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

Ides...Hi Folks!

Not sure if March came in like a lion or a lamb last week. On Friday, March 1 there was some sunshine and some clouds, somewhat mild temperatures - over 30 degrees for a little while during the day - and some wind, but not bad at about 15 miles per hour, so guess you’d call that entrance a lamb. On the other hand, the night before was a chilly 10 degrees and somewhat windy, so maybe it was a lion after all.

Anyway, the days since have been pretty much cold and a bit windy, but thankfully the snow seems to have stopped for a while. The weatherman is promising temperatures above freezing during the day for the remainder of this week. Maybe Spring is coming.

CHANGE THE CLOCKS

Whether or not Spring is poised to make a grand entrance, winter Daylight Savings Time comes to an end this coming weekend. Officially, at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 2, we set our clocks forward to 3 a.m., which means we lose an hour that we won’t get back until November.

Most of us, unless we forget, will turn the clock ahead before we go to bed on Saturday night, and get up tired on Sunday morning because our bodies think it’s 7 a.m. when the alarm says it’s eight.

Not to worry. In a week or two our biological clocks will adjust, because the sun is getting up earlier too, as we approach the Spring equinox on March 21.

POETIC JUSTICE???

Don’t know if it was poetic justice or unorthodox justice, but justice it was.

News report published a couple of months ago in an Augusta, Ga. newspaper tells of a man caught on surveillance camera putting a laptop computer under his jacket in a Best Buy store.

When confronted, the man became irate, knocked down an employee, drew a knife and ran for the door.

Outside on the sidewalk four Marines were collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program. They stopped the man but in the process he managed to stab one of the Marines, a Corporal Phillip Duggan, in the back. The injury did not appear to be severe, but Duggan was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

So was the assailant. Police report on the incident states, “The subject was also transported to the local hospital with two broken arms, a broken ankle, a broken leg, several missing teeth, possible broken ribs, multiple contusions, assorted lacerations, a broken nose and a broken jaw...injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell off the curb after stabbing the Marine.”

Wow! Don’t ever tangle with a dangerous curb!

GOLD BACKED NOTHING!

Remember when American currency was backed by the gold in Fort Knox? Everyone had the right to cash in their paper dollars for an equivalent value in gold, which may be where the saying, “Good as gold” originated.

Anyway, some years ago the gold standard was eliminated in the United States. American currency was no longer backed with a promise that it would be redeemable for an equivalent amount of gold, and that seems to have been the beginning of many of the problems our nation faces today.

In 1949 the amount of gold held in Fort Knox, Ky. reached 701 million ounces of gold, 69.9% of all the gold in the world. On Aug. 15, 1971, the promise to reimburse foreign investors with gold for American dollars was ended, and the Fort Knox reserves began dwindling.

Current official reports, with no audits to assure accuracy, are that Fort Knox still contains 147.6 million ounces of gold, which would give it a value of slightly over $259 billion. Some financial wizards fear the reserves are far less than that.

Recently learned, via some TV programming, that the total dollar value of the amount of known gold in the entire world today - at today’s price of $1756.38 U.S. dollars per ounce - comes to approximately $9 trillion dollars. That includes gold reserves of nations like the United States, China and others have plus everyone’s medals, wedding rings, gold chains and the like, and probably the gold they found in King Tut’s Tomb.

Meanwhile our $17 trillion national debt is rising by the second!

Maybe tapping our oil reserves and issuing oil backed dollars would restore confidence in the American economy!

On the other hand, oil is a bit tricky to carry around in a satchel.

IDES OF MARCH

The Ides of March are nearly upon us... just over a week away.

The idea that March 15 (or “the ides of March”) is unlucky goes back to ancient traditions and superstitions. Most people have probably heard the phrase “the ides of March” quoted from a famous line in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar: “Beware the ides of March.” The phrase, spoken twice by a soothsayer, warns Caesar of his impending assassination.

