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Country Cousin

Haunting...



Hi Folks!

Fog and rain. Fog and rain. Drizzle, fog and rain. Do realize there has been a shortage of moisture for quite some time. Ground and surface water levels are low and we should be grateful for the recent remedial rains. We should also be grateful that fire danger is low. But certainly do hope the weatherman gets this all out of his system before temperatures drop below freezing.

SAVING FUEL DOLLARS

How great it is to see the price of fuels coming down! Peshtigo seems to have the best gas prices, was $3.46 at one station recently, 13 cents per gallon lower than most other TIMESland communities on that day. Brings to mind the gas wars of long ago, but with three digits in the price instead of two! Propane is also down from last year, which makes it easier to prepare for the coming winter. Don’t know if the respite is real, or because national elections are only two weeks away, but the budget sure is enjoying the relief.

HAPPY HAUNTING!

Bring on the ghosts and ghoulies! Go out on Wednesday, Oct. 3, with the kids if you have some or can borrow them, or with yourself if not.

Or have a happy haunting house party with some friends who might be willing to get a little bit silly and bob for apples and play old fashioned games like identifying secret objects.

Remember putting things like peeled grapes, warm spaghetti, rice, liver sausage, warm milk, soup bones, tree ear mushrooms, scraps of fur and fabrics and such in separate bowls and requiring blindfolded people to identify them by feel? Of course, someone had to first tell the story of the ghoul who dismembered his victim and prepared all the body parts for eating.

Caution. This game is best played either outdoors or in a room with a hard-surfaced floor covered by lots of newspapers.

What kinds of old Halloween games and pranks do you remember? How about sharing? Write to news@peshtigotimes.com, with Country Cousin on the subject line.

ON THE SOAP BOX

SAVE AMERICA!


In case someone hasn’t noticed, election day will soon be here. Tuesday, Nov. 6 may very well be the most important day in our nation’s history. It may be our last chance to save the America we love, the America that has been a beacon of freedom and prosperity in what so often is a very dismal world!

Search your conscience! Vote on Nov. 6, and make the right choices.

The Republican solutions are working in Wisconsin. Balanced school budgets are proving it all across the state. A change now could put our schools and local governments back on the road to bankruptcy.

In Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, we have a clear choice between somewhat conservative former Gov. Tommy Thompson and strongly liberal Tammy Baldwin of Madison. Baldwin strongly supports gun control and socialistic policies. Thompson does not. Thompson has the support of the National Rifle Association and other sportsmen’s groups. Baldwin does not. Baldwin supports ObamaCare. Thompson does not.

In the national race for president is incumbent Barrack Obama, whose fiscal policies haven’t worked and who hasn’t offered new ones.

During his watch the national deficit increased to more than $16 trillion dollars, adding more debt for our children to pay than all previous presidents put together.

Mitt Romney believes in the sanctity of life before birth. Obama does not.

Romney has a proven record as a successful businessman who knows how to get things done in both the public and private sectors, and as a person who can deliver on promises to balance budgets.

The incumbent has apologized to our enemies for some of the freedoms our nation enjoys, such as freedom of speech and expression, and challenger Romney takes pride in American freedoms and swears to protect them.

MORE SOAP BOX

SOAP CAN’T CLEAN BENGHAZI


Finally, and perhaps worst: an incumbent who lied to the American people about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last month that resulted in the atrocious murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. A series of e-mails released on Tuesday, Oct. 23 by both CBS and ABC news prove that the White House received e-mails starting about 25 minutes after the attack began, describing an assault on the compound by 20 armed people. The first, with a subject line of “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack,” was sent at 4:05 p.m., while the attack was in progress.

According to the CBS/ABC reports, the e-mails appear to have been sent by the State Department Operations Center while the attack was in progress to distribution lists and e-mail accounts for top national security officials at the State Department, Pentagon, FBI, office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House Situation Room.

If President Obama really didn’t know about the attack, shame on him. The information obviously was there. If he didn’t know it was an attack, he lied during the debate.

And if he did know it was an attack for more than two weeks before he admitted the truth.

Why? Was it so important to ignore terrorism, or was he hoping to use the violence attributed to that video as an excuse to limit our Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech?

For lying, Mom used to wash our mouths out with soap. What about a President?

PUMPKIN TIME

Pumpkins are a great part of our decorating for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Autumn in general. They also played a great role in our nation’s history, and in fact may be given part of the credit for our nation having a history at all.

The American Indians were growing pumpkins for hundreds of years before the first Europeans, the Pilgrims fathers, ever stepped off the Mayflower. The principal vegetables grown by inhabitants of the New World were corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, tobacco, pumpkins and gourds. Indian men cleared the land and the women planted corn, beans and tobacco in hills about three feet apart and in alternating rows. Gourds and pumpkins were often planted between the rows.

The colonists ate pumpkins with great regularity, and in fact pretty much survived on them during that first hard winter. The long cold New England winters were unlike anything they had known back in merrie Olde England and the Netherlands from whence they came.

One pilgrim wrote:

“We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon. If t’were not for pumpkins, we’d soon be undone.”

Today, we enjoy pumpkins in pie, breads, muffins, cookies, donuts and many other ways that act like desserts, but the pumpkin really is a vegetable. Like other deep yellow vegetables, pumpkins are a good source of Vitamin A, which helps us to see in dim light, helps keep our skin and the membrane linings of all body passages healthy and promotes normal growth. A 1/2 cup of cooked pumpkin supplies more than the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A for each member of the family.

