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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 23, 2020

Shirley Prudhomme

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Winter is speeding along. The Christmas holidays are gone, although some of us still have our cheery lights up. Adds some brightness to the long dark days of winter.

How's that as an excuse for delaying the task of undoing the holiday decorations?

Groundhog Day comes in two weeks, but there isn't a lot of fun watching for that pesky rodent to come out of his hole to bring us six more weeks of winter. Valentine's Day is still three weeks off, and the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington are nearly a month in the future.

So we need something to celebrate now. The Chinese New Year arrives on Saturday, Jan. 25, and that's an excellent excuse for a celebration.

We here in America love to share the fun, so we're pretty good at latching on to celebrations from other cultures, like St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo. One we've pretty much missed, at least in this part of America, is the Chinese New Year.

This is the Chinese Year of the Rat, which comes around every 12 years. Rats symbolize wealth, intelligence, success and wisdom to the Chinese. In terms of the Yin and Yang theory, they are the yang and signify the beginning of a new day. They also represent the midnight hours and the Earthly Branch Zi. A person born in the Year of the Rat is thought to be clever, optimistic and favored by all, so it's a great year to be born.

Recently started reading about traditions connected with Chinese New Year, and was surprised to find out how much I didn't know. For example, according to more than one author, the celebration generally lasts 15 days, but factories in China are shut down for a full 30 days following arrival of the New Year!

Wow! Really like that idea, unless the shut down is unpaid, which could put a huge strain on family finances, no matter how many whole fish you manage to serve! 

CHINESE NEW YEAR TRADITIONS

Learned in many Chinese families it is traditional to serve a cooked whole fish on the eve of the New Year. You're supposed to eat the middle of the fish on New Year's Eve, and then finish the rest of the fish the next day. Not sure what they do about eating the head and tail, but do know that meat from the fish cheek is good.

The fish means "to have both a head and a tail," which means finishing what you start and finishing the fish the next day symbolizes that surplus will overflow into the future.

Chinese dumplings are another traditional food. Dumplings represent wealth because of their close appearance to Chinese gold ingots, which are oval, boat-shaped hunks of gold used as currency in imperial China. Families typically wrap their own dumplings and continue wrapping until midnight to signify leaving the old year behind. Some families hide a coin in one of the dumplings, and whoever receives that dumpling is believed to have a prosperous year. In honor of Chinese New Year, looked up some dumpling recipes. You can find one in Cookin' Time, in case you want to try your hand at that tasty tradition.

CHINESE NEW YEAR TABOOS

Many activities are taboo on the first day of the Chinese New Year. For example, brewing herbal medicine or even taking medicine on that day is said to bring ill health for the whole year.

You're not supposed to sweep or take out garbage for fear or dumping good luck out of the house.

You're also not supposed to eat porridge for breakfast, or eat meat out of respect for the Buddhist gods who are believed to be against killing animals, and they, like all other gods, are expected to be out meeting and wishing a happy new year to each other.

You're also not supposed to wash clothes or hair on the first or second day of the New Year for fear of washing away your fortune. Avoid wearing white or black, as they are colors of mourning, and people, kids especially are not supposed to wear damaged clothing, because that will bring bad luck.

NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS

In California, Chinese New Year is an official holiday. San Francisco, with its large Chinese population, has one of the biggest Chinese New Year parades in the world, the largest outside of Asia. It is to take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 this year.

TIMESLAND EVENTS

Here in Timesland we also have some fun events to look forward to, for example Da Yooper Plunge and Chill-ee Cookoff during the 10th Annual Winterfest at Menominee's Victory Beach on Saturday, Feb. 1.

CELEBRATE CHOCOLATE

They'll be celebrating chocolate on Miscauno Island, which is located west of Pembine, at the first-ever Annual Miscauno Island Chocolate Festival on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It's chocolate everything!, says promoter Natasha Coleman of Pine Mountain Resort. "You won't know where to begin! There will be chocolate drink specials, chocolate dessert specials, a chocolate fondue dipping station in Lillie's Ice Cream Parlor, chocolate vendors and so much more!"

