Country Cousin - Autumn is Here!...
Autumn is definitely here. There's a nip in the air. Apples are turning red, pears are turning yellow, and nuts are turning brown. And in the evening, we definitely must put a sweater on no matter how warm the day has been. The air seems clearer, somehow on days and nights when it isn't raining or foggy. Was sky watching one night last week after the moon had gone to bed. The sky was so clear, the stars were so bright that I swear I could pick out individual stars in the Milky Way. Incredible!
Then, on Saturday night at about midnight there was just half a moon, but what a half a moon it was! Bright as a pumpkin, and as big as the pumpkin that made Cinderella's coach. Wonderful golden object glowing in the sky. Bright as daylight. Had to look twice to realize it actually was the moon.
Now, there's a full moon scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16. If it is half as awesome for a full moon as last Friday's was for a half moon it should be a marvelous sight to see, certainly worth waiting up for!
OKTOBER IN SEPTEMBER
The big Oktoberfest celebration in Crivitz is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 17. There will be live music throughout the day, German food (to observe the German heritage of the community which is named for its Sister City of Crivitz, Germany), entertainment for kids and some adult games like the "starken mann" stein lifting contest, which translates to "naked man."
Recently learned there's a brand new Federal holiday to celebrate the signing of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Actually, the holiday was proclaimed in a law that was passed in 2004, but it wasn't until I spotted it on this year's calendar that I even knew it existed! That's pretty sad.
The United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain in July of 1776, but nobody knew at that time what the new nation would be like. There even was talk of making it a monarchy, with George Washington as its first king. It wasn't until the Constitution was signed nine years later that we really became a nation. September 17, 1787 was the true birthday of our nation, a nation that was entirely unlike any other in the world at that time.
God has blessed America in many ways, but His main blessing was giving us a group of remarkable, intelligent men at the right time to forge the groundwork of a truly independent nation with liberty and justice for all.
Ironic that there is so little recognition of the day that marks the signing of what is arguably the finest political document in the history of mankind.
According to Wikipedia, drafting of the Constitution began on May 25, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum at the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, and ended on September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution drafted by the convention's delegates to replace the Articles was adopted and signed. The ratification process for the Constitution began that day, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790, three years later.
That Constitution has served us well for 229 years, but today it is under a lot of fire. The courts keep reinterpreting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that go with it in ways that change the intent of the men who drafted them.
Sept. 17 is identified as both Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, but by both titles it is a day when Americans are supposed to express pride in citizenship and schools are supposed to teach about the Constitution and responsibilities of citizenship. Sad that citizenship is being so much downplayed today that football "heroes" refuse to respect the national anthem and courts recently struck down a requirement for would-be voters to present proof of citizenship before casting their ballots.
Our nation is in real danger when non-citizens who have no love for this land and no knowledge of its history are allowed to choose the people who govern us.
TITLES OF NOBILITY
One amendment to the Constitution proposed in 1810 but never adopted would have stripped United States citizenship from anyone who accepted a title of nobility from a foreign government. It was approved by Congress, and twice between 1812 and 1816 it came within two states of being adopted, but it never was. It also was never rescinded, and there was no time limit on adoption, so it apparently is out there as a possibility today. Wonder how that would work legally? Would ratification by two more states now make it officially a law of the land?
Every year at this time I promise myself to get a patch of dill started, but never have gotten it done. Guess that's because dill is supposed to be planted in Spring, but I don't really need it until Fall. Anyway, I'm usually lucky enough to find a friend who has excess dill, so I can make dill pickles and dilly green beans and have ferns left over to snip for dilled creamy cucumbers, and some to dry or freeze for creamed dishes later in the year.
This year, for whatever reason, dill seems to be in short supply. Roadside stands and supermarkets didn't have it when I had the other ingredients for pickles.
So I renewed my resolve to get my own patch started. Checked on growing tips, and learned that although dill is an annual, it will reproduce in the same spot each year if the soil is left undisturbed after it goes to seed. Guess that's why I always thought it was a perennial.
