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

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Hi Folks!

All winter we long for hot summer days, but when we get them, things aren’t so great after all. At least in winter we can put on warm coats and gloves and be relatively comfortable. On the days we’ve had recently we’d get arrested if we took off enough clothes to be comfortable.

Records show that TIMESland, like the rest of the eastern half of the North American continent, is having one of the hottest summers on record. July temps pretty much matched those of the 1936 dust bowl days.

Now we’re to have a few days respite, and then Sunday brings a return of hot and humid.

But, all you supporters of the Global Warming theory, don’t get too excited. Recent studies of growth rings in a tree that grew in northern Scandinavia show that temps in recent decades are actually cooler than they were 2,000 years ago. And there were no exhaust fumes or coal furnaces then to blame it on.

IT WAS SO HOT...

Friend claims it was so hot he saw birds using pot holders to pull their worms out of the ground.

Like baked potatoes? No need to grill them. When it’s hot enough the potatoes cook underground, and all you have to do is pull out as many as you need and add butter, salt and pepper.

Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs, cows are giving evaporated milk, trees are whistling for the dogs, and hot water comes out of both taps on the faucet.

DEHYDRATION

Problem we northerners seldom worry about are dehydration, heat stroke and sun stroke.

This year, maybe we should worry.

Recently heard that we can even become dehydrated from spending too much time in air conditioning, which makes sense because if air conditioners suck moisture out of the air, it’s likely they also draw moisture from our bodies.

So, don’t let it happen to you. Drink (water, silly) before you’re thirsty. Once you realize you are thirsty dehydration has already started.

Understand that caffeinated drinks like coffee, cola or even iced tea, good as they taste on a hot summer’s day, won’t keep your body hydrated, and may in fact draw more fluids out. Ditto for alcohol. Do drink plenty of water, and sports drinks with minerals but no sugar are also good choices.

Symptoms of dehydration often mimic that of general illness, so pay attention to early warning signs. Thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, headache and muscle weakness are common for mild to moderate dehydration. Immediately drink water or a mineral fortified sports drink, (preferably room temperature, certainly not iced), apply a cool moist cloth to face, neck and wrists, or get into tepid bath. At this point, icy water is not good. A small pinch of salt in the glass of water may be good.

Extreme dehydration warrants immediate medical attention. Look for lack of sweating, little or no urination (or urine that is dark in color) and sunken eyes. If that’s the case, call someone for help, or at least advice if you can’t get to a trained medical person, like a doctor, nurse or EMT.

TUBE MANIA

The Peshtigo River wraps around the boundaries of my grandfather’s old homestead near Crivitz where I spent most of my growing up summers. We swam there a lot, but somehow in those days no one seemed to think about using it for tubing and float trips. Possibly the volatility of water levels caused by dam operations upstream had something to do with that, but I doubt it. It simply never occurred to us as something fun to do on a hot summer day.

Today on hot weekend afternoons the river teems with outdoor lovers, locals and visitors alike, lounging on their inner tubes, paddling kayaks, or being towed along on rubber rafts.

Brooks Park in Crivitz, once very lightly used, is so jammed with vehicles that there’s no place left to go. Hardly room for the tour busses that transport some of the tubers to turn around.

Am told that other stretches of the Peshtigo are just as busy, not to mention upstream where whitewater rafting is the thing to do when waters are running high and swift. The same sports are becoming equally popular on the Menominee River.

And they say there’s nothing new under the sun!

EAT THE STUFF

DNR Wildlife Biologist Dave Halfmann tells us that Garlic Mustard, an invasive plant species that likes to take over woodlands to the detriment of just about everything else that tries to grow near it, has now been found in at least four locations in Marinette County.

Efforts are underway to kill the Garlic Mustard stands most recently discovered near Wausaukee, but that can be hard to do.

Garlic mustard has no known native enemies, spreads rapidly once it gets established, is hard to kill off, and the seed can last dormant for seven to 10 years.

Here’s a suggestion. It’s a well known fact that some plants shy away from being eaten. As soon as we start trying to grow them for harvest they become temperamental.

Now, Garlic Mustard is an edible plant that does taste quite similar to its namesakes, and the long skinny root tastes like horseradish. It was brought to this continent on purpose, by people who wanted it in their gardens for salads and seasonings, but it got away and now it flourishes where it’s not wanted.

Have long maintained that as soon as we start deliberately eating a wild plant it becomes scarce. For example, there are few dandelions in our yard because I love to eat them, but wonderful plants thrive unwanted on the boundaries of the neighbors’ garden.

So if we start eating the wild mustard, maybe it will go away. You find it in shady wooded areas. In proper seasons it has small white flowers with four petals arranged in the shape of a cross. If you pick it, bring along a bag and pull up the whole plant, being careful that any seeds fall only into the bag, which you will later either burn or throw in the landfill.

But a word of warning! Never, ever transplant it, and if you do decide to try eating some be sure it isn’t growing in a spot that’s been treated with herbicides. If that’s the case, it may get even before it dies.

Flowers and chopped leaves can be added to salads for a nice pungent garlic flavor. The roots are very spicy and taste like horseradish. The root can be chopped and steeped in apple cider vinegar for a spicy condiment. In the fall the seeds, which have a mustard flavor, can be collected and eaten. The plant is extremely healthful, full of vitamins and minerals.

