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

Issue Date: January 3, 2019

Winter Wonderland...



The 2018 Christmas Season is over, and 2019 has been ushered in, although in many communities not with as much exuberance as was traditional in the past. In the Crivitz/Wausaukee area of the county there were few cars on the road, and even fewer at local businesses that used to rock with happy crowds singing "Auld Lang Syne," blowing noisemakers and wearing ridiculous hats. Possibly there was more celebrating at home parties.



WINTER WONDERLAND

The rain and total thawing that happened two weeks ago, followed by a deep freeze, left many low lying areas in yards, fields and forests in perfect condition for ice skating.

Don't know how she knew these things, but during years when I was a child and similar conditions existed in the back part of our family property, my much loved Aunt Martha would encourage us to go ice skating in what was a forbidden swamp during the warmer months of the year.

Sometimes ice crystals were still frozen to twigs and branches, glinting in the winter sunshine and creating the sensation of skating through a gem-encrusted world.

It was great fun to skate between trees, avoiding grassy clumps that would trip up the skaters, and even playing an ice skating version of hide and seek, or perhaps tag, through the frozen forest wonderland.

Most of today's parents probably wouldn't allow that - too dangerous, they'd say. And that's a shame. Yes, there might be some bumps and bruises for a skater who fell, but it was well worth it. And we did wear some well padded snowsuits.

The cousins and I would come home rosy cheeked and ready for some hot homemade bread fresh from the oven and cocoa made either from the milk of the goats their parents raised, or the cows that Ma and Pa (our Grandpa and Grandma) milked on their part of the farm.



NEW WINTER WONDERLAND- AZ STYLE

Sometimes my brother and his wife sort of like to tease us northerners about the joys of life in Arizona.

A note in their Christmas card this year included the following verses, meant to be sung to the tune of the original "Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland:"

"Palm trees wave, are you listenin'?

In the pool, water's glistenin',

A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight,

Livin' in the Valley Wonderland.



"Gone away is the blizzard,

Here to stay is the lizard,

A warm sunny day, we like it that way,

Livin' in the Valley Wonderland.



"In the desert we will have a picnic.

Cactus and sand, rattlesnakes and sun,

Christmas dinner is an old tradition:

Pinto beans and tacos by the ton.



"Later on, we'll perspire,

Temperatures rise even higher.

A warm sunny day, we like it that way,

Livin' in the Valley Wonderland!"

Ah, yes. Does tend to raise a bit of envy.

Also raises the urge to fly south for the rest of the winter and join the Snowbirds. In real life, can't afford the whole winter, but maybe they'd like guests for a week or two?



DIET TIME AGAIN

Lots of us start the New Year by resolving to go on a healthier diet, one that leads to slimmer, healthier bodies, so today's recipes focus on a new diet soup and some healthy snack and vegetable ideas.

According to the women's magazine where I found the slim-quick soup recipe, dieters who ate the soup twice a day lost 50 percent more weight than those who ate equal calorie meals but without the soup. Has to do with the particular assortment of nutrients in the soup, especially the barley, and a thing called "umami," which they say refers to flavors that boost enjoyment of food and satisfies the hunger regulating portion of your brain.

Among high "umami" foods they listed are bone broth, regardless from which type of meat or poultry: mushrooms, barley, carrots, onions, and Parmesan cheese. The Parmesan cheese is said to have 1,000 times more umami than other foods rich in umami.

Know from personal experience that celery, cooked or raw, is hard to beat as an ingredient in weight loss diets, whether low fat or low carb. Also know tofu is a great addition to boost the protein content of soups while adding hardly any calories.

Follow the right diet, drink plenty of water, take some healthy supplements (like a vitamin/mineral combo and pro or pre biotic fiber tablets), and you can sip and munch your way to a slimmer, trimmer, healthier you before Easter rolls around. Incidentally, Easter comes on April 21 this year, so we've got nearly four months to work on it.



COOKIN' TIME

Most of us have had our fill of cooking - and even of eating - high calorie Christmas specialties. We and our appetites are ready for some good, healthy food of a simpler variety.