Always knew chocolate was one of the five major food groups, and now studies have proven what we chocolate lovers already knew...Chocolate is not only delicious, it's good for us in a lot of ways.

Need to thank County Board Supervisor Tricia Grebin for the heads up on this celebration. Hope to see you there, Tricia.

BIG BONFIRE

Also coming up on Saturday, Jan. 25 is the annual Crivitz ice skating party and Christmas tree burn from 6 to 9 p.m. at the skating rink behind the fire station. Everyone is invited to bring their skates, and to bring their discarded Christmas trees to the bonfire site any time to be burned on Saturday by the Crivitz firefighters, weather permitting. Crivitz Fire Department uses this opportunity to train members on use of various pieces of equipment, and everyone gets to enjoy the bonfire. Firefighters will pick up trees from Crivitz residents who have no way to haul them.

Hot chocolate and other goodies will be available. Young children should be accompanied by a parent or grandparent or other responsible adult.

SNO MUCH FUN!

If you love snowmobile racing, or just want some outdoor fun, go to Boat Landing 3 Road and the Iron Snowshoe Snowmobile Trail 12 Miles west of Crivitz on Saturday, Jan. 25 for the annual High Falls Radar Run snowmobile races. Registration for the races on the 800-foot long track starts at 8:30 a.m., and racing will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event was rescheduled from it's original date on Saturday, Jan. 18. Trophies sponsored by local businesses will be awarded for top speeds in all classes including: non-studded, studded, stock, modified, and antique snowmobiles, motorcycles, and ATV, UTV & More. Food and refreshments will be sold by the Iron Snow Shoe Associate Club. On-site parking is available. The event is sponsored by the Twin Bridge Waterski Team. For more information call 715-757-3511.

LEARN TO GROW PRODUCE

Anyone interested in agri-tourism, or wanting to learn more about growing and selling fresh produce - such as apples, berries, and other fruits and vegetables - might want to attend the Wisconsin Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Conference (WFFVC) from Sunday, Jan. 26 through Tuesday, Jan. 28 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.  Over 80 sessions are scheduled in 7 different educational tracks. The 3-day registration is only $85. Call call 920-478-4277 or visit the website at https://freshfruitvegetable.org for more information and to find out if space is still available.

GROWIN' THINGS

Those who love working with the soil and growing things know that gardening is just another day at the plant "Just so you know, that pun was fully intended.

The Old Farmer's Almanac reminds us that even in winter, there are things you can do to make your garden grow better come spring. Knowing your soils pH - a measure of acidity or alkalinity- together with soil chemistry and structure, will greatly affect the health and vigor of your plants, and the folks at UWEX can help you find out what that is once the ground thaws, or you can get a test kit from a local garden center. For most herbs and vegetables, the ideal soil pH is 6.0Ś.5. 

Most soils in this area would benefit from an increase in pH, and one easy, and potentially free, way to bring that about is to add wood ashes.

If you are burning nice clean wood for heat, save the ashes over the winter and you'll have a valuable source of nutrients for your plants. Wood ashes contain calcium, potassium, and a variety of trace elements. Because they're water-soluble, wood ashes can change the soil pH and supply those nutrients rapidly. Just mix them into the soil before planting.

A word to the wise, though: Don't apply wood ashes around acid-loving plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and hollies.

As noted last week, those ashes also are great for melting snow from sidewalks and paths to provide a safer walk to and from your car. The run-off the will get into nearby soil to nourish plants there, provided they are not of the acid-loving variety.

PACKER DONATION

Wrote last week about a donation that community-owned Green Bay Packer organization made to Planned Parenthood. Have since been told that the donation was not as large as we were originally told, and that it was not made directly to Planned Parenthood, a group whose main function seems to be promoting and providing abortions. Objected to financing such an evil cause as baby murder, and still do. Am also told that some members of the Packer Board of Directors who approved the contribution claim they did not know that the recipient group was affiliated with the controversial Planned Parenthood. That said, do hope the Packer directors do some better research before making donations in the future.

