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

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Hi Folks!

Once upon a time, on September 6, 1620 to be exact, a boat filled with hope sailed from England toward a new world, where many of those aboard hoped they would be free to worship God as they chose, and live their lives as free men and women, without interference from the tyrannical king who ruled their homeland at the time.

In the untouched forests of America they and their descendants found more freedom than they could have imagined. They found the freedom to starve if things went badly, and to prosper mightily if things went well and they worked hard. They found, and eventually founded, a great land where low born citizens could rise to a position of wealth and power by putting their own labor, diligence, abilities and intelligence to work.

To be sure, there were abuses over the years. At one time, in one colony or another, people were burned at the stake for witchcraft, women were branded as adulterers, thieves and brigands were rampant, intolerance flourished, and slavery was tolerated.

But because God ruled in the new land, and because in general people are good, things usually righted themselves. The nation was prospering. Private citizens, not of the royalty, were living comfortable lives. Some were even getting rich. The King in far off England noticed. He, and others in the ruling class, wanted a greater share of that prosperity for themselves. They began making ridiculous rules and imposing punitive taxes on a people who had become used to being left alone.

Descendants of those first settlers, joined by many of the hundreds of others who had arrived in the 156 years that followed, took exception to taxation without representation, and to the laws imposed by a despotic government. They organized a Tea Party and celebrated it in right good fashion.

On July 4, 1776 a band of brave men and prestigious men signed and published the Declaration of Independence. They risked their lives and their fortunes and those of their families to give us a free land.

Those brave men were rebellious, and their peers in England called them traitors, brigands and worse. But they, even in the rebellious document that led to the Revolutionary War, and eventual Constitution that formed the United States of America, that God is the power that rules us all. They understood that without God, without the precepts of the Bible and without Christian morality, the nation they devised could not survive.

And God blessed the new nation, and has blessed us through the years.

ON THE SOAP BOX

GOD BLESS AMERICA!


Those of us alive today in America benefit from the wisdom and courage and piety of our exceptional Founding Fathers. But some of us are busy destroying the foundations of the government they gave us. Others of us are watching them do it, and are doing nothing to stop them. Sins of omission are as evil as sins of commission.

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the 55 statesmen had devised. He replied, A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.

He knew that keeping it would not be easy, but with the help of God, it has been somewhat kept to this day.

Government in this land has been drifting away from the precepts of those founding fathers, and in an effort to correct the drift of our Ship of State, some concerned citizens in 2009 began organizing the Tea Party Patriots movement. They have the idea that regulations should come from the ground up, not from the top down. In general, they endorse the Christian principles on which this nation was built.

They have managed to win a few important elections. That scares some of the mainstream politicians on both sides of the aisle, and there have been more than a few attempts to brand the various Tea Parties as outlaw groups. Not to mention some very illegal targeting by the IRS, but that’s another story.

Lenny Scarletta, a Tea Party member from Council Bluffs, Ia., thinks professional politicians are afraid of the Tea Party Patriots because members aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions and demand answers. Cindy Wilkerson, of Laurel, Miss. sees the Tea Party as an active government watchdog, keeping the politicians honest.

It’s a good thing somebody is doing that, because there is more and more of a tendency on the part of our Federal government, particularly the Executive branch, to ignore the Constitution from which their power is derived.

Just in the last few weeks the United States Supreme Court issued two rulings that overturned some executive orders issued by President Barrack Obama. The rulings put some limits on the power abuse and should have reminded the President that he needs to live within the powers the Constitution allows him. He is not a Czar, he is not a King, he is not a Sultan or an Emir. He is only an elected President, in a nation where the powers of the President are limited by law.

The Supreme Court rulings on some important cases should have reminded him that he is only one part of a three-pronged government, with powers balanced between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Mid-term elections to the House of Representatives changed the balance of power there to those who disagree with him on many issues. That was no accident. That was the decision of the electorate.

But President Obama has refused to accept that decision. He announced publicly just this week, despite those Supreme Court rulings, that he will continue to ignore the dictates of Congress. He will continue issuing executive orders to bring about the changes he wants, particularly in regard to immigration and new EPA rules that will raise the price of electricity in this land. In a public speech, he challenged the House leadership to sue him.

Let’s hope they do just that. Let’s not be the generation that allows our land to be transformed from a Republic into a dictatorship!

There probably will always be a July 4 on the calendar, but unless we’re careful, in a few years our nation will no longer have any independence to celebrate on that date!

LAUGH IT OFF!

No matter how serious things are, or how special the subject, we can probably find a pun to make things worse.

For example:

What happened as a result of the Stamp Act? The Americans licked the British!

Why did Paul Revere ride his horse from Boston to Lexington? Because the horse was too heavy to carry!

Why did the British cross the Atlantic? To get to the other tide!

What would you get if you crossed a patriot with a small curly-haired dog? Yankee Poodle!

What would you get if you crossed George Washington with cattle feed? The Fodder of Our Country!

A teacher asked which son of old Virginia wrote the Declaration of Independence. One of the students thought it was Thomas, Jeffer’s son.

What did King George think of the American colonists? They were revolting!

Why were the early American settlers like ants? They lived in colonies.

What would you get if you crossed the American national bird with Snoopy? A bald beagle!

What’s red, white, blue, and green? Some say it’s a patriotic pickle, but others believe it’s a seasick Uncle Sam.

What ghost haunted King George III? The spirit of ‘76!

With the Fourth of July weekend coming up, the nursery school teacher was telling her class about patriotism. We live in a great country, she said. One of the things we should be happy is that, in this country, we are all free. One little boy disagreed. Teacher, I’m not free. I’m four! he declared.

