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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: January 2, 2020

Shirley Prudhomme

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a New Year filled with love and laughter".

Here we are at the dawn of a brand new year, and a brand new decade! The final year of the second decade of the 21st century has passed into history, and the third decade has begun. May this be this be the beginning of a decade filled with peace and prosperity, truth and justice, and brotherly love!

Some of the above were sorely lacking in the year 2019.

Let's all pray that the start of 2020 will be the start of a new era with a clear vision of what is right and what is wrong; an era when news media will present their stories without bias, when lawmakers will act on the basis of what is good for the country and not what is good for their own political agendas; an era when public figures, including those in the sports world, will kneel to pray and stand for the National Anthem, and an era when we do not allow ourselves to be bullied into failing to defend the things we believe in!



RESOLUTIONS

Most of us make resolutions to change ourselves or our lives somewhat better in the New Year than we were in the year before. Some of us make those same resolutions year after year, because we don't actually use them once the midnight shots have been fired and bells have rung. Statisticians tell us less than 8 percent of the population actually sticks with whatever New Year resolutions they made. Promises made to ourselves obviously are promises not generally kept.

As Mark Twain once said, New Year's Day is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving the way to Hell with them as usual."

Oscar Wilde said New Year's Resolutions are checks that men write on a bank where they have no account.

A few resolutions that may be kept include:

*I will not run while juggling knives.

*I will not skateboard down hills or steps on a skateboard with no wheels.

*I will not play with lighted matches near filling station gas pumps.

*I will not throw my friends into the trunk of my car.

*I will not shower while making toast on the edge of the bathtub.

On the plus side of breaking resolutions, Eric Zorn observed that making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of that cycle."

Congratulations, Zorn, and thanks. Best excuse I've ever heard!!!

We've had our January thaw on the final weekend of December, but that's probably appropriate considering that snow had started falling before October ended.

Thankfully Nature left the roads clear for Christmas visits, and the majority of ATV and snowmobile trails in the county were open, except some in southern parts of the county where soft spots remain in swamps and bogs, and the weekend rains made those conditions even worse.

Clubs have been working diligently to clear trails of all the thousands of windfall trees that came down during the November and December storms. Some have managed to complete the task and others have not, largely because they couldn't take their equipment into soggy areas.

Now we again have fresh snow and perfect conditions for sledding and other outdoor fun. In a few days the kids will be back in school, so let's all enjoy it while we can.

The rain, snow and ice that fell late Monday and into the early morning hours of Tuesday made for treacherous driving and walking conditions and left outdoor dwelling vehicles cased in ice, with doors frozen shut. Lots of scraping and shoveling had to be done.

That said, fields and forests were once again encased in dazzling white, and it's nice to look at clean and sparkling snow instead of the gringy landscape that makes a time of thawing less pleasant that it would be otherwise.

And thankfully, while temperatures have again fallen to below freezing, they haven't dropped back into the single digits, so that's another plus.



LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Epiphany, known in some cultures as Little Christmas or Three Kings Day, is coming up on Monday, Jan. 6,

Known by many names, including the Epiphany, Three Kings' Day, Little Christmas or the 12th Day of Christmas, January 6th was first celebrated as a feast day in the 4th century to commemorate Jesus' introduction in human form. All over the world, people celebrate some kind of festival at the end of the year, and lots still do celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, starting on Christmas Eve, Dec.24, and ending on Epiphany, the 12th Day of Christmas.

Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Three Kings to the stable in Bethlehem that was the first earthly home of the infant Jesus. Whether you call it Little Christmas, Three Kings Day, or Twelfth Night, it marks the official end of the season's "Twelve Days of Christmas" "counting from Christmas evening on December 25 to the Epiphany on January 6.

Epiphany is from the Greek word Epiphania, meaning "revelation", and in Biblical terms, describes the story of how the Magi or Three Kings - Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar - saw a bright star on the night Christ was born and followed it to Bethlehem. There they found the Christ child and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense ad myrrh. The legendary visit would later gave rise to the custom of gift giving at Christmas or on the Feast of the Epiphany.

When my father was a boy, his very French family celebrated Christmas on Dec. 25 as a day mostly for church, and Little Christmas, which they celebrated on New Year's Day, Jan. 1, was for gifts, family gatherings at his grandfather's home in Walsh and general merrymaking. Because eventually the family was huge, boy cousins slept in the hay mow and girl cousins slept in the attic.

According to Irish writer Ciara Flathey, in her pat of Ireland at least, January 6th is the day the tree comes down, all the decorations go back to the attic and everyone is forced to accept that, yes, Christmas is well and truly over for another year. Flathey adds that January 6th also marks a very unique Irish celebration - Nollaig na mBan or Women's Little Christmas.

Held every year on the Feast of the Epiphany, Women's Little Christmas is traditionally when the nation's womenfolk, absolutely exhausted after all the festive cooking and housework, were given their annual day off. The men would do a bit around the house so their other halves could go out for a bite to eat, a few drinks and generally be able to let loose without worrying that everything would go to ruin in their brief absence from the homestead.



ON THE SOAP BOX DOUBTFUL DONATION

The Green Bay Packers are near the top of the heap in contention for the national playoffs and possibly a Super Bowl appearance this year.

Would love to cheer for them, but my personal enthusiasm has been dampened by news that the Green Bay Packer organization made a huge donation to Planned Parenthood - the number one abortion agency in this country.

