Summer seems particularly reluctant to hang around this year. Weve had a few fairly warm times, but then sweatshirt weather returns, often several times in the same day. Folks think theyre joking when they say if you dont like the weather in Wisconsin, just wait 10 minutes. This year thats been a fact most days. The nice thing, unless youre camping out, is that nights are generally so chilly that air conditioners arent much needed. Furnaces are, though.
HOW CAN YOU TELL?
You know youre in northern Wisconsin if:
* You define swimming season as Labor Day Weekend.
* Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.
* You decided to have a picnic this summer because it fell on a weekend.
* Like my Dad, you define summer as three months of bad sledding.
* You have ever gotten frostbitten and sunburned in the same week.
* You go to work in a parka every morning and return home wearing shorts. But the parka goes back on before bed time.
* You dont put the snow shovel away until Aug. 1 because you might need it again, and then its too late.
Dont think its a portent of any kind, but Monday was a rather unique date - 7/7/14. Well again have dates in 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2024 in which the month and day of the same number added together equal the year, and then it wont happen again for 76 years, on Jan. 1, 2101. Sevens have long been considered lucky numbers, so maybe there was something particularly lucky about that date, for some of us, at least. Law of averages!
Some gardens - and farm fields - are thriving this year, and others are just barely no longer under water. On the whole, though, most of us who like to grow our own food will eat next winter.
Depending on what type of tomatoes youre raising, you may want to prune your plants, particularly in view of the almost constant bouts of rain weve been having.
If your plants will produce all their tomatoes at one time, theyre determinate. That means you probably shouldnt prune, but it wont hurt if you do.
If theyre indeterminate, designed to produce tomatoes over a longer season, pruning is extremely beneficial. Lets the plant breathe, and prevents unnecessary leaves, stems and suckers from gobbling up nutrients that otherwise would go to the tomatoes and the stems that bear them. Opening up the plant by removing excess foliage lets sunshine and fresh air get in where theyre needed and helps prevent fungal diseases.
Gardening gurus, including the Old Farmers Almanac, say to prune properly, you should pinch or cut out the suckers - stems that grow in the V space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant. If left to grow, these new branches might eventually produce a few fruits, but in this climate that probably wont happen before frosts kill the plant anyway.
If youre raising your tomatoes in containers, you definitely should prune to keep the plants to a manageable size.
So, you simply remove these suckers and let the nutrients go where they will do the most good. This can be done when they are smaller than two inches tall by simply pinching them off with your fingers. If they are larger than two inches, they say we should use a pair of clean pruners that you disinfect as you move from plant to plant to protect against spreading diseases. Kitchen shears work well. Ive never disinfected mine, but can see where this might sometimes cause problems. Its better to prune when the suckers are small to avoid stressing the plant by removing large amounts of foliage at once.
Incidentally, if you dont grow your tomatoes in cages, at least give them some support so the tomatoes arent resting on the ground. Helps prevent rot. If you do use cages, be sure the producing stems are using the wires. You can even tie up stems with old stretchy knee-highs or panty hose so they stay where you want them.
ON THE SOAP BOX
I for one am becoming increasingly angry over being called a bigot for daring to disagree with the policies, actions, inactions and lies of President Barack Obama, who just happens to be half black. (The other half is white, but apparently hes ashamed to admit that.)
Opposed him the first time he ran, and the second, not because of his color, but because of his liberal politics, his choice of friends, and his thoughts, as reflected in his book, Dreams of My Father, which I had read, and Audacity of Hope, which I had not, except for some excerpts. Two of his comments are particularly upsetting:
From Dreams of My Father: I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didnt speak to my own. It was into my fathers image, the black man, son of Africa , that Id packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.
From Audacity of Hope: I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
Personally do not care if hes black, white, purple, red, yellow or green, many of the things he has said and done and continues to do as our nations head of government defy belief. But he keeps getting away with everything.
Why? Partly because so few have dared to publicly criticize him for fear of appearing prejudiced.
