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

Issue Date: January 6, 2022

Shirley Prudhomme

Winter Wonderland ... again

The holidays are over. The January doldrums have settled in, and we started this New Year of 2022 on a very cold note. Light fluffy snow that began during the night of Tuesday, Jan. 4 had again turned TIMESLand into a winter wonderland by Wednesday morning.

VISUAL TREAT

Had a real visual treat on New Years Day morning. Friend and I were enjoying a late breakfast/brunch when we spotted two deer making their way across the snow covered field visible from the kitchen table. That's not unusual for what I affectionately call our farm, but the deer were acting nervous, so we kept watching as the deer disappeared into the forest at the edge of the field.

We kept watching. Sure enough, along came a coyote that was obviously following their trail. First time in my entire long life that I have ever gotten to watch a coyote on the prowl.

Am hopeful that the deer were far enough into the forest to be safe, but that's something we'll never know.

RESOLUTIONS

We perhaps cannot do much right now as individuals to improve the direction of our nation and our world, we can make improvements in our local communities and our individual lives.

Maybe this will be the year I'll keep some of my New Year's resolutions.

THE MONTH OF JANUARY

January is a unique month, not just because it is the beginning of the new year, but also because it is named after Janus, the Roman God of Doors. It represents the opening of a new opportunity and a new beginning. This is much like the American metaphor that also says new opportunities are like opening new doors: "when one door closes, two doors open."

The Roman God Janus is also known as the God of two faces, which also relates to the first month of the year because he has the ability to look at the past with one face, and the future with the other.

This two faced concept also plays into the distinct weather that January provides in opposing Northern and Southern hemispheres of the globe. This is because January is known to be the coldest month of the year for those who live north of the equator, and the hottest for countries below.

DREAM, DREAM, DREAM

With winter winds howling and snow falling outdoors, some of us love to sit down with garden catalogs and dream of things we'll do outdoors when spring comes again. This is a good time to plan a kitchen garden, or perhaps draw up some new beautification plans for the yard.

We can't go out and smell the flowers, but we can dream!

ON THE SOAP BOX

GOOD RIDDANCE


Was happy to bid farewell to the year 2021, maybe even happier than when the year 2020 made its way into the annals of history. Certainly hope the year 2022 will mark a bright new beginning for all of us. Can't be a whole lot worse.

That said, those who tabulate these things say 2020 and 2021 weren't the worst in history, but certainly, they were close.

One commentator described 2020 as "a garbage fire of a year," and ranked it as the sixth worst in the history of the world.

This wasn't just about COVID-19 shutting down the world, cop killings, mass shootings, a total loss of official respect for history, law and order and our right to protect ourselves and our possessions. Supposedly pious folks willingly gave up their Constitutional right to worship in favor of keeping their bodies safe by avoiding the virus, and bowed to government to mandates that shut down churches. For part of 2021, even outdoor worship services in church parking lots, inside of vehicles, were forbidden by federal officials. How's that for keeping us safe?

Parents wanting to have a say in what and how their children are being taught were accused of being terrorists, and put under the scrutiny of the FBI.

As to our Constitutional rights, would like to know how the top echelon is allowed to continue issuing mandates that have the power of law without input from our elected representatives in Congress. Why do we even bother to have a Congress if the President can rule by dogmatic decree?

Thankfully, many of those restrictions had eased before the year ended, and here in TIMESLand schools were mainly back to in-person learning, with masks optional, but not required.

Protests and riots that we're told were triggered by racial injustice, but which may have been fanned by plots far more sinister, were allowed to continue unchecked. Statues and monuments were torn down. Private businesses were Conspiracy theories and claims of election fraud tore apart families, communities and the nation. There were also natural disasters like murder hornets.

According to one article, experts evaluating the most terrible years of all time say 2020 and 2021 were only humble contenders.

Some 28 historians surveyed about the world's "most stressful year ever," put 1348 A.D. at the top of the list. That was when bubonic plague (the Black Death) ravaged the planet, eventually killing up to 200 million people.

The peak of the Holocaust in 1944, according to the survey, came in second. The year 2020 came in a humble sixth, just behind the sacking of Rome by barbarians. The article didn't say which other years were determined among the worst.

ON THE SOAP BOX

ARE BETTER DAYS COMING?


As Dec. 31, 2020 clocked out, many hoped the new year would be brighter, but if anything it was worse, with more loss of our individual freedoms and our national respect.

On a Chinese calendar, 2021 was the,Year of the Ox known for strength and dependability.

We all hoped vaccines and maybe a cure would wind down the pandemic that has taken more than 816,000 American lives so far. Some of us didn't foresee the vaccines mandates that have deprived us of our Constitutional right to our own version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including religious objections of some to having substances injected into their bodies.

We hoped life would return to normal. We hoped masking would end along with the political havoc over mandates, and schools, restaurants, gyms, churches and workplaces would reopen.

With no presidential election, we hoped partisan politics would ease, and Congress could be less crazy.

Instead, we added vaccine mandates to the mask mandates. Even Mother Nature appeared to go crazy. Record wildfires and killer tornadoes swept America. The justice system failed. Law enforcement was shut down. Riots and what activists repeatedly insisted were race-related slayings made repeated headlines.

Criminals either were not arrested, or were jailed and then released before the ink was dry on their arrest warrants. Public officials threw their police officers to the wolves, and now are wondering why they can't hire replacements.