GREAT GRILLING

The debate between outdoor grill masters continues to rage. Some favor the convenience and savings of propane grills, while others will consider only the flavor of charcoal. Either way, grilling outdoor meals is a summertime favorite pastime of most families.

More than 60 percent of American households will cook kabobs, fresh vegetables, and of course meat on propane grills this summer, according to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). PERC is an energy checkoff program dedicated to safety and training for the propane industry.

Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends, says PERC President and CEO Roy Willis. And with the onset of warm weather, it’s also a good time to review outdoor safety tips, including safe grilling techniques.

Willis offers families some simple reminders for preparing and maintaining safe cooking conditions while using propane grills. Before using the grill, he recommends reviewing and following all grill manufacturers’ instructions.

If you buy a propane-powered grill and assemble it yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, Willis says. Better yet, have the grill assembled before you bring it home. If you’re planning a more elaborate outdoor kitchen, be sure to get in touch with your nearest propane professional for tips on products and access to qualified installers.

PERC reminds families that the only safe location for any grill-including propane cooking units-is outside in a well-ventilated area and a safe distance from the home.

Grills should never be placed in a confined area, Willis says. Make sure your grill is at least five feet from your house on a level surface away from siding, outdoor furniture or anything else that could be a fire hazard. It’s something that you don’t always think about when you’re grilling, but it’s a basic safety measure that’s easy to implement.

Whether the grill is equipped with an automatic ignition or needs to be lit manually, the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed precisely.

Always use caution when lighting the grill and never stray from the grill manufacturer’s instructions, says Willis. If the flames go out for any reason, turn the grill and gas off and wait 15 minutes before relighting it.

PERC also encourages families to keep the top open when lighting the grill. This allows for ventilation and ensures that propane vapors are not being released into the confined grilling area.

Finally, proper storage of propane cylinders is an essential safety step when using propane-powered grills.

Be sure to store propane cylinders upright and outdoors, and keep cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline or other flammable material away from cooking areas and gas appliances, Willis says. Removing combustible materials from any heat source is always a good idea.

Many of these rules also apply to charcoal grills, but the main one there is, never squirt lighter fluid directly onto coals that have already been lit. Keep a metal can available, and if you suspect your coals have not ignited, put some new ones in the can, squirt in enough lighter fluid to moisten them (not flood). Set the can down in a safe place, away from flammables, and light it. Once the flames die down, use insulated mitts to carry the can to the grill and dump the now lighted coals onto the ones still in the grill.

SAVE THOSE BERRIES

Berries are delicious, and most of the best kinds are in season right now, reasonably priced at farm markets, and free if you pick them from your own garden. But they’re also kind of delicate. All sorts of berries and even other fruits can fall prey to mold. Raspberries in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home from the market,and sometimes before you get them off the bushes.

We can’t eat them all the day they’re picked, and generally they are much better fresh than frozen. So here’s a way to keep them fresh longer:

When you get your berries into the kitchen, mix one part vinegar (white or apple cider work best) and 10 parts water. That would be one cup vinegar and a quart and a half of water, or 1/2 cup vinegar and five cups water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain thoroughly. Rinse if you want to, but the vinegar mixture is so diluted you can’t taste it anyway. Store berries in fridge.

People who know these things tell me the vinegar kills any mold spores and bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit. Raspberries and blackberries will last a week or more, and strawberries can go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft. We can now keep fresh berries at hand, ready for snacking whenever the mood strikes, instead of being obliged to eat them all at once or turn them into jam.

COOKIN’ TIME

Bounty from the garden - yours or someone else’s - adds to the enjoyment of our favorite summer holiday weekend. Fresh greens, fresh berries, rhubarb, crisp radishes, green onions. We thought Spring would never come, and now, despite the cold, gardens that weren’t flooded out are giving us more good things to eat than we can handle at one time.

MACARONI SALAD

Having the crowd over? This recipe feeds 34 people, and is best made the night before, so it’s pretty handy.

2 pounds uncooked elbow macaroni

1 teaspoon black pepper

12 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

2 1/2 pounds fully cooked ham, cubed

1 pound tiny peas, fresh or frozen

3 cups sliced celery

1 large green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup sliced green onion, white and green parts

1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos, drained

2 cups diced tomato, well drained

1 large cucumber, diced

4 cups mayonnaise

Fresh parsley and cherry tomatoes, optional

Cook macaroni according to package directions, but add the teaspoon of pepper to the cooking water. About one minute before it’s done, add the little peas. Drain completely. Rinse in cold water and drain again. Let it cool completely, then place in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. If there are some your family doesn’t like, or you don’t have, just leave them out. It’ll work out. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably over night. Just before serving time, stir and taste so you can correct the seasonings. It will probably be too dry, so stir in some more mayo until it’s as creamy as you like it. Somehow the macaroni seems to soak up the mayo while it chills.

STRAWBARB UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

TOPPING

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup chopped rhubarb (1/2 inch)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped strawberries

CAKE

1/2 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons butter, cut up

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat milk and 6 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or until butter melts. Pour into medium bow; cool. While the milk and butter cool, prepare rhubarb and strawberries. Heat over to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan, preferably glass, with cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup of melted butter over the bottom of pan; sprinkle with brown sugar. Scatter rhubarb and strawberries over brown sugar. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl at medium speed 3 to 4 minutes or until thick, pale yellow and smooth. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in three parts alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spread in pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cake onto serving platter, replacing any topping that remains in pan. Cool completely. Great alone, even better served with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy! Serves nine.

Thought for the Week: Thank You, God, for America. Please continue to protect and guide us, and help us once again to be a land that is proud to accept and honor You as our supreme power. 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 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

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