Foiled! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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“An Ode to Aluminum Foil”  
(Sung to the tune of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” from The Beverly Hillbillies)

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed,
Overworked cook who daily packed his fam’ly’s bread!                                                                 Then one day he was wrapping up some food,                                                                                        So off from the roll he tore somethin’ good!                                                                                                 (Foil, that is … Alum’num! … Reynolds Wrap!)

Relax, dear reader: we have no intentions of pursuing songwriting! But we would like to share a few hundred words about aluminum foil, the unsung hero of cooks everywhere!

Aluminum foil is one of the most versatile materials we know. And it has several uses in both the kitchen and the commercial packaging of foods. It insulates and protects, preventing certain foods from burning due to uneven heating. It keeps foods fresher for longer periods, because it blocks the rays necessary for the growth of bacteria. And yet it’s extremely thin and lightweight. In fact, “heavy duty” aluminum foil is less than one thousandth of an inch thick!

Aluminum foil was first manufactured in Switzerland, in 1910, as thin yet strong metal leaves. Because of its thinness, aluminum foil folds and shapes easily, allowing cooks to tightly wrap everything from a turkey drumstick to a hoagie sandwich. The Swiss candy manufacturer, Tobler, was the first company to use the material in commercial food packaging; in 1911, Tobler started wrapping its unique, triangular-shaped chocolates (Toblerone) in aluminum foil.

Prior to the advent of aluminum foil, foods were frequently packaged in tin foil. But prior to and during World War II, tin was infamous for imparting a metallic taste to the foods it was in contact with. So by 1950, aluminum foil was rapidly replacing its dull sibling in both homes and commercial food packaging. Here in the U.S., we tend to call it “reynolds wrap,” because the Reynolds Metal company has always been the chief manufacturer and supplier of kitchen foil. In the UK, however, it’s still called “tin” foil, for the same reason people still refer to tin cans — even though all cans used in food storage today are either made of steel or aluminum. (Old habits die hard, right?)

Ah, aluminum! How we do malign your shiny metal! Sigh!

We use aluminum foil to wrap our sandwiches, but before anyone begins to wonder why we don’t use plastic sandwich baggies, please let us explain. Those saggy sandwich baggies are … baggy!  They don’t hold the sandwich firmly and securely! The bread, meats and cheese sit loosely in the bag, with nothing to really keep the components together. Stick a poor sandwich into a baggie and toss it into your handbag, basket or backpack and here’s what happens: during the course of your travels, as you hike, bike, or drive over winding roads or bumpy trails, your sandwich flops about in its saggy baggie until it falls apart. Not so if you securely wrap it in foil!

A sandwich firmly wrapped in aluminum foil holds together! The meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion stay put — instead of falling apart. When you remove it from its foil, your sandwich LOOKS like a sandwich — not a loosely shuffled deck of playing cards. And the bread doesn’t get mangled and all bent out of shape!

We may seem overly enthused about the merits of aluminum foil, but there’s something we’re far more passionate about: our Heavenly Father! God is the believer’s “reynolds wrap!” He protects and preserves us! “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 ESV)

Like reynolds wrap, God holds us securely in His arms and keeps us from falling apart as we travel the bumpy road of life. “….God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT) There’s no lack of stress and adversity in this hectic world, and it’s easy to get “wrapped up” in the cares of life; but when we put our trust in Jesus Christ and focus on God instead of on our circumstances and problems, He’s capable of holding us together and keeping us from getting all bent out of shape! “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 King James 2000)

God also INSULATES us from the power of sin! His redeeming blood covers us and keeps us from burning. “…We have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Psalm 32:7 King James) “…[God’s] love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:22 ESV)

Feel like a sandwich today? We do, secure in the knowledge that God (our divine “reynolds wrap”) is able to foil all the schemes of the enemy!

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Frozen! People Should Never Act Like Peas

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Hello, dear friends! I’m Mr Freeze, Tom and Wilma’s faithful upright freezer!

When my masters asked me to tell you readers about frozen foods I naturally jumped at the opportunity. Well, actually I just sort of continued to stand in the corner of the room I share with Blue the SUV. (Which for some strange reason, Tom and Wilma refer to as the garage.) Anyway, the history of frozen foods is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. In fact, just thinking about it sends chills down my cooling coils!

