Country CousinIssue Date: July 27, 2016
What the Heck is Switchel?...
It's been hot, hot, hot lately, and humid to boot. Stepped outside Friday night into what felt like a warm, misty rain, but turned out to be air so humid you got wet just standing there. The drops weren't really coming down, they were just sort of hanging around. Strange!
Hog wrestling weekend at Caldron Falls Bar is held annually, and am told the PETA people are all kinds of upset.
Cruelty to pigs, you know.
Wonder what they think goes on?
Contestants do not get down in the mud and actually wrestle with their pig. They do not apply head locks, arm holds, scissor locks and other grappling moves that real human wrestlers use on each other.
The contestants simply attempt to catch their pig and hold onto it long enough to sit it on board atop a post, and a padded board at that, so the pig doesn't get hurt.
While some pigs have been known to make good pets, anyone who believes they are by nature kind and considerate vegetarians have never seen what a pair of pigs do to an unwary chicken if it accidentally gets into their pen.
Whenever they got a chance, our pigs would each grab a wing of an unwary chicken and eat toward the middle. I couldn't stop them. And I swear they were grinning the whole time! Didn't feel bad at all when it came time to eat them.
Incidentally, we did call in a professional butcher, and the job was handled very humanely. No suffering. No squeals. But lots of delicious meals!
Never saw it myself but the grandmother who raised pigs was terrified that one of us kids would accidentally get within reach of a hungry sow. Their pens were constructed so that mama could feed her little piglets but not make a meal of them, which Grandma said would happen if they were not protected.
Do think she was telling the truth about the pigs, but at the time I also believed she made those wonderful feather beds by holding the goose between her knees to pluck the down off and then let it go its merry way.
Incidentally, the geese were as tall as I was, and pretty much as mean as the pigs. Got chased by them more than a few times!
That word sounds wicked, doesn't it? No, it doesn't mean some sassy kid is being punished behind the woodshed. Means a cool, refreshing summer drink that was popular back in the days before soda pop and Kool-Aid.
Switchel was a special treat for farm families during haying time in the Colonial days and earlier, and is coming back into trendy popularity again today.
In addition to being refreshing, Switchel has the health benefits of cider vinegar provided you use the raw kind. Maple syrup and dark molasses also have health benefits, and ginger is notoriously good for the digestion.
The haying crews needed frequent hydration, quick energy, and electrolyte replacement. Homemade switchel probably did the trick just like today's sports drinks.
There is a suggestion to either eat a salty snack with the switchel or add a pinch of salt to it to replenish a hard working body during a hot day outdoors.
University of Rhode Island researchers have identified 54 "bioactive" phytocompounds in pure maple syrup that are believed to benefit human health.
See Cookin' Time below for two recipes for Switchel.
- Or rather, not growing them.
If you've let your garden and/or your lawn go to weeds and your chances for a good harvest are slim to nothing, do not despair, you can still have an edible harvest, provided those weeds are dandelions.
You can practically make a whole meal out of the lowly dandelion. Coffee from its dried and ground roots, wine and tasty French fried flowers from its blossoms, and a wonderful stew-like batch of greens with ham as the main dish. All you need is some corn bread to sop the pot liquor up with, or dumplings to cook in it.
My Grandma, "Ma", came from the West Virginia hills. She regularly cooked dandelion greens and taught us to love them. "Pa" learned to make excellent dandelion wine even though he was German, not French.
Anyway, both of them knew how to make the best of what they had, and fed us very well on the income from a little 7-cow dairy farm, with a few chickens and some cash crops thrown in.
Are you old enough to remember watching Andy of Mayberry on TV?
My friend Maggie says the reason Mayberry was so peaceful and quiet was because nobody was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Deputy Barney Fife, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam, Earnest T. Bass, Helen, Ellie, Thelma Lou, Clara and, of course Opie (Andy's little boy) were all single. The only married person was Otis, and he stayed drunk, so he and his wife never had a chance to have a fight.
Two Wausaukee High School students may be destined to become the next lions of Wall Street.
At the urging of Mr. Betts, students in his Personal Finance class created 2-member teams and participated in the Wisconsin Stock Market Challenge, a 10-week competition in which each team gets a hypothetical $100,000 investment portfolio to manage in competition with other student teams. This spring, Wausaukee students Eric Arndt and Russell Smith took third place among 957 teams competing from all across Wisconsin.
