Country CousinIssue Date: December 20, 2017
God Bless Us, One & All!...
Christmas is coming.
Santa and his sleigh
Soon will be here.
Hope he brings your home
A load of good cheer!
Winter will officially arrive on Thursday, Dec. 21, so now days will start getting longer again instead of shorter. Property tax bills have arrived. Christmas is all but here, ready or not. Homes and entire neighborhoods get brighter and lovelier every day.
Congratulations to communities that have found legal ways to display beautiful Nativity scenes in public places, despite the best efforts of those who even today, 2,000 years later, want to make sure there is no room for Him at the inn!
We can put up all the Christmas lights money can buy, hold wonderful Winter Concerts at all the schools, even give gifts to the poor, but it all comes down to nothing if we leave Jesus - the Reason for the Season - out of it!
THE BIRTH WAS FORETOLD
The birth of Christ was foretold centuries and centuries before it happened. His coming fulfilled the prophecies, yet the scholars, the politicians, the movers and shakers of His day, did not accept Him. He was not one of them.
Many do not to this day. Same reason.
From the Book of Micah, Chapter Five, written between 701 and 681 B.C.:
"And thou Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda, out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity."
From the Book of Isiah, Chapter 9, which Biblical scholars believe was written by Isaiah ben Amoz, who lived in the Kingdom of Judah during the reigns of four kings between 701 and 681 B.C.:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. - Isiah 9:67
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
You've heard this before. Now is a good time to read it again, perhaps out loud to the family:
The Gospel according to Luke:
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
"And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the Town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
" But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
WHY THE STAR?
Gospel according to Matthew:
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.' "
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
THEY ESCAPE TO EGYPT
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.
And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
There are ways when writing news articles, to insert your personal opinion disguised as fact. Sometimes it's hard not to do this, but more and more in the liberal mainstream press we see this done deliberately, with malice aforethought.
For example we've all been hearing on the national media about the GOP reform tax bill. Because it is Republican sponsored legislation they use terms like "slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent."
News commentators have been criticizing the cut in the tax rate for the highest taxed individuals. Guess what? That cut they're complaining about would lower the rate from 39.6 to 37 percent. Never heard one qualify this as a "modest" cut, but they could if they wanted to, it's only 2.6 per cent. These high earning (and often hard working) individuals are still taxed well over one third of their earnings. Incidentally, young single people who work long, hard hours at the foundries in Marinette fall into that "wealthy" tax category. For government to grab nearly 40 percent of anyone's earnings almost amounts to legalized robbery!
GIFT FOR THE GRANDDOG
If your family is short on kids but long on pets, you might have fun baking these doggie treats as a Christmas gift for friends of the canine persuasion.
1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups water, or as needed
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Mix together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cornmeal and oats. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and gradually pour in water, oil, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix well. On a flat surface use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. Cut the dough into dog biscuit shapes using a cookie cutter. Place the biscuits onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes. After the biscuits have cooked 20 minutes turn off the oven off but let the biscuits remain inside the oven for another 20 minutes to harden.
HOT ARTICHOKE DIP
Easy, fast, delicious and (a little) healthy!
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything and spread in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with pita triangles, toasted French bread, crackers or crudités (raw veggies cut into bite-size pieces for dipping).
CHEESY ARTICHOKE DIP
This recipe is great as is, or add either pre-cooked frozen spinach or a can of chopped spinach, well drained, when you process the artichokes. Stirring in a half cup or so of imitation crab flakes is also a great addition. Can also substitute cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Provolone or a mixture of those cheeses for the mozzarella if you prefer. Better color, and not as stringy in texture.
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup sour cream
1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese
1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil or 6 leaves fresh basil, approximately 3/4 teaspoon
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley (to garnish) (optional)
1 loaf crusty French bread
Process artichokes, onion (spinach if you're using it), and garlic in the food processor until smooth (or if you like, until blended, but still with texture). Then mix half the shredded cheese and everything else except the parsley and bread in a medium sized semi-flat ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved cup of mozzarella cheese over the top and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Make ahead if you like. Before serving time, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and beginning to brown. Serve with crusty French bread slices or pita bread triangles.
GLUTEN AND GRAIN FREE BANANA BREAD
There are few treats folks on a gluten free diet can enjoy. This is most definitely one of them!
3 ripe bananas
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1 large loaf pan or two small ones. In food processor, blend bananas, chickpeas, butter, dates, almond flour, honey, eggs, baking soda, ginger if using), cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt together in a blender or food processor until batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour for large pan, 40 minutes for the two small ones. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before slicing.
Really easy, provided you can somehow manage to have 8 ounces of stale, leftover brownies. Not likely, unless you hide them somewhere. Okay, we can do that. The alcohol in these is still potent. Perfect for New Year's Eve. If if you leave enough of these out for Santa you might find him under your tree in the morning. (Bet they'd also be good made with kahlua, brandy or a cherry liqueur instead of the rum.) Be sure to use real chocolate, not the fake kind.
8 ounces stale chocolate brownies
1/4 cup dark rum
3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoon cocoa powder, for dusting
Line tray or baking sheet with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place crumbled brownies in a bowl. Pour rum over them, let soak for a minute or so, then stir until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency. Using a 1-inch sorbet scoop or melon baller, scoop out small balls of the rum/brownie mixture and put each on the prepared tray. Place in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm enough to handle. Use fingers or gloved hands to form each scoop into a neat ball, then return tray to freezer. Melt the three ounces chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching. Remove from heat and add the remaining ounce of chocolate. Stir until that chocolate is melted and combined. Remove chocolate balls from freezer. Place one ball in the melted chocolate and gently move it a round with a fork to get it coated completely. Transfer to a baking sheet or serving tray lined with fresh waxed paper, plastic wrap or a silicone baking mat. Repeat until they're all done. Dust cocoa powder over all while they're still warm, then let them cool. They're ready to serve.
EASY PEANUT BUTTER TUFFLES
Another great recipe from the Little Sister-in-Law. Slightly time consuming to prepare, but simple, a bit fool proof and well worth it. Put into fancy tins and keep cool for great little Christmas gifts. Doing these with rubber gloves (the snug-fitting medical type, not the bulky ones) makes things a whole lot simpler. Have all the ingredients at room temperature when you start, especially the peanut butter. Decorate with Christmas fancies before they harden if you want to.
2 cups peanut butter, creamy or chunky, your choice
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
Real milk chocolate, for dipping
Coarse sea salt, optional
Mix thoroughly the peanut butter, powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs. If you used gloved hands to squish everything together, slip them off and put them and the mixture in the fridge for a bit to stiffen up. (The mixture, not the gloves.) Then, again using gloved hands, shape into marble-size balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for an hour or so, longer if you want to. When it's time, melt the chocolate according to package directions, dip the little balls one at a time into the chocolate, and when covered, put back on the baking sheet. If you want to use the salt, sprinkle it on very lightly before the chocolate hardens, maybe after every third or fourth ball that you dip.
Thought for the week: "Politicians compete for the highest offices. Business tycoons scramble for a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. Armies march and scientists study and philosophers philosophise and preachers preach and laborers sweat. But in that silent baby, lying in that humble manger, there pulses more potential power and wisdom and grace and aliveness than all the rest of us can imagine." - This quote is from Brian D. McLaren. According to HarperCollins Publishers, McLaren was "hailed as one of America's 25 most influential evangelicals by Time magazine." He is a speaker, social justice activist, pastor, and author of several Christian inspirational books.
May you and yours have a joyous Christmas season!
(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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