Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healthy Fudge

This recipe was graciously provided by my friend Julie, who has the most amazing kitchen, children, and heart. Oh, and husband. And Messiah!

But I digress. We spent the night at their place recently and were treated to something delicious from the freezer - what they called "Healthy Fudge." It's kept in the freezer because the coconut oil is very slippery the closer it gets to room temperature.

Here's the recipe:

Healthy Fudge
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 c. virgin coconut oil (halfway melted)
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. raw honey
pinch salt

You can process this all together in a food processor or with a hand mixer, whatever you have handy. Get it mixed well and pour it into a buttered 8x8 glass pan, set in the freezer until hardened, and then very carefully cut with a sharp knife.

A couple of variations:

Add 1/2 to 3/4 chopped nuts of your choice, raw or toasted


Add 1/4 c. coconut flakes, 1 T. curry powder, and 1/4 t. cayenne powder

Don't worry about how long it will keep, because it won't last long ;-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Girls are Finally Laying!

The ten chicks David came home with last April, along with the four additional ones I bought, have been whittled down to eleven. One of the Rhode Island Red chicks died when it was about a month old (it was a puny thing, and I don't think its digestive tract was very well formed), and we found homes for the two Rhode Island Red roosters.

If you've ever had an RIR rooster, you'll know what a great yard boss they can be. But we kept the Buff Orpington rooster because he was a bit gentler with the girls and he doesn't make quite the noise they did. In our neighborhood (lots are five acres) we felt our neighbors would appreciate the quieter bird as well.

But now the girls (four Buff Orpintgons, four Auracanas, and two RIRs) are finally laying, and we're getting about 3-6 eggs a day. While the eggs are mostly small (though some of them are medium sized by now), and we're used to eating fresh large eggs from a local producer, we still are getting a few more eggs than we can use in a week.

With the fall coming on, and the inevitable reduction in laying that will occur over the winter, I've chosen to freeze the eggs for later use. No, I did not freeze them in the shell, but cracked them into the individual slots of a ice cube tray.

(Yes, those are pumpkins, which I'm going to bake today and freeze the pulp, or figure out how to can, since I've never done pumpkin before).

Here's a closer view of the frozen gems:

Supposedly these egg cubes will work just as well as fresh eggs in baked goods as well as scrambled or fried. We'll see!

I'm guessing this would work just as well when you find eggs on sale and you can't pass up six dozen and don't exactly know what to do with them all. But I'll post an update when I actually use them to let you know how well they hold up as compared to fresh eggs.

But now, for a recipe. When I was in college, I roomed with a girl who grew up in Brooklyn and who had all kinds of recipes I loved. Her chicken and dumplings were to die for! I mean, who knew that Bisquick could taste so good? Of course, my palate has changed, and I don't eat Bisquick any longer, but one of the ways she ate eggs struck me as interesting and remains one of my favorites.

She simply cracked three-minuted eggs over buttered toast, poured a bit of melted butter over the whole thing, and finished it off with fresh cracked pepper. Yikes! It was delicious! But my internal food snob had to tweak the recipe to make it not only more nutritious but also more visually appealing. Here's what I do.

Broccolini and Eggs
Serves 2

Four strips turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 small red onion, chopped
Two garlic cloves, sliced
Five stalks store-bought broccolini, or half a pound of fresh picked from the garden, trimmed and chopped
One small zucchini, quartered and sliced
Half a yellow bell pepper, diced
Two or three leaves of Russian kale, washed and thinly sliced
Two large Roma tomatoes, diced, or half a cup of homemade dried tomatoes in olive oil
Four pieces of buttered toast (I use nine grain bread) or a slice of buttered flat bread, toasted and cut into bite-sized pieces
Your choice of hard cheese, grated, a tablespoon per plate
Four eggs, soft-boiled to your preference of doneness

Cook the bacon and set aside to cool; break into bite-sized pieces. Saute the onion in 1/2 T. butter and 1 T. EVOO until soft. Toss in the garlic and soften it for a minute. Add the broccolini, zucchini, and bell pepper, and don't overcook it. Toss in the kale and tomato and give it another minute or two. You don't want mush, you want lightly but adequately cooked vegetables.

While the vegetables are cooking, toast the bread and butter it and using a large chef's knife, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Lay that in a serving bowl (I use a restaurant-style salad bowl) and divide the bacon and vegetables up between the two bowls. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of hard cheese (I like organic kosher Parmesan) and set aside.

Cook your softboiled eggs the way you like them. Crack the shells and scoop the eggs on top of the bread-vegetable mixture. If you must, drizzle a bit of melted butter on top, or use a bit of the olive oil from your homemade dried tomatoes. Finish with a healthy grind of fresh black pepper, or a few squirts of Sriracha hot sauce.

This makes an excellent meal any time of day, but we particularly enjoy it for a quick weeknight supper.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Lesson of Yosef and the Well-Stocked Pantry

And Yosĕph said to Pharaoh, "The dream of Pharaoh is one. Elohim has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years – it is one dream. And the seven lean and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads scorched by the east wind are seven years of scarcity of food.

This is the word which I spoke to Pharaoh: Elohim has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. See, seven years of great plenty are coming in all the land of Mitsrayim, but after them seven years of scarcity of food shall arise and all the plenty be forgotten in the land of Mitsrayim. And the scarcity of food shall destroy the land, and the plenty shall not be remembered in the land, because of the scarcity of food following, for it is very severe.

And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the word is established by Elohim, and Elohim is hastening to do it.

And now, let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Mitsrayim. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint overseers over the land, to take up one-fifth of the land of Mitsrayim in the seven years of plenty. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

And the food shall be for a store for the land for the seven years of scarcity of food which shall be in the land of Mitsrayim, and do not let the land be cut off by the scarcity of food."

And the word was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, "Could we find another like him, a man in whom is the Spirit of Elohim?" (B'reshith 41:25-38)

Last Shabbat we covered this passage from the Torah portion Mikeitz, and discovered many interesting things - the relationship between the fine looking fat cows and Rachel and the ugly gaunt cows and Leah, the reason why the rabbis say a dream is detailed twice in scripture (once is for that day, once is for a future time), the coming famine of the word as mentioned in the eighth chapter of Amos. And many other interesting things too, as we have an excellent teacher.

