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

Healthy...

Hi Folks!

That Global Warming just won’t quit! We’re supposed to get some relief from record breaking lows on Thursday, and might actually get a January thaw on Sunday. Wouldn’t that be great!

Water pipes are frozen, car is in the garage (not its home base, but one we’ll have to pay for), and some families have been faced with baby sitting problems because Moms and Dads had to go to work, but the kids didn’t have to go to school.

GOOD CALL

Incidentally, kudos to the school officials who made the decision early to close schools because of the cold. Having youngsters walk to school or stand outside waiting for a school bus could have been deadly.

But moms and dads who need baby sitters have a real problem when the “School Closed” notices come at 6 a.m. instead of 6 p.m. Sometimes those things need to be decided at the last minute, but earlier is better.

Officials who called off school and therefore competitions during the frigid week also are to be thanked for recognizing that safety comes first. Rescheduling games can be a headache, but school busses used to transport teams and fans have been known to fail in extremely frigid weather, and the coaches who canceled saved many families from traveling the highways in temperatures that could easily turn a minor accident or breakdown into a fatality. With a few exceptions, there is a general rule that if school is cancelled then school extracurriculars are also cancelled.

PROPANE SHORTAGE?

There are unconfirmed reports that the uncommon cold this year is causing a propane shortage, at least for some dealers, but a quick check of the web doesn’t mention an overall shortage of the fuel that keeps so many rural homes warm.

Did find some tips from John McCormack, national technical specialist for Canada’s Superior Propane, that may prove helpful for those of us who live in Wisconsin’s frozen northland. McCormack said propane is one of the safest forms of energy for your home or business, but improper use or poorly working appliances can cause problems nonetheless. And extreme cold poses problems of its own.

McCormack is quoted: “In extremely cold conditions, especially nearing -40 C, there may not be enough vapour pressure in your tank to keep your appliance working properly.”

(Tried converting -40 C to Fahrenheit, and all the charts I found show -40 F is the answer. The regular conversion formulas apparently only apply to above zero temps. Can anyone tell me if this is right?)

Anyway, McCormack said some people believe in extreme cold the propane in their tank has gelled, “but what is really happening is that the liquid propane isn’t boiling as vigorously as it does at higher temperatures, so there isn’t enough vapour being produced to feed your appliance”.

He goes on to say, “The colder it is outside, the lower the pressure will be in your tank; conversely, the higher the temperature, the higher the pressure.” Mr. McCormack recommends there are several steps you can take to avoid pressure problems during cold weather extremes:

* Keep your tank full and have your propane appliances checked annually and repaired as needed.

* Never attempt to cover up your tank. This will merely insulate the propane inside the tank from the natural heat of the daytime sun, potentially worsening the problem.

* For the same reason, do not allow snow to build up on your tank.

* Turning your thermostat down will lessen the time your appliance operates, permitting the pressure in the tank to build. Turning your thermostat up will worsen the problem.

* Keep the regulator at the building free of ice and snow, and never pour water over it.

* Never use an open flame or electrical device in the vicinity of a propane tank. Accidents involving “heating” a tank to boost pressure are not uncommon.

Another problem with propane - and practically any other heating fuel is that they can cause a carbon monoxide problem. There are inexpensive carbon monoxide detectors and truly every home should have one, because carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas sometimes known as the silent killer that interferes with the blood’s ability to absorb and transport oxygen. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion that can be produced by any carbon-based fuel when there is a lack of oxygen.

Exposure to carbon monoxide causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, tightness across forehead and temple, weakness, nausea, dizziness, confusion, impaired judgment, loss of muscular control, watering and smarting of eyes, shortness of breath, and finally loss of consciousness, brain damage and even death.

Warning signs include an abnormal odor when your furnace or other fuel-burning appliances turn on, air that feels stale or stuffy, abnormal moisture on windows and walls, and soot on any equipment or a yellow flame at the burner tip of a propane appliance (which indicates incomplete combustion). If you spot some of these signs, call professional. If you start having symptoms, get out and get help immediately.

“It’s imperative to act fast if you suspect carbon monoxide is present indoors. Leave the building immediately, call 911, and seek medical help,” says Mr. McCormack.

