Country CousinIssue Date: November 21, 2019
The high holy days of Deer Season in Wisconsin are upon us. Gun deer season opens at dawn on Saturday, Nov 23. In TIMESland, especially the northern parts, this means a gathering of the clans, a time for renewing family ties, for cousins to get acquainted, for grandmas to pass along favorite family recipes, for grandpas to pass along hunting tips, and for everyone to share favorite stories of days gone by.
Thanksgiving, of course, is a highlight of the week, but in TIMESland, it's only a small part.
For some families, it's a return to their roots, coming back to the old homesteads where their forefathers settled when the forests still covered most of Marinette County. For others, it's a cabin or deer camp, often filled with men, boys, smelly socks, beer cans, and playing cards. There's more to Deer Season than just stalking the wily Whitetail, although that is a huge part of it. Getting meat for the table is part of it, but nearly all dedicated hunters dream of capturing that legendary thirty-point buck, of acquiring an imposing set of antlers to hang on the wall.
Hunters (generally men and boys) who prefer to turn off the alarm and snuggle a bit longer on frosty mornings will hop out of bed, don their hunting garb and venture out before the cold grey dawn so they can be in their tree stands before the sun comes up. They want to be ready and waiting when that mighty buck walks by.
If you do get a buck, and don't choose to clean it and eat it yourself, don't dishonor the animal by wasting its meat. Give it to a friend who would enjoy it, or donate it to a local food pantry.
When I was a girl our deer hunters always hoped for a sprinkling of fresh snow on Deer Season nights so they could track deer easily in the morning. In those days, tree stands were not common. The men organized hunting parties and did drives through the woods, hoping to push deer to strategic spots where the best shooters of the group were ready and waiting. Hunting was a group effort, not a solitary sport.
This year, Winter came early. The first snow of the season fell during the final week of October. It's gone now, but bet the hunters are hoping there will be fresh snow cover before Saturday morning.
Temperatures have been so low that some lakes, and even a few streams, are frozen over. Foolhardy ice fishermen have been spotted out on the ice, but most of us feel no fish is worth the risk of breaking through the ice and ending up in frosty water.
At least the ice fishermen I saw got to their fishing holes on foot, not in vehicles, and didn't venture very far from dry land. The ones I talked with said they weren't in danger. Ice was four inches thick where they made their holes. The dangerous part is that there are currents in lakes, and a foot or so away that sheet of ice might have been as thin and as brittle as glass.
ON THE SOAP BOX
GUNS AND CRAZIES
Mental health issues seem to be a growing problem in Wisconsin and across the nation. The liberal politicians in Madison are constantly trying to take away our guns, claiming that would reduce the number of shooting deaths. One of their most recent attempts is a "red flag" gun grab law supported by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers that would authorize taking guns from anyone suspected of having a mental issue that would cause them to turn that gun on a fellow human.
Problem with laws like that is: Who decides what a mental problem is? In countries headed toward dictatorships, generally disarming the population is a first step. And in many of those nations historically courts, law enforcement, or someone, uses the excuse that the gun owner was mentally deranged.
The danger is great that once the liberal element gets too powerful, anyone who opposes them will be diagnosed as having a mental problem.
After all, if you weren't crazy, why wouldn't you see things their way?
That said, it's pretty sad that Gov. Tony Evers and Democrats in the Wisconsin State Legislature seem to think getting guns out of the hands of crazies (and everyone else) is preferable to resolving the mental issues that sometimes do bring on misuse of a weapon. They also seem to think only guns kill, when other weapons, for example pressure cookers and other types of homemade bombs, have proven very successful.
Congratulations to Florence County for becoming the first Wisconsin County to declare itself a "Second Amendment Sanctuary County" where the right to keep and bear arms will be protected no matter what unconstitutional legislation the folks in Madison manage to pass.
History teachers seem to not be passing along the information that our forefathers put such a strict protection of weapons in the Bill of Rights because they knew first hand how vital it is for the general citizenry to have the means to defend itself against tyrants. Many of the men who drafted our Constitution and Bill of Rights had suffered under British overlords who had taken their weapons away, leaving them with no realistic way to fight back.
