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Country Cousin

Remedies...

Hi Folks!

This past weekend the skies were clear enough a few times to enjoy views of the February 24 full moon, otherwise known as the “Snow Moon.” Strangely, it did not bring the frigid cold that so often accompanies it, but it was cold enough! And as to snow...no one can complain we haven’t had enough this year. It can stop any time. Most of us are ready for spring, and, Mr. Weatherman, in case you haven’t noticed, March is almost here. Bring on Spring!

GOALS

We all have goals in life. Personally, I always wanted to be a procrastinator. Just never got around to it.

NATURE’S REMEDIES

February is heart health month, a good time to look at steps we can take now to prevent or minimize problems in the future.

Too often when faced with a health problem we turn to high priced medications instead of making the simple changes in life styles and diets that could make us healthy without the cost and side effects of prescription drugs.

If you’re already taking medicines for any chronic conditions, you must check with your doctor before trying supplements or making significant diet changes, but it certainly is worth asking if he will work with you to minimize the amounts of drugs you take. Hopefully, you’ll bring the bad numbers down and find you don’t need the drugs at all.

Faced with high cholesterol or triglycerides? Before going on statin drugs, cut back on sugar, eat oatmeal or oat bran (especially with cinnamon), eat barley or flax seed meal, drink a daily dose of Metamucil, take fish oil or Krill capsules, eat or take Beta-sitosterol (found in oral supplements and some margarines, such as Promise Activ), Sitostanol (found in oral supplements and some margarines, such as Benecol), take avocado, garlic or green tea extract.

Blood pressure high? Instead of popping a pill, skip the salt and then eat bananas and other foods high in potassium, such as cantaloupe, avocados, dates, raisins, dried apricots, prune juice, baked potatoes (skins and all), yogurt (plain yogurt is really good on baked potatoes), and some fish, such as sardines and flounder.

Lemon juice, incidentally, can sometimes serve as a satisfactory substitute for salt.

Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Cut back on sugar. If you’re overweight, take up running, and put yourself on a weight reducing diet. Losing as little as a pound and a half can make the blood pressure drop.

Some of the experts say people with high blood pressure should avoid alcohol entirely, while others say men who drink might be able to have no more than two a day, and women only one. But you need to find other ways to relax.

Get rid of stress. Cuddling a baby works for me, but they’re scarce in our family lately. Spending a minute or two a couple of times a day contemplating what’s good in your life can help. So can viewing a sunset, listening to soothing music, enjoying a hug from someone you love, or going dancing.

Relax. Get enough sleep. Do deep breathing exercises. Try yoga. Go for a long brisk walk or run, but not where it’s icy.

And finally, here’s one you won’t believe: Indulge in some dark chocolate! According to MoneyTalksNews, an Australian study published last year found that a daily dose of dark chocolate or other cocoa products rich in natural compounds called “flavanols” helped to lower blood pressure. Just don’t think if a little is good, a lot is better here. Even eating too much dark chocolate can add pounds.

See? Always did know that chocolate was a fine way to relieve stress! Of course, the best kind comes in a fancy box in little nuggets with nice, creamy centers, but that kind isn’t what they’re talking about here, darn!

LANGUAGE BARRIER

Speaking of “darn,” when is the last time you actually heard someone say that out loud when they were mad? When we were really, really mad we used to say, “Gosh darn it!” or “Gol darn it.” Maybe even “Son of a beehive!”

Yosemite Sam used to say “Dag nab it!”

Remember “Jimminy Cricket,” “Jeepers creepers,” “Jumpin’ jehosephat,” “Criminy,”

Nowadays even on some of what we would expect to be kid shows the characters - both males and females - use words that would have made a sailor blush back when. Of course, we didn’t have TV back when, but if we had, Mom or Dad would certainly have pulled the plug on a lot of today’s programs, especially some of the movies.

So often, we’re watching what is otherwise a decent show with a good message, and we don’t know what’s coming until the bad words and bad ideas are out there. Or we’re watching a decent show and a preview comes on for one of the bad ones. Then it’s sort of too late, the damage is done. But we can still show our displeasure by pulling the plug.

