Country CousinIssue Date: February 14, 2019
Better days are coming!
The weatherman must be amending his evil ways. The 10-day forecast looks pretty good. There may be a little snow on Thursday, and then a little again Wednesday, Feb. 20, but it isn't supposed to be serious. And daytime high temperatures are supposed to be in the 20s and 30s for the next 10 days, with night time lows between 10 and 18 degrees - above zero!
DRIVE WITH CARE
Despite the best efforts of highway maintenance crews, terrible driving conditions since the first of the year have led to more than a few crashes, including a 40-vehicle pile up the other day on Interstate 94 near Osseo. Wisconsin State Patrol said seven people were hurt when seven semis and 33 cars piled up, and the highway was shut down in both directions for about five hours.
Not that this was the cause of that catastrophe, but some folks need to understand that their 4-wheel-drive vehicles don't also have 4-wheel brakes. On bad roads they - and every one else - need to slow the heck down!
VALENTINE'S DAY SENTIMENTS
Thursday, Feb. 14, is Valentine's Day. Lucky sweethearts, including married couples, will be enjoying dinners out and gifts like flowers, candy, and perhaps even jewelry or fur coats, which certainly were the romantic status symbols of years past.
On the other hand, not all couples are happy. Times are changing, but not so much that battles of the sexes are no longer waged.
Friends says he's learned over the years that marriage is pretty much like a game of cards, and the rules keep changing. In the beginning all you need is two hearts and a diamond. By the end all the partners want is a club and a spade. And yes, his wife is still speaking to him. He just talks tough. When he thinks nobody's looking he's one of the fellows who come through with hearts and flowers.
Another friend claimed he read that a man should keep romance alive in his marriage by treating his wife like he did on their first date. So after dinner on Valentine's Day he's going to drop her off at her parents' house.
That brought up a tale about another husband/wife spat. After their verbal bout hubby slammed out of the house. Wife called her Mom, cried about the fight, and said she was leaving him. She was coming home to live. "No daring," Mom advised. "You must not come home. He must pay for being so mean. I'm coming to live with you!!"
Snowmobile, ATV and Cross Country ski trails are open all over TIMESLand. Lakes are frozen and ice fishermen reportedly are doing well when it's not too cold, windy or snowy to pursue their sport. Community ice skating rinks also are open.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15, 16 and 17, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a new dramatization of C.S. Lewis' classic set in the land of Narnia, is being performed at the Herbert Williams Theatre on the UW-Green Bay's Marinette Campus at 750 W. Bay Shore Street, Marinette. Showtime is 7 pm. on Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
For a special Valentine's Day weekend treat, go to the Woods Lake Shelter in Gov. Thompson State Park's west of Crivitz on Saturday, Feb. 16 for the 11th Annual Candlelight Ski and Hike Night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Skiers can enjoy a one mile loop ski trail groomed for classic and skate skiing. Hikers can enjoy a separate 1 mile loop hiking trail, and can even bring their dogs along if they want to. Visitors will enjoy original ice sculptures on display. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be provided.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 16, enjoy the 7th annual Human Ice Bowling fun event at Thornton's Rafting Resort and Campground at W12882 Parkway Road, Athelstane. And just how do you ice bowl with humans? Just like doing the tango, it takes two. One team member is the "ball" and the other is the bowler. The "ball" half of the team sits in a snow saucer (which is provided) while the bowler pushes it down the snow lane to see how many bowling pins they can knock down. Fee to bowl is $5 per person, and there's a 100 percent cash payout. The day includes a DJ and raffles benefitting local charities.
You might get to really tango at the Valentine's Dance from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday evening, Feb. 16, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Crivitz.
SUNSHINE AND FLOWERS
Dreaming of sunshine and flowers?
If your passion is finding and identifying rare flowers and other plants, you might want to become a volunteer in the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program, which gives nature enthusiasts an opportunity to conduct surveys for rare plants around the state.
Volunteers can attend a state sponsored training session to learn about surveying techniques, including how to accurately estimate large plant populations; assess habitat conditions, and use GPS coordinates to locate and mark rare plant populations. Information collected is used to assess plant population trends during state and national conservation efforts.
