Autumn keeps rushing by. In one month, Halloween will be here. Then come Deer Season and Thanksgiving, and a month later, Christmas! Was chilly enough on a few recent nights that frost was threatening in northern parts of the county, but it didn't happen. Meanwhile, the rain keeps falling. Thank goodness it isn't snow!
PESHTIGO HISTORICAL DAY
Seems like Someone Upstairs is looking out for Marinette County communities, and the people who enjoy the events they sponsor. Wisconsin weather is highly unpredictable, but here in TIMESland we're generally blessed with sunshine for special outdoor festivities.
After spending all of last week getting nasty, rainy drizzles out of its system, the weather did an about face on Saturday, and Peshtigo Historical Day was bright, blue and beautiful - a perfect Fall day.
The parade was impressive, crowds were great, music was excellent, and a well-laid out variety of stands in and around Badger Park offered a variety of items, including food and drink at very reasonable prices. Definitely a "mark it on your calendar" event for next year!
The fireworks display at night lasted only 15 minutes, but a great 15 minutes it was, a fitting finale to the summer season in Peshtigo.
A highlight of the Badger Park displays was an encampment of the Fur Trapper's Rendezvous Reenactment group that camped at the park with authentic period clothing, tools, weapons, cooking implements, etc. to depict what life was like for the fur trappers who ventured into the wilderness that was Wisconsin in the 1700 and 1800s. This particular reenactment group focuses on the French and Indian War fought between Britain and France in North America between 1756 and 1763.
That war led to England's taking over Canada, and indirectly caused the Revolutionary War, since many in Britain felt it was just to charge the American colonists additional taxes to pay the debts England had incurred in fighting it.
Regardless, most frontiersmen in that era, French and English alike, earned their livings by fur trapping and trading, and it was that trade that eventually led to the settlement of Marinette and Peshtigo.
The reenactment group that settled in Badger Park for the Historical Day weekend has members from all over Wisconsin, including Mr. and Mrs. Rick Prince from Crivitz, and at least one member from Menominee.
Prince said things went so well this year at the Badger Park encampment that next year more members will join them.
This is the same group that has been doing renovation work on the log cabins at McClintock Park in the northern corner of the county at no charge, in exchange for being allowed to use the cabins for their winter encampment. Because their membership includes masons, carpenters and other construction professionals, this is a real bonus for Marinette County.
HOW THINGS WERE
Speaking of how things were, recently came across an old cookbook written by descendants of some of the early German settlers who came to America by way of Russia.
First printed in 1973 by the American Historical Society of Germans From Russia, the cookbook features recipes and recollections passed down from grandparents and great grandparents who gave up their old lives in Europe to become American pioneers.
These people knew how to care for themselves. Recollections of Rachel Zeiler Amen include tales of how her family put food up for the winter. They didn't buy many groceries in those days, "our only trips were to haul drinking water to put in the cistern once a week." Sometimes they did go to town to buy clothes, and they went to church on Sundays.
Preparations for winter started with sterilizing and sweetening all the necessary barrels, crocks and bins by applying quantities of boiling water and sunshine.
Pickled watermelons seemed to be a big thing. Then came kraut making. The author recalls her two younger brothers being required to scrub their feet thoroughly and then stomp the salted cabbage until a liquid stood on top. After several weeks of aging with a rock-weighted plate on top, the kraut was ready for cooking. It would also keep for the winter.
Other cabbages were put in a bin in the cellar, carrots were dug and put in a bin in sand. Apples were put in a crock with spices, vinegar and sugar to make what she called "eingamachte Apfel," which she recalled were very good.
Tomato vines were pulled up and hung upside down in the granary and sometimes they picked tomatoes until Thanksgiving.
Jellies and apple butter were put in gallon crocks and sealed with wax. She recalled once counting 30 gallons of fruit jams and jellies in their storeroom.
Someone really did a lot of work!
ON THE SOAP BOX
Speaking of preparations, a friend says he's getting a bit tired of all the politics - and lies - we're treated to as the time for the hotly contested presidential election draws near.
Remember the movie, "Ideocracy?" It tells of an average intelligent pair from today who were transported a couple hundred years into the future and then forgotten.
The world they found was overwhelmed with garbage and genetic stupidity. As explained in the movie, that happened because people quit reading, made fun of learning, and the less intelligent segment of the population over the years had more and more children, while the educated and intelligent people often put off procreating until it was too late, and so they had none. Mentality of the gene pool kept getting weaker and weaker.
Any way, one of the biggest problems the visitors from our time found in that future world was that crops were failing everywhere. Fields were being watered with Gatorade, because they believed plain water was only suitable for flushing toilets. Gatorade salts were killing the land, but they wouldn't believe it.
Well, my friend said he watched that movie again last week, to prepare for Monday night's broadcast of the first in a round of debates between presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
By coincidence, I too had just re-watched that movie, and it left me more convinced than ever that we are indeed headed exactly toward the world that "Ideocracy" predicts.
We don't need monsters to make things scary!
Let's hope when we go to the polls in November we choose the person most likely to get our nation back on the track to greatness and halt our headlong rush to idiotic dependency on a government that wants to do our thinking for us.
Not that it matters, but just learned that humans and giraffes have the same number of bones in their necks: eight. Giraffe neck vertebrae are just much, much longer.
Wonder, is that true of other critters as well, like chickens, turkeys, deer, etc.?
Harvest time is drawing to a close, but gardens and orchards continue to provide us with fruits (and vegetables) to reward our labors - or the labors of generous friends and neighbors. Cook, can, freeze and enjoy! The season is short. We'll be making Jack "O' Lanterns before long, so plan now to toast some seeds for healthy snacking.