Granted, Planned Parenthood may supply potential unwed mothers with birth control products and information, but those things can readily be obtained elsewhere. Their main business is abortions, which some of us consider to be legalized murder.

Point here isn't whether or not Planned Parenthood is a good organization or an evil one. Point is that it is controversial, and that it was poor judgement on the part of the Green Bay Packers Foundation to add to the disharmony in Packerland and the rest of the nation by giving funds from a publicly owned organization privileged to play in a taxpayer-funded stadium to a group that some of us believe should be

outlawed.

It they wanted to donate, the money should have gone to a group like St. Jude's Hospital for Children, Salvation Army, or local youth groups and food pantries. Surely there are plenty of service organizations and homeless shelters in Green Bay that could have put the money to good use.



COOKIN' TIME RETRO SHRIMP DIP

This recipe is an old go-to favorite for celebrations of any sort - from Game Day parties to wedding showers and end of the holidays family get-togethers. Easy to make, easier to eat.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons shrimp cocktail sauce

1 can (4 ounces) tiny shrimp, drained

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

Sliced green onion tops, for garnish

In a medium bowl beat together everything except the shrimp. Chop the shrimp into bits and stir into the cream cheese mixture. Put into a pretty serving dish and sprinkle on the sliced green onion tops. Serve with an assortment of crackers and ripple potato chips.



CHEESY HAM AND RICE CASSEROLE

Leftover ham? You can use the ham bone and bits of meat for bean soup or boiled dinner, and then make this great casserole if you have a lot of meat left over. I prefer to make this with cream of mushroom soup and add a bit of extra cheese.

2 (10 ounce) cans cheese soup

2 2/3 cups water

4 cups diced ham (more or less)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

3 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or cheese blend

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together the soup, water, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in the rice, broccoli and ham. Pour mixture into a 9"x13" casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Add the butter, stir the casserole and then top with the shredded cheese. Leave uncovered and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.



INSTANT POT CHICKEN

If you were among those lucky enough to get an Instant Pot for Christmas you may be hunting down ways to use it. You can take skinless, boneless chicken out of the freezer, thaw them in cold water just enough to separate them, and have them cooked to juicy deliciousness and ready to serve - or add to recipes calling for cooked chicken - in just half an hour.

You need an Instant pot or any electric pressure cooker, frozen chicken breasts, 1 cup chicken broth, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you want.

Place the frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot inner pot. If you're cooking more than one, be sure they are separated. (Just put into cold water until you can pull them apart. Salting the water will thaw them faster.) Add the cup of broth to the pot, sprinkle seasonings on top, close lid and turn the valve to the sealing position. Press the "manual" or "pressure cook" button and cook on high pressure for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size and amount of the chicken breast meat. Once the cook time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 5 minutes, then do a quick release. Remove the meat from the pot and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow juices to distribute throughout the chicken before slicing or shredding. To make hot chicken sandwiches, just thicken the broth with a tablespoon of corn starch and taste to correct seasonings. If you don't have canned chicken broth, dissolve a bouillon cube or a teaspoon or two of dry soup base in a cup of boiling water before adding it to the Instant Pot.



POPPER TOP CASSEROLE

Great recipe for a large family, or a weekend family gathering when you're all tired of regular Christmas fare. or divide into two cooking pans and eat one now, freeze one for later.

1 bag frozen Tater Tots (2 pounds)

2 blocks cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups Mexican cheese, shredded, divided

6 green onions, sliced

6 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided

1 family size rotisserie chicken, meat removed (or use the Instant Pot chicken recipe above)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread Tater Tots tater tots into the bottom a 9 x 13" baking dish. Bake tater tots for about 15 minutes. While Tater Tots are cooking, in a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and sour cream. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Stir in half the shredded cheese,half the green onions, diced jalapeño peppers and half the cooked bacon until combined well. Once the tater tots are cooked, remove from the oven (but don't turn the oven off.) Spread diced chicken on top of the cooked tater tots, and then layer the cream cheese mixture on top of the chicken. Just do your best to spread it out. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the shredded cheese, green onions and bacon. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Great with a tossed salad, and with that meal, who needs dessert?



CEDDAR POPOVERS

4 large eggs

2 egg whites

1 cup milk

1 cups all-purpose flour

teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, flour, and salt. Stir in cheddar and set aside. Place two metal muffin tins in oven for 10 minutes. Remove work quickly to brush the cups with butter, or spray generously with buttery flavored cooking spray. Evenly divide reserved batter among cups and return pans to oven. Bake until popovers are puffed over pan rims and deep golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cut a small slit into the top of each popover to release steam; bake 10 more minutes. Serve immediately with butter on the side. Great with roast beef, ham or pork.



SOUR CREAM BEANS

Easy way to dress up beans so your family will eat them and ask for seconds. Unless they also don't like onions.

1 can wax beans

1 can green beans

2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion

3 tablespoons sugar

Salt to taste

2 cups sour cream

Heat beans to boiling. Drain into colander set over a dish. Quickly sprinkle with salt, chopped onion and sugar. Dump out the liquid and again set the colander over the dish so the contents drain very well. When luke warm, put into dish and stir in sour cream. Can be served warm or cold. Stays good for 3 or 4 days if kept refrigerated.



Thought for the week: This year, resolve to speak up for what you believe in, politically correct or not. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent."

(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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