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

Spring Is Here!...

The first two days of May weren't too promising, but Wednesday, May 3 dawned bright and beautiful. Hopefully the winds of March and the rains of April have finally agreed to make way for Spring. As Robin Williams quipped, Spring is Nature's way of saying, "Let's Party!"

Isn't life grand?

SPRING WEDDINGS

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!" That sentiment is attributed to Chief Sitting Bull, but it surely applies to all peoples in the merry, merry month of May! Quite appropriate that may has outdone June as the month for weddings.

SPRING CLEANUP

Peshtigo is planning a public cleanup day party at Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 6. What a wonderful idea, for folks of the community to get together and recreate a place of beauty that everyone can enjoy all summer long!

Maybe this is something other communities can pick up on. Helping do the work creates a sense of pride in ownership that probably can't be accomplished any other way!

SPRING CONCERT

Everyone is invited to a Spring Concert by the Northeast Wisconsin Concert Band at 3:30 p.m Sunday, May 7 at Marinette High School's WJ Jones Auditorium . Band directors are the locally famous Glenn Reinke and Bob Berndt. Enjoy an afternoon of music for only $5 each for adults and $4 for students.

MOTHER'S DAY

Mother's Day is coming in less than two weeks, on Sunday, May 14. If you're planning a make it yourself gift, better get going. Something Moms often appreciate is a scrap book filled with things you treasure because they remind you of good times you and the rest of the family shared with her.

MIDDLE INLET MEMORIES

Memorial Day weekend is also coming up on the last week of this month. As usual, Mary Lou Jacomet is planning the annual Middle Inlet Reunion potluck party on Saturday, May 27 at Middle Inlet Town Hall. Anyone who lives in Middle Inlet or has a vacation home there, as well as anyone with ties to Middle Inlet, past or present, is invited to come and share the fun and view old time memorabilia. She is looking for any information she can get on the old Lismonite mine.

GROWIN' THINGS

With all the water this Spring, this may be the perfect time to consider establishing a rain garden. A rain garden is simply a shallow depression in your yard that holds stormwater runoff and helps it filter own into the ground. Good for your yard, and particularly good for yards where runoff would otherwise drain directly into a neighboring lake, river or stream.

Realistically, a rain garden isn't a pond, but it can be designed to include one. It can, however, include some plants that require more moisture than your yard typically provides.

Folks of the Appleton-based Wild Ones Communications Committee have prepared a brochure on rain gardens, and have posted detailed instructions on their web site at www.for-wild.org.

They encourage planting native plants that need very little maintenance once established, and say those plants can be found at local or regional native plant nurseries.

Native plants, they say, provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects including mosquito-eating dragon flies. Now there's something we can all appreciate!

Basically, a rain garden is fairly sizable basin about six inches to a foot deep with a flat bottom and a six-inch high berm on the downhill side. Material dug from the basin can be used to build the berm, after which you fill the basin with a mix of equal parts mulch, sand and native top soil. The basin should be set level in the ground, not be adjacent to the house, and have a flat bottom to spread the water over the largest possible area. There could be a downspout directing water from the roof gutters to the basin, and perhaps a spillway with a removable cap to allow overflow to drain past the rain garden to avoid flooding it out in case of a downpour.

Advice of The Wild Ones is to watch the water flow during the next rainstorm and locate your rain garden in its path. It should be at least 10 feet from the house, and not located over a septic drain field. Location of underground utilities also needs to be considered. If there is enough space, a pond could be established at the deepest part of the rain garden, but that's sort of another project.

Plants should be mulched to get them started, and the mulch should be a sort that won't float away. On the other hand, if water stands in the rain garden for an extended time, it could breed mosquitoes, so you may want to buy a pipe or tube with removable cap to drain off unwanted standing water. There are also some plants that repel mosquitoes. Citronella, lemon balm and creeping lemon thyme are among them, and they are not expensive.

My favorite aunt had a bit of a rain garden with a little concrete pond in the center to catch the runoff. She put goldfish in the pond in summer to eat the mosquitoes. Seemed to work. The fish sometimes grew quite large, for goldfish. In winter they came inside to live in a big old glass Planter's Peanut jar.

NATURAL REPELLENTS

When planning your garden, keep in mind that some plants are natural bug repellents. For example, bay leaves repel flies; chives repel carrot flies, Japanese beetle and aphids; dill repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms; fennel repels aphids, slugs and snails, and as said above, lemon balm and citronella repels mosquitoes.

MORREL TIME

Leaves are about as big as mouse ears now, so the magnificent Morrel mushrooms should be out for the lucky folks who know where to pick them. Have been the lucky recipient of some good batches of Morrels in past years. Sure hope the generous donors come through again this year. There is nothing quite like them!

ON THE SOAP BOX

SEMANTICS


Friend sent me an e-mail cartoon recently that almost brought tears of joy. I'm not alone in objecting to use of the word "entitlement" to describe welfare handout programs.

What liberal idiot came up with that trick of semantics anyway, and how did we all fall for it?

An "entitlement" is something we are entitled to. For example, Social Security retirement and disability payments, and pensions, including military pensions and state retirement funds. We paid our dues by working and investing money or sweat equity in those funds.

In today's world, the libtards call welfare, food stamps, WIC and other social handout programs "entitlements." Takes the stigma away, and makes it feel like they are entitled to get those handouts forever.

Let's tell the truth here. These are not entitlements. The people who are given these handouts are not entitled to them in anyway, shape or form, except through the generosity of the hard working folks who pay taxes to support them.