MEATY ITALIAN SQUASH
Great low carb, gluten free recipe for a really healthy meal full of garden veggies. Or skip the squash. This meaty Italian sauce goes just as well with real spaghetti as it does with spaghetti squash. If you have an abundance of meaty fresh tomatoes, scald, peel and dice two and a half to three cups of them and use in place of the canned tomatoes. If you don't have fresh herbs, use dried and crumbled, but instead of a quarter cup, use perhaps 2 teaspoons each of the basil and oregano, and a half teaspoon of the thyme. Herbs should be added near the end of the cooking time.
1/4 cup water
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 zucchini, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups diced fresh or canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme, or to taste
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour water into a baking dish. Place squash halves with cut sides down in baking dish; roast for until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. While squash is baking, cook and stir ground beef, mushrooms, onions and garlic in a skillet over medium-high heat until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain any excess grease. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir in the zucchini, green and red bell peppers, and tomatoes. Simmer over medium heat until vegetables are cooked through and tender, about 20 minutes. Add the herbs and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, while you finish preparing spaghetti squash. Add water if it gets too thick. Scrape the inside of hot spaghetti squash halves with a fork to shred the squash into strands. Drizzle each serving of spaghetti squash with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and top with a generous amount of meat sauce. Do the same if you use real spaghetti.
SPICY GLAZED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Sriracha, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim base away from the Brussels sprouts and discard. Cut each sprout in half. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, honey and Sriracha to combine. Toss in the Brussels sprouts and stir until coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spray or lightly oil a baking sheet. Place the sprouts on it, cut side down. Pour over them any of the oil mixture that is left and tilt the pan to distribute it evenly. Roast 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sprouts are crispy on the outside and golden and caramelized on the cut side. Serve immediately.
NO BAKE PUMPKIN BITES
Make these healthy little bites if you bake a pumpkin for future use, or if you have a bit of canned pumpkin left after making pumpkin bread or the like. You can vary this easy recipe in multiple ways. Leave the coconut out, and add corn chex, nuts or more dried fruit instead. Substitute baked squash or sweet potatoes for the pumpkin, crancherries or craisins for the dates, maple syrup for the honey, wheat germ for the flax. You get the idea.
8 ounces (about 1 packed cup) chopped dates
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon chia or flax seeds or ground pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (dry, not cooked)
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Crushed graham cracker crumbs or powdered sugar
Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia (or flax) seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the oats, coconut flakes and pepitas until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Chilling makes it easier to work with. Shape it into your desired size of energy balls, probably about an inch. If they're too sticky, add some more oatmeal, crushed breakfast cereal, or wheat germ. When done, roll in crushed cracker crumbs or powdered sugar.
Instead of rolling into balls, you could press bite-size amounts into mini-muffin papers, or line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and press the mixture evenly into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Pumpkin seeds are a very healthy treat, and practically no cost if you're making jack "O' lanterns or preparing pumpkin pie from scratch.
Large seeds from ripe Hubbard and Buttercup squash also toast well. All you really need is water, salt, a sharp knife, a sturdy metal spoon, a colander or strainer, a towel, a baking sheet, butter or olive oil, and an oven.
If you'll be carving your pumpkin for Halloween, cut a hole about 6 inches in diameter in the top, leaving the stem intact. Use an ice cream scoop, spoon or use your hands to scrape out the pumpkin innards. Try to separate the flesh from the seeds as much as possible before collecting the seeds in your strainer. It's a messy job, but it's worth it. If you'll be roasting the pumpkin, just cut it in half and scoop out the seeds before baking. Thoroughly rinse the seeds under cold running water. If you set the colander in a bowl of water most of the seeds will float to the top. Either way, get your hands in there to further separate seeds from the rest of the pumpkin bits. Boil the seeds for about 15 minutes in salted water, then strain again, put onto the towel and pat dry. Then let them dry the rest of the way and proceed with the steps for roasting. Or skip the boiling step and just let the seeds dry. Once they're dry, toss with the oil and seasonings and roast as if they had been boiled.
1 cup pumpkin seeds from fresh pumpkin
2 teaspoons melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Other seasonings if you like
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss seeds with melted butter or olive oil; stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and whatever other seasonings you want and stir again. Dump onto the baking sheet and distribute into a single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown and crisp, stirring once. Cool completely before serving.
To vary the flavors, for each cup of raw seeds add:
Italian: 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.
Sweet: 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Savory: 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon seasoned salt. After they're baked toss in a teaspoon of white vinegar.
Spicy: Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and half a teaspoon Cajun seasoning. After they're baked add a half teaspoon fresh lime zest.
I could see these at a Halloween party, tinted various colors, and served with the pretense that they're teeth. Maybe red food coloring for the spicy, and tell the kids they're vampire teeth, tinted with blood. Color the savory ones green and say the previous owner snacked on goblins.
Am told that once cooked the white outer shells on pumpkin seeds are quite digestible, and in fact provide a good source of zinc. Nevertheless, I'd rather peel the seeds if they're being used in a recipe. Tedious, but not so bad if you do it after they're toasted and while watching TV.
Otherwise, break down and buy real pepitas. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds, but not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas. Pepitas come from a special type of pumpkin that doesn't have shells on its seeds in the first place.
Thought for the week: Donations to worthy causes are good, but true charity isn't just donating money or goods, it is love for our fellow man, which often means offering help and support quietly wherever it's needed. People with true charity in their hearts are the richest people in the world regardless how much money they have. As Bob Hope once said, "If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble."
(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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