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

Creamer...

Hi Folks!

Representatives from nations around the world are meeting in the tiny nation of Quatar, hoping to hammer out new agreements to minimize the greenhouse gasses they say are causing the global warming that eventually will lead to global disaster.

Considering the pleasant weather of the first few days of Deer Season, was almost ready to agree there may be more to this global warming scare than a natural cycle that began when the glaciers started to melt.

Then came the last few days, with November temperatures in parts of TIMESland falling to the single digits. All I can say about global warming is, “Bring it on! It can’t be too soon!”

Science has proven that over the centuries there have been cycles of warm, and cycles of cold. It wasn’t human pollution that caused the end of the Ice Age, and it wasn’t human pollution that led to the death of the dinosaurs.

Cold cycles were far harder to deal with in the days before central heating and insulated castles. Many historians theorize that the Dark Ages came on largely because humans were so busy trying to keep warm and supply food for the table that they had no time for cultural pursuits.

Then came warmer temperatures and the Renaissance of the late Middle Ages, and the human condition began advancing again. Most great strides over the centuries happened during times of general global warming.

Vinland was filled with grape vines when the Vikings first settled there, and Greenland was indeed Green, not covered with an ice cap. And now there are predictions of gloom and doom if those ice caps should happen to melt again. Don’t think it was factory or automobile emissions that caused those ice caps to grow, and don’t really believe those same things will make them go away again.

We humans are so puny in the whole scheme of things that it’s a bit conceited to think anything we do will affect the eventual fate of the whole Earth. We can only temporarily affect our little corner of it.

God created the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the Stars, and when He determines that the time has come, He will destroy it, in whatever way He decides to do it. He has promised us that, just as He promised that never again will all life on Earth be destroyed by a flood.

BEAUTIFUL EYES

Lots of men claim the first thing they notice about a woman is her eyes. Lots of women know that is not true. But it is a fact that puffy, red eyes with dark circles around them are noticed, and they make you look tired and run down.

Good eye drops go a long way toward alleviating red eye symptoms.

As for puffy eyes, most of us already know the trick of lying down for 15 minutes with a slice of cold cucumber over each eye to diminish puffiness and dark circles, but what if you’re fresh out of cucumbers?

If you’ve been burning the midnight oil and know you need to look good the next day, prepare by putting your eye cream in the fridge or even the freezer the night before. Now you’ve really got cold cream, but not in the traditional sense.

Anyway, when you prepare to make yourself beautiful in the morning (or in the afternoon if you’re lucky enough to have slept that long), dab the chilled cream gently over the puffy bags under your eyes and over the lids, always smoothing and patting very gently from the outside in. The coolness constricts blood vessels and shrinks the swelling.

If puffiness around your eyes is an ongoing problem, sleep or no sleep, cosmeticians have several suggestions in addition to the various potions you can buy for the purpose.

One is to minimize salt intake, on the theory that water retention causes puffiness, which it does.

Another is to sleep on two pillows, or with the head of the bed elevated. If you’ve ever noticed, eyes seem to be most puffy in the morning, while the feet are swollen at night.

Maybe sleeping upside down like a ’possum would reverse that effect? Have often wondered if droopy jowls could be eliminated that way. Effects of gravity, you know!

If you’re an allergy sufferer, you probably already know that an antihistamine might help.

In any case, remember that trying to cover the dark circles with too much makeup is probably self defeating. Use a light touch.

ON THE SOAP BOX

MORE ON FOOD POLICE


Received a thoughtful letter and a few more phone calls from ladies who disagree with comments in this column against the “food police” and dictates from the Federal authorities on high that place severe restrictions on hot lunch menus and how much food, particularly proteins, that can be served to the students who eat meals provided at school.

One correspondent suggested that the sentiments expressed here would be different if Michelle Obama were not involved. Not true. Would object to anyone imposing his or her food prejudices on our children, particularly when they don’t agree with mine.

