COUNTRY COUSINIssue Date: February 28, 2018
Is it Spring yet?
After a really, really nasty weekend the weather turned absolutely beautiful. Know Spring probably isn't really here, and this is probably a delayed January thaw. Let's enjoy it while we can. Winter could come back with a vengeance to make up for lost time.
On the other hand, March is here, and Spring will officially arrive in less than three weeks. There might be a lot more snow, but there shouldn't be many more sub-zero days. We can pretty much count on global warming coming to the northern hemisphere at about this time every year.
THANKS ARE DUE
Hats off to all the wonderful men and women who drive the snow plows, salt trucks and other road maintenance equipment in TIMESland. In the past two weeks or so, they have been out for untold hours, all day long and through the night, doing battle with everything Old Man Winter could throw at them - from snow to rain to slush to sleet, and whatever else was falling from the skies!
Through it all, those brave drivers on the highway and road crews kept the roads open and in relatively safe condition most of the time, so the rest of us could get to wherever we needed to go when we needed to get there.
Thanks, guys and gals! Don't know what we'd do without you, and certainly don't want to find out!
WORD DAY OF PRAYER
Christians of many denominations around the world celebrate the World Day of Prayer on the first Friday of March each year, this year on Friday, March 2.
There hasn't been much publicity about it in recent years, but the World Day of Prayer was started as a women's day of prayer by women of the United States and Canada in the 19th century, and became worldwide in 1927. The continuing motto is "Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action".
Each year, on this day, Christians of many cultures, traditions, and races, in over 170 countries around the world, unite in prayer and participate in prayerful activities. And it is no longer celebrated only by women; many men and children participate, too.
The World Day of Prayer is not to be confused with the United States National Day of Prayer, which is observed on the first Thursday of May each year. The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and the Senate and signed by President Ronald Reagan on Thursday, May 5, 1988, to designate the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation each year. The 2018 theme for the May 5, 2018 United States National Day of Prayer is "Pray for America - UNITY."
Checked on Snopes and yes, President Barrack Obama also signed the Day of Prayer proclamations each year of his presidency, although he did not publicly participate in the services. Some other presidents have done the same.
Locally, on Friday, March 2, the Salvation Army at 80 W. Russell Street, Marinette is hosting a World Day of Prayer observance starting at 10:30 a.m., with a potluck salad luncheon to follow. Everybody is invited.
For more information or to assist The Salvation Army in knowing how many to plan seating for, call The Salvation Army 715-735-7448 or email Major Carol Lemirand at email@example.com. Theme for this year's World Day of Prayer, written by Women from Suriname, is "All God's Creation is very good."
MOUTHS OF BABES
Speaking of prayer, and of attending Church on Sunday, this really happened to me. The story dates back more than 30 years, but it is still true, and still worth repeating.
I had promised to pick up my grandsons for church on Sunday morning, but just as it was time to leave, relatives came to visit. Since their car was parked behind mine, I could not simply say I had to leave and drive off, so I made a bad choice and did not go to church. Couldn't call the youngsters because their phone was out of service.
When I did pick the boys up a couple hours later - too late for the latest Mass - I apologized profusely, and explained if I had left as planned, it might have insulted our visitors.
The 4-year-old looked me squarely in the eye, and in same gently reprimanding tone I know I often used on him, asked, "Now, Grandma. Which is more important?"
A lesson we all would do well to remember.
For many years, brand new Slinkies were mandatory in Easter Baskets at our home. Just read that it takes 63 feet of wire to make one original Slinky.
No wonder they're so hard to untangle!
Just found out there is another "Marinette." She's Marinette Dupain-Cheng, a cartoon TV personality in a You Tube video, "The Miraculous Ladybug & Cat Noir."
Never have seen one of the shows, but according to their blurb, Marinette is about 13 years old and goes to Middle School in Paris, France. They claim she is a very interesting character and has a lot of quirky and unique features about her physical appearance and her personality, but you have to watch the entire video to find out 15 interesting things about her. Maybe someday. But not today.
CAN PARROTS TALK?
Remember all the hue and cry back in January when Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson got in all kinds of trouble for referring to London's Mayor Sadiq Kahn and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as puffed up popinjays? who were endangering British relations with the U.S. by their comments about President Donald Trump?
