Country CousinIssue Date: November 26, 2013
Wow! Talk about your Global Warming! Where has it gone? Sure isnt any around here. Weve enjoyed - or not enjoyed, as the case may be, some very warm deer seasons for the last several years. Recall in bygone days the hunters were sorely disappointed if they didnt have at least tracking snow for deer season, and they expected cold weather. Helped the deer cool and the meat edible while hung at deer camp.
Some venison didnt fare too well tied to the fender next to the hot engine on the way home to the big city, but hunters learned and they dont do that anymore. Cars dont have fenders to speak of these days, so it would be pretty much of a moot question anyway.
But back to deer hunting weather. Last year and the year before that hunters were coming home with wood ticks - live ones - from walking in the tall grass. Deer had to be cleaned and refrigerated almost immediately. Too hot to let them hang.
Not so this year. The hanging deer will freeze and those ticks have most likely frozen to death. Even in the old days dont recall it getting down to seven degrees in November, which it did Saturday night. Sunday, all day long and through the night, the cold winds still howled and whistled. Wondered if it ever would stop.
NOT A RECORD
Winds have always been a feature of November. Recall back in the early 1970s, the winds whipped up the waves so badly that they put out the lighthouse at the end of the Algoma pier into Lake Michigan.
Record low for our area was 1 degree below zero in 1950. The coldest November on record, with an average of 38.4 degrees, was in 1917, and the record high average was 47.6 degrees in 1931.
So you see, there obviously was a warming trend between 1917 and 1931, followed by cooling and then warming again some time between the 1950s and today, when we appear to be heading to another cold spell.
Seems to be kind of the ebb and flow of nature.
NOT SO BAD HERE
Regardless, we can consider ourselves lucky, compared with some other places on our continent. A foot of snow fell on Flagstaff, Az. over the weekend. Parts of Texas were thoroughly encased in ice. Planes were grounded, and so were the travelers who wanted to fly on them. More bad weather may stymie Thanksgiving travel plans for thousands of folks.
For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time for the clans to gather around a table laden with all the bounty our land can produce. We eat and rejoice, and too often we give only token thanks.
How often do we remember just how much we have to be thankful for? How many of us can recall ever being really, really hungry, unless it was by our own choice?
Have you ever had to go hungry so your child could eat?
Not talking here about the treat you may have given up. Talking about the crust of dry bread or bit of moldy meat that sometimes people in less blessed parts of the world have to eat to fend off starvation.
Have any of us ever stopped to appreciate that, to really, really thank God for all the bounty He has bestowed on us?
How about this year, we say thanks like we mean it?
THANK YOU NOTE
Joyce Bedora, a former TIMESland philosopher and poet who now lives in Krakow generously shared with us some of her writings on giving thanks, and proved that she manages to say thank You very well indeed.
Heres letter she wrote to God:
Dear Lord: As Im just sitting here, with todays work finally through, its way past time, that I should stop, to drop a Thank You note to You.
You know how our lives seem so busy each minute, We dont stop to say thank you for all the joys You send in it. Why, so many times we just sit and complain...
Like today, its so cloudy, and it even looks like rain. When actually, You know Lord, thats just what we need...
Lord, there are so many blessings You send every Day. I dont know where to start Lord, nor what to say, for everything we have, even the air that we breathe, is actually another blessing from Thee.
But l thought You might like to know, Lord, Im most thankful for You. For dying for me, and the rest of the world, too.
I dont want to take too much of Your time, Lord, so guess Id better close. Just wanted to say Thank You, From my heart, as You know.
PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS
Advent, the period of preparation for Christmas, always begins on the Sunday nearest Nov. 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers the four Sundays until Christmas. In 2013, Advent begins on Sunday, Dec. 1.
The dictionary defines advent as beginning, particularly the beginning of something special. The Birth of the Christ Child certainly fills that description!
