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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Country Cousin

Snowballs...

The first snowfall of the season came on Monday, Oct. 30 in parts of the Times area including Crivitz. Lots of pretty flakes, even prettier because they were gone before time to leave for work. Then, Monday afternoon came a different type of snow, countless thousands of little snowballs pelting from the sky with enough force to sting a bit. If ants were given to being out at this time of year, some little heads might have gotten smashed! Again, the snow didn't last. Fine with me if lasting snow holds off until Dec. 24. Doesn't seem likely, though.

Halloween has come and gone, and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Deer season is only three weeks off. If time keeps flying like this, spring will come before we know it.

FALL BEHIND

Remember Spring forward and Fall behind? Here's a reminder to turn the clocks back before you go to bed on Saturday, Nov. 4. Daylight Savings time officially starts that night, so on Sunday, Nov. 5, we get back the hour of sleep we lost last spring. Mornings will be darker, but daylight will last a bit longer in the evening than it does now.

SEENAGERS

Friend recently shared this wonderful message, and it deserves to be passed along and savored by those of us who qualify as "seenagers," which is defined as a "senior teenager."

"I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 50 or 60 years later," the writer says. "I don't have to go to school or work. I get an allowance every month. I have my own pad. I don't have curfew. I have a driver's license and my own car. I have an ID that gets me into bars and the wine store. I like the wine store best."

(Incidentally, Crivitz and Peshtigo each have wonderful wine stores that really deserve to be frequented - the Falling Waters Winery just off the highway in Crivitz, and Forgotten Fires Winery in the Town of Peshtigo.)

Anyway, the message goes on, "The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant; they aren't scared of anything. They have been blessed to live this long, why be scared? And I don't have acne. Life is good!

"Also, you will feel much more intelligent after reading this if you are a seenager. Brains of older people are slow because they know so much. People do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information for their brains to go through.

"Scientists believe this also makes you hard of hearing, as having so much information stored in the brain puts pressure on the inner ear.

"You may have noticed that older people often go from one room to another to get something and then wonder what they came for, so they go back to where they started. This is not a memory problem. It is nature's way of making seenagers get more exercise by walking around a bit."

So you see, there's a logical reason for everything!

ON THE SOAP BOX

LAW NEEDS CHANGING


A second pedophile-type sex offender is coming soon to live in a formerly safe rural area of Marinette County on supervised release. This man is only 42 years old. He is supposedly under orders to obtain employment and become self-supporting, but location of the home the Wisconsin Department of Health has selected for him, combined with his history of repeat offenses, makes that outcome extremely unlikely. Cost to society - that means you, I and everyone else who works for a living or pays property taxes - will be horrendous, and continue for perhaps half a century.

Cost to the neighbors is beyond that. No longer will they be able to let their youngsters ride bikes to neighboring homes, play out in the woods unsupervised, or enjoy many of the wonderful things that country life should enable them to do without causing their parents undue worry.

Reading this man's history makes it clear that he should have been stopped many years ago. It seems that somewhere along the line someone, or perhaps several someones, were over zealous in protecting the rights of the offender rather than protecting the rights of the victims or the safety of society.

Sometimes laws go too far, for example in punishing the 19-year-old with a 17-year-old girl friend, or the young man unfortunate enough to be taken in by a girl who lies about her age.

But in other cases, as with this man, starting back when he was 15 years old (with 10-year-old girl as victim), punishments are not nearly enough. Authorities seem to have just slapped his wrist and let him continue what he was doing, repeatedly. Finally he did get put into an institution, which appears to be where he belonged, but now he is being placed on supervised release, putting another community at risk.

Cured? Doctors at the state mental institution say he has made progress. Maybe. But many experts in the field have cited studies showing that certain pedophile types can never be cured. Unfortunately, time will tell who is right. And new victims may be the ones paying the price.

Would the psychiatrists who claim to believe this pedophile has his urges under control leave him at home alone with their daughters or granddaughters?

Anyone want to bet $100 or so that in less than five years this individual will either be back in custody or on the wanted list? Isn't much we or our Sheriff's Department can do about it at this point. The law as it exists is the law that must be enforced. But our legislators can and should act now to change the law so it protects the rights of law abiding citizens and not the criminals. At the very least, if these offenders have to be released, return them to the environment they came from, instead of letting them contaminate a new one.

Laws governing these repeated evil behaviors need to be changed. Maybe it's time for capital punishment to come back for more than just murder. Sex crimes aginst children in many ways are worse than murder!

We pay a lot in taxes to be protected from criminals, and these are the types of lawbreakers our families most need protection from. Sure, the worst of the sex offenders probably have a mental problem. Maybe it isn't their fault. Probably Jack the Ripper had mental problems too.

This is a request for our state (and federal) legislators to get busy on this problem immediately!

LAST MINUTE CHORES

Time is getting short. If you haven't done so already, store your harvest in a root cellar or cold basement. If you don't have one, after winter sets in hunt up some plans and get ready to build one next summer. They're invaluable!

Cover trees and shrubs that may be damaged by deer, and wrap trunks close to the ground if the bark is tender to protect them from rabbits and deer and even mice.

Bring in garden hoses and drain outdoor faucets.

Clean out window boxes before the soil freezes, and put in evergreen boughs if you like. Add some mini gourds now for Thanksgiving and replace them with Christmas ornaments when the time comes.

Set up bird feeders now; remember to provide both food and clean water. Also remember that once ou start feeding the birds you should keep doing it, because they will depend on it and some birds could starve to death before their next meal if they don't find their regular handout at your feeder.

Clean and oil all garden tools before storing them for winter.