President Donald Trump and others who are now attempting to force recipients of this generosity to work or at least try to find work or get educated for it have the right idea. They need to keep at it until that goal is accomplished.

In this country we are entitled to the right to "pursue" happiness and prosperity. Nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights is there any declaration that anyone is entitled to be supported by the rest of us!

The word "entitlement" as it is used today is an outright lie!

SAVOR THE FLAVOR

Sometimes our bodies know what's good for us. For example, herbs and spices make food taste better, and there may be a reason for that.

For example, cinnamon helps lower triglycerides. Those who know say about a teaspoon a day should do it. Can't eat cinnamon alone, but can sprinkle it on oatmeal, add it to cakes, cookies and other desserts, and even mix some into our morning coffee.

About an eighth of a teaspoon of garlic powder daily will help raise the level of good cholesterol in our bodies.

About half a teaspoon of ground ginger, in divided doses, can reduce nausea, and in general aid digestion. Try adding a quarter teaspoon to two cups of cooked carrots or sweet potatoes. It's a natural for Oriental recipes.

Peppermint also helps digestion. Steep one or two teaspoons of dried or fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes, and sip it as a tea. Do this several times a day if your digestion really needs help.

Turmeric as a great anti-inflammatory. You only need a third to a full teaspoon a day. Add to chicken soup, or in fact any soup, or make avocado toast by spreading avocado on toast, then sprinkling on ground turmeric, a dash of red pepper, dash of salt and squeeze of lemon juice Or skip the salt and lemon juice and sprinkle with lemon pepper instead.

COOKIN' TIME

It's spring, but spring veggies aren't yet ready for the table, and ovens sometimes still make the house feel cozy. Nevertheless, we're hungry for Spring flavors and lighter foods.

EASY CHEATIN' CHICKEN SOUP

Discovered a really easy trick the other day Surprised not to have thought of it before. It's no secret that Chicken Soup somehow makes us feel better if there's a cold coming on, or we feel a bit queasy. But reading the label on canned chicken soup makes you wonder how the manufacturers ever managed to convince folks that Chicken Soup (the commercially canned variety) is good food. No nutrition to speak of except salt!

That said, came home hungry the other night to a house with nothing in it that would be quick and easy to eat except canned soup. Felt a need to somehow beef it up, and the result was delicious. Recipe serves one hungry person, or two if there's a hefty sandwich to go with it.

1 can chicken noodle soup

1/4 cup sliced celery

1/4 cup sliced carrots

1/4 cup chopped onions, or a tablespoon dried onion bits

Pinch of turmeric

Sprinkle of parsley and chives

1 egg

Slice, dice or otherwise prepare the veggies. Put on to boil with a cup of water in a small saucepan. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are quite tender. Add the turmeric, chives and parsley and stir. Add the can of chicken soup, and rinse it out with enough water to bring the liquid in the pan to what you want it to be. Bring the mixture back to a boil and turn to low. To save on washing dishes, break the egg into the can and beat it up completely. Add a bid of water, and drizzle slowly into the simmering soup. If you do it right it will look like Chinese Egg Drop soup with vegetables and noodles in it. If you do it wrong, it will look a bit like scrambled eggs in soup, but it will still taste very good. Enjoy!

HABITANT PEA SOUP

This hearty soup can simmer all day in the crock pot and be ready whenever you are. To meet spring flavor cravings, serve with lettuce and tomato sandwiches on toast.

2 cups yellow split peas

8 cups water

2 pounds smoked ham hocks, or 2 pounds somewhat fatty pork steaks, cut up into bite-size pieces, fat and all

1 large onion, chopped

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon summer savory

1/4 teaspoon thyme

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried, crumbled parsley)

Black pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Salt Soak peas overnight. Drain the peas and place them in a large soup kettle or slow cooker with the water, ham hocks or pork, onion, celery, and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for three hours, stirring frequently. The peas are done when soft and creamy. This should also take three hours in the slow cooker if the water is boiling when you add it. Try it on high, and if it's boiling too hard, turn it down. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Traditional Quebec dish.

ROAST SPRING CHICKEN

3 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken quarters

salt and freshly ground pepper 

1 lemon, halved

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound small potatoes

2 bunches radishes

1 bunch scallions or green onions

1 pound baby carrots

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill weed)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then place skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the chicken and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes and radishes in half and cut the scallions into thirds. Toss the potatoes, radishes, carrots with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the oven and scatter the vegetables around it. Put back into oven and continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 20 more minutes. Squeeze the remaining half lemon over the chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle on the dill and season with salt and pepper to taste.

STRAWBERRY COUNTRY CAKE

The filling makes enough for only one of the cakes, so if you're serving both at the same time, double the filling. The idea is to use one cake now and freeze the other for a hot summer day when you don't want to bake.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:

1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, chilled

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans. Line them with parchment paper and butter and flour that. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda and set side. In a larger mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Then add sour cream, zests, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth. Pour the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for about half an hour, and then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using just one of the cakes, wrap the second well and freeze it.

To make the filling for one cake, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice one of the cakes in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with half of the whipped cream and scatter with sliced strawberries. Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining cream. Decorate with strawberries.

Thought for the week: Botanist Luther Burbank said, "Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul." He was surely right. If we do not take the time or have the space to plant flowers, we should at least take the time to stop and smell them while traveling along our path of life.

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 shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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