Sometimes wishes do come true. We can consider ourselves lucky. The bitter cold of last week has moderated, the extremely hazardous conditions predicted for Tuesday did not materialize, and now we have snow in quantities that a few years ago would have been considered normal.
Snowmobilers, sledding enthusiasts and cross country skiers can enjoy their sport. The rest of us can enjoy the scenery, when we arent shoveling. All is good.
And now, on Saturday, Feb. 2, we celebrate the halfway point between the winter solstice on Dec. 21 and the spring equinox on March 21. Winter is half over, and summer is on its way.
If we were living a couple of centuries ago, on Saturday, Feb. 2, we would be celebrating Candlemas Day, the final day of the Christmas season in the Christian Church, the day candles were blessed for the coming year. Traditionally, Candlemas was observed as the anniversary of the day the Baby Jesus was formally presented at the Temple in Jerusalem.
By ancient Jewish custom, babies, especially first born boy babies, were presented at the temple 40 days after their birth to give thanks for their life and to signify that they belonged to God.
It was during this visit to the temple that Jesus was recognized as the savior by Simeon, a holy man who had been promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Savior, and by the holy woman, Anna, an aged widowed prophetess who spent most of her time in the temple.
Also by Jewish tradition and law, mothers were considered unclean after giving birth, and could not worship in the temple until they were purified, which could not happen until 40 days after the birth of a boy baby, or 60 days after the birth of a girl.
Before Jesus was presented at the temple, His mother, Mary, was purified by the Jewish rite so she could enter the temple. Scripture does not tell us what the purification rite consisted of. Some of the ancient traditions and laws were based on common sense and good sanitation. Others were not. Dont know which category this fell into.
Do know from Bible passages that Anna and Simeon were the first to publicly announce that Jesus was the Savior the world had been waiting for since Adam and Eve got themselves tossed out of Eden.
ST. BLAISE BLESSING
Feb. 3, is the day the Catholic Church has set aside to honor St. Blaise, a physician, bishop and martyr in the early Christian church. He is venerated as a physician who cured and even performed miracle cures. On this day, many Roman Catholic congregations have a Blessing of Throats, in which a priest holds two crossed candles over the heads of the faithful or touches their throats with the candles while reciting a special prayer: Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Most parishes bless throats at weekend Masses nearest the feast day.
Isnt it ironic that today, instead of making a big celebration over the public recognition of our Savior, we make a big fuss about a groundhog coming out of his winter hibernation and casting a shadow or not. Does this say something about our priorities?
Anyway, just as Groundhog Day is tied to weather predictions today, so was Candlemas Day in centuries past. So maybe there is a grain of truth in the belief that a sunny Groundhog Day means a late spring. But there seem to be no statistics to prove it.
One true old saying is that a farmer on Candlemas Day should have used no more than half his winter supply of forage. Makes sense, because winter is exactly half over on that date, and if the feed is more than half gone his cattle could be hungry before spring.
Another thing. Using the groundhog as a weather prognosticator is a myth that started in this country only in the mid-1800s because there werent any hedgehogs here.
In Germany for generations before the groundhog was promoted to weather forecaster, the creature rumored out to be frightened by its shadow on Feb. 2 was sometimes a badger, and otherwise it was a hedgehog. Can believe it of the hedgehog. But badgers pretty much arent afraid of anything.
THINGS TO DO, PLACES TO GO
All kinds of fun things to do are coming up, provided the snow slows down enough so we can get there.
Dont miss the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 3. That you can enjoy at home. Even if you dont much care who wins because the Packers arent in it this year, you can make things interesting by setting up some betting with friends and family.
On Saturday, Feb. 2, go ice bowling on the Peshtigo River Flowage at Parkway Inn on Parkway Road west of Crivitz, or spend an evening laughing at Riverside Golf Club in Menominee, where theyre hosting a Comedy Night performance.
On Saturday, Feb. 9, sample beers, wines and whiskies at Little River Country Club. Theyre planning a fun evening, complete with dinner, raffles, games and an auction, plus the tastings, for $25 admission. Sponsors are Marinette Rotary Club, and all proceeds go to benefit the Emergency Rescue Squad. Tickets are available at Lees Family Foods in Peshtigo Tony Hallers Beverages in Marinette, Angeli Foods, or any Marinette Rotary Club member.
Check local bulletin boards for other events coming up in your area. Dont miss the fun! Get out and play!
On the other hand, skipping the winter fun and hibernating through the cold months still seems like a good idea to me. Bears do it, and incidentally, groundhogs do it too, so realistically doubt theyll be up on Saturday to see their shadow anyway.
Do heartily agree with a youngster who asked his Mom what he could be when he grew up.
Honey, you can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough, Mom replied enthusiastically. What do you want to be?
Tyke thought only a few seconds before deciding, I want to be a bear!
Good call, kid. I want to be a bear, too. Get fat all summer and sleep it off during winter hibernation. Give birth in winter and sleep right through it. Never have to shave your legs or do your hair.
Go ahead and growl at your mate and anyone else who comes around. Its expected. Cuff him and the kids if you feel the urge. Thats expected too.
Its wonderful to know what can be accomplished when hometown folks put their minds to it. And its heartwarming to realize just how often they do just that.
Most of us have attended benefits to help friends or neighbors get through a misfortune. Someone organized those benefits. Those people are heroes.
Its even more heartwarming to discover kindnesses conceived and carried out by individuals, who too often keep their good deeds hidden. Those people are also heroes.
Thanks to everyone whose kind acts, large and small, restore our faith in human nature.