But, he is not in charge of a pantry. So he did not mention an important detail.

In the passage above I find a principle which I have sought diligently to apply as a wife and homemaker. That is, preparing for the worst of times while we can, so that we can not only take care of ourselves but also those who may not have "seen it coming" like we did. Specifically, the taking of one fifth of the produce of the land during the time of plenty for storage when the lean years arrive.

This is a very easy principle to apply to your weekly grocery shopping. Say if you average $150 a week at the grocery store, you take one fifth of that, or $150 x .20 = $30 and you use $30 of your budget to buy food for long-term storage. You buy things your family actually eats, in bulk, when it's on sale, and you package it properly and store it away in whatever place you can. Well, what about the $30 that I needed to spend on this week's food? Learn to do it on less. There's plenty of information available for how to trim the cost of your food budget. Change your palate. Eat more beans and rice; in fact, it's not only better for you than meat, but nearly the entire world's population survives on it. You can too.

Take advantage of whatever dirt you have and grow some food. Containers abound; use what you can find. Learn to compost your kitchen waste so you have soil amendments for free. Get a few chickens who will not only give you eggs but manure for your garden beds. Be creative! Last spring I was growing lettuce in my flowerboxes instead of pansies because, frankly, lettuce tastes better on a sandwich than a pansy. And even though it's blazing hot outside, it's the perfect season for getting another crop of green beans in. Get some carrots and beets in so you can dig them up later this fall. Pretty soon you can put in broccoli and spinach, as well as lettuce sets; get them going inside the house in containers from which you can transplant them. Take stock of your day. Do you really, really need to do your nails? Or would your time be better spent getting your household in order? You can grow food! You can try and fail and get better and learn and try again. This is the way it goes. It can be done.

I have friends who do not have much storage space, so they use the area under their bed. Others make use of the space under their stairwells. How many board feet of shelving can you put up on the bare wall? Probably enough to hold six months' worth of food. Designate an area in your house that is dedicated to food (and water, and soap, and TP) storage, and prepare yourself. Develop a mindset that sees the meaning of Pharaoh's dream, and is wisely stewarding for the days ahead.

Why? Let's just take a look at how much just food prices have increased in the last year.

All cuts of beef - 8.2%
Ground beef - 11%
Chicken - 2.1%
Turkey - 6.6%
Eggs - 11.1%
Fish - 8.2%
Milk - 10.2%
Cheese - 6.9%
Ice cream - 6.6%
Butter - 21.7%
Bananas - 5.8%
Potatoes - 11.6%
Tomatoes - 10.9%
Cereal - 5.2%
Sugar - 4.0%
Coffee - 17.6%
Oils - 9.7%

Let me ask you. Has your income gone up to account for these price increases? I suspect not. In fact, I know some of you are not working this year like you were last year, so your income has decreased. Inflation is up, 3.5% since last year, which doesn't sound like a lot, but over the last ten years? Up 27.5%. That means our dollar is worth about 3/4 of what it was ten years ago. Think about that. The price of gold is at a record high. Silver is going up. Oil is up. Natural gas is up. It may seem irrelevant to you, but all these things matter where your pantry is concerned.

I'm not going to tell you all the places you can go online to search for money-saving ideas (though there are some links here on this blog that will do just that). But I am urging you to take long-term food storage seriously.

Why? Well, maybe you should spend a little time in the Prophets to see what's coming. It's not pretty. And of course, there is this wisdom from the Proverbs:

"Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, o sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 'A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest' -- your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man." (Proverbs 6:6-11).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Salad - It's What's For Dinner!

In this heat, it's rare that I use the big oven except for canning. Instead, I have a small convection oven that is large enough for a 12-inch pizza, and since it doesn't heat up much, it gets quite a workout in the summer. This is it: Mine is an older model, slightly different, but it also has a rotisserie capacity for roasting a small chicken.

Why am I telling you about a convection oven in a post about salads? Because it's what I use to either heat up Perdue breaded chicken or to bake wild-caught salmon for topping the salad and adding the necessary protein for the dinner meal. Here's the chicken I use in a pinch -

but of course Trader Joe's wild caught salmon is also excellent in this salad (yes, I'm getting to it!). You could also used a cut of flat iron steak, cooked medium and cooled, then sliced up for piling on top of the salad.

Ramen Noodle Asian Coleslaw
Serves 4-5 for dinner, maybe 12-15 for a side salad


1 bag of angel hair cole slaw, rinsed and drained (I use this):

1/3 bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped
3 green onions, trimmed and roughly sliced
Half a bag of spring pea pods, washed and roughly chopped (you could also use snow pea pods, but I like the crunch and sweetness of the spring peas)
1/4 red or yellow or orange or green bell pepper, small dice
1 medium cucumber, prefereably from the garden so you can leave the peel on, but if store-bought, peeled, then quartered and sliced crosswise into bite-sized chunks
1 pkg of oriental flavor ramen noodles (no meat products, vegetarian)
3/4 to 1 cup of whole raw almonds, lightly toasted in either a skillet or in the convection oven, cooled and roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons of brown sesame seeds (unhulled); you can use hulled but the unhulled are more nutritious
Other options
1 finely grated carrot, or
1 cup of mixed micro greens (broccoli, arugula, radish, etc.), or
1 cup sunflower sprouts, or
1 cup chopped pea sprouts, or
1 cup your favorite lettuce, washed and torn

Keep in mind the more volume you have, the more salad dressing you'll need. The recipe I'm giving you will cover the main salad plus an additional 1 cup of greens.

1 packet of oriental ramen seasoning from the ramen noodles
2 T. brown sugar
2 t. soy sauce
1 T. toasted sesame oil (I use plain, but you could use hot pepper oil if you're adventurous)
1/4 c. peanut oil
3 T. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 T. mirin (Japanese rice wine, very sweet)
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. pepper

Place the dressing ingredients in a pint jar, put on the lid, shake vigorously. It's ready. You could also add a few drops of sriracha sauce if you like spicy.

Combine all the salad ingredients except the ramen noodles, sesame seeds, almonds, and meat. I use a 12-cup plastic container so I can shake it all up. When you're ready to serve, add the ramen noodles (place them first in a plastic sandwich ziplock and smash the heck out of them until they're in tiny pieces), the almonds, the sesame seeds, and the dressing. Put the lid on the container and shake it all up. You can then dish out the salad and put the sliced meat on top of it, or you could add the meat before you shake it all up. I do the latter if I'm taking it for a community meal.

