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,
An 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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Looking for the Label? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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One of the first things you want to do in the kitchen is label stuff.  When you don’t, you’re in for trouble. Some things look almost the same, but are actually very different.

White vinegar, bleach and ammonia are all thin, clear liquids commonly found in the kitchen. So, if you have an unlabeled bottle filled with clear liquid, it’s hard to know exactly what it is. If you mix it with a little olive oil, you have a 33% chance of coming up with salad dressing. You also have about a 67% chance of needing to have your stomach pumped.

Actually, things wouldn’t go that far. Minus the label, you’d probably be smart enough to test the stuff to determine exactly what it is. This takes some thinking, though. Let’s see, you could dab a bit in your hair: if it doesn’t go white, then it’s probably not bleach. You could give the stuff a good sniff: if it makes your head feel like it’s about to explode, and brings torrents of tears to your eyes, then it’s probably ammonia. Other look-alikes that aren’t taste-alikes: sugar and salt; flour, cornstarch and baking soda. If they weren’t labeled we’d have to figure out what’s what.

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this article. But their expressions are priceless.

Some things look different but are quite similar. White pepper is just as peppery as regular, black pepper; and a brown egg tastes the same as its paler counterpart — both make a nice omelet. But brown eggs are brown, and white pepper is usually labeled as such. Face it, in the the kitchen, we NEED our labels. When things are labeled we don’t have to think; we don’t need to test or figure stuff out. We can relax and turn our brains off.

One of the last things you want to do is label PEOPLE.  When you do, you’re in for trouble. Some people look almost the same, but are actually very different. Some people look different but are quite similar. So we need to figure out what’s what — or rather, who’s who. Face it, in the the kitchen, we need our labels. When it comes to people, we WANT our labels. When people are labeled we don’t have to think; we don’t need to try and figure them out. We can relax and turn our brains off.

Avoid the temptation: don’t label people! We need to approach every person as a unique individual — not as someone we’ve prejudged, categorized and labeled. Some of the labels we resort to out of laziness include: black, white, Asian, male, female, Republican, Democrat, good, bad, thin, fat, smart, and blonde. (Aha, see how stupid labels sound?)

Black-eyed peas, green peas, yellow peas, crowder peas, snap peas, snow peas, split peas…. Peas NEED labels. People don’t.

Labeling people is easier than getting to know them. Labeling people gives us an excuse to either interact with them or simply dismiss them. Labeling people limits our own options and demeans the person being labeled. It’s counterproductive — and it’s destructive.

Since labels help us keep “stuff” in its proper place, we assume that labeling people will help us do the same. We mark people as stupid or wise, helpful or worthless, givers or takers, etc., etc.! More times than not, our labels are incorrect. That blonde is a brain surgeon, the guy in the raggedy jeans is a business tycoon, the little old lady in the drugstore is a champion mud wrestler, those two suspicious-looking dudes staking out your neighborhood are Mormons, and that geeky kid with the thick glasses — the one who looks like the next Apple CEO — well, he’s just extremely nearsighted.

Gender, ethnicity (we never use the term race as a distinguishing characteristic, because we all belong to the same race: the human race), political affiliations, economic status, geographic origin, educational background and religious belief should never be used to label and limit people.

Do you like being labeled and categorized? Nobody does. We sure don’t. We never like it when someone feels they have us pegged, that they know what makes us tick and what we can and cannot accomplish. But we make allowances for these label-makers, “for they know not what they do!” We also try our best not to follow their example. Labels are for peas and pepper — not people.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28  KJ 2000)

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” (Romans 12:9 NLT)

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