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Country Cousin

Dozen...

Hi Folks!

Perfect summer weather continues, with nights cool enough to remind us that Autumn is just around the corner.

Scientists tell us the sun is about to reverse its polar orientation - something they say happens about once every 11 years. On the other hand scientists only discovered the first solar flip after they started studying the sun’s polarity in 1976, so it really is a bit soon to establish a pattern. Wonder what human activity the “green” people will find to blame it on?

Supposedly a solar flip brings on an increase in sunspots and solar flares, but the reports I saw don’t say what that means to Earth. They do say the sun’s magnetic influence, otherwise known as the “heliosphere,” extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto, and changes to the sun’s polarity ripple all the way out to NASA’s Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.

LUCKY US!

We who live here in Marinette County often don’t realize just how fortunate we are to be surrounded by so many beauties of nature, and to have our county’s parks and forests so well cared for.

A letter from Dave White, a retired visitor from Indiana reminds us.

White wrote: “I have traveled extensively throughout this country, the Rockies, Great Basin, Pacific Northwest, all the coasts,and now that I’ve retired and living in Indiana, have found that my favorite place to visit, without a doubt. “is Marinette County that involves my hobbies and activities.”

“I started visiting here in 2005 and have seen such an improvement, especially in ATV trails and the way they are maintained...The wild animal populations have increased tremendously, the deer, and especially the Black Bear...”

White said he camped at McClintock, an ATV campground, for 9 or 10 days, and found the people, especially park caretakers Dennis and Kelly, “very accommodating, friendly and mindful of the needs of the park users.” He said he caught trout daily, and other campers who did not keep their catch shared with him, so he enjoyed grilled trout almost every evening for supper.

He talked about the serenity of the park, marred only by the noise of generators used by other campers, and had some suggestions for curbing that disturbance, since park rules set a max of 50 decibels.

White’s letter concluded, “On my most recent trip to Wisconsin, Marinette was not the only county I visited and camped, fished and ATVd, so I feel I can say the following from experience: When Marinette County calls itself ‘The Real North’ they mean it, and it’s true!”

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

A Michigan couple, Kateri and Jay Schwandt, of Rockford, recently became the parents of a 12th consecutive son.

They were hoping for a girl this time, and probably the half half dozen or so times, but who’s counting?

Reminds me of a joke Dad used to tell nearly every time we’d head south to Racine and/or Milwaukee.

That was in the days before highway by-passes and our route invariably led right through downtown of a few major cities, starting with Green Bay. Generally the trip included Sheboygan.

Dad claimed a tribe of Native Americans used to camp on the river bank there, and the family of their Chief included many sons, but no daughters. Each time the wife would give birth, the Chief would examine the infant and exclaim, “She boy ‘gin!”

Every trip we’d probably pass at least one roadside cemetery, which drew the question, “How many people are dead in there?”

The answer was supposed to be, “All of them,” but once we got to call Dad wrong. There apparently had just been a funeral, because people were walking around in a far corner. We kids got to point out that they were not dead!

By the way, Dad had his standard joke about why the new farm hand hung himself in the round barn, but he usually hedged on the punch line. I’ll let you figure that one out. Remember that sanitation laws were not the same then as they are now. Old-timers should know the answer. If you don’t know, ask one!

ANIMAL TRACKS

Most of us who live in the outlying areas of the county have noticed the endless lines of railroad cars parked for miles along the railroad tracks, particularly on the tracks between Crivitz and Marinette, which are just being used for storage now, not transport.

A veteran hunter recently wondered what, if anything, the DNR has had to say about this interference with the trails animals like deer, bear, coyotes and wolves follow to reach food, water and safe bedding sites. He noted that often the only breaks between the strings of railroad cars is at road crossings, which may be miles apart.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

ON THE SOAP BOX??

SECURE STORAGE


Gov. Mike Huckaby has come up with a good way to protect our nation’s secrets in future. Simply put them in the same place as President Barack Obama’s college transcripts and birth certificate.

ANT PROBLEMS

Had a call last week from a lady wanting to know how to get rid of ant hills in her yard without using pesticides. She’s plagued with hordes of the pesky little ones.

One recommendation is to mix up 3 quarts of warm water and one quart vinegar and use it to douse the ant hills.

The article claims this mixture will kill ants, but not the lawn and garden greenery. Seeing that a pure vinegar solution does indeed kill weeds and grasses, particularly the ones coming up between cracks in the sidewalk (and the basil in the pot on my cupboard) find it hard to believe that the mixture does no harm to grass or garden. I’d try it on one ant hill first, and then wait 24 hours or so to treat the rest. If damage to plants was severe, find another solution.

Another suggestion is to mix sugar and boric acid powder together on a 50/50 ratio. Use gloves. Put a little of this mixture into a small container, like the lid to a milk jug, and drip water into it to make it the consistency of a gel. This is said to produce enough to poison a whole colony of ants.

Then take the solution outside and place it around ant trails or mounds. The scent of the sugar should be enough to make them eventually take the bait and deliver it to the queen, where the boric acid will kill her and the rest of the ants. Once the queen is gone, the rest of the colony is finished, they say.

Famed housekeeping guru, Heloise, suggests mixing equal amounts of boric acid and flour, corn meal or sugar and using it to dust on and around ant hills and along cracks in the house where they enter.

