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

Spring...

Hi Folks!

Rejoice! It seems that Spring may finally be here!

Well, not here, but surely right around the corner. We’ve seen the sun. Snow is melting. The driveway is no longer filled with mud. Surely Spring flowers, leaves and green grass can’t be far behind!

SPRING CLEANING

When we finally get some spring-like weather, most of us want to go outside and play. But if there’s too much work piled up we feel guilty, so instead we seek chores we can do outdoors. It’s too soon for much of the yard work, but after all the mud and salt of recent weeks, most of our vehicles could use some tender loving care.

Why work indoors when we can work outside?

Understand, Yours Truly is no expert on cleaning and shining vehicles. Have mentioned before that most of my cars would disintegrate without the rust holding them together.

Things are different now. The current car, although it’s old, has enough class to look good when it’s clean, so have been giving serious thought lately to ways to make that happen. Mud baths in the driveway have done nothing for its complexion.

Had heard that aluminum foil can be used to clean and shine chrome, so did some research, and sure enough, several sites declare it works wonderfully, better than steel wool pads for removing rust because it doesn’t scratch the chrome’s tender surface and creates a chemical compound that adds shine as well.

Some of the sites say to use the foil with cola, others say it works well with just plain water. Water naturally is cheaper, so that would certainly be the first method to try. They also say foil can be used to clean steel, but we shouldn’t expect it to shine those surfaces like chrome, because they weren’t that shiny to begin with.

Anyway, to polish the chrome, first wash it. A hose and soft brush or running it through the car wash should handle this nicely. That cleans the rest of the car, too, which is certainly a good thing. Leave it a little wet if possible. Then cut aluminum foil into small squares, probably 3” by 3”. Dip one aluminum foil square into the water, or sprinkle water on it and spread it around. With the foil in the palm of your hand, apply foil flat on the chrome surface and start rubbing a 6” or 8” area. They say you don’t need to press hard, just rub. You should feel the surface getting smoother and smoother until the foil glides over it. You will see a light brown paste building up. This is the polish that results from the chemical reaction. When the surface is nice and smooth and you have polished it, wipe the brown paste off with a paper towel. They, using a soft cloth, apply a light coating of chrome polish to protect the shiny new surface.

If the chrome is severely pitted or some of the plating has peeled off, there is a limit to how much you can do as to polishing, but since this method removes the rust chemically, most if not all of the rust should go. And since the foil creates its own polishing compound, you should be able to feather (taper) the peeled off edges to help prevent more peeling in the future. If the chrome or steel you want to clean is severely pitted or rusted, start out rubbing with a moistened piece of crumpled up foil to get some rough edges to work with. That will get the worst of the blemishes off faster, and then you can finish polishing with the flat sheets of foil.

Some car cleaning gurus say you can start with moistened steel wool pads for the initial cleaning and rust removal and then polish with the foil and water technique.

Proponents of the cola method say to simply dip crumpled up foil into cola and polish away.

ZITS AWAY!

Prom time is here, and the season for birds, and bees and brides and other festive occasions is fast approaching.

For many of us, a special event when we need to look our best is like a wake-up call for our face to sprout a big ugly zit or two.

Actually, that’s one of the few benefits of getting older. Zits are almost never a problem for Yours Truly any more, but they were when I was young. Sometimes could look in the mirror and see one pop out if I even thought about getting all dressed up and trying to look beautiful. These days, that’s not a problem. Maybe they’re hiding in the wrinkles.

Anyway, if it’s a really big zit, and a really special event - for example, you’re the bride - you could consider seeing a doctor. There are some who can cut the offending blemish, remove the core and inject a bit of cortisone to reduce swelling. Of course, that would be awfully expensive, and time consuming as well. Generally those zits seem to pop out at the last minute.

Not always, though. If the blemish shows up far enough ahead, try applying hot compresses to hurry it to maturity. After applying heat, you could try gently squeezing, but don’t be persistent. Squeezing too hard can create a large boil or cause a scab, which is much harder to hide and can leave a scar.

On the day of the big event, avoid hot anything, because this increase redness and inflammation near the surface, where it shows. To minimize the offending blemish, apply a cold washcloth, perhaps even wrap an ice cube in a damp cloth and hold it on for a while. Then dab Visine or some other eye drop solution on the area. This sometimes reduces swelling and redness.

