Country CousinIssue Date: May 27, 2020
Summer, wonderful Summer!
Summer, wonderful Summer, definitely arrived in TiMESland over Memorial Day weekend, even though the official start date is a month off. By this time next week, June will be here, and it's definitely bustin' out all over. Trees are leafing out, rhubarb is ready, fruit trees are starting to blossom, lawns are being mowed, mosquitoes are buzzing and ticks are biting.
Sadly, Memorial Day has come and gone without many of the traditional ceremonies and programs that honored our fallen veterans in years past. Particularly sad that the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns came during the 75th anniversary month of the treaties that ended World War II with victory for our side.
V-E Day, marking the end of the war in Europe, came with the official unconditional German surrender on May 8, 1945, and V-J Day, the Japanese unconditional surrender came later, on Aug. 15, 1945, although the official documents were not signed until September of that year.
ON THE SOAP BOX
SHUTDOWNS MOSTLY OVER
It's good to see folks out on the streets and in the parks again, starting to enjoy the recreation and interaction with others that everyone so badly needs. Too bad it didn't happen a week earlier so this Memorial Day could have been given the importance it deserved.
Realize there are many who disagree, but feel very strongly that if we as individuals and as a society are to remain strong and healthy, we need to do the things that keep us that way.
Do not fully understand why authorities are spending so much time and money testing people for COVID-19 (coronavirus) instead of putting more effort into finding out who has perhaps already had it and is now carrying antibodies, and seeking ways to prevent or cure it.
I could be tested today, and then follow instructions to self-isolate for two days, until results come in. Results could come back negative. But I could have been exposed on my way to the test, and by the time the self-quarantine time is up, another test might come back positive. Makes no sense at all, except to get data on how many people do not have it on any given day, in which case they would need to re-test every two weeks or so to judge if cases are increasing or decreasing.
There is some benefit, since test results do allow quarantining people who test positive and those with whom they have recently come in contact. That has proven to be an extremely small number here, but every case prevented is an advantage.
But test results must be taken in perspective when they're used to limit our individual freedoms. If the number of people tested increases, the number of people testing positive would probably increase even if the percentage dropped or remained the same. To have real meaning, the data should be measured by the ratio of positive tests to negative, not the number of new cases discovered.
On the bright side, we can be thankful here in TIMESland. Even with the 767 people who took advantage of the three days of free testing in Crivitz two weeks ago, and 2,381 tests tallied so far since the pandemic shutdowns started two months ago, only 32 Marinette County residents have tested positive.
There still have been only the two unfortunate deaths of Marinette County residents that came early in the pandemic, and to date 22 Marinette County residents have been diagnosed and treated for COVID-19 and recovered. The number who have had the coronavirus and recovered without being diagnosed may never be known.
We're told to isolate ourselves if we have coronavirus symptoms. Those symptoms include sore throat, headache, fatigue, muscle and body aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of smell, loss of taste. Anyone with severe complication symptoms like difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, bluish lips or face, or persistent pain or pressure in the chest should seek medical help immediately.
That said, remain absolutely convinced that staying healthy in general - taking the right vitamins and mineral supplements and eating a healthy diet, along with getting plenty of fresh air, exercise, sunshine and plenty of rest is probably the best way to avoid getting COVID-19, just as living by those healthy rules is the best way to avoid getting the common cold or just about any communicable illness. And eat chicken soup!
Also wonder how many people have suffered fallout problems from the pandemic shutdowns. Have personally been helping a loved one struggle with alcoholism when there was no real help to be had for the past two months. AA meetings were out. He tried to sign himself into a rehab center and was turned away. They were not accepting new admissions.
Even public drunkenness that would have brought arrest and a stay in jail during normal times just brought a trip to the hospital and then return home. The jail wasn't accepting new customers either if they could help it.
Alcoholism is an evil and insidious disease, and can be very fatal. It just takes longer. Loneliness and isolation make it far, far harder to fight of the depression that goes with it, and sorry, folks, virtual hugs just aren't very effective!
Another dangerous illness we hear almost nothing about these days is Lyme Disease. That's probably because the ticks that spread it tend to live in rural areas, not urban, so there are not as many people infected.
