Current Affairs Feed

Nathan’s manufacturer recalls 200,000 pounds worth of hot dogs

More than 200,000 pounds of Nathan’s and Curtis hot dogs are being yanked from store shelves after bits of metal were found in the franks.

Three people filed complaints with the Cincinnati-based manufacturer of the hot dogs, John Morrell & Co., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Those reports led the company to issue a recall on May 19.

The potentially contaminated meats were in Nathan’s Skinless 8 Beef Franks with a use by date of Aug. 19, 2017 — and Curtis Beef Master brand beef franks with a date of June 15, 2017.

No one has been injured by eating the metal-tainted meat the feds said.


Today's Weather Outlook for the Corridor

Today's weather forecast and a four day outlook.  Check this page for the latest weather reports in the corridor area.  Up-to-date weather conditions for the Iowa City area are observed at the Iowa City, Iowa City Municipal Airport, IA.  For weather conditions specific to other cities outside the corridor area, just type in your zip code below.

Coralville, Iowa, weather forecast

Type in your zip code for your weatherecast




Paul's Discount Iowa City Weekly Update: May 17, 2017

Paul's Discount

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The Joe Lunchpail Garden - A guide to the average backyard garden, Part II

By Mike Thayer

This is Part II of the Joe Lunchpail Garden series, today's piece is about picking the right plants, plotting your garden and prepping your soil.  You can review what was discussed in Part I by clicking here.

Zoning Your Garden

Iowa Planting Zone MapIt's important to know what kind of plants are appropriate for the area.  You can find a "planting zone" or hardiness level on the back of most seed packets and on those little plastic tags stuck in the soil of starter plants.  Knowing what's "in the zone" will help you determine what kind of plant varieties you want for your garden.  According to the plant hardiness zone map put out by the USDA, Iowa is in zone 5.    Most stores that sell plants and seed packets are pretty good about selling what's appropriate, but sometimes a few varieties slip in that aren't.  As a weekend gardener, make sure you're buying something that is "Iowa" suitable.

Basically, for our area in the lower half of Iowa, you'll want to start planting what' s considered "cool weather" veggies about a month before the last frost - plant around mid-April.  The "cool weather" veggies can handle a little frost, seed varieties like spinach, lettuce, peas and radishes. Other veggie varieties can be planted around mid-May where the Mother's Day rule applies.  DO NOT plant the following veggie seeds or starter plants in your backyard garden before Mother's Day:  Beans, corn, tomatoes, eggplant, squashes, cucumbers, peppers, melons.  Pretty much anything can be safely planted after Mother's Day, but don't wait much past early June though if you're planting seeds, as some plants won't have enough time to give you a full harvest before the first fall freeze comes around.

There's room to grow

No matter what size garden you decide on, there's more room to it than you might think.

Let's say you decide on a backyard garden plot of 18' x 7'.  It's a typical backyard Joe Lunchpail garden size but by doing what's called "Companion Planting" you can turn your garden into a better than average producer.  How do you do that?  It's simple really, don't plant everything in single rows.  Plant quick growing plants like radishes with slow growing carrots.  Inter-plant onion sets with broccoli.  Don't plant lettuce in a single row, sow your seeds in a six-inch wide row instead and mix up the varieties, it will make for a better salad.    Peas can be done in a similar fashion, plant a row that has edible pods and just six inches from it, plant a row that does not have edible pods or has a longer maturity date.  Don't EVER single row the onions, they can go just about anywhere there's some extra space, a couple inches will do, around broccoli, around tomatoes, around anything that takes awhile to mature.  You'll enjoy picking a few as table fare as you wait for the broccoli or whatever to mature later in the season.  Be creative, try to match up fast growing veggies with slow to mature varieties.  A fun one is planting pole beans with corn.  The pole bean climbs the corn stalk, it's a race to the top.

In general, try to plant your vegetable rows in an east-west direction.  North-south planted rows, start off OK, but as plants get taller, they can eventually shade each other out of needed sunlight as the sun moves across the sky.

Consider planting some flowers in your garden.  Marigolds planted around your border for instance helps to keep certain pests away from your soon to be delicious produce.  Certain flowers can also help attract the good insects that will help to pollinate your garden and make those veggies.  Frills and function!

Now Let's Talk Dirty!

Let's face it - fertile soil - that's loose and full of nutrients does not exist in every Joe Lunchpail backyard.  We've all seen those garden shows where the gardening "star" can be seen using a garden tool in the dirt as if it's a hot knife through butter.  Keep in mind that those show gardens have had years of compost, amendments and pampering put into them, so don't get discouraged.  Most soils while not perfect, will grow veggies and flowers and if not, the soil can at least be doctored up and done so inexpensively.

Having good soil is key.  A garden in clay will not be a very productive one for you.  Mixing in some sand and compost will go a long way towards improving matters, although means getting your hands a little dirty.......  but isn't that what gardening is all about anyway?

Tilling that soil

if you're a weekend gardener and have a garden of decent size it's worth your while to rent a tiller.  it saves you the trouble and back-breaking work of shoveling and hoeing 'til (pun intended, get it, 'til?) your feet hurt and your hands are blistered (didn't wear gloves huh?).  There are a number of places around to rent a tiller and in my opinion, this is the fastest and most economical way to add nutrients to your garden.

