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

Surprises...

Hi Folks!

The drought that faced us earlier this year appears to be over. Heard a rumor someone had started building an ark, but that probably isn’t true.

Am warned that Global Warming will again be foisted to the national forefront, to be used as a pretext for additional taxes on businesses that pollute. Naturally, taxes for that reason won’t hurt the economy. Never!

Considering the sudden cold snap, it seems like we’re headed back toward Global Cooling, at least here close to the Northern Temperate Zone meridian line. Haven’t seen 16 degree temperatures this early in November for many long years.

HAPPY SURPRISES

Long ago, when this column first started, a goal was to have each week a section that would be called Good News Gazette. The idea was to report on people caught committing those wonderful random acts of kindness, generally not because they’re planned, but because some people are simply naturally kind.

The idea fell through because the good news reports just didn’t keep coming in.

Right now, as the old year draws to a close and the Christian season of Good Cheer fast approaches, seems like a good time to try again. We all need more things to feel good about. If you spot someone doing an uncompensated good deed, or treating another with special kindness, please e-mail news@peshtigotimes.com, with Attn: Country Cousin on the subject line. Best to include your telephone number, but it’s not necessary.

An alert bartender at The Woods west of Crivitz once before reported a random act of kindness, and last week he spotted another one. On Thursday or Friday, shortly before Veteran’s Day, an elderly gentleman wearing a cap that proclaimed his military service was enjoying dinner with his wife, daughter and grandchildren. Dining alone nearby was a young man, perhaps 30. He summoned a waitress and asked to pay the tab for the veteran and his wife. Gave instructions that she not pass along that information until after he was gone, and not identify him. She also was instructed to tell the Veteran, Thanks for all you’ve done!

Our informant says the veteran was dumbfounded. Nothing like that had ever happened to him before. But he was pleased. Very pleased.

The men and women who gave of their lives to serve our country deserve to be honored every day, but yes, particularly on the day set aside for them.

Here’s a report of what seems to be an act of kindness committed by, of all things, a shark!

According to the web, Australian and Asian newspapers have been publishing reports of a tropical Pacific Island policeman who claims a shark helped save his life.

His story is astounding enough even without the shark.

It seems Toakai Teitol had flown from his home island of Maiana to the Kiribati capital of Tarawa to be sworn in as a policeman. That was on May 27. The next day he and a brother in law decided to make the 2-hour trip home by boat, and fish along the way. After sleeping overnight, they awoke to find themselves far from the sight of land. For over three months they drifted in the 15-foot wooden boat.

The brother in law died, probably from dehydration, and was respectfully buried at sea. That was in July. Teitoi, father of six, was severely dehydrated but managed to survive because of a downpour that allowed him to fill some water containers. And possibly because he prayed.

On the morning of Sept. 11 Teitoi caught sight of a fishing boat in the distance but the crew did not see him. He told his rescuers later that he then became dejected and did what he had done most days, curled up under a small covered area in the bow to stay out of the tropical sun, where he could not have been seen by sailors on the other boat.

He woke in the afternoon to the sound of scratching and looked overboard to see a six-foot shark circling his boat and bumping the hull. He said it appeared to be deliberate. When the shark knew it had had his attention it swam off.

He was guiding me to a fishing boat. I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me, Teitoi said.

He feels had he not been awakened by the shark the fishing boat would have simply sailed on. Instead, he was rescued by the fishing vessel Marshalls 203, and eventually was safely returned to his home.

Says if he travels again, it will be by air, not by boat. He didn’t say it, but we assume he won’t be eating Shark Fin Soup any time soon.

ON THE SOAP BOX

Received several welcome calls from folks who shared the sentiments expressed in this column last week, and one from a lady who did not. She questioned the research into the item on Hot Lunch menu restrictions and wondered if I had visited a hot lunch program. Had not, but did speak directly with some of the hot lunch directors and their school administrators. But that’s not the point. As we conversed, she advised that we all just need to relax and let the government do its job.

Now that’s frightening! Our job, as citizens of this fine Republic, is to keep our eyes and ears open, and scream loud and long if we do not like the way our elected representatives - and that includes the president - are doing their jobs.

STILL ON THE SOAP BOX

What a two-faced nation we have become.

Mean that literally, and the recent elections prove it. Despite all the hoopla about a landslide for the incumbent, popular vote, even as reported, was pretty evenly split.

Half of us believe we can jail a woman for child abuse if she takes illicit drugs while pregnant, but it’s okay for her to have that baby killed. The other half do not.

Half of us believe it’s okay to force the other half to help pay for murders of unborn babies, and the other half do not.

Half of us believe same sex marriages are okay, and the other half do not.

Half of us believe it’s okay to sit by and watch American Embassy personnel being murdered and refuse the help they needed, and then lie about it. The other half do not.

Maybe half of us believe that in 87 voting districts in Pennsylvania, 37 in Chicago and nine in Cleveland, and probably a lot more in other urban areas all around the country, not a single vote was cast for Mitt Romney.

True to form, some reporters for the mainstream media (CBS) write these results off to overwhelming support for President Obama in mainly black districts.

Some of us do not believe them.

Has that ever happened in any district before? Were legitimate votes lost? Enough to tilt the outcome?

Will any government agency even dare to truly look into this? Will any voter who cast a Romney ballot in one of those districts be brave enough to come forward?

Or has our once proud nation become one of those places where election outcomes cannot be trusted?

