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Shelly Barnes: Preparing your home and you for winter

Shelly Barnes • Oct 16, 2018 at 5:16 PM

Is your home ready for winter? Are you? According to Martha Keel, environmental health and housing specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension, fall is the perfect time to get ready for winter. 

Good home maintenance is essential to protect your investment, prevent costly damage during the winter and keep your home safe and healthy.

While fall is all about the beautiful leaves, bonfires and heading outside to enjoy the crisp weather, it should also be about making sure you and your home are ready for winter. The checklist below will help you ensure home winter readiness.

Home safety

• Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. More than 70 percent of the fatal structure fires in Tennessee happen where there is no working smoke alarm. 

• Check chimneys and flues to make sure they are clean and operating properly.

Home maintenance

• Repair any broken or cracked glass in your windows so that heat does not escape in cold months.

• Clean and tune furnaces, boilers and hot water heaters, checking for leaks or sweating.

• Check your attic’s insulation, ensuring it is in place.

• Consider installing appliance timers to cut your winter energy costs.

• Clean gutters and downspouts.

• Drain outdoor faucets and hoses.

Car safety

• Add a blanket or sleeping bag to your car’s emergency kit, along with extra hats, socks and gloves

• Purchase a windshield scraper for frosty mornings, or keep it in the trunk if you own one already.

You’ll probably work up an appetite after you spend time checking on those items.  Check out the recipe to warm your kitchen and your belly this time of year.  To watch a video on how to make the soup, visit youtu.be/5Vsq1IJkrTE.

Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

This cozy side-dish soup packs lots of nutrient-rich vegetables and will warm you up on a cold day.

What do I need?

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash, about one small squash.

• 2 cups small diced carrots, about four medium carrots.

• 1 medium onion, small diced.

• 3 ½ cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.

• ¼ tsp. ground pepper.

• ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg.

• ¼ cup half-and-half or low-fat milk.

• toasted pumpkin seeds, optional.

What do I do?

• In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and add squash, carrots and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

• Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25-35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.

• Place one-third of the squash mixture and one-third of the liquid in a food processor or blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Move contents to a large bowl or measuring cup to hold. Repeat with the remaining squash mixture.

• Return all of squash mixture back to saucepan and back to stovetop. Add pepper, nutmeg and half-and-half.

• Heat through, stirring frequently. Once the soup begins to steam, it is ready to eat. Do not boil the soup, or the half-and-half may curdle.

• If desired, garnish each serving with pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 140 calories, 5g fat, 520mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 3g protein.

UT Extension proviIn cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.  Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides real life solutions. Visit ag.tennessee.edu.

For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences-related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at sbarnes@utk.edu or 615-444-9584.

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