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

Released: November 16, 2006

Briefly . . .

This week's news briefs from Kansas State University Research and Extension:

1)  Sleepy? Don’t Blame the Turkey
2)  Water Landscape Plants Before Winter
3)  Kansas´ Ag Leader Honored, Offers Tips for Success, Students
4)  Turkey Day Snow Unusual, But Possible
5)  Kids a Cookin’ – Scrambled Eggs and Potatoes
6)  Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit




1)  Sleepy? Don’t Blame the Turkey

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Feeling drowsy after a Thanksgiving feast is almost a tradition.

Nowadays, some cite the tryptophan in turkey breast meat as the reason. But, the amount of that substance in a typical 3- to 4-ounce serving is unlikely to cause significant sleepiness, said Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University Research and Extension food scientist.

Tryptophan is an amino acid and a building block of protein. It’s found not only in turkey breast but also in many other foods, such as red meats and dairy products. It is a precursor to niacin (a B vitamin) and to serotonin – a compound formed in the brain, which plays a role in relaxation and sleep production.

Rather than its being the substance to blame, however, the more likely culprit for Thanksgiving drowsiness is the quantity of calories from carbohydrates (starch and sugar) that Americans tend to consume as part of the holiday meal, Blakeslee said.

Overeating requires energy. So does the digestive process for all of that food, the food scientist explained.

People who exercise restraint in the amount they eat usually do not experience after-dinner fatigue, she said.

More information on food, nutrition and health is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and on Kansas Extension’s Web site:


2)  Water Landscape Plants Before Winter

MANHATTAN, Kan. - This fall’s periodic light rains have done little to prepare central High Plains landscapes for winter.

“Perennial plants need to go into the year’s cold season with moist soil, as a protection against winter damage. So, when we’re having a dry fall like this one, you need to irrigate at least once,” said Ward Upham, who coordinates the Master Gardener program for Kansas State University Research and Extension.

This rule applies for all landscape plants, he said, including those that appear to be dormant.

But, whether plants are watered or not can be a matter of life and death for two special categories, Upham warned. Newly planted trees and shrubs need careful monitoring for soil moisture whenever temperatures are above freezing, because they still have limited root systems. Even during the depths of winter, evergreens can easily lose foliage moisture and become dehydrated, because they retain their leaves year-round.

“Just wetting the top of the soil won’t get the job done, however - even if you sprinkle several times,” the horticulturist said. “By the time soil temperatures reach 28 degrees, all the little water-absorbing roots near the soil surface are dead.”

As a result, plants have to rely on their deeper roots.

“They need a good, deep watering with moisture’s reaching a least a foot down in the soil,” Upham said. “You can check with a metal rod or wood dowel to see whether you’ve reached that watering depth. Either of those tools will easily penetrate moist soil, but stop when it reaches dry soil.”

Fortunately, wintertime temperatures greatly slow the moisture evaporation rate. So, unless the weather continues dry, one late-fall watering may be enough to help plants survive the cold unscathed.



3)  Kansas´ Ag Leader Honored, Offers Tips for Success, Students

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Adrian J. Polansky, secretary of Kansas´ Department of Agriculture, has received Kansas State University’s 2006 Distinguished Service in Agriculture Award for Extension and International Service.

In remarks after accepting the award Oct. 25, Polansky briefly addressed the changes, challenges and opportunities in agriculture.

A willingness to change will be key to the state’s future successes in agriculture. Agriculture has experienced more changes in the last 100 years than in centuries before, he said.

“Technology will continue to change how we work,” added Polansky, who cited three challenges: enhancements that are driven by public and private investments in new technologies, adoption, and acceptance.

"The choices may be extraordinary, and they may mean life and death for people around the world. Advancements in yield and production will need to keep up with demands for food production," Polansky said.

The state’s agriculture leader also offered advice for students attending the award ceremony.

"Consider your basic education – be it in genetics, marketing or business – as a foundation for lifelong values," Polansky said. "Be willing to change, ready to adapt, and continue to learn."

Polansky earned a degree in agronomy from K-State in 1972.


4)  Turkey Day Snow Unusual, But Possible

MANHATTAN, Kan. - November in the central High Plains can shift within hours from mild fall weather to an intense winter storm, according to Mary Knapp, State of Kansas climatologist.

“Fortunately, the National Weather Service expects this Thanksgiving to be a relatively mild holiday,” she said. “Even so, Thanksgiving ice and snow storms have been frequent and severe enough over the years to become a part of Kansas folklore.

“They’re one reason why Plains residents truly believe the old saying: ‘If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a while.’”

Two years ago, for example, a pair of winter storms bracketed Turkey Day. On Nov. 23, 2004, up to 8 inches of snow fell on areas from Meade to Olathe, Kan. Five days later a second winter storm brought a mix of snow, ice and freezing drizzle across the state.

“It was dangerous, and it was a mess,” Knapp said.

An even more notable storm, however, lasted from Nov. 25 to 27 in 1983. Heavy snow, ice and high winds closed down everything from Denver to Minneapolis - including the airports and interstates.

“Many Thanksgiving travelers were stranded far from their destination,” the climatologist said. “Nowadays, traffic accidents cause more winter deaths than exposure to the cold does. But, these kinds of events keep reminding us that it still pays to be careful out there.”

Knapp heads the official Kansas Weather Data Library, housed in Manhattan, Kan., with Kansas State University Research and Extension agronomy programs.


5) Kids a Cookin’ – Scrambled Eggs and Potatoes

            This easy recipe takes ordinary scrambled eggs and turns them into a hearty, tasty healthful breakfast - still cooked in just one pan. Provided by the Family Nutrition Program at Kansas State University, the recipe makes four 1-cup servings.


  • 4 medium potatoes, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon oil

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons grated low fat cheese

To obtain a higher resolution photo of this recipe go to:




1. Always start by washing your hands.

2. Wash potatoes, wash and “skin” onions, and chop into small pieces.

3. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.

4. Add potatoes and onions and cook until light brown.

5. In a small bowl, mix eggs with fork.  Pour over cooked potatoes in skillet.

6. Gently stir and cook until eggs are firm.

7. Sprinkle cheese over mixture to serve.

Helpful Hints:  

Leftover cooked potatoes work well in this recipe, too.

If starting with raw potatoes, you don’t need to peel them for this recipe. Just scrub them well with a clean vegetable brush to remove all dirt and germs. 

Safety Tip:

Young children will need adult supervision while chopping the potatoes and onions. Make sure they understand why chopping combines a sharp knife AND a cutting board.

Suggested book with this activity:
            “Horton Hatches the Egg” by Dr. Seuss


Per serving: 220 calories, 9 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 210 mg  cholesterol, 11 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, 90 milligrams sodium.


Kids a Cookin’ is an educational program produced by Kansas State University Research and Extension’s Family Nutrition Program. 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



6) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit

  • Vegetable brush

  • Cutting board

  • Knife

  • Measuring spoon

  • Skillet

  • Stirring spoon

  • Small bowl


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,
and Kathleen Ward

K-State Research and Extension