Summer officially begins today, but we all know its been here for quite a while now, sort of playing peek-a-boo since March.
The recent rains may have come just in time to save most crops and gardens, but did it all have to come in downpours, accompanied by wind and hail and all the trimmings?
What is it with Mother Nature? Why does she save up all the rain in her big water trough in the sky and then dump it on us all at once? That Mythical Mom seems to have a perverted sense of humor!
Gripes aside, and notwithstanding muddy driveways and puddle-filled fields, the badly needed rains washed our part of Wisconsin clean, and the grasses are turning green again. Which means well have to mow again too, but thats not really a bad thing.
Was stopped near the lights in Crivitz a few weeks ago when the most wonderful scent wafted in through the open car windows. A sweet, fresh odor I couldnt quite identify. Not lilacs. Not roses. Not even a flower at all. Fresher. Sweeter. Then it hit me. Newly mown alfalfa, from the first and freshest cutting of the season! How quickly we forget!
Why has no one ever made a perfume of that, or at least a room freshener. Perhaps they could add a healthy dose of sweet clover? Would it be a lucky scent if they could manage to make it of four-leaf clovers?
Anyway, its an absolutely wonderful, heady scent and ours for free here in the rural Wisconsin countryside just by opening our windows.
Speaking of hay, alfalfa and clover, our finest home grown varieties are much sought after, and probably account for Wisconsins reputation as the Dairy State. Our milk, butter, cheeses and cream are also sought after, and tend to taste better than dairy products from less fortunate cows in less blessed locales.
On Sunday, June 24, we can all eat our fill of wonderful Wisconsin specialties at the Marinette County June Dairy Month Breakfast on the Farm, which is being held this year on the farm of the Eddie and Julie Nowak family at W8977 W. 26th Road in Beaver.
Breakfast on the Farm this year, for the first time ever in Marinette County, starts with a salute to Him who made it all possible. Well, actually, to Him who made it all.
Father Walter Stumpf and Deacon Jerome Thetreau, who is a cousin of Eddie Nowak, will celebrate Mass on the farm at 7 a.m., followed by the all you can eat dairy breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. Menu includes pancakes, eggs, sausages, cheese curds, maple syrup, apple sauce, milk, juice, coffee and ice cream sundaes. The coffee and juice werent grown in Wisconsin, but pretty much of everything else was.
Entertainment includes a live polka band, petting zoo, face painting, wagon rides, bouncy toys, and farm tours.
This is truly a family farm. Eddie and Julie started farming together with his parents, Ed and Marilyn Nowak, in 1981. Their son Michael also works on the farm and their daughter, Julie helps out when shes at home.
ON THE SOAP BOX
NO MORE RECALLS!
The Wisconsin recall elections are finally over, the canvassing is finished. There were no changes, so there will be no turnover in state government. For a while at least, life can get back to normal. This has been a painful experience, and one that must never be repeated. Maybe someday most friends and families will start talking to each other again. Its a pretty good bet that others will not.
The entire recall process has seemed an insult to democracy as it ought to be. The fault appears to lie with the laws that allowed it. (Some people lie too, but thats not the issue here.)
Because one side was not happy with the results of the election, they waited the mandatory year and then filed for a recall of Governor Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleifisch. No one accused either of neglecting duties or breaking laws. It was just that one segment of the population did not like the results of the election and took legal steps to try to change it. To cancel out the results of that vote, if you will.
Because feelings ran so high on both sides, friendships were destroyed and families were torn apart.
Recall fever spread throughout the state, striking legislative districts and local municipalities. Attempts to recall local elected officials are still pending in many communities, including two in TIMESland.
The statewide recalls in fact erased the value of ballots cast in fall of 2010, and resulted in spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a mid-term gubernatorial election that should never have been held.
None of this would have happened had the law allowed recalls of properly elected office holders only in the case of actual, proven wrongdoing or dereliction of duty.
Whether it takes an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution, or a simply a change in state law, steps need to be taken to be sure recall elections never again happen in Wisconsin unless there is a very, very good reason.