ANAGRAMS

There once was a game called anagrams, which involved rearranging letters of one word or phrase into another. A friend shared some really precious ones, in which the letters used in one word or phrase can be rearranged into another one which pretty much means the same thing. For example “ELECTION RESULTS” can be rearranged into “LIES - LET’S RECOUNT.” Oops! used that one before. Couldn’t resist doing it again.

Anyway, we used some a few weeks ago, but here are a few more. This time the answers are printed just after Cookin’ Time. See if you can figure them out before you look.

Starting phrases are:

SNOOZE ALARMS

A DECIMAL POINT

THE EARTHQUAKES

ELEVEN PLUS TWO

MOTHER-IN-LAW

Lots of us would disagree with the answer to that last one, but common jokes allege that most folks see it that way. My own mother in law was a lot of fun, and always a welcome visitor, so the answer here wouldn’t apply.

HEALTHY FOODS

There has been much publicity in recent years about amazing health benefits in several newly discovered old foods. Among them are Chia Seeds and Quinoa, which are now available in regular supermarkets as well as specialty health foods stores. Learning how to use them is another story.

We also are being increasingly urged to eat more dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, etc. The greener the better is the rule.

These “Super Foods” are said to make you healthier, thinner, happier and even fact prettier, even see better, so why not? See the Super Food Stew recipe below to find all three combined in a single dish.

CHIA SEEDS

Chia Seeds, yup, the same little seeds that showed up on the market a few years ago for growing Chia Pets, is identified as a champion of nutritional benefits. It was esteemed by the Aztecs long ago for its flavor and health benefits. The seeds are available in white or black, both of which are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, protein, iron and fiber. Just 1 1/2 tablespoons of the seeds contains as much omega-3s as five ounces of salmon, as much calcium as three ounces of whole milk, as much iron as three cups of raw spinach, plus loads of protein. A single serving of the seeds provides 42 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber, which is required for a healthy and beautiful body, skin, and mind.

Soaking chia seeds in a liquid causes them to swell up to 10 times their original size, which makes you feel full on less. Unlike flax seed, chia does not need to be ground to release its nutrients. The whole seeds have more than four years of shelf life, and their extremely low glycemic index rating causes them to lower the rate at which other carbohydrates are converted into sugar.

QUINOA

Next on the Super Foods list is quinoa, a grain that also hails from South America, where it was called the “mother grain” by the Incas, who grew it more than 5,000 years ago in the high altitudes of the Andes. Today, some 200,000 pounds of the grain are grown each year in America, but it is said to have the sweetest flavor when grown 12,500 feet or more above sea level.

The most common variety of quinoa is an ivory-colored, tiny, bead-shaped seed, sort of a grain, with a delicate, almost bland, comparable to couscous or rice. Quinoa is lighter, but can be used in any way suitable for rice. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, and is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains and is a very good source of calcium, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins,and vitamin E. Quinoa’s slow-releasing carbohydrates help to maintain blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial to diabetics and anyone suffering from frequent headaches.

These amino acid-rich seeds are not only very nutritious, but also very delicious. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet slightly crunchy. They have a delicate, somewhat nutty flavor.

There are red, yellow and black varieties of quinoa, which can be purchased rinsed or not rinsed. If yours is not pre-rinsed, be sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove its natural bitter coating.

Like soy, quinoa is a plant-based food that provides eight grams of complete protein per cup. That same cup also contains 5 of fiber that’s so important for digestive health, heart health and weight loss. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc, plus lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Talk about a natural food supplement, there it is!

Quinoa cooks in minutes, and can be used for salads, breakfast cereal, desserts, side dishes, soups and more.

GREENS

Mom always told us to eat our spinach, and so did Popeye. But they forgot about the other dark green leafy greens - like chard, kale, collard greens, etc. Unlike most vegetables, these greens need to be cooked to give full value. They are all important sources of iron, calcium and potassium, as well as Lutein, which helps protect eyes from macular degeneration and skin from the sun’s UV rays that can cause cancer. See Cookin’ Time below for a soup that contains all three Super Foods.