Believe it or not, people have been preserving foods by freezing them for hundreds of years. Fishermen and trappers first started the trend by storing their fish and game in unheated buildings during the winter. They had learned, quite by accident, that freezing foods slows down and even halts the forces of nature — namely, the growth of bacteria which otherwise hastens spoilage. But the first large-scale commercial use of preserving foods by freezing was in 1899, when warehouses in Russia routinely shipped about 200,000 frozen chickens and geese to London each week, where specially devised cold-storage facilities kept the meat frozen until it went to local markets.
Later, in 1929, Clarence Birdseye introduced the American public to “flash freezing”: quick freezing reduces the formation of large ice crystals, which can damage the taste and texture of foods. The company started by Birdseye continues to be an innovator in the production of frozen dinners and vegetables. But today there are dozens of businesses producing what companies such as Swanson once called “TV dinners”; as well as frozen pizzas, pies, cakes and ice cream — mmm, just the sort of heartwarming comfort food I keep in my frosty compartments.

Further advancements in frozen foods came about out of necessity: during World War II, the U.S. Military researched better ways of freezing orange juice and dairy products for troops serving overseas; and in 1957, when then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Russia, the U.S. government devised new ways of packaging frozen foods for her trip. Speaking of Russia, I’ve always wanted to vacation in Siberia. I understand that year round the weather is quite lovely.

But enough about me and my passion for all things frozen. I want to share an interesting observation about people: some of them are frozen! Not literally, mind you. But remember that I said freezing stops the forces of nature? In a manner of speaking, it puts life on hold — and sometimes people want to do the same thing.

There’s a character in Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations who did just that: Miss Havisham stopped all the clocks in her house, then shut herself away from the world after she experienced a devastating disappointment. She was to be married, on what should have been the happiest day of her life. Many elaborate preparations had been made, including a long dining table exquisitely set and groaning beneath an abundance of gourmet foods; and crowning the center of the table, a wedding cake fit for a king and his queen.

All of Miss Havisham’s guests had arrived to join in the celebration, and together they waited with the bride-to-be — uncomfortably, for what seemed an interminable time — for the groom to arrive. But he never did. So, the wedding guests silently returned to their homes, and Miss Havisham, whose heart was broken, whose dreams died that day, withdrew
from the world. She cloistered herself in her darkened mansion, with all the wedding preparations left untouched, preserved as a burial shrine to her dead hopes. The clocks stopped ticking and she stopped “living”! Miss Havisham, for all intents and purposes, allowed herself to become mentally and spiritually “frozen in time”; trapped like an ancient relic in the ice of her own pain and grief; unable to move beyond the disappointments and bitter memories of a single moment.

Brrr, pretty dramatic, huh? But just like Miss Havisham, there are people today who, because of past hurts, mistakes and disappointments, are “frozen” in their own emotional and spiritual growth, no longer moving forward in life — no longer even enjoying life.

Have you made bad mistakes? Have you been severely hurt, betrayed, or disappointed? At some time or another, we all have. But the more important question is, were you “flash frozen” in your moment of grief and despair, anguish and disillusionment? Symptoms of being frozen include frequently reliving a past hurt, harboring a grudge, being afraid to trust again, or refusing to start over. If any of this describes you, it’s time to come in from the cold: take steps to forgive and forget; make a conscious decision to put the past behind you, and then start moving forward.

People should never act like peas!

It always helps to “get things off your chest” and out into the open, so consider talking to a trusted friend or a spiritual leader. If necessary, seek out a professional counselor. But above all, ask the God of all comfort to heal your emotional wounds. (2 Corinthians 1:3) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 ESV)

There’s room for only one Mister Freeze around — and that’s me! But I only keep foods frozen! I like people well thawed! And unless you’re a box of snow peas, you shouldn’t allow anything to keep you frozen. Don’t allow someone who wronged you in the past to continue to steal your present peace and joy, or your future growth and happiness. Break out of the ice. To quote the lyrics of a popular song from Disney’s Frozen, if there’s something bothering you, “Let it go!”

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NLT)

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