It’s the good old summertime...

By: 
Shirley Prudhomme

Summer officially arrives in TIMESLand on Thursday, June 20, but we’ve already had some pretty hefty advance servings of the season. Was in the 90s on Monday and Tuesday, and a few times before that already this year. Definitely time to hit the wonderful beaches scattered on lakes, rivers and streams all over our beautiful north country area.

BREAKFAST ON THE FARM
Don’t miss Marinette County’s June Dairy Month Breakfast Sunday, June 23, on the Mark Anderson Anderson Family Farm at N6506 Anderson Rd., Porterfield, from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Church service is at 8 a.m. They’ll be serving pancakes, eggs, sausages, ham, cheese curds, maple syrup, applesauce, milk, juice, coffee and ice cream sundaes. Costs only $10 per adult, $5 for children aged six through 10, and kids five and under eat free. No need to buy advance tickets. They’ll also have music, a petting zoo, Moo-Mania comedy show, face painting, balloons, kids bouncy play area, cheesecake contest, and viewing of barns and cattle. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a co-sponsor of the event.
 
JUNE IS DAIRY MONTH
We here in Wisconsin really need to celebrate June Dairy Month, because Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland. We made that official with a declaration adopted in 1930. 
 
Am told that Wisconsin no longer has more cows than people, but according to some data collected in 2010, our state is home to more than 1.27 million dairy cows.
Wisconsin boasts more dairy cows per square mile than any other state, even though California claims to have surpassed us in milk production. 
 
Dairy farms and related businesses and industries are mainstays of the Wisconsin economy. Wisconsin dairy producers turn out more quality cheese every year than any other entire nation in the world.
Wisconsin dairies fuel our state economy at the rate of more than $39,000 per minute. Those dollars support schools, roads and businesses in our local communities. Each cow generates more than $21,000 each year in economic activity. This means the average 250-cow dairy farm contributes more than $5 million each year to our state’s economy.
 
All we need to do to preserve our reputation as America’s Dairyland is keep enjoying cheese curds, Mac ’n’ Cheese, cheesecake, whipped cream…
 
KEEP IT FRESH
When stored below 40 degrees, whole milk lasts five-seven days; non-fat seven-10 days; and reduced fat seven days. But you can stretch the freshness by storing milk in the back of your fridge, the coldest part, and the farthest away from the light, which degrades it. 
 
When buying milk, pick it up just before you check out, and put it on ice in the car if it’s a long ride home. Bringing a cooler on a hot summer day is good idea for meats and freezer items anyway.
 
After you pour a glass of milk, return container directly to the fridge. Don’t let it sit on the counter any longer than you have to. Divide your gallon of milk into smaller containers, filled to the top. Then cover tightly and keep closed in the coolest part of the fridge until you will use it. Use up one container before opening the other.
 
You can also freeze milk, but be sure to leave headroom in the freezing container. Freezing may change the color and texture of the milk, but it’s safe to drink and good to use in baking and cooking.
 
Another tip for keeping milk fresh longer is to add a teaspoon of baking soda to a gallon when you open it; then shake. Baking soda reduces the acidity in milk and retards spoilage.
 
Adding a pinch of salt also works to keep it fresh longer, although some health experts say this changes the nutritional qualities.
 
To keep cottage cheese fresher longer after opening, be sure the cover is tightly on, and then store upside down.
 
SUMMER SOLSTICE
Officially, the Summer Solstice happens when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole and its northernmost point. This by no means likely to be the hottest day of the year. That comes later, after the sun gets a chance to do its full warm-up job.
 
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “The word ‘solstice’ is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).
 
“In temperate regions, the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer,” the Almanac says.
 
MIDSUMMER’S DAY
I always thought that Midsummer’s Day (or eve) was the same as the official first day of summer, but turns out I was wrong. Monday, June 24 is Midsummer Day, which traditionally is the midpoint of the growing season at our latitude, halfway between planting and harvesting.
 
In Sweden, people celebrate the Summer Solstice by eating the first strawberries of the season.
In ancient Egypt, summer was the start of the new year. The rising of the star Sirius roughly coincided with the summer solstice and the annual flooding of the Nile River.
 
Folklore has it that if it rains on Midsummer’s Eve, the filbert crops will be spoiled.  Guess that would also apply to hazel nuts.
Old belief also is that if there are many falling stars during a clear summer evening, expect thunder. If there are none, expect fine weather.
 
