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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Country Cousin

Six More Weeks?...

The January thaw seems to be gone, and so is January. We have some fresh snow on top of the ice, so we can once again go out to play. Except for the very early days of this year, the weather hasn't been bad, and it promises to get even better. We may be over the hump! Temperatures are supposed to be back in the 30s for the weekend, with sunshine!

With the packy snow and mild temperatures on Tuesday, really, really wished it was possible to don snow pants, galoshes and neck scarves and go out and play like we did in the old days.

GROUNDHOG DAY

The old legends are if it's sunny on Groundhog Day - Feb. 2 - friend groundhog will see his shadow when he pops out and be scared back into his hole for another six weeks.

Often think, if there's any truth to that legend at all, that the groundhog gets cold if he's foolish enough to come out, and would go back in for another six weeks any way.

Not sure at press time if the groundhog will see his shadow this year or not, but you will probably know by the time you read this. On a day that's partly sunny and partly cloudy, maybe it matters exactly when when he pops out. Sort of immaterial. Up here in northern Wisconsin we're sure to have at least another six weeks of winter in any case. Any groundhog with an ounce of sense will just stay snug and warm in his winter home for a while, whether there's sunshine or not on Feb. 2.

VALENTINE'S DAY ADVICE

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away. If you're planning to make or order a gift (or make reservations) for your sweetie, better get busy.

Much Valentine's Day hype focuses on what men can do for their ladies, but men like romantic gestures too, whether they want to admit it or not. So, ladies, consider surprising your man by doing something extra sweet and considerate for him on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Maybe something as simple as placing a lovely red rose on his pillow or along side his plate at breakfast.

If you choose to put it on his pillow, do be sure he notices before he lays his head on a thorn. There are some hazards with that plan.

FOX AND GEESE

Ever play fox and geese? That was a great recess game for a snowy day when I was a kid going to Merryman School in Marinette.

We'd stomp down a large circle in the snow, and then pack trails like spokes, leading to a packed down spot in the center where the kid who was "fox" had to stand. The geese had to run around the outer ring and hope to not get caught. Fox would try to outwit them by darting out one of the spokes to grab an unwary goose running by. Then that goose would become a fox and try to help catch the remaining geese. if you stepped out of the packed down trails and into the deep snow you were out of the game until the next round started.

PAY ATTENTION

We need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they come along, whether those opportunities are for fun or for profit. Sometimes being prepared simply means combing our hair and putting lipstick on in the morning in case someone invites us to lunch. It might also mean keeping gas in the car in case we need to go somewhere in a hurry.

Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell. We need to know the difference.

MISUNDERSTANDING

Reader Meg Shriver of Milwaukee wrote a letter to the Peshtigo Times objecting to comments in the Jan. 11 edition of this column, which she described as "hate filled rhetoric."

As she put it, "The writer of that column stated that she wishes that millions of people in California would die in an earthquake disaster and "can't feel that would be much of a tragedy.' This is appalling. Why would you wish death on millions of people because they do not hold the same political views? The writer mourned a tree that fell in a storm on her land but would not care about those people who would die in a disaster."

Sorry she read it that way, and if others did as well, do owe them and the good people of California an apology.

The column was actually about the demise of one of California's ancient giant Sequoias, the famed drive-through Pioneer Cabin Tree.

In reference to California itself, there was a bit of satire intended, but never, ever said I wished anyone would die, in California or anywhere else.

The words Ms. Shriver objected to were:

"Since childhood I've read that sooner or later California would be hit by another major earthquake, possibly one with enough force to drop at least part of that state into the Pacific Ocean.

"In light of the politics and shenanigans going on there these days, can't feel that would be much of a tragedy, except of course for the good people who live there, and some very precious landscapes."

She apparently missed the "except for" part. Never wished for people to fall off or said their loss would not be a tragedy. Said the opposite in fact, but perhaps it was badly worded. Meant figuratively, that if the earthquake predictions came true, loss of some of the Hollywood (California) attitudes that fly in the face of what America is all about wouldn't be much of a tragedy.