These days a psychic making such a death threat would either be investigated by the Secret Service and jailed as a terrorist (especially if the prediction proved true), or investigated by the fraud squad and jailed as a con artist.

Anyway, the day certainly proved unlucky for the despotic Caesar, who was stabbed to death that day as a result of a conspiracy that included about 60 individuals, many of them Roman Senators he thought were his friends. One of the 23 highly placed individuals who actually did the stabbing was Caesar’s friend Brutus - hence the term, “Et tu, Brute?”

Actually, the word “ides” comes from the Latin word “idus” which was used in Roman times to indicate the day in the middle of the month - the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months. According to some legends even older than the Caesar conspiracy, on ides of March the sea succumbs to chaos and the full moon brings high tides.

In Caesar’s day and earlier, the Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars - the god of war - and a military parade was usually held.

In some parts of modern Canada today, especially by those who need an excuse, the Ides of March is reportedly celebrated by drinking Bloody Caesars, a cocktail very similar to the American Bloody Mary. The Bloody Caesar typically contains vodka, Clamato juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, served with ice in a large glass rimmed with celery salt, garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime. The celery stalk really should have leaves on it, to simulate Caesar’s laurel crown. (See recipe below.)

St. Patrick’s Day comes shortly afterward, on March 17, so those who need an excuse have another one ready and waiting. Of course, St. Paddy’s Day calls for everything green, and that includes green beer, so forget the tomato based drinks on that day and go green.

PICKUP LINES

Valentine’s Day is over and Summer isn’t here yet, but some folks are still hoping to meet the right someone, and looking for “pickup lines” they might use to open a conversation with a person they’d like to know better.

Here are a few helpful suggestions:

“Well, here I am. What are your other two wishes?”

“You should have your license suspended for driving guys (or girls) crazy!”

“If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put ‘I’ and ‘U’ together.”

“Do you believe in love at first sight - or should I walk by again?”

Well, maybe not so helpful after all.

LENT CONTINUES

Meanwhile, Lent continues, and celebrations should definitely be the exception, rather than the rule. Easter preparations, internal and external, are underway.

Spent some time thinking about miracles lately, and probably the greatest miracle of all is the miracle of forgiveness.

As a child, ever do something so naughty you thought Mom and Dad would never forgive you if they found out?

Chances are you weren’t so much afraid of the punishment as you were afraid they wouldn’t love you any more.

Then came discovery, confession, tears of regret, and finally, miracle of miracles, forgiveness! Freedom from guilt! They still love you! What a wonderful relief! What a wonderful return to the welcoming arms of their love!

As an adult, ever do something you were so ashamed of that you felt God could never forgive you? So bad that you couldn’t forgive yourself?

Then, finally, pay the piper, make amends as best you could, perhaps go to confession, and finally rejoice in the fact that God forgives, that He gave His son for your sins and you do not need to suffer forever?

Ever pray for forgiveness, feel the pangs of guilt lift, and rejoice, secure in the knowledge that God still loves you?

Forgiveness is a miracle God has promised to any of us who seeks it. He has promised a welcome home to any of us who want to return to His sheltering arms.

Love is like that. Love forgives. And God is love!

COOKIN’ TIME

Celebrate the coming Ides of March, celebrate the approaching end of winter, or simply take the chill off with some warming food and drink. But don’t forget that Easter is coming. You might want to collect ingredients for candy making, egg decorating and Easter dinner or brunch. Meanwhile some of us still need some meatless menus for Fridays and other fast days remaining in Lent.

BLOODY CAESAR

Just like a Bloody Mary only different. Drink in honor of the fallen Roman dictator, Julius Caesar. Or maybe in honor of those who caused him to fall??

6 ounces Clamato juice

1 1/2 ounces vodka, or one large shot

2 dashes hot sauce

4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Celery salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 lime wedge

1 celery stalk

Slightly moisten the rim of a large glass and dip it into a saucer of celery salt. Put in a few ice cubes. Mix everything and pour into the glass. Or mix everything in the glass and carefully drop in a few ice cubes. Garnish with stalk of celery and wedge of lime

PATE CHINOIS CANADIAN

Seeing you might be enjoying a Canadian drink, a Canadian country-style casserole would be great to go with it. Substitute prepared instant mashed potatoes for the real ones if you must.