It wasn't for hunting that guns were protected, it was to guarantee that the general public has access to weapons they will need to kill tyrannical governments if they have to.
But back to the mental health issue.
Mental health is seen as such a serious issue by the Marinette County law enforcement community that a Mental Health Court, somewhat similar to Drug Court, has been established. Sheriff Jerry Sauve has repeatedly told the Criminal Justice Information Sharing Committee that people were being held in jail to protect the public when they should have been in treatment somewhere, which creates problems for the jail staff and expenses for the taxpayers of Marinette County.
It does seem that in today's world there are more and more folks suffering with treatable mental issues, whether they eventually resort to shooting or not.
There is also a shortage of facilities here in northern Wisconsin to treat mental problems. In an attempt to fix that, Rep. John Nygren and other Republican legislators attempted to pass a budget that provided $70 million for providing increased mental health services for rural areas of the state.
The three budget provisions pertaining to rural mental health were vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers. Democrat support of Evers' position was so strong that the three Republican attempts to overturn the vetoes failed. Overturn of a veto requires support by a two-thirds majority vote of both houses.
Nygren, who is Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, said overriding the vetoes would have restored funding for a proposed Northern Wisconsin Regional Crisis Center; additional physician and behavioral health funding, and a proposal for qualified treatment grants.
"Republicans have heard overwhelmingly about the need to invest resources in mental health services for vulnerable populations," Nygren declared. "By voting against the override of these three vetoes, Democrats in the Assembly, for the second time this year, voted against providing increased resources for mental health services."
He noted the only state mental health facilities are Mendota, in Madison, and Winnebago, in Oshkosh. Northwestern Wisconsin has no facility locally to which to transport patients. The new center would have expanded mental health crisis services to northwestern Wisconsin. Goal of the provision was to serve individuals closer to their homes instead of transporting them across the state.
Nygren said Republicans acknowledged the fact that Wisconsin is facing a shortage of behavioral health providers by providing $10 million to increase reimbursement rates for them.
As to the proposed Qualified Treatment Training (QTT) Grants, currently, nearly 50 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are designated as having a significant shortage of adult and pediatric mental health providers. In 2017, only 52% of the children ages 3-17 with a mental or behavioral health condition received treatment in Wisconsin. The QTT grants that were vetoed out of the Wisconsin budget would have allowed hospitals, health centers and health care systems to expand the number of clinical social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists and psychologists to help meet this growing need."
Generally tend to be opposed to any additional government spending, but it does seem that these vetoed proposals would have been a wise use of resources, and might have ended up saving both lives and money without eliminating any of the freedoms we enjoy.
It may not show as much on the outside, but people with genuine mental health issues suffer just as much as those with physical disabilities, and treating them not only reduces their suffering, but that of their families. It also can cut down on jail population and crime overall.
Why put a lot of money and effort into treating the symptoms, when we should be working to cure the problems?
Maybe next time around efforts to improve mental health care in this state will be successful.
It's fun to find recipes that use locally grown foods native to this area, especially at Thanksgiving. Tried to feature some of them here today.
And please mom - get your sons and daughters into the kitchen to help you prepare Thanksgiving dinner. They may complain, but nothing feeds self confidence more than basking in sincere compliments from folks enjoying a feast you made with your own hands!
CREAMY CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP
The recipe for this fantastically delicious soup was kindly shared by Middle Inlet Town Clerk/Treasurer Virginia (Ginny) Hines, who also was recently elected to the Marinette County Fair Association's Board of Directors. She brought this soup for the Fair Association's annual meeting, and said she actually has helped harvest wild rice. While wild rice does grow in these parts feel free to buy it instead. This is the wrong time of year to harvest it anyway. Wild rice still grows in several TIMESland waters, including parts of the Menominee River and the nearby Menekaunee Harbor, Lake Noquebay, and the Peshtigo River. Wild Rice was called "manoomin" by some of the Native American nations , and the Menominee Indian Tribe's name literally translates to "wild rice people." By the way, if you're making this after Thanksgiving, I see no reason you couldn't substitute leftover cooked turkey for the chicken.