With wise investments they increased their initial $100,000 capital to $174,859 in the 10 week competition. Ten weeks. Two boys. $74,859 profit. Comes to $3,749.95 per week each. Nice work if you can get it!
That could have happened out in the real world. Bet those boys wish they could have translated their theoretical profits into real money. As it is, each of them received a medal, certificate and T-shirt for their third place finish. The $1,200 prize in real money was only for the first place team.
The boys deserve congratulations for their investing acumen. Perhaps they will go on into careers that involve investing their money, helping other folks invest theirs, or perhaps a little of both.
ON THE SOAP BOX
THERE OUGHTTA BE A LAW!
Generally feel today there are entirely too many laws, rules, and regulations in this country, especially those that involve natural resources. But now realize there is a need for at least one new one. Am hoping others will get on board and get this done.
TIMESland is famous for its multitude of opportunities for recreational activities in, on or near our mainly unspoiled bodies of water. Most of us who live near lakes, rivers and streams have some secret secluded spot where we and our families can frolic or fish in the waters and watch the wildlife in comparative privacy.
For many of us who live on rivers, that all changed with the popularity of tubing. Can't even get into Don Brooks Park at Crivitz most days to use the picnic area and playground because it has been taken over by tubers and the vehicles they come in.
Where it flows past our property the Peshtigo River is so crowded during peak hours that we can't swim comfortably, and we certainly can't fish. Wild critters seem to have moved elsewhere. No more beaver, otter, muskrats or "coons, and very few ducks.
We don't necessarily like that, but we'll put up with it.
A more severe and lasting problem, and one that can be easily solved, is that many of the inner tube floaters bring along coolers packed with glass beer and liquor bottles for their day on the water. Some of them seem to delight in smashing their empties. Pilings under the railroad bridge and rocks in the river are popular targets.
Others just discard the glass containers wherever they are. Most of the bottles end up getting broken, and the shards of glass lurk on our once pristine sandy river bottom and beach, waiting to slash our children when they swim or build sand castles.
Am sure those who enjoy rivers and streams in other places have the same problem.
Am hoping to get public support for a new law that would at least help solve the problem and shouldn't make anybody too mad except those who manufacture beer bottles.
We need a law that imposes severe fines on anyone who brings glass containers aboard any boat, raft, inner tube, canoe, kayak, pontoon, whatever, that floats on public waters. Double the fine for anyone who deliberately disposes of a glass container in a public water, whether afloat or ashore.
Such a law won't spoil anyone's enjoyment. In today's world, glass containers simply aren't necessary. Put your food or beverage of choice in a safe container. Aluminum cans and plastic pose their own problems, but they aren't nearly as dangerous as broken beer bottles and the like. And they make life a lot easier for those of us who clean up after the careless, thoughtless people who litter without regard for the consequences. Getting the last shards of glass out of the sand is nearly impossible!
Anyone who has ever made a trip to the emergency room because a child severed an artery will know how badly such a law is needed.
Hope the DNR rule makers and our state legislators are listening. Plan to contact them personally, and hope you do too.
Feel free to make copies of this suggestion and pass it along to whoever you think will listen.
NO CATHOLICS ALLOWED
All this brouhaha over who gets to use which restroom is a clear signal that the brand label on "Guess" jeans is more appropriate than ever.
According to a recent web news article, holding to a philosophic opinion that differs from the current "in" view that there are no real differences between men and women and that choice of restrooms should depend on what sex someone thinks they are seems to have gotten Javier Javez fired from his job as a senior store detective at Macy's in Flushing, New York.
Javez claims he was fired for being a practicing Catholic and has sued his former employers. The case is now before the New York State Division of Human Rights.
In May, Javez was informed by a security employee who reports to him that a male had entered the ladies room with a female companion. Another female customer and her daughter were afraid to enter because of the man's presence. The security employee advised the man to use men's room. The man, who claimed to be a female, left and then complained to store officials.
Javez was subsequently told by an assistant store manager that certain males can use the ladies restroom. This was news to him. A few days later, an assistant security manager told him that transgender persons can use the bathroom of their choice.
Javez reportedly said he had just become aware of this policy, but dared to say out loud that this male/female confusion was contrary to his religion (Catholic) and to the Bible, but also said he would enforce Macy's policy, not his own.
Javez was then summoned to meet with the human resources manager, who suspended him. He was later terminated.
