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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: October 17, 2012

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Hi Folks!

Lakes, rivers and streams in Northeast Wisconsin should be filling up. According to some reports, more than 3.7 inches of rain fell in parts of Timesland in the past week, and there’s more to come. Let’s be glad that wasn’t snow! We’d have been buried. Each inch of rain roughly translates to a foot of snow, so we’d have had nearly four feet of snow on the level. But winds were blowing, so there would have been drifts as well. Don’t even want to think about it!

National Weather Service figures for Saturday, Oct. 13 and Sunday, Oct. 14 aren’t quite as impressive, but still show some very significant precipitation in TIMESland.

Their data shows Athelstane had a total of 2.08 inches, Niagara had 1.19 inches, Pembine had 1.65 inches, Porterfield had 2.15 inches, Marinette 1.93 inches, Amberg 2.19, and the High Falls area west of Crivitz took the rainfall championship prize with 2.57 inches of cold, wet rain, sometimes drizzling, sometimes drenching!

Enough already! Groundwater and surface waters may need replenishing, but we’re desperate for some sunshine. That isn’t supposed to happen, or any extended periods anyway, until probably Saturday and Sunday. Sure do hope the prognosticators are wrong!

Whatever happened to our beautiful golden Autumn???

ONCE IN A CENTURY

We had a date sequence last week that won’t be repeated again for a century - 10/11/12!

Of course, in real life none of the actual entire dates will come around again, ever. But that’s a whole other thought!

No point in chasing after lost time!

ON INFLATION

Not sure why, but was really struck the other day by the skyrocketing price of toilet paper. Bought some anyway. Gotta have it, you know.

Next stop was the meat aisle. There, a female shopper was declaring to herself and anyone within hearing distance that she was turning vegetarian and would never buy meat again, at least not until the prices came down.

Pointed out what I thought was a bargain package of steak. $1.98 a pound.

We were both happy, until we looked again.

Oops! Wrong! Price was $11.98 a pound. No steak!

Along came a couple who stopped to sympathize. Said unfortunately, they need to eat too, and if it weren’t for that, they’d be rich.

Together we decided that if we stopped eating, we’d solve the toilet paper problem too!

ON THE SOAP BOX

FOUR MORE YEARS????


Considering the rise in cost of almost everything, and the lack of raises in recent years for almost everyone, we should think about what President Barrack Obama and his friends have accomplished in the last four years:

*23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed;

*47 million Americans are on food stamps;

*5.5 million American homes are in crisis or foreclosure;

*Average income of American households has dropped by

$4,500 a year;

*Our nation’s debt increased by $5.5 trillion;

*Medicare is being cut by $716 billion;

*$2.6 trillion is being added to our record national debt to

pay for Obamacare;

*$1.9 trillion in new taxes have been levied for Obama’s

Budget, and

*There has been a 100% Increase in gas prices.

Just think what they could do if we give them four more years!!!

STILL ON THAT BOX

COUNTY COSTS


As Marinette County Board prepares its budget for 2013, we’re hearing little or nothing about the $22 million in unfunded benefits we taxpayers owe to past and present county employees. And our debt gets bigger every year.

Former Supervisor John Guarisco, during time for public comment at the Sept. 18 board meeting pointed out that the accrued retirement benefit costs are still not being built into county budgets. Even though some of the benefits are now being curtailed for newly hired county employees, future liability for county taxpayers continues to grow. The county is on the hook to provide employee health insurance for eight years for each older employees who retires.

Guarisco had raised some of the same issues while he was still a member of County Board. He said currently, county health insurance costs approximately $26,000 a year for a single employee, about double that for a married couple, and still more for family coverage. Estimates are that premiums will continue to increase by about 10 percent a year, and all those people are likely to retire some day. He says the cost of their retirement benefits should be built into each year’s budget, so everyone knows the actual cost of running the county, and so there is money set aside to pay those obligations.

With approximately 300 county employees, if all were on just single coverage the annual insurance premium would be $7.8 million. A 10 percent premium hike means a $780,000 addition to budget, and a corresponding increase in the already ballooning unfunded benefits deficit.

If 30 of those employees retire, the county is on the hook for the $78,000 their insurance will cost, plus insurance for the new employees who replace them.

Guarisco asked County Board to include the future benefits in their annual budgets, and we as taxpayers should echo that request. We need a true picture of the cost of doing business. Just as with our exploding federal deficit, if we don’t pay for those unfunded benefits, our children will!

ERROR IN THE PRESS

Sometimes readers realize that newspapers are not perfect, and sometimes they tend to believe whatever they read. That’s been the case for years.

An account published back in 1939 tells of a fellow named O’Shaughenessy who was amazed to find in the morning paper an account of his own death. Same name, same address, same employer.

He promptly called a friend to complain. Patrick, he exclaimed. Did you see the morning paper?

That I did, Patrick replied hesitantly. Where are you calling from?