5 bacon slices, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup carrot, thinly sliced or shredded
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked and
shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup precooked wild rice
4 cups packed chopped kale
1 cup half and half, or 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cook the wild rice according to package directions if you have a package. (I suspect canned wild rice would also work.) Cook the bacon and set aside, leaving about a tablespoon of drippings in the pan. Add carrots,celery and onion to the drippings and sauté until the onions are clear. Add thyme, mushrooms and garlic and sauté for another five minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for eight minutes or until veggies are tender. Add stock, the cup of water and melted butter. Add kale, salt, pepper, chicken and wild rice. Cook for three to five minutes.In a separate bowl whisk together flour and either the half and half or the heavy cream and yogurt . Stir this mixture into the soup and cook two minutes or until thickened. Serve with cooked bacon bits as garnish.
It's sad that so many people throw their deer hearts away, when this is one of the tastiest morsels the animal has to offer. Read somewhere that Native Americans ate the hearts to obtain the courage, speed and agility of the animal, and because wasting its meat is an insult to the animal. Heartily agree with them on that - no pun intended.
Anyway, if you're planning to toss the hearts of deer that you get - please, please toss them at me!
You must clean the heart as soon as possible after gutting the deer. Do this by running it under cold water and pumping the water through it to remove all the blood. Using a sturdy but thin bladed knife, remove the arteries, veins and fat from the heart. Position the heart upright and stick your finger into the center of the heart which is the very muscle of the heart. With the finger still guiding you, run the knife over the large arteries at the top to remove them.
The heart also should be cooked or frozen promptly. Depending on how you intend to cook it, you can create a single cut from top to bottom to make it look like a butterfly, or cut it into smaller strips or cubes for sautéing or stewing. Or slice across the heart for steaks to grill. However, if you're stuffing it, leave it whole.
This recipe also works with beef heart, but it isn't quite as good.
1 large venison heart
1/4 cup melted butter
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Italian or regular sausage
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (or seasoned stuffing mix)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced, optional
1 cup beef stock, plus some to add
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean and prepare the heart as described above. Don't make any more cuts in it than you have to. Set the heart aside. Heat butter in a non-stick skillet. Add garlic and onion and cook until fragrant and translucent. Stir in diced celery and minced bell pepper and cook for another three or five minutes or until vegetables become tender. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl and allow to cool for several minutes. Crumble the sausage into the bowl, add the breadcrumbs, parsley and onion powder and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff the mixture into the interiors of the heart, using your fingers to push it down into all the cavities. Roll extra stuffing into balls and set aside. Use skewers, pointy wooden toothpicks or kitchen string as necessary to keep the stuffing in, but you may not need to since the heart will be kept standing upright. Roll extra stuffing into balls and set aside. Pour olive oil into a Dutch oven and heat in medium flame. Rub the heart with salt and pepper and position into the center of the Dutch oven. Place sliced onions around the heart, along with smashed garlic and sliced celery. Add the stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for two hours, checking every 30 minutes to see the level of stock. Add more stock if needed to keep it moist and be sure you have enough juices left for gravy. Check the heart at the end of the second hour. If it's tender, place the reserved stuffing balls into the gravy and bake along with the heart for another 20 minutes. If not, bake another half hour or so and then add the stuffing balls. Serve with mashed potatoes or warm rice. How about wild rice for a special treat?
CRANBERRY DREAM PIE
Cranberries are said to be a super food, and they were available to early settlers. They couldn't have made this wonderful pie, though. Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (a 16-ounce can) whole berry cranberry sauce
Chocolate crust (see below)
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in heavy cream and sugar. Blend in vanilla. By hand, stir in the cranberry sauce. Pour into prepared pie shell and freeze. Let thaw for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
1-1/2 to 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (crushed Oreos
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, or right in the 9-inch pie pan, combine all ingredients. Press to shape into the pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before adding filling.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Lord, thank You for family and friends, for freedom from want, for freedom from oppression, for the privilege of living in America, in a land truly overflowing with milk and honey, and blessed by love as well. Also, Lord, please save our nation from throwing away all Your blessings. Help stop us from doing things that surely will bring Your wrath down upon us one day. Please be patient with the foolish, and open our eyes to see clearly what You would have us do. 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 email@example.com.)
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