TIP:  Tilling can be more than a one person job.  Loading/unloading, picking up and returning - you might tag the spouse, son, daughter or a friend to help you out with that.  Also, keep in mind that when renting, a front tine tiller is arguably harder to handle than a rear tine tiller.  It comes down to a matter of personal preference. 

Things you can do before you 'til:  Have a pick-up truck or a friend that will let you use theirs for  a couple hours?  If you have a medium to large garden, a load or two of black dirt will do wonders for your soil.  Locally, black dirt is available at S&G Materials.

Call S & G Materials today at 319-354-1667, or visit our shop.
S & G Materials
4059 SE Izaak Walton Rd
Iowa City, IA 52240

Hours of Business:
Monday to Friday 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday 7:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Getting a pick-up load or two of black dirt  beats the heck out of buying a bunch of 40 pound bags of top soil at the local garden shop.  Buy plants there by all means, but the dirt, not so much....  You get far more dirt for the buck at S&G Materials.  

Other items to consider adding to your garden as a top dressing before tilling: 

  • Epsom salts:  Plants love magnesium, they get greener, bushier and that's what the epsom salts give you.   Healthy plants fight off pests and disease better.
  • Sand:  If you've got a lot of clay in your garden, this will help break things up and improve drainage.  You can get sand at S&G Materials.
  • Pete Moss:  This is a natural, all purpose soil conditioner.  If you've got clay soil, it helps loosen it up.  If you've got sandy soil, pete moss helps firm it up.  It also hangs on to those nutrients, helping plant roots to feed.

That's it for Part II, next up, scheduling planting times, learning NOT to use your garbage disposal and working towards that bumper crop.


The Joe Lunchpail Garden - A guide to the average backyard garden, Part I

20170428_115818(1)By Mike Thayer

If you're the typical weekend gardener, then this guide is for you.

This is a guide designed and catered for the not-so-serious but wants a decent garden kind of person.  This guide is not fancy, it lacks pages upon pages of beautiful garden pictures, but it does provide content, content, content and is also catered to the local area.

Got Dirt?

Plan your successful garden at the kitchen table.  Sketch out your thoughts on a piece of paper while sipping on your favorite beverage.

Even if you've had an established garden for years, mapping out your garden and deciding on plant varieties can save you time and perhaps money come spring.

I like to plan my garden out during the late winter months, when cabin fever takes hold and I'm suffering from football withdrawals.  Ii also like to check out the garden sites on the internet (I'll list links later in this series) and the mail order see catalogs around this time, getting ideas and buying a few things.  Buying in late winter helps ensure you'll receive your order in time for when that spring urge to start putting plants in the ground hits  you.

The first step i f you don't already have an established garden is to select an acceptable site.  No weekend gardener/typically average Joe Lunchpail backyard is absolutely perfect, but you'll have a harvest you can be proud of if you locate your garden where it will get six to eight hours of sunlight daily.  The site should drain well, be "reachable" by garden hose, but not too close to the dog house, unless extra fertilizer is desired.

If you don't have a flat backyard, don't worry about it.  Slight slopes can be good thing for drainage, but steep slopes will require terracing and that means the weekend gardening thing just became a "take-a- vacation-in-order-to-make-a-garden-spot" major project.....    Unless you decide that's what you want to do, you may want to consider container or patio gardening.

Don't have room for a big garden?

How about a couple small ones instead?  Have a little plot for your tomatoes, have another little spot somewhere for your onions, carrots and radishes.  Sow some lettuce seeds in a flower pot instead of those petunias and you've got yourself a nice salad garden, fresh from your backyard.  There are a number of tricks and things  you can do that will save you time and space which will be discussed later in this series.

Space limits may mean you can't have everything you want in your garden, you may have to pick and choose.  Too much in a garden or not having enough room to operate can lead to problems and a disappointing harvest.

TIP:  Flower pots aren't just for flowers anymore.  If you've got a window ledge that just collects dust, put a little flower pot on it sown with parsley.  Down the road, you've got fresh parsley to top a dinner entree.  And don't think you'll be sacrificing beauty by swapping out flowers for vegetables.   A flow



Carb-Check Diet: Radishes & Ranch for a mid-afternoon snack

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Radish snackI used to eat a lot of raw carrots, I love 'em, they have a nice crunch to them and an ever-so-slightly sweet bite.  Back in the day when I was trying to lose weight the hard way and before the Carb-Check diet came to be, you would see me with a snack plate of baby carrots and ranch dressing.  But once I discovered the carb count and developed the Carb-Check Diet, carrots were eliminated from my daily snack menu, they are just too high in carb count to be included in every day eats if you're trying to lose weight.   Carrots are more of a maintain weight food, not a weight loss food.

Replace those carrots with radishes! Radishes have a similar crunch to carrots and while they don't share the slightly sweet element of carrots, the peppery flavor of radishes still satisfies.   And yes, by all means eat those radishes with Ranch Dressing!  Pictured right radishes, Ranch and some seasoning salt, a snack of about 4 carbs with about half that coming from the Ranch dressing.

Carb Comparison:

  • 1 cup of of carrots:  12 carbs
  • 1 cup of radishes:  4 carbs

It's a no-brainer!

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