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Country Cousin

Cool...

Hi Folks!

With winter officially a month old, we’re seeing more minutes of daylight each day, when it isn’t snowing. Have noticed that darkness doesn’t set in quite as early as it did.

Also noticed more folks have left their outdoor Christmas lights on, and that also helps brighten the long drive home on dark, dreary days. Thanks. Do so enjoy them.

EPIPHANY

Incidentally, Christmas season is now officially over for all branches of the Christian religion. Some Eastern churches celebrate Epiphany - Feast of the Three Wise Men - on Jan. 19, but most denominations observe it on Jan. 6. Epiphany also celebrates Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist.

Was always a bit confused over the dates of the presentation. Understand that Jewish law requires boy babies to be circumcised on their eighth day of life, but presentation at the temple is supposed to come at six weeks of age, which would put that anniversary on February 5.

Anyway, the dates we celebrate may or may not be the actual anniversary dates, since the calendar has been revised many times in the millennia that have passed since Christ was born. The important thing isn’t that we celebrate His correct birth date. It is that we abide by His teachings and live by His example.

CLEAN THOSE HEADLIGHTS!

A reminder - especially in winter, and especially if there has been wet, sticky snow, remember to clean your headlights before taking your car on the road.

Headlights dimmed by a snow crust or salt film can greatly diminish your ability to see, and also can greatly reduce the ability of other drivers to see your vehicle, especially when it, along with the rest of the world, is covered in snow!

WINTER FUN

Like it or not, winter will be with us for a while, so we might as well enjoy it, at least when it’s not 20 below. There’s no enjoying that!

The rest of the time, since we’re blessed with ample snow, we can go sledding and snow shoeing. Since it has continued cold without real letup, ice skating conditions are fine.

Snowman building, however, has not been very productive this year. The extreme cold dried out the snow so it won’t pack. That condition also hampers the fun of snowball fights and fort building, but perhaps later in the season that will change.

In Peshtigo, folks willing to brave the cold can enjoy an ice skating family fun day from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, sponsored by Peshtigo Chamber of Commerce. The rink is at a Peshtigo City Park at the corner of Ellis Ave. and Thompson St., across from Zion Lutheran Church. There will be a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, plus hot chocolate, cookies and organized ice games. Frosty the Snowman will be a special guest.

Also check Peshtigo Parks and Recreation Department winter events like Lil’ Dribblers Basketball, Senior Bowling and card parties. There will be Open Gym for volleyball at Peshtigo High School at 6 p.m. most Sunday evenings in February and March (but not Feb. 16).

Check out the ads, calendars of events and community posters for ice fishing contests, ice bowling, snowmobile events, and more, all through the county.

COOL DEFINITIONS

By now, most Up North residents have come to realize that global warming isn’t really a problem, but local colding definitely is.

Just how cold was it?

* Roosters were rushing into Kentucky Fried Chicken, begging to get into the pressure cooker!

* The optician was giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of eyeglasses!

* Richard Simmons started wearing long pants!

* A streaker froze in mid-streak! The town council just stuck a plaque on him and pretended he was a Greek statue until spring.

* UN weapons inspectors suddenly decided that chemical weapons might be hidden in Hawaii!

* Pickpockets were sticking their hands in strangers’ pockets just to keep them warm! Practitioners of certain other professions and political persuasions were actually caught with their hands in their own pockets!

* I chipped a tooth on my soup!

* McDonalds was serving coffee on a stick!

* When we milked the cows, we got ice cream! When we milked the brown cows - we got chocolate ice cream!

* Words froze in the air. If you wanted to hear what someone said, you had to grab a handful of sentences and take them in by the fire!

* My shadow froze to the sidewalk. Left an arm stuck there when I pulled the rest of it loose.

GROWIN’ THINGS

Many of us received beautiful poinsettias for Christmas, and some of us have kept them growing. If you’re willing to put just a little effort into them, they can be kept growing year after year.

Give the plant full sun, keep it in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees, and be sure the pot has good drainage. Water when the soil seems dry. Do not let the plant touch a cold window, keep it out of drafts, such as from frequently opened doors, and away from fireplace and heat vents. In other words, winds - hot or cold - are bad. Feed monthly with a water-soluble house plant fertilizer.

