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Country Cousin

June, Moon, Mosquitoes...

For the past few days, weather has been fantastic, and the moon has been incredible, two good reasons to sit outside on a lovely June night.

June Dairy Month is still with us, and a special annual treat is coming up Sunday, June 26 with the Marinette County Breakfast on the Farm. It's being held this year from 7:30 a.m. to noon on the Fendryk Brothers Farm at W9105 County P, which is two miles west of Hwy. 141 in Beaver.

The Fendryks milk 600 head of cows and raise young stock. They raise the feed needed for all their cattle on approximately 2,600 acres.

The Breakfast on the Farm includes all you can eat pancakes, eggs, sausages, cheese curds, maple syrup, apple sauce, milk, juice, coffee and ice cream sundaes.

Come early, stay late, eat twice if you can handle it!

There will be a petting zoo, face painting, balloons, kids bouncy play area, viewing of barns and cattle, wagon rides and music.

All this for $7 admission for adults and $4 for children ages 6 to 10, with little ones five and under admitted free. Apparently the folks who set the prices have never seen how much food the little ones in our family can pack away.

JUNE WEDDINGS

June traditionally has been the month for romance, and for weddings.

Much has been said and written about weddings, and about marriage in general.

Jerry Seinfeld said he was best man at his friend's wedding. In that case, he wondered why she was marrying the friend and not him.

"Marriage is like a violin," said Jacob Braude. "After the beautiful music is over, the strings are still attached."

Gracie Allen said her husband of many years, George Burns, would never chase another woman. "He's too fine, too decent, too old."

There's a story about a couple at the altar. When the preacher asked, "Do you take this man for richer or poorer . . ." she answered, "For richer." Don't know if the wedding went on or not.

MOSQUITOES CAN BE DEADLY

Despite its late start, summer so far this year has been wonderful. Rain at night as it should be, somewhat cool mornings, and hot afternoons for swimming and basking. For a few days this past weekend, the air conditioner was a life saver!

Even mosquitoes have been less pesky than normal. We're wondering why that should be, since there has been a very respectable amount of rain.

That said, even a few mosquitoes are too many for most of us. Mosquitoes are said to be the deadliest creatures on Earth. They spread any number of diseases that can be fatal to humans and their pets.

WHAT GOOD ARE THEY?

Mama always said God put mosquitoes here on Earth so we would know we aren't already in Heaven.

Maybe, but according to Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer in "The Handy Bug Answer Book," mosquitoes play an important role in the food chain, and have been doing so for about 200 million years, date of some of the oldest known mosquito fossils.

Mosquito larvae strain tiny organic particles such as unicellular algae from the water and convert them to the tissues of their own bodies, which are, in turn, eaten by fish. The larvae that don't survive to become mosquitoes thus become nutrient-packed snacks for fish and other aquatic animals.

As adults, mosquitoes serve as equally nutritious meals for birds, bats, and spiders.

Their extinction, were it even achievable, would have an enormous adverse affect on the entire ecosystem.

Female mosquitoes need protein for their eggs, and must take a blood meal in order to reproduce. They're apparently always trying to reproduce. Since males don't bear the burden of producing young, they feed on nectar, and head for the flowers instead of you. When not trying to produce eggs, females are happy to stick to nectar, too.

Wonder if they help pollinate plants like the bees do? If so, that could be particularly important now, with the bee population dwindling.

Male mosquitoes look vicious. The grandkids call them mosquito hawks. But in fact they do not bite, they just fly around and buzz, which is bad enough.

Mosquitoes also seem to enjoy a bit of romance. Am told that when a male and female mosquito meet with their little minds on getting together they synchronize their buzzing.

ANTS ARE A PROBLEM

Our home has been invaded by ants this year - big ones, little ones, and some so tiny you can barely see them.

That brings to mind an old story, that incredibly was in a news report some years ago. It's hard to believe anyone could be so dumb, but it really did happen.

A medical student working in toxicology at a poison control center got a call from a woman terribly upset because she had caught her little daughter eating ants. She was assured the ants were not harmful and there was no reason to bring the tyke to the Emergency Room.

