Enduring those cold nights of spring season

As we move into spring, we forget how much the seasons fluctuate. A walk outside is all I need to remind me that winter has not lost its hold on us yet.

A few years ago, it got so cold that we had frozen water pipes. Twice, we had to have the utility company come and thaw out our water pipes. Several nights we had to leave the water drip from the faucets, just to prevent them from freezing again.

When I remember the rough, long and snowy winters I have endured, my husband Stan tells me the stories of winter “up north” which makes what I remember pale in comparison.

Stan remembers walking home from school and then having to go to the woods with a homemade sled to cut trees down and then cut the logs into 16 to 24-inch pieces. These logs were then loaded on the sled and brought home so that the family could have wood to keep the house warm for the night and into the next day. At 8 years of age, he was going into the woods with his mother and an older brother to provide fuel for two wood burning stoves, used for cooking and heating. By the time Stan was 8, four or five older siblings had married and left home. That left six younger children to help provide firewood and trap animals to put food on the table.

When they weren’t cutting wood, they were snaring rabbits and shooting deer, which provided their main meat source.

There are still many people in northern Wisconsin who use wood as their sole source of heat. For some people it is a choice; for others, it is necessity.

Climate change is rapidly melting away the world’s frozen regions, and summertime Arctic sea ice is predicted to vanish by 2050. What will winters look like by then? How will this change our four seasons?

We’d like to think that in the 21st century, everyone has heat at the flick of a switch or turn of a dial, but that is not true. Heat and electricity—another gift for which I am thankful.

• • • • •

Creamy Scalloped Corn

  • 4 cans cream-style corn (I buy 4 different cans because each varies slightly)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 to 5 bread slices with crust, torn into small pieces (Fresh bread is also fine if you have no dried bread.)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed

Mix first 4 ingredients. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake covered at 350 F for 45 minutes. Sprinkle Ritz crackers on top.

Bake covered at 350 F for 45 minutes. Sprinkle Ritz crumbs on top. Bake uncovered an additional 15 to 30 minutes.

Note: This is one of those recipes which you can alter to fit your taste—3 eggs, less sugar, more bread, etc.

Mocha Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

  • 4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Mocha Icing

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ to ¾ cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt in the microwave in 30-second increments, being careful not to let it burn. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla and mix.

Add the flour to the bowl and mix just until combined; do not overmix.

Spread the batter evenly into the baking pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center is no longer soft. Set the brownies aside to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, in a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Mix until slightly combined, then add ½ cup of the coffee. Whip until the icing is the desired consistence. If the icing is overly thick, add ¼ cup more coffee. It should be very light and fluffy.

Ice the cooled brownies, spreading the icing on thick. Refrigerate until the icing is firm, then slice the brownies into squares.

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the mixer on medium-low, slowly drizzle in the oil until it is combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again to make sure it is smooth.

Add the eggs and powdered sugar and mix well. Mix in the vanilla.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in two batches, mixing gently after each batch until it is all combined.

Place a long sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and lay out the dough in a rough cylinder shape. Wrap it up in the plastic wrap, forming it into a neat cylinder. Make sure it is wrapped very tightly, then pop it in the freezer. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 F, cut the dough into ½ to ¾ inch slices. Sprinkle them with sanding sugar, if desired.

Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, or until they are just starting to turn golden around the edges. Serve them warm right out of the oven, or cool to room temperature.

Enjoy the simple pleasures of life and, of course, eat well.

Call or email me with questions or comments. I can be reached at 920-980-3885 or email owl.mcp@gmail.com.

Send your favorite recipes to be included in this column to me at Tri-County News, P.O. Box 237, Kiel, WI 53042. Please include your phone number in the event I have questions.

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