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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Country Cousin

Firecracker...



Hi Folks!

According to James G. Blaine, the United States of America is the only country with a known birthday. That’s just one of the things that makes our Land of the Free wonderful and unique, but it sure gives us a good reason to celebrate! Happy Birthday US - Happy Birthday to us!

We’ve got a lot to celebrate! Not only is the Fourth of July almost here, Summer has apparently arrived. Weathermen are predicting some fine swimming type weather for the weekend, even if they are talking about some intermittent rain. Intermittent we can stand. Constant rain, for weeks, is what we are very, very tired of.

Our grass is three feet tall and growing, but maybe this weekend we’ll get it under control. Until now, we’ve either had other obligations, or it’s been raining. What a joy it will be to see a lawn instead of a hayfield!

DID YOU KNOW?

The following information is said to have been assembled by Andy Rooney. Hope he doesn’t care that I’m passing it along in honor of our nation’s birthday.

Rooney says, “As you walk up the steps to the building which houses the U.S. Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world’s law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view. It is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments!”

As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, there are two huge oak doors, each with the Ten Commandments engraved on the lower portion.

As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see on the wall, right above where the Supreme Court judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments!

There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington, D.C.

Certainly hope today’s politicians don’t decide they must wipe out all this history, all this tradition, all the foundations of our legal system, in the interests of avoiding offense to those who call us infidels and would happily wipe us all out!

Incidentaly, if my memory is correct the religion of the non-infidels too goes back to the Old Testament and therefore they also probably recognize and revere the Ten Commandments.

LILY WHITE HANDS

If your hands become stained from gardening, crafting or food handling activities, try cleaning them with a potato. It works particularly well on food stains. Simply slice off a chunk of raw potato and rub it a bit on the stains. Rinse and the discolorations should be gone. A slice off the end of a cucumber also works on some stains.

REALLY NEED A JOB

According to an article in Newsweek, some Americans must be really desperate for paying jobs, more desperate in fact than folks in what we’ve always considered less prosperous parts of the world.

They placed ads on a website run by Amazon.com that acts as a marketplace for freelance work. As Newsweek described their method:

They placed ads for simple, hour-long jobs, such as listening to audio recordings and counting instances of a specific keyword, and continually lowered their offer until they found the absolute bottom price that multiple people would accept, and then complete the task.

“The results? No one in Italy, the Netherlands, or Egypt would accept less than $5 for an hour of work. In Germany it was $3, in Australia and Britain $2, and in Canada $1.25. Americans accepted by far the lowest figure: just 25 cents.”

They concluded the experiment was a long way from perfect, because it looked at the lowest figure that anyone from each country was willing to settle for, rather than calculating an average, which means that countries that have a lot of people using the website to look for work—like the U.S., presumably—are likely to finish lower. In some countries, the people who desperately need work likely do not have access to computers, and here most folks do.

“Still,” the writer concludes, “it serves as a useful reminder: the minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour, and some argue it should be higher. But the reality is that, especially given the current downturn, many Americans will work for a whole lot less—and sometimes do.

Do wonder how many of the respondents were kids. On the other hand, when you have nothing, maybe even 25 cents an hour looks good. If you managed to work enough hours, at least you could eat.

RIGHT TO CARRY LAW

The Wisconsin Legislature last week passed a version of a Concealed Carry law - not the one Constitutional Conserva-tives wanted, because it includes a requirement for so-called shooting safety classes. By its very nature, the requirement for a license and successful completion of classes becomes a version of gun registration, which is exactly what some folks fear most - a system where Big Brother will know exactly who has a gun, what kind, and where they live. It’s not that they plan to commit any crimes with those guns, it’s that once the Government has a list it becomes very easy for someone under the guise of public safety to confiscate all the weapons and leave the American citizenry unarmed and defenseless against tyrants - internal and external.

Remember all the jokes about the Polish Patriots attempting to fight tanks with pitchforks? That isn’t what they wanted to do. It was simply the best they could do. They had no real weapons, and they wanted to show they were willing to fight and die for their nation’s freedom.

Our Founding Fathers, partly because of their almost incredible wisdom, and partly because of some bitter lessons learned at the hands of the British lords and masters, recognized and protected the right of common ordinary folks to protect themselves from their government.

Noah Webster, patriot and scholar in early America, wrote in “An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution,” in Philadelphia, 1787, less than a dozen years after our Declaration of Independence was signed: “Before a standing army can rule the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.” Webster, after all, must have known what he was talking about. He was closely involved with those who wrote both the Declaration and the Constitution!

RIGHT ON, ERMA

Have always loved the way Erma Bombeck thinks, and her thinking about American patriotism and the Fourth of July is right on: “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” Yes, indeed. We Americans aren’t much interested in proving anything to the rest of the world. We love enjoying our families, our land of peace and plenty, and our right to be pretty much left alone to do our own thing. Let us pray that never changes!

ITCH BEGONE

With the wet spring we’ve had, mosquitoes are out in force. Bites are almost unavoidable for anyone who wants to enjoy the great outdoors, especially if you’re doing that enjoying in the Great North Woods.

Some bites lead to extended itching, but there are remedies, and some of them work on tick bites as well. If you’re fresh out of the drugstore variety of treatments, try one or more of these:

Apply solid or roll-on anti-perspirant to the bite.

Dab the bite with ammonia (it stings, but will relieve the itch).

Place a piece of scotch tape on the bite; or first dab the bite with rubbing alcohol or ammonia, then stick on a piece of tape.

Many people find that a paste of baking soda and water is an effective remedy. The consistency should be thick enough that it doesn’t run and it will stay in place on the bite.

Another paste that works against mosquito bites, and also bee stings, is meat tenderizer and water. Mix to the same consistency as the baking soda paste and apply as needed.

