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Bible verses for October

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” - Mark 10:27

 

 Saying of the month

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand...
~George Cooper, "October's Party

   Recommended reading

 The Fifth Book of Peace. - 
Maxine Hong Kingston

 

 PAGE CONTENTS 

        Bible verses 

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Saying of the month

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Reading recommendation

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Cooking oil conflicts.

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Where TP is concerned...

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Has having gray hair become chic?
 
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"From scratch" recipe of the month  - Roasted Vegetable Soup

 COOKING OIL CONFLICTS.

One food that appears in almost all kitchens is cooking oil. It’s indispensable for frying, baking, and seasoning our foods. While most of us wouldn’t think of preparing meals without a measure of oil for food enhancement, there’s still a lot of discussion about the role of oil in our diet. It also happens to be one of the more expensive items on our grocery list because it comes to us as a processed food. So, after reading a bit about the subject, I thought that it would be good to review what’s known about the health and culinary qualities of cooking oils.

Here’s some general info on cooking oils.
All common cooking oils such as canola, corn, olive, pumpkin seed, peanut, and soy are made from plants and are usually liquid at room temperature. Coconut oil and palm oil are semi-solid are room temperature. They can be sold as just one specific type of oil or as a blend. The price of different vegetable oils varies a lot. Despite some distinctions, they are all considered to be healthy oils in that they are high in non-saturated fats and contain antioxidants.

Now there are, of course, animal fats that are used in cooking. Those are the greases and butter that we can buy already processed or can process at home. All the animal fats are heavily saturated. Nutrition experts agree that it’s important to limit saturated fat but not eliminate it because it’s required for a healthy body and brain. So, while animal fats are considered (by many) to be great for making tasty food – like bacon grease in beans or greens or chicken broth in soups and stews, we should be careful about the quantities that we eat.

But there are some rather obvious conflicts on the topic of cooking oils. While most of us use them, we know that they contribute heavily to our already calorie-loaded diets – with each teasoon of fat representing about 125 calories. And, we’ve heard that that fried foods also may contain disease-causing substances that form in oils when they reach high temperatures. What’s more, some studies have shown that frequent exposure to frying fumes is a cause of respiratory diseases in both restaurant and home cooks. So, all of this is worrisome. Is it necessary to avoid most fried foods and prefer low-fat diets? Or can we safely continue our current use of cooking oil?

Margarine in all its forms, along with real butter and animal grease, are not recommended for frying. Animal fats should only be heated to boiling temperature as part of soups and stews. It is also best to reduce your intake of high-fat, calorie-dense foods like butter (80% fat) and mayonnaise (75-80% fat).

So, should we be saving money on oils?
Choice of oils depends on both taste and price. Some cooks like the distinctive fruity, spicy or nutty oils such as those associated with olive, sesame, and coconut. But these flavors usually are found in the higher cost oils. Canola oil is inexpensive and at the same time is neutral in flavor and a good source of antioxidants. It has about the same cost as soy oil – a nickel to a dime a tablespoon. Extra-virgin olive oils and most others with special flavors can cost up to a dollar a tablespoon. That’s a lot of difference, so your budget may be the defining factor at the grocery aisle.

 

But, consider this. All oils tend to lose their special flavor after exposure to high temperatures. Even expert judges may be fooled about the qualities of high-priced oils when they are heated. So, the general rule is to use the expensive oil you like for drizzling on salads but pick a cheaper one for frying. You can also do a combo – less expensive oil for frying and then add a tiny bit of the high priced stuff – like extra virgin olive oil - just before serving.

What are some safety rules for cooking oils?

Vegetable oils are high in non-saturated fats, have antioxidants, and are generally considered to be healthy when used properly. (The FDA says that the total of fats should not make up more than 30% of the diet.) The bulk of the fats we use in the kitchen should come from plants, especially if we find out, or suspect, that we have high cholesterol levels. All vegetable oils are fragile and need to be stored in airtight containers away from contact with direct light. Also, to be sure, you should smell or taste oils before you use them. Throw out any stale or rancid oil. (You can burn it as fuel for candles - best burned in the outdoors because they smoke a lot.)