This is a delicious salad, much requested by those who have tasted it, and quite filling for a dinner meal. Add a glass of sparkling grape or pear juice, or a tall cold glass of fresh mint iced tea, and enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheap Shampoo

Recently I became aware of the likely cause of my continual outbreak of itchy bumps on my neck and cheeks after I wash my hair. Apparently, the brand of shampoo I have used since college, Aveda, has gone and changed its shampoo base to some kind of crazy soy-based goo, to which I am highly allergic. I am so grateful to Nancy at Laura D's Day Spa who helped me figure this out. She recommended another brand of product, but being a bit skeptical about the whole thing - and a relentless cheapskate - I decided to research a bit and try some other homemade options.

From water-only, or WO, to baking-soda-based solutions, and lots of other recipes in between, I have been experimenting on my thick, fine, wavy, graying, past-shoulder-length hair. So far, I've settled on a baking-soda solution followed by a very dilute apple cider vinegar rinse. The results have been varied, mostly because I think my scalp is getting used to not being abused by chemicals, but overall I have been pleased with soft, clean, wavy locks which smell only slightly like a tossed salad ;-) I have yet to add the essential oil to the vinegar solution which my research tells me will make me smell nice. Patchouli-vinegar salad, anyone?

While I have yet to acquire a decent natural fiber bristle brush (remember, I'm a cheapskate, and those things are expensive!), I have been first massaging my scalp, then brushing my hair gently (with my cheap Walmart brush) from scalp to end, trying to move the scalp oil down the length of the hair shaft, before I shower. I've been doing this as it supposedly is a natural conditioner our bodies produce and if we would just stop using all those crazy (ridiculously expensive or outlandishly cheap, it doesn't matter) hair products, our hair would be its natural self.

So far, I have been pleased with the cost (next to nothing) as well as the results. Here's my recipe:

  • 2 Tablespoons of baking soda spooned into a clean Annie's salad dressing 8-ounce jar, filled with warm water (the mouth is wide enough that I don't need a funnel)
  • Same jar filled about 1/4 way with Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar, filled with warm water

First I dump the baking soda solution on my already-wet hair while I'm in the shower. The weirdest part is not having bubbles, but hey! Who needs bubbles if your hair gets clean without them? I find that the 8 ounces is just enough to cover my scalp, which is really the only part I'm concerned about mechanically cleaning. Then I massage my scalp a bit to "scrub" the baking soda into my scalp for a little cleaning action.

Then I rinse it all out and make up the vinegar solution. Tipping my head back (don't want to get vinegar in my eyes, it could sting) I pour the entire bottle on my scalp, just as I did with the baking-soda solution. I rinse it out well and let it drip dry in the shower a bit.

Once I'm done showering, I wrap my head in a thick cotton towel and let my hair dry in the towel (about 10 minutes into it, I flip the towel around so the dry part is on my head and the wet part makes the twist, which makes it hold in place better). I let my hair dry in the towel for about half an hour, then gently unfold the towel and let my hair just fall wherever it wants to so it can finish air drying.

I do NOT play with my hair as it dries as it interferes with the natural curl setting in. Once it's nearly dried, I bend at the waist and let my hair hand down, and slowly massage my scalp and work any dampness out with a gently shaking with my fingers to lift the hair from my scalp. Gently, I work my fingers through my hair to the ends, but am very careful not to break any parts that are sticking. I just work through it slowly, once, and then stand up and let it continue drying undisturbed.

Voila! Clean hair for probably half a penny!

Monday, March 21, 2011

What is Leaven?

"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Yisra’ĕl." (Shemot/Exodus 12:15)
So how do we cause leaven to cease from our homes during this pre-Pesach season? What is involved here? I will try to answer from a Biblical perspective rather than a Jewish one, for I do see some differences which I feel are either incomplete or somewhat loophole-ish (is that a word?).
From the text we can see that we need to do something about yeast and other types of leavening that exist within our homes. Time for a good spring cleaning, an examination of the pantry, and a subsequent removing of the physical leavening. Of course, as we do all this, we should be reminded of the deeper spiritual truth of the season - namely, examining our own internal “cupboards” and removing from us the sin that so easily besets us, and ingesting only that which is unleavened. Both of these activities involve decisions and commitment to those decisions. The labor involved in spring cleaning is just a picture of the kind of “work” regularly required to keep our spirits “clean.”
Enough preaching. So what is physical leavening? For our purposes, there is leaven and there is leavened bread. There is the thing that causes leavening, and there is the thing that is leavened. There is quite an interesting discussion of this subject here.
Biblically speaking, let’s look at these verses:
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Yisra’ĕl. (Shemot/Exodus 12:15)
For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, that same being shall be cut off from the congregation of Yisra’ĕl, whether sojourner or native of the land. (Shemot/Exodus 12:19)
In verse 15, two words we need to examine: leaven, and leavened bread. Leaven is Strong’s H7603, שְׂאֹר, a shin, an aleph, and a resh. Two front teeth, the head of an ox, and the head of a man. Somehow from this we get to the meaning of “ferment.” It will have to be left up to greater minds than mine to explain that! But sa’or, or leaven, in this context was wild yeast. And “what is leavened,” or chametz, is in this context anything containing yeast.
During this season, many restrict the definition of leaven just to yeast, but I believe we have additional leaven in our pantries that needs to be addressed that our ancestors did not have to deal with. Here is a short but not comprehensive list of leaven that typically can be found in a cupboard or refrigerator/freezer:

Baking yeast, cake or dry
Baking powder
Cream of tartar
Tartaric acid
Calcium acid phosphate
Sodium acid phosphate
Sodium aluminum phosphate
Baking soda
Sodium bicarbonate
Ammonium carbonate
Powdered baking ammonia
Carbonate of ammonia
Egg whites, when whipped stiff, act as leavening

As I said, this is not a comprehensive list, but if your food labels indicate a chemical that you can barely pronounce, you may want to look it up to see what it is. Even if it's NOT leaven, you may not want to eat it! My general rule is, "When in doubt, leave it out." Of course, that's an equally applicable rule in technical writing, but I digress ;-)
Where does leavening hide? This is an interesting question. When I first started keeping the moedim, I researched the subject, and came up with this:

