Northeast Region FCS Newsletter - November 2022

Quincy L. Cheek, Seay, Brittney, Sims, Joy K, Butcher, Kimberly, Gouge, Ana-Alicia, Stevens, Cecilia, Mathews, Marcie

A Seat at the Table with Family, Friends, and Colleagues

A collaborative article written by Kimberly Butcher, Ana Gouge, and Brittney Newsome

As we come together, whether it be as family or with friends and even colleagues in the workplace, it is important to show gratitude towards one another. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Exhibiting gratitude through different interactive exercises makes for a fun filled gathering in the home or even in the workplace. Here are a few ways to express gratitude wherever you may be:

  • Gratitude jar or box (individual self-care or group setting): Create a special jar or box and randomly place gratitude statements in the designated spot every day. If done as an individual project be sure to place statements to share with someone you are grateful for as well. If done in a group setting, set aside a time to read the notes aloud, whether it’s done over a period of time or at the end of a gathering.
  • Create a gratitude wall (individual or group setting): Find a designated spot in the home or workplace by using wall space, a whiteboard, or post-it easel board. This visual activity will encourage family, friends, or colleagues to write what they are grateful for and post it on the board. Optional: Once everyone has participated, then read the notes for everyone to hear.
  • Have a gratitude scavenger hunt (group setting): Conducting a scavenger hunt is a simple and fun activity that can be used to stimulate gratitude in a group setting. Make a list of different prompts to provide engagement and encouragement for everyone to participate. Suggested prompts include finding someone wearing your favorite color and explain why, finding someone you are grateful for and tell them why, finding someone who tends to make you smile or laugh and explain to them why, finding something for someone to make them smile or laugh and explain the significance of whatever it may be, and finding an item you can use to make a gift for someone and explain your reasoning for the item you chose.

Upon completion of gratitude exercises whether done individually or in a group setting, it is truly an opportunity to express thankfulness and be supportive. There are so many benefits of gratitude when done on a regular basis such as improving physical health, increasing empathy, reducing aggression, becoming more social, and it even enhances self-esteem. Be sure to consistently add exercises of gratitude throughout the year to gain these wonderful benefits, strengthen your brain and mental well-being but also return the favor to someone else as well. The idea of giving thanks is universal. The concept of gathering with loved ones to share a meal and giving thanks is a relatable connection that can be expressed worldwide. Being grateful for the people around you and the life you have.

A traditional Thanksgiving may be important to you or your family but incorporating foods that honor other cultures is a valuable way to reflect on your or others’ ethnic roots. Welcoming more culture to your menu shows you embrace the freedom that a holiday dedicated to giving thanks gives you. The food may be different, but the meaning is the same. Try including one or more of the following delicious multicultural dishes below in your Thanksgiving feast.

Food has always had an ability to bring us together. Creating traditions surrounding being inclusive could be a new avenue for your family’s Thanksgiving celebration. Thanksgiving shares a large cultural context around traditional Native Americans and the Pilgrims. For many families, this is simply a time to show thankfulness. New traditions may be inviting others over. Consider inviting the new neighbor who may be unable to travel home, an elderly couple who is unable to be with extended family, or even a single parent. We always tend to overcook for the holidays, why not share? Thanksgiving is also a time to renew bonds, try reaching out to old friends or even family that you may have not spoken with in a while. If you live near a university, consider reaching out to the International Student Department and offer your home to host a student who has not experienced this holiday! Remember, this is a time of year to show that we appreciate each other and that we welcome ALL to the table.

A bowl of mashed butternut squash topped with chopped nuts.

Peanut butter adds depth and additional creaminess to mashed butternut squash. It's the perfect sweet/salty combo.

Several pieces of Za'atar flatbread covered with a blend of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, marjoram, and sumac.

Include Za'atar flatbread in your feast as a spicy alternative to dinner rolls. Za'atar is a blend of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, marjoram, and sumac.

A cooked turkey on a bed of greens, garnished with slices of baked orange.

Give your main course a Latin American, Mexican, or Southwestern twist by preparing adobo butter turkey. Garlic, spices, vinegar, citrus, and dried Pasillas, ancho, and chipotle chiles give your bird extra spice.

A slice of cake with a whole piece of pear in it on a saucer with the whole cake in the background.

Instead of pie, serve vegan chai spice poached pear cake. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper work together to create the cake's unique flavor. The tender fruit keeps the spicy cake moist. A dusting of powdered sugar adds a touch of sweetness.

Healthy Recipe Box: Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

by Quincy Vidrine

High in Vitamin A - Butternut squash stores well - Delicious oven-roasted

  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (remove seeds)
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Greek Yogurt: low-fat or nonfat (optional for topping/garnish)


Brown onions and garlic in a small skillet for 5-7 minutes, until caramelized. Combine vegetable stock, garlic & onion mixture, carrot, apple, butternut squash, and all seasonings to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high – until squash is tender and mashes easily with a fork. Remove sage sprig and discard. Stir in coconut milk. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. (You can also transfer in batches to a blender to puree.) Adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve warm, with a swirl of Greek yogurt on top, if desired.