Lots of household are decked out for Christmas by the time Thanksgiving arrives. Used to feel we should wait, but lately have changed my mind. What we need to do is wait to take those decorations down at least until Epiphany, on Jan. 6, which commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men to that little stable in Bethlehem. Without that stable, without that Child, there would be no Christmas, after all.
Anyway, Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, is a time to be preparing not only our homes, but also our families and our inner selves to fully appreciate the Christmas season.
Just as a clean and nicely decorated home makes it easier for us to welcome guests, so too does a clean and refreshed soul make it easier for us to welcome that special Guest whose birthday we will celebrate Dec. 25.
If youre going to have an Advent Wreath, now is the time to do it.
Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life. The candlelight gave comfort at this darkest time of the year, as people looked forward to the longer days of spring.
An advent wreath traditionally used to contain four candles-three purple and one rose, but Advent is an informal observance and there are no rules.
Some people use five candles, four red or gold around the outer ring and a larger white or gold one to be lighted on Christmas in the center. The four outer candles symbolize peace, hope, love and joy. The white candle symbolizes angels and Jesus.
Each Sunday during Advent, have the family gather to say a small prayer or sing a Christmas carol, and light the Advent candles, one the first Sunday, two the second, and so on until Christmas.
Wouldnt that wreath, unlighted, be a lovely decoration for table or mantle on Thanksgiving?
If there are school age youngsters in your home, have them use part of their Thanksgiving Vacation time to make Advent calendars to mark the days from Dec. 1 to Christmas. Or you can buy them. Each day is supposed to have a little door that hides a picture and/or a pre-Christmas treat, with the date on the outside. This popular tradition arose in Germany in the late 1800s and soon spread throughout Europe and North America.
Incidentally, the Christmas tree also originated in Germany. We Americans know how to adopt a good thing and make it our own. Thats really what our wonderful American melting pot is all about, sharing the best of everybody. We are all creatures of God, made in His image and likeness, so just how different can we be?
Thanksgiving and the 8-day Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah, overlap this year. Those who have done the math say that has not happened before and will not happen again for 79,043 years.
Generally Hanukkah falls somewhat near Christmas, and many features of the Jewish and Christian celebrations are a bit similar, particularly the traditions of lights in windows, feasting and gift exchanges.
The miracle of Hanukkah is that in second century B.C., a small army of Jews, called Maccabees, defeated the forces of an oppressive Greek or Syrian king. The successful Jewish rebels, the Maccabees wanted to rededicate their desecrated temple, a ritual that involved keeping the oil lamps or candles lit for eight days. But they could only find a small amount of sacred oil, enough to last a day or so. God caused that bit of oil to burn for eight days. That marvel is celebrated with the lighting of a menorah and by cooking foods in oil.
The menorah is typically a candle holder with room for seven candles, but the special Hanukkah menorah has space for nine candles, one for each day of the observance and a ninth used to light the others, one on the first night, two on the second and so on, until all eight are lit. Special prayers accompany lighting the candles.
It is tradition in many Jewish homes to set the Hanukkah candles in a window where they can be seen by neighbors and passers by, much like the Christian tradition of placing candles in our windows to announce Christ as the Light of the World.
Thanksgiving Day leftovers are always considered a treat in our family, first the reruns of turkey, gravy, dressing (if theres any left) and whatever good things we may not have even tasted with the Thanksgiving meal. But eventually, enough turkey is enough. Todays recipes are for dishes that use leftover turkey without tasting at all like leftovers. They speak in Tex-Mex and Italian. They can be prepared and then frozen for busy days in the Christmas season to come. If you dont have any leftover turkey you might just want to roast one just to make these tasty treats.
