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Country Cousin

Sun? Sunshine, You Say...

Memorial Day has come and gone, so it must be Summer, right? We had a fairly fine weekend, even with the intermittent rain. Warmer would have been even nicer, but it sure was wonderful to see the sun again! Woke up early Friday morning wondering, "What's that wonderful light shining through the window? It's so bright"" Hadn't seen the sun for so long had forgotten what it looks like, and was beginning to doubt that it was still up there at all.

If rain makes the flowers grow, they should be 10 feet tall by now. Guess they need some sunshine, too.

FISH TALES

A free fishing weekend in Wisconsin for the public is coming up. This coming Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, cast your bait legally without a license in Wisconsin lakes, rivers and streams. If you're lucky enough to get a good bite, go ahead and reel it in. But remember, all other fishing rules still apply, so do check the rule books before you go out. If the fish you catch is legal on that body of water, and of legal size, you can cook it and eat it too.

When our son was small, not yet four years old, we were spending the week at the old family farm near Left Foot Lake. Son had a great time catching suckers one fine Spring day. We didn't eat them, but he was determined to keep his day's catch. Brought several of them back to the farm and put them to good use anyway. Managed to convince him that if we planted those fish near the rose bushes they would grow. Fish didn't grow, but the rose bushes did.

SUMMER FUN

Summer fun in TIMESland comes in all forms, from art and music in the park to human ice bowling, outhouse races, hog wrestling and now bug catching.

On Saturday, June 3, anyone with a motorcycle can aim for bugs! Lakeside Bar & Grill, on Newton Lake Road in Athelstane, is hosting its 6th Annual Bug Splatter Ride to benefit Twin Bridge Rescue. The ride starts at noon and upon completion of the ride the participant with the "Splattered" bug closest to the bull's-eye wins!! How's that for competition?

Other events include an Open House at Gov. Thompson State Park west of Crivitz on Saturday and Sunday.

Peshtigo's summer "Bands at Badger" series starts on Wednesday, June 12, when the Peshtigo High School Jazz Band will play from 6 to 8 p.m. Incidentally, that's Flag Day also, so fly our nation's colors proudly wherever you can, and salute the flag wherever you see it. It's not that piece of red, white and blue that you're really honoring, it's the tradition of freedom and opportunity that it represents.

The City of Marinette is sponsoring a Marinette Market on Stephenson Island beginning on Friday, June 2, and continue from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Friday until the end of October, weather permitting. This market is for local vendors to display and sell their items to the general public. Wine, produce, jams, jellies, pickles, coffee, raw honey, jewelry, crafts and other items may be sold. Musicians are invited to attend and advertise their bands and talents.

In Crivitz, flea markets are already underway every Thursday, and free movies in the park every Thursday throughout the summer starts with "Finding Dory" at dusk on Thursday, June 8 in the Littleland Playland Park.

Summer Parks and Recreation Department programs are gearing up throughout TIMESland. Ball games are being played, frisbees are flying, arts and crafts are being taught. Some schools and playgrounds have free lunch for kids.

There's too much going on to take it all in, but we can try!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. PRESIDENT

According to the Republican Party's National Committee, President Donald Trump has a birthday coming up on Sunday, June 14. For trying to keep his campaign promises, President Trump continues to get so much bad press in the national news media that he certainly could use some cheering up right about now.

Want to send him a birthday greeting? Mail it to him at The White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Washington, DC 20500, and include your return address in the upper left hand corner of the envelope.

Incidentally, am told that if he were still alive, the late President John Kennedy would turn 100 on June 29.

IRS SCAM ALERT

Tax filing deadline for this year has come and gone, but there's apparently no end to the season for telephone tax scams.

The Infernal - excuse me - Internal - Revenue Service (IRS) reports that an aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers has been making its rounds throughout the country.

Callers using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers claim to be employees of the IRS. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually even manage to alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and to avoid arrest or other actions, it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license.

In Burlington recently an intended victim was told the IRS had issued a warrant for their arrest on tax fraud charges and it would be carried out promptly unless they paid as directed. That target contacted the police instead, and learned there was no warrant. Excellent idea.

The IRS issued a news release saying they will not call anyone about taxes without prior contact, generally in the form of a letter requesting payment and offering information about how you can appeal. Even if they schedule an audit, their first contact will not be phone call.

They also will not demand instant payment, and whether by phone or by mail, they will not demand payment by a specific method, such as a prepaid debit card or through a third party.

They also will not demand instant payment. If you are contacted by the IRS about a tax debt, you will have the opportunity to question the amount they are demanding and to appeal the assessment.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be the IRS, get their number. Then hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Remember, never give your credit card information to anyone on a call you did not initiate unless you absolutely know who they are and why they are calling.

Report any type of scam at the FBI's Internet Crime and Complaint Center at https://complaint.ic3.gov 

SUPPLEMENTS

The ancient Chinese herb, ginseng, is making a popularity comeback. New research has shown it to be beneficial for many things, including prevention and treatment of brain problems that can lead to Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

Researchers also say we can keep our brains supple by exercising them, specifically by making them create new connections by learning new tricks. Things that can help may include learning a new skill, like playing a new musical instrument, or can be as simple as tooth brushing with your non-dominant hand, taking a new route to work, or playing an unfamiliar game.

GROWIN' THINGS

The wet, cold weather this spring has made many of us late with our gardens.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

You can use it too if you want to.

For some things it may be too late to plant outdoors, but for many there's still time, especially if you buy the plants already started.

Container gardening is a great idea for those getting a late start. Easier to cover if Fall frosts threaten early. If there's room, some containers can even be brought indoors so your harvest can finish growing.

