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Country Cousin

Mother’s Day...

Hi Folks!

Happy Spring! That wonderful green and growing season may finally be here! Regardless of the continuing chill, grass is greening up. Guess the rains help that, no matter how dreary it gets. Leaves may appear someday, hopefully before the first of June.

It’s always amazing how quickly things advance when Spring really happens.

MISSING MOM

Sunday will be the first Mother’s Day in my lifetime without a Mom to share it with. She went on her final journey a year ago this month, and we all miss her. But she lived a long, full life, and surely is up there somewhere in Heaven with Dad and everyone else she loves, growing flowers, assigning chores, collecting angel feathers and searching out the brightest particles from bits of falling stars.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

You taught us to live and love, to work and play, to do right, and to enjoy the little things in life. For all that, we thank you.

ORIGIN OF MOTHER’S DAY

The modern Mother’s Day is a relatively new holiday, but back in 6th-century England folks had a celebration called “Mothering Sunday,” a Sunday set aside for visiting your mother. The eldest son or daughter would bring a “mothering cake,” which would be cut and shared by the entire family. Family reunions were the order of the day, with sons and daughters assuming all household duties and preparing a special dinner in honor of their mother.

Sure sounds like the Mother’s Day of today ought to be. Especially when you remember that in those days, assuming all the household chores included hauling water in buckets, hauling wood, keeping the stove fired up if you wanted to eat, finding and picking the greens if you wanted some to to eat, and cooking everything from scratch, no mixes or pre-cleaned anything. If you wanted fried chicken, you had to catch and kill and clean that chicken first. In those days, there wasn’t even any home canned food. They hadn’t learned how yet.

Oh, yes. The chores might also include collecting the eggs, milking the cow, feeding the chickens and watering the cow.

MOTHER’S DAY WISDOM

Lots of people have had a thing or two to say about Moms and Mother’s Day. Here are a few:

“Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law.” Hubert Humphrey, American politician

“The greatest love is a mother’s; Then comes a dog’s, then comes a sweetheart’s.” Polish proverb

“In the eyes of its mother, every turkey is a swan.” - author unknown.

“The daughter of a good mother will be the mother of a good daughter.” Author unknown.

“What good fathers and mother instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.” Child psychologist Dr. Benjamin Spock, actually admitted this after writing all his books on raising children.

NO MORE DOCTORS

A very healthy friend says she’s never going to the hospital again. Went four times, and every time she came home with a baby.

THREE CHILLY SAINTS

May 11 also begins a 3-day period called the Three Chilly Saints. Named for three early Christian martyrs, these 3 days traditionally mark the last cold spell before planting season begins.

Some old timers from northern Europe referred to “The Three Ice men,” Saints Mamertus, Pancras, and Servatius, whose days are celebrated successively on May 11, 12 and 13.

Belief was that those three days generally would not pass without a frost, and that belief, at least here in Wisconsin, was all too often true. In fact, we did not put tender plants in our garden until the final week of May, and that seems like a good idea this year.

In Poland, tradition was that rain would fall on the feast of St. Sophia, May 15, and that date marked the start of the planting season.

Few folks back then had calendars, so many of them tracked the dates by Saints’ Days, which probably were mentioned at Sunday church services.

STAY HEALTHY, DON’T SLOUCH

Check out vintage photos of women in charm school. Notice their perfect posture and books on their heads? Being mindful of your posture doesn’t just add to your feminine daintiness, or macho air, depending on your gender.

Good posture reduces aches and pains, helps you breathe easier, increases your confidence and makes you look younger. The key to good posture while sitting at your desk: Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Keep knees bent at right angles, make sure your rear touches the back of your chair, and place your feet flat on the floor. Also, take regular breaks from staring down at your cell phone and change up your position throughout the day.

EAT WITH THE SEASON

Ever notice how food cravings change with the season? There’s a reason for that. Our bodies are trying to tell us something.

Back in the day, our grandparents ate what was in season because that’s all that was available. That type of dining accidentally gave them the nutrients they needed in the proper seasons. (Except when there wasn’t enough food of any sort, but that’s an entirely separate problem.)

Point is, in winter, fresh fruits and veggies were scarce, and diets were focused on meats, fish, and starchy veggies that store well.

Thanks to modern food-processing techniques and transportation systems, we now can eat whatever we want all year round.

But that doesn’t mean we should, especially when produce produced locally and then picked and eaten at its peak generally has more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than foods harvested before they’re ripe and then shipped long distances, according to some medical advisors.

They suggest following the old-school solution: Eat seasonally to reap the health and environmental benefits. You’ll not only eat foods with better nutritional content, but eating seasonally also often means consuming locally grown foods, which supports local farmers, cuts down on pollution from shipping and trucking food and reduces your carbon footprint. What’s more, in-season fruits and vegetables are more affordable than imported versions.

“Our bodies are naturally drawn to certain foods at certain times of the year for a reason,” says holistic healing coach Ashley Williams of the Cleveland Medical Institute.

“Fruits and raw veggies are naturally cooling and energizing during the summer when we’re more physically active, while beans and root vegetables keep us warm in the winter.”

If you don’t raise your own garden, shop the local farmer’s markets when the time comes.

STAY CONNECTED, STAY HEALTHYResearch has proven that it’s also important for your health to communicate not only by voice or text messaging, but through personal contact that involves facial expressions, eye contact and body language. Studies prove there are actually physical benefits from quality, engaged contact with others, that it contributes to mental, emotional and physical health. Helps keep the heart rate steady, and improves your body’s ability to regulate your cardiovascular, immune system and glucose levels.

In short, modern medical science has proven the old wisdom that, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

So to stay healthy, chill out with friends, cuddle a kid, and in general enjoy the company of others. Not bitter medicine at all, but those who should know say it works.

