Country CousinIssue Date: July 17, 2014
Depending on which weather expert you listen to, we may or may not be in the midst of a Polar Vortex. One thing is certain. Anyone celebrating Christmas in July this week will be comfortable dressed for the part. If Santa chooses to visit, hell feel right at home.
Those who promote the Global Warming theory will surely find a way to claim this record cold spell in July is another demonstration of the damage from human-caused carbon emissions. And a way to prove that the flawed technologies they have invested in will save the world from disaster, provided they can convince enough lawmakers to enact the rules intended to force us to use it.
Whatever we call it, and whatever the cause, am sure anyone driving northwest in TIMESland Tuesday night had a good view of whatever front it was that blew in somewhere between 7 and 9 p.m. The black cloud with a long harsh finger pointed toward Earth was absolutely menacing. Surely would have thrown terror into the hearts of primitive people without the advantage of weather forecasters on TV tell them it was coming.
Still a bit scary though. Except for the precious few nice days weve had, is there a chance this really is the Fumbulvinter of Scandinavian lore? Will the cold get bitter enough to freeze out whatever crops managed to grow despite the early season rain and cold?
And even if we escape frost this time, will the soils be warm enough to keep frost away through the August full moon? Guess only time will tell!
ST. SWITHINS DAY
Prospects dont look good for the hot, sunny days some of us hope to enjoy before this summer ends. It rained at least part of the time, on Tuesday, July 15, and according to an old Scottish legend, that means it will rain pretty much every day for the next 40 days. To be honest, it has rained all or part of most days this summer anyway, so whats new about that?
Anyway, just learned about St. Swithins Day, which falls on July 15 each year. According to an old Scottish legend: St. Swithins Day if thou dost rain, for 40 days it will remain. If that legend is true, wed best pack umbrellas with our picnic baskets. And forget about any tent camping ventures for the rest of this summer.
The Old Farmers Almanac says St. Swithin was a 9th-century bishop of Winchester, England, who requested that he be buried in a churchyard. He was buried there.
However, about 100 years later, some folks decided it was unseemly that so holy a man should rest in a common grave. So, on July 15, St. Swithins feast day, the people attempted to enshrine his remains in his church.
Legend has it, however, that St. Swithin interfered with those plans by causing torrential rains to fall for 40 days, until the intended transfer was abandoned.
Guess theres more than one way to make sure your final wishes are respected, at least for those with special pull in Heaven.
Dont know if these weather predictors are true or not, but according to the Old Farmers Almanac:
* Clover contracts its leaves at the approach of a storm.
* If corn husks are thicker than usual, a cold winter lies ahead.
* If flowers keep open all night, weather will be wet the next day.
* The faster a cricket chirps, the warmer the temperature.
* Lightning in the south is a sure sign of drought.
* Bees will not swarm before a near storm.
BIRDS N BEES
Bev Dragosh of Pembine asks that we not forget our furred and feathered friends this summer, not by way of putting out food, but by providing a safe spot for them to bathe and sip. Doesnt need to be a fancy bird bath, she said. Any old thing will do, provided its not too deep.
She told of half-filling an unused plastic garbage can lid with water and setting it out in a clear area for easy and safe access. Said the birds began using it shortly after she put the water in, including a hummer, who dove in and out for a quick dip before heading directly for her hummingbird feeder.
She enjoyed the show, and shes sure the birds enjoyed the opportunity for a refreshing bath and liquid refreshment.
Thanks for the tip, and the kind words, Bev.
Football season is about to resume in Wisconsin. For those having withdrawal symptoms, heres a story designed to recall the passion the Green Bay Packers can arouse in true Wisconsinites. Cousin Phil Boivin sent this. Hes been living in Arizona for several years, but still certainly does remember the Wisconsin Attitude. Thanks, Cuz!
His story is that one day, a very gentle and elderly Wisconsin lady was driving across the high bridge in Green Bay. As she neared the top of the bridge, she noticed a young man ready to jump.
She stopped her car, rolled down the window and called, Please dont jump! Think of your dear mother and father.
He replied, My mom and dad are both dead; Im going to jump.
Well, think of your sweet wife and precious children, she urged.
He replied, Im not married, and I dont have any kids.
She said, Well, then. Fans dont quit! she argued. Remember the pride of Vince Lombardi, the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers.
He replied, Why ? Im a Chicago Bear fan!
Well, bless your heart! she huffed. You just go ahead and jump. And hurry it up. Youre holding up traffic!
Especially in summer, when were more likely to enjoy salads and other goodies made with uncooked fruits and vegetables, sanitation for knives and cutting boards is essential. We need to wash our can openers and cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use, and after cutting up raw meat, poultry or fish disinfect the cutting board and knives with a mild bleach solution made by mixing one gallon of water with one tablespoon of bleach. You can use the same bleach solution to disinfect dishes, countertops, tables, and your refrigerator after washing them. Keep some in a clearly marked spray bottle so its ready to use whenever you need it. Ive used it in kitchen and bathroom sinks too.
You also can clean and whiten your sink by mixing baking soda and dishwashing liquid and using the mixture to scrub the sink. Then rinse with a vinegar and water solution and watch clean happen.
