Congratulations folks! Weve just lived through what several sources say was the hottest July on record. Others say it was the hottest since 1936. Either way, we all know it was hot, hot, hot. Ironic. Recall one year when I was a child that it snowed on July 4. Guess Id rather have the heat. At least up here in Wisconsins wonderland we can cool off in one of our many pristine lakes or streams.
Nights have been beautiful beyond belief, especially the last few, with balmy breezes, clear skies and a bright, nearly full moon. Perfect for camping out, dreaming around a campfire. Even the mosquitoes arent bad.
The hot, dry weather this summer has resulted in a lower than normal feeding frenzy for regular mosquitoes, Aedes Vexans, across most of the nation, but ironically, it provides better breeding conditions for the smaller, sneakier Culex Pipiens mosquito that spreads the sometimes deadly and sometimes crippling West Nile virus.
There are no reports so far of humans in TIMESland being affected by West Nile virus this year, but there are higher rates of infected mosquitoes reported in Illinois and Minnesota, and the little pests are not respecters of state lines.
Moral of this story is, douse with mosquito repellent if youre going to be outdoors, particularly in woodsy, swampy areas in the hours between dusk and dawn. The repellent should contain DEET, picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Empty containers of standing water, and drain standing water wherever possible to minimize breeding habitat. (Since wetlands, the ideal breeding areas, are protected, its probably safest to simply stay away from them if you can. If you cant, lotsa luck! )
The little West Nile mosquito is quieter and less annoying than its larger, noisier Vexans cousin, but that makes it easier for it to sneak up from behind, get its drop of blood and fly away again before the victim even knows its there.
Considering the complications that can sometimes result from the West Nile virus, and from other diseases carried by regular mosquitoes, such as malaria, it remains difficult to understand why wetlands are so mightily protected by our DNR. Yes, they filter and clean the groundwater. Yes, they prevent flooding by moderating stormwater runoff. But shouldnt those functions be balanced by a need to defend human neighbors from the predatory little bloodsuckers that breed there? Wont do any good to empty the birdbaths while the swamp that neighbors the yard is filled with the muck and slime in which mosquitoes love to breed.
In the last century (or the century before that) society was going all out to drain swamps and fill wetlands to reduce the mosquito population and provide safe habitat for humans. Our forefathers knew then that mosquitoes spread disease, and thats still true. Only some segments of our population today seem to feel that everything in the environment except humans deserves to be protected.
Beg to differ with that philosophy! We humans are at the top of the food chain and theres no reason to be ashamed of that.
Perhaps a program of spraying with something that doesnt really pollute but does prevent the little buzzers from hatching - like dishwashing detergent - could be considered. Is anybody looking at this?
SEASON MARCHES ON
Anyway, July is over and August is here. Back to school ads are assaulting us from all sides. Summer of 2012 will soon be history. Preparations are in progress for the Wisconsin State Fair mid-month and county fairs everywhere. Ours in Marinette County begins Thursday, Aug. 23.
FROM LIFE TO LEGEND
Last week John Shaffer, last of the generation of business people that put Crivitz and the Near North area on the map as a vacation destination, passed from this life. He will now live on in his rightful place as one of the local legends as a business and community leader.
His Shaffer Park Resort restaurant, famous for Shaffers Fried Chicken, was one of the first destination dining spots in Marinette County. He was a founder of Crivitz Recreation Association and helped establish the Iron Snowshoe Snowmobile Club.
John was a visionary who recognized the pending popularity of the snowmobile long before most of his contemporaries. He even introduced guests at his motel to the sport by providing them with the use of Skidoo machines.
His name lives on in the Shaffer Family Pavilion at the Crivitz VFW Park, and his work will continue to live on, not only in the family business, but in the widespread recreational trail system he helped establish by financing the first trail groomer for the Iron Snowshoe club. At that time most people didnt even really know what a snowmobile was. That was the start of the widespread Marinette County recreational trail system that draws thousands of visitors a year to support the tourist industry that today is Marinette Countys single largest source of income.
The snowmobile trails were the start. As many of them evolve into ATV trails, who knows what the future will bring?
Let us hope that the business leaders of today are ready and able to fill the shoes vacated by Shaffer and his contemporary pioneers in Marinette countys tourist industry.
