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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!

Isn’t it wonderful? Spring is here! Finally! The single digit temperatures simply must go away and take the snow along. Calendar says so.

Weatherman, are you paying attention? Most of us are tired of snow, tired of cold, and eager to get back to summer-type pursuits, like golf. We’d like a prediction for a sunny, 60 degree day tomorrow. Even if that’s a lie, it would make us feel better for a little while. Until tomorrow, anyway. Oh well. It’s worth a try.

A year ago on this date, we here in TIMESland had already been basking in 80 degree temperatures. Some of us were already watering the lawn in the midst of the warmest spring on record, and golf courses were opening.

Wonder if this second consecutive year of “Global Warming” is setting any records of its own? Low Tuesday night in Green Bay was 10 degrees, probably colder here. Prospects for the coming week don’t look too great, either, but it’s supposed to warm up a little bit. By Sunday, March 24 we’re supposed to have a high of 34 degrees and a low of 28. And there’s no snow in the immediate forecast for a change.

SPEAKING OF GOLF

Now that Spring is here, golf season can’t be far behind. You might need to use a blaze orange ball for the next couple of weeks though.

Anyway, speaking of golf, a minister friend told us he and another man of the cloth were playing partners in a golf tournament down in the Valley a couple of years ago. Neither of them were very good golfers, but it was a fundraiser for a good cause, so there they were.

Playing somewhat ahead of them was a team that included former University of Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz, who as it happens was a good golfer.

Well, one of the preachers hit a powerful slice ball that zoomed hard sideways and almost struck the famed coach in the head before coming to rest. In fact, Coach Holtz had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. Coach Holtz was not impressed, but he said nothing. Nothing at all. Just looked. At the preacher. At the ball. Shook his head. Not pleasant.

The shamefaced preacher apologized and did what he had to do to get back on his own green. He didn’t win the tournament, but at the awards ceremonies at the end of the day he did get a nice inscribed trophy: “Closest to a Holtz in one.”

WISE WORDS

Incidentally, Coach Holtz was apparently quite a philosopher, and he generously shared some of his beliefs, for example:

“Life is really quite exciting. One day you’re drinking the wine, and the next day you’re picking the grapes. There are certain things in the world we all have in common such as time. Everybody has sixty seconds to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, twenty-four hours to a day; the difference is what we do with that time and how we use it. As Reverend Harrington says, “if you’re killing time it’s not murder, but pure suicide.”

He also said to him “WIN” means “What’s Important Now.” You must have goals and dreams if you are ever going to achieve anything in this world.”

We all need to think about that. And then get busy setting some goals and dreaming some dreams!

SAVE MONEY, LOOK GOOD

Want shining hair, sparkling teeth, fresh breath, and a clear and lovely complexion?

How about a fresh scented refrigerator, shining chrome and stainless steel appliances, clean walls and free-running drains?

Believe it or not, one inexpensive box of baking soda can do all that, and a whole lot more.

To exfoliate your skin and leave a fresh and glowing epidermal layer, mix baking soda with water to form a paste. Spread on your body wherever you would like to exfoliate, and then scrub it off. Do the scrubbing off in a hot, soaky bath and let the rest of your body benefit from the baking soda too. Leaves it feeling silky and clean.

If acne is a problem, make a paste of baking soda and water, then place on acne to gently dry it out. Wash off after five to 10 minutes, depending on the sensitivity of your skin.

When cleaning the fridge, use a baking soda solution and then tuck a small open container of baking soda into a far corner to soak up odors. Works for up to three months.

For shining chrome, whether on a car or inside the house, make a paste of baking soda, rub it on and let it sit a while. Rub off and buff dry.

To get stainless steel appliances and cookware shining, sprinkle baking soda directly onto a damp surface and then clean with a damp sponge. If the surface is vertical, sprinkle the soda directly onto the damp sponge and proceed. Finishing off the shine with a cloth dipped in club soda leaves a wonderful streak-free shine.