The only reasons good enough should be conviction for a felony crime or proven dereliction of duty, for example deliberately circumventing the legislative process by refusing to show up and vote. Incidentally, had those Senators who fled to Illinois simply stayed at home in their own districts the Governor or the Senate Speaker could have very properly dispatched Sheriffs deputies and city police officers to collect them and deliver them to their seats in the Senate. Their choice then, if they refused, would have been jail. Those who fled were not showing contempt of court by refusing to fill the jobs to which they were elected...they were showing contempt for the majority of Wisconsin voters.
If we allow dissatisfaction with the outcome of an election to remain sufficient reason to wipe out the results and try again, we might as well blow some goodbye kisses to representative government as we have known it here in America.
Rep. Robin Vos, the new Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, had it right when he expressed hope both sides of the aisle will come together and make the necessary changes. We need to end the bickering and get the sides back to working for what they think is best for the state, not what is best for them and the individuals and/or organizations that support them financially.
But lets hope that in their attempts to reconcile political differences the officials the majority of folks voted for dont forget the tough jobs they were elected to do, the tough decisions they are still expected to make. Theyve done a good job so far. They need to keep it up.
Some people, particularly some special interest groups, probably wont be happy with them. But we all know much still needs to be done to get us off the precipice of Socialism and back on the road to freedom and prosperity. Thats also needed on a national level. Lets write, call or e-mail our legislators, state and national, and tell them so!
Weve been hearing some conflicting reports for the last year or so about oil reserves in Montana that are just waiting to be tapped, provided the Federal government will cooperate.
A former TIMESland resident who remains a Peshtigo Times subscriber wrote recently to ask if weve heard about the oil boom out west, and to let us know she is part of it, albeit a very small part. But she wants to remain anonymous, so well respect her wishes. She moved to Montana some years ago, and reports that five acres of the property she and her family own there has been leased for an oil well.
How about that? she asks.
Since weve been speaking about oil wells, lets talk a bit about gold mines too. The Back Forty Project, a subsidiary of Hud Bay Minerals, of Toronto Canada, and Hud Bay, Michigan, Inc. of Stephenson, Mich., is sponsoring a public informational meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 at Newinghams Supper Club meeting room in Wausaukee.
They have for a few years been exploring the possibilities of mining gold and zinc in an area along the Menominee River in Marinette and Menominee counties. A recent news release from Traverse City, Mich. proposes a severance tax on mining facilities in lieu of a property tax, and says the Menominee County operation is expected to seek permits this year for their gold and zinc project near Menominee, Mich.
Possible a gold mine in our area could become a reality? Possible there will be some great new jobs, and another economic boost for an area that desperately needs it!
Wednesdays meeting should bring up some interesting questions. Cant wait to hear the answers!
This observation by Laurence J. Peter was printed a long time ago in Peters Almanac, but its just as true now as it was then: You dont need to take a persons advice to make him feel good - just ask for it.
DINNER MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Ever wonder why some families seem to connect well with each other, and some do not? One key may lie in the simple tradition of a family dinner.
Whether youre sitting down to a macaroni and cheese dinner or a three-course meal, the simple act of eating dinner with your kids has a powerful impact on the whole family.
Almost two decades of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.
Studies show that kids who have dinner with their families five times a week are:
* 45 percent less likely to drink
* 66 percent less likely to do drugs.
* More likely to get As and Bs in school.
* More likely to think their parents are proud of them.
The power of the family dinner comes not from the food on the plate but from whos at the table and whats happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless, said Kathleen Ferrigno, CASAs Director of Marketing and head of their program, CASA Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with your Children.
She said having dinner as a family is one of the easiest ways to create routine opportunities for parental engagement and communication, which are two keys to raising drug-free children.
As an aside, it pretty much goes without saying that conversations at those family meals should be friendly and positive, not opportunities for sit-down scoldings or sibling squabbles.
UWEX studies have also shown that dining together creates stronger family bonds and youngsters who are healthier, both mentally and physically.