Used fried oil, if not burned, can be a part of other preparations. Do not use any kind of leftover oil for frying again as it becomes carcinogenic. Never add fried oil to fresh oil. Avoid heating oils to temperatures beyond their smoking point. The table below shows some of the plant oils that safely withstand higher temperatures (adapted from a chart in Wikipedia):

Safe - higher smoke point (from 350F to 450F)
Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Peanut Oil
Safflower Oil
Palm Oil (suspect by some for having a higher proportion of saturated fats.)

Caution - Moderate smoke point (only up to 350F)
Sesame Oil
Butter
Corn Oil
Soybean oil
Coconut Oil

Most vegetable oils are best if they are used in the space of one or two months after opening. Their antioxidant activity decreases month by month. So, buy smaller containers that you’ll use up in a few weeks. Home-processed animal fats - like ghee (clarified butter) and leftover bacon grease - should be refrigerated and used within a week. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are industrial-produced monsters that are known risks to health, especially coronary heart disease. Stay far away from them and the same goes for hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats (and the products that contain them).

 WHERE TP IS CONCERNED, OBSESSION WITH SOFTNESS = ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION

Our bums aren’t worth it. Despite TV commercials to the contrary, having plushy toilet paper isn’t a necessity. In fact, the most-advertised TP isn’t just costly, it's an environmental disaster. Hey, stay with me for just a minute! This isn’t another extreme recommendation of the “deep- greeners” (like yours truly), really, it’s something helpful that everyone can do without too much effort. Remember three easy rules: 1) TP only from recycled fibers, 2) no fragrances or chlorine bleach, and 3) fold one-ply instead of wadding two-ply. So, that’s the delicate subject of this post – your mindful use of TP can make an important difference.

Do you know how many trees are cut down each year just to wipe our bums? Well, if you live in the U.S., the number is astounding – more than 7 million. And that’s a whole lot more use than in any other country in the world - about three times more per person than the average European, and 100 times more than the Chinese. U.S. people seem to love to use disposable products and what’s more disposable than TP? It’s used for three seconds – then it’s flushed.

In fact in some other countries, Australia, for example, all TP is made from 100 percent recycled fibers. Marketing hype aside, TP from recycled materials does the same job as the high cost, environment-damaging kind. So, do our bums deserve so much over-pampering? Those are live trees that are being cut down to make virgin fiber. 

TP comes from the pulp and paper industry, one of the greatest industrial source of global warming pollution (after only the chemical and steel industries). It’s also the world's greatest industrial cause of deforestation.

And besides killing trees, paper making from trees also uses more water than paper recovery (turning paper back into usable fiber). What's more, less than half the TP-making pulp in the U.S comes from new-tree farms - in South America and the United States. The rest comes from older forests, including some of the last virgin forests in North America.


Yet, according to a New York Times article, some large paper manufacturers recently report a 40% rise in sales of luxury brand TP. Wait a minute! That’s like having more use of the highest-octane gasoline during a recession. It just doesn’t make sense. But, apparently, that has been the result of all those TV commercials that equate “cheap” TP (read that as recycled-fiber tissue) with scratchiness and lack of hygiene.

Isn't it time for us to reject this mindless consumerism and stand up for our principles? Most schools and office buildings have already switched to TP from recycled content because it costs less. The goal should be for all TP used in the U.S. – both inside and outside of the home- to be from recycled fibers. And no forests should be trashed just to make plushy toilet tissue.

You’ll be doing even better for our Earth if you look to see that your TP has no fragrances and is "unbleached" or "chlorine-free." It’s also good to use the one-ply instead of the two. Research has shown that people use a “handful” of either one- or two-ply tissue, and that the “bottom-line” (forgive the pun) amounts to fewer sheets used when it’s neatly folded and not wadded or doubled up. So opt for one-ply paper and fold rather than wad, if you want to use less. By being more conscious of the amount of toilet paper you use, you help save our trees and save yourself some money.

And, if you have a family member (or members) who habitually waste a lot of bathroom paper, put up a big sign across from the toilet that says something like this: “The TP you’re using is a huge cost for the environment and for our family - so, don’t be such a jerk!” 

 HAS HAVING GRAY HAIR BECOME CHIC? 