Maybe if more of us would start pulling that plug the kids would scream loud enough to be heard in Hollywood, and they’d start making movies with at least clean language again.

Anyone who has to use profanity to make themselves understood has a seriously poor command of the English language!

ON THE SOAP BOX

AGONY IN WASHINGTON


Speaking of screams, some of the folks in Washington are screaming in agony over the pending “cuts” to their spending. Actually, most of the so-called cuts aren’t really cuts to what they have been allocated, they are cuts to the increases they were expecting.

That said, it’s hard to find much sympathy for the bureaucrats who surely will find a way to make the so-called budget cuts as painful as possible for the voting public.

Most of us out here in the real world are already hurting, and have been for a few years now. Our family budgets were cut when the tax increases went into effect this spring, and spending money was cut for rural families in particular when the price at the pump took its upward surge a few years ago.

Then there are the families who are still working, but the paychecks are a lot smaller. The good jobs they once held have gone away - driven offshore by high taxes and over regulation. The numbers say people are working, but those numbers don’t compare the quality of the jobs they’re holding now with the jobs they held a few years ago.

Mr. President, you promised a few months ago (right before the elections) to open our oil fields. If you keep that promise we will cut our national dependance on foreign energy sources, bring the price of gasoline and diesel fuel down and help restore prosperity to this country. Voters trusted you. You promised. When will it start happening?

Bring fuel prices down and this country will start to hum again. Good jobs will come back, and tax dollars flowing to Washington will increase without taking more from folks who work hard for their money!

EASTER RIDDLES

See answers just before Cookin’ Time.

1: Why might you say the Easter Bunny is self-centered?

2: How do bunnies stay in shape?

3: What’s the difference between a bunny and a

lumberjack?

4. Why did the Easter Egg hide?

CLEAN VASES

Fast on the heels of March comes the season for spring flowers. Now, in the winter doldrums, is a good time to get vases sparkling clean if you didn’t do it before you put them away last fall.

Cleaning the narrow-necked ones, especially bud vases and fancy bottles, can be a problem, but it’s easily solved. Use egg shells! Break the shells into pieces small enough not to clog up the neck, drop them into the bottle with a few drops of detergent and a bit of hot water, put your hand over the opening, and shake vigorously. Then rinse with water. If there are hard water deposits, fill the vase or bottle with a half vinegar, half hot water mixture and let it sit overnight. Pour the vinegar solution into the bottom of a dishwasher loaded with dirty dishes and ready to run and you get double benefit from it. Then give the vase the eggshell treatment inside and wash it outside. It should shine like new, inside and out.

HIDDEN MIRACLES

Easter is coming soon, and in honor of the Lenten season we should all be giving a little more thought than usual to the health and well being of our immortal souls. Strange how we worry so much about the bodies that will grow old and be discarded some day, no matter what happens, and do so little to care for the souls that will survive for eternity.

Ever wonder why God spoke to all those prophets in the Old Testament, and then He quit talking to us?

Ever wonder why He performed all sorts of miracles through the centuries, but there don’t seem to be any miracles today?

Ever think that maybe He’s still talking. We just aren’t listening?

Ever think that maybe He’s still performing miracles, we just aren’t seeing them?

Think about it.

Junior prays to pass the science test, even though he didn’t really study very hard. He passes. Does he give God the credit? No way. “Guess I wasn’t so dumb after all.”

I misplaced the airplane tickets, and it’s time to be off and running. “Please, God! Let me find them in time!” I find the tickets. Do I give God the credit? Nope! Maybe I breathe, “Thank God,” but I don’t say it out loud, and I don’t tell anyone God did a miracle. I don’t even really think that, what I think is: “Good thing I remembered in time! Maybe I don’t have Alzheimer’s after all!”

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” our Lord promises in the Gospels.

Why on Earth do we think He would renege on that promise?

It’s true we don’t always get what we pray for, but He always answers. It’s just that sometimes the answer is no. Like any wise and caring parent, He gives us what’s good for us, which is not necessarily what we want or what we think we need.

We often aren’t able to understand His reasons, but we are able, if our faith is strong enough, to accept that there is a reason, and we will know it someday.

