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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 13, 2022

Bayb, it's cold outside...

We've been hit already this year with some of the worst weather winter can throw at us. Things started getting a little better late Tuesday night, and predictions are for continued at least moderate winter temperatures here, with no significant snowfall predicted for the next week or so. Some days temperatures may get up into the mid-20s, which should feel like a Spring that now that we've endured sub-zero blasts.

Radar shows that a heavy winter storm system predicted for much of the nation east of the Rockies this week should curve south and miss us entirely. Isn't that great???

Meanwhile, sure do envy the Snowbirds basking on the beaches in Florida, and my brothers baking in the desserts of Arizona.

That said, once Spring comes will once again be glad to be living up here in TIMESLand. And now that our bodies are acclimated to the bitterest of the cold, the rest of winter might not seem so bad.

GOIN' FISHIN'

Some of those who don't mind the cold like to get out on the ice to catch fish in winter. If you think you might like ice fishing but aren't sure, this coming weekend would be a good time to try it, at least in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has declared Saturday, Jan. 15 and Sunday, Jan. 16 as free fishing weekend, when there is no requirement for a fishing license or trout and salmon stamps.

Anglers can fish all state waters where there is an open season. However, all other regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species.

Anglers are reminded that they cannot fish spring trout ponds during the Winter Free Fishing Weekend, and are advised to review hook and line regulations on the DNR website.

Most fish caught in the TIMESLand waters are also very good to eat, so as DNR Fishing Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Coordinator Theresa Stabo said, "Fishing is about so much more than the catch. Get out there and enjoy nature, spend time with friends and family and if you're lucky, bring home some fish for your next at-home fish fry."

Might mention, in addition to frying your catch, you might want to try pickling some, especially if you catch Northern.

WINTER SAFETY

Winter can be a dangerous time of year, especially when temperatures drop to the zero range. A simple fall, if it leaves you unable to move, can be fatal. Anyone who lives alone should carry a cell phone when venturing outdoors, particularly if they're going to be on ice.

As to ice fishing, the DNR warns that no ice is 100% safe. They advise checking with local bait shops for current ice conditions in the area you plan to ice fish, and staying safely on shore if ice conditions are questionable.

Whenever going on a winter outing, always tell someone where you are going and when you'll return, dress for warmth and comfort, and don't forget your safety gear.

ON THE SOAP BOX

A WORD OF WARNING

Recently was given a copy of Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals," which warns of the eight steps to creating a socialistic state. Those who promote Socialism in preference to our free society in which we benefit from the fruits of our own labors are coming dangerously close to success these days.

We need to speak up and fight back before it's too late!

The steps are:

1. Control health care and you control the people.

2. Increase the poverty level as high as possible. (With this comes providing subsistence income so they don't starve.) Poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything they need to live.

3. Increase government debt to an unsustainable level. That way you can increase taxes, which will create more poverty.

4. Gun Control. Remove people's ability to defend themselves from the government. That way you can create a police state.

5. Welfare. Take control of every aspect of life - food, housing and income.

6. Education. Take control of what people read and listen to. Take control of what children learn in school.

7. Religion: Remove the belief in God from government and from schools.

8. Class Warfare. Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take from the rich (by means of taxes), with the support of the poor.

An accompanying document gave dates of Venezuela's decline from being the third richest country in this hemisphere in 1992 to 2001 when a Socialist president was elected to "combat income inequality," to 2004, when health care was socialized, to 2009 when private ownership of guns was banned. In 2016 there were widespread food and health care shortages, and 2019 to today, when unarmed citizens are being massacred by the government, and hunger and poverty for the masses is rampant and thousands are fleeing to the United States, where efforts are underway to create the same problems here by making Socialism acceptable.

Incidentally, that 2001 election in Venezuela included many allegations of fraud, very like those here in the 2020 Presidential election. They also went through federal takeover of education, and had a news media controlled and influenced by the government.

Sound familiar?

Sounds to me like we have every right to feel that our way of life is being threatened on every front!

WINTER RIDDLES

After that, we need time for some foolish fun. Couldn't resist a few more winter riddles. See answers after Cookin' Time.

1: What flies when it's born, lies when it's alive, and runs when it's dead?

2: How does a penguin build a house?

3: How do you scare a snowman?

4: What's it called when a snowman has a temper tantrum?

5: What kind of math do Snowy Owls like?

6: What happened when the icicle landed on the snowman's head?

7: Where does a polar bear keep its money?

8: What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

9: What is the favorite Mexican food of snowman?

10: What sort of ball doesn't bounce?

BENEFITS OF BACON GREASE

Being raised in an era when Mom and Grandma had lived through the Great Depression and then the shortages created by World War II, learned to enjoy the benefits of bacon grease. Realize that some doctors advise folks with cholesterol problems not to use it, but bacon grease can be a wonderful way to add flavor to the meals we eat and stretch the food budget at the same time.

During World War II, all fats were saved. Homemakers were told they were somehow used in the manufacture of either weapons or ammunition. Not sure which.

In our home, bacon grease was used to make cream gravy, pan fry fish, fry eggs and potatoes and much more. Also to make German potato salad (bacon included), wilted lettuce or spinach salads, and bacon-flavored green beans. (Try adding bacon grease to canned or frozen beans instead of butter. We love it! Meaty browned bits left in the pan can certainly also be used for this.)

Anyway, to store bacon grease, you should first strain out the bits of bacon left behind in the pan so it will last longer without becoming rancid. To do this, place a coffee filter or fine mesh strainer over the mouth of a glass container, like a Mason jar, or another heatproof container. Pour the warm (not hot) grease through the strainer, which will catch all the pieces. Cover the container when it is not in use.

