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

Fate...

Hi Folks!

Wonder if Hell has frozen over yet? It’s certainly been cold enough!

The icy fist of winter has most of the nation in its grip, but it squeezed particularly hard on Marinette County Monday night, with wind chills plummeting to 35 below zero. Actual low temperature reported at the Peshtigo Wastewater Treatment plant on Tuesday was 28 degrees below zero, and high there for the day was three below.

Now they tell us it will warm up just a bit on Thursday, long enough for it to snow another inch or two, before the cold sets in again.

Surely hope this isn’t the Winter from Norse mythology, the one where Spring never comes. Possible you know. God promised Noah and his descendants that a flood would never again destroy the world, but He never said He wouldn’t freeze us out out!

NO SNOWMEN

It’s kind of sad. There’s a foot of snow on the level outside, and snowmobilers have been having a field day, despite the cold. But youngsters can’t have snowball fights, and they can’t make a snowman. Half the fun of winter is missing.

It’s been so cold that the snow is dry. On windy mornings it blows from open fields like rivers across the highways. It’s impossible to make a snowball, let alone a snowman. There’s no danger that Frosty would melt, but he can’t be assembled in the first place.

We humans are facing fuel shortages, soaring heating bills, and cars that won’t start, but pity the poor woodland critters who have no heat except that provided by their own bodies. Bet by now some of the deer are almost wishing they hadn’t survived hunting season!

HOW COLD WAS IT?

Fellow who used to run dogs in Alaska says it isn’t really cold here at all. Claims when they wanted to go rabbit hunting the dogs had to put jumper cables on the rabbits just to get them running! Playboy magazine stopped publishing because no women would take their clothes off. “We pulled everything out of the freezer and huddled inside it to warm up!” he claims. Says the Husky Association was making emergency service calls to get the dog teams started, and claims when they parked the sled at night they either had to plug in the dogs or keep them running in place all night so they would start again in the morning.

DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

The County Board meeting on Tuesday morning was a refreshing display of democracy in action.

Supervisors engaged in lively debate on a number of issues. They asked questions and demanded answers. They demonstrated abilities to express differing opinions, usually without giving or taking personal offense.

There were split votes on several major issues, and it wasn’t always the same clique voting together. It was evident a lot of individual thought went into the discussions and the decisions.

That’s the way it should be. That’s what our County Board Supervisors were elected to do.

Good job, guys and gals. Hope this is the start of a new trend! This is American government as it should be!

DAFFYNITIONS

Don ‘t know if it’s there any more, but in the days of yore the Reader’s Digest frequently had a “daffynition” feature. Found a list of newly minted words the other day that would have fit nicely into one of those columns, if they weren’t in fact there in the first place.

For example:

Arbitrator: A cook who leaves Arby’s for McDonald’s.

Bernadette: Act of torching the mortgage documents.

Primate: Act of removing RV remote from unwilling hand of male spouse.

Subdued: Guy works on a submarine, or perhaps guy who drives the city subway train, or even the guy who makes those great sandwiches.

Bozone: Substance surrounding stupid people that stops knowledge from entering.

Maypop: A bald tire.

FATE OR FAVOR

Lost a vitally important set of keys some days ago. Missed them shortly after the night of the bad snow. Searched everywhere. They were gone, and it seemed they never would be found. Feared they had dropped into a snow pile and wouldn’t be seen again until Spring.

Mentioned the problem to a devout friend, and she suggested praying to St. Anthony, patron of lost things, and recited, for my benefit, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come on down. Something’s been lost, and needs to be found.” She encouraged me to repeat that several times a day until the keys turned up.

Well, the next day was a pretty bad one, and then, driving into my long, snow covered home driveway as I have hundreds of times, it seemed like something grabbed the wheel and propelled the car right into a snow bank. Stuck!

Grown son was watching for me that day and naturally was not happy about the snow bank trick. Didn’t buy that it wasn’t my fault, but went for the shovel. Told him I’d help, and grabbed my insulated boots from the vehicle. Went into the house to put them on and there, tucked into the toe, was the missing set of keys!

Now, I carry those boots in case I ever need them, but the odds that I’d ever actually have worn them without the snow bank incident are extremely slim. Had checked them, whoever, when searching for the lost keys, but there was no rattle. Turned out the fleece lining cradled them.

Then, about two days later was talking with another friend. A week earlier she had lost a credit card, and several days later found it. Before found it she searched everywhere, including in the pockets of every pair of jeans in the laundry, and every jacket she owns. She is Catholic, but it was her Lutheran sister who suggested asking for help from St. Anthony. She did that, and a few hours later, while hanging some garments in her bedroom, her back started to hurt. She sat on the foot of her bed to rest, and that’s when she spotted a little purse hanging from a coat tree. Remembered she had been carrying that one, not her regular one, on the day the card went missing. There it was!

She told her story first, and then I told mine. We agreed both incidents seemed like more than coincidence.

Thanks, St. Anthony. Sometimes our faith needs to be found too!

SQUEAKY CLEAN

It’s winter, and too cold to play outdoors. Some of us even resort to housecleaning to keep ourselves busy.

If you’re having a clean attack, you might appreciate these tips:

*If your stainless steel flatware has become dull, you can make it look like new by treating it to a good fizzy drink. Just put it in a pan and cover it with carbonated water, club soda, or seltzer. Leave it there a half hour or so, then rinse and dry. It will shine like new. Incidentally,that seltzer water is also good for wiping down any stainless steel appliance you may have, as well as chrome faucets and fixtures.