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. ground veal

1/2 lb. ground pork

2 sm. onion, chopped

1 can cream of corn

1 can whole kernel corn

5 large potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons butter

Milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter, approx.

Peel potatoes and put them on to boil in lightly salted water. Cook beef, veal, pork all together in a frying pan and drain. Add salt and pepper. Set aside while you mash the potatoes. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste, and enough milk to make them a nice consistency. Put the meat into a buttered 9X9 casserole dish. Add the corn and stir. Top with the mashed potatoes. Top with butter. Put in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes and serve. 6 servings.

BERNIE’S PATE CHINOIS

Here’s another version, made with leftover pork roast. Since pork roast is about the only reasonably priced meat available to us these days, finding a delicious new way to use it is a special event. Enjoy!

Leftover pork roast

1 large can creamed corn, or two regular ones

Potatoes, mashed

Salt (to taste)

Pepper (to taste)

Parsley, minced or dried and crumbled

1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

Grind leftover pork roast, fat and all, with meat grinder or food chopper. Cook potatoes and mash. (See recipe above.) Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Grease 2 or 3-quart casserole. On bottom, put layer of ground pork, then layer of mashed potatoes. Then cream corn. Keep layering until all pork, potatoes and corn are used. Top with Cheddar cheese. Bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Great for using leftover pork roast; not as good with beef roast.

VEGETABLE FRITATA

Great meatless main dish. You can replace the spinach with just about any cooked vegetable you have on hand, especially asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. Great with raw fry potatoes, and buttered beets or fresh sliced tomatoes on the side. Pie or bread pudding with fruit sauce would be a good dessert, because they can go in the oven along with the fritata.

8 large eggs

1/3 cup milk or half and half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

2 cups packed baby spinach

4 ounces Feta, Swiss or Cheddar cheese, shredded or

crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center position. In a large bowl, beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper. Warm oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add red pepper and onion and saut until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in spinach and saut until wilted, about 2 minutes. Distribute vegetables evenly in skillet and pour in egg mixture. Crumble feta on top. Cook without stirring until eggs are just beginning to set around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Place skillet in oven. Bake frittata until almost set in center, about 15 minutes. Turn broiler on high; broil frittata until top is golden brown, about 2 minutes, watching carefully to prevent over-browning. Remove from oven. Let frittata rest for 5 minutes before serving.

SALMON FRITTATA

Another meatless main dish. Didn’t know about this one at first glance, but it’s really, really good. Right up there with salmon loaf.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced

1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed

dry

1 can salmon, flaked and boned but not drained

1/2 teaspoon crumbled dill weed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash of tabasco

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

Warm oil over medium heat in a 12-inch nonstick oven proof skillet. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and salmon; season with dill weed, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Saut until heated through.

Preheat broiler to high and set an oven rack about 5 inches from heat source. Pour eggs into skillet and stir briefly to distribute vegetables and salmon. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, sliding a spatula under frittata occasionally to loosen, until set underneath but still moist on top, about 8 minutes.

Don’t actually stir it once the eggs start to set. This should come out as a solid cake. Put skillet under broiler and cook until top is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide frittata onto a platter and cut into wedges. You could put grated cheese on top, but it masks the salmon flavor.

If you leave the cheese off the frittata it’s really good with macaroni and cheese on the side, along with a tossed green salad and/or some sliced tomatoes.

Thought for the week: Lord, as I clean my home and bring out decorations in preparation for Easter, may I search my heart, confess my sins and clean my soul as the most important preparation for Easter. Your greatest gift is forgiveness. You have said, “Ask and ye shall receive.” Please grant the grace I so badly need to bask in the sunshine of Your forgiveness. 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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