic Anniversary a Climatic Reminder
4) One More Step Reduces Fat
5) K-State’s Murphy Now in Rural Builder Hall of Fame
6) Kids a Cookin’ - All-American Cheeseburger Bake
7) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit




1) The Ants Are Marching, One by One

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Homeowners who see a few ants indoors are likely to have an invasion soon.

As ants become active in spring, they send out scouts to search for food and water. When those scouts find what they’re looking for, they lay down a chemical trail to show others the way.

"If you can trace a line of ants back to a nest, control is simple – just spray the nest with a labeled insecticide. But, ant nests usually are outdoors. Plus, even entomologists think they can be difficult to find," said Ward Upham, Master Gardener program coordinator for Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Treating the indoor part of the ants’ trail provides only temporary relief, Upham said. The ants simply find another route.

Finding and caulking all potential entry points isn’t too practical, either. After all, ants are small.

"That leaves just two control strategies: sanitation and baits. Eliminating crumbs, grease, scraps and other available food will discourage ants. If you’ve already got an invasion, though, using ant baits will trick the insects into taking an insecticide back to their nest," Upham said.

A number of bait-insecticide formulas in child-resistant "stations" are now available in stores.

"Don’t worry if ant activity increases around a newly set station. The insecticides are meant to be slow-acting, so they can be transported back to the colony before the ant dies," he said. "Over time, however, the insecticide can destroy an entire nest."

Unfortunately, not all ants are attracted to the same baits. Plus, ants’ food preferences can change.

"If one bait product doesn’t seem to be attracting your invaders, try another," Upham advised.


2) To Wash or Not to Wash Bagged Salads?

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Buying bagged salads and greens at the supermarket can reduce waste and overall cost, but may prompt home-style cooks to ask: "Should I wash a pre-washed salad before serving it?"

"Read the label," advised Fadi Aramouni, Kansas State University Research and Extension food scientist in K-State’s Food Science Institute.

If a bagged salad label indicates that greens have been "pre-washed" and are "ready to eat," another wash is optional, Aramouni said.

More information on food safety and health is available at local or district K-State Research and Extension offices and Extension’s food safety Web site:



3) Volcanic Anniversary a Climatic Reminder

MANHATTAN, Kan. – April 7-15 marks the anniversary of an 1815 event that even today would be hard to visualize in a high-dollar Hollywood disaster movie. Those nine days are when Tambora – a volcano in Indonesia – produced the most devastating eruption in recorded history.

"The eruption affected weather and climate around the globe for more than a year. It was clear proof of the importance of a clean atmosphere. In some areas, the winter of 1816 was so severe that the mercury froze in thermometers," said Mary Knapp, State of Kansas climatologist, based with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Ash from a large-scale eruption temporarily changes the climate by circling on the earth’s wind currents and reflecting back the sun’s light, Knapp said. A major factor in 1993's massive flooding in the U.S. Midwest, for example, was ash from the 1991 and 1992 eruptions of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

"Back in 1815, Tambora injected an estimated 37 to 100 cubic miles – not feet, but miles – of dust ash, and cinders into the atmosphere," Knapp said. "In just over a week, it spewed out more than 150 times the atmospheric debris produced by the U.S. eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980."

Tambora’s fallout created what’s still called the "Year Without a Summer," she said. New England had widespread crop failures because freezing temperatures occurred in every month.

The Tambora eruption directly killed about 10,000 people – many of whom could have been saved by modern volcanology. But, its ash indirectly killed an estimated 82,000 more through starvation and disease, the climatologist said.

"Unfortunately, we still don’t know as much about climatology as we do about volcanology," Knapp said. "Even so, it’s just common sense to believe that we shouldn’t be adding to potential climate problems. Each one of us should be doing what we can to preserve or improve our atmosphere."


4) One More Step Reduces Fat

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Fat-conscious cooks already tend to buy ground beef that’s lean. They drain the meat well after browning. They may even use a paper towel to pat the cooked beef and remove more fat.

But a further step is possible, according to Kathy Walsten, nutrition educator with Kansas State University’s Family Nutrition Program.

"To reduce fat even more, put the browned ground beef in a colander or strainer and rinse it with running water," Walsten said.

More information about nutrition is available at each county or district K-State Research and Extension office and on the Web at


5) K-State’s Murphy Now in Rural Builder Hall of Fame

IOLA, Wis. – Kansas State University’s James "Pat" Murphy was inducted in March into the Rural Builder Hall of Fame by Rural Builder Magazine.

The publication, based in Iola, Wis., honors one individual per year for leadership, service and outstanding contributions to the rural construction industry.

Murphy is a professor of biological and agricultural engineering and currently is serving as the interim assistant director for K-State Research and Extension’s agricultural and natural resource programs.

For 35 years, he has designed facilities and systems to improve the efficiency of livestock production while minimizing its environmental effects. Many of his designs and educational materials are available to the public in Extension handbooks that are distributed worldwide.

Information about educational materials available from K-State Research and Extension is available on the Web at


6) Kids a Cookin’ - All-American Cheeseburger Bake

This casserole from Kansas State University Research and Extension’s Family Nutrition Program is sure to be a kid-pleaser. Its ingredients and taste live up to its name: All-American Cheeseburger. The recipe makes 10 one-biscuit servings.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • cup chopped onion
  • 1 can (10.75 ounces) tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pickle relish
  • teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 1 can (7.5 ounces) of 10 refrigerated biscuits
To obtain a higher resolution photo of this recipe go to:




1. Wash your hands.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. In large skillet, brown ground beef and chopped onion on medium-high heat. Drain well.

4. Add tomato soup, ketchup, mustard, relish, and pepper. Simmer on low heat about 10 minutes.

5. Lightly coat inside of 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

6. Spread meat mixture evenly in baking dish. Place American cheese slices on top.

7. Place biscuits on top of cheese, gently stretching, if necessary, to cover casserole.

8. Bake about 11 to 12 minutes, covering biscuits with foil if they brown too quickly.

Helpful Hints:

Try a 16-ounce can of sloppy joe sauce instead of the tomato soup, ketchup, mustard and pickle relish. Substitute shredded cheese if you don’t have slices. Use your favorite kind of cheese to create the cheeseburger taste you love.

Safety Hints:

Adult supervision is a must when children are using the stove. To avoid bumps, spills and possible burns, remember to keep skillet and pan handles pointed away from the edge of the stove.

Clean can lids before opening. Remember the lid will have sharp edges after opening.

Before removing dishes from the oven, know where you’re going to set them. Have a cooling rack or other safe place ready. Always use dry hot pads, because moisture will conduct heat.

Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of baking. Reheat to 165 (internal) degrees for another meal.


Per serving: 180 calories, 7 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated), 35 mg cholesterol, 13 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrate, less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 700 milligrams sodium.


Kids a Cookin' is an educational program produced by Kansas State University Research and Extension's Family Nutrition Program and funded by USDA's Food Stamp Program through a contract with Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). More information, more recipes and cooking tips, and a link to a Spanish version are available on the Kids a Cookin' Web site:

Source: Kathy Walsten, Family Nutrition Program, K-State Research and Extension


7) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large skillet
  • Spoon
  • Colander/strainer
  • Can opener
  • Measuring spoons
  • 9-inch baking dish
  • Cooking spray
  • Hot pads


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

For more information:
K-State Research and Extension - News
Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, News Coordinator

Contributing writers: 
Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, Nancy Peterson,
Kathleen Ward and Leah Bond

K-State Research and Extension