Free training sessions will be held at four locations around the state this year, including one at the Brown County Public Library in Green Bay from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on
Saturday, March 9. All first-time participants must attend one session before they begin monitoring. To learn more about being a volunteer in this program go on the DNR website or contact Kevin Doyle, DNR conservation botanist and Program Coordinator at 608-416-3377 or em-mail to KevinF.Dole@wisconsin.gov.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or any form of dementia is often difficult for everyone involved. To help caregivers and the people they care for, Marinette County Alzheimer's Association and Teresa West, Dementia Care Specialist with the Marinette County Aging and Disability Resource Center, are offering a free workshop from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in the ADRC portion of the Marinette County Health and Human Services building at 2500 Hall Avenue, Marinette. Reserve a spot by calling 715-732-3850 or 888-442-3267. Topics will include going to the doctor, deciding when to stop driving, and discussing legal and financial decisions.
ON THE SOAP BOX
We're told once again there could be a shutdown of some portions of the Federal Government if President Donald Trump and legislators in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives do not come to an agreement on the 2019 budget by the end of this week. The previous shut-down this year lasted for nearly a month.
Then and now there were countless bleeding hearts comments from the mainstream press, and even from more conservative news sources, about the unbelievable hardships these shutdowns caused for federal workers.
Do sympathize with essential federal workers, who had to show up every day for work without getting their paychecks on schedule. Am told these people were not eligible for unemployment either. They will be paid eventually, but that doesn't make life any easier when the pocketbook and the bankbook are both empty and there's no prospect of them being refilled in the near future. Many federal workers, like many of the rest of us normal working folks, do not have enough money on reserve to get us through very long without income. And most of them, like most of the rest of us, have payments to make. Being late can get us in trouble, regardless why we're late.
But there also was a lot of sympathy for those poor, unfortunate furloughed workers who were forced to apply for unemployment. And guess what? If they eventually are paid by the Federal government for the time they didn't work, they might have to repay whatever unemployment benefits they received.
Well, folks, here's some news for you. That's exactly what lots of folks out here in the real world have to do whenever the economy goes sour, or their employer loses an important contract or closes its doors. The out of work employees get either temporary or permanent layoffs, and are forced to live on whatever their unemployment is.If their employer were generous enough to eventually pay them for the time they did not work, they too would need to pay back the unemployment dollars.
Surprise, surprise a federal financial firm found that more than 40 percent of households affected by the government shutdown increased debt, while 26 percent dipped into retirement savings.
Almost 40 percent of respondents delayed vacations or major purchases, while 33 percent took on temporary work. A quarter of workers used a food bank and 23 percent cut medical spending. One expert said this impact may be lasting, because when they miss their payment or postpone health care they may get sicker and credit scores may be affected so future borrowing gets more expensive.
That particular report stressed the need for all employees to protect themselves against unexpected events with emergency savings or disability insurance.
That's good advice for all of us, especially those who do not live in the generally cozy cocoon of government employment, where layoffs rarely happen.
And if lots of the taxing and regulatory policies being promoted by the new socialistic Democratic Party majority in the House are adopted, lots of folks here in the real world will be facing unemployment, not just short term, but possibly forever.
Let's pray a majority of legislators are smart enough not to undo all the good that President Donald Trump, former Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans have done to bring about the booming economy we're currently enjoying.
But just in case the socialist-minded legislators who care more about their own political ambitions than the good of this nation manage to push us back into unemployment and poverty, we'd all do well to take measures to protect ourselves against that rainy day. Even the possibility of that happening has a dampening effect on the economy as normal working class people limit credit purchases and instead start harding more of their hard-earned dollars away.
In the six weeks that have passed since New Year's Resolutions were made, lots of diets have been tried and found wanting. A few have succeeded, and congratulations to those dieters. Be that as it may, the midwinter doldrums are a bad time to diet, and a great time to enjoy hearty cold-weather treats. Shoveling snow and battling snow drifts burns a lot of calories anyway, right?
This pretty side dish that dresses up a bland plate, whether the blandness is lack of color or lack of flavor. Well educated Harvard Beets are nourishing, easy and inexpensive to make, and most people like them.
1 pound can beets, drained (reserve 1/3 cup liquid)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup vinegar
In saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in reserved liquid, vinegar and butter. Cook and stir till mixture thickens and bubbles. Add beets; heat through. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.
OLD FASHIONED BAKED BEANS
These beans used to be party and holiday specialties at our house, but they're wonderful anytime. Leftovers go well with nearly everything, and baking them keeps the house warm and smelling delicious. No reason to save homemade baked beans just for holidays.
