Hello Valencia County! My name is Crystal Garcia-Anaya. I grew up as an Air Force brat and joined the Army during high school, moving around the country and seeing new places.
However, my dad was from Mesilla, N.M., so I made my way home to our wonderful state and have since settled down here in Valencia County for quite some time now.
Over the last several years, my daughter has been involved with the Valencia County 4-H program and, more recently, I’ve become involved with the extension office as both an adult volunteer and NMSU employee.
In March, I started as a temporary agent and, by July, I was welcomed as Valencia County’s family consumer science/4-H youth development agent. I am excited to be working with the extension staff and look forward to bringing fun and rewarding programs to the community I’ve so gratefully called my own over the last 18 years.
You might be wondering to yourself, what is Family Consumer Science? FCS was previously known as home economics and covers programs involved in financial literacy, childhood development, clothing/textiles, food science, nutrition and much more! Through extension programming, we help provide adults and youth with professional and life management skills through instruction and leadership development activities.
Over the next few months, I will be working on bringing classes for both youth and adults.
Regarding this season in the FCS world, we are entering into the food preservation months. There is no denying that most fruits and veggies we have grown taste the best when eaten in season or picked fresh from the source. We are in the prime time to find our late summer fruits. It can be difficult to find ways to save and preserve the last of our late bounty.
One of the ways to do so is by jamming up some delicious mixes. A long time ago, I heard that jam was like an extremely good story. They read easily and are full of juicy stuff. They both heat up the kitchen and make a wild mess of things. But we still have this summer heat, and we likely want to get away from the warmth of the stove, so we have a good solution for jams! Rather than using the stove, the microwave is a quick and cool solution to making jams.
With a few pounds of fruit, lemons or lemon juice and sugar, a microwave safe bowl and 10 minutes time, you could have a new creation out of your microwave! Better yet, you’ll stay cool and not have a huge clean-up process.
Here is a favorite recipe, I used over the years:
- 2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
In an extra-large microwave safe bowl combine the berries, sugar, and lemon juice. (Use an extra-large bowl, as the process creates bubbling and overflow, so we don’t want it to make a mess in your microwave)
Place the bowl in the microwave on high for about 9-10 minutes (sometimes depending on wattage it may take an extra minute or two). During this process, check the mixture as cook times may vary. When the jam is ready the berries should be broken down and the mixture will be thick and shiny. Just remember that jams thicken as they cool.
Transfer your jam into a sterilized warm airtight jar and refrigerate for two to three weeks or share your creations with others.
To register for an upcoming program, call the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service at 505-565-3002. For more information, visit valenciaextension.nmsu.edu.
- Ready, Set, GROW! Free gardening classes are being offered virtually. Registration required, please visit the link for upcoming classes and more information: desertblooms.nmsu.edu/grow.html
- Valencia County Extension Master Gardeners is active. Sign up to become one of the next certified master gardener’s for Valencia County! Classes start January 2024. Contact Josh Sherman through the extension office at 505-565-3002. Plant clinics will be coming to the farmers markets soon!
- First annual fall plant sale on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Los Lunas Ag Science Center, by the Valencia Extension Master Gardeners focusing on native and pollinator plants. Trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers for the Valencia County climate. Contact the VEMGs for more information at [email protected] or call 505-565-3002.
If you are an individual with a disability who requires auxiliary aid or service to participate in a program, please contact the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service Office at 505-565-3002 two weeks in advance of the event.