Country Cousin

By: 
Shirley Prudhomme
Just 670 million breaths...
How quickly pass the seasons of our lives! Seems like only yesterday we were waiting for Summer to get here, and now it’s almost gone. Apples hang ripe on the trees, and blackberries abound. A few leaves are already starting to turn. Next  week  - starting on Thursday, Aug. 26 and running through Sunday,  Aug. 29 - is the Marinette County Fair.
Classes resume soon at most TIMESland schools. Then comes Labor Day and it’s all over for another year.
That doesn’t mean the festivals and special events end for the season, but once Summer ends they seem to have a different flavor.
Meanwhile, what glorious weather in TIMESland this past week, and more predicted for the week to come! Near perfect conditions are promised - sunny to partly cloudy days, highs in the 80s, and cool nights. Great for playing, great for sleeping, great for sitting around a campfire! What more could we ask as we head into the waning weeks of summer?
BEAUTY BOOST
If summer sun has left your skin dry and less than glowing, try this remedy straight from the kitchen:
Mix the yolk of an egg with half a teaspoon of olive oil and a few drops of lemon or lime juice. Apply on face and neck. Leave on for 15 minutes or more, then scrub off with a terry cloth and warm water, and then finish with a splash of icy cold water.
OFF TO COLLEGE
NAPS, a national news clipping service, recently offered several tips for students heading off for life in a college dorm.
Among them are:
Check with the student’s roommate and college authorities before you pack up to be sure the room won’t end up with two TVs and no refrigerator, for example, or with items not allowed at all in that particular room.
Prior to packing, assemble needed items such as boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, moving blankets and hand truck if necessary. 
Then, when packing car, truck or trailer, load the heaviest items first. Be sure to keep important paper work, credit cards, identification, toiletries, a change of clothing, drinks and snacks close at hand, not packed away with the cargo.
By the way, those tips also apply if you’ve rented space for an extended stay in the southlands for the winter months.
Since storage space is often cramped, seek out imaginative ways to increase it. For example, bring some blocks to raise the beds off the floor, creating storage space under the beds. Bring some long semi-flat boxes to make it possible to use the space created that way. You’ll be amazed how many pairs of shoes and/or books and sweatshirts can fit under a single bed!
ANNUAL MEETINGS
Schools have begun holding their annual meetings. Up to about a decade ago those annual gatherings of parents, grandparents and assorted taxpayers drew crowds to take advantage of their once-a-year opportunity to have a personal say in how their schools were run. The same was true for town annual meetings.
Not so today. Gradually over the years the powers granted to the Annual Meeting were eroded by actions of our State Legislature until there is pretty much nothing left for the public to actually approve at school annual meetings except salaries of school board members. For at least the past decade, elector approval of the budget is meaningless, since school boards are legally obligated to override the vote of the annual meeting if people there do not authorize enough money to run the school as they deem necessary.
The conclusion of most folks has become, “Why go?” and in most school districts today, no one does, except for a few school employees, unless there is very extreme general unhappiness with the way the School Board is running the district.
ON THE SOAP BOX
Sad, sad, sad that we must be ashamed of America for what we have allowed to happen in Afghanistan!
On an whole other subject, do our “generous” legislators ever remember that what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
In the past month the United States Senate  took a major step  toward enacting a vast expansion of the nation’s “social safety net,” approving a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint along party lines that would allow Democrats to spend our money climate change and fund health care, child care, family leave and public education expansion.
Approval of that huge sending bill came after the Senate gave bipartisan approval to a $1 trillion infrastructure package  over unanimous Republican opposition.
Liberal spenders say much of that spending would be paid for with higher taxes on wealthy people and corporations, but if we took all their money, it wouldn’t be enough, and there would then be no money left for new investments to keep the economy going.
The spending packages move along a perilous legislative process aimed at creating the largest expansion of the federal “safety net” in nearly six decades. The House will return early from its scheduled summer recess the week of Aug. 23 to take up the budget, so committees in both chambers can begin work on the spending plans.
