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Country Cousin

Issue Date: May 3, 2018

It really is spring! ...

Seemed a bit strange, but wonderful, to be standing next to snow piles in shirt sleeves on an almost hot day Tuesday, when temperatures in some parts of TIMESland reached 78 degrees! By tomorrow, hopefully the snow will be gone. We were teated to an absolutely beautiful weekend, and some gorgeous full moon nights on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Rain is in the forecast for the next three days but Friday and Saturday should be beautiful, if not quite as warm as the past weekend. Mother's Day weekend promises fine weather on Friday and Saturday, but again a strong possibility of rain on Sunday. Then again, things could change a bit, and the sun may shine enough to allow a Mother's Day cookout on Sunday, May 13.

GROWIN' THINGS

Asparagus and rhubarb should be showing up any day now. With Spring so late, wonder if strawberries will be ready for the fourth of July? Can't make Red, White and Blue Triffle without them!

THREE SISTERS

With the ground still cold and more frost likely to come, its sort of early to plant most things outdoors, but it's not too early to get the garden area ready, and decide where you will plant what.

The Native Americans who were on this continent before Europeans arrived have long used the method of companion planting called the Three Sisters which groups pole beans, corn, and pumpkins or squash in a single area. The pole beans replace the nitrogen the corn consumes while using the cornstalks for support. The corn stalks shade the squash or pumpkins whose prickly vines at ground level smother weeds and deter animal predators from feasting on the corn and beans.

Other companion plantings also work well. Among them are:

*Basil enhances the flavor of tomatoes while repelling insects and disease. It is also good to plant with peppers, oregano, and asparagus but keep it away from sage.

*Beans and peas will enhance the growth of many plants including brassicas (that means all kinds of cabbagey-things, including broccoli and kale), plus carrots, corn, cukes, eggplant, lettuce, radishes, and strawberries. Summer savory supposedly repels bean beetles and improves the growth and flavor of beans.

*Keep onions away from beans or peas. They're said to stunt each others growth.

COMING EVENTS

Rummage sales are popping up all over. Watch the ads and find some treasures!

Women generally are the ones that like to go to craft shows, while men do not. When it comes to gun shows, usually it's the other way around, no matter what is said about the closing of the gender gap.

Two events in Crivitz on Saturday, May 5 could provide some entertainment for everyone in the family, regardless which side of the gender gap they're on. Or share your fun, and attend both together.

The 15th annual Spring Craft Show will be held at Crivitz High School from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and includes a chance to buy refreshments from the Crivitz Cheer Team, which is selling concessions as a fund raising project.

At the same time, a gun show will be in progress at Crivitz Village Hall, open to dealers, collectors, and all gun enthusiasts. Admission is $4 for anyone aged 12 and older.

WANT TO ACT?

Theatre On The Bay is holding auditions for their summer production of "Urinetown, The Musical," a satirical comedy about a society with no water to spare. For roles, audition times, etc., go to "marinette.uwc.edu/theatre."

ON THE SOAP BOX

JUNK YARD DOG


Am delighted to see that North and South Korea are speaking again, the long, long Korean War may finally be ended, and so may the North Korean nuclear threat.

Believe in part that may be thanks to the hard stance President Donald Trump took against the North Korean tactics and nuclear weapons tests of the past year.

President Trump comes under a lot of criticism from liberals for remarks they claim are beneath the dignity of his office, for lack of decorum, for not being smooth and suave enough.

Recently read a great article comparing presidential styles to dogs. Message was that America did not need a polite, parlor-dog type of president to take care of us in today's world, we needed a junk yard dog, and that is pretty much what President Trump is.

He doesn't go around wagging his tail or apologizing because we are a large and wealthy nation. He bares his teeth, growls when necessary, and in general tells those who threaten us that we won't back down.

And it works.

Things like "dignity" and "collegiality" simply aren't the most essential qualities a nation should look for in its warriors, and President Trump is a warrior, fighting on our side.

General Ulysses Grant was a drunk whose behavior in peacetime might well have seen him drummed out of the Army for conduct unbecoming. Had Abraham Lincoln applied the peacetime rules of propriety and booted Grant, some Americans might well still be holding their slaves today. Lincoln rightly recognized that, "I cannot spare this man. He fights." 

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

At this time of year, many women go into a frenzy of spring house cleaning, and some of us get a bit testy when others in the family don't seem to share our passion for digging the last speck of grime out of neglected nooks and crannies.

One harried housewife, while berating hubby for not participating in the cleaning, showed him hand that she said were blistered from spending so much time using her broom.

Things didn't get better when friend hubby suggested next time she should take the car instead.

KEEP YOUR FORK

A young man diagnosed with a terminal illness had been given a short time to live. When the end drew near he asked the parish priest to come to his house, hear his last confession, and discuss his final wishes.

The young man told him which songs he wanted sung at the service, what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he would like to be buried.

Then, there was a very important final wish: "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say, wondering if the illness had affected his mind.

"That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young man asked, and then explained, "My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who need encouragement. She said in all her years of attending socials and dinners, whenever dishes of the main course were being cleared away, someone would inevitably lean over and say to her, "Keep your fork.' She said that was her favorite part of the meal, because she knew something better was coming .... like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie - something wonderful, and with substance!"