Want a healthy breakfast or lunch thats quick to fix, easy to carry, and even portable for munching in the car on the way to work or school? Try these muffins. They feature healthy eggs, creamy Greek yogurt, and vegetables of your choice. The original recipe calls for frozen broccoli and roasted red peppers, but they work with other veggie choices, including those fresh from the garden, for example chopped carrots, zucchini, green beans, whatever. Your choice, as long as they add up to 1 3/4 cups, but theyre really better if you keep the red peppers and their juice, and add one cup of any other chopped vegetable. Feel free to experiment. No need to precook the vegetables before adding them to the batter, either. Start to finish takes an hour, but you can bake them the night before and reheat briefly in the microwave if you want your muffin hot. Recipe makes a dozen. Bake up some now, while the Polar Vortex is or is not here, then freeze until you need them or it gets too hot to bake, whichever comes first.
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers, plus 1/4 cup of
the pepper liquid from the jar
1 cup small raw broccoli florets or chopped thawed frozen
1/2 cup diced Canadian bacon or ham (about 3 ounces)
3/4 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 3
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mist a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, stir together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, olive oil, butter and pepper juice (if the jar did not have 1/4 cup of juice in it, supplement with water). Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add the peppers, broccoli, bacon and 1/2 cup of the cheese, stirring well. Batter will be thick. Scoop into the muffin cups, filling completely. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the tops. Bake on the ovens middle shelf until the cheese on top is golden, about 25 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a rack. Each has 240 calories, 28 grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams each of fat and protein, plus a bunch of good vitamins and minerals.
CROCKPOT GARDEN STEW
Full meal in a pot, except for dessert. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts, enough for 8 to 10 servings. Serve with crusty bread, or better yet, corn bread, for sopping juices.
3 pounds beef round or chuck steak, cut into 1 1/2 cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 cups carrots, tiny or cut in chunks
2 large stalks celery, cut into 1 pieces
1 large onion, chopped, or six small onions, peeled
8 or more small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
1 can sliced mushrooms (4 ounces)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups snipped fresh green beans (or 10 ounces, frozen)
1 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut into wedges
10 ounces condensed beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine, or water
2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounces, or equivalent fresh peeled
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup water
If beef is tough, treat with tenderizer first. Brown beef cubes briefly in butter to seal in juices. Put in crock pot. Mix flour, salt and pepper and toss with beef cubes in the crock pot. Add all the vegetables except tomatoes, and mix well. Combine beef broth, wine or water, and Kitchen Bouquet. Mix with things in the crock pot. Pour tomatoes over the top. Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 14 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 1/2 hours. One hour before serving mix the remaining flour and water, stir into the crockpot mixture, then cover and cook on high until thickened.
1 package Crescent rolls
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll the crescent rolls and press into a cookie sheet, pressing the separated triangles together. Beat the egg slightly and brush it over the Crescent roll dough. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle on the tablespoon of sugar. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Let cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cream, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the Crescent roll crust. Dont worry about getting it all the way to the edges or into corners. Those will be good any way. Arrange the blueberries in a single layer over the filling and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of confectioners sugar.
STRAWBERRY OR RASPBERRY TEA
Collect leaves from strawberry plants (or raspberry bushes) in late summer during a time when rain is not expected for several days. Place the leaves on paper spread over a screen (an old window screen is perfect) let them soak up the sun for several days, but bring inside before the sun sets so no dew settles on them. After a week in the sun spread the leaves on a cookie sheet, put into a 125 degree oven and leave them there overnight. Crumble into an airtight container. Use as any other tea. This tea was said by early settlers in our area to serve as cold preventive all winter long. It probably did work, too, because of high vitamin C content. Alternative directions say to dry the leaves for four days in the sun, then bake in a 200-degree oven overnight. The lower oven temperature probably preserves more of the Vitamin C, but thats only a guess, not a scientific observation.
Makes 8 servings. So pretty its perfect for a shower or bridal party, but anyone who likes raspberries will like it any time.
3 cups fresh raspberries or 30 ounces raspberries frozen
thawed, and drained (liquid reserved)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups whipping cream
Choose a few perfect raspberries for garnish and set aside. Puree remaining raspberries in food processor or blender until very smooth. Strain the puree into a mixing bowl, eliminating any remaining seeds. (If you used the frozen berries pour the reserved juice through the pulp left in the strainer so it gets back into the puree.) Remove 1/2 cup and set aside. Chill the remaining puree to use as sauce. In a small heavy saucepan combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Bring slowly to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally and brushing down any sugar crystals from sides of pan with brush dipped in cold water. Raise heat slightly and cook until temperature of syrup reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage). While syrup is cooking, beat 3 egg whites with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. As soon as syrup reaches 240 degrees, lower mixer speed to slow and pour hot syrup onto beaten whites, in a very thin stream. The heat will sterilize the egg whites so you arent eating dangerous raw ones. When all of the syrup is incorporated, raise mixer speed and beat the meringue until cool. Stir together the 1/2 cup reserved raspberry puree and lemon juice and fold into the meringue until nearly blended. Whip cream until stiff and fold into the meringue until blended. Do not over mix. Spoon into eight attractive individual serving dishes, preferably glass, and chill. Serve with the reserved raspberry puree. Or alternate mousse in parfait glasses with layers or torn up angel food cake, raspberry syrup and additional whipped cream.
CREAMY LEMON CHEESECAKE PIE
1 prepared graham cracker crumb pie shell
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar. Beat until well blended. Add sour cream, lemon juice and peel and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each. Pour batter into the pie shell. Bake at 325 for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Refrigerate four hours or overnight. Serve with cherry pie filling or sweetened strawberries, raspberries or blackberries spooned over the top if you wish.
Thought for the week: No matter what is happening in your life, no matter how bleak things seem, know that God is looking out for you, and that He is waiting for you with open arms. Keep the faith. He promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. Please Lord, help us to accept that and trust in you. 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 shirleyprudhommechickadee@ yahoo.com.)
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