Country Cousin

Shirley Prudhomme
Enjoy the glories of Fall!
These first few days of fall have certainly been gifts -  God’s way of reminding us just how wonderful He is. The very air sparkles. A few leaves are just starting to turn, showing promise of greater glories yet to come. A breath of wind sets the Quaking Aspen leaves to fluttering like lashes around so many shining eyes flirting with the sun.
Gardens, fields and orchards groan with the bounty of the season or rest after yielding their harvest. Once Fall really gets here, every shade of color glows with heightened brilliance. We still have that to look forward to.
The barren cold of winter may be fast approaching, but for now breathing the heady air, soaking up the late season sunshine is reason enough for being alive. Rejoice! Enjoy! God loves us, and He sends days like these to prove it.
Of course, so as not to spoil us like so many pampered children, He does not send them too often. I do think though that God himself must walk among us during the glorious golden days of fall in northern Wisconsin. How could He resist?
Golden September days lure us out into the yard, so outdoor chores are sort of welcome.  Besides, the more you get done in September, the less work you’ll have to do in spring.
If you’re thinking of adding a pollinator garden to your landscape, try to prepare the area and get as much planted as you can this fall. Come spring, the plants will be much larger and that area will be primed and ready to add annuals and other varieties of perennials.
Fall is a good time to add spring-blooming perennials. Perennials planted in the fall can establish healthy roots, resulting in bigger growth and earlier blooms in the first season. Bulbs like Tulips, Daffodils, Allium and more should be planted in Fall because they need the overwintering period in order to bloom in the spring.
Make notes in a garden journal of what grew well, and areas where you’d like to make changes. This will be a big help when you are planning your garden over the winter months.
Be sure to keep up with weeding. Diligent weeding in fall helps prevent weeds from going to seed in your garden, and helps prevent disease in next season’s garden.
Stop pruning and fertilizing. You don’t want to promote new green growth that most likely will not make it through the winter anyway.
Stop deadheading and let the flowers go to seed. Annual Poppies, Zinnias, Sunflowers, and more will drop their seeds and in the right conditions can come back next year. The seeds also help feed the birds.
Seed heads also should be left on perennials like Echinacea, Sedum, Ornamental Grasses, and Clematis. They provide habitat for pollinators and food for birds over the winter months and provide texture and visual appeal to the winter garden.
On the other hand, cut back any perennial that is diseased and dispose of the trimmings in the trash, rather than your compost pile, to prevent the spread of the disease. Cut back yellowed foliage on perennials such as Daylilies, Iris, Peonies, Bee Balm, and more. Those trimmings can go in the compost pile.
You can also build your garden soil for next year by adding quick-growing cover crops now.  Clover, Vetch, and Austrian Winter Pea can be planted as “green manures” to help build nutrients and get the soil ready for next spring’s planting. They also provide green food that some four legged critters love to enjoy in winter.
Squirrels sometimes like to eat the bulbs that we love to plant. Some gardeners have found that planting their bulbs in a handful of sharp, crushed gravel discourages squirrels. This helps provide better drainage as well, so there’s a double benefit.
If squirrels are especially challenging, try chicken wire. Plant bulbs and then cover with with one-inch chicken wire before covering with soil. The plants can grow through the wires, but the squirrels can’t get to the bulbs. Also, consider planting bulbs that squirrels don’t like such as tulips, daffodils, ornamental onions (Allium), snowdrops (Galanthus), and grape hyacinths (Muscari).
Don’t advertise your newly planted bulbs by leaving papery bits of bulb debris in or on the soil. Clean up your act, or better still, try not to lay your bulbs on the ground while you dig the holes to plant them. Squirrels will smell their favorite and scamper over.
Scatter dog or human hair around your garden or dig it lightly into the soil. Maybe your favorite beautician will share. Squirrels cannot stand the smell of humans, so they should leave the bulbs alone
Also, when it comes time to dig up your gladiola and dahlia bulbs for the winter, be sure to store them in a squirrel-proof environment. My mother used to grow some glorious gladiolas in every shade of the rainbow, and gave me a full bushel one fall so I’d have them for Spring planting. Sadly, I put that basket in the garage and the squirrels found them before I put them into proper storage. They apparently ate well, because my hopes that some of those bulbs would make it through the winter and grow in spring turned out to be in vain.
Problem is, you cannot put them in a sealed container until they are thoroughly dry. A good solution is to build a box for them with rather fine mesh or window screen. The box can then be kept in a dry basement provided it’s kept off the floor, or in an attic or other storage space where they will not get wet and will not freeze. Our fruit cellar at home was perfect.
Grow ever more upset with politicians - in particular “President” Joe Biden issuing decrees rather than going through the legislative process. When I was growing up in the Cold War days we were told how horrible Russia was.
Everything I saw then, and every thing I’m seeing today convinces me that Russia under its dictatorship then was probably better off in terms of freedom than we in America will soon be if we continue to let dictators have their way.
Seems that Comrade Nikita Khrushchev was absolutely right when he allegedly pounded his shoe on the table during the administration of the late, great President Ronald Reagan, and declared, “We don’t have to bury you. You will bury yourselves from within.” That may or may not be an accurate quote, but it surely was an accurate prediction. Incidentally, Khrushchev was born in the Ukraine.
What Khrushchev supposedly said on another occasion was: “We can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have communism.” It’s taken a while, but it’s been happening ever since.
