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

Issue Date: March 29, 2018

Wishing You A Blessed Easter...

Springtime is actually here! Robins and red wing blackbirds have been spotted in TIMESland. Son saw the first robin at his bird feeder this year at 6:37 a.m. on Tuesday, March 27, and had seen the blackbirds before that. Even some of the human variety of snowbirds are reportedly back from southern climes!

That said, soft winds are not yet blowing. But look on the bright side. March will be over in a few days, and April will be here. Don't think April Fool's jokes are appropriate on Easter Sunday, so we'll need to forego them this year.

On the other hand...How about coloring some non-boiled eggs???

MARCH MADNESS

Will be really, really glad to see March go. Never could trust that month. Can't count on anything except wind. Can't dress for it. Can't plan anything. Rain one minute. Ice the next. Nice and warm in the morning. Near zero with Arctic blasts by nightfall.

Was pretty nice out on Monday evening. Went into a store to do some shopping. Came out and it was raining. The kind of rain that can freeze without warning. The treacherous kind that leaves the roads looking wet when they're really covered with glare ice.

Started the drive home. Thirty miles is a long, long way when you're terrified for every inch of it, especially when the "rain" starts sounding like sleet every now and then. Thank Heaven the fog was just started to rise in mists from the pavement and hadn't turned into the real thing, which would have been just too much to deal with. Rescue workers would have had to pry my fingers off the steering wheel after they found me frozen by the side of the road. As it was, hands were starting to cramp before I made it safely home.

LENT IS ENDING

Easter is all but here, which means Lent is all but over. Don't know exactly who Melanie White is, but she says Lent was invented to give Catholics another shot at their New Year's resolutions. Also that it's the season when Vegans get a chance to convert Catholics to their way of eating.

A fellow we know claims he did a lot for Lent. Lent his lawn mower to a neighbor, and then lent his son the tuxedo and his daughter the car. Wanted to give up his children, but nobody would take them.

Seriously, setting aside six weeks out of the year to do a bit of penance and fasting is not only good for the soul, it's good for the body.

Then, when it's over, we can have a clear conscience while we reward ourselves on Easter with ham, lots of chocolate goodies and colored eggs.

THE GIFT

Read this story a few years ago, and ran it in this column then, but it's worth repeating.

It seems a somewhat spoiled young man preparing to graduate from college had been admiring a beautiful sports car in a dealers showroom. Knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted for a graduation gift.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study, told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and how much he loved him. He handed him a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curious, but a bit disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with his name embossed in gold.

Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" He stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible behind.

Many years passed. The young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but finally realized his father was very old. He thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. But before he could make arrangements, he received word that his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to him. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father's house, sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important documents and saw the Bible, new, just as he had left it years ago.

With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matt 7:11, "And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in Heaven, give to those who ask Him?"

As the young man read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealers name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words... "PAID IN FULL."

How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? How often do we reject His gifts because we think they are not what we wanted?

How often do we refuse the greatest gift of all, the salvation purchased for us by the life and death of His son, Jesus?

EGG HUNTS

Several TiMESland communities and churches will be holding Easter Egg hunts and other events on Saturday, March 31. Several businesses are also holding special Easter events for the kiddies, and some have even invited that famed Bunny for breakfast. Check the posters, watch for ads, and check the web.

Hillside Assembly of God Church in Pound will be holding a special  "Rise up with Jesus" Easter event from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. They promise an opportunity to discover more about Jesus and Easter while enjoying games, activities, crafts, and an interactive drama in an adventure for the entire family.

EASTER CHICKEN?

No one seems to know exactly where the notion originated that there is a magic bunny who colors eggs and hides them for good little children, along with lots of candy and other goodies, on Easter.

Why a rabbit and not a chicken? Chickens lay eggs, (but not chocolate ones) and chicks generally hatch in the spring.

Most widely accepted theory is that when Christianity came to Germany, it adopted some of the pagan symbols, which included the rabbit - or hare - as a sign of spring, new life and fertility, so it was natural to tie the rabbit in with Easter and the resurrection. Eggs are also said to represent the Resurrection and rebirth, and decorating eggs was a Ukrainian custom that dates from before the Christian era, so combining the two ideas followed.

In the early years, many Christian churches prohibited eating any animal foods during Lent, including eggs. The only way to preserve the eggs was to boil them, so thrifty housewives did that. Feasting on those eggs when the Lenten tabus were lifted on Easter Sunday was a natural.

Because of this, eggs became a traditional part of the Easter celebration, decorating them also became a tradition.

Coloring Easter eggs may have started by accident. Eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, and over time the custom of decorating them was added.

By the time the 19th Century came around the wealthy Russian nobility were decorating their eggs with jewels and exchanging the highly decorated baubles with one another as part of their Easter festivities.

The tradition of colored Easter eggs came to America with some German families that moved to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and spread throughout the land. Kids would put nests in their hats and bonnets and set them out for the Easter Bunny, much as they hung stockings for Santa Claus. They also would leave carrots for the bunny to snack on when he came.

COLORED EGG SNAFU

There's a story on the web that one Easter morning the farmer's wife colored some hard boiled eggs and hid them in the barn. Then the rooster found them. Not knowing anything about Easter or colored eggs, but knowing a little about other things, he beat up the peacock and threw him out of the barn.

EASTER EGGS

Remember when the back bar of almost every tavern in Wisconsin had a glass gallon jar of pickled eggs? Used to love eating them, but don't see them any more. We can make our own, and have some fun doing it.

When we think of Easter Eggs we think mostly of coloring them with the shells on, or of coloring the shells with the contents blown out. How about coloring the naked eggs, shells off?

