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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 30, 2020

Shirley Prudhomme

Will he see that shadow?

Winter is speeding right along. January is all but gone. Once February arrives, can Spring be far behind?

The weatherman has been delivering a lot of snow lately, but he's not predicting any more for the next 10 days or so. Clouds, yes, but not snow. Good thing. We're running out of places to put it. They're also predicting some fine winter temperatures, with highs near or even slightly above freezing and lows that stay up in the high teens most of the time.

Hope for clouds on Sunday, Feb. 2. That's Groundhog Day, when that little creature is said to pop out of his winter hole to check conditions outdoors. Tradition has it that if it's sunny he'll see his shadow and jump right back into bed for another six weeks, which would delay the start of Spring. If it's cloudy, he supposedly stays outside, and Spring gets underway. Experience tells us that either way, there will be at least six more weeks of snow in TIMESland whether Puxatawny Phil sees his shadow or not, but it's fun thinking that this could be the year that's different. After all, some folks manage to ignore the snow and cold and remain convinced that global warming is threatening the planet despite lots of evidence to the contrary.

OUTDOOR DOINGS

Here in TiMESland, we don't let a bit of cold stop us from having fun outdoors, and in addition to individual trail riding, ice fishing, cross country skiing and such, there are a whole batch of fun events coming up on Saturday, Feb. 1, including Da Yooper Plunge and Winterfest in Menominee.

At the northern end of the county, where snow is piled deep, the fabled and fun Outhouse Races will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Firelane Bar and Grill on County C in Athelstane with opening ceremonies at 12:45 p.m. Ad says outhouses used for racing will be available to use (which sort of makes me wonder) but any participant can build their own outhouse. There will be prizes for the best built outhouse and for the fastest teams. Registration begins at 11 a.m. Fee is $20 for each adult two-man team and $10 for each "Little Poopers" Team. There will also be raffles and door prizes. There's no admission charge for the event, but you can bring a non-perishable donation for the Crivitz Food Pantry. The event is a fundraiser for the Silver Cliff Rescue Squad and Athelstane Fire Department.

INDOOR FUN TOO

If guns and knives are your thing, mark your calendar for Saturday, Feb. 8, for the gun and knife show sponsored by Menominee Woods and Streams Sportsman's Club. The buy, sell and trade event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pullman House on Hwy. 41 four miles north of Menominee. There's a $5 admission at the door, with kids under age 12 admitted free, but only with an adult. Food will be available. Vendor tables are offered for $25 each.

The Peshtigo Public Library is continuing its book sale through Saturday, Jan. 31, offering adult and children's books, magazines and dvds that need new homes. Fill a bag for $2. Anyone who enjoys talking about books they have read, or get tips on what to read next is invited to attend the Book Club meeting Monday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m. From 3 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 3, join others at the library to make Valentine cards for veterans. The library will have all the materials to make the cards. The cards will be given to the VA Hospital in Iron Mountain for veterans to enjoy.

TRAPPER TRAINING

The 15th Annual New Trappers Workshop will be held at the Community Center in Hermansville, Mich. on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A number of local veteran trappers will be on hand to share tips, techniques, stories and maybe even some secrets of the sport of fur harvesting. The event will feature trapping demonstrations by Jim Fornetti and Clint Seawright. Seawright is a registered fur buyer and will be available for anyone wanting to sell their harvest. Admission is free, food and refreshments will be available, and all beginning trappers will be treated to a trapping starter kit.

GROWIN' THINGS

If you're among those who love to make things grow, plan now to attend the 2020 Spring Garden Conference from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21 on the UW-Green Bay Marinette Campus at 750 West Bay Shore Street, Marinette. The $40 admission fee includes four educational sessions, morning refreshments, home made soup, and lunch.

This year marks the Silver Anniversary of the conference sponsored by Northern Lights Master Gardeners Association and Marinette County UWEX. It was held for the first time in 1996 and has been held every spring since then.