Prepared foods
Breads, crackers, cereals
Baked goods
Soups and gravies
Liquid seasonings
Toothpaste and deodorant
Cleaning products
Bath salts and body products
Detergents and soaps
Septic tank products

Being the religious type that I am, I had added the non-food items because sometimes they contain baking soda or yeast. My husband tried to teach me that the leaven was not acting as leaven in these products, so it was permissible. But I just couldn’t help it, I didn’t want any leaven in the house! Never mind that I forgot to clean out the toaster oven that year, and had plenty of leavened crumbs after Pesach! Now I understand this differently, and include only “what is leavened” with the intent of it being leavened, such as food products.
Are there things that sound like leavening, but are not? Perhaps you can consider these. Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are by-products of beer fermentation and rich source of vitamins, especially B-complex. They have no leavening properties. Also, autolyzed yeast extract is yeast that has broken down to release its insides, in this case monosodium glutamate. Found in many prepared foods, it has no leavening properties.
So what do you do with the sa’or and the chametz when you find it? You can start now by eating up all your crackers and breads and such, and you can stop making yeast bread for freezer storage. Of course, we are at that time of year when it is getting warmer, and we want to fit into our "summer clothes," so the additional carbs may not be something you want to take in. Be prudent but not wasteful.
Check your freezer and refrigerator and your pantry and your cupboards, and read all your labels. Set aside all leaven and all leavened products. If you have unopened products that contain leaven which you know you will not eat up before Pesach, you can donate it to a food bank. But I do this only if I think it will be consumed before Pesach, which means I normally do this in late February/early March.
Somehow, and maybe it’s just my own personal eccentricity, I just don’t feel it is appropriate to dump all my leavened products off at the food bank the day before Pesach. Oh, that it would it be that there was no leaven in the food banks during Pesach as well! For the Torah applies to all – the native and the stranger who sojourns with us, as we can see from the passage from Exodus. But not everyone has this conviction, and I'm not prescribing it for you. Pray and seek wisdom if you are perplexed, and He will straighten you out ;-)
Which brings me to religious loopholes. I do not advise “selling” your chametz online and exchanging money but keeping the leaven in your house, then buying it back after Pesach. This seems to me a suspicious legal technicality that would have been the kind of thing Yeshua (my Rabbi) would have taught against when He was teaching in the Temple. There are many who do not follow Exodus 12:19 precisely and who believe that much of the Torah does not apply to non-Jews. Regardless, if we are following Torah, we must remove the sa’or and the chametz from our homes, and not sell them to the “goyim” simply to buy them back at a later time.
Which is why it is important to have rule and reign over your pantry!
Below are two recipes for unleavened bread, though the first involves more ingredients than flour and water. I provide one with those simple ingredients as well.
Not-the-bread-of-affliction Unleavened Bread Recipe
5 c. flour (whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat, unbleached white, or some combination of these)
½ c. cream
1 c. organic extra virgin olive oil OR ½ c. oil and 1 stick salted butter, melted
4 T. sugar OR 4 T. honey
1 c. whole milk
¼ t. salt

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and blend with oil, milk, and cream. Stir liquid into dry ingredients and knead well. Let rest 10 minutes. Roll out on floured board, cut into desired shapes, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 °F until lightly browned. Store in a tightly sealed container.
Good-old-bread-of-affliction Unleavened Bread Recipe
2 c. flour (whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat, unbleached white, or some combination of these)
2/3 c. water

Combine the flour and water and knead 10 minutes. Cut the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin on a floured board to form 6-inch (15 mm) circles. Pierce the dough disks with a fork at 1-inch intervals and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 425°F (220°C) oven for 7 minutes or until discs are lightly colored, blistered and crisp. Store in a tightly sealed container.
Finally, let us be reminded of the words of Rav Shaul, as he tells us what to do with the leaven once we find it (1 Corinthians 5:7-8):
Get rid of the old chametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the Seder not with leftover chametz, the chametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth.
As always, your comments are welcome, and if you have any additional insights, or corrections, or recipes, please post them. Shalom!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Woman's Work

I've been reading Woman to Woman by Rebbetzin Esther Greenberg in hopes of getting a fresh perspective on what my Father desires of me as I keep my home. Some ideas from her book, along with some recent encounters with various women on the subject of homemaking, have prompted this post. Be forewarned, it’s a little strong, kind of like the coffee I drink in the morning ;-)

Let me explain what I mean by "keep." It's a lot more than pushing a broom and cleaning the bathrooms. From the beginning, we see two principles at work for us to grasp in our daily walk: having an authoritative rule over our domain, and guarding it. These principles come from Bereshith/Genesis 1:28 and 2:15.

"And Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said to them, "Bear fruit and increase, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over all creatures moving on the earth." (1:28)

"And יהוה Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Ěḏen to work it and to guard it." (2:15)

We’ll skip the implications of birth control and the admonition to be fruitful and multiply for now. And please don’t assume because you don’t see “the woman” in 2:15 that this verse implies she is not involved. Not many verses later, we see the Creator bringing her into existence to be man’s ezer, one to complete him so together they can carry out His mandate.

From the Complete Word Study Dictionary, the word in 1:28 that gets translated "subdue" is Strong's H3533, "kabash, a verb meaning to subdue, to bring into subjection, to enslave. It means basically to overcome, to subdue someone. It is used to describe God's mandate to humans to subdue the created order (Gen 1:28). It describes Israel's taking of the Promised Land, Canaan (Num 32:22, Num 32:29; Jos 18:1). King David subjugated the land (2Sa 8:11) … It is used once of Haman's supposed assault on Queen Esther (Est 7:8). It is used in its causative stem to indicate subduing or subjugating peoples (Jer 34:11). It is used figuratively of the Lord's subduing, removing, crushing the iniquities of His people (Mic 7:19). It is used of the Lord's people overcoming their enemies with His help (Zec 9:15)."

As is usual with Hebrew words, kabash can have a negative or a positive connotation, depending on the context. (As a side note, I think this is from where the phrase to "put the kibosh" on something comes).

