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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: July 25, 2019

Shirley Prudhomme

What a week this has been! First there was the sweltering heat and humidity, and then came the weekend storms that blew it all away. Now we're enjoying some of the most wonderful Summer weather that Wisconsin has to offer, especially here in the north, where rains have washed the air clean so we can fully enjoy the scent of pines and new mown hay.

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT

The storms of the past weekend left many of us without electricity, some of us for days.

Doesn't sound bad, and it isn't at first, if you're prepared. Turn on some flash lights. Light some candles and lanterns, and then enjoy the glow while you wait for the lights to come on. We even talk to each other again when the TV and Internet aren't available.

Problems come when the lights do not go back on. We depend on electricity to power our phones, brew our coffee, make our ice cubes, keep our food cold when it ought to be cold and then cook it when the time comes, entertain us, and cool our homes. Perhaps most importantly, those of us who live outside the city limits depend on it to run the pumps that deliver our water.

When it comes to electricity, absence absolutely does make the heart grow fonder.

Flush the toilet? Only once. There's no water to refill the tank.

Make coffee? Most of our homes are no longer equipped with good old percolator coffee pots, so even those of us with propane gas to cook on have a problem there.

Bathe or take a shower? Don't lather up unless it's still raining really hard hard outside. When you turn on the faucets to rinse off, nothing happens.

Too hot? Get a newspaper, magazine or paper plate to fan yourself. There's nothing else.

Must thank Wisconsin Public Service, We Energies and all their workers for working so diligently to get the power turned back on as quickly as they do.

BATTLE PLANS

Wisconsin Public Service advises everyone to prepare ahead deal with power outages. Keep candles, flashlights and lanterns handy.

Winter and summer, keep an adequate supply of water and non-perishable food items on hand

Have a battery operated portable radio, TV or Public Alert Device handy to hear local weather forecasts and other important news bulletins for your area. Have alternate means of charging your cell phones and other devices, perhaps a car charger. During the recent widespread power outages here in Wisconsin some cities set up mobile device charging stations for public use. Problem is if their phones and portable radios were already out of power, there was no way other than word of mouth to let anyone now about that service.

WHEN IT STORMS

When a storm is brewing, unplug sensitive electronic devices.

Monitor TV and radio or Public Alert Devices for important weather updates and news bulletins.

If the power goes out don't open freezers and refrigerators doors any more than is absolutely necessary. Opening these appliances will allow food to thaw more quickly.

Turn off as many appliances, electronics and light switches as possible. This will reduce the potential for damage if the power goes off and then on again. If the power does go out, turn off all appliances and light switches to prevent them from all trying to come back on at the same time.Maybe leave one on so you know when it's working. After power is restored, wait 5 to 10 minutes before starting to turn things back on again.

After the storm is over, be sure you do not encounter live wires. Stay away from down or sagging power lines, and do not touch anything that is on or near them, for example trees or tree limbs, cars, ladders, etc. If you have fallen trees be sure there are no wires tangled in them before you start any cleanup. If there are, call your power company and then wait for a professional to remove the power line before you attempt to remove the fallen trees.

Be sure your kids also stay safely away from possible live wires.

Report immediately to public service and to 911 if any power lines seem to be smoking.

SUNBURN

Even this late in the season some of us are getting sunburned. A tendency to sunburn is a failing mostly reserved for humans of fair complexion. Just read an an animal lover web site that besides humans, pigs are the only animals that can get sunburned!

Actually, do not believe that is true. Read long ago that folks who had their dogs shaved on the pretext of keeping them cooler were exposing their pet to the danger of sunburn.

CAT CALLS

Those of us with cats know that they can sometimes (well, most times) be very demanding. Their comforts come first. The cat that lives in our house too often head butts me to wake up in the morning to feed her.

Read that to avoid this, first, when she wakes you up and you're not ready, do not reward the bad behavior. Lock her outside if you must and go back to bed.

Next, do not feed the feline at the same time every day. They will learn to expect food at that exact time and make sure to let you know that their meal has not been delivered. In fact, if you feed your cat immediately after waking up every day, many will try to train you by waking you up earlier and earlier every morning.

Feed your cat later, perhaps just before bed time one day, before supper another, so your cats are fed when you're ready to feed them.

As to the bedtime feeding idea, my personal cat sleeps on my bed, and will nag me when she feels it's bedtime. Imagine how bad that could be if she also expected to be fed at that time.

ON THE SOAP BOX

NOT RACIST

There is a certain faction in the United States that seems determined to promulgate the notion that racism is the only reason anyone would possibly disagree with a "person of color." They can't seem to wrap their minds around the notion that some of us absolutely do not like the ideas some of them promote because they are unAmerican and filled with hate and ignorance.

Has nothing to do with the color of their skin, the cut of their hair, or even the garments with which they cover their hair!

It has been true for generations, centuries even, that some factions profit, financially and politically, from fanning the flames of hatred. The new crop of legislators and rabble rousers today are obviously more than willing to sacrifice the well being of everyone in this nation if that's what it takes to keep those old fires of race hatred burning.