Just how much is $1 trillion dollars? The average person, in an average lifetime, takes 670 million breaths. There are one million millions in a trillion!
This might be a good time to contact your legislators if you don’t want to help destroy our free society and your grandchildren’s future hopes for prosperity and a good life.
EXPERT ADVICE 
We’re so often admonished to blindly  heed the advice of experts instead of using our own judgment. Here are a few predictions that proved to be not so accurate:
“Printed books will never be the equivalent of handwritten codices, especially since printed books are often deficient in spelling and appearance.” —Johannes Trithemius, German abbot and scholar, “In Praise of Scribes,” 1492.
“Fooling around with AC electricity is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” —Thomas Edison, a proponent of DC (direct current) electricity, 1899.
“The actual building of roads devoted to motor cars is not for the near future, in spite of many rumors to that effect.” —Harper’s Weekly, 1902.
“To throw bombs from an airplane will do as much damage as throwing bags of flour. It will be my pleasure to stand on the bridge of any ship while it is attacked by airplanes.” —Newton Baker, U.S. Minister of Defense, 1921.
“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” —Robert Millikan, physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923.
“Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous.” —Sir Winston Churchill, British statesman, 1939.
“There will never be a bigger plane built.” —A Boeing engineer after witnessing the maiden flight of the 247, a twin-engine plane that held 10 people, in 1933.
“Planes carrying 1,000 passengers and flying just under the speed of sound will of course be old hat. The new thing will be transport by ballistic rocket, capable of reaching any place on earth in 40 minutes.” —Time Magazine in 1966, offering predictions for the year 2000.
And then there were the astute economic observers:
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” —Irving Fisher, professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929. (That was before the crash, obviously.)
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” —Ken Olson, co-founder of Digital Equipment Corp., in 1977. Good thing other computer industry pioneers didn’t listen to him! Bet his stock holders wish he’d listened to the Apple people, though.
The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Even the experts are very often wrong when it comes to predicting the future.
NOT PICKING ON POLES
This is not intended to pick people of Polish descent, just to note that they sometimes really do have names that are hard to spell. Seems that a Polish immigrant went to the DMV to apply for a driver’s license. First, he had to take a vision test. The optician showed him a card with the letters ‘C Z W I X N O S T A C Z.’  “Can you read this?” the optician asked. “Read it?” the Polish guy replied, “I know the guy.”
Reminds me of the days when I was taking ads by phone, and had to ask a female caller how to spell her totally unpronounceable name.
“Exactly how it sounds!” was her irritated response.
Finally convinced her to spell it anyway, and she began something like, “Gnowkrze...” 
Not a one of those letters could be heard in the pronunciation! 
WATER BALLOON BALL
Hot summer days, kids and water balloons. What better mix can you have?
If you like backyard ball games, try water-balloon ball.
You’ll need 25 to 50 small balloons, a whiffle ball bat, something to mark two bases and a pitcher’s mound, and a garbage can. You need at least three players - one to pitch, one to bat, and one to catch, but you could go with a whole baseball team if you’ve got a bunch.
Now you can pretty much make up your own rules. Use your imagination, but do set them up ahead of time. For example, if the pitcher gets a balloon into the can it’s an out. If the batter breaks the balloon it’s a home run. If the catcher nabs the balloon without breaking it the batter can run for base and try to get home without being struck by a flying balloon. Perhaps each of the outfielders could have a supply of filled balloons waiting for a runner. Getting wet, of course, is half the fun.
COOKIN’ TIME
Vegetable gardens have come into their own, and some are coming near an end. Apples are hanging heavy on the trees. Try some of these very new and different recipes that make excellent use of early autumn bounty. Some may be new to us, but they’re old hat in other parts of the world.