Again from the CWS Dictionary, the word in 2:15 that gets translated "guard" is Strong's H8104, "shamar, a verb meaning to watch, to keep, to preserve, to guard, to be careful, to watch over, to watch carefully over, to be on one's guard. The verb means to watch, to guard, to care for. Adam and Eve were to watch over and care for the Garden of Eden where the Lord had placed them (Gen 2:15); holy things were to be taken care of dutifully by priests (2Ki 22:14). The word can suggest the idea of protecting:  David gave orders to keep Absalom safe (1Sa 26:15; 2Sa 18:12); the Lord keeps those who look to Him (Psa 121:7). The word can mean to simply save or to preserve certain items; objects could be delivered to another person for safekeeping (Gen 41:35; Exo 22:7). The word also means to pay close attention to: Eli the priest continued to observe Hannah's lips closely as she prayed (1Sa 1:12; Isa 42:20)."

Well, there it is. We are to bring things into subjection as we pay close attention to and protect our homes. Would that be a reasonable definition of a homemaker? Or should we try to extend the definition to cover doing two jobs by working outside the home while trying to "keep" our homes as well? Have you ever noticed how the tension level goes up in a home where there are disagreements between spouses over the "division of labor" when the wife works outside the home? Has it occurred to you that this might influence the feminization of men and predispose us to usurp their authority? Have you wondered how this applies to the woman who is single and perhaps parenting solo? Or the man who insists that his wife work outside of the home? (Those subjects will be covered in a separate post, but much of what I have to say here applies as well).

Unfortunately, the lies of our adversary come at us from all directions, and have for a very long time, telling us that "woman's work" is somehow demeaning and unimportant. As a consequence, many of us have at one time or another allowed ourselves to be seduced (and ultimately distracted) from our homes. Our adversary certainly knows how to tempt us to fall prey to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. And what happens? We lose our way, and our faith is oftentimes weakened by our own disobedience. Ouch. I said it. Going outside His order is disobedience. Do we not believe that we are living in a black and white world with our Creator? Or are we going to insist on having our own way? Which, He will give to us, but often it comes without His blessing.

How can we more effectively demonstrate a loving trust toward Jehovah Jireh, our provider, to bring us everything we need for life and godliness? How can we model to our children and our neighbors the kind of faithful trust and submissive respect toward our husbands that is required for a harmonious home? What needs to happen in our hearts so that we can allow our husbands to care for us without feeling bad about it? Are we willing to examine the grief we cause our husbands – and ourselves – with our independent spirit? How can we stop insisting on having more than what He provides for, and be content with the boundaries He has given us? Do we truly understand the magnificent design He has implanted in us? Have we honestly and deeply considered the enormous responsibility He has given us, that of showing to the nations His great care for us by the biblical outworking of our marriages? And how can we be in agreement with that when we pursue employment outside our homes?

Am I asking too many uncomfortable questions? Will you write me off as an “idealist” and perhaps disregard the plain teaching of scripture?

The phrase “woman’s work” can have a positive or negative connotation, depending on the context. I believe I have some understanding about what my work is and how it is distinct from my husband’s work. For example, I do not ask him to do any “housework,” for that is my domain. Besides, if he puts the dishes away from an honest desire to help me, I sometimes cannot find what I’m looking for, because he does not understand my “flow” in the kitchen. So I've thanked him for his concern and have encouraged him to start a compost pile and turn over the garden beds, which actually is a help to me. Likewise, I limit my activity in his backyard shed to the area he has set aside for my gardening tools and supplies. Do I go out there and try to organize or clean up his space? No, for that is his domain, and I would not want to disrespect him by enforcing my “rules” on him. That may sound ridiculous to some, but respecting boundaries and living fully within our domain is an important concept that our Father wants us to learn. Unfortunately, the Bible is replete with examples of what happens when we live outside of His order, when we move those "ancient boundary stones."

As I have come to understand my role as a homemaker, and to walk it out from a growing sense of love and obedience toward my Creator, I have seen an amazing transformation in my husband. But that is the subject of a different post for another time. But when I hear that phrase “women’s work” spoken negatively, or see the attitude that agrees with that connotation, I hear an echo of the original first lie from the garden, the one that tricked us and has worked continuously to keep us from fulfilling our mandate as His women.

I’ll admit, after I was married it took me a while to “unplug” from working outside the home. I had been supporting myself for many years and I had real issues with trusting my husband to not “lord it over” me if I wasn’t earning any outside income. It took me a while to see the depth of pride in my soul. There was a lot of anti-woman thinking in my brain that I had to get rid of as I came to fulfill my role as a wife. And to be honest, for awhile he expected me to work, as we do not have any children and what was I going to do at home all day anyway? But he has seen the fruit of it, and honestly, my being home has given him a much stronger sense of his own responsibility as provider and protector.

As I have learned to live within the bounds of my Father’s provision that comes to me by the hard work of my husband, I have become a much better manager of money and resources. And the benefits of my being home far outweigh any paycheck I could get from working for someone else besides my husband (and my Creator) outside of my home. And amazingly, it has allowed both of us to pursue fulfilling our callings and has brought us together in ways we could have never predicted or “worked up” on our own through human agreement. It’s been a true knitting together by our Creator as a consequence of our obedience to His design.

It is always instructive to watch someone’s reaction when I tell them I am a homemaker. This is usually in response to "Where do you work?" as if I naturally would be working somewhere outside my home. Feminists (and men sympathetic to them) in almost all cases immediately put up their guard and get a haughty, defensive spirit. “Oh, that’s good for you, but don’t put that stuff on me!” It is doubly heartbreaking to watch professing believers’ attitudes toward me when they hold – even unwittingly – feminist beliefs or worse, when they don’t trust our Father – and thus their husbands – to care for them. I believe this stems from a belief that either such work is demeaning, or deeper still, from an unfulfilled longing for the protective covering of a loving husband and the responsibility of caring for him. But this longing can be fulfilled through submission to His design.

Some women have always understood “their place” and have not been offended by it. I used to be offended by it, because I believed the lies of the adversary instead of the words of my Father. Still others are being drawn in these last days to their rightful domain, like the woman working the intake desk at the hospital yesterday morning. When she asked me where I worked, and when I told her I was a homemaker, she gave me the "thumbs up" sign, and perhaps the glance at her wedding ring was subconscious. It was nice to see approval, for a change! But how much more would be in store for her if she were willing to go home and guard her home!

