Country CousinIssue Date: December 22, 2021
Celebrate the good news...
By this time next week, Santa will have come and gone, and we'll be nearly ready to welcome Baby New Year 2022 and relegate 2021 to the pages of history. Will be glad to see 2021 end. In so many ways, from a national standpoint, this has been a horrible year. Hope next year is better for everyone.
Speaking of Santa, is your tree trimmed, your cookies baked, your presents wrapped? Mine aren't, but it's been that way for half a century, and everyone loves Christmas anyway.
After when it comes down to it Love is the true reason for the season... "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son..."
We're always reading predictions of doom, but it's never too late to read some Good News, so here it is, as delivered by the One we should all be listening to.
Over the eons from the time Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit to the present day, from generation to generation mankind has been handing down glorious predictions of a savior who would redeem our sins and eventually bring peace and prosperity once again to the world.
We Christians celebrate Christmas because we believe that prediction came true on the night 2021 years or so ago that our Redeemer was born in Bethlehem, and the main message he delivered throughout his 33 years on this Earth was that we need to love - to love God enough to do as he wishes us to do, and to love and be kind to one another, also as He wishes us to do.
How many of us succeed in doing that? We get impatient here on Earth because God does not keep His promises quickly. Do we stop to consider that He may be showing patience to us because we live but somehow do not seem to learn? Maybe Jesus made redemption possible, and now He's giving us imperfect humans enough time to make it happen, at least in our own lives.
THE GREATEST MESSAGE
The Bible has many hints on how mankind should recognize the Redeemer that God would send, among them is a passage in the Old Testament Book of Micah, written about 800 BC:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Another is in Zechariah 9:9, written about 520 BC: "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
Finally, after untold years of waiting, the Redeemer was born, but since he turned out not to be a mighty king, he was welcomed by a few but rejected by the multitudes.
Those of us who do welcome Him in our hearts celebrate His birth on Christmas. Maybe had the entire world seen and heard the message that was delivered by an angelic choir to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem, we would all believe.
Here is that wondrous story as it is told in one translation of the new Testament Book of Luke:
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.' When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'"
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
They had seen, and they believed.
May we all know the joy of a Christmas with hearts filled with peace and love!
While thinking about Biblical predictions, came across some predictions for 2029 that were printed in a 2008 issue of The Porcupine Press, an Upper Peninsula publication that I dearly love.
Since we're over half way there, it seems appropriate to check on those Yooper predictions, and consider how close they are to coming true. Some are surprisingly close. Sort of amazing how some things change, and others seem to stay the same.
Our nation, in fact our world, seems to be getting ever closer to George Orwell's frightening predictions in ." Our descent into the darkness of the dreadful society that Orwell described is taking longer than he expected, but it continues remorselessly on its way, and even those of us who don't want it to happen sometimes thoughtlessly keep pushing it along, and others who are well intentioned fall for the propaganda promoted by the intellectually elite who are determined to push their Godless beliefs on the rest of us.
If you haven't read ," do so, and you will almost certainly be as terrified as I am. Probably the worst of what he predicted won't happen in my life time, but I'm bitterly ashamed of not having done a better job of protecting our Christian values and preserving our wonderful way of life for my children, grandchildren and their descendants.
Enough of gloom and doom. This isn't the day for it. Here are the promised Porcupine Press predictions for life in the second half of this century:
*Ozone created by electric cars is killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia, formerly known as California.
*White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Mexifornia's third language.
*Spotted owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops and livestock.
*Baby conceived naturally Scientists stumped.
*Couple petitions courts to reinstate heterosexual marriage.
*Iran still closed off; physicists estimate it will take at least 10 more years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.
*France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica. No other country comes forward to help the beleaguered nation!
*Fidel Castro finally dies at age 112; cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.
*Postal Service raises price of first class stamps to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.
*An 85-year, $75.8 billion study determines that diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss;
*Average weight of Americans drops to 250 pounds;
*Average height of NBA players is now nine feet, seven inches.
*Global cooling blamed for citrus crop failure for third consecutive year in Mexifornia and Floruba.
*Japanese scientists have created a camera with such a fast shutter speed that they can now photograph a woman with her mouth shut.
*Abortion clinics now available at every high school in the United States.
*Senate still blocking drilling in ANWR even though gas is selling for 4532 pesos per liter and gas stations are only open on Tuesdays and Fridays.
*Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.
*Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.
*New federal law requires all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up news papers to be registered by January 2030.
*IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.
*Floruba voters still having trouble with voting machines.
Even though we think we're done with cooking for the Christmas holidays, it's not over until it's over, and most of us keep right on cooking through New Year's Day and beyond. After that, we need to think about dieting, but that's a thought for next week. Maybe.
SWEET POTATO PORK DINNER
Great Christmas flavor, and a change from ham or turkey. On the other hand, you could as easily make this with sliced ham as with pork chops, and it would be delicious.
