My Big Lesson from the Tiniest Creature – Plankton

Have you ever been in a season of life where you really understood the phrase “hard pressed on every side” that Paul used in 2 Corinthians? Those words have sharply defined my life over the past several months. I’ve been like a grape in a wine press. Work, finances, health, family… it was all just… hard.

Here’s what Paul said,

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 New International Version (NIV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

It’s clear from this passage of scripture that God knows our human existence can sometimes be hard. Now, let’s be honest. Occasionally, hard life situations are the result of choices that we’ve made, and there’s a natural consequence. But sometimes, we heard God say, “Go.” So we went. And then… it’s harder than we thought it was going to be. Have you ever experienced this?

During this recent “very hard” season, I heard myself saying, “I am only plankton in this ocean.” Plankton was the smallest, weakest, most insignificant thing I could think of. The third time I realized I had said it, I thought, “What am I saying about myself?” Because I know that my words have power. What I agree with, gains authority in my life. Had I just agreed with a lie?

So I did what anyone would do. I googled it. My friend, Google, (via http://www.Dictionary.com) told me this:
Plankton is the aggregate of passively floating, drifting, or somewhat motile organisms occurring in a body of water, primarily comprising microscopic algae and protozoa.

Okay. Yep. That was what I felt like. Microscopic. Only somewhat motile.

But the pictures….. wow. The pictures that came up…. I’d never heard of bioluminescent plankton.

Bioluminescence is used to evade predators and acts as a defense mechanism in dinoflagellates. They produce light when they are disturbed or under pressure. (www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/bioluminescence)

My search also revealed that the group of chemicals involved in making plankton glow are called luciferins. Which means “bringing the light.”

Bio – life
Lumin – light

Right away, I thought of the passage of scripture in John 1. Jesus is light. Jesus is life.

John 1:1-5, 9-13 The Message version puts it this way:
Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.

A few days later, someone at work said, “God must think a lot of you to put you in this position.”

I (somewhat jokingly) replied, “God must not remember who I am.”

Immediately, the Spirit of God spoke to my heart. “Oh, I know who you are. The question is, Do you know who I AM?”

Umm. Wow. I had to think about that. Do I know who God is? Do I believe that He is who He claims to be? Do I believe that He will do what He promises in His word? Or, had I – in all of the chaos of the current moments –  forgotten this essential truth?

Messiah – Jesus Christ – came so that I could be restored to a right relationship with God. He came so that I – merely by accepting this incredible gift – could become my child-of-God self. I want that. So… my answer is… Yes. I do believe that Jesus is who He says He is. And… I want to be who Jesus says I am. For me to be able to reflect Messiah – the Glory of God – I have to KNOW who He is.

The first thing I was taught as a child in church was that God is love. That sounds nice. But, I’m not sure I really understand the unchanging, unrelenting ferocity that God loves us with. And that He pours out to us the moment we say yes to Messiah. When we say yes to Messiah, we begin to reflect His nature.

1 Corinthians 13 defines this God-inspired love. And reminds me that God’s very nature is love.

I’m not sure I was doing a great job of reflecting God’s nature. But, I want to. I want to understand who God is, and I know that only then can I understand who I am.

God used the tiniest sea creature, plankton, to guide me into a deeper understanding of Who He is. 

Here are a few facts about plankton:

  • Plankton doesn’t sink.
  • Plankton floats on the waves.
  • Plankton nourishes others. In fact, all other living things in the ocean depend on the oxygen that plankton releases.
  • 80 % of the earth’s oxygen is produced by plankton.
  • When large groups of plankton form together, it changes the composition of the ocean.

I began to put 1 Corinthians 13 from the Message version together with the attributes of plankton.

Plankton doesn’t sink. My Child-of-God self – Plankton – trusts God. Always. Never looks back, but keeps going to the end. This is not done in my own strength, and not from “performance.” But instead, is accomplished by floating on God’s love. Trusting God. Trusting that God loves me.
Plankton floats on the waves. My Child-of-God self is still, and KNOWS God. My Child-of-God self is buoyed by God’s love even in the midst of giant waves and violent storms. God is love. God is good. God is bigger than any problem in my life. Bigger than any political issues. Bigger than hurricanes. Bigger than famine. God is bigger.
Plankton nourishes others. My Child-of-God self cares more for others than for itself, doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, isn’t always me first, doesn’t fly off the handle, puts up with anything.
Plankton sticks together. My Child-of-God self takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, bears one another’s burdens, encourages others, is patient, kind and dependable. I was reminded of a scene in the movie of Apollo 13, where astronaut Jim Lovell describes being guided safely back home in the Sea of Japan by the glow of bioluminescent plankton. One plankton alone couldn’t have done that. But a group, bonded together in unity? The life-light of those microscopic plankton changed a completely dark ocean into a beacon of hope.