If you opt for a small container garden, choose the biggest container you have room for - within reason of course. A wooden half-barrel can yield an amazing amount of food. Barrels, buckets, baskets, boxes, bath and other tubs, feed troughs, just about anything that holds soil can be used. Just be sure there are drainage holes in the bottom, and add about an inch of gravel before you put in the soil.

Black pots absorb heat when they sit in the sun, so beware. You want to grow your vegetables, not cook them. Provide some shade if necessary.

To keep plants adequately cool and moist during hot summer days, double-pot: Place a small pot inside a larger one and fill the space between them with sphagnum moss or crumpled newspaper. When watering the plant, also soak the filler between the pots. 

Clay pots are usually more attractive than plastic ones, but plastic pots retain moisture better and won't dry out as fast as unglazed terra-cotta ones. To get the best of both, slip a plastic pot into a slightly larger clay pot. Many plants grown in pots must be watered as often as twice a day. Hanging baskets make good use of extra space, and are great for growing things like herbs, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

FROZEN RHUBARB

Rhubarb season is here. Harvest it while you can, if have some of your own or are lucky enough to have a friend or neighbor who will share.

Cannot understand why you never can find frozen rhubarb for sale in stores. It doesn't seem to be very popular in other corners of the globe. Recipes for it are very scarce in the cookbooks I collect except those that come from our area. Guess folks from other places don't know how wonderful and versatile rhubarb is.

If you have lots of extra rhubarb, you can freeze it yourself, and then enjoy it any time of the year, even though you can't buy it.

Clean the rhubarb and cut it into pieces of the size you like for your recipes. Spread the pieces out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Freeze it and then transfer to zip-close freezer bags, preferably measured into recipe-size amounts.

Stores well in the freezer for about year, but I have kept it longer and it was still good. Do not let it thaw before you need it, though. Rhubarb takes poorly to re-freezing, or to standing long after thawing once it's been frozen.

COOKIN' TIME

June Dairy Month is here, and that's a great excuse to enjoy some of the most wonderful foods Wisconsin has to offer. Rhubarb and asparagus seasons are both well underway. Strawberries should start ripening soon. How quickly everything comes in once the season for harvesting starts.

GRILLED ASPARAGUS WITH SOY WASABI SAUCE

Have the grill nice and hot for this. The wasabi sauce would also be great with grilled, baked or poached fish. If you don't have wasabi, or simply don't like it, use a prepared cheese sauce for dipping. Also very good. Or just mix up salty soy cause - half soy, half white vinegar and enough garlic salt to make it taste good. Takes 1/4 teaspoon for my cruet. The asparagus is easier to grill if you put it on a foil sheet that's been brushed with olive oil, and then brush with some more olive oil while grilling. Flavor of the asparagus really comes through! We like it sprinkled with lemon pepper instead of salt, and then dip in a warm mixture of plain melted butter and lemon juice. Calories, yes, but healthy ones. Keep telling yourself that!

1 pound fresh asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt

1 cup mayonnaise (low fat is okay)

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar or 1 tablespoon SPLENDA Brown Sugar Blend

2 teaspoons wasabi paste or wasabi powder mixed with water

1 lemon, optional

Cut off tough ends of asparagus and discard. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Toss asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill for 5 minutes, or until tender. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, soy sauce, SPLENDA Brown Sugar Blend, and wasabi paste. If desired, squeeze fresh lemon juice over grilled asparagus.

SOUR CREAM ASPARAGUS SOUP

A bit more elegant than the regular Cream of Asparagus soup I generally make, and very, very delicious. Cook some of the tender tips while you're cooking the rest of the asparagus, but don't puree them. Garnish each bowl with a few at serving time.

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a large saucepan, combine asparagus, chopped onion, and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until asparagus is tender, about 12 minutes. Process the mixture in a blender to puree the vegetables. Set aside. In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining chicken broth, and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Stir in the asparagus puree and the milk and simmer just a little, maybe another three minutes. Put the sour cream in a small bowl, and stir in a ladle full of the hot soup. Add the sour cream mixture to the soup. Stir, and then stir in the lemon juice. Stir while heating again to serving temperature, but don't allow it to boil. Serve immediately.

RHUBARB CREAM CHEESE TORTE

This delicious recipe is perfect for June Dairy Month in Wisconsin. Sharon Heisel of Pound was kind enough to provide a copy. She and her husband Roger bought a pan to share at the May 19 Gospel Music Jam. Those wonderful evenings of good music, good food and fellowship are held on the third Friday of each month at the Stephenson Town Hall on County X west of Crivitz. The recipe as originally printed called for two cups of rhubarb, but Sharon says she uses four, and I wouldn't try to improve on her version.

CRUST:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

5 tablespoons sugar

FILLING:

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

4 cups rhubarb, peeled and finely cut

TOPPING:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

2 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Mix crust ingredients together and press into 9X13-inch pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes in 350 degree oven. While that bakes, beat the filling ingredients and stir in the rhubarb. Pour over the crust. Mix the topping ingredients and scatter over the top of the filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 46 minutes or until set. Let cool until serving time. Whatever isn't eaten promptly should be covered and refrigerated.

Thought for the week: June is traditionally the month for weddings. Planning and carrying out a wedding can be a lot of work, but once it's over, the marriage needs to be maintained. Too many marriages today seem to die from neglect. Some marriages may be made in Heaven, but they all must be maintained on Earth, and need some loving attention if they are to survive. Stay the person your spouse fell in love with.

And recognize that, like pretty much everything else in life, a successful marriage isn't about finding the right person - it's about being the right person, and bringing out the best in each other. Regardless of our position in life, married or single, we can start being our best and bringing out the best in those around us any time we put our minds to it.

Country Cousin

(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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