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COUNTRY ECHOES

When it gets down to ten below zero in Wisconsin it is the beginning of even colder days. New years morning our thermometer stands at this reading at 5:10 A.M. Maybe you thought we never get up this early in the cold wintertime. Here is proof.

And just in case the winter gets intensely cold, and hard on your grocery budget I will pass on a cheap and really delicious recipe. How many of you ladies have ever made or eaten Corncob Jelly? The first time someone graciously handed me a gift sample I almost dropped it in absolute unbelief. But a year later found me visiting the corn field gathering a pail ful of broken-up corncobs where the picker-sheller had left them to be returned to the soil. We rent land from one of our neighbors and the next morning she called me on the telephone and said, 'Really I suppose it is none of my business, but what were you picking up in the cornfield yesterday?'

'OH!' I replied matter-of-factly, 'Only some corncobs for making Corncob Jelly.'

There was a rather long pause on the other end of the telephone line and then my neighbor found her organs of speech were working again. 'Corncob Jelly?' she said questioningly. I chuckled at her distastful tone. This time I had shocked her for sure.

'Yes, Corncob Jelly,' I replied with a certain humorous authority. 'Didn't you know they sell it in the most exclusive gift shops in Iowa?'

This time I had her stumped. She is usually well ahead of me on a lot of information. Don't we all need a moment of glory now and then? Well the poor lowly corncob had given me mine.

So I went to work Corncob Jelly. The original recipe calls for 12 corncobs. Break in half. Place in pan with three pints of water and simmer 30 minutes. Remove corncobs. Strain through a cloth. Add water to make 3 cups of liquid. Add 1 box of Sure Jell. Place on fire and bring to a full rolling boil. Stir constantly. Add 3 cups of sugar and bring to a boil again. Boil one minute, then remove from fire. Skim off foam. Cover with pariffin.

Here I was with a great big pailful of corncobs, all broken in various sized pieces. How much was twelve corncobs? So, old jelly maker that I am, I filled my two big kettles with well-washed corncobs and poured on water enough to practically cover them. Then I turned them on high and after thirty minutes came out with twelve cups of juice, pretty and pink, but in considerable need of straining. Flannel really does the trick and soon the juice was a sparkling clear liquid.

Starting with three cups I followed directions to the letter. It turned out beautifully. And it was delicious. Before the day was over I had all four batches cooling on my kitchen table.

But the fun with my Corncob Jelly wasn't ended by any means. Friends and neighbors came to our back door and I would generously give them a glass of pink, sparkling jelly nonchalantly, 'Oh, you must take home some of my Corncob Jelly.' And in every instance that sort of confused, distastful look came over their faces as they slowly extended their reluctant right hand. 'Corncob Jelly?' they asked, drawing back, but they took it. And I have the jelly glasses all back now with glowing words such as, 'You just can't believe it. Why it is so delicious!' But just a word of warning before you get your winter kettle out and start cooking corncobs. It is much the best tasting when you gather fresh cobs in the fall and use them right away. When corn is stored in a crib for a long period it will take on a musty taste which affects your jelly adversely.

Why should it be any different. All of the things we use in our kitchens are the best when fresh. The frosted Christmas cookies we are still enjoying are stored out on the front porch, and they are below zero right now, and as fresh as the day I baked them over a week ago. And so it should surely be day by day with our spiritual life. We can't read our Bible once a month and keep it's truths at work in our lives. We can't pray at widely separated moments and keep spiritually strong.

Yesterday we had a wonderful Sunday School lesson on our response to God's promises and His gift. I had to teach, so I had to dig. I gathered my corncobs of truth and came out with clear, beautiful spiritual jelly for my everyday bread of life. How we rob ourselves of real joy sometimes by not investigating the simple wholesome things of life. They are there for us if we will only go out and gather them. We had another good sermon yesterday emphasizing the worth and necessity of a real Christian home for the upbringing of our children. They are the products of our raising, our ears of corn, so to speak. And the real sweetness should lie in their hearts as all of this undiscovered flavor lies in the very center of the corncob. We should shine for our Creator, as the jelly shines for us, but with a far brighter glow. We aren't going to do much about the condition of our world until its people do something about themselves and their offspring. The remedy is there, God, and His eternal word. Why don't you put it in your kettle for 1968? For one of the hard cruel facts of life is that when corncobs get dry and musty they aren't much good for anything but starting a good hot fire. Add the fuel of our national and personal sins, and I don't have to tell you what we'll have. I don't use the word in writing. That's one of the reasons I'm a poorly paid writer. I'm not spicy enough for this day and age.