If they let the racial hatreds die many of their friends and financial supporters would be out of business, so it's in their best interests to stir up the ashes every time the fires of hatred seem to be burning out and they have been doing a good job of that in the last decade or so.

They don't like to admit that this nation has come a long, long way from the society that I grew up in. Back in the late 1940s and into the early 1960s, blacks were still told to move to the back of the bus, Jim Crow laws were real, and so were Ku Klux Klan cross burnings and the like.

No one in those days ever thought we would see a person of African descent elected president, at least not in our lifetimes.

But have we really matured?

Or is it just that the pendulum of juvenile knee-jerk reaction has now swung the other way? Are we are voting for candidates not because we like what they stand for, or merely to prove how broad minded and accepting we are of those of differing sexes, races, colors and creeds?

That attitude is every bit as prejudiced as the old segregationist attitudes, and far, far more dangerous.

Dangerous because no one can speak against them without being immediately attacked as racist. No one can defend the old ideals that made America great without having their comments twisted.

For example, the mainstream press and liberal politicians immediately slap the "racist" label on anyone who dares to disagree with the extreme politics and outrageous ideas of the four newly elected Democratic Congresswomen, who call themselves "the squad" ". Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Somehow, even disagreeing with their religious intolerance and vile language is termed racist.

Omar in particular can spew hatred at Jews and Christians, but that is not racist. When someone spews back, it is.

She may have become an American citizen, but odds are that she knows nothing of the history of this country, and she too obviously despises the ideals that made America the great nation that it is. Are we justified in believing that she did not run for Congress to make America great again, but to be part of its downfall and then convert it to something she would like it to become?

The Muslim war against America began more than 200 years ago and it is still going on. Considering some of the remarks Omar has made publicly, are we justified in wondering what she says in private? Are we prejudiced if her hatred of Americans makes us wonder just whose side she is on?

The overboard rhetoric of the announced candidates and Trump's sometimes outraged responses will have made Obama look like a moderate! (Have used Obama in the singular here because even if it's Michelle who is on the ballot, her husband will be pulling the strings, and in effect having a third term anyway.)

What a plan! Terrifying to think that it might have been plotted all along by powers behind the scenes. And even more terrifying to realize that it just might work!

COOKIN' TIME

PASTA WITH SWISS CHARD

The original recipe calls for cortecce pasta, which I had never heard of. Looked it up and learned it is a bark-shaped pasta, probably made with mostly flour and eggs, like egg dumplings only thinner, and shaped like pieces of bark. If I ever find some I'll try it, but in the meanwhile, fusilli or even small shells work quite well for this recipe. Add bite size chunks of Italian sausage to this dish if you like. Great served with grilled chicken or meat loaf. Another sneaky way to get green vegetables into your family.

1 pound pasta (fusilli works)

2 bunches Rainbow swiss chard, washed and chopped

8 Plum tomatoes, skinned, peeled and chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shredded, for topping

Start by preparing the tomatoes and chard. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about two minutes, or until the skin starts to crack. Then remove and let cool until they're easy to handle. The skin will slip right off when it's time to peel them. Then cut in quarters, remove seeds and chop them up. Meanwhile, wash the chard under cool water, and peel the outer stems if you want. Slice and chop into bite size pieces. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. (This will be used later for the chard and then the pasta.) Put about two tablespoons of olive oil into a deep frying pan. Heat it and then add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about two minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes and cook another five minutes or so. While that simmers, drop the chard into the kettle of boiling water and cook it for about two minutes. Use a strainer with a handle to scoop the chard out of its kettle and into the pan with the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let this simmer while you cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions in the pot you used for the Swiss Chard.When the pasta is done drain it and mix in with the tomato/chard sauce. Save some of the pasta cooking water if you want and add it to the dish to thicken sauce and improve texture. Serve with Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sprinkled on.

LEMON BLUEBERRY CAKE

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon lemon zest

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons lemon extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, at room temperature

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

12 ounces cream cheese , softened (1 1/2 packages)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Blueberries and lemon slices for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round layer cake pans and line each with a round of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and lightly dust with flour, shaking out excess. Sift cake flour into a mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk for 30 seconds or so. Set aside. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup measure out the milk. Stir in lemon juice and sour cream and let sit three minutes. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer whip together the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest until the mixture is pale and fluffy. If your mixer doesn't have a paddle attachment stop beating occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then mix again. After this is nice and fluffy beat in the eggs one at a time and then beat in the vanilla and lemon extract. toss blueberries with three tablespoons of the flour mixture and then add the flour and milk mixtures to the beaten butter in batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture. fold in the blueberries and divide evenly into the prepared pans. Bake in 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Remove from oven, and invert on wire racks to cool completely. Once cool frost with cream cheese frosting, and decorate with blueberries and lemon slices. Store in an air tight container.

To make the frosting beat the butter and cream cheese together until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon extract and beat again, and then add the powdered sugar and beat until it's as smooth and fluffy as you want. If it seems too thin and runny, chill it before frosting the cake and then refrigerate cake after you're done. You also can beat more powdered sugar into the frosting mixture if you have to.



Thought for the week: "If America could be, once again a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream." - Edward Abbey



(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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