Little ones just love to play with telephones, and lots of us pass along our worn out cell phones to be used as toys.
This creates a problem most of us have never thought about, but its easily corrected.
In a report to County Board Tuesday, Marinette County Communications Director Terry Zimmerman pointed out that even though service on cell phones is disconnected, they still have the capability of dialing 911.
This is generally a good thing, and probably many lives have been saved because the person with no minutes left on their cell phone plan can still make emergency contact.
But its not a good thing when kids accidentally dial 911 and tie up one of the countys nine emergency lines while the operator begs them to get mama, or dispatches law enforcement personnel to investigate an unresponsive caller!
Zimmerman said go ahead and give the kiddies that old phone, but please, please, take the batteries out first, so the phone cannot accidentally make that 911 call.
Incidentally, there has been considerable concern in some circles about possible harm from frequent close contact with radiation or whatever in those batteries, so removing them will eliminate that hazard too.
If days in the hot summer sun and hours in lake or pool have parched your hair and wrinkled your skin, there is help at hand, and it doesnt need to come from costly supplies purchased at the cosmetic counter.
Try this pre-wash hair beautifier to restore luster and manageability to your tortured locks and leave them smelling lovely as well: Mix two egg yolks, slightly beaten; one tablespoon oil (olive, safflower, almond, coconut, or walnut), and one drop of a scented essential oil such as lemon, tangerine, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, rosemary. (Essential oils can generally be purchased at the local pharmacy.)
Before applying, moisten the hair very slightly by running wet fingers through it, then massage the mixture into hair and scalp. Wrap your head in a towel (or, for even more effect, put on a plastic shower cap), and then sit back in a sauna, take a long hot bath, or relax in a warm place. Leave the pack on for an hour or more, if possible. Maybe leave it on overnight. Then rinse hair in warm water, and then shampoo as usual and rinse, except use more shampoo than usual. If youve used enough shampoo, only one wash is needed. If not, better lather up twice.
To soften skin and add a glow, mix up this lush tropical moisturizer by mashing up an avocado and stirring in some coconut milk. Spread this all over your face and let it soak in while you sit in that sauna or hot bath to moisturize your hair. Incidentally, if youre not using the more intensive treatment, you can comb the avocado mixture through your hair and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it out.
Keep skin smooth by exfoliating regularly with a cleanser mixed with a pinch of plain regular white granulated sugar. Lightly massage it on in the shower. Getting the dead skin off lets the fresh new skin shine through.
During summer, its best to minimize makeup, but do keep your skin protected by sunscreen.
For a fresh summery look, apply a nice facial self tanner to even skin tone and keep it looking radiant without heavy makeup.
To make your lashes look longer, fuller and darker without risking mascara run, treat them with a glossy coat of Vaseline. Comb it through if you have one of those little bitty eyelash combs.
A subtle trick that wakes up your whole face and make your eyes feel better is to keep the white of your eyes clear with redness-reducing drops, like Visine.
And dont forget the old cucumber trick for reducing under-eye puffiness and dark circles: Before applying moisturizer, makeup or just about anything else to your freshly cleaned skin, cut two nice thick slices of chilled cucumber and place one over each eye while you lie down with your feet slightly elevated. Youll feel and look completely refreshed.
When our son was a small boy and angry at some rule or other, he would threaten, Just wait til I grow up and you grow down!
I laughed at him then, but Im not laughing any more. He indeed grew up into a large man, and I came to the unsettling realization recently that my already vertically challenged body is getting shorter, so Im growing down. Guess it happens to everybody (or is that every body?) as old age encroaches.
The shrinkage is blamed on loss of cushioning between spinal vertebrae. If thats the cause, our arms do not get shorter, only our backs. So why then do our fingers not eventually drag the ground? Or will they, if the shrinking goes on long enough?
Not at all a good thought!
Record heat still makes cooking indoors an uncomfortable proposition for those of us who lack an efficient air conditioning system. So we cook outdoors as much as possible, or perhaps use the microwave more than usual. Thats a good thing, but sometimes we get tired of same old, same old and need some new ideas to tickle our taste buds.