ASHES TO GROW BY

Those who love working with the soil and helping things grow know that gardening is just another day at the plant

Yes, that pathetic pun was fully intended!

The Old Farmer's Almanac reminds us that even in winter, there are things you can do to make your garden grow better come spring. Knowing your soils pH - a measure of acidity or alkalinity- together with soil chemistry and structure, will greatly affect the health and vigor of your plants, and the folks at UWEX can help you find out what that is once the ground thaws, or you can get a test kit from a local garden center. For most herbs and vegetables, the ideal soil pH is 6.0Ś.5. 

Most soils in this area would benefit from an increase in pH, and one easy, and potentially free, way to improve the pH balance is to add wood ashes to your soil.

If you are burning nice clean wood for heat, save the ashes over the winter and you'll have a valuable source of nutrients for your plants. Wood ashes contain calcium, potassium, and a variety of trace elements. Because they're water-soluble, wood ashes can change the soil pH and supply those nutrients rapidly. Just mix them into the soil before planting.

A word to the wise, though: Don't apply wood ashes around acid-loving plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and hollies.

As noted last week, those ashes also are great for melting snow from sidewalks and paths to provide a safer walk to and from your car. The run-off the will get into nearby soil to nourish plants there, provided they are not of the acid-loving variety.

ON THE SOAP BOX

My friend Maggie Lardnois is amused that some people are so upset with President Donald Trump that you'd think he was the one who stole 90 percent of the Haitian Relief fund, sold 20 percent of our uranium to Russia, deleted 33,000 e-mails and let innocent Americans die in Benghazi.

How can it be that supposedly sane people are angry because our President dared to ask the leader of another country to investigate rumors of graft and corruption before agreeing to send him more of America's hard-earned taxpayer dollars!

WHERE'S THE BEEF?

Fast food companies are bragging about making plants taste like meat. They use lots of chemicals to do it. Let's remind them, cows have been doing that for years, and without the harmful chemicals.

CONGRATULATIONS

Congratulations go out to to long-time Peshtigo residents Paul and Amy Massio, who on Wednesday, Jan. 29 celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary! He's 95 years young and she's 93, and they just very recently moved out of their apartment at 131 North West Front Street and into a nursing home, where they still are living together. The former Amy Kniskern, a life-long Peshtigo resident, was married to Paul in Chicago on Jan. 29, 1951. In today's world of disposable marriages, their durable marriage is certainly an achievement to be proud of! Hope they are both able to celebrate many happy returns of the day!

COOKIN' TIME

One local weather man has predicted several weeks of soup weather, and that prediction is almost certain to be right on. There's nothing quite like a good hot bowl of soup on a cold and cloudy winter day (or night).

BACON POTATO CHOWDER

You can omit the bacon and green beans entirely from this recipe and instead add a quarter cup of butter where the bacon grease is called for. Then it's just regular potato soup, but still delicious. I often make Potato Soup that way, and at the end add a can of Span diced into bite-size pieces.

1 pound lean bacon, diced

3 stalks celery, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 can sliced green beans

4 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper, or to taste

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, and more for garnish

Salt to taste

In a Dutch oven cook the bacon over medium heat until done, but not overly crisp. Drain grease from pan and then put a quarter up of it back in. Just keep the bacon in there. Stir in the black or white pepper, celery and onion and cook about five minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, and then add the potatoes, stir for a minute or two, and add the broth. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender. In a separate pan melt the quarter cup of butter. Stir in the pepper, then stir in the flour, tarragon and parsley and, still stirring, add the cream all at once. Keep stirring until it boils and thickens. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture once the vegetables are done and let it simmer a minute or two. For a thicker soup you could puree it a bit with a stick mixer, but I prefer not to.