Glad to have learned that, because it means I can wear the Green and Gold with pride as a Packer Backer - with one condition. We should all let players know that since they represent us as members of a community-owned team, they must stand for the National Anthem, honor the American flag, and kneel for prayer!

ON THE SOAP BOX

ANOTHER GREAT TRADE DEAL

Things may soon be getting better for Wisconsin dairy farmers. Even as the Senate trial for impeachment of President Donald Trump is in progress at the insistence of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other Democrats from the House of Representatives, must congratulate him on a job well done in achieving the landmark United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement known as USMCA that will greatly benefit dairy farmers, especially Wisconsin dairy farmers.

Among other things, USMCA will maintain tariff-free access into Mexico, the leading dairy export market, and allow for additional market access into Canada while requiring Canada to eliminate its unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing.

The United States, Canada and Mexico had all signed the agreement in 2018. The agreement sat on the House of Representatives to-do list for nearly two years while Democrats there were busy looking for something they could use as an excuse to impeach Trump. Apparently leadership there did not feel they could take time out from that urgent task to consider legislation of tremendous economic importance to this nation's farmers.

But not it has passed, and Brody Stapel, president of the Green Bay-based Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, which is one of the largest dairy co-ops in the United States in terms of milk production, is very glad indeed.

"With USMCA having now reached the finish line, we should celebrate this as a landmark victory not only for dairy farmers and processors but for our country as a whole," he declared.

"For the past 25 years, NAFTA has given us productive and reliable markets for our dairy foods... Improvements under USMCA will take us to the next level.

"Mexico and Canada account for 40 percent of all U.S. dairy exports " a value of $2 billion each year and tens of thousands of American jobs.

"USMCA will not only keep us from losing ground in these critically important markets but will also bring opportunities to increase market share." He predicted other agricultural commodities will also see significant gains.

"Trade is a key to the stability and long-term success of the dairy community. Farms of all sizes and business models benefit when we have more opportunities for free and fair trading, which allows us to capture markets that are expanding as the population does.

"We appreciate the commitment of the administration and lawmakers from both parties to getting this historic deal done, and we look forward to President Trump making it official," Stapel concluded.

When he visited Marinette Marine in November, Vice President Mike Pence had spoken of the economic importance of the USMCA agreement and urged Congress to get it passed.

COOKIN' TIME

Have a couple of oriental recipes in honor of Chinese New Year, plus a reprint of the Cabbage Soup Diet recipe.

CHINESE DUMPLINGS

The original version of these calls for lamb, but pork is also very traditional and a whole lot cheaper in this country. either way, the meat should have about a 20 percent ratio of fat to keep the filling juicy.

1 pound ground leg of lamb (or ground pork)

4 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (can substitute Japanese sake or dry sherry)

5 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn

1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped

4 cups carrots, somewhat finely chopped

1 1/2 cups green onion, chopped

80 pieces of dumpling wrappers, purchased or homemade

Mix ground meat, wine, soy sauce and ginger in a large bowl until it becomes a sticky paste. Sprinkle on ground peppercorn and add the peanut oil and mix again. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Refrigerate this part of the filling unless you plan to make the dumplings within an hour.

Right before you're ready to wrap the dumplings, prepare the vegetables. Use a food processor to chop, or cut into julienne pieces and then chop those finely. Cook the carrot in a tablespoon of oil for two to three minutes or until cooked through. Then add all the vegetables, including the pre-cooked carrots, to the meat for the filling. Depending on size of the wrapper, spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the center of the wrapper, moisten wrapper edges with water, fold into a half moon shape, and crimp the edges. (It's harder to get a good seal with the pre-made wrappers, so it's best to cook them by the pot sticker method.) Place finished dumplings on a work surface about a finger's width apart, rapping in batches, about 25 at a time. Once wrapped cook or freeze the dumplings within 30 minutes to prevent them from losing moisture.

To cook as dumplings, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and carefully add the dumplings, one at a time, stir gently until water boils again, and then cook about a minute or so, until the dumplings float to the surface and become filled with air and the dough starts to become transparent. Using a slotted spoon, immediately remove all the dumplings to a plate. (I like to cook a few of the dumplings in ramen noodle soup, and the dumplings will be ready just about as soon as the noodles are.)