That advice changed after the woman casually mentioned before hanging up that she had fed the girl ant poison in order to kill the ants!

Seems Mom wasn't too bright!

ON THE SOAP BOX

WE DON'T NEED GUN CONTROL


Whenever there's mass shooting, like the recent horrendous killing spree by a Muslim extremist at a Orlando, Fla. gay bar, the anti gun people renew their demands for more stringent gun control laws. (Can't call him a terrorist. Not politically correct!)

If the bartenders had guns behind the bar and training in how to use them, that murderous attack could have been stopped shortly after it started.

Guns could have controlled the situation!

Maybe what we need is a law that before a liquor license is issued the bar needs to provide proof that there will be weapons available along with someone who can use them.

That said, what good would more laws do, when the ones that exist are apparently not obeyed or enforced?

Am told that man was on the terrorist watch list, and should never have been able to buy a gun, at least not without someone being notified.

That sort of thing happens regularly.

The old billboards stating "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" were absolutely correct. We must not let that happen.

We, as individuals, need to be able to protect ourselves from the bad guys. Police can't be everywhere. They generally cannot stop bad things from happening. They only hopefully can catch the perpetrators after the deed is done and stop them from doing it again.

We need to be able to protect ourselves, and for that we're best off with guns. Of course, even that wouldn't have protected ourselves from the Boston Bombers, who used a pressure cooker as their weapon of choice.

By the way, the patriots who bought our freedom as a nation from Great Britain with their blood and tears had learned by bitter experience that sometimes we need guns to protect ourselves from our own government.

An armed populace is our best defense against criminals, government gone awry, and foreign invaders. We MUST not give up our weapons!

GROWING THINGS

If you would like to raise a garden this year and haven't started yet, there's still time, if you buy most of your plants from the greenhouse instead of trying to start them from seed. That said, some produce still has time to grow very nicely from seed. Check the time to maturity stated on the package.

The author of my very favorite garden book says if you try to plant seeds too early, before the ground has warmed sufficiently it does no good. "They'll just sit there and sulk anyway," she claims.

A hint for first time gardeners. When you need advice, talk to someone whose garden you admire. Gardeners like to talk about methods even more than new parents like talk about their offspring.

Your first task is to prepare the soil. The best tool for the job is your neighbor's motorized garden tiller. If he does not own one, try to talk him into buying one. Just kidding. You'll probably need to buy your own anyway.

Once you get into gardening you'll soon learn that the philosopher who said a job well done never needs doing over obviously never weeded a garden.

We used to plant a huge garden on our little bit of paradise hidden in the woods. Unfortunately those woods were home to countless birds and critters like rabbits, deer, squirrels, field mice and raccoons. Even whooping cranes sometimes came to dine.

The rows were so long I could weed only about 2 per evening. Three evenings in a row I swatted mosquitoes and weeded until work was called on account of darkness.

And three mornings in a row I went out to find all the plants in my weeded out rows had been nibbled off, while the unneeded ones were left alone.

I quit then and there and later that year we used a lawn mower on that garden. It was much too far gone for the roto tiller.

No matter how it hurts, sometimes you have to know when to give up and cut your losses.

We did manage to put food by for the winter anyway by gleaning from commercial fields and collecting surplus from friends whose gardens produced too much.

In those days canning factories were still operating locally and farmers often raised things like green beans for that market. Kids earned pocket change by picking pickles and beans.

In even earlier years, kids in our family supplemented pocket change by picking fish worms, which Dad and the uncles would buy from us for a penny each.

COOKIN' TIME

The good thing about vegetables is they are good for you, low fat and usually low calorie. The bad thing is they mostly taste best slathered with high fat things like butter, mayonnaise and cream sauces. Asparagus season is nearly over for this year, but here are a couple of recipes that use that lovely vegetable anyway. Some patches are still producing. Substitute broccoli if you must. Strawberries are ready, and am told this year's crop is particularly juicy and flavorful.

