Country Cousin - God Bless Us, One & All!...
Winter officially arrived on Dec. 21, but actually, he sort of jumped the gun. With almost no warning we went from a mild mannered long-lasting Fall into full blown Winter. Sub zero weather in December is definitely not normal, and we certainly are not ready for it. Our bodies need time to adjust. Snow is here to stay for a while, but hopefully the cold is expected to moderate before this week ends. The weatherman is offering some hope for a shivering TIMESland. When it warms up to 30 degrees we'll think it's a heat wave.
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
For centuries Christians celebrated Twelve Days of Christmas, starting with Dec. 25 and ending Jan. 6.
Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, were for penitence and preparation.
Dec. 25 was a solemn religious holiday. Twelfth Night was the major day of celebrating, gift giving, etc. Jan. 6 was in many lands the day for taking down the decorations of the season. To do so sooner was thought to bring misfortune.
Today, Christmas starts before Thanksgiving, and some folks have their tree out of the house before New Years. The Twelve Days of Christmas are no more! that's really sort of sad.
Remember when the tree wasn't lighted until Christmas Eve, and no one would think of making a Christmas visit before the big day? That was time for getting ready, and to interfere was unthinkable.
After Christmas we kept the gifts neatly stacked under the tree, and folks spent the time between Christmas and New Year's admiring gifts and trees and sharing some Christmas cheer.
We kids got to play with our new toys, but they went back under the tree when we were done. Ditto with clothing. We could wear our new garb, but after wearing it went back in the box, on which the bow and the wrapping were preferably left intact. Made the enjoyment last longer.
Now it's all over so quickly! Trees are gone before New Year's Eve. Why do we even bother to wrap the gifts Santa puts under the tree? At least they make a nice photograph.
My father's French Canadian grandparents lived in Walsh, and they followed some of the old time French Christmas traditions. To them, Dec. 24 and 25 were very holy days, celebrated with a lot of church and solemnity.
New Year's was the time for riotous family get-togethers, feasting and gift exchanges, and the whole family gathered at his grandparents' house. They traveled mostly by horse-drawn sleigh or on foot. Regardless the mode of travel, was definitely an overnight trip.
Theirs was a big family. It was a big house, but there wasn't room for everyone to sleep inside. Dad said the adults, younger children and girls slept in his grandparents' big house, but the older boys slept in the barn's hay mow. Probably a bit chilly, but he said it wasn't too bad, what with the hay and the animals below to help them keep warm.
SLEEPING IN A MANGER
Read in a recent news account that when Rev. Katie Grover arrived on a recent morning at Patapsco United Methodist Church, one of two congregations she pastors in the Baltimore area, she was surprised to find a $12,000 citation attached to the door.
According to the citation, the church, located on a busy street in Dundalk, Md., had violated a county regulation that prohibits "non-permitted rooming and boarding" houses by allowing homeless individuals to sleep on church grounds and failing "to cease exterior use of property as housing units," read the inspector's comments. "People still living in rear of property under tarped area."
Now Grover isn't sure what to do. Says evicting people who have nowhere else to go doesn't seem very Christian.
She reminds those complaining that they, too, are children of God. "I'm not trying to be adversarial with anyone. We're just trying to do what a church is called to do, and that's to love people," she says. "In Scripture, it talks about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick. Whatever we've done to the least of these, it's as if we've done it to Christ himself."
Encounters between homeless people and law enforcement can often be hostile. One reason for this hostility is the existence of harsh laws on the books that criminalize homelessness. A key finding of a recent study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) found that "laws punishing the life-sustaining conduct of homeless people have increased in every measured category since 2006." Over the past 10 years, the number of cities that ban living in vehicles has increased by 143 percent according to NLCHP spokesman Maria Foscarinis.
Grover finds it ironic that the notice ordering her to evict the homeless from her church grounds comes at Christmas. She pointed out that the Christian nativity story includes homelessness. "Mary and Joseph gave birth to the Messiah in a stable because there wasn't any room for them anywhere else."
"Here we are in this Christmas season where we celebrate the coming of Christ, and we're battling whether a person can sleep outside ...outside! ... on a bench."