That said, Ms. Shriver is right is saying that the people of TIMESland are not filled with hate. TIMESland residents, as she said, are people who are generous and kind, "people who quietly go about giving blood, volunteers who staff our fire departments and rescue squads, all working for the good of our county. People who would help any part of the United States where a disaster might take place no matter who it is or what their politics might be."

PAINT REMOVAL

Ever get fresh latex paint on a favorite shirt or jacket? Friend and co-worker Cindy recently passed along this tip for getting it off again.

First, rinse with cold water as much as possible. Then wipe it clean with a cloth or cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.Said it worked like a charm on her favorite down jacket.

MORE ABOUT COUSINS AND NEPHEWS

Wrote last week about the pride we felt as a family to learn that nephew Ron Prudhomme, of Cocoa, Fla., and his wonderful wife Karen , were invited guests at the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

That item brought a response from Sharon Powilaites, one of the ladies who organizes the Menekaunee Old Timers Picnic at Red Arrow Park each year. Powilaites notes that Ron Prudhomme is the son of her cousin, the late Pat Prudhomme, Aunt Margie Brix Pettey Hyer. "And there he and Karen were in Washington, representing a very proud family at the inauguration of the President who is promising to make America great again!," Powilaites wrote in a recent e-mail.

Ron's dad, also Ron, had Menekaunee roots too. He was the son of the late Kate and Earl Prudhomme. There are a three other aunts and uncles and various cousins who live in the Crivitz, Middle Inlet and Wausaukee area today.

Ron corrected one item from last week's article. Said he did not start Kegman Inc., but in 2011 he became an equity partner in the firm with Susie Glasgow.

SALT OF THE EARTH

Doctors today warn constantly about the evil effects of too much salt in the diet, particularly for folks with high blood pressure.

Too much salt is bad, but the reverse is also true. We humans couldn't survive without salt, and considering how tasteless food would be, who'd want to?

The old sayings, "Salt of the earth," "not worth its salt," take it with a grain of salt," "salted away," "salty language" and more only hint at the importance of salt through the ages and its value in human history.

The human requirement for dietary salt and the relative difficulty of producing or obtaining it built and destroyed empires, determined trade routes and the location of cities, occasioned wars, and inspired revolutions.

Back in the day, soldiers of the Roman Empire (and probably others) were sometimes paid in salt, which led to the phrase, "Not worth his salt." 

Before the advent of pressure canning and freezing, salting or brining and drying were the only means of preserving food and eliminating total dependence on seasonal food production.

And no, I may be old, but not old enough to personally remember those days.

Salt also has uses for cleaning the body and things around it. For example, use a salt solution as an eye wash. Just dissolve teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and used it as a wash for tired, irritated eyes. A real eye cups good, but in a pinch a shot glass willo as an eye wash cup. Be sure to boil your tap water for 3 to 5 minutes and then cool before using. Tears are saline in nature, so a salty eye wash is beneficial and soothing.

To reduce under eye puffiness, dissolve a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of hot water; soak a washcloth or cotton balls in the salt solution, and apply to the puffy areas.

Strange. Salt can be used to thaw ice, or freeze ice cream. The laws of physics do probably apply. Don't try to understand it. Just clear the walks and enjoy the ice cream!

KEEPING WARM

Most of us have days when we simply cannot get warm. One problem may be dry indoor air - lack of humidity.

If you have no humidifier or vaporizer, keep a pot of soup or just a pot of water simmering on the stove.

Run the dishwasher and open the door to let the steam out instead of using the drying cycle.

Wash towels,fold, and put them on the towel bar wet. They'll be more scratchy than when you dry them in the dryer, but they do better job of absorbing water.

Also, just getting the body moving warms it up. Get busy on some heavy cleaning, like scrubbing, washing mirrors, etc.