My mom’s old saying was, “Rain before seven, sun by eleven.” Too many times this year it seems to be sunny by seven, rain sometime after eleven, probably just in time to spoil a nice evening meal.
 
Regardless of the lore, every year it seems more and more like once summer officially gets here it’s at least half gone. Sort of like having someone bring you home an ice cream cone on a hot day. Either they eat half of it or the heat gets it. Either way, it’s half gone before you get it.
 
TAKE THE STING OUT
Bugs are out in force, particularly the stinging varieties. Rubbing cider vinegar on your skin will help repel insects without adding toxins. People say if you take in enough cider vinegar by putting it on foods you eat, you’ll develop a body odor that will repel insects, including black flies. 
 
Onions are said to take the sting out of insect bites. They contain flavonoids, which promote healing, as well as sulfur, which breaks down the venom and pulls out the toxin from bites, thereby reducing inflammation.
 
If you’re stung by a bee, wasp or hornet, cut a fresh slice of onion. Put it over the bite and leave it there for 30 minutes to an hour. 
 
You can also grate the onion to release more juice, in which case you put the juice on the affected area, tape a piece of gauze over it, and leave for 15 minutes.
 
The stronger the onion, the more effective this is said to be, so stick to red and yellow onions and avoid the sweet ones, since they have less sulfur.
 
COOKIN’ TIME
Cookout time is definitely here. So is strawberry season, and wonderful rhubarb is still being harvested. 
 
ASIAN PORK PACKETS
This is pretty much a meal in itself, except for dessert. These can be made ahead, so Mom can do the work in the house. Then Dad can handle grill duties and bask in the compliments. This recipe makes four servings. If there are more people, you need to make more packets.  They can be cooked on the grill or in the oven, and can be made ahead and frozen, which means they’re perfect portable fare for a camping trip. Make with chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breast halves if you prefer. Serve with cooked rice and more sauce.
 
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced in 1-inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 medium red bell pepper, cut in strips
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup sweet and sour sauce
2 teaspoons spicy stir-fry sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees or grill to medium-high. Center one-fourth of pork slices, broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, bell pepper and onions evenly on a sheet of aluminum foil. Mix sweet and sour sauce, stir fry sauce, sesame oil and ginger in a small bowl; spoon evenly over pork and vegetables. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make four packets. Bake 20 to 22 minutes in oven or grill for 15 to 16 minutes in covered grill, till pork reaches 160 degrees and vegetables are crisp-tender.  (Over cooking can make pork tenderloin get tough.) Serve with rice and more sauce, if desired.
 
If freezing, place packets in plastic freezer bags and label with permanent marker.  Freeze till ready to thaw and cook. Thaw frozen packets in refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours and then cook as instructed above.
 
A cooking tip from Reynolds, the folks who came up with this recipe: If there’s no time to thaw the packets, you can cook them from the frozen state. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove frozen packets from plastic bag and place on baking sheet.  Bake 40-45 minutes till pork reaches 160°F and vegetables are crisp-tender.
 
STRAWBERRY PRETZEL TORTE
Takes about 20 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to bake, but you do need to allow chilling time. Makes 12 to 16 servings
2 cups crushed pretzels (about 8 ounces)
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
 
FILLING:
2 cups whipped topping (or 1 cup real cream, whipped and lightly sweetened)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
 
TOPPING:
2 packages (3 ounces each) strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 packages (16 ounces each) fresh or about 2 pounds frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
 
Additional whipped cream or whipped topping, optional
 
Combine the pretzels, butter and sugar. Press into an ungreased 13x9-inch. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. For the filling, in a small bowl, beat whipped topping, cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Spread over pretzel crust. Refrigerate until chilled. For topping, dissolve gelatin in boiling water in a large bowl. (If you’re using fresh strawberries, add 1/2 cup sugar to the sliced berries and let sit for half an hour or so to draw out the juice before you proceed.) Stir in strawberries with syrup; chill until partially set. Carefully spoon over filling. Chill for 4-6 hours or until firm. Cut into squares; serve with whipped topping if desired, or better yet, real whipped cream.
 
Thought for the week: It takes diversity to make the world go round. We need optimists to invent the airplane, and pessimists to come up with the idea for a parachute.
 
(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.)
 
Shirley Prudhomme

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