Even while public and private property was invaded and destroyed by violent left-wing protesters, efforts continued to interfere with rights of right-wing folks to peaceful protest, and our right to keep and bear arms.

Satisfaction with the direction of the United States dropped to its second-lowest point in four decades, according to a Gallup poll.

Those issues skirt the real problems of the disastrous and disgraceful departure from Afghanistan engineered by President Joe Biden that cost our nation thousands of friendly lives including those of some of our own abandoned servicemen - millions and millions of of dollars of cash and military equipment, and nearly all our credibility on the national scene, nor the continuing record invasion of illegal aliens that Biden and company allowed to continue across our nation's southern border, along with the drugs and sex traffiking that many of those illegals brought with them.

As to the Cancel Culture movement, activists should stop trying to cancel historical events or put down people just because they aren't moral according to today's standards.

History must not be forgotten. Whether the act committed was god or bad, there is always a valuable lesson to be learned. The only way to keep history from repeating itself is to be informed of the past.

Let's all pray that 2022 will be a whole lot better. Would like to say it couldn't be worse, but haven't got a whole lot of confidence until there's a new regime in Washington!

COOKIN' TIME

Most of our wallets are feeling the after-Christmas crunch, and many of our belts are facing the post-holiday stretch. For some of us it's time to go on a diet, and most of us can enjoy some budget friendly recipes.

CABBAGE SOUP DIET

Here is the annual re-print of one version of the Cabbage soup diet. Even if you don't need to go on a diet, this is a very satisfying and nourishing soup for a cold winter day.

Eat as much soup as you want, whenever you want it. I like to add cut up meat as well. In addition to unlimited soup, the diet itself calls for eating only fruit (except bananas) the first day; only vegetables (except corn, peas and other starchy ones) the second day (but you get to start the day with a baked potato with butter); only non-starchy fruits and vegetables the third day. Only bananas, milk and no-sugar yogurt on Day 4, only tomatoes and protein foods like fish, meat, or eggs on Day 5, and then only protein and non-starchy veggies on Days 6 and 7. Then you're supposed to return to normal eating for a week or so before starting over if you have more weight to lose. You can keep eating the soup if you want to.

CABBAGE SOUP RECIPE

Some folks use half V-8 juice in place of half the chicken broth. Others use beef broth instead of chicken. It's all good. I like adding a can of French style green beans, juice and all, sometimes, or frozen tiny whole beans, and then cook until they're done as you like them. I also like to brown a pound of ground beef with the veggies at the start of the process, and then drain off any fat that accumulates. Makes the soup more satisfying, and doesn't seem to interfere with the weight loss at all.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup white or yellow onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken broth

14 ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

teaspoon salt (optional)

1 pound ground beef (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onions, bell peppers, and carrots and sauté until slightly tender. Stir in garlic, chicken broth, tomatoes and cabbage. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook until cabbage is tender. Stir in oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

CRUSTLESS HAM QUICHE

Great for brunch, supper, or an evening snack. This is low carb, for those who are counting.

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. onion powder

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup chopped cooked ham

Sauté mushrooms in butter in medium skillet. Blend next seven ingredients in blender. Combine with mushrooms, cheese and ham. Pour into greased 10 inch quiche dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Quiche should be puffed and golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Can also be served at room temperature.

EMPTY WALLET CASSEROLE

1 pound ground beef

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, cut into rings

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

3 large potatoes, thinly sliced

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

20 saltine or Ritz crackers, crushed

Pinch of paprika for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crumble the ground beef into a large skillet over medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, poultry seasoning, and thyme. Cook, stirring to crumble, until evenly browned. Drain fat, if necessary, and transfer to a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish, or large casserole dish. Arrange two layers of sliced potato over the ground beef, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onions and mushrooms until tender. Spread over the the potatoes. Stir just enough water into the soup to make it pourable, and spoon over the top of the casserole, making sure to spread out evenly. Scatter the cracker crumbs over the top, and sprinkle with paprika. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, but do not let the foil touch the contents. Bake for about 1 hour in the preheated oven, until the potatoes are soft. Remove the foil, and return to the oven to brown the top, about 10 minutes.

SLOW COOKER CREAMY RICE AND CHICKEN

Takes five minutes to throw together, just over four or eight hours to cook. Have it ready and waiting to enjoy when you get home from work, or back from a snowmobile ride or an afternoon of sledding. Pickled beets go wonderfully with this casserole. So do green beans, and or a lettuce salad and sliced tomatoes, even if they do taste like cardboard at this time of year.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 1/2 cups of water

2 10 oz cans of cream of chicken

6 oz box of long grain & wild rice with seasoning packet

3 carrots, chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

Chop up the celery and carrots into small chunks or slices. Combine all ingredients into the slow cooker, starting with the chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. To ensure the chicken cooks properly, make sure to place the chicken on the bottom and along the sides of the slow cooker. This will ensure the chicken is making contact with the cooker's heating element, or chop the chicken into small bits before placing it into the crock pot for more of a casserole.



Thought for the week: Food for thought, from St. Mary Church bulletin: "God didn't remove the Red Sea. He parted it. Sometimes God doesn't remove your problems, He makes a way through them." Please God, when problems arise in this bright new year, give me the patience to seek the solution You are offering, and enough faith to recognize that solution when I see it, and to follow the path You have provided to get me safely through my troubles. 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 at shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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