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

Happy Hunting!...

Hard to believe! Deer season starts at dawn on Saturday. Cottages and deer camps are being prepared. Homes of families who remained full time "up north" are being readied for the onslaught of hunters, the gathering of the clan as those who moved to distant climes return to their roots for the High Holy Days of Deer Season.

Once Crivitz School District tried to hold classes during deer season. Nobody came, not even most of the teachers. The powers that be gave up on that idea and have finally admitted that deer season vacation starts at noon on the Friday before opening day and doesn't end until the Monday that comes nine days later.

APPRENTICESHIP

Deer hunting was a manhood rite for the males in our family. If you weren't willing to dress in bright red or blaze orange and venture out into the freezing forest before dawn every day of Deer Season, you were no sort of man at all, and probably never would be. That applied even to those who stayed up into the wee hours playing cards, drinking beer, and bragging about successes of years past.

When boy children turned 12, provided they had proven themselves responsible enough, they were allowed to go out into the forest with the men, but they weren't allowed guns for the first year or two, longer if they were short on self control.

These apprentice hunters served as "dogs" for the expert marksmen. They were instructed to run through the forest, barking and making a lot of noise, which boy children are generally pretty good at anyway. Their task was to go where the experienced hunters told them, wake up the sleeping deer and drive them into the sights of an experienced adult hunter. If kids were in short supply, the younger adults had to serve their turn as dogs...er, drivers.

After several hours in the freezing cold the mighty hunters would straggle back in for a hot breakfast, cozy warmth and a brief nap, and then venture out for another try.

If they had been lucky, when they straggled back, one or two would be dragging the deer that would provide camp meat for the short term, and venison to be butchered, canned, frozen or turned into jerky for coming months.

In later years, girl children were allowed to take hunter training if they wanted to join the outdoor fun, but they had to be at least as hardy as the boys or they were sent home.

Mostly, the women were happy to stay inside, cooking and chatting and doing "woman things." Nobody thought that was degrading. It was a lot warmer, a lot more comfortable, and most of us felt, a lot more fun.

Once a couple of female relatives wanted to prove they were hunters. Sat in adjoining trees calling to each other, "See anything yet?" The other hunters were absolutely not happy with them!

Except for the boys or younger hunters doing drives, hunting had to be a silent, stealthy sport, and it still is.

Personally take credit for bagging one buck in all my years as a forest dweller. Was at home, doing woman things, when from the front window I spotted an obviously wounded buck stumbling across the field.

As soon as the menfolk came in I pointed out exactly where that buck had entered the woods. Told them he could not have gone far. Turned out to be right for once. They found my buck shortly afterward and delivered him to the hanging tree, where our downed quarry was on display for the duration of the season, provided temperatures were low enough. Mostly they were, but some years the sun came out and the deer had to quite quickly turned into venison packages and settled in the freezer.

SNOW TIME

We always hoped for fresh snow for deer season, and usually we got some, although recent seasons snow has been quite "iffy". Am predicting we will have snow, considering the amount that has already fallen.

Temperatures dropped to 17 degrees last Thursday, a record low for the date, and snow that fell the week before lasted on the ground for several days in northern parts of TIMESland.

Predicted last summer, and am predicting now, that this will be a year of big snows, much as the past summer was one of almost non-stop rains.

Remember the rainstorm that dropped enough moisture to reach eight feet if it had been snow? Sincerely hope we don't get a repeat of that, but it could happen.

TROPHY

Recall years ago a man in Milwaukee was preparing to go Up North for deer season. Preparations included cleaning his gun, polishing the stock, and all that good stuff.

Somehow he managed to be handling a loaded weapon, and somehow it happened to go off. Shot a big hole right through the dresser in his bedroom.

Went hunting anyway, after dragging the damaged dresser down the stairs and out the door.

Didn't get a deer, but when he got home, found that he had a trophy anyway.

There, hanging from a tree in his back yard, was the dresser, decked out in a mighty set of antlers donated for the purpose by a helpful neighbor.

THANKSGIVING PREPARATIONS

Our house is traditionally the Thanksgiving headquarters for more people than it can reasonably hold.

