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

Snow...

Hi Folks!

Today’s date - 12/12/12 - is something no one will see again for 100 years!. We’ve had one of those triple date days once each year since the new century started, but this is the end of them. There is no 13th month.

SNOW TIME

The weatherman let us believe for a while that maybe Winter wouldn’t really come this year. He was just kidding. The snow that fell on Sunday is still with us.

On the bright side, fields and forests and some yards in TIMESland (not mine) should be posted on Christmas cards.

On the bad side, one of the weatherman also promised he’d keep the slippery stuff off the roads. Guess he was kidding about that too. Driveways and back roads (ours in particular) are still snow covered and slippery.

Our yard looks suspiciously like someone got stuck there. Took nearly an hour to get out, and only made it thanks to some good helpers and some kitty litter.

A snowmobile enthusiast friend said as he recalls there were only nine days last winter that the trails were suitable for grooming. We’re one third of the way there already this year.

SAVE THE SCRAPING

Freezing mornings mean scraping windshields, but you can minimize the scraping if you plan ahead. When you have to leave your car outside overnight in the winter, mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and coat the windows with this solution. Haven’t tried it yet, but this vinegar and water combination is said to keep windshields ice and frost-free.

THE END IS IN SIGHT

On the rare chance you haven’t heard, there’s a sizable chunk of the population convinced that the world as we know it will not see Christmas this year.

They believe some cataclysmic event will destroy the world, or at least everyone on it, on Friday, Dec. 21. Some-thing like the Great Flood. It supposedly will be the end of an old age and the start of a new one.

These predictions are based on the ending of the ancient Mayan calendar on that date, as do some ancient Eastern calendars.

The thought is kind of creepy, but historians tell us there is no truth to the rumor that the sky is falling.

They say Dec. 21, 2012 does mark the end of a Mayan “long age” of 5,000 plus years and the start of a new one, an event they claim has no more significance than the end of our old year on Dec. 31 and the start of a new one on Jan. 1. If the Mayan civilization still existed, it would probably be a day of great celebrations, they say.

Did read somewhere that on the supposedly fatal 12/21/12 date the Earth will be passing over sort of the “Equator” of the Solar System, so indeed there could be some sort of pending climatic or astrological change. Then again, it’s likely that nothing will happen at all, just as nothing happened when the century changed back at the end of 1999.

That said, the one sure thing is that Winter, which is in fact already here, will officially arrive on Friday, Dec. 21, provided the world is still with us.

DUST CONTROL

Most of us are getting our homes spiffed up for the holidays, and wish they would stay spiffed up at least a little longer than they do.

To keep lint and dust from settling promptly back onto glass top tables, and shining furniture, wash them in a solution of warm water and fabric softener. Add one tablespoon of liquid fabric softener to one quart of warm water. The fabric softener will clean the glass inexpensively and the anti-static effect will help keep lint and dust from collecting on the surface. Also great for computer screens and TV’s.

To help new or just cleaned drapes stay fresh and crisp looking, spray them with a few coats of unscented hair spay immediately after hanging them up. Allow the hair spray to dry between applications. Hint: Test the effect first on a hidden part of the drapes to be sure the spray doesn’t affect the color.

SAVE THE SHOES

Remove water stains on leather shoes by rubbing with a cloth dipped in a vinegar and water solution. A dab of petroleum jelly rubbed into patent leather gives winter dress shoes a glistening shine and prevents cracking from the cold. To shine patent leather, moisten a soft cloth with white vinegar and wipe all patent leather articles clean. Dirt and water marks on suede can be rubbed out with an art-gum eraser, followed by a light buffing with sandpaper or an emery board.

ON THE SOAP BOX

HATE THE RICH?


Our Federal legislators continue to struggle with budget and tax problems, and there is criticism from some quarters because some of them are refusing to compromise. As Margaret Thatcher pointed out more than once, compromise is not always good. Those of us who voted for legislators who promised not to raise taxes on anyone expect them to keep those promises. Cut spending. Cut government. Get the agencies out of our lives. There are certainly regulations and regulators we can live without.

But on another level, some seem determined to tax the rich simply because they are rich. This class hatred has no place in America. Said it before and will say it again, we should not even think of punishing anyone in this nation because they are successful.

A disgusting, disgraceful teacher’s union in California has produced a disgusting, disgraceful video spewing hatred at anyone who dares to be rich.

“Why do they want more?” it asks. Doesn’t occur to them that the rich are the biggest supporters of charities in our nation, and perhaps they prefer giving away their own money, rather than having someone else do it for the.

Also doesn’t occur to them that when a business starts up or grows, people get jobs, and everybody benefits. When there are more jobs than applicants, wages and benefits automatically improve. Unions are not needed to accomplish that. Growth is all it takes. Holding the rich down due to jealousy, class hatred or whatever, will destroy that effect.

The right to dream the American dream is part and parcel of living in our great land. Wouldn’t we all like to be rich some day? We have that right, if we’re lucky enough, and willing to work hard enough.

That said, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was taxed at a lower percentage than some in power would like. The people who seem to believe it’s a sin to be successful don’t mention that those in his tax bracket already do pay taxes at a higher rate than most folks. They also don’t mention that he did pay over $2 million in personal income taxes, after deductions for his $5 million in charitable contributions, and after his corporations already paid corporate taxes on their profits before dividing it up among shareholders.

The Romney family - and other rich folks - don’t breathe any more air than the rest of us. Military cost to defend them are no greater than for the rest of us. Police protection may cost a little more, but then again they aren’t occupying space in jails and prisons, and aren’t causing police to send out riot squads to halt mobs bent on looting and wanton property destruction. They collect no welfare, probably send their kids to private school so they aren’t adding educational costs, and drive on the same highways the rest of us do. They pay the same gas tax, too, and probably pay more in sales and excise taxes because they buy bigger and more expensive toys.