SAVING DOLLARS

Tawra Kellam editor of LivingOnADime.com says she does something that most people think they can’t do today. She feeds her family of 6 for $400 a month. Most people say that’s an impossible feat but what’s even more impressive is that she does it without using coupons.

How does she do it? First, Kellam says, I use what I have. If I don’t have milk in the house, I don’t make a special trip to the store to buy it. The kids won’t die from malnutrition if they miss drinking milk for a day or two. If I’m out of bread, I’ll make some cornbread or muffins. If I’m out of fresh veggies, I will use canned or frozen vegetables instead. Stop going to the store for one or two things. I shop for food 2-3 times a month and that’s it.

So she saves money on gasoline too, by cutting down on single-purpose trips to the store.

Next she advises, Shop the clearance sections. My store marks things down a few days before the ‘sell by’ date. Most items, including milk, stay fresh for at least a week after that. Even milk can be frozen. great part is that milk stays fresh for 1 week after it’s opened. I just throw several in the freezer and then I don’t have to make a special trip for milk. Just thaw, shake and serve.

She says it is possible to save on meat too, by buying only when it’s on sale or on clearance. Watch for mark downs. If it’s not on sale, we don’t eat it, she says. You can get some great unadvertised deals just by watching the meat counter’s clearance items. I found 5 lb. rolls of hamburger for $2.95 each after New Year’s Day. Of course we stocked up. I can get soup bones for under $2 with enough meat on them to make a great vegetable stew for the entire family!

Whenever a meat item is on sale, stock up the fridge and freezer.

Tawra said she regularly asks when things will go on sale or be marked down. By asking, she found out that bananas, milk and meat are marked down each morning. She tries to shop in the mornings to get the best deals. She says, When we lived in another state, they marked things down in the evening so that’s when we went shopping. Adjust your shopping times to find the best deals.

And yes, she does limit what her kids eat, to some extent. Most parents give their kids way too much milk, juice and soda, Kellam says. Her kids get soda only on special occasions. They get milk with their cereal. They don’t sip on milk or juice all day long. They drink water and are just fine with it. For snacks, they eat a piece of string cheese, fruit or one or two cookies. She says parents should stop letting kids just graze on chips and other snack food all day. Her kids get one small bowl of chips a day and that’s it, treat wise. Better for them, and better for the budget.

COOKIN TIME

Pumpkins are everywhere. At farm markets, on fence posts, door steps and in windows. And they should be in our kitchens. Remember the shortage of canned pumpkin last year? Do put some up yourself now, so you’ll have a supply available. Pumpkin, incidentally, is one of those versatile ways to sneak vegetables into the family meal in the guise of a dessert!

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Whether you’re carving Jack-O-Lanterns or preparing pumpkins for freezing, do save the seeds for wonderful almost free snacks. Toasted and salted, pumpkin seeds have a nutty flavor. They’re nutritious besides. Add variety by flavoring them with sweet and savory spices.

First, shortly after taking seeds and strings from the pumpkins, before they dry out, rinse the whole mass under cold water. That makes it easier to pick out the pulp and strings. Then place the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted. That should take about 25 minutes. Check and stir after 10 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

DRUNKEN GOBLIN SEEDS

Make a batch of these for your Halloween party. No goblin will refuse. The alcohol cooks away,so the kids can enjoy them too.

1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup whiskey

2 tablespoons bacon drippings

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

Clean and prepare the pumpkin seeds. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Stir pumpkin seeds, whiskey, bacon drippings, brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt together in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until the seeds begin to turn gray in the middle. That should take 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Spread the drained seeds onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in preheated oven until crisp and golden brown, which should take 60 to 90 minutes.

FREEZING PUMPKIN.

Clean and peel the pumpkin and cut into large pieces, about four inches square. Blanch the pieces for about four minutes in boiling water that contains the juice of one lemon and two or three tablespoons of olive oil. Drain, cool, and pack in plastic bags for the freezer.

If you prefer to freeze pumpkin puree, that works very well too. Simply clean and peel the pumpkin. Steam or bake the pieces (covered) until very soft, and run in the food processor until they reach the texture you like. Pack into plastic freezer containers or bags, and put a splash of lemon juice on top to prevent browning. Use for pies, cakes, or whatever, just as you would canned pumpkin puree. You might want to add a bit of extra salt to your recipe, as canned pumpkin usually has added salt and this does not.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Makes about six dozen little after school treats.

1 1⁄3 cups corn starch

2 cups butter or margarine

2⁄3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened. Add powdered sugar, beat until well combined. Add lemon peel and vanilla; beat well. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and corn starch; add to mixture and beat well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (Kids will love this). Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press tines of a fork atop each ball to make subtle design. Bake about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Thought for the week: Speak and think kindly. Before putting somebody in their place, first try putting yourself in their place.

(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.)

COUNTRY COUSIN


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841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
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