Do you know how many women I’ve heard wistfully express the longing to be home with their children? You see them everywhere, weary and struggling, health suffering and spiritual lives flagging, yearning for a touch from above. But does He really approve of their being outside their domain? Would He not rather see His women in line with the pattern He has established?

You cannot imagine the number of women I have met over the years who have told me they never learned to properly cook or sew or garden or, in short, guard her home. They blame their mothers or the fact that Home Ec was taken out of the curriculum ;-) When my own mother was at home, she was able to teach me things. When she was working (trying to “find herself,” in the ‘70s vernacular), she was unavailable to me in so many ways. So I have had to learn on my own, and from other women who understand their calling as homemakers.

What is our benchmark, our scriptural standard, our guide in all of this? We can turn to this familiar example from the Proverbs:

א Who can find a capable wife? Her value is far beyond that of pearls.
Eshet chayil mi yimtza v'rachok mip'ninim michrah
ב Her husband trusts her from his heart, and she will prove a great asset to him.
Batach bah lev ba'lah v'shalal lo yechsar
ג She works to bring him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
G'malathu tov v'lo ra kol y'mei chayeiha
ד She procures a supply of wool and flax and works with willing hands.
Darshah tzemer ufishtim vata'as b'chefetz kapeiha
ה She is like those merchant vessels, bringing her food from far away.
Haitah ko'oniyot socher mimerchak tavi lachmah
ו It's still dark when she rises to give food to her household and orders to the young women serving her.
Vatakom b'od lailah vatiten teref l'vetah v'chok l'na'aroteiha
ז She considers a field, then buys it, and from her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Zam'mah sadeh vatikachehu mip'ri chapeiha nat'ah karem
ח She gathers her strength around her and throws herself into her work.
Chagrah v'oz motneiha vat'ametz zro'oteiha
ט She sees that her business affairs go well; her lamp stays lit at night.
Ta'amah ki tov sachrah lo yichbeh balailah nerah
י She puts her hands to the staff with the flax; her fingers hold the spinning rod.
Yadeha shilchah vakishor v'chapeiha tamchu felech
כ She reaches out to embrace the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
Kapah parsah le'ani v'yadeiha shil'chah la'evyon
ל When it snows, she has no fear for her household; since all of them are doubly clothed.
Lo tira l'vetah mishaleg ki chol betah lavush shanim
מ She makes her own quilts; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Marvadim astah lah shesh v'argaman l'vushah
נ Her husband is known at the city gates when he sits with the leaders of the land.
Noda bash'arim ba'lah b'shivto im ziknei aretz
ס She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchants with sashes.
Sadin astah vatimkor vachagor natnah lak'na'ani
ע Clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.
Oz v'hadar l'vushah vatischak l'yom acharon
פ When she opens her mouth, she speaks wisely; on her tongue is loving instruction.
Piha patchah v'chochma v'torat chesed al l'shonah
צ She watches how things go in her house, not eating the bread of idleness.
Tzofi'ah halichot betah v'lechem atzlut lo tochel
ק Her children arise; they make her happy; her husband too, as he praises her:
Kamu vaneha vay'ash'ruha ba'lah vay'hal'lah
ר "Many women have done wonderful things, but you surpass them all!"
Rabot banot asu chayil v'at alit al kulanah
ש Charm can lie, beauty can vanish, but a woman who fears Adonai should be praised.
Sheker hachen v'hevel hayofi ishah yir'at Hashem hi tit'halal
ת Give her a share in what she produces; let her works speak her praises at the city gates. 
T'nu lah mip'ri yadeiha vihal'luha vash'arim ma'aseha

Known as the Woman of Valor Hymn, or Eshet Chayil, these verses instruct us toward an ideal that can be reached only by His help. Some believe Solomon wrote down this eulogy for Sarah that Abraham had spoken long before. It is often read by the husband to the wife before the erev Shabbat meal. Most women read it and either roll their eyes (this must have been written by a man!) or groan inwardly at their own shortcomings (and fail to humble themselves in order to receive the measure of spirit required to be transformed). But I encourage you to meditate on these things and honestly listen to what He is saying to you. And then, like a good Hebrew woman, to obey what He is telling you to do.

I do believe homemaking will come naturally to any woman as she submits herself to the Creator’s design. But I’ve said that dirty little word again – submit – the one quality that is so pleasing to our Father and against which we all struggle in varying degrees. Oh, if only we could truly believe Him, trust Him, obey Him! There is such life to be had that can be gotten no other way but by submitting ourselves and following His path for us. And honestly? It will bring your man to a place you have always wanted him to be but have never with your words been able to convince him to go – to his God-given role as your cover and provider.

Do you think I'm too old-fashioned? Religiously zealous? Off base? Misinformed? Or have you learned something here that is of value to you? Your comments are always welcome. Shalom!

Friday, March 4, 2011

How to Get Blood Out of Your Meat

I found several places in Torah where we are told not to eat the blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; 7:26; 17:12, 14; 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23; 15:23). Since most of us do not slaughter our own animals for meat, we are left with the task of trying to get the blood out of the meat long after it's been killed, packaged, frozen, and driven to our local grocery store.

What to do? As is often the case when I have a question about how to run my kitchen, I turn to the Jewish people for help. I do make the attempt to get as much blood out of the meat by following the process outlined here. Keep in mind there is a process for fowl as well.

Today I am kashering a flat iron steak for tonight's erev Shabbat meal. I'm soaking the steak now and will do that for about an hour. Then I'll let it drain on a baking rack for a bit (in the sink) until it's just moist enough for kosher salt to stick. Then I'll cover it with a good bit of salt, not completely, because the blood has to drain out, but on all sides with enough salt to draw out the blood. I have a cutting board I use specifically for this process, slant it into the sink, and let the meat hang out there for another hour. Then it gets triple rinsed. At that point, the meat is ready for marinade or whatever I'm going to do to it (tonight I'm using this marinade).

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gelatin and Enzymes and Bugs - Oh My!

A while back someone asked me if Jell-O brand gelatin was kosher. Since I didn't know the answer, I started doing a little research. I went to the discussion group at Chowhound to see what I could find. There was a lively bit of disagreement within that community, which seemed to stem from one person's saying Jell-O brand gelatin was kosher, and another one saying it was not. So I studied some more.

