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

Living...Hi Folks!

August is here, and already the days are shorter and evenings are cooler. We should all rejoice. The weather has been absolutely, positively beautiful, and we’re promised more of the same, for a while at least.

Harvests are going well, and gardens in TIMESland seem to be producing in abundance. We’ve had the rain we needed to keep them growing, and in that we’re far more fortunate than much of the rest of the country.

ON THE SOAP BOX

FUEL PRICES


With the nationwide drought and the current rise in fuel prices to nearly $4 a gallon (again) we’d all be well advised to take advantage of our local abundance, and follow the example of the wise ants by putting food away to provide against what almost certainly will be another harsh round of inflation in the months to come.

It’s frustrating to think that at least half of this problem could have been prevented, but the powers that be in Washington decided against the Canadian pipe line some time ago, and now it’s probably too late. We’re told much of that oil production will now be going to China. Certainly hope America isn’t on its way to becoming another hungry Third World Country.

Someone in Washington either has a death wish, or simply doesn’t understand that the economy of our nation runs on gas and oil. We live where we want to live, and some of us drive long distances to work. We transport products untold miles from farm and factory to markets across our vast nation and around the world. Our farms are mechanized, and planting and harvesting costs are affected hugely by the price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

The Energy Czar appointed by President Barrack Obama may think he’s saving the world by encouraging high fuel prices, but the only way we Americans are likely to leave our vehicles parked is if we’re all too broke to drive them. Inflation just may do that!

Opening some of our domestic oil fields for meaningful production would go a long way toward alleviating the factors that are pushing prices up.

COST OF LIVING

Got to thinking how well off our family was back in the 1960s. Our incomes were $3.60 an hour from one spouse and $3 per hour from the other. But gasoline cost 23 cents a gallon. House payments, with escrow for property taxes, were $60 a month. Utility bills averaged $20 a month in summer and $40 a month in winter, for electricity, heat and water. We had money left over at the end of the month. Sometimes lots of it.

Compare that with today. Multiply those 1960 gasoline price by 17 to come up to where they are today. Multiply housing and utility costs by 10. With those multipliers, to keep pace, our wages today would need to be between $36 and $61 an hour. A few folks do earn that today, but not many that I know! Most of the ones who do get their paychecks from the government in one way or an other, directly or indirectly.

MORE ON THE SOAP BOX

CONGRATULATIONS!


Representative Reid Ribble, a member of Wisconsin’s delegation to the Washington legislature, deserves congratulations for the recent passage of his legislation, the Midnight Rule Relief Act. It passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 245-172, as part of the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act. Ribble’s rule will prohibit lame duck administrations from issuing major rules that have an economic impact of $100 million or more annually with the exception for emergency health, safety, criminal, and national security purposes. That prohibition could save us all kinds of Federal heartache come November and December this year.

Passage of the law was urged by R. Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for the United States Chamber of Commerce, who said of it:

“These improvements would streamline the federal permitting process, impose transparency on the abused ‘sue and settle’ process used by agencies and environmental groups to circumvent the rule making process, and prohibit agencies from proposing or finalizing major midnight regulations. The common sense reforms in these bills would make the nation’s regulatory process more transparent, efficient, and workable for businesses that create jobs and contribute to economic growth.”

Heaven knows, in today’s harsh economic climate we need whatever we can get that creates jobs and contributes to our nation’s economic growth.

Anyone who knows anything should recognize that the best way to encourage business growth, other than cutting fuel prices, is to streamline permitting processes and minimize hampering regulations. Unfortunately, too many politicians and bureaucrats don’t seem to know anything. If they’d ever been in business for themselves, they would understand.

Good job, Ribble! Congratulations!

DON’T TAX THE GOLD

The things we don’t know!

Somehow, never thought about the possibility of Olympic Gold Medal winners being taxed on the value of those symbols of their victory on behalf of themselves and our nation.

Am not so shocked at the notion of them being taxed on the value of cash prizes, but would certainly hate to see some poor athletes forced to sell their medals because they can’t afford to pay the taxes.

Just how greedy are we, anyway?

The good news is that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced legislation to exempt American winners from federal taxes on their gold, silver or bronze meals and the cash prizes that comes with them. President Obama reportedly backs that legislation and has promised to sign the bill into law if he gets the chance.

How about that?

For possibly the first time, Yours Truly and President Obama are on the same side of an issue!

Incidentally, those cash prizes are not chicken feed. Medal winners in London win cash prizes of $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. The U.S. Olympic Committee also pays for medals, and so do national associations of some of the individual sports.

The bad news is that the mainstream press is once again showing its bias. They’re playing up the president’s support of the idea, and downplaying the fact that it started with Sen. Rubio.

Shame on them!

OFF THE SOAP BOX

AND ON TO SHAMPOO


Most of us have heard that in the old days, before all the specialized hair care products like shampoo and conditioner and jells and sprays, beer was considered a fine rinse to add body and manageability to fine hair.

It still does that, by the way, although the smell might lead to a breathalyzer test for a driver in a traffic stop with freshly beered hair.