According to the folks at Old Farmers' Almanac, a single log can do a lot to warm things up. you don't throw the log on th fire. You run up the stairs with it, throw it out a top window, and repeat three times. You'll be warm!

Or, go outside. Take a brisk walk. Do some shoveling, clean out the car, whatever. When you get back indoors it will feel really toasty.

COOKIN' TIME

Cold days call for hot soup and hearty comfort foods.  

PASTA FAZOOL

This hearty soup recipe makes four large servings, or eight smaller ones. It definitely is a meal in a bowl. Great after a day on the snowmobile or ATV. Takes less than an hour, start to finish, but make it ahead if you want to. Gets better with standing, especially if you cook the pasta separately and add as much as you want when you heat up the soup. If you don't use sweet Italian sausage, you'll probably want a bit more Italian seasonings.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds sweet bulk Italian sausage (or any sausage)

3 stalks celery, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni

1/2 cup tomato paste

6 cups chicken broth, or more as needed, divided

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained

1/2 cup grated parmessan cheese, plus additional for serving, or to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high and add sausage. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks. This should take about five minutes., about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add diced celery and chopped onion. Cook until onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add dry pasta. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste until evenly distributed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3 cups broth. Raise heat to high and bring to a simmer. Add salt, black pepper, pepper flakes, and oregano. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let it simmer about 5 minutes, stirring often. Check soup consistency and add more broth, if needed. Place chopped chard in a bowl. Cover with cold water and rinse the leaves; any grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Transfer chard to colander to drain briefly; add to soup. Cook and stir until leaves wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in white beans; continue cooking and stirring until pasta is perfectly cooked, another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Serve topped with grated cheese, if desired.

CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA

Didn't even know anyone sold cauliflower already riced, but have learned that Green Giant(R) does. You may need to shop for it. If you can't find any pre-riced, try cooking your own and running it through your food ricer. Cauliflower is delicious in any case, and particularly wonderful for anyone on a low carb or gluten free diet. Top this pizza with things yoy'd put on any pizza - sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms - you know the drill.

1 (12 ounce) package Green Giant(R) Riced Cauliflower

1 egg

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Favorite pizza toppings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook cauliflower according to package directions, then drain well in a colander, pressing out as much moisture as possible with paper towels. Stir in egg and cheeses. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Press cauliflower mixture into an 11-inch circle. Bake 25 minutes or until edges are brown and crust is crisp. Top with desired pizza toppings and bake another 8 to 10 minutes.

CHERRY PINEAPPLE DUMP COBBLER

Way too easy to be so delicious! Little sister-in-law Debbie made this with half cherry pie filling, and half blueberry, one flavor at each end of the cake pan. Said she only had the smaller cans of pie filling, so used one of each. didn't have crushed pineapple, so used pineapple chunks in their own juice but processed them into bits before mixing with the pie filling. It was fabulous. Haven't tried the peach cobbler, but it also sounds completely delicious.

21-ounce can cherry pie filling

15-ounce can crushed pineapple

1 box white cake mix (18 ounces)

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter

PEACH DUMP COBBLER

1 large can peaches in syrup

1 box white cake mix (18 ounces)

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter

Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the cherry-pineapple dump cake: Dump the cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Stir together. Sprinkle the cake mix over the top of the fruit. There can be a few bits of fruit left uncovered. Melt the butter and pour it evenly over the surface of the cake mix. Bake until the top is brown and bubbly, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream.

For the peach dump cake: Dump the peaches into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the cake mix over the top of the fruit. Melt the butter and pour evenly over the surface of the cake mix. Bake until the top is brown and bubbly, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream.

Country Cousin

Thought for the week:
Sometimes when things do not go as we plan, we even get the audacity to start yelling at God. Maybe we should stop to think, as one unknown philosopher wrote recently on Twitter, that "Sometimes God will wreck your plans when He sees that your plans are about to wreck you." However unfair things may seem sometimes, there may be a greater good in the background that God knows, but we're not able to see, or don't want to.

(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.)


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