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

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Hi Folks!

The chilly days and downright cold nights we’ve been having lately make it hard to believe it’s still summer, but it truly is...at least for another few days. Autumn officially arrives here in the Northern hemisphere on Sunday, Sept. 22 this year.

And this year, the Harvest Moon - the Full Moon that comes closest to the Autumn Equinox, this year happens the night of Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The Harvest Moon is not just the full moon that occurs at the time of the harvest. It is the full moon that actually helps the harvest by providing more light at the right time than other full moons do. Some years the Harvest Moon actually falls in October, in which case the September full moon is usually known as the Full Corn Moon because it traditionally corresponds with the time of harvesting corn, or the Barley Moon, because it is the time to harvest and thresh the ripened barley.

Anyway, if the Harvest Moon seems bigger and brighter to you than most moons, it probably isn’t just your imagination. It also shines some minutes longer for more nights than most full moons, so it was a help to farmers trying to get in the last of the harvest in the days when horse power didn’t come with headlights. At least that’s what the Old Farmer’s Almanac says.

Throughout the year the Moon rises, on average, about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox, this difference shrinks to only 30 minutes. The reason is, at the beginning of autumn the moon’s orbital path makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon.

For several nights in a row around the time of the Harvest Moon, the moon rises at about the same time—sunset. Low-hanging moons are reddened by clouds and dust, and are swollen to outlandish size by the “Moon illusion”, a well-known but mysterious trick of the eye that makes low-hanging moons seem much larger than they really are. With the Harvest Moon this effect makes the moon look like a great pumpkin, and the impressive moonrise is repeated several nights in a row. Watching that moon rise over the Bay is worth the trip!

PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO

The big events of summer are mostly over for the year, but there are still many fun things to do here in TIMESland. A somewhat famed travel writer once said winter in our corner of Wisconsin is so long that we start celebrating as soon as Spring arrives and don’t quit until the snow flies. How right he was!

Winter isn’t all that far off now, but the festivals are still going on. Watch the ads and bulletin boards.

Incidentally, if your group is planning an event for any time in the coming year, call Marinette County Tourism Director Becky DeWitt at the Marinette Menominee Chamber of Commerce office with the date and a few details before the middle of October, preferably by Oct. 1, so she can get listed in “Travel Wisconsin,” the state’s official tourism site, and also add it to the Marinette County Calendar of Events.

BUILD A BETTER MOUSE TRAP

You actually can do it, and it doesn’t take much skill, either. Just get a bucket, a plastic soda bottle, a piece of board, some peanut butter and a round rod or skinny dowel long enough to reach from one side of the bucket to the other with room to spare.

Make a hole in each side of the bucket just below the top, big enough for the rod to slip through. Also make a hole in the bottom of the soda bottle big enough for the rod to move easily. Thread the rod through the soda bottle, in the front where the cap used to be and out through the bottom. The bottle should turn freely. Stick one end of the rod through the hole on each side of the bucket so the bottle is suspended about in the middle. Put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the bucket, smear some peanut butter on the bottle about where the label is - at least the length of a mouse away from the edge of the bucket. Lean a board like a ramp from the ground or floor to the edge of the bucket so the mice have an easy way up. You want the mouse to be just able to reach the peanut butter from the bucket’s edge, but not quite. Mouse tries to get at the peanut butter on the plastic bottle, bottle turns, and mouse gets dropped in the drink and drowns. You never have to touch the critter to empty that mouse trap. Just dump it.

SAVING THE HARVEST

Zucchini, cucumbers and winter squash are durable and keep well on their own, at least for a little while after you’ve picked them to avoid losing them to the frost. Cukes and zucchini should be refrigerated. To make hard-shelled squash and pumpkins last longer, wash them in a mild bleach solution and dry well before packing away. Rinse again before using.

Brussels sprouts should be left right on their stalks in the garden, freeze or no freeze. You can keep picking them generally until the snow flies, and in fact a bit of frost makes them taste even better.