COOKIN’ TIME

With the New Year our thoughts usually turn to ways to get healthy. Try some of today’s newly popular healthy foods. You may be very pleasantly surprised, and you may find some new favorites!

SUPER FOOD RAGOUT

Must admit I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds good, and certainly very healthy. Notes with the recipe, found on Shine, say you can substitute beans, greens and grains of your choice, so you aren’t limited to something hard to find, like arugula.

4 cups onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 cups broccoli florets, firmly packed

1 can black beans, 15 ounces, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

2 cans tomato sauce, 23 to 25 ounces each

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste

2 cups cooked red quinoa

2 1/2 ounces arugula

2 1/2 ounces fresh spinach, chopped and de-stemmed.

Put two tablespoons of the olive oil into a large nonstick skillet. Add the onions, salt and pepper and saut until the mixture turns golden brown. Add broccoli florets and saut another five minutes. Add black beans, and in the center make a well, into which put the remaining olive oil and add the chopped garlic. Cook until you can get the garlic scent, about one minute. Add the tomato sauce, chia seeds, hot sauce and quinoa. Bring to a simmer and mix. Add spinach and arugula and stir until thoroughly heated and the greens are cooked as you like them.

BEER BRAISED VENISON (OR BEEF)

Some wouldn’t consider this a particularly healthy recipe, but families of hunters lucky enough to have a haunch of venison in the freezer will enjoy this most delicious centerpiece for a most delicious meal. If your household finds venison in short supply, you can prepare a beef roast the same way. It’s still delicious, but costs a lot more. Well, maybe not considering what deer hunters sometimes spend on their favorite sport.

5 pound venison roast, preferably from leg

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup salad oil

24 ounces beer

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon thyme

8 peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup half and half

Flour, as needed, maybe up to a cup

Water, if needed

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet stainless steel, ceramic or nonstick skillet. Add the onions and saut them until golden, about five to seven minutes. Take off the heat and stir in beer and seasonings. Heat just to simmering, and then let it cool. Place the venison or beef in a large dish and pour the cooled beer marinade over it. Cover and put in refrigerator. Let it marinate for 24 to 36 hours, turning the meat occasionally to keep it coated with the marinade. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes to an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the meat, marinade and all, in a Dutch oven or ovenproof casserole with a lid. Put on the lid and bake for two to two and a half hours, basting frequently with the juices. It should be fork tender when it’s done. If there is fat on the cooking liquid, skim it off. Strain the juices and measure into a saucepan. You will need two tablespoons flour for each cup of pan juices. Into this mix the half and half and enough cold water to stir it up into creamy consistency. Stir this into the pan juices, and turn the heat back on. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and boils, and let it boil about 10 minutes to disperse any raw flour flavor. If necessary add a bit of water. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Slice the meat at the table, put the gravy into a sauce dish, and serve with mashed potatoes or noodles if you like. Green beans simmered with diced bacon and onions are a natural with this, as well as a green salad.

INCREDIBLE EDIBLE PANCAKES

I love pancakes, but can’t eat them for breakfast because starting the day off with pure carbs is very bad for anyone with a tendency to insulin flooding that results in low blood sugar. These have the essential protein balance, and are delicious with butter and a bit of sugar-free fruit spread. Definitely quick fix, easy as a mix. Make them with egg beaters or whites only if you must. A bit of added Splenda is good if you want them a bit sweeter. I add a dash of salt. Entire recipe, if made with egg whites, has 31 grams of protein and 32 grams of carbs.

1/2 cup oatmeal, raw, quick cooking is best

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs or four egg whites

Blend all ingredients in blender. Spray skillet with cooking spray and cook just like “silver dollar” pancakes, a few small ones at a time. Top with your favorite pancake topping!

Anagram Answers: alas! no more z ‘s; i’m a dot in place; that queer shake; twelve plus one; woman Hitler.

Thought for the week: Pray for miracles, if you must, but don’t wait for them. If there’s something you can do, do it. Like any good father, God wants us to be as self reliant as possible. But never forget, sometimes it’s the hidden little nudges from Him that point us in the right direction to achieve miracles - and then we think we got there on our own!

(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.)

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