For general cleaning and wall washing, add one cup of baking soda and one cup of ammonia to a gallon of warm water. Mix thoroughly, and wear rubber gloves when using this. A sponge works best. Rinsing is not necessary. For stubborn crayon marks on walls or woodwork, dip the damp sponge directly in the baking soda and scrub.

(Incidentally, some housewives swear that a slice of white bread rubbed over a grease spot on painted walls or wallpaper removes grease smudges almost as well as Magic Eraser.)

For a spray-on general purpose cleaner, mix one teaspoon borax, one teaspoon baking soda, two teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of a good dishwashing soap into two cups of hot water. Put into a spray bottle and use as you would any other spray cleaner.

Now, remember that baking soda you used to eliminate fridge odors? When it’s useful time there is done, dump a half cup or so down the kitchen sink drain. Then dump in a cup of vinegar. When the foam subsides, rinse with hot water. Washes away greasy slime to keep the drain clean and prevent clogs.

GROWIN’ THINGS

If you’re getting antsy and eager to be busy getting things growing, you might take over a corner of the basement to sort out bulbs and tubers of things like tuberous begonias, caladiums, dahlias, and canna lilies. They can be potted up now in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Peel off debris and discard any that have rotted in storage.

If you have been storing geraniums in cool, dark conditions, its time to pot them up, cut them back and start watering again.

Geraniums and coleus that you have kept growing indoors through the winter should be cut back to only a few buds. If the geraniums are blooming right now, enjoy the flowers until after Easter and then cut back. This will stimulate new growth and a fuller plant by the time summer arrives.

If you don’t have the space and the raw material for a bulb sorting afternoon, get out some seed catalogs ands dream a little. Then get out some graph paper and start planning where the flowers and vegetables will go.

COOKIN’ TIME

Lent is drawing to an end, and Easter is fast approaching, but cold winds still blow and a steamy bowl of chowder is a comfort food beyond compare. Follow a soup meal with a substantial dessert - like Apple Crisp topped with ice cream.

CHEATIN’ CHOWDER

Want everyone to think you worked really hard on dinner, but you’d rather finish your book? Get this chowder simmering and you can have the best of both worlds.

16 ounces bottled clam juice

4 ounces boneless fish fillet, diced

2 cans cream of potato soup

1 can cream of celery soup

2 soup cans half and half (or whole milk)

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed (or more)

Dash pepper (up to 1/4 teaspoon)

Dash tabasco sauce

8 ounces imitation lobster or crab flakes

Simmer the diced fish in the clam juice for perhaps five minutes. Stir in the cans of soup and milk and then the seasonings. Bring to almost boiling, but not quite. Cut the imitation seafood into bite size pieces and add it to the kettle. Bring it to almost boiling again. For extra richness, float a teaspoon or so of butter on top of each bowl. You’re done. Serve with crackers, and maybe raw veggies and dip.

SWISS TUNA BROCCOLI SOUP

This soup sounds complicated, but it’s really very quick and easy. Inexpensive too. Makes five servings, but if you’re feeding five hungry people, plan some kind of sandwich to go with it.

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery (or celery leaves)

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 1/2 cups milk

1 cup cooked regular rice

6 1/2-ounce can tuna, broken into chunks

1 1/2 cups water

2 chicken flavor bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons instant

bouillon or Golden Seasons broth mix

9 ounce package frozen broccoli florets, or equivalent fresh

broccoli florets.

1 tablespoon lemon juice

6 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

Hopefully when you make this soup you will have a rice-based meal the night before and be sure you have c cup left over. Otherwise, put one half cup of rice on to cook in one cup of lightly salted water and cook on low for about 20 minutes, while you make the rest of the soup. In medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Add the bouillon and broccoli. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes. While that cooks, melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until tender. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper and stir constantly for about a minute, until it gets smooth and bubbly. Stir in milk, and continue stirring constantly until it boils and thickens a bit. Stir in the cheese, and then add the rice and tuna. Remove from heat. Stir in the broccoli, cooking water and all, and the lemon juice. Heat, stirring gently, but do not let it boil.