Jack-o-lanterns have been part of Halloween and other Fall festivities for centuries, but at first they weren’t made from pumpkins. They were made in the British Isles and France before Christ, from turnips, beets and potatoes. When the settlers came to America, they discovered the orange pumpkins that were perfect for the purpose.

PUMPKIN CUTS

Not only did the colonists eat pumpkins, they found them helpful in styling men’s hair. All males in New Haven, Conn. (among other New England towns) were required by law to have their hair cut in a round trim. Usually this was done by fitting a cap over their heads and trimming around it. But sometimes caps were scarce, so hollowed-out pumpkins were used instead. This is said to be the origin of the familiar term “pumpkin-head.”

COOKIN’ TIME

Fall is pumpkin time, but the carved out ones won’t last forever. If your jack-o-lanterns are made from the smaller pie pumpkins, you can put good old Jack on the family dinner table after the festivities are over. Pie pumpkins are the ones with the darker colored flesh. Cow pumpkins, as we called them, have lighter, almost yellow flesh. Provided it’s still nice and firm, peel the jack-o-lantern, inside and out. This is easier if you cut it into strips first. Cut into dice, then cube and cook by boiling in just enough water to cover. Drain. For most recipes you’ll want to puree it, but it can be eaten like squash, with butter, salt and pepper. Or, the whole pumpkin can be used for other things.

PUMPKIN PORK

Surely the Pilgrims didn’t get to enjoy this, but we can. If you don’t want to use pumpkin use whatever other kind of squash you have on hand.

1 slice thick bacon, diced

2 cups fresh, peeled and sliced (1/4 inch pieces) pumpkin

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1/8-inch strips

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

In heavy frying pan or wok, saut the bacon until it is transparent. Add the pumpkin slices and onion. Sir around in the rendered bacon fat. Add the broth. Cover and cook over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Reheat the pan and saut the pork slices until they are done. It doesn’t take too long, maybe five minutes. Return the vegetables to the pan, and toss with the cumin, salt and pepper. Cover for a moment or so to let the flavors develop. This is sort of a Chinese recipe, so serve it with a bit of rice and some other vegetable dishes. Broccoli is always good.

SAVORY PORK CHOPS

With the price of beef, most of us find ourselves serving chicken and pork a lot more often. While both are excellent meats, finding a new recipe helps provide variety, which after all is said to be the spice of life. Brining is one way to add spectacular flavor to what might otherwise be a humdrum main dish. Select tow bone-in, center cut pork chops cut about an inch thick and weighing 8 to 10 ounces to serve yourself and that special someone this fantastic pork chop meal, or double the amount of meat to serve four. You really don’t need to double the brine ingredients. Use any or all of the herbs called for in the garnish. You can also choose not to garnish at all, but it does taste good and look pretty.

Brine:

2 lemons

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups water

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 tablespoons sugar

2 dried bay leaves, crumbled

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped (or 1 teaspoon

dried sage)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons kosher salt



****************

Meat:

2 pork chops, 8 to 10 ounces, center cut, bone in, about an

inch thick

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling



************

Garnish, optional (one set for every two chops):

2 lemons, halved

2 sprigs parsley

4 sprigs thyme

4 sprigs sage

4 sprigs rosemary

Extra virgin olive oil

Squeeze the lemons, then slice the remaining shells roughly. Place them, along with all the other brine ingredients, into a large, zipper type plastic bag. Press out some of the air, seal the bag, then squeeze and shake it to mix everything up. Put in the pork chops and seal the bag again. Put the bag into a large bowl (lest there be a leak) and refrigerate overnight or at least four to six hours. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and drizzle on some olive oil. Heat the two tablespoons of olive in a cast iron or oven-safe stainless steel frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. Sear each chop until golden, about two minutes per side. Put the pan into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the chops are thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven, lightly cover with foil and set in a warm place to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. While the chops rest from all that cooking, lightly coat the lemon halves with oil. Place the lemon halves, cut side down, in a small stainless steel frying pan over medium heat. Sear the lemons a bit, then turn down the heat and continue to cook until they are dark browned and softened.

For a five-star presentation, on each plate arrange a bed for the chop that includes a sprig of parsley and two sprigs each of thyme, sage and rosemary. Put the cooked pork in its pretty little herb bed and tuck the two lemon halves in beside it. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Repeat with the remaining pork chop or chops.

HAUNTED PIE

Make a pumpkin pie from your favorite recipe. Bake and let it cool. Melt some sweet chocolate candy bars in the microwave or over the top of a double boiler and pour smoothly over the top of the pie. Let this cool until the chocolate firms up but is not quite until brittle. Then cut out the eyes, nose and mouth of a Jack O Lantern and serve just partly chilled, with whipped cream of course. This is also a great dessert for times other than Halloween, but don’t cut the face out. Of course, if you do cut out the face, go ahead and eat the scraps. That’s the cook’s privilege.

Thought for the week: Halloween is coming, and we always have fun with that. But most of us forget that Halloween’s reason for being is that it once was “All Hallows Day,” the day to honor all the dead, and the eve of All Saints Day, the day we should remember all those who have died in grace, those who walked in holiness when they were on Earth. Lord, remember us to those who have gone before us and live in Your light. Thank You for giving them to us, that the Earth became a better place than it would have been without them. Help us to remember the path, so that one day we may join them at Your home in Heaven. 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.)

COUNTRY COUSIN


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