2 pounds dried navy beans
2 quarts cold water
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 stalk celery, grated
1/2 pound salt pork, and chunked
1/4 pound bacon, diced
Pick over and wash beans well. Put on to boil in the 2 quarts water. Boil for 1 hour, or until the skins on the beans peel and shrivel when you blow on them. Shut off heat and let sit for one hour. Drain the beans. Then, either in a covered bean crock or roasting pan with a good fitting cover, lay about one quarter of the salt pork pieces on the bottom of the baking dish, sprinkle on about a third of the bacon, and then put in a layer of beans. You want to make about 3 layers. Sprinkle on some of the sugar, drizzle some of the molasses, sprinkle some of the salt, pepper, and grated celery. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of salt pork and bacon. Cut the onion in half and press the halves into the top of the beans. Add the dollop of lard. Pour boiling water over to just cover, and start baking. If oven is at 250 degrees, will take 7 to 8 hours. At 300 degrees, probably 4 to 5 hours. Check occasionally and add enough water if needed to keep the liquid level just over the top of the final layer of salt pork until the last hour or so. Then remove the cover and let the top brown. As soon as the beans get soft, taste and correct the seasonings. We usually like more brown sugar, and sometimes more molasses. They are good eaten with a splash of vinegar. Some people spoil them with ketchup. You can bury some ham slices in the beans for the last hour of baking and have beans and ham for your first bean meal. Leftovers are even good with bacon, American fries and fried eggs for breakfast.
There's a funny family story that goes with these beans. They were my mother-in-law's specialty, and canned bans in those days were generally just of the pork and bean variety, not comparable at all. When my brother-in-law married, he naturally wanted his very young bride to learn to make the beans. He gave her all the directions, par boil beans, drain, layer with salt pork, brown sugar, etc. Except, he forgot to tell her to add water again before topping with the onion and putting them on to bake.
So she carefully followed all the directions and tended those beans all day long, watching the salt pork and everything else turn brown while she waited for the beans to get tender. Of course, with no water added they only got harder and crisper as the day went on. She was in tears when hubby got home, and by that time there was nothing that would salvage those well toasted beans.
TIRAMISU POKE CAKE
This delicious poke cake dessert is for adults only. It's too good to share with the kids anyway! Actually, the amount of liqueur in one serving of this cake wouldn't hurt anyone's kids, but it is there, and not cooked, so the alcohol is intact and alcoholics should not indulge. The rest of us can, though. It's perfect for a special adult Valentine Weekend dessert, or for hungry riders coming in from the snowmobile trail. Imagine a white cake soaked with a sweet mixture of Kahlua, cocoa powder and espresso powder and then topped with a coffee-flavored sweet drizzle and then a cream cheese frosting. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Serve with fresh coffee and hopefully a bit of liqueur on the side, probably Irish Cream.
1 regular size package moist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlua(R))
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
3 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur, possibly Kahlua
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, or to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Mix cake mix, water, eggs, and oil together in a bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour batter into the prepared dish. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about half an hour. Cool cake for at least 30 minutes. Whisk sweetened condensed milk, 1/3 cup coffee-flavored liqueur, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, espresso powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a bowl until drizzle is smooth. Poke holes into cake using the large end of a chopstick or a similar tool. Pour poke drizzle over entire cake, smoothing with a spatula and ensuring the drizzle goes into the holes. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Beat the eggs in the bowl until liquefied and whites and yolks are thoroughly combined. They should be just slightly foamy. Then add milk, sugar and salt and put the pan with the bowl over it on the stove to heat. Heat over simmering water while whisking gently but constantly until the milk/egg mixture reaches 165 degrees (on a meat or candy thermometer) or until it thickens slightly and becomes quite warm to the touch. Do not mix too hard at this point or it will take too long to heat, and don't let it get too hot or you'll have milky scrambled eggs. Beat egg yolks and white sugar together in a bowl using an electric mixer until very light yellow and stiff. Add cream cheese, 3 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; mix well. Beat heavy whipping cream in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form; gently fold into egg yolk mixture until topping is just mixed. Pour topping over cooled cake, smoothing well. Dust with 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate.
Thought for the week: We worry a lot about getting rid of the clutter, cleaning our houses and making them look nice. Sometimes we need to remember that clutter to get rid of is not just physical stuff. It's old ideas, old angers, toxic relationships, bad habits, and even just mindless amusements that we don't really enjoy. Life clutter is anything that does not support your better self.
(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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