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Country Cousin

Scarecrow...

Hi Folks!

Only three weeks ‘til Halloween. Then only three more weeks ‘til Deer Season, and the orange-coat invasion of the Great North Woods. Hurrying along right after that, as we all know, are Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

How does this all happen so quickly?

On the bright side, once Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, Spring isn’t so very, very far away. And if you believe that, I happen to know about a bridge....

WOOLY WEATHER PREDICTORS

Anyway, speaking of winter and cold, Darryl, a friend whose father and grandfather were farmers in the Wausaukee area for many years, and therefore close weather watchers in northeast Wisconsin, says the wooly caterpillars tell him this promises to be a long, cold, snowy winter.

He explained the “fur” on the fuzzy caterpillars comes in black and brown strips. If the brown stripe on the center of the caterpillar is narrow, it predicts a mild winter. If wide, the opposite is true. This year, he said, the brown stripe takes up almost the entire fuzzy crawler, except for a black head and tail area - very wide indeed.

Don’t know what the scientific explanation would be, except maybe the brown “fur” is more dense than the black and therefore provides better weather protection. Anyway, he says it’s true, and if it is, we’re in for a doozy of a winter.

Also, the oak trees seemed to produce a particularly heavy acorn crop this year, which some old timers say predicts a hard winter, and my son’s friend known as the bug man also says the signs point toward a particularly bad winter.

Hope they’re all wrong. Unfortunately, winter is coming on, so we’ll see. Fact is the first killing frosts already arrived a bit ahead of their normal schedule. We’re off to a good - or bad - start, depending on how you look at it.

HALLOWEEN AND SCARECROWS

Scarecrows have changed little over the years. Well, maybe their clothes have, but not the idea behind the garments they wear. Idea is to deck the Scarecrow in brightly colored loose clothing that will move in the wind and get the offending birds to believe a person who poses something of a threat is in the field.

Since scarecrows are intended to be scary, and since they just naturally go with corn stalks and pumpkins, they were a natural addition to Halloween. Pumpkins and other fruits with carved faces were part of Halloween in Merrie Olde England and Ye Auld Sod, but haven’t seen anything to indicate that scarecrows were.

Scarecrows are truly American folk art. North American Indians were using scarecrows to protect their crops long before the first settlers arrived from Europe and took over the idea.

BUILD A SCARECROW

Always wanted to build a scarecrow of my own, but never quite got around to it. (By the way, someone once gave me a round tuit, but I lost it, so now guess I’ll never get anything done again.) Didn’t want one to scare away birds, wanted one or two to invite Halloween revelers in.

Anyway, recently came across step by step instructions to build one, so maybe it will happen after all. I’ll share the instructions: First, get two sticks or broom handles. Lash these together in the shape of a traditional cross. Then dress the frame with old clothes. Adding things like vests, scarves or long, loose skirts that will flap in the breeze. Many people use pieces of aluminum foil, old pie pans, scarves, tin cans, or even bells. Stuff the clothes with straw, dry grass or leaves. Tie pant legs and shirt cuffs together at the bottoms to keep the stuffing in.

For the head use an empty milk or bleach bottle, a stuffed plastic bag, a flower pot, a mask or a pie pan. Paint a face on it if you like. An old mop makes great hair. The scarecrow also needs a hat—any old hat will do! Stab the pole firmly into the ground, upright.

Alternatively, we’ve all seen Halloween scarecrows very effectively lounging on hay bales or in outdoor chairs, and they can even be built without the supporting poles, provided you use a lot of stuffing. However, a short set of cross poles lashed together will give the old fellow a tougher backbone and better posture, even seated.

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

October is Fire Prevention Month, but this week, which includes October 8, is Fire Prevention Week, in observance of the anniversaries of the Chicago Fire and the tragic Peshtigo Fire, which happened on the same day in 1871.

Fire prevention is a lot of common sense, but sometimes we just don’t think.

Folks today discourage bonfires for burning yard waste, but some of us just can’t give up the old habits, and besides, they smell so good.

If you are burning any kind of fire outside in autumn, be sure there are no dry leaves, twigs or grasses nearby that can catch fire unless you want them to burn. Do not burn on a windy day or evening. Preferably, burn in the late afternoon or evening, and then stay with the fire until it’s dark and the dew starts to settle. Be sure any fires are out and check closely for any lingering sparks before you quit for the night. It’s easier to see them after dark.

In general, always store flammable liquids in tightly closed containers, preferably metal, away from heat, sparks, and small and medium size children. Never use gasoline to start fires or clean things.

Also Fire Prevention Week is a good time to check your smoke detectors. There should be one in stalled near or on the ceiling next to each sleeping area in the house, plus at least one in the kitchen, attic and basement. Check the batteries or electric connections at least annually to be sure the alarms are working.

At least twice a year, clean and lubricate motors on refrigerators, dryers and other electric appliances, and dryer vents. Keeps them running better and may prevent a fire, because lots of household fires start there.

In the kitchen, routinely keep a metal lid of the right size handy to use for smothering flames in case of a grease fire in the frying pan. Water won’t put out a grease fire, but instead will splatter and spread it.

There should be at least one fire extinguisher in the house and one in the garage. Another in the basement is great if you work on projects down there.

Never, ever try to put out a grease or electrical fire with water. On the other hand, if there’s an electric fire, unplug the offending appliance or pull the circuit breaker to shut off power to the lines. Then, if there’s not an extinguisher handy, you can use water to extinguish fire that has spread to materials other than wires.