STAY ACTIVE

Lots of us work at a desk all day, and modern housekeeping doesn’t take the energy our grandmothers spent, which probably contributes to our nation’s chronic weight problem.

Try amping up your daily movement quota. Simple things like pacing around as you talk on the phone, watering the plants, getting up to chat with a coworker in person rather than e-mailing, and taking a short walk at lunch all help. Maybe that’s why antsy kids tend to stay skinny, while their quieter cousins do not.

ON THE SOAP BOX

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?


Recent investigations into the Benghazi attack, including the e-mails the White House was forced to release prove the claims it was an angry mob that attacked the American consulate and and killed the four Americans were deliberately false.

The tragedy is that our government was asked to send aid to those United States citizens, and for whatever nefarious reasons, refused to do so. The blood of those murder victims is on their hands.

Perhaps the help could have reached them in time to prevent the deaths. Perhaps it could not. But the fact is, those who run our government did not try, and that isn’t poor judgment, it’s treason!

Then, the shocking words of Hillary Clinton to Congressional investigators some months ago: “What difference does it make now?”

News commentator Wayne Rogers on the Fox News Business report wondered how folks would react if Hillary Clinton were shot and killed on the campaign trail, and her opponent asked, “What difference does it make now??”

CELTIC MUSIC

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 716 Henriette Avenue, Crivitz, is hosting a Celtic Service with members of the the Lutheran Ceili Orchestra, featuring traditional hymns and tunes from the Celtic lands played on authentic Celtic instruments including uilleann bagpipes, tin whistle, fiddle, bodhran, and more. The group is lead by Celtic instrumentalist Joey Schumann, who has toured with American Composer Tim Janis and has twice been a featured performer on the uilleann bagpipes and tin whistle at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

COOKIN’ TIME

BLOODY MARY SALAD

Crave the refreshing flavors of spring? It’s a long, long time before the garden will produce, but this special (and easy) salad goes marvelously with steak produced on the grill, or anywhere else for that matter. to be authentic, drink a quarter cup of the vegetable juice and replace it in the recipe with a quarter cup of Vodka. If you let the juice boil, the alcohol in the Vodka dissipates, but the flavor is still there.

4 cups tomato-vegetable juice

2 packages of lemon gelatin, 3 ounce size

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/3 cup minced onion

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

1 cup thinly sliced celery (optional)

Bring the juice to a boil. Dissolve the gelatin in the hot juice. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in the blue cheese, onion and lime juice. Pour into a 1-1/2-quart mold. Chill until firm.

ASPARAGUS FRITATA

It’s too early for asparagus from the garden, but this wonderful vegetable is available now at the supermarket. Enjoy it while you can!

9 spears pencil-thin asparagus

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Pinch sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for water

3/4 cup ParmigianoReggiano cheese, coarsely grated (or regular Parmesan)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Wash and trim asparagus. Cut into 3/4-inch lengths. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain asparagus and submerge in ice water to stop cooking. Set aside. In a medium-size oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add onion, sugar, and salt; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown and very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove onion from the pan with tongs, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Let onion sit 10 minutes, until no longer hot. While the onions cool set the broiler on high and let it heat. While that happens, in a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Add cheese, pepper, asparagus, and onion. Set the skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture, stirring briefly to distribute fillings. Reduce heat to low and let mixture cook slowly; you should see just a few lazy bubbles popping up around the edges. Cook undisturbed until edges are set but middle is still very liquid, about 8 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven, positioning it 34 inches from the broiler. Cook until top of the fritata is golden brown, edges are puffed, and center is just set (it will jiggle slightly but pop right back after you poke it), about 2 minutes. Don’t overcook it! Loosen with a spatula, if needed. Remove to a warmed platter and serve immediately, preferably with hot biscuits that you pop into the oven which is already hot from using the broiler.

WONDERFUL APRICOT TRIFFLE

Perfect for springtime showers, graduation parties or other gatherings, this easy dessert serves about 15 to 18 people if they don’t have seconds. No baking if you buy the cake. Make ahead of time, as the pastry cream needs to cool for a couple of hours before you assemble the triffle. Can be assembled the night before, or better still, make the pastry cream the night before and assemble the whole thing in the morning. If you object to the brandy you could use apricot nectar to moisten the cake, but that wouldn’t be authentic.

1 classic French sponge cake (9 inches) or your favorite

yellow layer cake

Apricot brandy to moisten cake

2 jars (10 ounces each) apricot jam

2 cups pastry cream (recipe follows)

2 cups whipped cream (recipe follows)

Slice cake into 3 layers. Place first layer in a large pretty glass bowl and drizzle with brandy until the layer is moist. Spread with apricot jam. (The all-fruit kind of jam or preserves is best.) Spread pastry cream over jam, then whipped cream. Repeat jam/pastry cream/whipped cream sequence twice more, ending with whipped cream.

Pastry Cream:

2 cups milk

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup flour

Bring milk to boil and set aside. Mix egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with a wire whisk, until mixture forms a ribbon. Add flour and mix well (will become rather thick). Add half the boiled milk to the yolk mixture, mixing well. Pour yolk mixture into remaining milk, mixing as you go along. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly with the whisk. Sauce will thicken as soon as it reaches the boiling point. Reduce heat and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Be very careful at this point; sauce will burn very quickly if heat is too high. Be sure the whisk scrapes the bottom of the pot as you stir. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and poke a few holes to allow cream to breathe. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until completely cooled.

Whipped Cream:

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients to a bowl. Beat to desired thickness.

Thought for the Week: Dear God, thank You for Mothers. Thank You for giving them a capacity to love that perhaps comes close to Your own love for us. Please bless all mothers, wherever they are. Just a reminder: That includes me, Lord. Amen.

(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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