Perhaps the objections raised here were not clear. Am all in favor of hot lunch programs that offer more healthy, homemade foods, more fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked and uncooked. Am delighted to see deep fried corn dogs off the menus. The key word here is “offer,” not “require”! Am appalled that they have imposed a one-size fits all calorie restricted menu on all children, regardless of metabolism, activity levels, climate, and just plain genetic differences.

There is a basic philosophical disagreement. The push to “no fat, low fat” diets in the last 20 years or so has resulted in an overwhelming growth in obesity levels in our nation. Why? Because all the “lite” products seem to substitute carbs for fats, and some of us strongly believe that for the insulin resistant portion of our population at least, it’s carbs, not fats, that cause the problem.

Evidence proves this, but for some reason, the powers that be, including the AMA, refuse to recognize it.

Possible the upsurge in gluten intolerance in recent years is the direct result of greater and greater emphasis on eating wheat and other grains and the sugars that go with them ?

So yes, do strongly object to federally enforced rules that push grain foods - high in carbs, even if they are healthy whole grain carbs - and limit the healthy protein that has, from prehistoric days, proven to be the best mainstay of mankind’s diet, even if it’s not the cheapest.

Yes, protein foods generally come with some natural fats, but that’s not always a bad thing either. Fats brings lasting satisfaction and curb the desire to chomp on junk foods as soon as the opportunity arises

One of the letters included a wish that mothers would do more to teach their children to appreciate healthy foods. Do echo that sentiment. Too many families today are raised on fast foods, frozen pizzas and packaged sweets.

So ... Would like to put out a challenge to lawmakers.

For every family that receives food stamps or WIC assistance, one member - mom, pop or older sibling - should be required to satisfactorily complete training at shopping, nutrition and food preparation seminars. The seminars could be put on by UWEX Family Living instructors who currently are traveling many miles to teach nutrition to kindergartners who don’t prepare the meals, plan the menus or buy the groceries anyway.

We as a nation do not have a right to dictate how people spend money they have earned or how they feed their families, but we do have a right to dictate how the money is used that we, as taxpayers, provide to help them make ends meet.

Healthy eating is often more economical than the alternative, and even for busy working moms takes only a little bit more time. And keeping kids and ourselves healthy is worth the effort.

HOMEMADE COFFEE CREAMER

Love the flavor of artificial coffee creamers, but don’t like the unnatural ingredients? Bet you can’t pronounce half the words on the label! Cannot be good for you! By contrast, these easy homemade concoctions don’t cause indigestion. They’re fairly inexpensive too, so they also don’t cause indigestion of the pocket book.

Set them up in pretty decanters or little covered pitchers, tie with a bow color coordinated to the flavor, and bring along as hostess gifts to holiday gatherings.

Experiment.The original recipes all called for maple syrup, but if you prefer, omit that and sweeten to taste with an equal amount of sugar, honey or no cal sweetener. Add extra if you like things sweeter. Like your creamer creamier? Substitute whipping cream or half and half for some or all of the milk. Also delicious on hot cereal in the morning.

Each flavor starts by mixing 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream. Each recipe makes 2 cups.

To the half milk, half cream mixture add:

SUGAR ‘N’ SPICE CREAMER

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CREAMER -

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon almond extract

PUMPKIN SPICE CREAMER

3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FRENCH VANILLA CREAMER

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla

PEPPERMINT MOCHA CREAMER

4 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For each of the above mixtures, whisk together everything except the liquid extracts in a medium saucepan. Keep whisking over medium heat until the mixture begins to steam. Remove from heat and stir in whatever extract or extracts are called for. Pour into a glass bottle and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Keeps about 10 days, but probably won’t last that long.

COOKIN’ TIME

Still have some leftover turkey dinner at your house? Put them to good use in the Turkey Quiche. If you’re fresh out of leftover turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, Christmas is coming!

TURKEY QUICHE

If you’re making these for someone on a restricted diet you can use just one egg yolk and eight egg whites and skip the milk instead of the six whole eggs. I prefer foods richer and more nourishing. Many doctors have already taken egg yolks off the “no no” list because their nutritional benefits trump the cholesterol concerns. You can bake these little quiches in individual ramekins or baking dishes. If you’re cheap like me, you’ve saved the foil dishes from pot pies that you buy in the frozen foods section. Use them for individual pies or for casseroles like these. If they’re a bit too big, double the amount of stuffing and filling for each.