Polls show that his popularity is dropping.
The Billings (Montana) Gazette actually apologized last week for endorsing Obama in 2008. The editorial went on to detail some of the failings of the Obama administration.
As summarized in the Washington Examiner, those included:
The scandal over NSA spying on Americans
Obamas war on carbon and his failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The failure of diplomacy in Iraq that put the country on the brink of civil war.
The Bowe Bergdahl swap, which made the administration seem incompetent.
Mismanagement of the Department of Veterans Affairs that led to to veterans dying before they could receive medical care.
Obama breaking his promise to become the most transparent administration in history.
(The Gazette said the presidents administration is so opaque that is has earned a reputation worse than that of Richard Nixon.)
The failure of Obamacare, which the paper called a boondoggle.
They didnt even mention failure to handle the immigration crisis, the IRS targeting scandal and loss of the e-mails that went with it, the national debt ($17 trillion and growing), refusing help to the embassy in Benghazi when it was under attack, and then lying about the whole thing, or promising to use his pen and his telephone to rule without Congress, in direct violation of the Constitution.
Dont recall the multitude of other Obama offenses right now, but they started early in his first term when he basically apologized to the world for America and what it stands for. He never has shown love for this country, nor does he give any indication that he cherishes the freedoms and the opportunities it offers. If he was created to destroy this country and our way of life, hes doing a great job. Depends on how you look at it.
As the Examiner said: Apologizing for an endorsement from 2008? Well, better late than never.
Would love to be the one apologizing! Would love to see this nation in such great shape that I would have to say, Sorry, I was wrong. He did make a great president after all. Unfortunately, that isnt the case, and things just keep getting worse. Someday hell be out of office. Lets hope this nation and the way of life we enjoy survive that long! Lets hope our children and grandchildren remember what America ought to be!
Incredibly, despite the record Obama has managed to achieve, along comes James Lincoln Collier, who claims racial prejudice is the only possible reason for opposing Obama and objecting to things his administration has done. He claims anything else is just an excuse.
What rock has he been living under for the past seven years? Can he read? Can he hear well enough to comprehend news reports on radio or TV? Is he able to comprehend what he reads, hears and sees? He happens to be white, so racial hatred cant be his excuse. Or can it?
This push by far left liberals to create racial tensions where there are none really needs to stop. Those of us who truly are color blind need to tell the rabble rousers to shut up and go away! Id gladly vote Bill Cosby for President!
SOUTH SEAS BEAUTY TRICKS
Coconut oil has been proven to have a number of significant health benefits, but its also an extremely low cost and effective beauty treatment. Look at the lovely hair and complexions of South Seas beauties, who have known for generations what were just learning.
If you struggle with black heads and oily skin, try coconut oil as a pore cleanser. Simply massage coconut oil into your face and wash it off with a warm cloth. Or rub coconut oil on your face before stepping into a steamy shower or hot bath so that the oil works even better at pulling dirt from your pores.
After the bath, spread a small amount of coconut oil anywhere on your body where the skin is dry and let it soak in. No need to rinse.
Then, theres your hair. If your hair is dry and lifeless, treat it to a dose of coconut oil for about an hour before shampooing. Shampoo as usual, then rub a very small amount through damp hair and into your scalp instead of using conditioner. You will see some difference right away, but continued use multiplies the benefits.
Just learned that coconut oil also makes a great homemade toothpaste. Just mix a bit with baking soda and brush away. No need to refrigerate. Am told, but have not tried it, that coconut oil swished through your teeth and around your mouth for 20 minutes a day removes bad bacteria and toxins from your mouth, giving you healthier teeth in the long haul plus a cleaner, better smelling mouth. Personally cant accept the notion of swishing anything around in my mouth for 20 minutes, but if you can, its probably worth doing.
There are lots of things we can do to improve our good health without turning to prescription drugs. Scientists have found that many common seasonings have health benefits as well as adding to our dining pleasure.