Store your bacon grease in the fridge where it will last for three months, or in the freezer where it will last indefinitely. Storing the grease in the fridge is the best for easy access to soft fat whenever you want it.

If you grew up watching your grandmother store bacon grease, she probably left it in a Mason jar on the counter or the back of the stovetop. Mine did. However, current food guidelines recommend storing it in the fridge or freezer so the fat stays fresh for longer.

There's almost no limit to the ways bacon grease can be used, especially if you're willing to experiment with it. You really can't go wrong by adding a touch of bacon flavor to almost anything.

You can use your bacon grease immediately to fry up your eggs or hash browns, generally right in the same pan used to fry the bacon. If you choose to do this, you don't need to strain out the bacon bits.

If you're saving the grease for future cooking and baking you really should strain it. The strained bacon grease can be used just like almost any other fat in your kitchen, with the added bonus of a savory, smoky flavor boost. It's great for frying things like grilled cheese, chicken, rice, quesadillas, and omelets, or to use as a savory addition for baking things like cornbread, scones, and pie crusts. Do this by replacing half of the butter, oil or shortening in the recipe with bacon grease.

COOKIN' TIME

Ran the good old Cabbage Diet Soup program last week, complete with the original Cabbage Soup recipe. Problem was, the recipe and the diet were reprinted from a prior year, when the gremlins caused the cabbage to disappear from the list of soup ingredients, and they were at again last week. Once again, the printed version of the recipe failed to include the cabbage. If you saved the recipe from last week, add a medium head of cabbage to the ingredients, and then add that it should be cored and chopped into chunks and added when you add the chicken broth. You can also omit the broth and use an equivalent amount of V-8 or tomato juice instead for a change in flavor.

ANOTHER DIET SOUP

The soup below is a variation of the soup in the Cabbage Soup Diet, but its specially designed for folks who don't like cabbage, so it isn't supposed to have any. Dieting or not, this soup is delicious, nutritious, low fat, no meat, and low carb (unless you personalize it). In its original form it has only about 35 calories a serving. Great companion with a grilled cheese sandwich for an easy supper.

There's no limit to ways to successfully make variations of this Deluxe diet Soup, but some additions will cause it to no longer be low carb or low calorie. If you're dieting and the rest of the family is not, add sturdy things like noodles, rice or cooked dried beans after you take out enough soup for yourself. You also can add browned hamburger or cut up leftover meat of just about any kind. I usually leave the carrots out and add more zucchini, yellow squash or celery, because carrots aren't low carb. A friend leaves out the spinach. In either case, the soup is still good, and great with grilled sandwiches to warm the bones on a cold winter day.

Recipe makes a lot. Pack what you can't use in two days in individual containers and freeze to retain flavor and nutrients. Then defrost on demand.

DELUXE DIET SOUP

5 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch slices

3 medium celery ribs, sliced

3 large onions, chopped or 3 medium leeks, cut into inch thick chunks

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes (in juice)

1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces

12 ounces green beans, each cut into thirds

3 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch slices

2 (5 ounce) packages baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

12 cups hot water

Coat the bottom of a large heavy soup kettle with nonstick cooking spray. (I skip the spray and melt 3 tablespoons butter because I believe in low carb, not low fat! There's lots of evidence, but we'll go into that some other time.) Anyway, add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until they start turning lightly brown. Stir in the tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. Add cauliflower, remaining ingredients and 12 cups or so of hot or at least warm water. Bring quickly to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. When it starts boiling, turn heat down so it simmers, and simmer about 15 minutes or until the vegetables become tender. Add more salt and pepper to taste if you like. Some like it hot. Add a bit of hot sauce, cayenne pepper or some crushed red peppers if you like.

THE ULTIMATE MUG CAKE

This is not for dieters, but is for anybody craving a delicious, decadent dessert with very little work or waiting. If you're required to share, cut this in half and it will serve two. You can bake it in an 8-ounce mug, but it might run over.

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably dark chocolate

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (optional)

Butter a 12-ounce microwavable mug. In it, mix the 1 mug, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the milk and oil. Add the chocolate chips and stir once. Place the mug in microwave with a paper towel under it. Cook on High for 60 seconds. Check for doneness: if it's still gooey and wet on top, microwave another 20 seconds, then another 10 seconds. It done when the top looks cooked and springs back when you touch it. It will still look moist but will be springy. Exact timing depends on the microwave. Then wait two to three minutes for the cake to finish cooking and cool down. It won't taste right if you try it right away. Serve warm, toped with whipped topping or ice cream, if you have some.

DANGEROUSLY EASY LEMON BARS

If you're too easily hooked on lemon bars, beware of these. Take almost no effort - to make or to eat. You don't even need to take out the mixer.

1 box angel food cake mix

1 (22-ounce) can lemon pie filling

Powdered sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together the angel food cake mix and lemon pie filling. When it's completely mixed, pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes, until fully cooked and the top is lightly browned. Let the cake cool, cut into bars. If you want to, sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting.

The Country Cousin

RIDDLE ANSWERS: 1. Snow. 2. Igloos it together! 3. You get a hairdryer! 4: A meltdown! 5: Owlgebra! 6: It knocked him out cold. 7: In a snow bank! 8: Do you smell carrots? 9: Brrrr- itos! 10: A snowball!

Thought for the week: Lord, save us from those who would destroy the wonderful freedoms You have given us under the pretext of protecting our physical health or saving us from other threats. And forgive us for allowing the Federal Health Dictators to destroy our freedom to worship last year. We pray that never happens again. As Thomas Jefferson once said, those who give up liberty in return for safety deserve neither.

(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 715-927-5034 or by e-mail at shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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