Imagine my dismay as I read this story of how one person queried Kraft Foods about whether their Jell-O brand was kosher. The upshot? Supposedly, here's what the rabbi who provided the "kosher" certification stated:

December 23, 1996
Dear Mr. Swiger,
Gelatin is made from the skin and bones of animals - not the meat: as per information that I have enclosed, it can be considered Kosher, even if it starts with pork skins/bones.
Sincerely, Rabbi  S....G..... (name omitted by author)

I say "supposedly" because I never could track down the original author, though I am familiar with the publication in which his letter was published. Just a couple of weeks ago I was saying to someone, "I think these stories about rabbis certifying pork to be kosher must be out-and-out anti-Semitism!"

Since then, I've had correspondence with several sources, and it seems that the "K" without a circle is to be avoided. (I have not heard back yet from anyone at the Orthodox Union, but if I do, I'll post an update). My information comes from The Israel of God Research Committee out of Chicago. The reason to avoid this particular certification was not explained, but perhaps the Swiger letter may provide some insight. Or it may not. You never know when you are reading on the Internet, though as I said, The Herald is a publication out of Kennesaw, GA, and I'm familiar with the teacher who runs that ministry. He also teaches that we should keep the dietary laws, and perhaps that's why this was published, lest we find ourselves leaning solely on rabbinnical certifications to guide our choices. We have to know what is clean and what is unclean, per the scriptures, how to identify it on a food label, and how to query a manufacturer if we have questions. I believe it is the homemaker's job to do this, as she is typically the one who makes the food purchases.

UPDATE:  The OU did finally contact me, and they said "As a matter of policy, the OU does not share evaluation of other Hechsherim with the public for a variety of reasons. We suggest you discuss this question with your Rov."

Note:  All Pepperidge Farm products containing gelatin are unclean. Don't buy them. And for those of you who eat at the Olive Garden, beware. Any of their sauces containing meat have pork in them. Same thing for Pizza Hut and Dominos and a lot of other fast foods. Sorry.

One item I see folks ingesting, perhaps unknowingly, are Altoids mints. Here's the email I received from them:

Dear Ms Johnson,
Thank you for visiting and for your interest in our ingredients.
The different varieties of our ALTOIDS mints do contain very small quantities of gelatin which is derived from pork. Gelatin does not impart any flavor to ALTOIDS, but it's a necessary ingredient for the texture of the mint. When we use gelatin it is thoroughly purified and dried during its manufacturing process. Our staff is continually looking at alternatives to animal gelatin, but at the moment we've not been able to find a substitute that produces the same quality you've come to love with ALTOIDS.
Again, thanks for contacting us, and we hope you will visit us again soon!

Melissa Kepple
Consumer Care Representative

Just in case you find yourself wanting to pop an Altoids, you know what you're putting in your mouth. Don't grab an IceBreakers either, as they are also not kosher. Alternatives? TicTacs and Mentos, perhaps. But you should do your own research on your favorite breath mint to make sure our Father would approve ;-)

If you need gelatin for a recipe, use a certified kosher brand such as Elyon. As a side note, if you need marshmallows (which contain gelatin) for a recipe, use Elyon brand as well. It's all fish gelatin. If you must use a marshmallow creme, say for fantasy fudge, Marshmallow Fluff brand is probably the safest, as at least in the plain variety they don't put any artificial ingredients. One really never knows what kind of unclean thing they'll put in "artificial ingredients" and "natural flavoring" so it's best to avoid them. But that will be the subject of another post!

On to cheese. Oh, the problems I've had with cheese. I grew up in Northern Illinois, not far from the Wisconsin border, home of the largest population of skilled and licensed cheesemakers in the country (if you're interested, you can read about it here). In short, I love cheese. I have hardly met a cheese I didn't like, except Limburger, which was just a little too ripe for me (the bacterium used to ferment that particular type of cheese, Brevibacterium linens, is the same bacterium found on human skin thought to be responsible for body odor). Don't say yuk! You can't get cheese, or yogurt for that matter, without bacteria. So let's talk about that.

Start with milk. Add "good" bacteria according to the kind of taste you want to end up with (the lady I buy raw milk from uses cultures from here). Some add a coagulant (rennet, or blood), cook and separate out the whey, press and salt the curd and shape it as you wish. Age according to your recipe, and voila! You have cheese. Now, I know it's more complicated that that, but I say it simply to illustrate a point. Bacteria are used in cheese, and so is a coagulant. Sometimes, if I understand this correctly, bacterial enzymes are sufficient for coagulating the cheese, so rennet is not needed, and there are bacterial and vegetable sources of rennet in case you don't want to eat cheese coagulated from rennet found in the fourth stomach of an unweaned calf (which some folks call veal), for moral reasons. Not getting into all that. The point is, cheese contains enzymes and a coagulant. It's important that you know where these come from.

Many already know the Cabot brand, which carries a kosher certification from the Orthodox Union. It's nice to see a cheese maker actually certify kosher, which helps us make good choices. But not every manufacturer will go to the expense. So you have some digging to do.

A question I've asked many cheese manufacturers is "What is the source of the enzyme used in your cheeses?" Here's what I've found about cheeses commonly available in our grocery stores in the Central VA and Tidewater areas:

This, from Sargento:

Dear Ms. Johnson,
Thank you for your question.  Most Sargento shredded and sliced cheeses and most of our refrigerated Sargento Snacks natural cheese snacks are made with non-animal rennets.  The only Sargento natural cheeses that may contain animal enzymes are those that contain Romano, Provolone, Asiago, or Jarlsberg cheeses.  Those include: Artisan Blends Shredded Parmesan & Romano Cheese, 6 Cheese Italian Shredded Cheese, Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian Shredded Cheese, Artisan Blends Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese, Bistro Blends Shredded Italian Pasta Cheese, Deli Style Sliced Provolone Cheese, Deli Style Sliced Sharp Provolone Cheese, Deli Style Sliced Reduced Fat Provolone Cheese, Bistro Blends Shredded Mozzarella & Asiago Cheese with Roasted Garlic, and Deli Style Sliced Jarlsberg Cheese. The cheese dip in our non-refrigerated Sargento Snacks, Cheese Dip & Sticks, Cheese Dip & Pretzels, and Cheese Dip & Crackers, is made with beef rennet.  If you’re interested in knowing whether any other Sargento products contain animal products, you should know that Sargento Bistro Blends Shredded Sharp Wisconsin & Vermont Cheddar Cheese with Real Bacon contains bacon.
You'll find this information on in the Frequently Asked Questions:

The upshot? Sargento cheese, so long as they don't specifically say bacon, are okay for us to eat, because as their FAQ page says, they do not use pork or pork products in any of their cheeses.