CANTONESE STEAMED FISH

2 scallions (or use green onions and a bit of minced garlic)

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1 small bunch parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 medium fish fillet (perhaps tilapia, walleye or a few pollack fillets, or a whole fish)

2 tablespoons oil

Mix the soy sauce with the salt, sugar and water. Put the vegetable oil in a small heavy saucepan and when it's hot add the ginger and let it brown lightly for about a minute. Add about two thirds of the scallions and reserve the rest. Let that sizzle for about a minute and then add the soy sauce mixture and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Set aside. Prepare a steamer or a wok with a rack. (You could use a deep saucepan or frying pan with an overturned plate on top to hold the fish.) In the steamer put about an inch of water and a bit of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then put in the fish on its rack or a heat-proof plate. Cover and steam for about 10 minutes. Check for doneness with a butter knife. if it cuts through easily to the plate the fish is done. It should no longer be translucent when flakes are separated. Remove fish to a serving plate and spread cilantro and about a third of the scallions on it. Then spoon the prepared soy sauce mixture over it and serve immediately. Cooked white rice or fried rice is an excellent go-with,along with perhaps steamed broccoli or green beans with bacon.

NO BAKE 7-UP CHEESECAKE

Friend Mary Lou Jacomet sent this wonderfully easy (and good) recipe. Good to have treats like this now, when fruits are so much out of season. Too bad the Green Bay Packers aren't in the Super Bowl, or you could make two pies for a Super Bowl party, adding some green food coloring to one and yellow to the other. Or keep the green pie idea in mind for St. Patrick's Day. The way time flies, March 17 isn't too far off. Only 6 weeks. This would also be absolutely great with some canned cherry pie filling spooned over the top before the whipped topping. Then it would be perfect for Valentine's Day, or for George Washington's Birthday, as a reminder of the cherry tree that he didn't actually chop down with his little axe.

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 cup 7-Up

2 teaspoons lemon or lime gelatin dessert mix (Jello)

1 pre-made graham cracker crust

1 container non-dairy whipped topping (or real whipped cream)

Bring the 7-Up to a boil. Pour the gelatin into a small heat-safe bowl and stir in the 7-Up until it is dissolved. Allow to return to room temperature. While it cools, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer in a fairly large bowl until soft and lump free. Slowly beat in the gelatin mixture, stopping halfway through to scrape down sides. Beat until well combined and then pour into the crust. Chill two or more hours, and then serve with whipped topping.

SPICED APPLE SHRUB

Speaking of parties, brew up this drink for a Super Bowl Party or for warming up after a day spent playing in the snow. Serve it without alcohol for the teetotalers, or add a hefty shot of bourbon (or brandy) and a slice of lemon for those who do imbibe. Either way, provide cinnamon sticks for serving. Very like the old fashioned hot toddy, this is a super cure for the common cold, and having a cold gives you a wonderful excuse to enjoy one while tucked cozily under a quilt on the couch in your favorite flannel jammies.

1 pound Honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sliced fennel

1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

Zest of one lemon

1 cup honey

1 cup hot water

3/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

3 cinnamon sticks, broken up a bit

Place everything in a large glass bowl or gallon-size glass jar. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in fridge for three or four days. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into another container. Discard the solids. (Better yet, put them out in the mulch pile or in the shrubs for the critters.) Transfer the liquid to a glass jar or bottle with a good fitting lid. If the lid is not non-reactive, put a layer of plastic wrap between it and contents of the container. Keep it in the fridge for up to a month. To make a non-alcoholic hot toddy mix two ounces of the Shrub mixture with 8 ounces of very hot water and maybe an extra slice of lemon. For the alcoholic version, mix the two ounces of Shrub with six ounces of very hot water, and then add a shot of bourbon, brandy, or whatever liquor you think would taste good in it. Either way, use cinnamon sticks for stirrers. (Mom used to let us drink hot toddies with a little brandy when we had a cold, and trust me, it was worth having a cold to get one of those.)

The Country Cousin

Thought for the week: Thank you, Lord, for all the good things you have given us, and help us give You the honor and respect that you deserve. Please give us one more thing - the courage to stand up for You when and your teachings against those who challenge Your right to be recognized in the world that You created. Amen.

(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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