Early in spring, young leaves, with a mild mustard garlic flavor, can be eaten raw or cooked as a potherb, used as a flavoring in cooked foods, or can be finely chopped and added to salads. Too late to do that this year. They’ll be bitter.

There are various medicinal uses, but if you’re ever stranded out in a forest where they grow you might be happy to find that the leaves, when crushed, are effective in relieving itching from bites and stings.

Incidentally, our northern white-tailed deer rarely feed on Garlic Mustard, so large deer populations may help to increase its population densities by eating competing native plants, while trampling by browsing deer encourages additional seed growth by disturbing the soil.

COOKIN’ TIME

Unlike the folks in the southern part of Wisconsin, we’ve been lucky here in the Northland to get enough rain to mostly keep our gardens growing, especially if we watered too. Crops are coming in full force - cucumbers, beans, raspberries, zucchini...more zucchini. Spinach and lettuce have bolted to seed in some gardens, but cucumbers, kale, cabbage and broccoli abound. Some tomatoes are ripening, and the rest will be coming along shortly. How great it is!

OPEN FACED CAPRESE SANDWICHES

Cook these outdoors on the grill, or inside in a heavy frying pan pan, like a grilled cheese sandwich, but only grilled on one side. Hint: Instead of half of the olive oil, spread each slice of bread with wonderfully healthy coconut oil, and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. Be sure the grill doesn’t get too hot or you end up with trans fat, whichever type of oil you use.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon minced garlic

8 slices (about 1/2 inch thick) crusty Italian bread

3 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly

16 medium basil leaves

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare a grill for medium heat. Combine 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic and brush onto one side of the bread. Mix the other tablespoon of oil with the balsamic vinegar and set aside. Lay the bread, oiled side down, on the grill and cook until it’s slightly toasted, about two minutes. Turn bread over, lay tomato slices on bread to fit, overlapping if needed, then lay cheese slices over tomatoes. Cover grill and cook until cheese starts to melt, about 4 minutes. Put the sandwiches on a platter. Top each with two basil leaves and drizzle with the vinegar and oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

KOREAN STEAK WRAPS

Light eating for a hot summer night, easy grilling. Eat cool with tomato and cucumber wedges on the side. Grill some green pepper slices to go on the lettuce-wrapped sandwiches if you like. Can’t beat these for low carb diets!

2 cups sushi rice

1 rib-eye steak

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

18 to 24 small red-tipped lettuce leaves, romaine or spinach

2 green onions, sliced into thin 4-inch strips

Preheat a grill for medium heat (350 to 450 degrees). Cook rice according to package directions. Grill steak, turning once, until done the way you like, 8 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from grill, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine soy sauce, chile flakes, pepper, garlic, and oil. Spoon about 1/4 cup rice onto the middle of each lettuce leaf. Top with a little steak, a scant teaspoon soy sauce, and onion strips. Serve that way, and let each diner fold the lettuce around the filling to eat it.

LEMONBERRY PIE

2/3 cup boiling water

1 package (4-serving size) Lemon Flavor Gelatin

Ice cubes

1/2 cup cold water

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

8 ounce tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 cups mixed blueberries,raspberries and/or strawberry slices, divided

1 Graham Pie Crust (pre-made is fine)

Stir boiling water into gelatin in large bowl at least two minutes, until completely dissolved. Add enough ice to cold water to measure one cup. Add to gelatin; stir until slightly thickened. Remove any unmelted ice. Add lemon peel, juice and whipped topping; stir with wire whisk until well blended. Add one cup of the fruit; stir gently until well blended. Refrigerate 20-30 minutes or until mixture is very thick and will mound. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate six hours or overnight until firm. Top with remaining fruit just before serving. Store leftover pie in refrigerator. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs just before serving.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CLOUD

No bake and delicious.

1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup raspberry syrup

1 (9 ounce) package thin chocolate wafers

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

1/8 cup semisweet chocolate curls (optional)

Fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)

Crust: In a small bowl, mix together crushed cookies and melted butter. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie pan using your hands or the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until firm.

Filling: Whip 2 cups cream until soft peaks form. Continue to whip while slowly adding sugar, followed by vanilla extract. Whip until stiff, then stir in 1/2 cup raspberry syrup. Spread a layer of whipped cream mixture half an inch deep into bottom of pie crust. Cover with a layer of chocolate cookies. Cover with another half inch layer of whipped cream mixture, followed by more cookies. If desired, slightly overlap the cookies, dipping them in whipped cream mixture before placing them in pan. Continue alternating layers until cookies are gone, and finish with a layer of whipped cream mixture. Cover carefully. Refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving. Pie will keep up to three days. Just prior to serving, whip remaining half cup of cream and cover pie with a fresh layer. Garnish as desired with fresh raspberries, mint leaves, and chocolate curls.

SUGAR ‘N’ SPICE ZUCCHINI BARS

If we ever get a cool day, make up several batches and freeze for future enjoyment.

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup flaked coconut

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

FROSTING:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine four and baking powder; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in zucchini, coconut and nuts. Spread into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. In a bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Stir in butter, vanilla and enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cooled bars; cut.

Thought for the Week: Think hard before you seek anything free from the Big Brother government. As Thomas Jefferson so wisely put it those many years ago, Remember that any government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have.

COUNTRY COUSIN


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Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
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