Anyway, there’s a story going round that two nuns shopping at a convenience store on a recent hot, muggy evening got to reminiscing bout how good a nice cold beer would taste.

Sister Ann felt she would not feel comfortable buying beer in such a public place because it might cause a scandal.

“I can handle that without a problem,” Sister Berta replied, as she picked up a six-pack and headed for the check-out.

The cashier looked a bit surprised when the two nuns arrived with a six-pack of beer.

“We use beer for washing our hair,” Sister Berta said, “Back at our nunnery, we call it “catholic shampoo.”

Without blinking an eye, the cashier reached under the counter, pulled out a package of pretzel rods and placed them in the bag with the beer.

“Curlers are on the house,” he said with a grin.

COOKIN’ TIME

Enjoy the fruits of your garden labors now, and put some away for the future too. Corn is ready for freezing and canning, and there are just about as many ways recommended for freezing corn as there are cooks. The one thing they all agree on is that whatever you’re going to do with it should be done as quickly as possible after picking it.

My wonderful old, irreplaceable “Grow It and Cook It” book that is now lost had this recipe for sweet corn: “Put large kettle of water on the stove to boil and add some salt and a tablespoon or so of sugar if you like. Walk down to the garden and quickly pick as many ears of corn as the kettle will hold. Run as fast as you can back to the house, shuck corn, remove silks and drop the ears into the boiling water. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes.”

FROZEN CREAMED CORN

Have not tried this myself, but several good cooks we know have, and they say it is marvelous, and easy to boot.

24 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob (probably 5 dozen

ears)

1 pint of half and half cream

1 pound of butter

Cut fresh corn off the cob till you have 24 cups, generally about five dozen ears. Put in a large roaster with the butter and cream. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half. Stirring often. Cool and freeze in meal-size containers or plastic bags. When it’s time to serve, put a small amount of water in a pan and drop in the frozen corn. Cover and heat slowly until the corn is all thawed, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper and sugar at this time, if desired. When it gets to serving temperature, serve and enjoy.

FREEZING CORN ON THE COB

18 ears fresh corn on the cob

1/2 cup butter, melted

4 quarts water

1 teaspoon salt

6 ziploc bags

Remove husks and silks from corn. Bring water and salt to a fast boil, and cook corn in batches, boiling each batch for four minutes. Transfer cooked ears to a dish towel and allow them to drain, uncovered, until cool enough to be easily handled. This is how you keep the corn from being too watery. At this point, you could simply put the ears into zipper type bags and freeze. But to save freezer space, cut off the kernels and just freeze them. Using an angel food cake pan, place ear on center and begin cutting kernels off so they fall into the pan. Then angle knife slightly to get the small bits out of the ears. Repeat until pan is full or all ears are cut. Pour butter over kernels and mix well. This gives each kernel its own buttery seal. Put about 2 cups of corn into individual bags. Squeeze all the air out, seal and then push to flatten each bag. Freeze on a cookie sheet to keep each bag flat, then stack to store in freezer. Corn will be good for up to a year. To use, defrost in the microwave and serve.

CUCUMBER LASSI

This cooling beverage uses excess cucumbers. It’s on the menu for the Olympics in England this year as a foods from India item. Sounds weird, but it’s said to be served often in India as a mouth cooling accompaniment to hot curries. Probably good with chili, too, or hot Buffalo Wings. They also say it makes a delicious, light and clean tasting breakfast beverage. Oh, and let’s not forget healthy! Another way to get that daily ration of vegetables.

1 1/2 cups cucumber chunks, peeled and seeded

1 cup buttermilk

1/8 teaspoon salt

Optional:

1 teaspoon sugar

1 to 2 scallions, chopped

6 to 8 fresh mint leaves

Combine everything in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve cold, plain or over ice. Makes 1 to 2 servings.

WILD BERRY BUCKLE

Use the bounty of blackberry, raspberry or blueberry bushes (or all three) to make this treat. Comes from friend Carol who got it from her marvelous Marlboro Country cookbook.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 pound chilled butter, cubed

5 tablespoons Seven Up or other clear soda

5 to 6 cups berries

1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey

Put flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar in food processor, add cubed butter and process until crumbly. with processor running, add soda water and process until a ball forms. (You can also mix by hand, but it’s more work.) Press dough mixture into a 4 inch disc, wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more, then roll out to fit a 9 inch round or 11x7 inch square baking dish, with enough for a 2-inch overhang. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour berries into crust, sprinkle sugar over them and dot on the remaining butter. Drizzle the bourbon over this. (No, if you want to drink some, get your own. This is for the buckle.) Fold edges of crust up and over the fruit, leaving the center open. Sprinkle on additional sugar if desired. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve at room temperature with Vanilla Cream Sauce, ice cream or whipping cream.

VANILLA CREAM SAUCE

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup milk

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine sugar, salt and cornstarch in saucepan. Stir in milk, then cook and stir until the mixture thickens. Stir a small amount of this into the egg yolk, and then add it all to the mixture in the pan. Cook and stir one minute, then stir in the vanilla. Chill. Later, whip the cream and fold in the chilled pudding.

(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.

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