They didnt say if the studies included a look at families who regularly say grace before starting their family dinner, but its pretty much an accepted fact that families who pray together do in fact tend to stay together more often than families who do not. Given the recent study results, families who pray before breaking bread around the family table would seem to have a double advantage. Sort of a no-cost family bonding insurance.
So, Bon Appetite! And Amen!
Speaking of family meals, theres no shortage of good things to put on the dinner table here in Wisconsin at this time of year. This is indeed the land of milk and honey....and Maple Syrup, cheese, butter, strawberries, asparagus, blueberries, rhubarb, tiny green onions, fresh lettuce, tender dandelion greens...the list goes on and on. The seasons are fleeting, but the bounty is real. Lets enjoy it while we can! Strawberries and asparagus are nearly done for this year. By the way, better put up all the rhubarb you can for pies this winter. Experts tell us the Wisconsin harvest of apples and other tree fruits will be pretty much non-existent this year. Even Door County was hit by early season heat and then late season frosts.
OLD-FASHIONED BOILED DRESSING
This old-fashioned homemade dressing recipe makes only one cup, which really isnt enough,so make a double batch. Try it with lemon pepper instead of salt, especially for tuna salad. A teaspoon of celery seed added while cooking is excellent, particularly if its being served on a fruit salad or in potato salad.
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 cup milk
2 beaten egg yolks
1-1/2 Tablespoons melted Butter
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Tablespoon salad mustard
Put the dry ingredients in a pot and then add the beaten egg yolks, butter and milk. Mix with wire whisk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and thickened. Remove from stove and put in container or bowl and let cool in the refrigerator. Add the vinegar and mustard and mix. Makes a nice dressing for potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, deviled eggs or ground bologna salad. Be sure to keep this dressing in the refrigerator. Use up within a few days and keep covered.
TACO SEASONING MIX
Tacos are wonderful meals at this time of year, when fresh tomatoes, onions, lettuce and such are practically available for the asking. Mixing up a supply of this taco seasoning mix in advance saves the work of doing it each time, or alternatively, depending on your cooking style, saves you the cost of purchased seasoning packets. Great patio meal idea: Prepare the taco meat and a platter or serving dishes with all the toppings anyone might want: minced jalapeno peppers, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded lettuce, diced onion, chopped green peppers, and perhaps sliced avocados, plus sour cream, prepared salsa, and possibly guacamole. Heat taco shells, wheat or corn, your preference, on grill or in electric frying pan, and let everyone assemble their own. (Or skip the shells, shred or chop more lettuce, and have Taco Salads. Serve with Tortilla chips in the salad or along side.)
1/4 cup instant minced onion (or 1 tablespoon onion
4 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (not the sweetened mix, just
1/2 cup powdered milk granules
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon instant minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cayenne pepper to taste, optional
Mix everything well. Divide evenly into six containers with tight fitting lids, or put into six little plastic bags and seal. When youre ready to make tacos, brown one pound of ground beef and drain off fat if necessary. Stir in one packet of seasoning mix, then add half a cup of water and half a cup of tomato sauce and simmer about 10 minutes. If you prefer, skip the tomato sauce and add a tablespoon catsup instead.
ROSY RED RHUBARB CAKE
1/2 cup butter
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teasooons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
6 cups (2 pounds) diced rhubarb
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 package strawberry gelatin dessert mix (like Jell-O)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
Whipped cream or ice cream, optional
Mix the flour and sugar and cut in the flour. the mixture will be crumbly. Prepare the rhubarb. Butter a 13x9x2 baking pan or spray it with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients as for pie crust. Add the brown sugar. Beat the egg and milk together and stir them in thoroughly. The batter is moist. Spread the batter on the bottom and somewhat up the sides of the prepared pan. Distribute the rhubarb evenly over the top, and then sprinkle the gelatin dessert mix over it. Sprinkle the topping mixture over everything else, and bake in the 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Serve plain, or topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
Thought for the Week: Willard J. Ferrell observed some time back, It says something about our times that we rarely use the word sinful except to describe a really good dessert. Things havent changed much since then, have they? Think weve got our priorities straight?
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