2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, divided
2 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 pkg. (8 ounces)Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four
4 green onions, chopped, divided
12 corn tortillas (6 inch), warmed
1 large tomato, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (or a tablespoon or s
2 tablespoon Zesty Italian Dressing
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Combine 1/2 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce, turkey, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup onions. Spoon 1/4 cup turkey mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place, seam-sides down, in prepared dish; top with remaining sauce and cheese. Cover. B 30 min. or until cheese is melted, uncovering for the last 5 min. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, remaining onions, cilantro and dressing and set aside until serving time. Just like with tacos, avocado wedges, shredded lettuce and sour cream are good to serve with the enchiladas along with the tomato mixture.
Substitute shredded or diced cooked pork or rotisserie chicken if you want to make this when there isnt any leftover turkey. Ditto for the following recipe, which is even easier.
EASY ENCHILADA BAKE
Lots of us have corn on the Turkey Day table. This dish, or something like it, may well have been enjoyed by Indians of the American Southwest in the early days, because corn and beans were staples for them. Gives an entirely different flavor to Thanksgiving leftovers.
2 cups chopped leftover roasted turkey
1 jar (16 ounces) medium salsa
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
4 flour tortillas (8 inch)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups Mexican Style Shredded Four Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia (Kraft makes this.)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine turkey, salsa, black beans, corn and chili powder. Place two tortillas, in single layer, on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with layers of half each of the turkey mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers; cover. Bake 40 min. or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted, uncovering after 30 minutes.
CHEESY TURKEY STROMBOLI
Great for meal time or snack time. Use frozen bread dough instead of the pizza crust and form into a circle as a wreath for the Christmas table. Decorate it with cherry tomatoes and fresh curled parsley when serving time comes.
1 can (11 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough
6 Colby Jack cheese slices
Enough chopped turkey to make six sandwiches (or about eight ounces thinly sliced and coarsely chopped deli smoked turkey breast)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll dough on lightly floured surface. Roll out or pat into a 12-inch square; top with cheese, turkey, peppers and basil, leaving 1/2-inch rim around all sides. Roll up; pinch seam and ends together to seal. Place seam side down, on foil-covered baking sheet. Beat egg and water; brush onto dough. Bake 22 to 25 min. or until golden brown. Cool 10 min. before slicing. Serve with fresh fruit and veggies with dip, or with vegetable soup for a complete meal.
CARAMEL PUMPKIN CAKE
This pumpkin cake is sooo good! Still time to make it, too. Think the same recipe would work converted into a pumpkin roll Yule log cake, but havent tried that. Love the idea of sneaking a vegetable into dessert.
1 box (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tub (8 ounces) frozen Whipped Topping, thawed
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup chopped Pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and 1 teaspoon spice in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round pans. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.
Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and spice; mix well. Gently stir in whipped topping. Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife; stack on serving plate, spreading cream cheese filling between layers. (Do not frost top layer.) Drizzle with caramel topping just before serving; top with nuts. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Tip from Kraft: To slice and stake cake layers easily, place one of the cooled cake layers on serving plate. Make 2-inch horizontal cut around side of cake, using long serrated knife. Cut all the way through cake layer to make 2 layers. Remove top layer by sliding it onto a 9-inch round cardboard circle or another plate. Frost cake layer on plate with 1/3 of the whipped topping mixture. Slide top half of split cake layer onto frosted layer on plate and frost the top of that. Place the remaining unsplit cake layer on a cutting board and repeat the process, except do not frost the top layer. Then drizzle on caramel topping and sprinkle with nuts.
Substitute: For a lower calorie version, use light versions of whipped topping and cream cheese. No caramel ice cream topping? Microwave 10 caramels and 1 tablespoon milk in micro-waveable bowl on high two minutes or until caramels begin to melt. Stir until caramels are completely melted. Drizzle over cake and top with nuts just before serving.
Thought for the Week: That we ought always and everywhere give thanks to God is abundantly clear in the Bible. How much more so, then, than on this day our nation has set aside specifically to thank Him! Our forefathers knew from whence this nations blessings came. Lord, help us to never forget it.
P.S. Please in your prayers this week ask help for a youngster recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Please, God, may his treatment be successful. Amen.
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