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

Vines...

Hi Folks!

Hard to believe. Seems like a week or two ago we were wondering if Spring would ever get here, and now Labor Day is upon us!

Next week at this time the kids will be back in school, and some of us will be digging out our Autumn decorations. Halloween is only two months off!

Wherever did the Summer go???

ON THE OTHER HAND

Others, like Yours Truly, will still be promising to tackle the spring cleaning chores that somehow never quite got done. Can’t do them now. Too busy trying to put up some of summer’s bounty to carry through a long, hard winter that shows every sign of another disastrous round of inflation, particularly in the meat and grocery aisles.

Oh, well. As to that cleaning, there’s always another year. Dust will wait. Tomatoes won’t!

SCHOOL DAZE

When the kids get home from school next Tuesday, stump them with these riddles. See answers just before Cookin time.

1. What is the first thing a little snake learns in school?

2. What’s the first thing a little gorilla learns in school?

3. What do little astronauts get when they do their homework?

4. Why did Mom let the little vampires stay up all night?

5. Where do monsters study?

GROWIN’ THINGS

If you have a thriving grape vine or two it’s fairly easy to get them to be fruitful and multiply, provided the parent plant wasn’t growing on grafted root stock. Rather, make that multiply and then become fruitful.

It isn’t time yet to actually take cuttings from the vine, but this would be a good time to mark the canes you want to choose for cuttings once Fall comes and the vine goes dormant. It also is a good time to prepare the ground you want to plant them in.

When choosing a location for your new vines, pick a spot in a sunny area, in this climate that might best be nestled up against a south-facing wall, or nestled into a sheltered corner or near some sheltering trees on a southern facing slope. Remove any perennial weeds that may choke the young grape plants, till the soil to ensure proper drainage, and add rotted compost, sawdust or well rotted manure in the general area of the new vinelings, but not directly in the hole you will plant the cuttings in. Experts say grape plants thrive best in sandy soil with a pH of 5.3 to 6.0, so you might want to get it tested.

Check out your healthy vines, and decide where you may want to take cuttings. You will need to select sections of nice healthy cane which are 14 to 18 inches long and at least a quarter of an inch thick at the small end. Tie a string or twistie tie wherever you want to make a cut.

Then, when the vine goes dormant in fall, use a small sharp knife to make the cuts you have marked. The top cut is usually made at a 45-degree angle, 3/4 to one inch above the top bud. The bottom cut is made parallel to the ground just below a bud or node. Be sure to keep all the canes pointed in the same direction so you don’t inadvertently plant any of them upside down. This is an added advantage of making a horizontal cut at the bottom and the 45-degree angle cut at the top. You can tell the difference. Bury the cane except for the top inch or two, in the area you have prepared. Pack soil firmly around the base, then loosely cover the final inch or two that you left sticking out, taking care not to damage the uppermost buds on the cane. Water the cutting well. If the weather stays fine, you may want to water it more than once. Next spring, new canes should push their way through the soil.

The cuttings will only work with canes of healthy and vigorous grape varieties, and also, some grapevines (especially if the parent vine was growing on grafted rootstock) may not survive at your location, so the whole thing might be fruitless, figuratively and literally.

If you’d rather buy plants than try for cuttings, better prepare the soil now, and then plant in spring, preferably while the plants are still dormant.

On the other hand, any new vines you get from the cuttings are free except for your labor investment, so it’s worth a try.

But be patient. If the vines do grow, you won’t be harvesting grapes from them for a few years. However, grape vines can keep producing for nearly a century, so the whole thing really is a long term investment.

Meanwhile, if you’ve planted your vines around a trellis you get a nice landscaping feature fairly quickly, and may eventually get vines that give you some wine to sip while seated under that trellis.

Even the wild grapes that thrive here make lovely trellis plantings. The grapes they yield make excellent wine, and even an excellent non-alcoholic grape drink the whole family can enjoy, chemical and additive free and guaranteed made in America. Just put one cup of clean, washed grapes in the bottom of a sterilized quart jar, add half a cup of sugar, fill the jar with boiling water and seal. After about a month the juice is ready.

HERBAL HINT

If you have some fresh herbs to dry, you might like this handy hint:

Use a pants hanger. Simply clip or clasp your choice of herbs upside down in the hanger. Hang outside in a shady area or an airy garage, preferably on a nice sunny day with low humidity. Hanging in the house is an alternative, probably near a window that doesn’t get direct sun. Sunshine when drying can dull the flavor. Remember that herbs have the best flavor if picked in the morning, and at the stage just before their flower buds burst into bloom. Do wash them in cool water and then shake the moisture off before drying.

ANT TREATMENTS

Ran some suggestions for getting rid of ant colonies about a month ago. A very nice gentleman said he had lost the column and asked me to send him the information about using Boric Acid instead of poison. I Promised to do so, and then somehow lost the address. So there is a repeat:

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.