COOKIN’ TIME

BAKED BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

If you do the work the night before, and then either get up really, really early, or stay up really, really late, you can send your deer hunters out into the forest with this hearty treat tucked under the camouflage. Otherwise, it makes a grand mid-morning brunch/lunch. Makes maybe six servings, maybe more, depending on appetites. Brown a quarter cup each of onions and green peppers with the sausage if you like.

1 loaf Italian Bread

1 pound ground sausage

12 eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1/2 teaspoon pepper, white if you have it, black if you don’t

Brown and drain sausage. Slice and cube Italian bread. Spread bread in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Sprinkle sausage over bread evenly. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over sausage. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

SLO COOKER MEAT LOAF

Makes six servings. This is a great meal for deer hunters. Mix up the meat loaf the night before and pop it into the slo cooker, preferably on top of some peeled and chunked potatoes, carrots and onions. Rutabagas too, if there’s room. Refrigerate overnight, and then plug in the slo cooker and set it on low before you head out to stalk the fabled White Tail Deer. Takes six to seven hours to cook if it’s chilled, so you may need to set it on high if you plan to dine at noon, or set the timer if it’s to be an evening repast. Do have some horseradish to serve with it.

1 can (12 ounces) whole tomatoes

1/4 cup milk

2 slices white bread

1 1/2 pound ground beef

2 eggs

1 small onion, peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon garlic salt or real minced garlic (optional)

Drain the tomatoes, saving the juice. Place the milk and the bread in a large mixing bowl, and let stand until the bread has absorbed all the milk. If it seems too dry, this is the time to add the tomato juice. Otherwise, do that later, after the meat. With two forks, break the bread into crumbs. Work the ground beef into the crumbs until well mixed. Make a hollow in the center of the meat and break the eggs into it. Add the reserved tomato juice. Beat the eggs and juice a little; then grate the onions into the eggs. Beat in the salt, pepper, mustard, and garlic salt or real garlic if you’re using it. Beat the eggs into the beef. Shape into a round cake and place in the slow cooker. Place the tomatoes on top of the meat. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours. Before serving, uncover the pot; turn the heat to High, and bubble away some of the sauce. It should be thick, not thin.

Tip: When using bread as a filler in meat loaf, moisten the bread and whip it together with the egg, liquid, and other ingredients for a more uniform texture. Instead of using bread crumbs, use oatmeal, or stuffing mix it gives it great flavor and is just the right filler. If the stuffing mix is seasoned, cut back a little on the salt.

SWEET POTATO AND APPLE BAKE

Wonderful dish for Thanksgiving Dinner.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar, divided

3 eggs, beaten

6 tablespoons butter, melted, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans

2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced

Cook sweet potatoes in water to cover in large saucepan about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Meanwhile, cook squash in another saucepan about 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, eggs, 2 tablespoons of the butter, vanilla, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Reserve 1/4 cup mixture for squash. Puree sweet potatoes with remaining egg mixture in food processor until smooth. Spread in greased 13x9-inch baking dish or 3-quart casserole. Sprinkle evenly with pecans. Puree squash with reserved 1/4 cup of the egg mixture in food processor until smooth. Spread over pecan layer. Arrange apple slices on top of squash layer. Mix remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Drizzle with remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If you like, prepare this the day before, up to the point where you add the apples, and then refrigerate until about an hour and a quarter before serving time. Add perhaps 10 minutes to the baking time.

PECAN PIE CUPCAKES

These are easy enough to be a Deer Camp treat, and delicious enough to grace any holiday table.

1 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

2/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine brown sugar, flour and pecans in one bowl. Combine butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix well. Stir into the flour mixture. Fill greased mini-muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake in 350-degree oven for about 14 minutes until set.

APPLE TORTA

Cross between a cake, a pie and a coffee cake, this easy torta (an Italian torte, I guess) is great for dessert, snack, or breakfast. The cinnamon is optional, but I wouldn’t consider making this without it. Sprinkle almonds or pecans on top before baking if you like a bit of crunch. Serve plain, or with ice cream, whipped cream half and half if you like. You also can add raisins or other dried fruits, or make it with pears or peaches instead of apples.

5 medium apples (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest of a small lemon, grated

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar, scant

1/4 cup melted butter

3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

More sugar for topping

Optional:

Powdered sugar

Cinnamon, to taste

Sliced almonds or other nuts

Peel and core the apples, and slice them into thin wedges. Stir in the lemon zest and the tablespoons sugar. Set aside while you prepare the pan and mix up the batter. Very generously butter a 9 spring form pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The batter is most easily made with an electric mixer, preferably the stand type, but a hand mixer certainly will do. Beat or whisk the eggs and sugar thoroughly. Add the rest of the batter ingredients other than the flour and let them mix together well. Now add the flour in a thin stream to the mixture with the mixer running.

Once all the flour has been beaten in, raise the speed as high as it will go to and beat again as long as it takes to eliminate any lumps. The resulting batter should be pourable but thick, similar to a very thick pancake batter. Add the sliced apples, folding them into the batter. Pour the apple batter into the prepared baking pan. Even out the top with a spatula and clean off the sides. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon (if you like) and granulated sugar. Bake for about an hour, until the torta is cooked through and the top is nice and brown. Test doneness by sticking in a tooth pick or a skewer. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a rack before serving.

Thought for the week: Lord, winter and Deer Season and Thanksgiving are all coming on way, way too fast. Help us to stop and thank You for all the blessings You have sent to us. We know we can never deserve them, but we also know we need to try. May the hunters go safely into the woods, and return safely when the season is over. May their families enjoy the fruits of the hunt. May all our families enjoy this special time of family reunions, renewals and reminiscences here in the beautiful Northwoods.

(This column is 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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