BONE BROTH

This is a protein/nutrition packed broth that doesn't start with leftovers. It's great, but the leftover variety of broth serves very well indeed.

3 to 4 pounds beef marrow and/or knuckle bones

2 pounds meaty bones, such as short ribs

1/2 cup raw cider vinegar

4 quarts water

3 celery stalks, chopped

3 carrots, halved

3 onions, quartered

Handful of fresh parsley

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Place bones in a pot or crockpot, add apple cider vinegar and water, and let the mixture sit for 1 hour so the vinegar can leach the minerals out of the bones. Add more water if needed to cover the bones. Add the vegetables. Bring to a boil and skim the scum from the top and discard. Reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 24-72 hours (If you're not comfortable letting the pot simmer overnight, turn off the heat and let it sit overnight, then turn it back on and let simmer all day the next day.) Let the broth cool and strain it, making sure all marrow is knocked out of the marrow bones and into the broth. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, throw in a handful of fresh parsley for added flavor and minerals, and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and remove fat. Drink the broth as is or store in fridge up to 5 to 7 days or freezer up to 6 months for use in soups or gravies.

PENNY PINCHING BONE BROTH

Whenever you cook a bone-in meat, or buy a rotisserie chicken, save the bones, fat, juices, gravy and other trimmings and freeze until you have enough for a nice batch of no-cost broth. Slims the body and the trims the budget.

Simply start bones in cold water, with chopped celery (leaves and all), onion and perhaps minced garlic, along with peppercorns and simmer on low for several hours. About an hour before cooking time is up, add salt to taste. When it's done, strain into a separate dish or kettle, and chill until the broth gels and the fat hardens on top. Get rid of the fat and you have a nice fat free broth.

If you're ambitious, melt the hardened fat in a separate pan and add some bird seed to turn it into a winter treat for your back yard feathered friends. Or freeze it for the short term, with a silent promise to complete that project another day. Keep track of the dollars saved every time you use the free broth as a soup or gravy base, and before long you'll have saved enough to pay for a lobster dinner!



SLIMMING CHICKEN/BARLEY SOUP

Start by making the broth. You can also cheat and buy the broth, but you miss out on the valuable proteins that come with a bone broth rich enough to jell when it's chilled.

2 quarts chicken or bone broth

2 cups sliced carrots

2 cups sliced celery

2 cups chopped onions

4 cups sliced mushrooms

4 cups cooked pearl barley

4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup Parmesan cheese, melted

Put broth, carrots, celery and onions into a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and simmer another 15 minutes. Stir in barley and chicken and heat through. Top each bowl with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.



SLO COOKER CHEESY BROCCOLI SOUP

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 cup sliced carrots

1 small onion, chopped

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

2 cups small broccoli florets

4 ounces American process cheese food (like Velveta), cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/3 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Toss chicken with flour and garlic powder and then put in slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray. Add all remaining ingredients except broccoli, cheese food and shredded cheese; cover with lid. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours (or on high 3 to 4 hours). Stir in broccoli and cheese food cook, covered, on high 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese before serving.



COD PARMESAN

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)

1/8 teaspoon celery salt

2 pounds cod fillets

Preheat broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.



Thought for the week: This poem is from my Aunt Betty's book to her family.She was an extremely devout woman, and these thoughts apply particularly today. We're busy worrying about how our bodies look to one another, when perhaps we ought to be worrying more about how our souls look to God:

TAKE A LOOK

I looked into the mirror today,

And saw myself in disarray.

My hair's a mess, my clothes a sight...

The pounds I've gained are just a fright!

Is this what other people see,

When they are looking close at me?

So I resolved right then and there,

To improve the image I must bear.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I looked into God's Word today,

And saw my soul in disarray,

Indifference, sin and selfish pride,

And lack of love were all inside.

Is this the Christ that other see

When they are looking close at me?

So I resolved to god in prayer,

To Improve His image that I bear.

The Country Cousin



(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 by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo .com.


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