That said, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac, dill should be planted in spring, in the place where it is to grow because it doesn't transplant well. They don't say why, but they advise putting it next to cabbage or onions, but not anywhere near carrots.
Plant in spring in rich soil that has reached 60 or 70 degrees. Because dill does not transplant well, sow it directly to the garden. The one time I did try planting it, it did not do well planted directly in the garden either, but the soil where I put it is very sandy and I failed to keep it watered. Maybe that's why.
Anyway, sow about a quarter-inch deep, and rake seeds gently into the soil. Keep watered. Plants should appear in 10 to 14 days, and after another 10 days or so, thin to 18 inches apart. Plant every two weeks to keep a steady supply coming. You can start harvesting when the plant has four or five leaves . For an extended harvest, do not let it flower. On the other hand, if you want dill seed heads, you have to let it flower. Take your pick. Probably should plant enough to do it both ways.
Incidentally, chewing on dill seeds chases away bad breath. And actually, they do taste good.
Talked with a lady some time ago who has lived to be 100. She attributed her long life and continued good health to eating at least one dill pickle every day of her life.
ON THE SOAP BOX
Back when the Marinette County Board was contemplating its new Law Enforcement Center there were some serious discussions on how to pay for it.
Eventually, a series of public meetings were held throughout the county. The county officials who conducted those meetings proposed funding the building by imposing a brand new half a percent county sales tax. They promised that once the building was paid for the sales tax would end. That promise is why, when the sales tax ordinance was adopted it included a provision that it would "sunset" in 2021.
The public understood the need, and accepted the promise. The sales tax was to be used only for debt payment and property tax reduction. Paying expenses of the Tourism Alliance was added later because their advertising is considered an investment that brings in more sales tax dollars.
Well, the Law Enforcement Center was built, and payments are on schedule. Sales tax proceeds have been much higher than anticipated. Amounts over the dollars needed to repay the original bond issue are now being used to pay off new debts incurred in recent years for other capital improvements. Perhaps that could be considered property tax reduction.
However, the sales tax is still slated to end in 2021, but the new debt payments, even if there is no new borrowing from now into the future, will not end until 2026.
So County Board is being asked on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to approve an ordinance change that permanently removes the sunset clause from the sales tax ordinance.
Mark Anderson, who was County Board chair back when the promises were made, and was reelected to that position in April of this year after being off the board for over a decade, has been trying to stop the borrowing, and put off a decision on extending the sales tax until a future board makes that decision five years from now - in 2021. For those efforts he is being sharply criticized by some fellow supervisors.
Some who were part of County Board when the sales tax was approved, Yours Truly included, feel betrayed that the present board is breaking the promises they made, and in effect turning them into liars after the fact.
Not that the sales tax is a bad thing. That is one tax over which the people who pay it have some control. Unlike property taxes and income taxes, if you do not have the money to pay the sales tax, you can cut your expenses by not buying taxable goods. Except for vehicle fuels, true essentials are mostly not subject to sales tax.
Regardless, before the current County Board breaks promises made nearly two decades ago, they should again hold public hearings, perhaps have a referendum, to find out if the tax paying public would rather keep paying the sales tax or deal with higher property taxes and/or deep cuts in nonessential "services" in the county budget. The state property tax levy limits apply only to operating expenses, not to levies for debt retirement.
Things like snow plowing, highway maintenance, crime and punishment, protecting the helpless, park and forest maintenance, and a few other items are essential government services. Lots of other things our tax dollars are spent on fall into the category of "wants," rather than "needs," and should be cut back or at least looked at very closely. Eliminating some of the regulations and money spent to enforce them would be an improvement in addition to saving taxes. That applies to all levels of government, not just county!
County population has gone up hardly at all, but partly thanks to new state and federal laws, the number of county employees in most departments has risen exponentially. Are they all really necessary? Are the so-called services really necessary? Could we do without them? Could we do a better job spending our own money rather than delegate that authority to bureaucrats and the politicians who hire them?
At the very least, elected officials who try to rein in the spending and borrowing should not come in for public criticism as a reward for their efforts!
We've all heard of Murphy's Law, and I personally even knew Murphy (Jim), but did you know all sorts of other folks have been pronouncing laws, rules and maxims of their own?