Before you get to zero hour, pat the area dry, then apply concealer. A stick formula will cover better than a liquid concealer. For best results, dab the concealer on with your fingertip or a small brush, and keep dotting it on until the pimple is covered. You might even need to let it dry between coats. Then apply foundation or powder.

Effective concealers are available with price tags between $70 to $10, and some consultants believe the pricey ones are not much more effective than those that cost as much as your dress.

By the way, if you’re carrying little black bags under your eyes, put some eye drops in your eyes, and then dot some of the eye drop solution on the puffy sacks under them. Works for me unless I’m really, really sleep deprived.

KEEP UP APPEARANCES

A wise friend advices to never argue with an idiot. Says folks watching may not be able to tell the difference.

ON THE SOAP BOX

BAN THE BOMB


The tragic events at the Boston Marathon point up once again the futility of trying to halt violence by banning or regulating the weapons killers can use.

Certainly bombs are already illegal, but that didn’t stop whoever caused the deaths and mutilations in Boston.

This is just another example of why gun control will not control the people who are set on doing harm. If they can’t get a gun they will build a bomb. Or use a knife. Or set a fire. Or spray acid.

The opportunities are endless, and we cannot stop them all.

Evil cannot be legislated away.

Sometimes those who are capable of mass mayhem may be identified and either treated or confined, but certainly not every time.

What we can do is stop glamorizing violence. We can prohibit our children from watching movies and playing video games that move death and destruction out of the realms of reality into the world of make believe. Not proposing new laws. Just saying if we refuse to pay for these types of trash and refuse to allow them in our homes, the profiteers will quit marketing them.

Cleaning up the mental pollutants won’t heal all the sick minds, but it might stop some from getting sicker.

STAY HEALTHY

Seems like most folks these days, once we reach a certain age, get put on expensive and potentially harmful statins and other drugs to fight high cholesterol.

Current research, however, according to a new report from Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (OMNS), a nonprofit research group in Wichita, Kansas, seems to show that sometimes the safest, most effective, and cheapest treatment for high cholesterol is an over the counter vitamin that costs seven cents per pill.

They say Vitamin B3 (also called niacin or nicotinic acid) has been safely used for 60 years to control cholesterol. Some 42,000 scientific papers have been published describing its benefits and effects.

One article quotes Bradley Bale, MD, medical director of the Heart Health Program for Grace Clinic in Lubbock, Tex.: “Unlike statin drugs, which mainly reduce LDL cholesterol, niacin is a very safe, effective treatment for all lipid issues, improving levels of both good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides.”

A study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that at therapeutic doses, niacin raised HDL by up to 35 percent and cut triglycerides by as much as 50 percent. The 8,431 persons in the study had all suffered heart attacks prior to enrolling. They were tracked for 15 years, and the results were those on niacin, as compared with those on a placebo, had a 26 percent lower risk for both heart attacks and strokes, even after treatment was discontinued.

The only reported side effect from using niacin wasn’t very serious. At high doses it can cause a flush, a temporary and sometimes itchy or tingling redness of the skin that lasts an hour or less and generally only happens in the first few days.

So, given the lower cost and fewer harmful side effects, before resorting to prescription drugs, why not ask your doctor to help you see if niacin therapy will lower your cholesterol?

COOKIN’ TIME

Maybe, just maybe this weekend will bring some weather nice enough to warrant bringing out the charcoal grill. Then again, maybe not. This time of year it’s best to have a Plan B in case the sun fails to shine on Plan A.

JERRY BURGERS

That said, if you are able to grill outdoors, you might want to give these seasoned patties a try. Recipe comes from the new Soup to Nuts cookbook, which describes it as “the ‘Cadillac’ of burgers served at Soup to Nuts in Crivitz. (Jerry of course is the owner.) Recipe makes four burgers. It’s designed to be cooked on an indoor grill, but doing them on the charcoal grill certainly can’t do any harm.