Incidentally, don’t leave the Boric Acid 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.

RIDDLES

1. Hiss tory. 2. The Ape B C’s. 3. Gold stars. 4. They were studying for a blood test. 5. In ghoul school.

COOKIN’ TIME

It’s Corn on the Cob time again. In case you’ve lost the instructions for freezing home grown corn, here they are again. (This is especially for friend Donna.)

FROZEN CREAMED CORN

Have not tried this myself, but several good cooks we know have, and they say it is marvelous, and easy to boot.

24 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob (probably 5 dozen ears)

1 pint of half and half cream

1 pound of butter

Cut fresh corn off the cob till you have 24 cups, generally about five dozen ears. Put in a large roaster with the butter and cream. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half. Stirring often. Cool and freeze in meal-size containers or plastic bags. When it’s time to serve, put a small amount of water in a pan and drop in the frozen corn. Cover and heat slowly until the corn is all thawed, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper and sugar at this time, if desired. When it gets to serving temperature, serve and enjoy.

FREEZING CORN

ON OR OFF THE COB

18 ears fresh corn on the cob

1/2 cup butter, melted

4 quarts water

1 teaspoon salt

6 zipper type bags

Remove husks and silks from corn. Bring water and salt to a fast boil, and cook corn in batches, boiling each batch for four minutes. Transfer cooked ears to a dish towel and allow them to drain, uncovered, until cool enough to be easily handled. Do not douse in cold water. Letting the ears cool on their own keeps the corn from being too watery, thus the kernels retain their crispness. At this point, you could simply put the ears into zipper type bags and freeze. But to save freezer space, cut off the kernels and just freeze them. Using an angel food cake pan, place ear on center and begin cutting kernels off so they fall into the pan. Then angle knife slightly to get the small bits out of the ears. Repeat until pan is full or all ears are cut. Pour butter over kernels and mix well. This gives each kernel its own buttery seal. Put about 2 cups of corn into individual bags. Squeeze all the air out, seal and then push to flatten each bag. Freeze on a cookie sheet to keep each bag flat, then stack to store in freezer. Corn will be good for up to a year. To use, defrost in the microwave and serve. (Dry out the cobs to burn in the fireplace this winter or use as kindling in the fire pit, if you’re that ambitious.)

SMASHED POTATO SALAD

Here’s a great new potato salad for Labor Day Weekend feasting. Does require use of the oven, which might be a drawback unless the weather cools. But this salad is worth it. Best served at room temperature shortly after you finish making it. Recipe makes six servings.

Salad:

1 pound small new red potatoes, unpeeled

1 pound small new Yukon Gold type potatoes, unpeeled

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sliced green onions, divided

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, or more

Dressing:

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared mustard 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes well and toss them with one tablespoon of the oil. Arrange in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Using a potato masher or the flat side of a meat pounder or heavy mug, gently mash each potato until it flattens slightly and splits open. Brush with remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with the half teaspoon salt. Put back into oven and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. While the potatoes cool, make the dressing by putting everything into a blender or food processor and blending until smooth. Coarsely chop the potatoes into about one inch pieces or so and place in large bowl. Stir in the parsley, most of the green onions and the dressing. Garnish with remaining green onions and some parsley sprigs.

SUMMER SOUP

This cross between a soup and a salad takes no cooking and makes good use of summer’s bounty. Serve icy cold, sprinkled with some cheese shreds or crumbles if you wish.

3 cups coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

1/2 cup cold water

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Scald tomatoes and peel, then core and coarsely chop in the food processor. Be sure some chunkiness remains. Process the sweet pepper and onion until finely chopped. process the zucchini until it’s somewhat finely chopped. Stir everything into the tomatoes. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Longer is fine too.

APPLE STRATA CAKE

This makes 12 servings, but that doesn’t mean it serves 12. if you must guild the lilly - or the apples - serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

3/4 cup chopped pecans

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced, about 3 or

four cups slices

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F. Spray a 10-inch removable-bottom tube pan with nonstick spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly on bottom of pan. In a large bowl, mix two tablespoons of the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and cinnamon. Add apples and toss to combine. In another large bowl, mix remaining flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, oil, butter, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Beat until batter is smooth. Pour half of the batter (about 2 cups) into prepared pan. Top with half of the apple mixture. Spoon remaining batter over apples and top with remaining apples, placing them about a quarter of an inch in from the tube and the border of the cake. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides and center of cake and turn cake out onto wire rack, but don’t leave it there. Invert the cake onto another rack to cool with the apple side up.

Thought for the Week: Famed anti-Communist Russian author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in an address to the Harvard graduating class of 1978, blamed deep-rooted problems of the free world on Humanism, “The proclaimed autonomy of man from any higher force above him.” This dangerous and disastrous new way of thinking, he said, “...did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man, nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on Earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs.” Sad that time seems to be proving him more and more right!

(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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