Mighty preparations take place ahead of time, and refrigerator space is in short supply. It's freezing outside, so things that need thawing can't be put out there, and thawing the turkey on a kitchen counter simply isn't safe.

The dryer in our house is vented outdoors, and when it's cold enough outside, temps in the dryer drop to those of a respectable refrigerator. So, came up with a plan to put a board in the dryer, place the turkey on it two days ahead of time, and let it thaw. Worked well, so that became an annual thing.

We were toasting the season at the local pub two days before Turkey Day, when son asked if the turkey was thawing. Told him it was in the dryer.

Caught an incredulous look from a couple of flatlanders seated nearby. Couldn't resist. Said not only was the turkey thawing in the dryer, the lettuce was already being cleaned in the washing machine, and the potatoes had been laundered the day before. Bet they talked about that for years!

And yes, the turkey thawed perfectly!

GEARING UP

Folks everywhere are already gearing up for Christmas. Seems too early, but it's just over a month away. Where does the time go? Lots of pre-Christmas events coming up in the next couple of weeks, and a few Hunter's events planned for this week and next. Too many to list here. Watch the posters, check the ads and event calendars, and talk to the neighbors to find out what's happening and when.

ON THE SOAP BOX

FIRST HAND OBAMA CARE


Recently met one of the snags of Obama Care up close and personal. That acquaintance ship made me hate it more than ever, and renewed a strong desire to thoroughly kick any of our legislators who refused to vote in favor of repealing it.

A couple near and dear to me had a really bad year health-wise in 2016 and earned only $13,000 all year - equivalent to just over $1,000 a month and far, far below the national poverty level.

To avoid being fined, they had been obliged to buy insurance through the touted Obama care market place. The policy they found cost them $10 a month, but cost the taxpayers $1,006 a month in subsidy payments. And it had a $20,000 deductible, so they couldn't use it anyway without additional help from the state.

Helped them file their income tax. They were told their tax return was accepted, after which they got a love letter from the IRS requiring them to file an additional form - 8962 - to report their Obama Care subsidy.

It was just a one-page form. No problem. But there were 18 pages of instructions that must have been written by a sadistic math teacher.

Take your total average monthly income. Multiply it by 400. Divide it by 12. Look it up on the chart and see what you get. Enter that on line bla-blah, and multiply it by seven. Enter all the payments shown on the form you received from the insurance company. Multiply them-subtract them and divide them.

Am a reasonably intelligent person and have done all sorts of taxes over the years, from S-Corp filings to employee withholding to sales tax returns and more, but never met anything even close to the awful instructions for that Obama care subsidy report. Spent more than four hours trying to figure it out.

In the end, if the math was done right, they either got $11 too much in subsidies, or $11 too little. Couldn't be sure. Gave up and had them send that form 8962 in anyway.

We'll see what happens!

BEWARE OF AUTO CORRECT

According to minutes typed with the assistance of an automatic spell correction feature in the computer's word processing program, someone at a recent economic development meeting wondered what more they could do to attack people to "Marinate County".

Goes to show. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to let a machine do your thinking for you. Left on their own, those spell checks can do some mighty strange things.

When they first came out, used an automatic correction feature in a story in which I had incorrectly identified the main character's name as Mr. Green. Learned after finishing the story that I had the wrong person and this man's name was really - let's say - Mr. Wijackowske. So I instructed the auto correct to change every "Green" in the story to "Wijackowske."

Well, the story was printed. The crime took place on Wijackowske Street. One witness saw a man wearing a Wijackowske colored jacket running from the scene, another admitted she had been Wijackowske with envy, and still another told of buying turnip Wijackowskes for supper. Good job computer!

COOKIN' TIME

In most TIMESland families, deer season means feeding hungry people with outdoor appetites, not to mention preparing for the Thanksgiving feast.

VENISON HEART

It's sad that so many people throw their deer hearts away, when this is one of the tastiest morsels the animal has to offer. Read somewhere that Native Americans ate the hearts to obtain the courage, speed and agility of the animal, and because wasting its meat is an insult to the animal. Heartily agree with them on that - no pun intended.