 First of all, it’s clear that not all women would agree with me that going gray is O.K. I think that everyone has a right to an opinion about the subject. And, as to my reading of the different viewpoints out there, I see that they run a range from:
-- Going gray is fabulous and chic
-- Maybe acceptable in some circles (if somewhat grim).
-- God forbid! You’ll look like your own grandmother.
-- It may be your choice, but don’t expect everyone to like or respect you for it.

A bit of gray history
In all fairness on the subject, I decided to do a little researching about the process of graying. This is what I found out for sure:
1) Going gray is a natural part of aging. Everyone who lives long enough will go gray.
2) More than 40 percent of the U.S. population has a little gray hair by age 40, and almost 100% of people have some gray hair at 50.
3) Women in the U.S. have progressively adopted hair coloring to cover gray since the 1950’s. (Back then – the fifties --, the meager choices of hair coloring for gray created a generation of pink- and blue-haired, little old ladies. (So, it’s no wonder that only a minority of older women dyed their hair at that time!)
4) Today, hair dye products have improved and 50%+ of the U.S. women, ages 13-69, color their hair as a part of their beauty routine, and the percentage of users go up in the older age groups -- presumably because they hope to cover up their gray.

Some reasons cited for not going gray
For a majority of women, the train of thought seems to go mostly like this: We live in a culture that applauds youth and belittles old people, so why put up with that? Though aging is unquestionably natural, we don't have to like it and don’t want to appear as old as our years. We’ve heard from a multitude of sources that hair color can make us look better, and since we aren’t sure if the men in our life want a “mother, mistress or caretaker", we don’t want to take any chances. And just as we look for medicines to combat our worst menopausal symptoms, we consider wrinkles, waist-line expansion, and graying hair as morbid annoyances that need to be taken care of. With frantic hopes of looking younger, we take up diets, exercise at the gym, and buy scads of products advertised to help us slim down and shrink the ravages of time. Unfortunately, most of these efforts don’t lead to our longed-for results. But hair color is chemical, and if all your hair doesn’t fall out because of it, then you can have gray-free hair (at least most of the time, depending on your diligence).

Now, until quite recently, U. S. men didn’t seem to mind going gray, but today a growing fraction of them have started using hair color products. We have to presume that men are dyeing their hair for similar reasons that women do -- to feel younger, to have a more pleasing appearance, to not look like the oldest guy in the office, and, for those who are married, to remain on par with a younger appearing wife, or, for single men, as aid in the hunt for an attractive partner.

My take on going gray
Even though it’s been a while since I stopped coloring my hair, I do remember the reasons I did it. It was getting to be costly to buy the product at the store every 5 weeks (the time it took for me to clearly see the gray roots coming in), and there was no way that I could afford the $80 or more that it was going to cost me at (even a cheap) beauty salon.

Also, although I tried a number of hair colors brands at the supermarket in succession, I was unable to find even one that didn’t leave my hair feeling droopy and brittle. In time, I also became aware that a lot of my hair was falling out, and I developed an itchy, peeling scalp. So, it seemed to me that I had 2 choices: go gray, in a dignified way - or not, or go bald within a short time. My husband told me he actually liked gray hair and thought it would look good on me. I’m not sure whether that was his honest opinion or not, but he was sweet and supportive at the time I was making the decision.

My Mom, past this world and gone to her glory by two decades, had let her hair go gray after age 60, and I always admired her for it. Also, she had the great luck to have lovely and almost purely white hair some years before reaching age 70. In my vain wishes, I hoped that I could also have gorgeous silver locks and would rather quickly jump from what I considered the awkward salt and pepper stage to all beautiful white. (Five years later, I am reminded that the awkward stage can last a very long time for some women. Oh, well, I guess I can continue to wait and hope…)

On the downbeat side of affairs, some of my female friends and family members weren’t at all supportive. They made comments about it most likely being a mistake – that going gray makes you look older – “beyond your years.” They whispered of the specters that haunt older women about husbands leaving wives for younger gals or not looking professional (a damaging image) in the workplace. Their suggestions were for combining better dyes with a myriad of costly hair softening and strengthening products or for returning to the salon at any cost – something like it would be better to cut back on food and utilities than to cut out those trips to the hair stylist.