Sometimes our hair and skin need special handling during the winter doldrums. Maybe we cant bask on a beach in Hawaii, but almost all of us can spare a bit of time to pamper ourselves. Dry winter air can play havoc with hair and skin. If your hair tends to frizz, treat it to this inexpensive mix and watch it shine.
1 avocado, mashed
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon almond oil, coconut oil or real mayonnaise
Mix ingredients well. Pour over damp hair, working the mixture in thoroughly. Cover head (face excluded) with a shower cap or plastic bag, and relax for for about 20 minutes for a deep conditioning. Then wash out by shampooing as usual.
You could spend that 20 minutes in a hot soaky scented bubble bath for rejuvenation of spirit and extra benefits to hair and complexion, or you could treat yourself to a homemade facial, and put the bath off until youre all done.
1 package unflavored gelatin
2 bags chamomile tea or 1 tablespoon loose dried
1/2 cup boiling water
In a small glass or ceramic bowl add the boiling water to the herbs or tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes. Add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves. Allow to cool. It will thicken a bit, but shouldnt set completely. Smooth the mixture on your face, preferably just after getting out of tub or shower, and allow it to dry completely. Peel off the mask, rinse and gently pat dry. While the mask dries, lie down with one of the tea bags or a slice of cucumber over each eye. Enjoy a new, younger you when next you look in the mirror!
ON THE SOAP BOX
HATS OFF TO MILWAUKEE SHERIFF!
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark, Jr. has come under fire for daring to advise residents in his jurisdiction that dialing 911 isnt the best way to protect themselves and their families. Hes telling them to get a gun and learn to handle it. Law enforcement probably wont arrive until its too late.
His ads refer to budget cutbacks and laid off officers as part of the problem, but hes missing the point there. Once an intruder is in the house, dialing 911 often isnt an option. If there is an opportunity to make the call, officers in the best of times usually cannot arrive until its too late.
Critics are blasting him as encouraging vigilanteism. Hes not talking about armed citizens going out on the street and hunting down crooks. Hes talking about sensible citizens being prepared to defend themselves and their families in their homes, businesses and vehicles against intruders and assaulters. Police officers often catch offenders, but they cant always arrive in time to stop the crime. Its simply not possible unless they have advance notice.
How is it that no one objects when highly visible public officials - like the President and his family - have armed guards protecting them, but scream bloody murder over suggestions that we common ordinary citizens should have the right and the means to possess arms to defend ourselves?
When winter winds blow its time to enjoy hearty slow cooked fare. Enjoy the odors all day. No calories in that. And then enjoy eating the meal when evening comes. Make a large batch so there are leftovers for lunches. Most of these dishes take well to reheating in the microwave.
SLOW COOKED PORK STEW
This recipe, from the folks at Kraft, features pork, which is probably the most budget-friendly meat we can put on our family table today except for chicken. The recipe calls for pork tenderloin, but I see no reason it could not be made from almost any relatively lean cut of pork, and in fact a little fat adds to the tenderness of the meat and the flavor of the stew. Best made in an oval 5-quart slow cooker to provide space for the dumplings to expand. Serve with a green vegetable, such as broccoli or French cut green beans. Or add a can of cut drained green beans to the stew at the get-go. If you do that, use the liquid from the beans as part of the water called for in the dumplings. Great with cranberry sauce or cinnamon flavored apple sauce on the side.
2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
2 onions, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 package (6 ounces) Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 cup warm water
1 tub (8 ounces) Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Combine the first 6 ingredients in slow cooker; cover with lid. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Discard bay leaves. Add cream cheese to slow cooker and stir until its melted and evenly mixed in. Stir together eggs, stuffing mix and water and, with moistened hands, shape into 8 balls. Turn slow cooker to high. Place the stuffing balls on top of stew and spoon some of the liquid over them. Cook, covered, on high, for 30 minutes. Turn off slow cooker. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve stew and dumplings topped with chives. The cooks at Kraft remind us that taking the lid off your slow cooker for even just a minute reduces the heat and extends the cooking time. Lift the lid only if instructed to do so in the recipe.
CROCK POT CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
Serve with sour cream, salsa and a tossed salad and perhaps refried beans on the side for a South of the Border meal. If you prefer, make these with chicken thigh meat or leftovers from a whole cooked chicken instead of the chicken breasts.
1 large can enchilada sauce
4 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 small can sliced black olives
1 small can diced green chilies
1 chopped onion
2 dozen corn tortillas
12 ounce package sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Poach chicken breasts in seasoned broth and shred. (Save the broth for chicken soup or gravy for another meal.) Mix the two cans of soup, olives, chilies and onions. Cut tortillas in wedges. Layer crock pot, in order, with sauce, tortillas, soup mix, chicken and cheese and repeat all the way to top, ending with cheese on top. Cook on low temperature all day in crock pot.
CARROT BRAN MUFFINS
Healthy and hearty breakfast or after school fare. No youngster will object to eating carrots this way.
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup bran
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins or craisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Mix the bran and milk and set aside. Beat eggs. Add applesauce, sugar and syrup. Mix in carrots, then add the bran, the flour mixture and the raisins or craisins. Grease muffin tin or line tins with cupcake papers. Fill each cup at least half full with batter and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 12 dense and healthy muffins.
Thought for the Week: Thank You Lord, for warm hearts and warm hearths, for friends to call on when were down, and to help us up when weve fallen, and for strangers who stop on a miserable cold night to help a fellow traveler get home safely. Help us know all You do for us, and to carry out the little You ask in return. Amen.
(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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