Happy January to all and welcome to 2019! Now as I have said so before, I do not make a New Year’s resolution. I really try every day to do my very best. When I fail, I immediately try to do better. This life is a work in progress and the older you get the harder it is. Entering into my 76th year, I have had lots of practice and hope I have lots more time to try harder in this old life. I am going to lose 10 pounds, well maybe 5.

What a good time the 2018 holidays were, from good wine to eggnog, to fruit cake, hogs head cheese, good cheese with pepper jam, cheese straws, toasted pecans, candy… It was all fun but we are ready for the old Cabbage Soup!

Speaking of Hog’s Head Cheese and getting older, I have been making Hog’s Head Cheese for the last 50 years of my life. Over the years they are all a little different but really good and a good consistency. It is just not Christmas with our Hog’s Head Cheese and it is a family favorite.

Years ago I used to start with a medium hog head, removing the eye balls and eardrums. In a very large pot, that I can hardly pick up now, I would boil the head with feet, tails, lots of fresh garlic, onions, celery and bell pepper, until it was one big ugly mess. Now the fun! In a very large colander, drain and save the stock, cool, scoop off lots of hard lard, clean the ears, bone out the jaw meat, sleeve out the tongue. You get the picture. This big mess takes three cookings in all. It does get easier with each cooking.

Over the years I have simplified the method: I now use a small pork roast, ears, feet, tails and tongue if I can find one. I have been making this for so long I never use a recipe. This year, after pouring up, something was wrong. It was delicious tasting but it was like jello, not the right texture. Back to the old recipe book. Can you believe, I forgot to put the pig feet in?

As fast as I could, I sent Mike down to County Market for a big package of feet. All back in the big old pot for another cooking. Perfect! You have got to have the feet! So next time you make Hog’s Head Cheese, do not forget the feet! This mistake has really bothered me and the worst part: this is not the only strange thing I seem to be doing lately. Could it be my age?

I have been married to Mike Cage for 30 years, and he has never played golf since I have known him. Other than home, gardening, working and traveling he does enjoy and looks forward to Duck Hunting with family and friends at Mallard Farms.

Several weeks ago, duck season is opening and he was checking out his Go Devil and boat, got the guns out and cleaned them, stocked up on shells, duck stamp, jackets, thermos and more. We are looking forward to fresh ducks and fun.

I packed Mike off opening evening for a big overnight gathering, for cooking at the camp and an early opening morning of shooting. Sunday morning, I head to church. I sit down next to my old childhood friend Betty Ann Nolan. Right before the prayer, Betty Ann asked me where was Mike, was he working? I said no he is playing golf. Middle of the prayer, I had shocked myself!!! I could hardly believe what I had just said! Could it be my age? Moral to this story, if I see you and do not speak, I just forgot who you were! Another thing that is different, I have lost 50 percent hearing in my left ear! What did you say? Huh! I am just thrilled to be here and hopefully looking forward to many more wonderful years on this old earth…. What did you say?

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Several months ago we got a letter from the News Star saying the price of the paper was going up, from $135 a year to $647 a year. REALLY! How could they, there is nothing in it, now, no worthwhile reading other than the Obits, Dianne Newcomer and Teddy Allen plus a few good editorials once in a while. There is just something about a lifelong happening that is going to be hard to take. Getting up in the morning, washing our face, wonderful smell of hot coffee, going out to the front yard, greeting this wonderful day to serve our Lord and gathering up our old friend the newspaper. I know, I know, things are changing.. part of life. We are going to really miss this tiny little paper. Thank goodness for The Ouachita Citizen!

Oh dear, they just announced Sears is closing. How many of you remember when Sears was on DeSiard Street, I think, then moved to Louisville Avenue. How many remember Christmas time — the three big white Wise Men on camels, heading west were on top of the big store. Thank goodness someone saved the holy display and it can be seen every Christmas season on the grounds of The First Christian Church on the corner of Loop Road and Forsythe.

What in the world are we going to do? I just heard J.C. Penney’s is closing!!

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I never tire of hearing good hunting stories. Last year my grandson Quinn killed a beautiful big deer with old friend Sherman Shaw ... we were all so excited! His older sister, Sallie Jayne, was not too happy that he killed one before her. My son, George, told this story to old friend Ned White, so Sallie was invited to hunt on the Whites’ property.

Gun safety first, target practice and with excitement they were off to the woods and deer stand. It was cold with not much action in the thick tree and bush bordering a lush green field. Father and daughter and enjoying visiting, watching red birds and a beautiful sunset. They were just about to gather themselves up and head in, a little disappointed, but with such a fun time enjoying all God’s gifts. WAIT! Out walked several little Does, then one or two more wander out into the big beautiful field. The does are grazing and all of a sudden they all look startled, looking towards the tree line. Out prances Big Boy! Sallie nailed him on the first shot!

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The Sunday before Christmas, for the last three years the Cage Clan from near and far have gathered at the Bayou DeSiard Country Club for Brunch. It is always so special! We had so much fun this year catching up on old stories and happenings with so many of our young ones. Ralph Brockman a Neville student made a 36 on the ACT score…. Congratulations!

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Cabbage Soup

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels! This is a FAT BURNING SOUP! You can eat it all day long and as much as you want. If you really want to lose weight, try three or four days of just this soup, you will be amazed! The only bad thing is you will never like cabbage again! Just kidding! DEFINITE NO NO’s …. alcohol, sweets, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, bread, beets and carrots. Remember: nothing white, except maybe cauliflower.

1 1/2 cups water

1 large head cabbage, coarsely chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped tops and bottoms

2 bell peppers, chopped

1-2 10-ounce cans dices tomatoes with green chilies

1 bunch celery, chopped

1 cup chopped parsley

1 package onion soup mix

Salt, pepper, curry powder and cayenne pepper to taste

In a large pot, add about 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil, add cabbage and cook about five minutes. Add all other ingredient, bring to a boil, cut to simmer and continue cooking until vegetables are tender.

Eat as much as you want, whenever you are hungry, anytime of the day. This soup will not add calories; the more you eat the more you lose. If eaten alone for indefinite periods, you would suffer from malnutrition. The GOOD NEWS is after 3 or 4 days you can add fruit, a little brown rice, squash, chicken, steak, maybe a small baked potato. Be sure and keep this soup in the refrigerator and heat just what you are eating at the time.

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Looking forward to the more football...I was really watching The Chicago Bears and The Philadelphia Eagles as I have a huge crush on Doug Pederson. What a game. I always feel sorry for the team that looses, I know, I know someone has to lose! I do love the brotherly love that is shown when one of the team members makes a bad play …. Poor fellow, those pats on the shoulder must really mean a lot!

Looking forward to being with you again!

Dianne

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