Anyway, if you're planning to toss the hearts of deer that you get - please, please toss them at me!

You must clean the heart as soon as possible after gutting the deer. Do this by running it under cold water and pumping the water through it to remove all the blood. Using a sturdy but thin bladed knife, remove the arteries, veins and fat from the heart. Position the heart upright and stick your finger into the center of the heart which is the very muscle of the heart. With the finger still guiding you, run the knife over the large arteries at the top to remove them.

The heart also should be cooked or frozen promptly.

Depending on how you intend to cook it, you can create a single cut from top to bottom to make it look like a butterfly, or cut it into smaller strips or cubes for sautéing or stewing. Or slice across the heart for steaks to grill. However, if you're stuffing it, leave it whole.

STUFFED HEART

This recipe also works with beef heart, but it isn't quite as good.

1 large venison heart

1/4 cup melted butter

1 onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound Italian or regular sausage

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs (or seasoned stuffing mix)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 cup diced celery

1/4 cup olive oil

2 slices bacon

1/4 cup bell pepper, diced, optional

1 cup beef stock,plus some to add

Salt and pepper to taste

Clean and prepare the heart as described above. Don't make any more cuts than you have to. Set the heart aside. Heat butter in a non-stick skillet. Add garlic and onion and cook until fragrant and translucent. Stir in diced celery and minced bell pepper and cook for another three or five minutes or until vegetables become tender. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl and allow to cool for several minutes. Crumble the sausage into the bowl, add the breadcrumbs, parsley and and onion powder and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff the mixture into the interiors of the heart, using your fingers to push it down into all the cavities. Roll extra stuffing into balls and set aside. Use skewers, pointy wooden toothpicks or kitchen string as necessary to keep the stuffing in, but you may not need to since the heart will be kept standing upright. Roll extra stuffing into balls and set aside. Pour olive oil into a Dutch oven and heat in medium flame. Rub the heart with salt and pepper and position into the center of the Dutch oven. Place sliced onions around the heart, along with smashed garlic and sliced celery. Add the stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for two hours, checking every 30 minutes to see the level of stock. Add more stock if needed to keep it moist and be sure you have enough juices left for gravy. Check the heart at the end of the second hour. If it's tender, place the reserved stuffing balls into the gravy and bake along with the heart for another 20 minutes. If not, bake another half hour or so and then add the stuffing balls. Serve with mashed potatoes or warm rice.

CORNY CASSEROLE

This is a great deer hunter dish for hearty appetites, or a good Thanksgiving side dish for a family that loves corn. I prefer it without the cheese, and with the half cup butter.

1 onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/4 to 1/2 cup butter

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 can cream style corn, not drained

4 eggs

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

1 carton sour cream

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, optional

Sauté onion and green pepper in butter until tender but not browned and let cool slightly. In separate container beat eggs a bit and then stir in the muffin mix, sour cream, both cans corn and the sautéed onion and pepper. Place in a greased 2 1/2 quart casserole and sprinkle on the grated cheese if using. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING SHOTS

Make a batch or three of these easy little treats for the guys at deer camp - or for the girls having fun at home without them. Absolutely easy to assemble, and absolutely so good that it's too easy to down too many!

1 small package Jello Chocolate Instant Pudding

3/4 cup Kahlua

3/4 cup Malibu Coconut Rum

1 (4 ounce) tub Cool Whip Extra Creamy

With wire whisk, beat Kahlua and Instant Pudding for 60 seconds. After the mixture has thickened, add booze and whisk for another 30 seconds or until smooth. Stir in Cool Whip. Fill small (1 ounce) Dixie shot cups 3/4 full and freeze until ready to serve. Actually, they will thicken anyway, and they're delicious frozen or not.

Thought for the week: Don't be afraid to work, and do be sure to put your children to work. Give them regular chores. They will complain, but they need to feel the pride that can only come from feeling like part of the family team, tackling a job and getting it done, especially if they do it well. And then be lavish with praise. As Martha Stewart once said, "Doing projects gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking a pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something money can't buy."

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 shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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