PASTA PERFECTA

(Makes 6 servings 1 1/2 cups each)

8 ounces cooked linguine

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup sweet red pepper (cut in thin strips)

1/2 cup sweet yellow pepper

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

1 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced

1 cup broccoli florets

1 pound thin fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/3 cup flour

2 cups cold water

2 teaspoons chicken soup starter mix (or use 2 bouillon cubes)

1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup minced fresh basil or 4 teaspoons dried basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Prepare all the vegetables and keep them handy. If you need to prepare them the night before for quick assembly at dinner time, go right ahead. Just cover tightly and refrigerate separately. Even better, put each one in its own little zipper bag. About half an hour before serving time cook pasta according to package directions until just done. While it cooks coat a rather large nonstick frying pan with cooking spray. Put in the carrot, onion, broccoli, and peppers. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir once or twice. Push those veggies to one side a bit, add the zucchini, summer squash, asparagus and mushrooms. Cover again and cook 5 minutes longer. Meanwhile in a saucepan mix the flour and cold water until smooth. Add a small amount of water to the flour and stir until it makes a smooth paste, then stir in the rest of the water gradually until it's all smooth. Add the soup base or bouillon cubes and stir constantly until it thickens and boils. Then simmer another 2 minutes. Add the wine, salt and Parmesan cheese to the vegetable mixture. Drain the pasta and toss with the basil in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable mixture over it, toss to mix and sprinkle top with fresh parsley to garnish. Serve at once. However, this is a very untemperamental dish that's also good served at room temperature. Only 3 grams of fat, 26 grams of carbohydrate and 168 calories per serving. It uses 2 vegetables and 1 1/2 grams of fat on the diabetic food exchange.

HAMDINGER DINNER

(Makes 6 1 1/3 cup servings)

2 cups uncooked spiral pasta

3/4 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium sweet green pepper, cut into thin strips

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil

3 cups fresh diced tomatoes (about 6)

8 ounces cooked ham, cubed, all fat removed

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon red cayenne pepper

1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

Cook pasta as the package directs. In the meantime, using a large nonstick skillet, sauté asparagus and green pepper in oil until tender. Add the tomatoes and ham and simmer about 2 minutes. When the pasta is done drain it and add it to the mixture in the skillet. Stir in seasonings and sprinkle the cheese on top. Without the cheese each serving has 6 grams of fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 238 calories and on the diabetic food exchange uses 2 lean meat, 2 vegetable and 1 starch exchange.

MUGGLES COCOA CAKE

Too hot to turn on the oven, but the sweet tooth is acting up? Make yourself a Muggle.

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

pinch salt

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Stir together the dry ingredients in a mug. Add water and oil and stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Cook in microwave for one minute and 40 seconds.

1, 2, 3 CAKE FOR ONE

Mix two flavors of cake mix, one angel food and one something else, in a gallon size zip lock bag. Use what you need now, seal the bag and store for the next time the sweet tooth strikes.

Cake mix mixture:

1 box Angel Food Cake Mix

1 box any flavor regular Cake Mix

Stir together:

2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons cake mix mixture above

Mix the 2 cake mixes together in a gallon size zip-lock bag. Butter a small glass or ceramic baking dish. In it, put two tablespoons water and stir in three tablespoons of the mixed cake mixes. Sprinkle a sugar and cinnamon mixture on top if you like. Microwave for 1 minute. Let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with toppings such as fruit, powdered sugar, or whipped cream, or a canned frosting.

MUGGLES BUTTERSCOTCH BLONDIE

Recipe doesn't call for adding butterscotch chips, but you could try adding some, or drizzle melted chips over the top.

5 tablespoons flour (whole wheat is even better)

3 level tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons soft butter

3 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

Mix everything very well in a mug that holds at least 12 ounces. Be sure all the butter gets stirred in. Microwave on high for one minute, and then check at 10-second intervals until the treat is done to your liking. Don't let it get too done. Let cool a bit and enjoy. Add ice cream if you like.

Thought for the week: Remember, even if it's hot this Sunday, the church is prayer conditioned. And Lord, help us remember when we're in church that we're there to honor You, not to impress friends and family with what good people we are. 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.)

Country Cousin


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