Country CousinIssue Date: October 14, 2021
Still no frost on the pumpkins!
Halloween is approaching, and pumpkins are poppng up all over - at roadside stands, in fields, in stores, and on door steps, often decked out as Jack-O-Lanterns. Good for looking at now, and for eating later.
Weather has been unseasonably warm and muggy for this time of year, and we didn't get the steady rain that forecasters predicted for last week. There was plenty of rain, but it was interspersed with wonderful sunshine. Temperatures are starting to fall a bit now, and predicitons are for some crisp, cool sunny days.
No frost on the pumpkins yet, and none perdicted for the immediate future. Don't know how long this extended summer can last, but hope it holds up "til Deer Season! Yes, yes. That's wishful thinking, but it costs nothing to dream!
October is absolutely filled with special days! Of course, it's Fire Prevention Month, with special recognition for Oct. 8 as the anniversary of both the tragic and disastrous Peshtigo Fire and the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 which has been commemorated big-time in Peshtigo this year, its 150th anniversary.
Believe it's purely coincidence, but it was also on Oct. 8 - in 1957 - that rock "n' roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis recorded his smash hit, "Great Balls O' Fire".
But on to the rest of the month.
It was 30 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1991, that one of a loosely connected series of tragic shootings and mass murders occurred that gave birth to the phrase "go postal."
ANOTHER DAY GONE
Back when I was in school, Columbus Day was on Oct. 12, the date on which Christopher Columbus and his brave band of seamen first set foot in the New World and started a whole new era in history.
We all know the ribbing poor old Columbus has been taking for centuries because he didn't really know where he was going when he left, and didn't know where he was when he got there.
But the fact remains, Columbus was the first sailor brave enough to venture that far into the unknown reaches of the Atlantic and make it back.
Just because he sailed that far in quest of China and ended up on an island off the coast of South America instead doesn't mean he was a failure. It just means he and other deep thinkers of his day believed the world was round, but thought it was a whole lot smaller than it really is. Columbus didn't realize there was a whole extra set of continents between him and the Chinese coast he sought.
Anyway, he and the explorers who came after him certainly did find untold wealth for the monarchs who sponsored them, so their quest was not a failure. Yes! I believe Columbus was a hero, no matter how some of today's misguided teachers try to vilify him.
So, as a hero, he's entitled to his day on the calendar. But the calendar on our office wall identifies Monday, Oct. 11 - not Oct. 12 - as Columbus Day! No thank you! Let's observe the original day or nothing. Why are we willing to trade our history and heritage for a three-day weekend that only federal and Post Office employees get anyway?
Incidentally, Oct. 12 must be an auspicious date for explorers. It was on Oct. 12,1964 that the Soviet Union launched Voskhod 1 into orbit around Earth, with cosmonauts Vladamir Komarov, Konstantin Feoktistov, and Boris Yegorov aboard. Voskhod 1 was the first spacecraft to carry a multi-person crew, and the two-day mission was also the first flight performed by humans without space suits.
And there are more special days in October, among them Sweetest Day, on Saturday, Oct. 16 this year, which by the way is the 10th anniversary of this made-up holiday that hardly anyone celebrates. After all, we already have Valentine's Day. Let's not dilute it!
Then, at the end of October comes Halloween, which requires a whole column of its own. More about that some other day.
ON THE SOAP BOX
Speaking of dreaming, which I was earlier, for folks who commute, recent energy price hikes are creating a nightmare. The price of gas at the pumps keeps going up, thanks largely to Federal policies that wiped out our nation's hard-won energy independence since President Joe Biden's regime took over in Washington, but are still below the record highs set back when President Barrack Obama's appointed "Energy Czar" was trying to get the pump price up to $4 a gallon to get people to save the planet by cutting back on driving.
If anything can knock our nation off its economic feet, cause widespread pocketbook distress and send inflation rates soaring, it's high fuel prices. No big Federal giveaway or other hare-brained political scheme will save us if fuel prices keep getting pushed up, and neither will new taxes on the rich.