In his formal complaint Javez said he was terminated because of his religion, and that it happened only after his superiors learned he was a practicing Catholic.
In his web-posted article reporting the lawsuit, Bill Donohue, president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said Javez was fired for merely holding beliefs that are contrary to the store's policy, and added, "This is what totalitarian regimes do, not American commercial establishments!"
Agree with him totally. Being punished for our beliefs is contrary to everything America stands for!
Enjoy the goodies while they're fresh. Garden treats are coming in, farmers' markets are open, raspberries are ripe, and so are blueberries.
BLT STUFFED TOMATOES
18 large cherry tomatoes (10 ounces), about 1-1/4 inches in diameter
2 ounces (1/4 of an 8-block) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons finely chopped romaine lettuce
3 tablespoons crushed seasoned croutons
Cut tops off tomatoes; discard. Scoop out seeds. Drain tomatoes, cut sides down, on paper towels. Meanwhile, mix cream cheese and mayo in medium bowl until blended. Stir in bacon and lettuce. Spoon cream cheese mixture into tomatoes just before serving and top with crushed croutons.
BASIC SWITCHEL RECIPE
1 gallon plain, unchlorinated water (or use 1 or 2 quarts to make a switchel "base" suitable for diluting with seltzer, alcohol, or fruit juice)
1 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 cup (or less, taste until you get the right blend of sweet and sour) pure maple syrup
Stir all ingredients together and chill.
Optional: Grate a knob of fresh ginger root into one cup of the water, bring to a boil, and let sit for an hour or more. Then strain, pressing to remove the ginger juice, and mix the juice with the other switchel ingredients.
Serve switchel cold or warm with a cinnamon stick or a bit of grated ginger. The warm version tastes a bit like mulled cider, only better. Some folks spike it with beer or vodka; others add plain or flavored seltzer to a concentrated switchel base.
ALTERNATE SWITCHEL RECIPE
1 gallon water
2 cups raw or dark brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Mix. Chill. Serve in mason jars. (Add rum, vodka or flavored liqueur if you like.)
KENTUCKY STYLE DANDELION GREENS
1 to 1 1/2 gallons tender dandelion greens
1 1/2 quarts water
1 smoked-ham bone, with some meat on it
Salt and pepper
Gather greens (crown and buds may be included if desired). Avoid the spiky-toothed greens. Those with milky pith are bitter, but the smoother, younger greens are not. If you use the buds, snip off as close as you can get. The stems can be bitter. Wash greens. Drain. Refrigerate if not used immediately. Simmer ham bone in water for 1 hour or until meat falls away from bone. Add greens. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until greens are tender. Season greens with salt and pepper during cooking. Serve greens with pot liquor poured over them. Accompany with cornbread, pot liquor dodgers or corn meal dumplings, which are best if you cook them on top of the greens.
BATTER FRIED DANDELIONS
Cool, lightly salted water
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch pepper
Pick new dandelion blossoms, preferably the ones on short stems. Rinse in cool, lightly salted water. Cut off stem ends close to flower heads, leaving just enough to hold petals together. Roll flowers in paper towels to remove excess moisture and let drain while you make the batter by combining egg, milk, flour, salt and pepper. Dip flowers into batter. Drop batter-coated blossoms one by one into deep fryer set at 375 degrees. Fry until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper and sprinkle with more salt as taste dictates. Enjoy!
1 quart dandelion blossoms
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package (1 3/4 oz) powdered fruit pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar
Pick the dandelion blossoms and rinse thoroughly. Snip stem and green collar. Boil petals in 2 quarts water for 3 minutes. Cool and strain, pressing petals with fingers to extract juice. Measure out 3 cups of dandelion liquid. Add lemon juice and powdered fruit pectin. Bring mixture to a boil in a large jelly kettle. Add sugar, stirring to mix well. Continue stirring and boil mixture for two and a half minutes. Pour into small jelly glasses and cover with parafin when jelly is cool, or put into jelly jars with regular canning lids. Put lids on while the jelly is hot and then process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Thought for the week: We need to stop being so politically correct that we're afraid to speak up for what we believe in. To say and do nothing to stop evil when we see it makes us nearly as guilty as the parties who do the deeds. As an unknown philosopher said not too long ago, "Be true to yourself, follow your conscience, and be a person you can smile at when you look in the mirror every morning. In short, be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." And you might very well change the mind of someone who does matter!
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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