Fall Fun at the Delta Master Gardeners' Pumpkin Patch

by Joy K. Sims and Cecilia Stevens; Contributor: Marcie Wilson

What’s round, orange, and lots of fun? PUMPKINS! They are one of the most popular sights when the seasons change, and they are used for making great meals like soups, pies, and cookies. Not only are they tasty, but they can also be displayed as decorations either fresh from the field or with a little (maybe a lot) of creativity and carving. These gourds have a way of bringing people together whether it’s for fellowship, fun, or both! The Delta Master Gardeners (DMG) and other volunteers, under the leadership of Marcie Wilson, LSU AgCenter regional horticulture agent, were able to bring the fun of fall to residents of Tensas Parish by growing a pumpkin patch and by hosting a pumpkin sale!

This past summer, the Delta Master Gardeners planted pumpkin seeds from the 2016 field trial varieties at the LSU AgCenter Northeast Research Station to prepare for the sale. Winter squash seeds were collected from the 2021 variety trial and planted alongside the 2022 pumpkin patch. The original plan was a one-day event where guests could tour the field and select their own pumpkins for harvest, however, an early-season freeze warning caused the group to pivot. Marcie and the Delta Master Gardeners spent 2 days prior to the sale harvesting the crop by hand. They were able to collect enough of the pumpkins and squash to fill a 20’ trailer in order to save them from damage. The trailer was brought back to the field on the day of the sale and the DMG sorted the pumpkins and winter squash by size and variety. One particularly nice pumpkin was offered as a door prize on the day of the sale as well.

On Thursday October 20th, the Delta Master Gardener volunteers arrived at the research station early to setup for the sale. Master gardeners and volunteers were stationed at the pumpkin sales tent while others local Healthy Communities and LSU AgCenter Horticulture agents lead the Grow a Row to Share program information table, horticulture/DMG information table, and helped hand out refreshments provided by the Delta Master Gardeners. Social media promotions by Marcie and shared by LSU AgCenter collaborators were key to getting the word out across the parish. Collecting footage and photos on site, the Master Gardeners and Tensas Parish Healthy Communities were able to create a TikTok video to share on Facebook and promote sale in real time which actually caused after-school visitor traffic to increase; the sale was extended from the original end time of 2 PM to 4:30 PM instead!

The Delta Master Gardeners estimate there were around 200 pumpkins sold from their harvest. The remaining pumpkins were donated to a children’s pumpkin painting project in Newellton (Carrie’s Snack shack) and to Tensas 4-H for nutrition and art projects while some winter squash went towards making soup for the Food Safety Training held at the Scott Center Nov 2-3. The pumpkin sale was a unique project because of the variety of collaborators, the number of volunteers present, the partnerships utilized from the field to yield, and the use of technology to promote the project. According to Marcie, “The greatest challenge was the weather and environmental conditions affecting pumpkin yield”. The LSU AgCenter is a major proponent of collaboration and partnership, and this event was a beautiful demonstration of the great things that can be accomplished when we work together!

Kid Stuff

by Quincy Vidrine

Family mealtimes are important but sometimes it’s hard to engage your kiddos in conversation. Ask each family member to put away electronic devices and use these holiday-themed riddles to get the conversation flowing:

  • Why did the turkey decide to cross the road? To prove that he wasn't a chicken.
  • Which side of the turkey has the most feathers? The outside.
  • Where do turkeys go if they want to dance? The Butter Ball.
  • Why are turkeys good at rebelling? They love a coup.
  • Who didn't have any friends at Friendsgiving? The turkey!

Upcoming Events

Home Food Preservation Training Franklin Parish: Please contact Quincy L. Vidrine at 318-623-5217 for more information.

Work-out Wednesdays (virtual) Ouachita Parish: Please contact Cathy Agan for more info.

Teen Cuisine (in-person) Franklin Parish: Workshops taking place on September 15th, October 13th, October 20th, November 3rd, and December 15th for ages 13-18. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.


  • Catahoula/Concordia Parishes, Ana Gouge, (318) 414-6055, LSU AgCenter.
  • CDC Food Systems Coordinator, Cecilia Stevens, (318) 435-2908, LSU AgCenter.
  • East Carroll/Morehouse Parishes, Jocinda Jackson-Jones, (318) 559-1459, LSU AgCenter.
  • East Carroll/West Carroll Parishes, Carolyn Robinson, (318) 559-1459, Southern University.
  • Franklin Parish/Caldwell Parishes/FCS Regional Coordinator, Quincy Vidrine, (318) 435-2903, LSU AgCenter.
  • Madison/Tensas Parishes, Joy Sims, (318) 574-2465, LSU AgCenter.
  • Morehouse/Union Parishes, Marianna Langston, 318-368-9935, Southern University.
  • Ouachita Parish, Cathy Agan, (318) 323-2251, LSU AgCenter.
  • Ouachita/Morehouse Parishes, Kimberly Butcher, (318) 323-2251, LSU AgCenter.
  • Ouachita/Union Parish, Markaye Russell, (318) 323-2251, LSU AgCenter.
  • Richland/West Carroll Parishes, Brittney Newsome, (318) 281-5741, LSU AgCenter.
11/22/2022 4:40:03 PM
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