Well, that led me to eventually look up the meaning of popinjay. Found that it is the "brand name" for a breed of miniature parrot, that talks, squawks and puffs up just like his larger counterpart that is often pictured sitting on a pirate's shoulder.
Also led me to decide that the miniature parrot, Pepper, who once was our pet, was probably actually a popinjay. He talked pretty clearly, too. We inherited him after Winnie, his previous owner, passed away. He talked with her voice.
He was a bit smaller than a cockateel, about the size of a Blue Jay. In shape, form, coloring and personality he looked and acted just like a full size pirate's parrot.
Old Farmer's Almanac says what we call talking in birds is really mimicry. The bird's tongue and vocal chords make it physically able to produce word sounds, but the bird is merely copying the sounds he hears around him. Myna birds, for example, will make all sorts of jungle noises when captured because that's what they have heard. Pet birds who learn to "talk" from their owners do not know what they are saying, and are merely repeating what their owners have taught them, the Almanac says.
They may be right, but wish they'd have met our Pepper before they reached that conclusion. I swear that bird knew what he was talking about. He didn't talk often, but when he did, it made sense. For example, if he was home alone and someone knocked on the door, he'd squawk, "Nobody's home!" If we were there he'd laugh and say, "Come in. Come in!"
First thing in the morning he'd greet us with cheery calls of, "Good morning! Good morning! Good morning!" Never did that at other times of day.
But sometimes he'd screech, "Gimme kiss!" Anyone foolish enough to get too close when he did that would get bitten. Hard. Maybe hard enough to draw blood.
Pepper had been losing feathers since we inherited him. He'd peck at himself and pull out feathers until he was nearly bald in spots. We carefully followed care and feeding instructions, and only got him the best of bird seeds. Vet said Pepper was grieving and suffering from separation anxiety, and it would pass.
Well, it didn't. When we moved from our apartment to the family farm outside of Crivitz Pepper was still pulling feathers. By then he was a very ugly semi-naked bird. After we moved is when he started sort of throwing tantrums and more and more repeatedly screaming, "Gimme kiss!"
Realized one day that his cage was in a corner of the dining room in the new home, and the kiss demands came mainly when we were eating. When that realization hit we were eating fried chicken and Pepper was screeching, "Gimme kiss!"
Offered him a piece of chicken. He grabbed it with one claw, gobbled it up, and screeched again for a kiss. Offered him salad greens. Those too were quickly eaten. Ditto for a piece of fruit. And more chicken. He finally shut up. Guess he got full.
Turned out he wasn't the kind of bird that wanted seeds, except as maybe as a side dish. He wanted whatever we were eating - meat, fruit, vegetables - but we didn't know it, and he didn't know how to tell us.
He was sort of a cannibal. His favorite food was fried chicken. We'd give him a wing section, bone in. He'd grab the bone with one claw and hold it up to his beak to chew off the meat and crispy skin. He'd even eat scrambled eggs. And bacon. And sausage. He absolutely loved bananas and any kind of berry you could think of, as well as nearly all raw green vegetables.
The only things he didn't really like were seeds.
After a few weeks of eating people food Pepper's feathers started growing back. Eventually he became the beautiful bird he'd been when we first got him, and was able to fly again. Bet Winnie was sneaking him people food treats all along!
Sometimes we gave Pepper run of the house, and sometimes we'd even let him fly around outside in the orchard. When it was time to go in all we had to do was ring the bell in his cage. He returned immediately to defend his territory. If he was angry he'd slam the door behind himself.
Once while flying around outside he must have heard sounds from the high school football game being played at the field not far from our place if you fly over the river and through the woods. He apparently did that.
Time to go in came, and Pepper was nowhere to be found. We were sure we'd lost him forever.
Turned out he was at the ball field, terrifying people at the concession stand by demanding treats until some pet loving members of the Gehm family gathered him up and took him home. Vic Gehm was popular teacher, and the sign at their driveway read, "Gehm Reserve." Who better to take a pesky little parrot for safekeeping? The next day we heard about the bird at the concession stand, and before evening came, Pepper was safely back at home.
SALT IS GOOD
Epsom Salts, anyway.