ZUCCHINI ALFREDO
Alfredo di Lello, the Roman restaurateur who created our beloved Alfredo Sauce in the 1920s, might be startled to find this streamlined heart healthy, diet friendly version that can even be made and gluten-free  and very low carb by cutting zucchini or summer squash into match-like sticks in place of the spaghetti or linguini. Not authentic, but very good. And healthy. When cut into thin strands, zucchini can even be twirled gracefully on a fork.
3/4 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth 
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
4 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks
2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Combine broth and garlic cloves in a small saucepan and bring that to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the garlic cloves are soft, about 15 minutes. After the garlic has simmered about 10 minutes, cook fettuccine in the boiling water, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Drop in zucchini and cook until the fettuccine is just tender, about 1 minute more. Meanwhile, transfer the garlic and broth to a blender and process until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Use caution when blending hot liquids. Removing the center part of the blender lid and then covering the hole with a kitchen towel helps. Better yet, let it cool a little before turning the blender on.) Return the garlic mixture to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add cornstarch mixture and whisk until slightly thickened, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in sour cream, nutmeg and pepper. Return the pot to very low heat to keep the sauce warm. (Do not boil.) Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan; toss to coat well. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, passing the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan separately. 
If you’re only feeding two, leftover canned broth keeps up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. Add to soups, sauces, stews; use for cooking rice and grains, or add a bit when reheating leftovers to prevent them from drying out.
EGYPTIAN STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS
An old landlord, Ed, in Appleton more than 50 years ago was an excellent cook who was originally from Armenia. As a young bride, I foolishly did not learn as much from him as I could have, but one of his favorite dishes was stuffed grape leaves. I’ve lost the recipe, but know that it included mint, grape leaves and tomatoes. In the Middle East many vegetables—including green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant—are prepared this way, and this recipe is quite similar to his for grape leaves even though it may not be exactly the same. Once you’ve tried the peppers, you’ll think up dozens of other ways to use this versatile stuffing. It’s delicious, and can be vegetarian, too, if you simply omit the ground meat.
6 medium-sized green peppers
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup olive oil, divided
2 1⁄2 cups long-grain rice
1 1⁄2 cups ground beef or lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tomato slices
1⁄2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Wash the peppers and remove the lids and stems. Core them with an apple corer or paring knife. In 1/2 cup of olive oil, sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent. Add the rice and ground meat and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Cover the mixture with water (about twice the depth of the other ingredients in the pot) and simmer until the water is absorbed. Add the mint, allspice, and lemon juice. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once the stuffing has cooled, stuff each pepper loosely. (The rice will swell during cooking.) Cover the open end of each pepper with a tomato slice, and set the peppers in a single layer in a large pan. Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with the other half cup of olive oil, and pour about 1 cup of water over them. Simmer very slowly until peppers are just tender. Remove peppers from pan, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve cool. Ed folded his filling in fresh grape leaves, poured on a mixture of olive oil, water and tomato juice, and steamed them long and slowly in a slo cooker.
APPLE PUDDING PIE
1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell
3 eggs
1 cup applesauce (pureed cooked apples)
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 slices bread, cut up (about 3 cups)
2 medium cooking apples, such as Jonathan, Rome Beauty, or Winesap
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, or almonds
Line the unbaked pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 450 degree F. oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 4 minutes more. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Peel, core, and slice apples. In a medium mixing bowl stir together eggs, applesauce, yogurt, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Stir in bread and apples. Set aside. For the topping, in another mixing bowl stir together 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and flour. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts. Pour filling into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle topping over filling. Cover edge of crust with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 30 minutes more or until top is golden and fruit is tender. Makes 8 servings. (Add a teaspoon cinnamon to the filling if you like, and perhaps a bit of nutmeg.) Wonderful served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
 
COUNTRY COUSIN
 
Thought for the Week:  Savor every moment you live. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. See reference above to the 670 million breaths that we take in an average lifetime. Don’t waste them!
 
(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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