Country CousinIssue Date: March 19, 2014
Winter will officially end on Thursday, March 20. Calendar says so.
Break out those summer duds, and be prepared to see the orchards burst into bloom.
Yeah, right! Better not put the winter garb away just yet.
And municipal authorities all over Marinette County are warning those who have been asked to keep their faucets running to prevent freezeups not to turn them off just yet. Wait until notified. The frost is deep in the ground and even if the weather topside happens to get warm (not likely just yet) the ice underground can freeze those lines in an hour or two.
Hear about the traveler who vacationed in northern Wisconsin this winter? Rented a semi-furnished room - you know, toaster, fridge, coffee pot, electric blanket.
Anyway, the poor fellow hardly got any sleep. Plugged the electric blanket into the toaster outlet by mistake and kept popping out of bed all night.
OLD TIME WINTERS
This winter has been wicked, and hopefully its close to ending. Calendar says so. Effective sometime on Thursday, March 20.
Anyway, this winter was one of the worst on record in many ways, but not that unusual as you consider the cycles of this old Earth.
We always hear about the horrors of winters in days gone by, you know, back when good ole Dad had to wade through waist-deep snow to get to school every day, uphill both ways?
Well, according to some old family letters, the winter of 1924 must have been pretty bad too.
After his first wife died in 1922, our grandfather went seeking a new wife to help him on his farm near Crivitz and mother his two little girls.
In the Virginia hills he met the woman who was to become the grandmother we kids knew and loved. Brought her home to Wisconsin in April, and she was not thrilled. The white on the hillsides of that little farm was snow, not dogwood.
She wrote in a letter to her family back in Virginia that she would never forgive him for bringing her to this Godforsaken country where snow lingers at a time when dogwoods should be in bloom.
Dont think she ever did, either. They stayed together, and worked as a team, but there was no sign of love between them. Lots of couples did that back when divorce was not only a disgrace, but far too costly for folks with little or no money.
During his pre-marriage years, the grandfather we knew as Pa spent some time as a lumberjack. He also spent some time as a hobo, but thats another story.
Anyway, TIMESland was once the lumbering capital of America, and it still boasts the largest County Forest in Wisconsin.
But back when this land was new and filled with towering white pines, the men who lived and worked in the lumber camps had a lingo all their own, a language all but lost to todays world.
Translate this tale of a day in camp: It is 5 a.m. and the Gabriel blows. The bark eaters fall out of their muzzle loaders and head for the bunk house to bolt down a pile of stove lids with lots of blackstrap, some fried Murphys or Johnny cake and maybe some logging berries. They dunk their rolling stock into their jerk water, growl at the hash slinger, pull up their galoshes and head for the tall timber.
Yes, they called bunks muzzle loaders, pancakes were often called stove lids, and rolling stock was a donut. Hash slinger was the cook. Blackstrap then was a dark type molasses, as it is now. Backstrap was another name for a type of salt pork made from the fat back of a pig.
Old loggers often would decide which lumber camp to work for on the basis of the quality and quantity of their food rather than the size of the paycheck. For single men in those rough, wild days, most of the paychecks were gone by the time the trip to town was over anyway. The last of that rough and ready breed of men have long since taken the sky route.
Anyway, the grandfather I knew as Pa was a non-drinker. He brewed dandelion wine, but seldom drank it. In all the years I knew him, he might have a glass of wine at Easter and a beer on Christmas, but that was about it until his doctor prescribed a nightly shot of brandy as heart medicine. He was over 80 by then.
He told us he gave up drinking after working a month in a lumber camp in his very early days of manhood. He got his first payday, went to town with the boys and blew that entire paycheck on a weekend binge.
Ending up broke and hung over was not his idea of a good time and he never repeated the experience. He said lots of the other lumberjacks simply lived for that wild weekend and only went back to work so they could do it again next time. This was known as burning out the grease.
Maybe it worked, because those who werent killed in lumbering or other accidents generally lived to a ripe old age.
Pa worked in the camps, did not go to town, and managed to save some money. He used those few dollars to buy a small farm near Crivitz from the lumber company. Property tax bill for 1917 for the 57 acres and a small cabin he had built on it was $8.17 for the year. He and his stepson cleared the land and farmed some of it. He lived there for the last half of his life and raised his children there, and we are lucky enough to live there today.
If youre sitting around drooling over seed catalogs and planning what youll do if and when Spring gets here, think about some bee-friendly plantings. For whatever reason, the bee population seems to have declined here, and lots of plants, especially fruit trees, depend on them to produce and multiply.
There are other pollinators, like hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, bats, beetles, and even sometimes animals, but bees are the most efficient. Theyre designed for it.
To help out the bees, plant shrubs and trees like blueberries, cherry, plum, willow and its relative, the popple. Do not plant popples or willows near house foundations, water or sewer lines or drain fields, as the roots can be very invasive.
Choose a mixture of flowers in various colors, shapes and scents, and if you have room let some fields go to wild flowers because the birds and the bees love things like milkweed and other blooms that show up here in Wisconsin if we just leave things alone.
Incidentally, the Federal government has a special grant program this year for folks who want to grow honey bees commercially, but if youre interested, youll have to hurry. Application deadline is Friday, March 21. Get more information quickly from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or the USDA, which has an office in Oconto.
There seems to always be another scam operation going. In this one, a person, generally with a foreign accent, probably from India, calls to say someone has misappropriated your computer IP number and is using it to do some bad things. He assures you you arent in any trouble, but you need to correct it and he will work with you. Talk to him long enough and he will ask for money, but by then it may be too late for your computer.