Suddenly…. The pressure was off. I was freed from the “what ifs” and the “you’re not enough” thoughts that had been bombarding me. As I pondered the attributes of plankton, I realized that God’s love for me is not dependent on my own efforts. His loving-kindness towards me is absolute. Simply because I said yes to His gift of Jesus as my Life-Light and accepted His access into the arms of a loving God.

There will be other storms. And I will always be very small in this giant ocean of life. But I am not insignificant. I am loved by the Great I AM.

I choose to be like plankton, to float on top the crested waves, secure in the love of my Heavenly Father. I am still learning how to be who Jesus says I am. Loved, and able to love. Accepted, and accepting of others. Courageous, and able to encourage others. This is my true self, my Child-of-God self. This is plankton.

 

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Season of Forgiveness – Blog Tour This Week

Just to let you all know….

This week, my book, Season of Forgiveness is featured on these review sites. I know they’d love to have you drop by and read their reviews… And, if you feel like it, maybe leave a comment or two.

I’m very happy to be a part of the Cladach Publishing family, and to be able to participate in their annual Fall Fling!

Fall-Fling-2014

http://achristianbookwormreview.blogspot.com/2014/11/season-of-forgiveness-by-templa-melnick.html

http://asimplelifereally.blogspot.com/2014/11/review-season-of-forgiveness-bytempla.html

http://lyonslady.blogspot.com/p/books.html

http:reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/2014/11/season-of-forgiveness

http://jendisjournal.com/2014/11/04/season-of-forgiveness/

And just so you know, I did NOT pay any of these people to say nice things about my book. (And neither did my publisher!) So thank you, thank you, thank you… I am very glad you’re enjoying my story.

I am working hard on the second book and hope to share it with all of you SOON!

Blessings!

Templa

Front Cover

Front Cover

Multitasking Moms (and Dads)

“Working mothers” have existed since the day Eve started this whole shindig. It’s impossible to have children – especially babies – without an exponential increase in the daily work load. And regardless of how sophisticated our society has become, much of the increased work load falls on the moms. With a few notable exceptions, the woman of the house usually does the grocery shopping, packs lunches, does the laundry, takes the dog to the vet, makes sure the kids do homework and brush their teeth, and all the other piddly little things that need to be done to keep the modern family afloat. When a little one has a tummy ache or an ear ache, or the night-before-first-day-of-school jitters, one person seems to be bellowed at from the recesses of the dark hallway. And her name is “Mommy.”

Scientific studies have concluded (and generated a lot of controversy, I should add) that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. Well, yeah. Unless you’ve lived in a secluded bio-dome or under a rock, you’ve probably suspected as much. Aside from the obvious “if we were all the same, it would be boring”, there is good reason for men and women to function differently. I didn’t say one was better than the other. I believe we are designed to complement each other.

In the past, men’s roles were to protect and to provide for the family group (deterring attacks from dangerous animals or warring tribes, hunting, trading… all that good stuff.) Women often stayed a little closer to the home dwelling, and in addition to many other crucial tasks, traditionally had the care and feeding of children as a primary responsibility. Again…Well, yeah. Women are biologically equipped to feed babies. Men (as any father of a nursing baby can tell you) are in over their heads when the youngest member of the family gets hungry.

So, scientific data that suggests women are designed to “multitask” really shouldn’t surprise us. (Side note:  The term “multitasking” originated in the computer engineering industry. It refers to the ability of a microprocessor to process several tasks simultaneously. The first published use of the word “multitask” appeared in an IBM paper describing the capabilities of the IBM System/360 in 1965.)

Native American Indian women created functional and often beautiful carriers for their babies. These enabled them to take their babies with them while performing daily tasks such as scraping skins from the hunt, gathering berries and healing herbs, and cooking.   Multitasking. It’s not a new concept, just a fancy word that describes what women have been doing since the very beginning. Have you seen the National Geographic photos of beautiful African women with baskets on their heads and children in tow? How about the Vietnamese women in rice paddies with children on their backs? Through the years, women have come up with inventive ways to do several things at once. Why? Things had to be done!