This, from Saputo:

Dear Lori,
Thank you for contacting Saputo Cheese USA, Inc.!
All of our domestic products contain bovine milk and microbial (non-animal sourced) rennet with the exception of Ricotta Cheese. This is considered a "rennet less" cheese. The carrageenan, guar gum, modified food starch and distilled vinegar are plant based. Any residual rennet that may be present in the whey used in the production of Ricotta Cheese is microbial (non-animal sourced). Some of our products do contain lipase which is animal sourced (calf, kid or lamb). Lipase is usually found in our more intensely flavored cheeses. The following products do not contain lipase: Baby Swiss, Blue Cheese, Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Lorraine, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta, String Cheese and Swiss.
None of the cheeses produced by Saputo Cheese USA contain pork or pork products.
Please note that ingredients or changes in formulations may affect the above information and are subject to change without notice.
If you have any questions please contact us again.
Sherrie Shallow
Quality Assurance Specialist
Corporate Quality Assurance

Saputo brand includes Frigo, Lorraine, Stella, and Treasure Cave. Their labels look like this:

So at least at this time Saputo doesn't use pork in their cheese, though they do admit they can change without notice.

UPDATE:  I received the following info from Kraft:

Hi Lori,
Thank you for contacting me about the enzymes used in our cheese. Most of the cheeses we manufacture contain a microbiologically produced coagulating enzyme called chymosin. The process of converting milk into cheese is dependent on the use of this enzyme.
Our Sharp, Extra Sharp Cheddar and Romano cheeses may contain animal derived enzymes which assist in their flavor and texture development.
Other products utilize a microbial rennet which is derived from the growth of pure cultures of bacteria or mold. KRAFT Natural Swiss Cheese and KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese are example of products that contain this type of enzyme.
Soft cheeses utilize another method of coagulating milk by the growth of pure cultures of bacteria in the milk and the development of lactic acid. Our cream cheese products such as PHILADELPHIA BRAND Cream Cheese and Light PHILADELPHIA BRAND Neufchatel Cheese fall into this category.
I hope that this has given you some useful information.
Again, thanks for contacting us, and I hope you'll continue to enjoy our products.Kim McMiller
Associate Director, Consumer Relations

So I asked the question, "Can you tell me if your block and shredded cheeses also use those same enzymes?" and this is the response I got:

Hi Lori,
Here is the information I have on enzymes in our Kraft Cheeses. I hope it is helpful to you.  SHARP & EXTRA SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESES contain animal derived enzymes sourced from calf, kid, and lamb. These enzymes assist in flavor and texture development. The enzyme used is NOT a pork enzyme. The process of converting milk into cheese is dependent on coagulating through the use of this enzyme. Our enzymes are purchased from a reputable supplier.
GRATED ROMANO: Our Grated Romano cheeses do contain an enzyme which is of animal source.
KRAFT NATURAL SWISS & KRAFT GRATED PARMESAN - Kraft Natural Swiss and Kraft Grated Parmesan utilize microbial rennet which is NOT made with enzymes extracted from animal tissue - grated parmesan may contain lipase (from animal source). Please check ingredient line on the product packaging.
KRAFT SINGLES - We use enzymes in the cheese making process to make our cheese from milk. The milk ingredient is stated on the package in our ingredient line. These enzymes are sourced from both microbial fermentations and animal sources. The animal sources are cow, sheep and goat.
VELVEETA - The enzymes in Velveeta loaf may come from two sources; (1) isolated from microbial fermentations, and, (2) isolated from animal sources (cow, lamb, goat, but not from pork).
DELI DELUXE - The enzymes in Deli Deluxe cheese can come from two sources (1) isolated from microbial fermentations (2) isolated from animal sources (cow, lamb, goat, but not from pork).
If you haven’t done so already, please add our site to your favorites and visit us again soon!Kim McMiller
Associate Director, Consumer Relations

What about store brands? I have spoken to Kroger and Food Lion on the phone. Kroger said they use either pork or beef enzymes and do not distinguish between the two. Food Lion told me I would have to give them a particular UPC code before they could tell me. But if it's not spelled out on the label, and if they can't tell me in general, I'm going to avoid their products. This is not especially difficult because most grocery stores carry Sargento and Saputo brand cheeses. But if you have a favorite store brand cheese and you find out it's actually biblically permissible to eat, please drop me a note so I can update this post.

What about bugs? We are told in Leviticus 11 not to eat flying insects, with few exceptions (locusts and grasshoppers among them). Where in your diet will you find bugs? Of course, grain and pantry moths abound and you should always sift your flour before you use it, just in case you have creatures there that have escaped your notice. Since it's coming up on the spring cleaning, let's-get-the-leaven-out-of-the-house season, it might also be a good idea to see if you have any bugs in your food. Boxed cereal is notorious for its bug content (that's why those darned cereal bags are so hard to open!). If you have the room, you can freeze your flour, grains, and cereals (4-5 days should do it) to kill any of the critters, then sift (flour) or thresh (outside, in the wind) or (egads, I know) pour your cereal into a bow, add milk, and see if any bugs float to the top, then scoop them off. At least that's one one writer suggested. But they probably were not familiar with Leviticus 11:37-38. There's a principle there which seems to be saying "Don't eat cereal and milk if you see bugs!"

Sound like a lot of work? It is not an easy thing to keep a "clean" household. It goes way beyond getting up the dog hair (which we always have plenty of!) and swiping off the dust and germs.

Let's talk about toothpaste as well. Carmine is derived from insect wings and is sometimes used in various artificial colors. This also shows up in some cosmetics and lotions. The Israel of God web site provides a list here where you can check the various personal products and OTC medicines you might be using. You can also find a lot of information here through The Vegetarian Resource Group's Guide to Food Ingredients.

Do you see now why He has placed us in our homes? There is much to be learned, guarded against, and passed on to the next generation.