Received a call myself from an unidentified number. He said the problem was with the IP on my home computer and I should be sitting next to it. Perhaps proximity is necessary for their scam?
Anyway, told him that was interesting, since my home computer is not connected to any Internet server. Asked him to tell me the IP number he said was causing all the problems, and he hung up. Guess I was lucky.
Sandy, a friendly lady from UES Computers in Marinette, was very familiar with the scam attempt I encountered, and a few others as well.
She said to never, ever download a program because someone tells you to, and never, ever give out your credit card information to an unknown caller or in response to an e-mail from someone you dont know.
She said the callers often convince their victim to either download a small program they claim will fix the computer problem, or to log onto a computer site to fix it.
Do not do it!
Either action can open the door for a bug that freezes your computer and gives them access to everything in it. Then they demand payment to take the bug out. Or they may pretend it was a problem with your computer and they are doing you a favor. Dont fall for it, and do not pay, Sandy said. Its like ransom. They will just keep demanding more.
Instead, shut the computer down. Bring it to a reliable local service and let them take care of it. She said for $125 UES will save your data and personal information, wipe the system clean of all the nasty viruses, and then restore the things you want to keep.
Meanwhile, there are things you can do to minimize chances of problems. First, if anyone says they are calling on behalf of Microsoft or Windows, hang up! Those companies would never attempt to call all their millions of customers, and they dont have to. Microsoft regularly sends out program updates that you may not even be aware of, usually very late at night. There may be a very small message in a corner of the screen saying something has been done. They will not call you on the phone, and they will not put a demand on your computer, she said.
If a big sign ever pops up in the center of your screen with a message that something needs to be done, dont do it! Shut the computer down, unplug it, whatever. But never, ever, click on that sign.
Sandy says its safer to use prepaid credit cards for on-line transactions than a regular one.
Never download a program or an attachment from an unknown sender.
If a caller pretends to be a friend or grandchild in jail somewhere, dont be pressured into sending money. Check it out first. If you cant check it out, its almost certainly a scam.
Be very careful what programs you access, what attachments you open.
People wonder why their computers still get viruses when they have virus protection she said, then explained, You can put locks on your doors to keep burglars out. But they wont do an good if you open those doors and let the burglars in!
SPINACH-BROCCOLI EGG BAKE
This is a great main dish for a meatless Lenten meal, or to serve for a special Easter brunch. By the way, leeks are a much under-used vegetable, and well worth the price. Easy, and no fuss in the morning. Put it together the night before, then let it bake while you hunt for Easter eggs, or sip your morning coffee while you watch the news. Personally, never watch the news before a meal these days. Causes indigestion!
1 tablespoon olive oil
11/2 cups sliced leeks
1 (8 ounce) package sliced button mushrooms
12 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (16 ounce) carton cottage cheese
2 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed,
2 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed,
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounce)
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add leeks; cook 2 minutes or until beginning to soften, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until tender and juices have evaporated, stirring occasionally.
2. Whisk eggs, flour, baking powder, oregano and nutmeg in large bowl until combined. Stir in cottage cheese and mushroom mixture. Stir in all remaining ingredients.
3. Coat 13x9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; pour in egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 1 hour or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
SOUTHERN-STYLE PICKLED SHRIMP
Wonderful meatless day treat, particularly good to have on hand if the clan begins to gather on Good Friday.
2 pounds shelled deveined uncooked small shrimp (36 to 45
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 bay leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cook shrimp for about two minutes in a lot of boiling salted water, just until they turn pink. They get tough if you cook too long. Drain and chill in ice water. Layer one-third each of shrimp, onions, 1/2 cup of the parsley and bay leaves in deep bowl. Glass is best. Be sure you dont use metal. Repeat layers twice. Whisk brine ingredients together and pour over the shrimp layers. Cover and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours or even up to two days, stirring occasionally. Remove shrimp and onions to a serving platter. Sprinkle on the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley for trim and garnish with additional parsley sprigs if you like.
TROPICAL KEY LIME PIES
Look like Spring, and taste even better. Easy to make and easy to eat!
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 egg yolks
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Key lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 24 mini muffin cups with little paper liners. Combine crust ingredients except butter in a medium bowl, and then stir in the butter until crumbs are moistened. Spoon crust mixture evenly into 24 little muffin cups, about 1-1/2 teaspoons crumb mixture each. Press firmly over bottom to form crust. Bake five minutes in the preheated oven, then set aside on a wire rack to cool completely. Stir the filling ingredients together until thoroughly mixed, but do not beat. Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling into each muffin cup. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cool completely on wire rack and then refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. An hour or two before serving time, beat cream at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add all remaining topping ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Put a dollop atop each little pie, garnish with coconut and chill until serving time. For a prettier dessert, if youre willing to fuss, put the whipped topping into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or a resealable plastic bag with corner cut off and pipe decoratively on top of each pie and garnish with coconut. In either case, refrigerate until ready to serve.
Thought for the Week: Too often, those who do not believe in God and the life hereafter succeed in banning religion from anything we encounter in our daily lives. They want to keep God confined within the walls of churches, where they do not have to confront Him, never mind that they constantly enjoy the good things He gave to all of us. And they try to enforce their prejudice in the name of religious freedom. As the late, great President Ronald Reagan once said, The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom and open mindedness. Question: Isnt the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives. Lord, help us to know the right words to open the hearts of those who are blind to You. Especially during this season of Lent, let us not be afraid to speak out in Your defense. Amen.
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