Enjoy the plant until it loses its beauty. By late February or early March, side stems should have grown up and leaves (petals) may start to fall. Cut back the original stem to four to six inches, remove the flowers and one or two side branches.

If the original container doesn’t seem to have good drainage, or if it has too much drainage, repot it. (I have seen some chain store plants come with cubes of styrofoam where most of the soil should be. Plants don’t like this for a long-term foundation, so if this is the case you’ll have to repot. This applies to all purchased plants.) Keep watering and feeding as before.

Once all danger of frost is past, the plant should move outdoors. Repot at this time, and sink the pot up to its rim in well-drained semi-shade outdoors. Give it a haircut about early August to control size and shape.

Before danger of frost, move it indoors. Then, for blooms at Christmas, starting at about the end of September, put the plant in a box or dark closet for complete darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily. This seems to trick the plant into thinking that winter has passed and it’s time to bloom again. Colors should start showing in bracts about mid-December.

WONDERS OF PINEAPPLE

Pineapple is something most of us enjoy eating, and fresh pineapple has recently come into its own as a readily accessible food rather than a rare treat. Generally we don’t think of pineapple as a nutrition powerhouse, but it is, in fact it may be one of the most healthful foods available today.

Fresh pineapple is valuable for easing indigestion, arthritis or sinusitis. The juice even helps get rid of intestinal worms, which can happen especially with children who eat unwashed fruits with unwashed hands.

Pineapple is high in manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones and connective tissue. A cup of fresh pineapple provides nearly 75 percent of the recommended daily amount. This is particularly helpful for older adults, whose bones tend to become brittle with age.

Pineapple provides generous amounts of bromeliad, an enzyme that breaks down protein to help the body digest them more efficiently. Bromeliad is also a very effective meat tenderizer, but in addition it has been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory in the human body. Eating at least a half cup of fresh pineapple daily is said to relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis and produce gentle relief for other aches and pains.

In Germany, bromeliad is approved as a post-injury medication because of its effectiveness at reducing inflammation and swelling. Those who eat fresh pineapple daily report fewer sinus problems related to allergies.

Orange juice is touted for high Vitamin C content, but fresh pineapple is better, especially as a cold remedy. Not only does it have more Vitamin C, but because of the Bromeliad, it has the ability to reduce mucous in the throat. If you have a cold with a productive cough, add pineapple to your diet.

In and of itself, pineapple has a very low risk for allergies. Pineapple is also known to discourage blood clot development. This makes it a valuable dietary addition for frequent fliers and others who may be at risk for blood clots. An old folk remedy for morning sickness is fresh pineapple juice. It really works! Fresh juice and some nuts first thing in the morning often make a difference. Also helps with digestion in general.

Pineapple is also good for a healthier mouth. The fresh juice discourages plaque growth, which means fewer cavities and sweeter breath.

Pineapple canned in its own juice, or canned pineapple juice, have health benefits, but not so much as the raw versions. The heat involved destroys a fair amount of the vitamin C and other heat-sensitive vitamins. Although pineapple canned in juice has only about 60 percent as much vitamin C as fresh raw pineapple, a cup of the canned fruit still provides 28 percent of the recommended daily amount. The big difference between fresh and frozen, though, is that the valuable bromeliad is destroyed in the canning process. Eating the fruit fresh or frozen is definitely better.

One thing you can’t do with fresh pineapple is add it to a gelatin dessert. It will not set, probably because the bromeliad goes to work on the protein in the gelatin. So for that, you must use canned.

Not only is fresh pineapple delicious and nutritious, you can cut the green top off a fresh pineapple and turn it into an attractive house plant. Don’t know if it’s possible to turn it back into a fruit, but it will grow into a tall exotic looking plant, sort of Christmas tree shaped, with pointy leaves. Had one for several years, and used to hang tiny balls from the end of each leaf bract at Christmas time. Finally managed to kill it, but it was nice while it lasted.

Incidentally, pineapples stop ripening the minute they are picked, and no way of storing them will ripen them further. Trust me, they will rot, however.