Tick season has definitely arrived in TIMESland, and the little vampires seem to have multiplied mightily, at least in our area. The worst are the deer ticks, some as small as a grain of pepper with legs. If you're going into the woods, use tick spray, and be sure to do a good body check before going to bed at night. If you see a black speck, look closer. It could be a tick. If it is, use a pointed tweezers to dig in deep enough to get the head. If the tick comes out with a bite of flesh attached, that's good!
My personal non-expert advice is if the tick is in too deep to get its head out, have a doctor remove it.
Depending on how sensitive you are, the bite will probably cause an itchy lump that could stay bothersome for a long time, even if the tick was totally removed.
Dr. Rachel Chaltry, an urgent care physician at Aurora Health Center in Marinette says the best way to remove a tick is by using a "Tick Tornado" tool, which can be purchased at most stores. If you use a tweezers, carefully remove the tick by gripping the body as close to the skin as possible and pulling with a swift, even motion. Afterwards, feel free to clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
"Don't let quarantine or ticks prevent you from getting the fresh air that you need, but always take precautions before and after spending time outdoors, especially during tick season," Dr. Chaltry said in a recent news release. She advises applying DEET or permethrin to your clothing to repel ticks and insects, and avoid walking in long grass.
After being outdoors, take the time to check your body " behind your ears, in your hair, behind your knees, wherever your skin is thinner, and everywhere else " for ticks, and shower if possible. Remember, your pets can be sources of ticks if they go outdoors. Make sure to check with your pet's veterinarian for tick prevention treatments.
Dr. Chaltry said while a bullseye rash is typically the first sign of infection, the rash only occurs in 70 to 80 percent of Lyme disease cases. The disease can cause problems days, weeks, months, or even years after the initial infection. Visit your doctor if you develop a rash, flu-like symptoms or fever after removing a tick.
Sunday May 31, is Pentecost, the Christian holiday commemorating the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples of Jesus Christ, and the start of the Christian religion, according to the Bible's New Testament. It is also known as Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday. Pentecost comes 10 days after Christ's Ascension to Heaven, which happened 40 days after His death and resurrection.
According to Christian texts, the Holy Spirit, often symbolized by a dove, descended on the apostles, giving them the gift of tongues, which allowed them to speak and understand all languages. This gift is depicted as a fiery tongue over the head of each apostle.
Immediately after receiving the gift of tongues the apostles began to preach about Jesus Christ to Jewish people from all over the world who had flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot. Thus, Pentecost commemorates the the Holy Spirit's visit and the start of the Christian Church.
Symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit - flames, wind, the breath of God and a dove. Colors are red and white.
In Estonia and Finland eggs are dyed as at Easter because their hens don't lay eggs until this time. In Germany the day is called "Pfingsten" and pink and red peonies, called "Whitsun roses", are symbols, along with birch trees.
In many parts of the world, Pentecost has become a traditional day for baptisms, and family gatherings, picnics, or outings to the country.
The English refer to the holiday as Whitsunday with reference to the white garments worn on Pentecost by the newly baptized.
Pentecost is called "the Green Holiday" in Poland. It is a time when people decorate their houses with green branches to bring blessings on the home and the people living in it.
Whitsunday is linked to pagan spring rites, such as the English custom of Morris dancing and the drinking of "Whitsun ale". Whitsunday is a public holiday in some places around the world, including countries in Europe such as Estonia and Finland.
Whitsuntide, also referred to as Whitsun in modern times, is the period beginning with the Saturday before Whitsunday and ending the following Saturday.
Some churches lower a carved dove into the congregation and call this "swinging the Holy Ghost". Cattle are decorated and an overdressed person is said to be "dressed like a Whitsun ox". A holdover pagan game is called "hunting the green man," a young man dressed in leaves and moss hides, and children hunt him.
WILL WE CELEBRATE PENTECOST?
Christians were denied the opportunity to hold church services for Easter, but since the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision canceling the "Safer At Home" orders, some congregations in TIMESLand are planning to hold in-person services on Pentecost Sunday, with social distancing rules in place. Others are not.