2 pounds lean ground chuck beef

1 teaspoon Lowrey’s seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs

2 ounces saltine crackers, crushed but not pulverized

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Form the mixture into eight ounce balls. (Divide equally into four portions.) Flatten into patties approximately 6” in diameter. To make a great burger cook the patty to 155 internal temperature. Add a slice of your favorite cheese and allow it to melt. Cut, butter and grill the bun while cooking the burger. Add lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles for a delicious burger.

BRINED CHICKEN THIGHS

Brining chicken helps keep it moist even with dry heat cooking, like grilling or roasting, and also provides a good opportunity to add flavor. This brine is seasoned with salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, savory and garlic, but use whatever combination of fresh or dried herbs and seasonings you prefer. This is a 2-way recipe, so you can cook it on the grill, or be prepared to add a slightly exotic walnut and Panko coating and bake the thighs in the oven. If the weather is fine and you want to use the outdoor grill, leave the skin on and about half an hour before dinner time put them over fairly hot coals on the grill. This recipe serves eight. Whichever way you cook the chicken, baked potatoes are a great go-with, but start them first, because the chicken cooks very quickly.

2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs

The brine:

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 cup water, 1 cup ice

2 cups apple juice

4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

4 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)

4 sprigs fresh savory (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

The topping:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir in the apple juice. If using fresh herbs, bruise the thyme, rosemary and savory by placing them a cutting board and hitting them with the back side of a chef’s knife or a meat mallet. If using dried herbs, crumble them. Anyway, in a zip-close plastic bag, combine the liquid mixture with the herbs and the garlic. Add the chicken thighs to the bag and squish around to cover in the brine. Refrigerate for 3 hours or even overnight. Turn the bag over once or twice. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 450 degrees, or fire up the grill. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. If you will be cooking the thighs in the oven, remove the skin. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. At this point, if you’re cooking on the grill, have at it. Otherwise, spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and on it arrange the chicken. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts and bread crumbs. In another small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and coriander. Brush the mayonnaise mixture over the surface of each chicken thigh. Pat some of the walnut mixture evenly over that. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and 170 degrees at the center.

CHICKEN TACO SOUP

Easy, easy, easy! And it’s good, too.

1 (15 ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained, or 2 cups

frozen

2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon)

15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

14 ounce can diced tomatoes

4 ounce can diced green chilies

1 teaspoon cumin

salt to taste

1 pound boneless chicken breast, cooked and chopped. (Or use remains of a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or even a 10 ounce can of chunk chicken.)

For garnish, optional:

Sour cream

Crushed tortilla chips

Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese

Diced avocado

Sliced green onions

Sliced ripe olives

Pour corn, broth, beans, tomatoes, and chilies into a large saucepan. Add cumin, salt and chicken. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through. Serve with any or all of the garnishes, but especially the sour cream.

ORANGE DREAMSICLE DESSERT

This recipe also comes courtesy of Soup to Nuts.

1 small box orange gelatin dessert mix

1 small box vanilla instant pudding mix

1 can mandarin oranges

8 ounces frozen whipped topping

4 to 6 large oranges

In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin dessert mix in one cup of boiling water. Put three or four ice cubes in a measuring cup and fill with cold water to the 1 cup mark. Add to the hot mixture. Stir until the ice cubes re dissolved. Let cool for five minutes. Add the dry pudding mix to the gelatin mixture and beat with electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the mandarin oranges well. Gently fold the whipped topping and oranges into the gelatin/pudding mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE: To make this a WOW dessert, serve the mixture in orange shells. Wash the oranges. Slice a thin layer of orange peeling off the bottom of each orange so it sits level. On the opposite end, cut off about 1/4” of the orange. Using a spoon, carefully spoon out the orange pulp. (Save that to use for something else.) Fill each orange shell with the pudding mixture. If desired, top each orange with a dollop of whipped cream and some grated orange zest.

(An added note: To make the shells extra pretty, sort of like golden tulips, cut off that top slice of orange in a zigzag shape. Another suggestion: Drain the mandarin oranges before you mix the gelatin part of the recipe, and use the juice to replace part of the water.)

Thought for the Week: Good advice: The best way to get to the top is to start at the bottom and just keep going. More good advice: If you sit on the road to success you’re likely to get run over.

COUNTRY COUSIN


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