Wonder what Nativity Scenes would look like if the Bethlehem had refused to allow Mary and Joseph to take shelter in that stable when there was no room for them at the inn?
From inside a jail cell the star wouldn't have been able to shine on the Infant Jesus. He wouldn't have been lying in a manger, the angel songs probably wouldn't have been audible, and certainly the shepherds and wise men wouldn't have been able to pay homage to their New Born King!
You know, maybe officials should be careful who they evict!
Partly the city's action came because of complaints from one or more neighbors, who were somewhat rightly upset about unsanitary conditions because there are no outdoor "facilities" for the homeless who make the church grounds their nesting place, so their yards get used.
Maybe the simple solution here would be for some generous donor to provide the church with an outdoor privy, and the city of Dundalk, Md. should create a new law allowing that to happen. In case they didn't know, most folks who sleep on church steps, outdoor benches, or in their vehicles do it because they have nowhere else to go!
The hue and cry over what some see as a pressing need for a change in our Electoral College system of selecting a president has brought criticisms that it is an "antiquated and fundamentally undemocratic institution."
Study history, folks. America was created as a Republic, not a Democracy, and for a very good reason. That reason is to prevent the minorities (these days, single white males) from being trodden on by the majority.
Would it be fair for those who live in heavily populated major metropolitan states to have all the say in our presidential elections, leaving those of us in the hinterlands with no voice at all?
Doesn't sound fair to me.
That said, read somewhere that everyone has a right to be stupid, but politicians abuse the privilege. Unfortunately, too many of us who aren't even politicians don't recognize stupidity either. For example, there's a great deal of fuss because of the Democratic Party e-mails they claim were hacked and made public by Russia.
Are the Hillary Clinton die hard supporters seriously more concerned that someone let the cat out of the bag and told the American public the truth while there was still time for it to make a difference than they are that their candidate and her campaign staff pulled some pretty nasty shenanigans against one of their own?
Guess someone told them that's what they should think, and they believe it.
Doesn't it strike anyone as more than slightly ridiculous that no one is denying the content of the damaging e-mails?
If the Hillary supporters were upset over lies being spread about her, fine. But they're upset that the truth was revealed. Incredible!
What a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack!
Incidentally, hear a lot about how we need to reassure the "disappointed" young Hillary and/or Bernie backers that their votes do count, even if they didn't win the election.
Wouldn't you think anybody old enough to vote and smart enough to go to college should be adult enough to understand that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Loosing does not necessarily mean the game is rigged, and it does NOT give you the right to loot, steal, riot, burn and smash store windows!
Christmas is all but here, and New Year's is coming on fast. The holidays mean get-togethers, and to almost everyone, that means food. Hopefully, especially good food that they'll still be talking about next year.
Serves a crowd. Perfect for New Year's Eve or a Super Bowl party. You need a large Nesco pan to make the full recipe. Feel free to cut it down.
1 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
16 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 pound bacon, sliced and diced
8 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons flour
3 pounds chorizo, sliced into chunks (Mettwurst or smoked sausage will work)
3 pounds cooked ham, cut into half inch pieces
1 tablespoon dried thyme (use more or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more, if you like it hot. Original recipe calls for 4 teaspoons.)
5 cups chicken stock
6 cans (14.5 ounces) peeled and diced tomatoes, with juice
4 green bell peppers, diced
6 cups uncooked white rice
10 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
Mix marinade ingredients in a large, shallow glass baking dish. Place chicken in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours. Sauté bacon in a Dutch oven or large heavy frying pan over medium heat until brown. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Mix in flour and sausage. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. Add the ham, thyme, cayenne, chicken stock, tomatoes with their juice, and green peppers. Put into large Nesco pan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and cover. Cook for 25 minutes. (At this point, you can remove it from the heat and cool it completely, then refrigerate.) About two hours before serving time preheat oven to 500 degrees. Discard the marinade and bake the chicken breasts for 12 minutes or until the meat is firm when pressed with finger. Let these get cool enough to handle and cut into bite-sized pieces. If you have chilled the basic Jambalaya mixture, reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees and set the pan (plastic wrap removed) into it on a large baking tray filled with water. Alternatively, put it into the Nesco roaster and set temperature to 250 degrees. Let it heat until warm, which should take about two hours. Just before serving time bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the tablespoon of salt, then the shrimp. Cook three minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Drain well. Just before serving time, stir the chicken pieces and shrimp into the rice mixture. Pass the Tabasco sauce.