Ears of corn can be picked, packaged and tucked into the freezer with no treatment at all if necessary and if you have the space.

If you have a cool, dry place store cabbage, onions, potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash there. Ideal is a corner of the basement, walled off so the heat doesn’t get to it. You can store apples in wooden or cardboard barrels or boxes there too, but don’t keep them too close to the potatoes. Something about the chemistry tends to make the potatoes go bad.

At home, Dad dug a root cellar out under the garage floor, and we were able to keep many things good until spring.

COLD WAR

Actually, he didn’t dig that room as a root cellar. He dug it because a little sister, in early grade school at the time of the Cold War, was so frightened by bomb threats that she begged him to make a safe place for us to go in case there really was an attack.

In our house nothing was ever wasted, so Dad dug the underground room, put walls in it to prevent cave-ins, and then put up shelves for canned goods and bins for produce. If we ever had to take shelter, we could have survived there for months, because Mom canned a lot too.

COOKIN’ TIME

There’s a reason the Devil tempted Eve with an apple in the Garden of Eden, and there’s a reason the French word for “apples,” “pommes” is converted to “pommes de terre” for potatoes - “apples of the earth.” Both are such wonderful gifts from nature, one from the tree, one from the vine. Tomatoes rank right up there with them, but their season is so fleeting, while apples and potatoes, even in the days before refrigeration, could be kept for nourishment through the long, cold days of winter, provided you had a fruit cellar, or the ability to dig a hole into the side of a hill.

PORK AND APPLE STEW

Most of us know that applesauce goes wonderfully with pork of almost any kind. How about cooking the pork with the apples? Great idea, easy to fix, delicious results. Pop some potatoes in to bake with the chops, Slice some tomatoes and cucumbers and dinner is ready, unless you opt to take advantage of the summer squash harvest and roast zucchinis and/or yellow squash while the oven is on. Recipe makes three to six servings, probably great for mom, and and two kids, if the kids are light eaters.

6 shoulder pork chops

3 onions, sliced thin

4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

4 teaspoons brown sugar (divided)

Salt and pepper to taste

Trim chops of fat, then cut fat into thin strips; set aside. In large casserole dish, layer half of the onions and apples. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Add chops in single layer and layer with remaining onions, apples and the fat. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and bake in 350F oven 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT

These instructions were printed here some years ago, and are being reprinted today at the request of Pete Nelson, who has been kind enough to share some of his round the world bicycle adventures, and probably will share a few more stories this winter.

When he isn’t off somewhere exotic, he likes to a bit of gardening and putting foods by, and one of the things he enjoyed in a prior year and plans to do again was making sauerkraut the easy way.

(I have had great success with either of the two recipes that follow. Once I did well with the kind of kraut that’s made in a crock, but the next year I didn’t end up with sauerkraut, I ended up with rotten salty cabbage and trust me, that’s not a good thing!)

Sometimes salt crystals form on the rim of the jar and then the lid doesn’t seal on its own. If that happens to you, everything should still turn out okay. You don’t do the canning process until 6 to 8 weeks after you set it to cure anyway.

Here are complete instructions again, along with water bath instructions and instructions for a slightly different version that includes water bathing the finished product to be sure the jars seal.

CANNED SAUERKRAUT

Shredded cabbage

Vinegar

Salt

Sugar

Celery Seed or Caraway Seed, optional

Quart-size canning jars, lids and rims, prepared according

to package directions.

Place 1 teaspoon salt into each sterilized quart jar. Fill jar with shredded cabbage, stopping about an inch before you get to the top. Pack it tightly. Add another teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional), 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Cover with boiling water. Put on lids and rings and tighten well immediately. Put on a tray or cookie sheet to catch any seepage while it ferments, and let stand for several weeks at room temperature to cure. Sauerkraut will be white, crispy and delicious. Wipe down the outsides of the jars after fermentation is done before you put them away for the winter.

At this point you can clean the jars, including cleaning the rims and replacing the lids if necessary. Screw the rings tight.