"So," the young man went on, "I want people to see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to ask, "What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them I kept my fork because the best is yet to come."

The Priest's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of  the last times he would see him before his death. But he  also knew that the young man was reconciled to leaving this world, and had a better idea of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

So the young man died, and lay in state with the fork in his right hand. Over and over, as people walked by to pay their last respects, the Priest heard the question, "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled and explained that the fork was a message for everyone, that the best was yet to come, and he was prepared to enjoy it.

The priest said having heard the story he could not stop thinking about the fork, and told the people he talked to they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either, nor should they.

For everyone, the dinner fork,something we use every day, can be a regular reminder that no matter what life has served us so far, the best is yet to come.

GOOD ADVICE

Friend Maggie forwarded a message she saw on a bumper sticker: " If you can read this, thank a teacher - and since it's in English, thank a soldier."

Good idea. Memorial Day is coming up before long, and so are graduations, so it's easy to thank soldiers and teachers at the same time.

COOKIN' TIME

Cinco de Mayo is a good excuse to celebrate. Do realize that is not an American holiday, but hey, I love holidays, and will snap up any excuse for a party that comes along! That said, we here in the United States of America have been carrying on a long love affair with the flavors from down Mexico way, and this is a good time to savor that flavor!

CHICKEN ENCHILADA CASSEROLE

2 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded

2 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons cooking oil

12 whole corn tortillas (or flour ones, if you must) 1 whole onions (Large, Diced)

12 ounces green chilies (Whole, Diced)

1 whole jalapeño chilies (Seeded And Finely Diced) 1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup sour cream

2 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated

salt

pepper

picante sauce, optional

cilantro, chopped, optional

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas for no longer than 20 seconds, just to soften (do not allow to become crisp.) Place tortillas on a large towel or stack of paper towels to drain. Also could wrap in damp paper towel and heat in microwave to soften. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in separate skillet over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeños and sauté for 1 minute, just to start the cooking process. Add chicken, half of the green chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Stir together. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir. Add cream and stir, allowing mixture to bubble and get hot. Turn off heat and set aside. In a separate large skillet, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together and cook over medium heat for one minute. Pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Whisk together and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the other half of the chilies. Reduce heat, then stir in sour cream. Add 1 1/2 cups grated cheese and stir to melt. Add 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. To assemble, spoon chicken mixture on top of tortillas, one by one. Top with plenty of cheese and roll up. Place seam side down in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour cheese mixture all over the top of the tortillas. Top with extra cheese if you'd like, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle generously with chopped fresh cilantro. The Pioneer Woman says this is essential. I disagree, and warn whenever using fresh cilantro, use only the leafy parts, never, ever snip even a bit of the stem. Serve with picante sauce, if desired.

MEXICAN RICE

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 whole large onion, chopped

1 diced green bell pepper

1 diced red bell pepper

2 cups long grain rice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can Diced Green Chilies And Tomatoes (10 Ounce Can)

1 can (14 1/2 oz. size) Whole Tomatoes

2 cups Chicken Broth (more If Needed)

1 teaspoon cumin (or more, to taste)

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh Cilantro, minced, optional

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and raw peppers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add rice and garlic. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn't burn. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Add Ro-tel and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes. Finally, add broth and stir together. Add some salt and a good teaspoon of cumin, more if you love cumin flavor! Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 additional minutes or until rice is done. Add more liquid as needed; rice shouldn't be sticky. Just before serving, sprinkle lots of freshly chopped cilantro over the top. Serve immediately.

CREAMY CHEESE FLAN

A version of this rich and delicious flan has to sit overnight, so it's a perfect make-ahead dessert. Think if you didn't want to caramelize the sugar yourself you could get a similar result by buttering the pan, pouring in about a pint of caramel ice cream topping, and then chill so it gets thick before adding the cheesecake ingredients and baking as directed.

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

5 eggs

4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place sugar and water in 9x2-inch round heavy duty cake pan, preferably stainless steel, otherwise perhaps heat-proof enamel or ceramic. Stir until sugar is slightly dissolved. Place pan on stove on medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, without stirring, until sugar turns golden brown. Using oven mitts, tilt pan to coat bottom and sides with caramel. Place pan on wire rack to cool and harden caramel slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place remaining ingredients in food processor or blender container; cover and blend until smooth. Pour mixture over cooled caramel in pan. Cover with foil. Place cake pan in large baking pan or roasting pan. Pour hot water into baking pan to come halfway up side of cake pan. Bake 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake pan from water bath. Cool on wire rack. Carefully loosen sides of custard from pan with a knife, but leave in the pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. To serve, invert pan onto a large shallow plate with a bit of an edge to hold any caramel that runs off.



Thought for the week: One of the problems with today's society is that young people tend to write off opinions of the older generation as coming from people who are becoming senile and out of touch with today's world. Maybe we need to get back to a culture where we respect our elders and honor the values they inherited from their elders. As Joseph Joubert once said, "Life is a country that the old have seen, and lived in. Those who have to travel through it can only learn the way from them." Paving new trails through the wilderness is exciting, but following the road well traveled is a much surer way of getting to where we want to be!

(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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