Turmeric, the spice gives curry its kick, has medicinal properties. Its often added to chicken soup (mine, in any case) gives a wonderful yellow hue and a slightly tangy, celery seed like taste. Scientists have learned that Grandma was right when she prescribed chicken soup for all sorts of ailments, but at last reading had not quite decided why. Perhaps turmeric is part of the mystery.
Recent scientific studies show that turmerics active ingredient, curcumin, may help fight infections and some cancers, diabetes and Alzheimers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems.
Dont know how much is needed to achieve those benefits, but even small amounts should help a bit.
Curcumin can be bought in capsule or tablet form at the health food store, but turmeric can be mixed into nearly any savory type recipe. They say adding black pepper to any recipe that calls for turmeric too can increase the bodys absorption of curcumin by 1,000 times.
Chia Seeds are another relatively recent offering at health food stores. Promoters say Mayans and Aztecs ate the black and white seeds to boost energy. If you put them in water, the mixture turns gel-like and many say it has hunger-controlling qualities, but theres no scientific proof of that.
They have a mild, nutty flavor and can be sprinkled on top of oatmeal, or added to a smoothie, cereal, salad, rice, or baked goods for an added boost of nutrition and flavor.
GRILLED TUSCAN CHICKEN
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup high-quality olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Put everything except the chicken in a large zipper type plastic bag and squeeze it around to mix. Add the chicken, seal bag and refrigerate for at least four hours. Take out of fridge about when you light the coals. In about 20 minutes, when the coals are ready, the chicken will have warmed slightly too and be ready to cook. Grill over medium heat for 8-10 minutes per side. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
GRILLED NEW ORLEANS-STYLE SHRIMP
With the price of meat these days, we can afford shrimp on a more regular basis. Heres a good way to combine the love of shrimp and the fun of outdoor cooking. You can broil the shrimp in the oven if you prefer.
1 1⁄2 pounds large shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
Toss shrimp with oil, garlic and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Marinate at cool room temperature for 15 minutes. While the shrimp marinate, prepare grill for cooking. If using a propane grill, light the grill according to the manufacturers instructions. Remember to keep the top open. Once the grill is lit, the lid can be closed in order to preheat burners. Preheat the grill for 10 minutes, and then reduce heat to moderately high. If using charcoal, the coals should be covered with fine gray ash and be quite hot. Heat butter, chili powder, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt in saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Thread shrimp onto a skewer or skewers and grill, turning over once, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total. Push shrimp off skewers into a bowl, then pour butter mixture over them and toss to combine well. Serve proudly and enjoy!
GRILLED VEGGIE PACKET
1/4 cup bottled Italian dressing
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 dash hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup fresh green beans
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup broccoli spears.
Mix the first four ingredients in a small shaker or measuring cup. Place the vegetables on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Pour the dressing mixture over the veggies, seal the packet, and place it on a medium hot grill. Grill for 10 minutes per side to yield flavorful, caramelized veggies. Make up another packet of thick potato slices placed on a well buttered sheet of foil, if yours is a meat and potatoes family. Add salt and pepper to taste, and put some extra butter on top of the potatoes before you seal the packet if youre not watching calories. Sliced onions are also a good addition. Start cooking this before you put the mixed veggie packets on the grill. Takes about 15 minutes per side.
Were talking seriously quick and easy here. Plus a pretty and refreshing cross between salad and dessert. What more can you ask? Perfect for a bring a dish to pass get together when you really, really dont have time to cook.
1 can cherry pie filling (extra fruity)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can crushed pineapple
6 ounce carton frozen whipped topping
Mix pie filling, condensed milk and pineapple. Fold in whipped topping. Chill. Serve.
Thought for the week: However bleak things look, keep trying and stay true to yourself. As anonymous once said, Optimism is the cheerful frame of mind that enables a teakettle to sing, even though it is in hot water up to its nose. Or, to put it another way, The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph.
(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 715-291-9002 or e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)
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