GRILLED CORNED BEEF
3 pounds corned beef
2 bottles beer
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon hickory smoke flavor, such as Wrights
Mesquite wood chips, optional
Place corned beef in a grill-proof cooking pan, fat side up, and pour in one bottle of beer and the teaspoon of hickory smoke flavor. Dump in the flavor packet if there was one enclosed with the corned beef. Otherwise dont worry about the spices, theyre already in the meat. Let the beef marinate overnight. The next day, put the mesquite chips to soak if youre using them, and fire up the grill. Chop up the onions and garlic and add them to the pan with the beer and the beef. Set the pan on grill, uncovered, and put some wood chips on the coals. Let the smoke get on the beef for about 15 minutes, then cover and cook for 2 hours with lid on. When the pan gets a bit dry, pour on the remaining bottle of beer. If you need to use another bottle, do so. At the end of the two hours the beef should be fork tender. Take it from the pan and put on the grill, fat side down, to let it smoke some more and brown a bit. Watch closely so you dont send the beef up as a burnt offering. That fat catches fire easily. Serve with buttery boiled cabbage and a packet of garlicky grilled potato chunks, or perhaps the following potato casserole.
MICROWAVE POTATO CASSEROLE
Stir in some cut canned green beans and use two fewer potatoes for a multi-vegetable treat.
8 medium Irish or white potatoes, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, sliced
1 (10 3/4 ounces) can cream of mushroom soup, not diluted
1 1/2 cups milk
Place half of potatoes in 12x8 inch glass baking dish. (Add the green beans if youre using them.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper; add half the sliced onions. Combine soup and milk; pour over onion and potatoes. Top with remaining onion and potatoes; cover with remaining soup mixture. Cover with waxed paper. Microwave at the high setting (thats the one we always use) for 20-25 minutes. If your microwave lacks a turntable, rotate the dish half a turn after 10 minutes. When cooking time is up let stand, covered for a few minutes.
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY ICEBOX TORTE
Lovely, light summer dessert. No flour in this one, so its good for the gluten sensitive, as long as they arent allergic to nuts. Good eating for everyone anyway. Sounds long, but its really quite easy. Make ahead. Needs to freeze at least overnight. Longer is very okay.
1/3 cup hazelnuts, 2 ounces, toasted
2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups raspberry sorbet
1 pint fresh raspberries
Whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two 18-by-12-inch baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour, shaking off excess. Trace three circles onto the foil with your fingertip 3 circles on the paper using an 8-inch cake pan or plate as a guide. Place the toasted hazelnuts, powdered sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in a food processor and process until the nuts are ground. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer at low speed until frothy and then gradually increase speed to high. When soft peaks begin to form, beat in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Add vanilla and continue beating until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form. Sprinkle the reserved hazelnut-cocoa mixture over the meringue and fold in with a large rubber spatula just until mixed. Spread the meringue onto the circles with a spatula. You dont need to be fussy unless you want to. Bake the meringue layers at 250 degrees until golden and firm to the touch, 50 to 70 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets on racks, then carefully peel off the paper or foil. Let the sorbet soften in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Trim meringue layers to fit snugly into an eight or nine inch spring form pan. Set a meringue layer in the bottom of the pan and spread half of the sorbet evenly over it. Repeat for second and third layers. Cover the torte with plastic wrap and freeze overnight or for up to two weeks or so. Before serving, let the torte soften in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Transfer to a cake plate and dust with confectioners sugar. Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve with whipped cream if you wish.
To toast hazel nuts, set oven temperature at 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts in a pie plate and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes. If they have skins, place them on a clean kitchen towel, fold the towel over and rub off as much skin as you can. Let cool. For the above recipe, then reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and continue.
To get the most volume from beaten eggs, its best for them to be at room temperature. Either set them on the counter for 15 minutes or submerge them in their shells in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes before using. Do not waste the yolks. As long as they arent broken they can be covered with cold water and refrigerated for a day or so before being added to scrambled eggs or used in another recipe. Or microwave, water covered, and add to egg salad or potato salad.
Thought for the week: Need to repeat this once in a while as a reminder: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that its me. (author unknown)
(Column written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-927-5034 or by e-mail at shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)
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