Now, if you feel more comfortable with processed sauerkraut, set jars in a water-bath canner. Fill with cold water to a depth of 2 inches above tops of jars. Bring slowly to boiling and let simmer for 30 minutes. Makes no difference if you process quarts or pints. I have also cleaned the jars and rings, set them into a cold pressure canner into which I put 2 inches of water. Then put on lid but do not close the pressure valve. Put over high heat until water boils, and steam starts coming out the pressure release valve. Steam the jars of kraut for about 5 minutes after the water gets boiling and they should all seal.

ALSO SAUERKRAUT

Recipe makes 7 pints.

5 pounds fully matured cabbage

3 1/2 tablespoons salt

Cold water

Wash,quarter and core the cabbage and shred it finely. sprinkle on the 3 1/2 tablespoons salt and mix well. Let stand 30 to 60 minutes. It will wilt slightly, which is what you want. Pack firmly into jars leaving a 2-inch head space. Fill jars with cold water, leaving a half inch of head space. Place lids on jars and screw the bands on tightly. Put the jars on a jelly roll pan to catch brine that overflows during fermentation and curing. Keep the cabbage covered with brine. If the brine in any jar drops too low open the jar and add more brine, which is made by dissolving 1 1/2 tablespoons salt in a quart of water. The sauerkraut will be cured and ready to can in 6 to 8 weeks. Whenever you’re ready, clean the jars, including cleaning the rims and replacing the lids if necessary. Screw the rings tight. Set jars in a water-bath canner. Fill with cold water to a depth of 2 inches above tops of jars. Bring slowly to boiling and process for 30 minutes. Makes no difference if you process quarts or pints.

CORN AND SEAFOOD CHOWDER

Haven’t tried this, but had to pass it along while the season is with us. Sounds delicious. Original recipe calls for clams, shells and all, but they aren’t easy to come by here. Substituting a pound of scallops or the inexpensive imitation crab or lobster flakes would work just as well. I’d rather scald the little tomatoes and skin them before cutting in half. Do not like skins in the soup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into squares

1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika

1 cup new potatoes, well scrubbed and cubed

6 ears corn, shucked and cut from the cobs

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound red or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

juice from half a lemon

Bottle of clam juice

3 tablespoons bourbon

1 pound scallops, or imitation crab or lobster flakes

Small handful basil or parsley leaves, minced

8 thick slices crusty bread, for serving

Place a large, deep heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil and bacon, and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned. Add the potatoes and cook until they are lightly browned. Stir in the paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in clam juice, tomatoes and water as needed. Cover and cook until tomatoes soften and potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt, and stir, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the seafood and cook, covered, until done, about five minutes if you use scallops. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Grill or toast the bread. Remove the pot from the heat, sprinkle chowder with basil or parsley, and bring the bread and the pot, with a trivet, to the table for serving. (If you are able to get 16 Littleneck clams, add to the pot, hinge side down, instead of the scallops, cover and cook until the shells open.)

CHIPMUNK PIE

This is incredibly easy, and incredibly good. I forgot the vanilla the first time and it was still good. No, it’s not a mistake. The only fats in this recipe are the egg yolk and the spray you used to grease the pie plate. No milk or other liquid either, and no cinnamon, so actually more of the pure apple flavor comes through.

1 cup chopped up apples, peeled and cored

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup flour

Pinch salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup nuts, optional (but the chipmunks like them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together, and using electric beater beat in the apples and egg. Believe it or not, it will turn into a nice thick batter. Put into a greased pie plate. Bake for half an hour or until the apples are done.

Thought for the Week: Maybe one reason for many of the problems we face today - like the rampant drug abuse - is that the word “sinful” is almost never heard any more unless it’s in connection with an extremely rich dessert. A world with no clear distinction between right and wrong can be extremely confusing, especially for the young, who are trying to sort out their values in any case.

(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 to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

COUNTRY COUSIN


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