To add some taste and color to your Easter table, consider making pickled eggs dyed with food colors or naturally in things like pickled beet juice?

Did that a few years ago, and made some into deviled eggs. The results were both delicious and beautiful, and now it's become a tradition. If you don't want to pickle the eggs, consider dying some anyway for lovely ordinary deviled eggs. Just boil, peel and soak for a day or so in water dosed with food coloring.

I used leftover pickled beet juice for pink eggs, dill pickle juice with green food coloring for dilled eggs, and ordinary old-fashioned pickled egg solution (2 cups white vinegar, 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons salt, some sliced onion and peppercorns) with blue dye for blue eggs. The yolks remained yellow, so it made a most attractive display. Use your imagination. Flavor some of the simple pickle eggs with garlic cloves, hot peppers and peppercorns, for example. Maybe color them yellow. Or add a few drops of red as well and they'll be orange. Won't that bunny be surprised?

Now find there are other suggested pickling recipes for even more variety.

If you prefer to dye a lot of shells-on eggs, but hate the idea that they won't all get eaten before they go bad, keep in mind that ordinary pickled eggs last several weeks if they're kept cold. The Georgia Egg Commission says they'll last three to four months if packed into sterilized jars and kept cold and covered. So go ahead and dye as many shells-on eggs as you need for the Easter Egg hunt, and shell and pickle them later. Just don't wait too long to get them into the pickling solution.

Some types of pickled eggs take two weeks or more to fully cure, but they're very good and prettily colored even when they're only cured for a day or two.

BOIL THE EGGS

If you have trouble shelling hard boiled eggs, here are a couple of tips from the National Center for food preparation:

According to the Georgia Egg Commission, the following method of hard-cooking facilitates peeling of ultra fresh eggs. But it's still best to boil eggs that have been out of the chicken for several days.

Anyway, the Egg Commission says you should make a pinhole in the large end of each egg, place the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, and cover with cold water to an inch above the layer of eggs. Place a lid on the pan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan of eggs from the burner, leaving the cover in place, and allow to sit for 15-18 minutes, adjusting time up or down 3 minutes for larger or smaller eggs.

Peel one of the cooked eggs and eat it, to be sure it is completely done. If it is, immediately use a slotted spoon to remove eggs from the pan of hot water and drop into a bowl of ice water for one minute. Put the hot water back on to boil. After the eggs have spent a minute in the ice water drop them back into the simmering water for 10 seconds. This is said to be important because the 10 second interval allows the shell to expand without expanding the rest of the egg. Dump into sink and peel immediately by cracking the shells all over. Roll each egg gently between hands to loosen the shell. Peel, starting at the large end. You can do this under cold running water to help wash the shell off the egg and to minimize chances of breaking into the white.

All that said, I personally have had great success very easily by putting as many store bought eggs as we're going to want into a kettle with a tablespoon or so of vinegar and enough cold water to cover. Bring them to a boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes and they're done. A few of the eggs may crack and break, or be stubborn about peeling, so go ahead and use them for egg salad sandwiches. If you've boiled several dozen you'll have saved a lot of work and still have plenty left for pickling.

CONTAINERS

The container used for pickling eggs should be one that can be closed or sealed tightly; glass canning jars work well. Plastic containers with sealable lids work well also, but the container will most likely get dyed in the process. The eggs need to be completely covered with the pickling solution during storage. They claim a quart-size canning jar will hold about one dozen medium sized eggs, but I'll need to see that to believe it. Might be true, but you don't want to pack them too tightly.

Wash the jars thoroughly and rinse with boiling water. Drain well.

COOKIN' TIME

The following recipes come from the Georgia Egg Commission's "Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickled Eggs." Each uses a dozen peeled hard boiled eggs. For each, bring all ingredients except the eggs to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. If you want prettily colored pickled eggs, add a dose of food coloring to each recipe. Won't affect the flavor, but will add color, and help you know what flavor you are getting. The colored eggs make beautiful, and tasty, deviled eggs.

Pack no more than a dozen eggs into a warm, pre-sterilized jar (never, ever use a container with metal on it or in it, except a canning lid.) There needs to be ample room for the pickling solution to fully cover the eggs. Put sliced fresh onions into some of the jars if you like. (Generally I prefer a one to one ratio for vinegar and water or juice, but these are their recipes.)

Pour the hot pickling solution over the eggs, cover the jar and refrigerate immediately. Be careful not to set hot jars on cold glass refrigerator shelves!

RED BEET EGGS

Add some sliced raw onions to these, and put some peppercorns in the pickling solution while you simmer it.

1 cup red beet juice, from canned beets

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar 1 teaspoon brown sugar

A few canned whole tiny red beets, or several beet slices

Follow general directions above.

DILLED EGGS

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon onion juice or minced onion

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic or 1 peeled, sliced garlic clove

Follow general directions above.

Just think! All this from someone who always thought pickled eggs came from stewed hens!

ORANGE DREAMSICLE FRUIT SALADThis makes a beautiful and delicious addition to the Easter table.

1 (3 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup milk (2% or higher)

1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping (COOL WHIP), thawed

1 (20 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained very well

1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained very well

2 ripe bananas, sliced

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, combine pudding mix, milk and orange juice concentrate. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in the whipped topping. Gently mix in the fruit. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours until ready to serve.

Thought for the week: Dear Jesus, thank You for all You suffered so we could be freed from the yoke of sin. Help me - and all of us - to appreciate the Gift of Easter, the joy of knowing that resurrection - the springtime of the soul - is real, and that it is the most special of all the gifts that You have given us. Help us to not be like the young man in the story, and joyously receive Your gifts, even when they do not come packaged as we expect.

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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