Bishop David Ricken announced last week that Catholic churches in his Green Bay Diocese will offer in-person Holy Communion services following Mass beginning the weekend of May 30, but Mass will still be observed online. Priests must allow no more than nine people to gather at once for the communion service, and those over age 65 or with compromised immune systems are encouraged to stay home.
AUTHENTIC GERMAN POTATO SALAD
3 cups diced peeled potatoes
4 slices meaty smoked bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool. Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until they become tender and start to caramelize, keep stirring until they turn slightly brown all the way through. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan, and scrape the bottom to be sure it gets de-glazed. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley and crumble in about two thirds of the bacon. Return to a simmer, stirring often. Shut off heat and let sit for a half hour or more. You could cover at this point and refrigerate overnight. Reheat before serving. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and garnish with additional parsley. Best served warm, but room temperature is okay too.
Make this in a traditional heavy bottom kettle or deep skillet, or in an Instant Pot. Directions are given below for both. Either way, it's great eating, especially if you have access to morel mushrooms, and some fresh asparagus to serve on the side.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cups sliced mushrooms, hopefully morells
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white rice
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
4 cups baby spinach, as bed for serving
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Regular cooking instructions: Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan or deep frying pan for about a minute, then add the oil and heat again for about 30 seconds. Put chicken, seasoned-side down, into the pan. Cook until the chicken becomes golden and releases easily, about 5 minutes. Flip pieces and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Using tongs, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the rice, tomatoes, chicken broth (2 cups) and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until rice is nearly tender and liquid is absorbed. Place the chicken pieces on top and cook for another 10 minutes or so. To serve, put cooked rice mixture on a bed of baby spinach, top with chicken pieces, and then sprinkle on Parmesan. Serve immediately, or chill and enjoy cold. Leftovers keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Instant Pot instructions: Preheat the "Sauté" function on the Instant Pot to its highest setting. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the display reads "Hot," add the oil and heat it for 30 seconds. Arrange the chicken, seasoned-side down, in the Instant Pot. Cook until the chicken becomes golden and releases easily, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Using tongs, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the rice, tomatoes, chicken broth (1 1/2 cups) and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Return the chicken to the Instant Pot. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it in place. Set the "Meat & Stews" function for 10 minutes. It will take time for the Instant Pot to come to full pressure. The 10 minutes will begin then. Once the cook cycle is complete, carefully release the pressure using the quick-release valve and remove the lid. Using an instant-read thermometer, check that the chicken has reached at least 165 degrees. (If it has not, set the "Meat & Stews" setting for another 3 to 5 minutes.) Serve immediately on a bed of baby spinach and sprinkle with Parmesan, or chill and enjoy cold. Leftovers keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Bitterkoekjes - Almond Macaroons with a crisp exterior and a soft center - are something of a tradition for Pentecost - or Whitsunday - in Holland. Some macaroons are made with coconut. These are not. The delicate cookies are especially delicious served for dessert with a dish of lightly sugared sliced strawberries topped off with a splash of half and half or a dollop of whipped cream, in honor of June Dairy Month.
2.3 pounds almond paste
7 egg whites
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
Optional: Additional powdered sugar for dusting
Put a strip of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 340 degrees. Combine room temperature almond paste with egg whites in mixing bowl until mixed well. Add granulated sugar, mix well. Slowly add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Drop the macaroons on to parchment paper using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop and slightly flatten the top of each with a damp finger. Bake at 340 degrees for 11 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom and the tops have set and stopped bubbling. Cool on baking tray for five minutes. Dust tops with additional powdered sugar if you want a nice white cookie. With the cookies still aboard, slide parchment off the cookie sheet and onto a cooling rack. Cool a bit and then put the cooling rack, with the cookies still aboard, into the freezer for five minutes before removing them from the parchment.
Thought for the week: This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in both the European and Japanese theaters. Many, many heroic men and women lost their lives in that war, or suffered permanent injuries. Let us not dishonor their memory by failing to teach our children and grandchildren the history of their sacrifices or failing pass along the freedom that they and so many others before and after them fought and died for. Lord, I know you love a good joke. Do you shake your head and chuckle at least a little bit sometimes over the thinking of people who believe politicians can run our lives better than we can ourselves?
(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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