And maybe, when the miracles we ask for do come true, we should admit them to ourselves and announce them to the world.

God’s been getting a lot of bad press lately. He asked us all to proclaim the Good News. Maybe giving Him some good PR for a change is exactly what He wants us to do!

EASTER RIDDLE ANSWERS

1. If he was eggocentric. 2. Hareobics 3. One chews and hops, the other hews and chops. 4. Because inside he was just a little chicken.

COOKIN’ TIME

CREAMY CHICKEN BREASTS

Try this also with fish fillets, but before rolling in flour, sprinkle each fillet with lemon pepper, and then adjust the cooking time depending on thickness of the fillets. Add a pinch or two of dried dill weed to the sauce right at the end of the cooking time. Actually, the dill sauce is great with chicken too.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Salt and pepper as desired, optional

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoon cooking oil

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)

Rinse chicken (or fish) and kind of shake off excess moisture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and coat with flour. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add floured chicken; cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done. Be sure to have enough room in the pan so the chicken browns quickly and creates some nice brown drippings. Remove chicken from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet. Cover chicken to keep warm. Add broth to skillet; stir to scrape up browned bits from the bottom. Let it simmer about five minutes. Add cream cheese; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and sauce starts to thicken, stirring constantly with whisk. Return chicken or fish to the skillet; turn to coat each side with sauce. Cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley.

The cooks at Kraft say if possible, use a large skillet with sloping sides when preparing this recipe. Allows you to easily turn the chicken pieces, and the larger surface area speeds up the evaporation of the cooking liquids which, in turn, allows the chicken to brown more quickly.

For variations, stir two tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or two teaspoons Dijon mustard into cream cheese sauce before the final simmer time.

Other variations suggested are:

Prepare recipe as directed. Transfer chicken to serving platter, then top with one of the following options:

Spinach-Bacon: Top chicken with 1 cup baby spinach leaves. Drizzle with sauce; sprinkle with 2 slices cooked and crumbled bacon.

Tomato-Basil: Top chicken with 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with sauce; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil.

Savory: While simmering the sauce add a sprinkling of garlic salt, a dash or two of pepper, and some snipped or crumbled parsley. A few sprigs of rosemary are also good.

WARM WINTER LEMON CAKE

Winter is still here, so warm comfort foods are still more than welcome. But our taste buds are calling for a taste of spring. This luscious cake is a delicious answer to that dilemma. Good warm or cold.

1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix (and the

ingredients to make it)

2 packages (3.4 ounces each) lemon flavor Instant pudding

mix

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 cups cold milk

1-1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake batter as directed on package; pour into a 13x9-inch baking dish (not aluminum) sprayed with cooking spray. Beat dry pudding mixes, granulated sugar, milk and water with whisk two minutes, then pour over batter in baking dish. Place baking dish on baking sheet to catch any sauce that might bubble over sides as it bakes. Bake 55 minutes to an hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm or cold. For stronger lemon flavor, add zest and juice from one lemon to the pudding mixture.

HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE

Sorry folks. That pesky gremlin struck again, and took out the amount of butter needed in this recipe printed last week, so here it is again. Enjoy this wonderful warm treat on a frosty winter night. Good warm or cold. Cake creates its own hot fudge sauce as it bakes. Same idea as the lemon cake, only this one is chocolate.

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup cocoa

1 3/4 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, measure flour, sugar, 3 to 4 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt. Blend in milk and melted butter. Pour into an ungreased 9x9x2-inch square baking pan. Stir together nuts, brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over the batter. Do not stir! Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake (not the pudding) comes out clean. While the cake is still very warm from the oven, spoon cake and pudding into dessert cups or serving bowls. If desired, top with canned cherry pie filling, frozen whipped topping, or maybe whipped cream flavored with rum or vanilla ice cream. Garnish with chocolate curls if you’re feeling fancy or serve as is if you’re not.

Thought for the Week: Please God, this Lenten season, let me listen for Your answers when I pray. Help my soul be still and feel the love You pour down and the healing grace of Your forgiveness. 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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