4 pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
2 onions, sliced into rings
2 sweet potatoes, sliced
2 apples - peeled, cored, and sliced into rings
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season pork chops with salt and pepper to taste, and arrange in a medium sized oven safe skillet. Top pork chops with onions, sweet potatoes, and apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Season with 2 teaspoons pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, and bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until sweet potatoes are tender and pork chops have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
IRISH CREME COFFEE BARS
Not healthy, not low anything. Just plain downright decadent and delicious. Also so easy that you could probably make these even if you sample the Irish Creme Liqueur before you start. Must test to be sure it's good, you know! Am pretty sure you could vary this by leaving out the coffee granules and substituting other flavors of liqueur. If you get brave, let me know!
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup cold butter
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or crystals
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whatever decorations or sprinkles you want
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, place cookie mix and pecans. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. (The food processor works for this too, as long as you don't process too much.) With fork, stir in egg. Press half of cookie mixture in bottom of pan and save the rest. Bake the crumb crust15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. While the crust bakes, in a small bowl stir together the milk, 2 tablespoons liqueur and coffee granules until well blended. Pour evenly over warm crust, then sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate 1 hour to cool completely. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into bars (5 rows by 5 rows). Store bars covered at room temperature. Just before serving, in a small bowl, beat whipping cream, brown sugar, one tablespoon liqueur and the vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Top each bar with a dollop of whipped cream; sprinkle with ground cinnamon, and decorate with candies if you like.
Serve this with meatballs or ham balls as appetizers for your New Year's Eve party. Make meatballs from your favorite recipe, or buy them already prepared andpre-cooked.
1 jar (16 to 18 oz) apricot preserves
1 jar (16 to 18 oz) apple jelly
1/2 cup horseradish
3 tablespoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill. Makes 4 cups.
CRUSTLESS HAM QUICHE
Wonderful way to use some of the left-over Christmas ham, or buy sliced ham at the deli. Great for brunch, supper, or an evening snack. Cook it ahead if you're afraid you won't feel like cooking New Year's morning.This is low carb, for those who are already counting. Makes six pie-slice servings. Double the recipe if necessary. Just use a bigger skillet and two quiche dishes or pie plates.
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. onion powder
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped cooked ham
Sauté mushrooms in butter in medium skillet. Blend next seven ingredients in blender. Combine with mushrooms, cheese and ham. Pour into a greased 10 inch quiche dish or 9 inch deep dish pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Quiche should be puffed and golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Can also be served at room temperature, or refrigerate after it's cool and heat slices in microwave to serve.
NO STIR CARAMELS
Had a request for a recipe for homemade caramels, and this is a good one, but you need a candy thermometer and a very heavy bottomed sauce pan big enough to hold the mixture without boiling over. Takes about an hour, not counting cooling time after they're done, but mostly they cook on their own while you do other things nearby. Makes about three dozen square caramels, if you cut them six to a row each way. If you want salted caramel, sprinkle on some coarse sea salt after they're in the pan and still hot.
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Line an 8X8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, salt, corn syrup, sugar and 1 cup of the cream. Over low heat, warm the ingredients until the butter is melted. Gently stirring during this part is ok to help combine the ingredients, but be careful not to stir too vigorously and splash the liquid high up on the sides of the pan. Having the heat too high can cause the ingredients to melt unevenly and cause the butter to separate, so do not be impatient. Once the ingredients are warmed and melted, increase the heat to medium-low. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and bring the mixture slowly to a simmer. Keep an eye on the pan at this point because having the heat too high will burn the ingredients on the bottom. Moderate the heat of your stove so that the mixture maintains a simmer without burning. If you turn down the heat and the caramel stops simmering, simply increase the heat little by little until a good simmer is reached and then leave it there. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 236 degrees on the candy thermometer. Gently stir in the remaining cup of cream with a wooden spoon or spatula. Do the stirring gently, with a swirling motion, not vigorously, until it is of uniform color.Gently swirl the caramel once or twice with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate. Let the mixture come to a simmer again. You can increase the heat very slightly to do this, but again, keep an eye on it, and turn the heat back down again after it begins simmering. Simmer until the thermometer registers 245 degrees. Off the heat, gently stir in the vanilla. Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared pan - don't scrape the sides, just tip the prepared pan until no more drizzles out. Scraping can cause the caramel to crystalize. Let the candy cool completely at room temperature before cutting into pieces. Wrap each caramel individually in plastic wrap or waxed paper.
BONUS: If it bothers you to leave the pan unscraped, pour in some hot coffee, swirl it around a bit, and then pour it into a cup. Add some cream and drink hot or cold as a caramel cappuccino. Do this on purpose and add a bit of kahlua or Irish Creme to make it even better.
Thought for the week: Dear Lord, may the peace and beauty of the holiday season fill our homes and our hearts with love and heal the scars that have torn our nation apart in the past few years. Share the blessed message of Christmas, and help us enter the New Year with resolutions to be better people than we were last year. Help us remember to turn to You for help if we find ourselves slipping back into old ways that we're trying change. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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