Buttery spray or olive oil for brushing

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons green onions, minced

4 tablespoons cooked turkey breast, cubed

6 tablespoons stuffing

4 tablespoons mashed potatoes

4 tablespoons cooked or frozen spinach, or 1 cup fresh,

chopped spinach

4 tablespoons cream cheese

4 tablespoons mozzarella cheese

6 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray four individual dishes with buttery flavored cooking spray or brush with olive oil. In skillet, saut the green onions and turkey in butter. Once the onions begin to soften, add spinach and stir until cooked or heated through. Line each dish with about a tablespoon and a half of stuffing and flatten out over the entire bottom and up the sides a bit with the back of a spoon. Layer cream cheese on top of stuffing. Spread 2 tablespoons of the turkey/spinach mixture over stuffing in each dish. Beat the eggs with the milk, salt, pepper and melted butter. Add approximately 3 tablespoons of the egg mixture into each dish, making sure eggs are spread out evenly. Add a dollop of mashed potatoes. Top with mozzarella cheese. Place the dishes onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until the egg mixture is set and the cheese starts to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

HEALTHY HOLIDAYS COOKIES

Treat a loved one on a restricted diet to some cookies they are allowed to eat. Don’t have the carb count on these heart-healthy cutouts, but it can’t be too bad. Recipe makes two dozen delicately spiced cookies at only 53 calories and 2.2 grams of fat each.

4 tablespoons butter, softened

4 tablespoons brown sugar

6 packets Stevia sweetener powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch or two of ground cloves (or allspice)

4 tablespoons pureed cooked, peeled sweet potato

2 eggs, whites only (1/4 cup if using liquid egg whites)

4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

2 tablespoons flax seed meal

4 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese, softened

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or wax paper. In a medium bowl use fork or electric mixer to combine the butter, brown sugar, baking powder, spices and 4 packets of the Stevia. Beat the egg white with two of the teaspoons of vanilla until it breaks down and gets a little foamy, then beat in the sweet potato. Beat this into the sugar and spice mixture until it gets fluffy, and then beat in the flour and flax seed meal. Shape dough into two round, flat disks. Wrap separately and chill for an hour or so. Place a disk on the prepared cookie sheet. Place another sheet of parchment or wax paper over the cookie dough and then use a rolling pin to roll it evenly to 1/8-inch thick. Once the cookie dough is nicely rolled out on the baking sheet, place the whole thing in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is very firm. Remove from freezer, peel off the top sheet of paper, and cut out cookies as desired. Pull away the part that doesn’t look like cookies. Chill and re-roll the removed dough to make more cookies. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put in cookies and bake for seven to eight minutes, or until the tops are just dry and edges are just starting to brown. Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with second batch, being sure to use a cold cookie sheet each time. If necessary, place the dough back in the freezer after making the cutouts to help the dough firm back up, making it easier to remove the excess dough and leave only the cutouts.

For frosting, in a small bowl combine the cream cheese, the remaining 2 packets of Stevia and the remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add food coloring drop by drop if you wish. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small open tip and pipe decoratively onto the cookies.

Thought for the week: Lord, Thanksgiving is over, but the time for giving thanks is not. Thank you that we are not sleeping out in the cold, that our pantries and freezers are laden, that our problem is having too much to eat and not too little.

Please, Lord, at this cold season especially, protect the little ones whose families have no place to live. Give us the generosity to reach out to them if we have the means to help.

We like to think these are big city problems, but then we learn that the homeless shelter in Marinette is full. Met a small family at the Bay Area Medical Center Emergency Room recently. They didn’t stay long enough for the baby to be seen by a doctor because they had to get back early enough not to lose their spot in the shelter for the night. No matter why that family was homeless, it wasn’t the fault of that toddler. Please give her a warm place to sleep, a warm meal to eat, and a blanket to cuddle with. Amen.

COUNTRY COUSIN


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