COOKIN’ TIME

As Erma said, the Fourth of July, like most of our other holidays, is pretty much about feasting. Today’s overflow of recipes offer a bunch of suggestions for back yard and picnic type feasts with family and friends. Most feature milk, cream, butter, and/or cheese as ingredients, in honor of June Dairy Month, which is rapidly drawing to close. Did you know Wisconsin produces 26 percent of all the cheese made in America?

FIRECRACKER POPPERS

Great backyard appetizer!

18 jalapeo peppers, cut lengthwise in half, seeds and

membranes removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces (1/2 of an 8-oz. package) cream cheese, softened

1 cup mexican style shredded four cheeses

4 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled

2 tablespoons finely chopped onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes. (It’s a good idea to use rubber gloves when you do this, and DO NOT rub your eyes.) Put them on baking pan, drizzle on the olive oil, cover pan with foil and bake about 15 minutes. Let them cool a bit. While they’re cooling, prepare the filling by mixing everything else together and then stuff it into the pre-cooked peppers and put them back on the baking sheet, stuffed side up. Shortly before serving time, preheat oven to 375 degrees, put in oven uncovered and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and they’re done as you like them. We prefer the slightly longer cooking time.

JUICY GRILLED HAMBURGERS

1 pound lean ground beef

3 tablespoons chopped onions

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 tablespoon catsup

1 teaspoon grainy mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Dash Tabasco sauce

Mix all ingredients well several hours before you plan to cook. Cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours to marinate. About 20 minutes before serving time light the charcoal. Form the ground beef mixture into four nice big patties. Make them thinner in the center and thicker on the outer edges, and when they’re done they’ll be the same thickness all over. Grill perhaps four minutes on each side and serve on toasted buns with buns with a pat of icy cold butter, a dab of ketchup and mustard, and a slice of nice sweet onion. Or go the salad route, with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickles, onions, more cheese, and probably mayonnaise. Eat hearty!

BALSAMIC CHICKEN

Makes four servings, one breast half each. Serve with French style green beans lightly touched with olive oil and cauliflower with a squeeze of lemon for a pretty, satisfying and totally diet friendly plate.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Combine all the ingredients in a large resealable plastic storage bag; mix well. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Heat a grill pan over medium heat until hot. Place the chicken on the pan, discarding excess marinade, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes per side, or until no pink remains and the juices run clear.

HEAVENLY TRIFFLE

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream or Neufatchel cheese, softened

2 cups milk, divided

1 package (4-serving size) vanilla flavor instant pudding

1 tub (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed, or real cream,

whipped and slightly sweetened

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

1 package (12 oz.) frozen raspberries without syrup, thawed

1 package (8.5 oz.) angel food cake, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the milk, mixing until well blended. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups milk and pudding mix. Beat on low speed 2 minutes or until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping or whipped cream. Mix pineapple and raspberries. Arrange 1/3 of the cake cubes in in a 3-quart glass serving bowl; cover with layers of 1/3 each of the fruit and pudding mixtures. Repeat all layers 2 more times. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Make this low cal/low carb and diabetic friendly by using Neufatchel cheese, sugar free/fat free pudding mix, skim milk, and lite (or sugar free) whipped topping.

BERRIED TREASURES DESSERT

Beautiful, easy dessert. Perfect for Fourth of July celebrations, in beautiful Red, White and Blue. Make it in a glass baking pan to let the red, white and blue colors show from the sides as well as the top, even before it’s cut. To make preparation even easier, cut the recipe in half and use a ready-made purchased round graham cracker pie crust. Not quite as good as homemade, but still very, very edible.

Crust:

1-1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix graham crumbs, sugar and butter in 13x9-inch pan; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes in 350 degree oven, or not. Your choice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Fillings:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons cold milk

1 tub (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided (or 8

ounces real cream, whipped and lightly sweetened)

4 cups fresh strawberries, halved

2 cups fresh blueberries,cleaned and stemmed

2 packages (3.4 oz. each) vanilla, cheesecake, lemon or

white chocolate flavor instant pudding

3-1/2 cups cold milk

Beat cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a large bowl with whisk or electric mixer until well blended. Stir in half the whipped topping; spread over the crust. Top most of the berries, but save some to decorate the top. Beat or whisk pudding mixes and 3-1/2 cups milk for two minutes. Pour over berries. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Spread with remaining whipped topping just before serving, and decorate with reserved berries, perhaps in a flag pattern with strawberries for stripes and blueberries for stars. (Make this low fat/low cal by substituting Neufatchel cheese for the cream cheese, and sugar free pudding mix.

For a quick chocolate garnish for this or any other cream-topped dessert (or ice cream) keep instant chocolate drink mix on hand in a small shaker bottle, such as an empty spice bottle. Sprinkle on just before serving.

NO GRAHAM CRACKERS? Make a pretzel crust. Yum. The salty sweet flavor adds a whole new dimension!

2 cups crushed pretzels

4 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 sticks melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together pretzels, sugar and butter and press into 9x12 pan. Bake for about 10 minutes. Then fill as above.

Thought For the Week: As the birthday of our nation approaches, puff up with a bit of pride that we Americans are the heirs of patriots who carried a vision to reality and created a nation unlike anything the world had ever seen before. Their great experiment is still a work in progress, and we’re still trying to get it right. And we can, too, unless we fall victim to the fallacy that our Declaration of Independence guarantees the right to life, liberty and happiness. Nowhere did our Founding Fathers say that, nor is there any indication any of them believed that. They did believe that Government had no right to deprive us of life, liberty or our pursuit of our own personal happiness. Whether we find happiness or not is entirely our own responsibility. God Bless America, and God Bless the Red, White and Blue! And may each and every one of us find the happiness our forefathers guaranteed us the right to pursue!

COUNTRY COUSIN


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