Lower fuel prices - diesel and gas - reduce the costs of production and allow everyone to keep (and spend) a little more of the hard earned cash we otherwise burn up up just getting to and from work, raising crops, and getting products to the market!
Said this a decade ago and now repeat: Come on, fellas! Let them drill for oil here in the US, stem the flow of dollars to our Arab enemies, and scare the oil moguls into keeping their prices low because - heaven forbid! - they may face some competition from domestic oil!
When economic disaster strikes, follow the money. Find out which politicians (or their families) stand to benefit financially from importing more oil and forcing more dependence on "green" technologies, and you'll find out why they're pushing their agenda.
For a little pre-Halloween fun, spring these on the youngsters - and their parents.
1. What was the young skeleton's favorite song?
2. What's a favorite dessert for monsters?
3. Why are mummies so tense?
4. Why don't mummies take vacations?
5. Why do demons and ghouls hang out together?
See answers just before Cookin' Time.
Speaking of Halloween, it's pumpkin time again. Have read that there were problems with this year's commercial pumpkin crop and there could be a shortage later of the canned variety. You might want to buy some canned pumpkin now to be sure you have enough for pies when Thanksgiving gets here.
If carving jack-o-lanterns is on your to-do list, you might want to save the seeds when you hollow them out. They're delicious for eating when roasted, or you can save them dried but unprocessed for planting next spring.
A penny saved is a penny earned, you know, so why would you want to buy the seeds later when you can save them for free now? Just rinse off the stringy debris with nice cool water and let them dry naturally on a screen or paper towel. Then store in a cool dry place until planting time, which comes between the last week of May and the middle of June.
There are what we called "cow pumpkins," which are generally the larger jack-o-lantern variety. They have thinner shells and are not as sweet and brightly colored as their smaller and tastier cousins, the pie pumpkins.
Pumpkins are members of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini.
They are native to the American continents, but now grow pretty much all over the world. They were not known in Europe until after Mr. Columbus made his famous voyage. In fact, one of the earliest mentions of them was by the French explorer Jacque Cartier in 1584. Cartier is among the explorers of what is now the St. Lawrence Seaway area, and he is said to have visited our area as well. Pumpkins have been grown in North America for at least five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
Our friends who live in what was East Germany before the wall came down were surprised to learn that we eat pumpkin and cob corn in America. They had considered both foods suitable only as cattle feed, except that the dried corn could be turned into corn meal.
Pumpkins in fact are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron. They pretty much kept the pilgrims alive during their first lean winters in the New World.
The heaviest pumpkin on record weighed over 1,810 pounds and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minn., in October of 2010.
Checking the pumpkin history got me to worrying about the story behind Cinderella's famous coach. You see, according to the version of the story that I know, the fairy godmother asked Cinderella to bring her a pumpkin, which the magic wand then transformed into a golden coach, shortly before the mice were converted to horses.
The problem is that I always believed that story originated in very old times in England or Europe, and in that case, if Cartier is among the first Europeans to take note of pumpkins, where did Cinderella manage to find one?
Those questions led to some research. Learned that versions of the Cinderella story appear in almost every corner of the globe, but the Mother Goose version with which we are familiar was written by Charles Perrault in France in 1697. It was translated to English in 1729 and German in 1812, so yes, the godmother would have had time learn about pumpkins before Cinderella needed her golden coach.
Spring and fall are the big seasons for cleaning up in the home and in the yard. Sometimes folks who clean up their own yards think little or nothing of messing up woods and waysides. Costs money to go to the landfill, you know.
Anyway, the story is that a squad car pulled up next to a guy unloading garbage from his pickup into the ditch.
Before he pulled out his citation book, the officer demanded, "What are you thinking, dumping garbage here? Don't you see that sign right over your head?"
"Yep," the redneck replied, "I see the sign. I kin read, too! Thet there sign says, "Fine For Dumping Garbage,' so I figured this must be the right place."
(Source for this bit of wisdom claims it originated with a mental giant along a roadside in a southern hillbilly state. Even if that's true, judging from debris found in some of our Marinette County roadsides and ditches - everything from old tires to dirty diapers to washing machines - they ain't got nuthin' on us!)