She cautions against leaving the mixture where pets and children can get at it too easily. Small amounts will not harm them, but large amounts at one time, or small amounts taken regularly over a long time may.

Boric Acid can generally be bought at the supermarket, hardware store or shopping center.

GROWIN’ THINGS

WPS suggests plantings around buildings to retain heat in winter and lower air conditioning bills by providing shade in summer.

Evergreen trees, like Spruce, are excellent for shade and shelter. If they are part of your landscaping plan, keep in mind that the best time for planting Spruce saplings is in mid-August to mid fall, before the first heavy frost of the season. Mulch heavily around the base of the sapling to help protect its delicate root system from heaving upward during the cold winter months and spring thaw, and in spring water generously as needed.

Vines of any sort provide shade in summer and can be planted anytime if they are in pots. The leaves fall off in winter to let the sunshine through, so you get the best of both worlds. Plant grape vines and you’ll eventually get a double bonus...edible shade. Do use a trellis and snip away the little tendrils as needed to keep them from working their way under your siding.

COOKIN’ TIME

Summer is drawing to a close, and gardens seem in a rush to get their producing done before their season ends. Raspberries and blueberries can still be found, especially in northern parts of the county, and blackberries are coming into their own. Greens of all sorts, summer squash, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes ...just about everything, is getting ripe.

We can’t eat fast enough to deal with all of the good things, so are forced into canning, freezing and otherwise preserving the bounty. We’ll be glad of that in winter, especially if the huge new round of inflation hits as predicted. Be prepared. Stock the freezers and get that pantry filled! An added advantage, if you put it up yourself, from home grown produce, you’ll know it’s made in America, from wholesome ingredients.

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

Serve with Korean dipping sauce for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The fritters can sit for about half an hour in a 200 degree oven without too much damage. This idea came from Bon Appetite magazine, and it’s a good one indeed. Quite reminiscent of a low-carb version of potato pancakes.

Dipping Sauce:

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Mix everything together until the sugar is dissolved and set

aside at room temperature until serving time.

Fritters:

1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium) grated and wrung

dry

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Grate the zucchini and place in a colander. Put the colander in the sink and add a half teaspoon salt to the zucchini. Let stand 10 minutes and then turn the grated zucchini into a clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Put into a large bowl and add the egg, chives, corn starch, pepper, and maybe a little more salt if you feel too much was lost in the draining process. Mix gently. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it starts to sizzle drop in quarter-cup dollops of the zucchini mixture. Flatten slightly, then, turning once, cook until golden brown on each side, about three minutes per side. Keep the cooked fritters warm in a 200 degree oven while you prepare the remaining fritters. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate, sprinkle very lightly with additional salt, and serve with the dipping sauce.

SALSA VERDE

Makes six to eight half pint jars. Did you know that cooked tomatoes are actually healthier than raw ones. For this you need a kettle deep enough for boiling water bath canning, but not a pressure cooker. As to the peppers, start with the smaller amount and add until you get to the degree of heat you like. Adding seeds makes it hotter. As always, don’t get pepper juice in your eyes, and wear rubber gloves to save your lilly white hands.

7 cups chopped cored peeled green tomatoes (about 12

medium)

5 to 10 jalalpeno and/or habanero peppers, seeded and

finely chopped

2 cups chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and lime juice in a large saucepan. ring to a boil. Stir in cilantro (be sure to use just the leaves, not the stems), cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Have jars washed and ready ahead of time. While the sauce simmers, heat the jars and lids in simmering water but do not boil. When the five minutes’ cooking time is up, ladle the hot sauce into the hot jars, leaving about half an inch of head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim clean and apply lids and adjust bands until fingertip tight. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Water should be at least an inch over tops of the jars. Take jars from canner and cool, away from drafts. After 24 hours check to be sure the jars have all sealed. Any that has not should be used in the near future. Put the rest away for winter enjoyment or even Christmas gift giving.

BROCCOLI TORTELINI SALAD

6 slices bacon

20 ounces fresh or frozen cheese-filled tortellini

1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. cider vinegar

3 heads fresh broccoli, cut into florets

1 cup raisins

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 red onion, finely chopped

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook tortellini in boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and rinse under cold water. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar to make the dressing. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, tortellini, bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds and red onion. Pour dressing over salad, and toss.

BLUEBERRY PUDDING CAKE

Follow the directions. This is made in layers, rather than having everything stirred together. But it works, and it tastes wonderful, especially if served with vanilla or almond ice cream.

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees at least 15 minutes before the pudding cake is ready to go into the oven. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Toss the blueberries in the cinnamon and sprinkle with lemon juice. Spread blueberries evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in milk, vanilla and softened butter. Spoon batter over the blueberries. Mix together sugar and cornstarch and sprinkle over top of the batter. Slowly pour the boiling water water over everything. (DO NOT STIR!). Bake until the cake tests done, about 45 to 50 minutes). Serve with French Vanilla or Blueberry Ice Cream, or topped with blueberry syrup or whipped cream.

Thought for the week: Thomas Macaulay once observed: “Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim.” Robert J. McCracken commented once, “We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.” We need to remember it was our Christian heritage that made this nation great. It was never the other way around!

(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 to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

COUNTRY COUSIN


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