With winter coming on, get your furnace, chimneys and fireplace flues cleaned if necessary, and keep loose clothing, drapes and miscellaneous storage at least a foot away from baseboard and portable heaters and 36 inches from furnaces.

Dispose of smoking residue and fireplace and wood burner ashes outdoors, away from buildings, in closed metal containers. You would be amazed how long an ember can keep burning while buried in ash.

ON THE SOAP BOX

WHO SHUT DOWN GOVERNMENT?


Democrats, President Obama and the liberal mainstream press blame Republicans for refusing to negotiate, but isn’t it Obama himself who said he will only talk if the Republicans approve funding for the Obama Care package as it applies to individuals and if they agree to raise the debt limit, at least short term? Isn’t that saying, “Surrender, and then we’ll talk”?

Isn’t it the White House that has stopped payments for American military personnel killed in action, refused Veterans access to the national monuments while allowing immigration activists to demonstrate there, and forbade contracted clergy, even on their own time and for no pay, to conduct religious services on military bases?

What do any of these punitive actions have to do with a sincere effort to resolve the crisis?

Who is acting like a spoiled brat?

Columnist Thomas Cowell, who writes for the website pointed out some things that should be considered:

1. Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives, according to the United States Constitution, have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

2. ObamaCare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

3. The whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to their branch by the Constitution. But they shouldn’t be blaming the other side for their decisions. The House legislative majority are doing exactly what they were elected to do.

Cowell writes, “The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.

“The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a “clean” bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word “clean” like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?

“If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.”

Agreed. and it’s childish for them to pretend otherwise. Their selection of things to cut out also smacks of punishing the public, not sincerely attempting to cut government costs or reach a compromise.

Consider the facts, and remember this outrage at election time.

COOKIN’ TIME

Fall days bring time to enjoy apples, pumpkins, oven-cooked meals and lovely warming soups. Enjoy!

BAKED RATS

Halloween gives us a chance to have a little fun with our food. Keep this baked rat idea handy. Tastes good too.

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1 (1.25 ounce) packet meat loaf seasoning mix

1 cup cubed Cheddar cheese

3 (10 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 ounce uncooked spaghetti, broken into fourths

1/2 carrot, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices

1 tablespoon frozen green peas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, egg, bread crumbs, and meat loaf seasoning. Use your hands to mix until well blended. Measure out 1/3 cupfuls of the meat mixture and mold around a cube of cheese like a meatball. Shape into a point at one end and lengthen the body a bit by rolling between your hands. Place your ‘’rat’’ into a shallow baking dish, and continue with the remaining meat. Insert pieces of uncooked spaghetti into the rounded end of the rats to make tails. In a medium bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the rats in the dish and cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover the dish and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally with the sauce to glaze the rats. While the rats finish baking, heat the peas and carrots in a small bowl in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Carefully transfer the rats to a serving platter so that their delicate tails don’t fall off. Press peas into the pointy end to make eyes, and insert carrot slices to make ears. Place on a nest of mashed potatoes, cooked rice or spaghetti. Spoon some of the tomato sauce around them and serve.

OF APPLE PIES

Note to restaurant people: Please cook your apples! In recent years I’ve become afraid to order apple pie in restaurants because they seem to not cook them long enough and the apples are hard. Hate that! If I want a crunchy apple, I’ll eat it raw and throw the core away!

Aside from that, never thought anyone would come up with an improvement on good old fashioned apple pie and ice cream for dessert, but it appears that they may have. Anyway, these are delicious and different ways to enjoy apples in a pie crust.

CREAMY CUSTARD SAUCE

The friend this came from says it’s even better with apple pie than ice cream. Haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll take her word for it. Instead of the vanilla extract, add rum extract, or a shot or more of regular rum, and serve with bread pudding. Actually, that would probably be good on apple pie too. Or how about brandy?

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups light cream or half-and-half

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Bring the light cream to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the yolks, adding 1/3 cup or so at a time. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Stir the custard over medium-low heat until it thickens enough to leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon when you draw a finger across it, about 5 minutes; do not boil. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed strainer into a small bowl, let it cool just a little bit, and stir in the vanilla. Let cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until cold. This will keep for 2-3 days.

SOUR CREAM APPLE PIE

Who’d ever think they could improve on good ole Apple Pie? Maybe this is an improvement over the traditional All-American treat, or maybe it’s just a treat because it’s a bit different from the pie most of us know and love. Anyway, it’s really, really good!

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 cups diced apples

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chilled butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Press the pie crust into and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. In a medium bowl, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and salt. Mix in the sour cream, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add apples, and stir to coat. Scrape the mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 30 minutes more. While the pie is baking, prepare the topping in a medium bowl. Stir together 1/3 cup of flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. After the 30 minute bake time has passed, cover the top of the pie with the crumb topping, and continue to bake for 15 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and apples are tender. Allow the pie to cool, then refrigerate until chilled before serving.

Thought for the Week: Am asking a special favor this week. Our extended family has been hit by some medical crises recently. Please pray for the successful recovery of a boy who is in a Washington, DC hospital recovering from an extremely tricky brain surgery, and for his great-aunts who are engaged in separate battles with cancer. Prayer is a powerful ally in the medical profession. Please, God, help us accept the trials You send us, and if it be Your will, grant the young one a long and pain free life. 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 to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

COUNTRY COUSIN


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