 

 

TwinGo Carrier

TwinGo Carrier

Osage Twins circa 1900

Osage Twins circa 1900

Have you seen the modern upgrades to the old-fashioned baby boards? These savvy moms and dads are using a centuries old concept to keep their babies close and still have hands free for important daily tasks like cooking dinner and shopping. (This mom of triplets is amazing.  Wow. Just wow.)

In my research for Season of Forgiveness, I came across a very clever invention from the early 1900’s. It was a wringer washing machine with a cradle built onto the top of the wringer. As the lady of the house turned the crank to wring the water out of the clothes, it rocked the baby. (Alas, I did not get a picture.) Multitasking. Or, in the terminology of the day, survival.

Since my daughters-in-law (yes, that’s plural) are expecting and will be expanding our family soon, I’ve been thinking about all of the challenges and changes that come with babies. And so have they! They’ve read the latest books and blogs on parenting, busily prepared nurseries, and stocked up on diapers. The truth is, regardless of how prepared you are, and how much you want to be a parent, sometimes… it’s just hard. Especially those first few months. Anybody who tells you differently is lying. But…

If you keep it all in perspective (and here, I’m talking about perspective during the midnight meltdowns that most new parents experience at least once), I’m pretty sure some things are better now versus a hundred years ago. Disposable diapers, baby food in jars, washing machines that you don’t have to turn by hand, (and electricity in general!) not to mention ultrasounds, NICU, and all of the medical miracles we have today.

But by far the most important change, the MEN who have stepped up to take a more active role in parenting. Thanks daddies. Thank you for all of those late night diaper changes, the bedtime stories that only you do the right voices for, the horsey rides, and for all of the dozens of little things you do to keep the family rolling. Your kids will be better people because of you. Your wife will love you for it – and if she doesn’t, she should. And you, daddies, will have the joy of being a part of your children’s lives from the very beginning.

So, new moms: take courage! Women have been successfully mothering babies for eons. (Okay, not all of them did a great job – but you will.) Yes, it will be challenging. And even though you may be called upon to juggle corporate conferences and breastfeeding, or maneuver rush hour traffic with wailing twins in the backseat, you won’t have to strap the babies to your back while scraping a buffalo hide nor will you be required to rock the baby while squeezing dirty wash water out of your husband’s drawers. And another important change from a hundred years ago: your husbands know how to do laundry. Trust me. They do know how. But you might push your fancy sweaters to the back of the closet… at least for a little while .

 

Men Doing Laundry

Men Doing Laundry

 

Fermented Foods in the Old West

 

Fermented Foods in the Old West

The health benefits of fermented foods are being touted everywhere these days. And, yes. I’m on the fermented foods bandwagon, too. As I write this, I have a glass of home-brewed kombucha sitting next to me. (What’s kombucha, you ask? Kombucha is an “ancient fermented tea beverage” that has a natural effervescence (like bubbly carbonation) that is full of probiotics, antioxidants, B vitamins and so much more.)

So, what’s all the hype? Fermented foods are good for the gut, aid digestion, increase the nutrient value of many foods, and … have been a reliable way to preserve food for centuries. Fermented foods are certainly not a new concept.  Virtually all civilizations have had fermented foods as a part of their diet and culture. And not all fermented foods have their origins in other countries.

According to researchers at the Weston A Price Foundation, most of the Native American Indian tribes had at least one fermented food specialty.

The Cherokee “bread” consisted of nixtamal wrapped in corn leaves and allowed to ferment for two weeks.  Before you turn your nose up at this, you should be aware that this process increases the nutrient absorption, makes the corn easier to digest … and is similar to the process for masa that is used to create the ultimate comfort food – tamales. Mmmm.

 

Nixtamal

Nixtamal

English explorer, fur trader, naturalist and author Samuel Hearne describes a fermented dish consumed by the Chippewaya and Cree: “The most remarkable dish among them. . . is blood mixed with the half-digested food which is found in the caribou’s stomach, and boiled up with a sufficient quantity of water to make it of the consistence of pease-pottage. Some fat and scraps of tender flesh are also shred small and boiled with it. To render this dish more palatable, they have a method of mixing the blood with the contents of the stomach in the paunch itself, and hanging it up in the heat and smoke of the fire for several days; which puts the whole mass into a state of fermentation, which gives it such an agreeable acid taste, that were it not for prejudice, it might be eaten by those who have the nicest palates.” (Um, if you say so. But then again, salami is a fermented meat. And I haven’t ever turned my nose up at salami.)