FAMOUS EDGEWOOD FRENCH GARLIC DRESSING

This is an authentic recipe for the salad dressing that made the former Edgewood Supper Club in Peshtigo famous —- Well, that and a number of other good edibles as well. But this comes indirectly from a former Edgewood cook, courtesy of Cindy, a generous friend and co-worker. Makes a really big batch. Consider dressing up some fancy jars and handing this out in Easter baskets. Or cut down the recipe. Your call.

5 cups salad oil

3 cups sugar

3 cups chili sauce

3 cups catsup

2 cups vinegar

4 teaspoons Heinz 57 sauce

7 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

6 large onions

6 cloves garlic

Grind the onions quite finely and add them to every thing else. Beat until everything is well mixed, pour over salad greens and enjoy. Sounds a bit like the old Matty’s (of Crivitz) French Dressing, which was super delicious, and also made a good barbeque-type sauce for dipping things like friend chicken wings and such.

QUICK APPLE CRISP

1 cup flour

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup mashed potato flakes

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

20-ounce can apple pie filling

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl mix flour, brown sugar, potato flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. While stirring, drizzle in the melted butter and stir until it all gets crumbly. Press two cups of the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch square pan. Put in the pie filling. Spread the apple pie filling on top, and sprinkle on the rest of the crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until it turns a nice golden brown. Serve warm or cool, with whipped cream or ice cream.

EASTER EGG CAKE

1 box white cake mix

eggs (quantity specified on cake box)

oil (quantity specified on cake box)

2 boxes instant pistachio pudding (sugar free is fine)

club soda

1 pint whipping cream

Jelly beans, tubes of jell for decorating cakes, or cake sprinkles, probably pink, yellow and dark green ones, or whatever other decorations you can find...maybe tiny chocolate bunnies, little yellow chicks, or crosses. Make cake mix according to box directions adding the eggs and oil called for on the box, but substitute club soda for the water. Mix in one package of pistachio pudding mix. Grease and flour round casserole dishes of the same size. (The kind with sloped sides and sort of round bottoms inside, not straight ones. You want to eventually lay the two halves on their sides and put them together to make one egg-shaped cake.) Divide the prepared batter between the two baking dishes and bake for 35 minutes, or until the cakes test done. While the cakes are cooking, put whipping cream into medium bowl and beat until fluffy. Add the second box of pudding mix and whip until incorporated. When cakes are completely cooled, cut a somewhat small slice off one side of each one to create a flat bottom. Use the sliced off pieces to hold the rest of the cake in place on an appropriately sized serving dish. Use the pudding/whipped cream mixture to frost the entire cake as one giant egg. Decorate with little nests of jelly beans, or artful zigzag stripes created with the gel frosting or colored sprinkles.

Thought for the Week: On Sunday, March 24, Christians all over the world celebrate Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. This day commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In His brief three years of public ministry Our Savior had gained such a following that throngs lined the streets of the holy city, waving palm branches to greet Him.

The blessed palms Catholics receive on Palm Sunday are saved to make the ashes that will be used to mark the sign of the Cross on foreheads on Ash Wednesday next year.

Those palms, and the ashes they will become, should remind us how fickle is the flash of fame, how all too often we take the easy path, and abandon the Way, the Truth and the Light.

Many of the same people who greeted Jesus with palms on Sunday were probably among the throngs cheering when He was crowned with thorns and whipped through the streets of Jerusalem on the way to to His crucifixion just five days later.

We humans are fickle, but He was steadfast and died for our sins. He felt every whip lash and every thorn prick. He suffered under the weight of the cross as it rubbed His shoulder raw. He felt every nail that pierced His hands and His feet. He didn’t need to stay there. He had the power to end the pain, but He had the strength and love to endure it as the price of our redemption.

His suffering and death opened the gates of Heaven so those who accept Him can look forward to eternal life when our time on this Earth is over.

Thanks be to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 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.)

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