Make sure your snow blower is serviced and ready. If you're like me, hunt up your snow shovels, windshield scraper and snow brush so you can find them when you need them. Ditto for snow boots and gloves!

COOKIN' TIME

Harvest season in TIMESland is pretty much over, but locally grown cabbages, pumpkins, apples and some squash are still in plentiful supply. As the nights turn chill, we have more appreciation for the warm flavors of cinnamon, pumpkin and caramel, and more cravings stick to the ribs foods. Just part of the plan. Nature wants us to get fat so we can survive the cold winter months, you know. Hasn't realized yet that today we have central heating and cozy winter coats and don't need the extra layer of fat for warmth.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH PIZZA BITES

Low carb, maybe no gluten

Folks with gluten sensitivities must often feel that they've been forced to give up all the foods they love. Here's a treat they (and everybody else at the table) can enjoy, provided the spaghetti sauce is made without wheat flour or other gluten. Also, if you're fighting the battle of the bulge now so you can ease up a little for Thanksgiving and Christmas, this bite's for you!

1 medium spaghetti squash, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups pizza sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup mini pepperoni

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a medium baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle cut side of spaghetti squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet and bake until tender, 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your squash. Reduce heat to 375 degrees when finished baking. Let the squash cool for 10 minutes before using a fork to shred it into spaghetti-like strands. Place into a bowl and combine with parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Butter muffin pans, and into each place a quarter cup of squash. Press down on bottoms and side to create cups. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Take out and into each spaghetti cup spoon some pizza sauce and mini pepperonis. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese, maybe some more mini pepperoni slices. Return to oven and bake again for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with parsley and serve.

SOUTHERN FRIED CABBAGE

Grandma was raised in the hills of West Virginia, and she knew how to make a great dish of dandelion greens, too, but that's a spring or summer dish, totally out of season now. Her fried cabbage was simply bacon, cabbage wedges, cores removed, salt and pepper. Fry diced bacon in a heavy pan until it starts to brown, then add cabbage and cook until it starts to brown, sprinkle on salt and pepper, cover tightly and simmer on the back of the wood stove (low heat) until it's done and the family is ready to eat. Takes at least half an hour. The cabbage should be quite tender, but not squishy. Flip the wedges a time or two to be sure they don't burn, and add a drop or two of water if absolutely necessary to keep it from burning. Serve with apple cider vinegar to sprinkle on if you like it that way.

ELEGANT FRIED CABBAGE

This is definitely a bit more sophisticated than the usual southern fried cabbage my grandma used to make, and a bit more colorful. Be somewhat generous with the pepper. Recently learned from my sister in law, who is an excellent cook, that if you put the sliced fresh mushrooms into the freezer as soon as you get them home they'll taste more mushroomy when they're cooked.

1 pound meaty smoked bacon

1 large head cabbage, cored and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

Salt and ground black pepper to taste. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on paper towels; crumble when cooled. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings from skillet. Cook and stir cabbage, onion, and mushrooms in the remaining bacon drippings until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Fold bacon into cabbage mixture. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve right way, or let it sit a bit over very low heat to meld the flavors more. Great with some apple cider vinegar sprinkled on. So is the cabbage dish that follows, which is similar, but slightly different, to accommodate differences in taste.

GRANDMA'S FRIED CABBAGE

I did have two grandmas, you know. This one was Polish, and she was also a really wonderful cook, mother, grandmother, gardener, bartender and card player, with a sparkling sense of humor that she only let show sometimes.

6 thick slices meaty bacon, diced

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large head cabbage, cored and sliced

2 to 3 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Place the bacon in a large stockpot and cook over medium-high heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion caramelizes; about 10 minutes. Immediately stir in the cabbage and continue to cook and stir another 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes more.

CARAMEL APPLE CAKE BARS

Feeling blue about winter? Indulge yourself! Apples are good for you. Right? Other than that, these indulgent treats have gluten and everything else that isn't good for you, but they are so, so good! Also relatively few ingredients, fairly easy on the budget, and very easy to make!

For the dough:

1 box yellow cake mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup apple cider

For the center:

1 cup caramel dip

1 cup graham crackers, crumbled

2 cup diced apples

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the dough, combine cake mix, cinnamon, butter, and cider, stirring until it forms a pliable dough. Divide dough in half, setting one half aside and pressing the other half onto the bottom of a 9"-x-9" baking dish lined with parchment paper. (If you don't have parchment paper, grease the bottom and sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray.)

To make the center: Pour caramel dip on top of dough, then sprinkle on graham crackers. Pare and dice the apples and toss them with cinnamon, then scatter them on top of the caramel layer.

Flatten discs of remaining dough with your hands and place on top of the caramel layer, covering as much of the caramel as possible. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake has turned golden and a toothpick inserted into the top cookie layer comes out with just a few crumbs (no gooey batter). Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream if you like.

Thought for the week: Lord, America seems to be losing its sense of humor. Please don't let that happen. Being able to laugh at ourselves is a large part of what makes us human, and a large part of what makes life tolerable. Considering what life is like, You must enjoy a good joke too. Please keep us laughing, especially at ourselves! And thank You for The Rev. Ricky Cook of the Full Gospel Tabernacle of God Church in Buffalo, South Carolina.

In case You didn't notice, Rev. Cook posted on his small town church sign: "Work harder, millions on welfare depend on you." That offended some folks, according to some South Carolina TV stations. Cook said he didn't mean to offend anybody, he just saw it in a book and thought it was funny. Likes to share a good laugh. But he also said, "The Bible promises no loaves to the loafer," and able bodied people who can't find work should at least do volunteer work. That too apparently offended some folks. Just can't win!

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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