REWARD THE INNOVATORS
America lost a great, great man 10 years ago, with the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. He deserves to be remembered
Jobs was one of the "evil, rich millionaires" the Communist/Socialist rabble and their politician friends would like to see taxed out of existence. Let's consider what Jobs and his friends did for all of us, including the demonstrators who for some unfathomable reason think they are entitled to some of the money that richer folks have earned.
A decade ago demonstrators were claiming if Jobs had amassed a fortune worth billions, he must have stolen that money from the working class proletariat and was surely not paying his "fair share" in taxes.
Jobs, like many other successful entrepreneurs, earned his money by making innovative products and introducing them to the world. So do many of today's innovators, who don't steal market share from others, but create their own. Of course, there are greedy exceptions, but for the most part, in the course of becoming rich themselves, the people who invest their time and treasure into profitable products create more jobs in America and around the world than any stimulus give-aways could ever dream of.
While the "evil, money-hoarding" Jobs was busy amassing his fortune, he managed to revolutionize telecommunications, computing, and the entertainment business. He and the people who worked for and with him created products that have empowered all of us to accomplish things which would have otherwise been impossible.
If the people who believe all millionaires are evil and should be taxed out of existence had their way, Jobs would have never been allowed to re-invest the money he made, and Apple would have died on the vine.
If we had more business people were allowed to put their imaginations and expertise to work without crippling restrictions and confiscatory taxes devised by lesser minds, just think how our economy would boom!
President Donald Trump had everything going in the right direction before COVID hit, and we need to get back to that same freedom and encouragement.
1. Bad to the Bone.
3. Because he was all wound up.
4. They're afraid they'll relax and unwind.
5. Because demons are a ghoul's best friend.
NO PEEK CHICKEN OR CHOPS
Remember this good old standby? Sometimes we get too cozy with a recipe for a while, then neglect it so long we forget about it. Definitely, this is worth resurrecting, especially today, when pork is fairly affordable and beef, even hamburger, can totally wipe out the week's grocery budget in one sitting.
2 cups raw rice
2 1/2 pounds or so raw chicken, cut into serving pieces, or equal amount of pork chops or fairly lean pork roast, sliced cross grain
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix
Butter a sizable casserole dish, one with a cover if possible, but if not you'll use aluminum foil. Mix the 2 cans of soup and the soy sauce. Mix half of this with the rice and put into the casserole dish. Put the chicken or pork on top. Pour over this the remaining soup, then sprinkle the packet of dry soup over the top. Cover tightly and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. Do not peek!
APPLESAUCE SPICE CAKE
This cake can bake right along with most oven meals, including the No Peek casserole and it's a good, easy and inexpensive dessert.
1/2 cup margarine or buttery flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup raisins, optional
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, sugar, honey and eggs together. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the water and applesauce. Or just put all the ingredients into food processor and whirr until well blended. Stir in nuts and raisins if you're using them. (It's a good idea to toss the raisins with a bit of the flour first so they stay distributed throughout the cake instead of settling out. Prepare the crumb topping and sprinkle it all over the top of the cake. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. If you need to gild the lily, serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. But it's also very good as is.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Large squash seeds work just as well. Very nutritious. And if you don't want to take the time or trouble to toast and then shell these but want to try a recipe calling for pumpkin seeds, substitute Pepitas. They're expensive enough to make cleaning and shelling the pumpkin seeds worthwhile.
Seeds from pumpkin or large winter squash
Olive or canola oil, Salt
Chili powder, garlic powder, tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, or other seasoning (optional)
Scoop the seeds and pulp from the seed cavity and rinse off the pulp. Drain. Rinse again and let seeds soak in salted water for about half an hour. Drain well. For each cup of seeds, add 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and whatever seasonings you wish. Mix until seeds are all coated. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally. If you have only a small amount to roast or want to avoid using oil, sprinkle seeds with salt and toast in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Watch closely to prevent burning.
Thought for the Week: Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks up. Keep looking up. Why go through life without seeing the sun, moon and stars? And why risk going out of this life without thanking the One who put them there?
(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 email@example.com.)
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