Am told relaxing in an Epsom Salt bath can soften skin, energize and relax the body, soothe aching muscles, and beef up the magnesium in our bodies. The magnesium gets right in through out skin, and then goes where it belongs. Isn't that great?
This in turn can help control blood sugar levels, lighten depression, boost energy, improve our complexions, cure migraine headaches, and a whole lot more.
Know from personal experience that a long soak in an Epsom Salts bath, or even just soaking the feet in water laced with Epsom Salts, softens corns, sometimes enough that it's possible to remove them.
The main dish recipes today came from my wonderful Wiedemeier cousins as part of a "Memories of Home" book they assembled. That book includes food for the soul as well as for the body, along with a nice healthy dose of family history that would otherwise be lost as we of the older generation pass away. Thanks go particularly to Linda (Wiedemeier) Alexis for all the work she put into the book.
MEXICAN BEEF CASSEROLE
1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
1-1/4 cup Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 oz.)
1 med. onion, chopped
1-1/2 t. salt
1 16-oz. can whole tomatoes
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 egg, beaten
Cook and stir ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt, cumin, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chilies. Heat to boil; reduce heat for medium. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 3 quart casserole. Mix baking mix, cornmeal, milk, sugar, butter and egg just until moistened. Spread in casserole. Spoon beef mixture over batter; sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 25 minutes. You may wish to add the cheese the last half of baking time if you don't want it brown. Serves 6.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening or lard
1/4 cup butter
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
4 potatoes, cut fine
1 pound ground beef, lean
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 bouillon cube
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup water
1 medium onion
salt and pepper
1 cup boiling water
Combine flour and onion salt. Cut in shortening and butter or lard until it gets like coarse cornmeal. Stir in the water gradually, until the dough gets just thick enough to stick together. Roll out about two thirds of the dough and place in a greased 9x13 pan or 3 or 4 individual pie pans. Then roll the remaining dough to cover the pies or the baking dish, but don't use it right away. First, combine hot water and bouillon cube until dissolved. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Fill pie crust with this mixture, then put on the top crust on trim. Brush the top crust with a beaten egg, or a milk/water mixture. Make several slits in top crust to let air out. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.
CHOCOLATE ANGEL PIE
This recipe is well named. Even the angels in heaven surely could not resist it. Found it in a recipe booklet published by Stephenson National Bank and Trust in 1978, shorty after Mary Staudenmaier became the first woman to be named the bank's president. This Angel Pie recipe was credited to Mrs. Louis W. Staudenmaier. No one worried about gluten at that time, but this is gluten free.
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat egg whites, salt, cream of tartar until quite foamy. Then add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat well after each addition, then continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and finely chopped 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts. Spoon into two small or one medium pie tin lightly buttered. Shape nest like shell - build sides up 1/2 inch above edge. Bake at 300 degrees about 50 minutes. Cool completely before filling. The shells can be made a day or two ahead.
3 tablespoons water
1 square Bakers German chocolate (sweet)
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened) to top the pie (optional)
Melt the chocolate over very low heat (burns easily) until melted. (Better yet, use a double boiler.) Cool to thicken, but don't let it harden again. Beat one cup of whipping cream stiff (more if you like a milder chocolate flavor). Add cooled chocolate mixture, a little at a time. Then spoon into shells. Chill at least 2 hours. Serve with or without whipped cream on top. (Go ahead and add the cream. It tastes a lot better, and looks a lot more angel-like.)
Published a recipe last week titled, "Gluten-Free, Egg-Free Pancakes," but the ingredient list included two eggs. A reader who wanted to make the pancakes called to ask why. Not sure how it happened. Either there should have been no eggs in the ingredients, or the pancakes should have had a different name. Gremlins strike again! Know the recipe works with the eggs, but then it isn't eggless. For the benefit of those who have egg allergies, plan to test it without eggs this weekend. Will pass along the results in the March 7 column. Have read elsewhere that mashed banana can be substituted for each egg with brownie mixes and some types of cake mixes. The pancake recipe from last week does include bananas.
Thought for the week: We often find that the best advice comes to us disguised as a joke. As William Davis once said, "The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for 10 minutes."
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Recent stories, opinions and photos