*If your carpet has a stain that just won’t budge, try this: Mix one tablespoon vinegar with one tablespoon cornstarch. Work this paste into the stain with a soft cloth. Rub it in well. Leave it there for two days and then vacuum. The stain should come up along with the dried cornstarch. (Most stains in our house are a bit larger, and the mixture needs to be more like a quarter cup of each, not a tablespoon.)

*To remove the soap and film that collects on shower curtains and plastic liners, take down the curtain, lay it on a flat surface and wash both sides with a solution of half a cup of ammonia to a quart of warm water. Dry it off with a towel and the film should be gone. Rehang the shiny clean curtain.

COOKIN’ TIME

With all the cold weather lately, appetites call for hearty foods, preferably something simmered long in a crock pot or roasted in an oven. All sorts of fuel could be in short supply before this wicked winter is over, so we need to make the best use of what we have. When roasting a meat course in the oven pop in some vegetables to bake and a dessert to share the heat. And don’t think of using the oven as wasting fuel, think of it as heating the kitchen at no extra cost. Bake enough potatoes at a time to have some American Fries or hash browns the next day for breakfast. Make double-sized beef roast so you can convert some to Roast Beef Hash. The possibilities are endless.

FRIED POTATO DUMPLINGS WITH BABY KALE

These are a hearty meatless meal if you want them that way, or they’re great with ham, bacon, meat loaf, even fried liver and onions. Serves 4

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes

4 large eggs

2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

A pinch of dried red pepper flakes

6 ounces baby kale

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Cover the potatoes with salted water in a large pot, then bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool to warm. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer, then stir in the eggs, flour, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, forming a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour. Flour a work surface generously, then cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/2-inch log, then cut into pieces. Cook the dumplings in boiling salted water until they float for 2 minutes, about 4 minutes total. Drain the dumplings and let cool to warm. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until hot. Stir in the dumplings and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and the pepper flakes. Stir the kale into the skillet and toss until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and serve.

White Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 (10.5 ounce) cans chicken broth

3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

3 (15 ounce) cans white beans

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Slowly cook and stir the onion until tender. Mix in the garlic, jalapeno, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove the mixture from heat. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm. If you like, top with taco chips,sour cream, guacamole and/or more shredded cheese.

HEALTH NUT COOKIES

No gluten and no sugar in these naturally sweet cookies, but lots of carbs anyway. Lots of other natural nutrition too. One or two of these cookies with a glass of milk would make an extremely suitable replacement for a bowl of dry breakfast cereal.

3 bananas, ripe

1/2 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1/4 cup prunes, dried, pitted, no sugar added, chopped

1 cup yellow raisins

2 cups oatmeal, plain old fashioned whole oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl mash bananas. Mix in oil, vanilla, nuts, prunes and raisins. Stir until well mixed. Drop mixture onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Slightly push down each cookie with fingers to lightly flatten. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool at least a bit before serving.

SUGAR ‘N’ SPICE PEAR BLONDIES

Mix up the topping for this ahead of time, since it needs to chill before using. I see no reason well drained canned pears couldn’t be used for this recipe, but have not tried it. Also suspect it would be good with nice juicy apples instead of pears, but again, haven’t tried it.

Topping:

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, cut into half-inch pieces

Mix all the dry ingredients, then, using fingers or food processor,rub in the butter until moist crumbs form and no dry flour remains. Keep chilled for at least an hour. Make it a day ahead if you want to.

Blondies:

Nonstick pan spray

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into quarter inch pieces

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 3/4 cups, packed, light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups pears, peeled, cored and cubed (about 2 large)

Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13x9x2” baking pan with spray and set aside. Stir butter in a medium saucepan until it melts and turns a deep, golden brown, with dark brown bits forming in the bottom of the pan. Watch closely at the end, you don’t want it to burn. This process may take seven or eight minutes. Let it cool slightly while you mix the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Set this aside, and in another bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Slowly stream the brown butter into the brown sugar mixture, whisking constantly until well blended. Add pears to the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Stir that mixture into the brown sugar mixture. The batter will be thick. Scrape batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and scatter on crumbles of the chilled topping. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown, with edges pulling away from sides of the pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean. (There should be a few crumbs sticking to it.) Let cool completely in pan and then cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving if you like.

MOLTEN LAVA CAKES

These little cakes don’t stay long in the oven, but they’re the perfect ending for an oven-cooked meal. Mix them up just before the main course is ready to serve, turn oven up to 450 degrees, and bake for just 12 minutes. Unmold, or serve right from their baking dishes. Wonderful with a scoop of ice cream.

1 stick (4 ounces) butter

6 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch salt

2 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins or other small oven-proof baking dishes. Tap out excess flour, then set the dishes on a baking sheet. Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler over boiling water. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale. Whisk the melted butter/chocolate mixture until smooth and fold it quickly into the egg mixture, together with the flour. Spoon batter into prepared dishes and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides are firm but the centers are still soft. Let cool for one minute, then cover with an upside down dessert plate and unmold on to it, or serve right in the baking dishes. Great served warm, with ice cream. Enjoy!

Thought for the week: With all the hot air that comes pumping out of Washington, our nation shouldn’t be caught in this cold snap. But if you’re tempted to ask for too many assists from good old Uncle Sam, keep in mind these warning words from Thomas Jefferson: “A government big enough to give you everything you need is also big enough to take away everything you have.” We need to be careful about asking for too much. We may get 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.)

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