Recently we’ve been taking giant steps on the road to a Communist dictatorship form of government rather than than continuing to enjoy the freedoms that America introduced to the world.
It is absolutely against American tradition - and American law -  to allow President Biden to unilaterally issue an order requiring every company with over 100 employees to be vaccinated, but it appears that he will get away with it.
Whether or not the vaccinations can harm us is a totally separate issue. The issue is obeying dictatorial orders.
That said, there are really no guarantees the vaccines are safe on the long haul, and there are many recent reports they have caused heart inflammations in young people.
Yes, Dr. Fauci and others in the CDC say the vaccines are safe, and they’re supposed to be experts.
However, it is totally stupid to assume that every “expert” is right. It’s not unusual for experts to disagree. That’s why insurance policies allow for getting second opinions. And lots of experts disagree with Faucci and friends.
Recently learned that even the cotton swabs made in China for the Covid tests contain chemicals that are severely dangerous to our health.
It is time for us to stand up for ourselves. We must not allow the politicians to tell us what to do with our own bodies.
If we’re ordered to get vaccinated, get regularly tested, or lose our jobs, we should refuse, and allow ourselves to be fired.
We may or may  not end up winning our jobs back, at least not in the near future, but we will be preventing the dictators from destroying our way of life.
If too many people go off the job, eventually the economy will collapse. We may be cold and hungry for a while. We may need to help each other survive. But then those who remember what it was like to be free can start building back.
Hope and pray it never comes to that, but if we give in, we will have lost everything worth staying alive for.
May God Bless America again!
There’s a new commercial out, with a bunch of swimmers jumping up from the sandy beach and running into the water when someone yells “SHARK!!!”
Punch line is that those sun bathers were so hungry for seafood that they’d do anything to get it.
That story, plus some of the shady shenanigans on the political scene, remind me of another shark story. Seems a couple of politicians were out sailing when their craft capsized in shark-infested waters. 
They were struggling along in the water when they spotted some white dorsal fins coming toward them. A school of great white sharks was approaching!
Instead of attacking, the sharks invited those politicians to each grab a fin and delivered them safely to the beach before swimming away.
Those sharks were just extending some professional courtesy.
Zucchini anyone? Local gardens are still producing this versatile vegetable, along with many other delicious treats. Let’s enjoy them while we can.
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 use zucchini or summer squash cut into match-like sticks in place of all the spaghetti or linguini. Not authentic, but very good. And healthy. When cut into thin strands with a “noodler”, zucchini can even be twirled gracefully on a fork! If you’re not looking for low fat, low salt advantages, go ahead and add salt to the cooking water, use full-fat sour cream and add a tablespoon of butter to the pasta mixture before tossing with the sauce.
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 somewhat 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, bring water in a separate pot to a boil and cook the fettuccine, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Drop in the zucchini and cook until the fettuccine is just tender, about 1 minute more. While that cooks, transfer the garlic and broth to a blender, let it cool a bit and process until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. (Always use caution when blending hot liquids.) Return the garlic mixture to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the 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, but don’t let it boil again. Drain the pasta and zucchini 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. 
*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.
Save those garden goodies to enjoy on blustery January days. If you aren’t comfortable canning this mixture, put it by in the freezer. When heating just before serving time add fresh or dried basil and more oregano if you like. Herbs do not always can well. For a meat sauce, simply brown ground beef with basil, add the prepared sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. With or without meat, serve with grated Parmesan for the best effect. Recipe makes about nine pints. Incidentally, whenever using a home-canned vegetable other than tomatoes, simmer 15 minutes before serving, just to be safe.
30 pounds tomatoes
1 cup chopped onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped celery or green pepper
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
4-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oregano
4 tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar (Optional. Some like this. I don’t)
1/4 cup olive oil
If you’re going to can the sauce, it is important not to increase the proportion of celery, onions, peppers or mushrooms. If you’re freezing it, go ahead and make any adjustments you like. Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water and slip off skins. Remove cores and quarter tomatoes. Boil 20 minutes, uncovered, in large saucepan. Put through food mill or sieve. Sauté onions, garlic, celery or peppers, and mushrooms (if desired) in olive oil until tender. Combine sautéed vegetables and tomatoes and add remainder of spices, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until thick enough for serving. At this time the initial volume will have been reduced by nearly one-half. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Fill hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space. Adjust lids and process in a pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
6 cups sugar
6 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup celery seed
1/4 cup mustard seed
2 tablespoons canning salt
10 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium cucumbers, sliced
3 medium sweet red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, halved and sliced
1 bunch green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
In a Dutch oven, combine the first 5 ingredients; bring to a boil,  stirring to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour hot liquid over vegetables; cool. Transfer to jars, if desired; cover tightly. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Think these also could be canned in a pressure canner according to manufacturer’s directions for carrots, but haven’t tried it.
Super good, super easy! This is the version I enjoyed at the recent Republican Party corn roast in Peshtigo, but you can make it with any flavor of canned pie filling except probably not lemon.
1 can crushed pineapple, 20 ounces
1 can cherry pie filling
1 package yellow cake mix 
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
Flaked coconut or chopped nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13” pan with cooking spray. dump in the pineapple and spread it around. Dump the pie filling as evenly as you can on top of that. Sprinkle on the dry cake mix. Drizzle the melted butter over everything. Scatter on nuts or coconut if you’re using them. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees, or until top turns golden brown. Cool to serve as bars, or enjoy warm with ice cream.
The 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.
(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


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