My take on going gray
Even though it’s been a while since I stopped coloring my hair, I do remember the reasons I did it. It was getting to be costly to buy the product at the store every 5 weeks (the time it took for me to clearly see the gray roots coming in), and there was no way that I could afford the $80 or more that it was going to cost me at (even a cheap) beauty salon.

Also, although I tried a number of hair colors brands at the supermarket in succession, I was unable to find even one that didn’t leave my hair feeling droopy and brittle. In time, I also became aware that a lot of my hair was falling out, and I developed an itchy, peeling scalp. So, it seemed to me that I had 2 choices: go gray, in a dignified way - or not, or go bald within a short time. My husband told me he actually liked gray hair and thought it would look good on me. I’m not sure whether that was his honest opinion or not, but he was sweet and supportive at the time I was making the decision.

My Mom, past this world and gone to her glory by two decades, had let her hair go gray after age 60, and I always admired her for it. Also, she had the great luck to have lovely and almost purely white hair some years before reaching age 70. In my vain wishes, I hoped that I could also have gorgeous silver locks and would rather quickly jump from what I considered the awkward salt and pepper stage to all beautiful white. (Five years later, I am reminded that the awkward stage can last a very long time for some women. Oh, well, I guess I can continue to wait and hope…)

But, as you might imagine, I have my own opinion and I think I can back it up. So, here are my reasons for saying that gray is to way to go. (I’ll leave it up to you as to whether or not you think going gray is chic.)
-- Gray saves time and money – having a natural gray is effortless and doesn’t involve expensive products and services, thereby helping to save us from unnecessary consumerism.
--Gray celebrates our wisdom and maturity. Embracing our gray is our starting point to say that women over 50 can be attractive, strong, and happy. Most of us remember our own grannies (or, at least, if we don’t - somebody else’s grannies) as elegant old ladies. And at this time, many, if not most, female lawyers and doctors go naturally gray as they age. Hey, even Hollywood is changing somewhat on this question - what with Jamie Lee Curtis and Meryl Streep!
--Gray is healthy and eco-friendly. Hair dye box labels show a wide variety of unpronounceable chemical substances. When these are applied to the head, some of it permeates the scalp, and there are realistic fears that this may be a cause of cancer. Even if we think that not all hair color products are extraordinarily dangerous for users, few can deny that we surely harm the earth by throwing all those dyes down the drain where they concentrate in our groundwater.(We're talking about more than 100 million users, here.)
-- And finally, going gray is what you make of it. When you reach retirement, you’re undoubtedly of the age to have some very special people calling you grandma or grandpa, as the case may be. (I, for one, would like all my friends and relatives and particularly my grand daughters to see me as a healthy, mature person, who has most, if not all, of her faculties, and is prepared to grow old naturally without fear and loathing.)

"FROM-SCRATCH" RECIPE FOR OCTOBER

Roasted Vegetable Soup


4 medium tomatoes, halved
1 cup green beans, stringed but uncut
3 medium carrots, halved
2-3 medium zucchini, squash or eggplant, halved or quartered
Small amount of olive oil - to taste
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 cups vegetable stock or 4 cups water with 2 consume cubes (can be vegetable or chicken)
1 cup fresh spinach
2 tbsp. parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. paprika or chili pepper
Salt (sea salt is best) and black pepper to taste
Optional: ½ tsp. basil or thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the veggies in an ovenproof pan or dish. Toss lightly with oil to coat the vegetables. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, add garlic and toss. Return veggies to oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so until the vegetables are lightly browned.If oven baking is more than you can stand in the hottest time of the year, roast veggies the Mexican way on a comal (or any heavy grill pan you have on hand). Place veggies on the hot grill pan with a light brushing of oil (or none at all) and turn occasionally until browned - but not burned.

When the veggies are nicely roasted, take them out and put them in a large pot. Add vegetable stock, paprika, spinach, a bit more oil if you like, parsley or cilantro and other seasonings. Simmer at medium heat for about a half hour, stirring from time to time. Don’t overcook it. Optional thickening can be done with a small amount of cornmeal or a couple of tablespoons of blended beans or peas.

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