So how do you choose a tasty pineapple versus an immature one? Color is relatively unimportant, you have to choose by smell. If it smells fresh, tropical and sweet, it will be a good fruit. Also, pineapple experts say the more scales on the pineapple, the sweeter and juicier the taste.

COOKIN’ TIME

Still recovering from the rich, sweet goodies of the holidays, most of us are ready to enjoy a nice healthy casserole or a steamy, nutritious bowl of soup.

VEGETABLE ORZO SOUP

This recipe was taken from the Marinette County Northern Lights Master Gardeners Website. The soup is most definitely worth eating. Guess those folks can cook food as well as grow it!

1 med. sweet pepper chopped (I used green from the

freezer)

1 med. onion chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

3 to 4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1 jar (24 ounces) garden style (chunky) spaghetti sauce

16 ounces of your choice frozen veggies (the author used

broccoli, carrots, and zucchini)

1 large can Italian style tomatoes (your own canned ones

are good too )

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini or great northern beans

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup water

1/3 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 teaspoon, or to taste, of your choice of dried Italian

seasonings (like oregano, basil or marjoram)

Saut pepper and onion in oil in a dutch oven until tender. Add garlic and cook a minute longer stirring constantly. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Makes about 2 quarts. This soup should be made ahead, as it is said to get better if you let the flavors marry for a day. When reheated the soup tends to get thick, but you can thin it out to your desired consistency with water, without sacrificing taste.

RAMEN NOODLE SOUP

Serves two as a hearty meal if you add crusty rolls and a

dessert.

1 quart homemade or low sodium chicken broth

1 inch fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic

3 ounces of smoky slab bacon

1 piece about 2” from a stalk of lemongrass (or zest from

one lemon)

1 package of ramen noodles

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon black vinegar

2 eggs

1 handful chopped scallions

1 drop Srirachia or your favorite hot sauce

2 more cloves of garlic

1 handful thinly sliced mustard greens, baby spinac

leaves, or kale

Place bacon, ginger, garlic and lemongrass in a pot. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook ramen noodles with seasoning packet according to directions. Drain and set aside. Remove bacon, lemongrass, and ginger. Reserve the bacon for later. Add greens, soy sauce, and vinegar. Taste and check for salt, then add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the bacon. Add sliced garlic cloves to a pan with the bacon, and fry both until crisp. Drop eggs one at a time into the stock. (if you crack them in a bowl first, it is less likely that you will accidentally get a shell in your soup.) Place ramen noodles in a bowl. Carefully remove the eggs before they are completely cooked (a slotted spoon works best). Ladle the hot broth over the eggs and noodles. Cover with Bacon, fried garlic, and scallions. Garnish with a squirt or two of hot sauce.

ITALIAN BAKED EGG VEGGIE RAMEKINS

Jessica Simpson reportedly used this dish as a mainstay of her recent weight loss diet, and a great mainstay it is. But you don’t need to be dieting to enjoy it. In fact, if it makes you happy, add a teaspoon or so of butter to each ramekin before baking.

1 pound plum tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

1 onion, halved, sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 large eggs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, can be fat free

Heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a large, shallow roasting pan with nonstick spray, preferably buttery flavored. Put tomatoes, pepper, zucchini, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper into pan. Spray with cooking spray and toss to coat. Roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and crisp-tender, about 30 minutes. Spray four 8 or 10 ounce ramekins or custard cups and divide vegetables evenly among them. Make a nest in the center of each ramekin and break an egg into it. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet or other baking pan and bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until the eggs are just set. If you let them sit a bit before eating, the white will continue cooking, so stop just a bit before they are done as you like them. To make this a complete diet meal, serve with reduced calorie whole wheat toast.

Thought for the Week: We need to be tolerant of each other’s differences and get back to respecting the right of others to say what they think, even if we disagree with them. Funny how narrow minded this nation is getting in the name of tolerance. As Isaac Asimov has said, “People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”

Must agree too with Anatole France, “If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Also maintain that here in America, even if that million people are saying a foolish thing, they have a right to say it. The rest of us just don’t have to believe it.

(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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