You've heard of Shake "n' Bake? Well, these are just shake. No baking involved at all. This incredibly easy treat will doubtless become another family tradition. I don't usually like pretzels unless they're coated with chocolate, but I love these. Have used this recipe before, but had to repeat it because they're so good and so easy. Got the recipe from Coleman School District's Barb Krause-Klug years ago, but she gave the credit to another District employee, Faye Tress, who was good enough to share it with her. Barb says the pretzels last several weeks in zipper type plastic bags, so you can make a batch or two and enjoy them all through the holiday season and Super Bowl besides.
40 to 50 ounces thin straight salted pretzels
1 12 oz bottle Orville Redenbacher buttery flavored popcorn oil
1 pkg. ranch seasoning (salad dressing mix)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tsp dill weed
Put the pretzels in a large plastic bowl with a tight fitting lid. Mix together the oil and all the seasonings and pour this mixture over the pretzels. Put the cover on the bowl and shake. Turn upside down if the cover fits tightly enough. During the next hour shake four or five more times - maybe once every ten to fifteen minutes. They're done. Store however you want - even in the bowl you made them in. Or put into plastic bags to be stored and served as needed.
IRISH CREAM ICED CAPPUCCINO
This is very good served hot or iced. Make it low calorie, low carb if you must by using the low carb sweeteners and low fat milk.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
1 cup water
1/2 cup Equal Spoonful (may substitute 12 packets Equal sweetener or half cup real sugar if it doesn't matter)
6 cup fat-free (or whole) milk
1/2 cup Irish cream liquid coffee creamer (or use real Irish Cream, but the calorie count will change)
Ice cubes, if you want them
Whisk together cocoa, instant coffee, sugar (If you're using it. Don't add the Equal yet.) and water in a large saucepan until smooth. Bring to boiling over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Remove mixture from heat. Cool slightly, then stir in Equal. Whisk in milk and creamer or Irish Cream. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Serve over ice cubes or heated, as you prefer. Makes eight servings. With the low carb, low fat ingredients, each serving has 123 calories, with 2 grams fat, 4 mg cholesterol: 102 mg sodium, and 9 grams protein. Equals 1 1/2 milk on the Dietary Exchange: 1 1/2 Milk
Tip: Whenever using Equal no-calorie sweetener, use recipes designed for it, or maintain sweetness by adding after removing the dish from heat. Prolonged cooking at high heat levels may result in some loss of sweetness.
These are probably my favorite cookie, to make because they're so easy, and to eat because they're so good. Recipe makes four dozen cookies. Use real butter. Replacements will not work!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 cups finely chopped or ground pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, vanilla, nutmeg (if you're using it) and salt; beat until well blended. Stir in flour and pecans. Use your hands to shape into one inch balls. Place one inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheets. Immediately roll the hot cookies in the remaining 2 cups of sugar. Place sugared cookies in a single layer on wire racks to cool. When cool, roll again in powdered sugar. They really do look like very edible snowballs.
To make Dirty Snowballs, use the half teaspoon nutmeg in the cookie dough and add a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Then add a half teaspoon cinnamon and a small pinch of nutmeg to the powdered sugar in which you roll the cookie balls when they're done baking.
The Country Cousin
Thought For The Week: So you're ready for Christmas. Have you invited God? Have you prepared a special place for Him in your home and in your heart and in your festivities? It isn't too late. Am told that God loves invitations, even last minute ones, provided they're truly sincere.
May Christmas of 2016 be filled with love and joy for all!
(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. (Except that they join in wishing everyone a Merry and Blessed Christmas,) The Country Cousin may be contacted by phone at 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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