Churchill's Commentary on Man: Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
Sattinger's Law: "It works better if you plug it in." That one is related to Cahn's Axiom: "When all else fails, read the instructions."
Jone's Motto: "Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate."
Knight's Law: "Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans."
Krueger's Observation: "A taxpayer is someone who does not have to take a civil service exam in order to work for the government."
And finally, the Ultimate Law, "All general statements are false."
ROASTED GARLIC RATATOUILLE
This recipe combines a whole raft of fall veggies into one delicious dish. Because it uses a lot of fresh vegetables it sounds long, but it's really easy to put together. Perfect snack for football games, as long as everybody eats some, because it's kind of heavy on the garlic. Serves 4 to 6.
1 head roasted garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon white wine
1/4 chopped onion
1 packet Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Dip (not made), divided
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan
fresh thyme, optional
1 long red bell pepper
1 medium-large zucchini
1 large yellow squash
Grated Parmesan, to garnish
At least 4 ounces softened goat cheese, or cream cheese, for spreading
Crusty French bread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a sharp knife to cut off the top of the head of garlic so that the inner flesh is revealed. Remove the papery layers on the outside that come off easily, but don't take them all off because you want the head to remain intact. Place the head of garlic on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle with two teaspoons olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, place on a baking sheet, and roast for about 25 minutes. While the garlic bakes, prepare the other vegetables. Use a sharp knife to cut out the top of the red bell pepper. Remove as much of the core as you can, leaving the pepper in its original shape. Use a sharp knife to slice the pepper, zucchini, squash, and eggplant into rings. When when the roasted garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft cloves of garlic into a small saucepan. Mash with a fork. Turn the heat to medium and add cream, wine, onion, and 1 tablespoon of the dip package. When is starts to bubble slightly, add the Parmesan. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Add fresh thyme to taste, if you want. Set oven at 375 degrees. Spray a 10-inch cast iron skillet or same-size glass baking dish with cooking spray, pour in the garlic sauce and set aside. Layer the prepared vegetables in the skillet on top of the garlic sauce, in whatever order you want, starting on the outside edge. Continue layering until you run out of vegetables. Sprinkle the remainder of the ranch packet over the vegetables. You don't have to use all of it. Cut out a circle of parchment paper that is about the size of your skillet and lay it on top of the vegetables to keep them from getting brown and dried out. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. When it's time to snack - or feast - toast slices of bread, spread it with goat cheese, and spoon some of the ratatouille on top. Enjoy!
Italian eggplants, are long and skinny, perfect for ratatouille. If you can't find one, buy a regular eggplant, half or quarter it lengthwise, then slice thin.
You can make this ahead if you want. Up to two days ahead, make the sauce and store it covered in the fridge. Slice all the veggies except the eggplant (it will get brown) and store in ziplocks or tupperware in the fridge. Assemble and bake just before serving.
NO BAKE BRAN BREAKFAST BARS
Make a batch of these, and you'll have a quick breakfast or healthy afternoon snack for busy youngsters on the run. Best enjoyed with a glass of milk. These are so good you may have to hide them from yourself and hubby to be sure there are some left for the kids. Each bar does have 200 calories and 32 grams of carbs, but If made with Total Raisin Bran, each also has 4 grams of protein, plus 4 percent of the Vitamin A, 35 percent of the calcium, and 35 percent of the iron that kids need each day.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup or honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups Raisin Bran cereal
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or sliced almonds
Butter a square pan, 8x8x2 inches. Heat brown sugar and corn syrup just to boiling in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter and cinnamon until smooth. Stir in cereal and peanuts or almonds until evenly coated. Press firmly in pan. Let stand about 1 hour or until set. Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Thought for the week: Lord, in this time of harvests, we marvel at Your bounty. You have truly blessed this land of milk and honey, where fruits and vegetables are ours for the picking, and fish, fowl and meats are in abundance. Give those of us who have too much the grace to seek out those who have too little and share with them. You have provided plenty for all, and for this we thank You. Please help us use it wisely. Amen.
The Country Cousin
(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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