Taxation should be seen as a fair and equitable way to divvy up the costs of government among all the citizens who benefit from it, not a Socialist means of bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator!

DECK THE HALLS

If your halls aren’t decked yet, get with it. Don’t forget the mistletoe. Hopefully you have a real Christmas tree, but if you don’t, do get some evergreen boughs for centerpieces, wreaths and other displays. That Christmas scent simply cannot be duplicated, no matter how hard the chemists try. Must admit a few come pretty close, though.

Incidentally, as a youngster I worried because for some years Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have a Christmas tree. Not sure why, because there were plenty of spruce and balsam growing on their land.

Grandma (we called her “Ma”) told us that back in the hills of West Virginia where she came from, they almost never had Christmas trees. They decorated their homes and cabins instead with evergreen garlands and pine boughs, usually tied with red ribbons.

COOKIN’ TIME

PEPPERONI PIZZA LOAF

Hamburger has been so pricey lately that it’s reserved for special occasions at our house, sort of like lobster. But once in a while we simply must have it. This Pizza Loaf is a real treat, and stretches the burger a bit farther than it would otherwise. Very easy treat, especially for teens and football fans.

2 eggs

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound bulk Italian sausage

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces thin sliced pepperoni

8 ounces mozzarella cheese

1 quart pizza sauce

Beat the eggs, oregano, salt and pepper together and then work in the ground beef and Italian sausage until thoroughly mixed. On a piece of heavy foil or waxed paper pat the beef mixture into a 12-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Cover with pepperoni and cheese to within half an inch from the edges of the rectangle. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the short side, and peeling away the foil or waxed paper as you roll. Seal the seam and ends and put seam side down into a greased 13 inch by 9 inch baking dish with two inch sides. Pour on two cups of pizza sauce, and bake, uncovered, for 1 1/4 hours, or until the center tests 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Pop some bread sticks or loaves of Italian bread into the oven for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking time, and serve the loaf with the bread sticks, the remaining two cups of pizza sauce, and some Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on if you like.

ARGO’S LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Many recipes for baked goods from the early 20th century used both cornstarch and flour. Bakers found very early on that cornstarch gave biscuits, muffins, cakes, shortcakes, pie crusts and especially cookies a finer texture and more tender crumb than recipes using flour alone. Recipe books produced at that time by the experts at Argo and Kingsford’s Corn Starch bear this out. Argo, established in 1892, has offered their customers cookie recipes since its very early years. These simple and delicious Lemon Shortbread Cookies are a good example of the successful marriage of cornstarch and flour. Recipe makes six dozen small cookies.

11⁄3 cups corn starch

2 cups butter or margarine

2⁄3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened. Add powdered sugar, beat until well combined. Add lemon peel and vanilla; beat well. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and corn starch; add to mixture and beat well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press tines of a fork criss cross on top of each ball to make a subtle design. Bake about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

SALTY CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TARTS

The recipe looks long, but these outstandingly delicious little pies are really quite easy to make and are an impressive and delicious dessert. Unfortunately, they should be assembled no more than a day before you want to serve them. don’t let it scare you. Chantilly Cream is just a gourmet term for whipped cream with cinnamon added. Maybe you’ve forgotten about good old Ovaltine. Use what you need for the recipe, then enjoy the rest as a relaxing and nutritious treat. Share it with the kids only if you want to.

Tart Crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup Chocolate Malt flavored Ovaltine

8 ounces semi-sweet or bitter-sweet baking chocolate,

chopped

Spiced Chantilly Cream:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Tart Crust, place flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor; cover. Pulse to combine. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Process until dough begins to form a ball. (Add a tablespoon or two of cold water if necessary.) Divide dough into eight pieces. Put in tightly covered bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour. Overnight is okay. Roll each ball on lightly floured surface into a 6-inch circle about an eighth of an inch thick and press into a 4-inch tart pan. If the crust is too big, trim some away. Crimp dough around top. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough to form a total of 8 tart shells. Freeze 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Place tart pans on large baking sheet. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pans on wire rack. Carefully remove shells from pans or leave them in for serving, as you prefer. Shells can be baked a day ahead. To store shells after baking place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

For the Salted Caramel filling: Mix sugar and water in medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, and continue boiling 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown, swirling pan occasionally for even cooking. Remove from heat. Add cream, one third at a time, whisking until well mixed after each addition. Add salt; whisk until dissolved. Divide caramel among tart shells. Let stand 20 minutes or until caramel is firm.

For the Chocolate Ganache: Bring cream just to boil in medium saucepan on medium heat. Remove from heat. Add Ovaltine; whisk until dissolved. Add chocolate; stir until chocolate is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Spoon ganache over caramel in tart shells. Refrigerate one hour or until ganache is firm.

For the Chantilly Cream: Beat cream and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add cinnamon; beat until stiff peaks form.

To serve, place a tart on a plate. Sprinkle with additional sea salt, if desired. Top with a dollop of Chantilly Cream and sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Thought for the Week: Political pundits today are calling for compromise in Washington, but we need warn our representatives on state and national levels not to compromise their principles and ours. We elected them for reason. Margaret Thatcher, that very wise former British Prime Minister, had a few things to say on lots of subjects. One of them was to warn against compromise, otherwise known as seeking consensus, which she defined as, “The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead.” She then asked, “What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?’” Incidentally, as our nation heads more and more to Socialism, we need to remember that she and a number of other great political leaders of the free world warned that the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

(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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