To cook as pot stickers, heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat When oil is hot place potstickers in the pan in a single layer, crimped side up. Quickly swirl about three tablespoons water into the pan, cover immediately and cook for about three minutes, until the water has evaporated and pot stickers are cooked through. Check to see if the bottom side has turned golden brown, and if not, cook a trifle longer.

Serve dumplings or pot stickers with Chinese black vinegar with a few ginger slices or a bit of ginger oil added. Dip in soy sauce also if they aren't quite salty enough.

To freeze, dust the bottom of an airtight box with a thin layer of flour, and place the dumplings in a single layer, not touching. Freeze up to two months. (Once frozen, you could put into a single box, with layers separated by waxed paper, parchment or plastic wrap.)

CANTONESE STEAMED FISH

2 scallions (or use green onions and a bit of minced garlic)

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1 small bunch cilantro

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 medium fish fillet (perhaps tilapia, walleye or a few pollack fillets, or a whole fish)

2 tablespoons oil

Mix the soy sauce with the salt, sugar and water. Put the vegetable oil in a small heavy saucepan and when it's hot add the ginger and let it brown lightly for about a minute. Add about two thirds of the scallions and reserve the rest. Let that sizzle for about a minute and then add the soy sauce mixture and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Set aside. Prepare a steamer or a wok with a rack. (You could use a deep saucepan or frying pan with an overturned plate on top to hold the fish.) In the steamer put about an inch of water and a bit of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then put in the fish on its rack or a heat-proof plate. Cover and steam for about 10 minutes. Check for doneness with a butter knife. If it cuts through easily to the plate the fish is done. It should no longer be translucent when flakes are separated. Remove fish to a serving plate and spread cilantro and about a third of the scallions on it. Then spoon the prepared soy sauce mixture over it and serve immediately. Cooked white rice or fried rice is an excellent go-with. You could also steam a whole fish and serve with the soy sauce mixture as a sauce if you want to be authentic.

DIET CABBAGE SOUP

Ran this recipe a couple of weeks ago, after which a reader kindly pointed out that the amount of cabbage to use had been omitted. Here, with a sincere apology, is the corrected recipe for those who want to clip and save. Some folks use half V-8 juice in place of half the chicken broth. Others use beef broth instead of chicken. It's all good. I like adding a can of French style green beans, juice and all, sometimes, or frozen tiny whole beans, and then cook until they're done as you like them. Folks using this soup as part of the Cabbage Soup Diet should eat it at least every day, and are free to enjoy as much of it as they want, andy time they want. Bon apppetite!!!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup white or yellow onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium head cabbage, cored and chopped

4 cups chicken broth

14 ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onions, bell peppers, and carrots and sauté until slightly tender. Stir in garlic, chicken broth, tomatoes and cabbage. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook until cabbage is tender. Stir in oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

CHINESE EGG CAKE

The kitchen should be warm when you make this, or fill a large bowl half full with very warm water, and in that put the mixing bowl in which you will beat the cake batter. The idea is to keep the mixture warm, but not hot.

2 medium eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup cake flour

3 tablespoons superfine white sugar, plus 1 teaspoon

3/4 teaspoon vegetable oil

Prepare a 12-cup mini muffin tin with mini muffin liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Warm a mixing bowl and in it put the eggs. Beat until they get foamy, and then add the sugar and beat at high speed for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture reaches a ribbon stage. Beat a bit at low speed to remove any large bubbles. Sift flour over this mixture and use a spatula to combine well. Add the oil, again stirring gently with the spatula. Spoon batter equally into the 12 muffin tins and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the surface is browned.

Thought for the week: When God pushes you to the edge of difficulty, do not despair. We should turn to Him, ask Him for help in times of trouble, but even if we forget to ask, He is there for all of us. He will catch us if we fall over the edge, or give us wings to fly. Either way, we're safe. Thank You, God. 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 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
Email:
News@
PeshtigoTimes.com

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Fax: 715-582-4662
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