Fermented meat

Fermented meat

In the Southwest, a drink called chichi was made with little balls of corn dough which the women chewed and added to water to produce a delicious, sour, fizzy fermented drink. (Sounds a little like kombucha – but instead of skoby, it has saliva as the fermentation catalyst. Ick.)

I’m not going to lie. The thought of those ladies sitting around, pre-chewing corn dough to make chichi makes me shudder. I appreciate the effort. I really do. I’m just not sure I’d be able to drink it. Ever. Even if it is tasty and good for me. Although, just looking at the kombucha skoby made me shudder at first too.

 

Homesteaders and settlers brought their own versions of fermented foods along with them when they arrived in western Colorado. Cabbage was turned into sauerkraut and enjoyed throughout the cold winter months, adding much needed nutrients and healthy probiotics to their diets. Have you ever noticed how many different recipes there are for pickles? Pickling was a reliable way to preserve food before refrigeration was available. Along with the preservation of the food itself, pickling can provide numerous healthy side benefits. From the vinegar used to make pickles, to sourdough bread, yogurt, salami, and cheese; these fermented old friends are worthy of a little applause.

Pickles

Pickles

According to experts, pickles alone – the non-heat processed variety – could help us live a healthier, happier life. And they tell me fermented foods can provide us with a healthier gut, possible help controlling weight gain and appetite, decreased allergy symptoms, inflammation relief, protection against microbial infections, improved pediatric health and development, possible cancer risk reduction, improved mental health, as well as better absorption of nutrients.

I’ll raise my glass of kombucha to that. Cheers.kombucha cheers

 

 

The Great Arrow

On family road trips as a child, my mind would be a hundred years away as I contemplated what it was like to be rattling over the sagebrush in a covered wagon. Once, in a rare moment with my grandmother, she told me that she rode from Missouri to South Dakota in a covered wagon when she was a little girl. My awe amused her. She quickly dashed my romanticized (thanks Hollywood!) image of the event to the rocky ground. Her version included biting flies the likes of which I’ve only seen in horror movies, miserable heat and humidity, and endless hours of unchanging scenery broken up by harrowing river crossings and broken wagon wheels. She remembered the broken wheels vividly because her father expanded her vocabulary during a repair.

Today, as I drive along the (mostly) modern highways of western Colorado, with my air conditioner and i-tunes blasting, I can’t help but think of the hearty folks who clambered over these roads before they were paved. What was it like to trek from Grand Junction to Montrose a hundred years ago? How long did it take to schlep over the magnificent Rocky Mountains that divide the state of Colorado into the eastern and western slopes? Who drove the first cars in this lovely state?

In my book, Season of Forgiveness, I staged a silly – and slightly unnecessary – scene with a race between a motor car and a team of horses pulling a wagon. I chose the Pierce-Arrow motor car for my fictional race for two reasons. First, it was the largest car manufactured at the time, and Emma has a large family. Secondly, the Pierce-Arrow was the most luxurious and expensive automobile manufactured at that time and for many years afterwards.

 

1905 Pierce Arrow

1905 Pierce Arrow

1904 Pierce Arrow

1904 Pierce Arrow

horses-wagon-river

Trusty team and wagon

As the Civil War tore our nation apart, George Pierce began his career by manufacturing ice-boxes, birdcages, and bathtubs. He later built bicycles, which were the hot item of the 1890’s, before becoming an automaker. He built his first Pierce Motorette in 1901 with a single cylinder, 31/2-horsepower, water-cooled deDion engine in the rear, replaced in 1903 by Pierce’s own engine. Some 170 Motorettes were made between 1901 and 1903. Next, there was the Stanhope with its Pierce engine under the driver’s seat.

In 1904, the Great Arrow appeared with a four-cylinder Pierce engine. It used cast aluminum body panels, one of many Pierce-Arrow innovations. Pierce- Arrow used aluminum extensively during its history. The 1904 Great Arrow cost $4,000, making it one of the most expensive cars at the time.

Even with such innovations as the Pierce-Arrow’s cast aluminum body panels and four-cylinder engine, early automobiles struggled with Colorado’s rough mountain terrain and the distances between communities. Fuel for the engines was not always readily available.

It would be another fifteen years or so before automobiles were common place in western Colorado. According to a few of the local old-timers, many western slope ranchers and farmers still preferred their trusty team of horses and wagon well into the 1930’s.

According to the history buffs at the Pierce-Arrow Society, (www.Pierce-Arrow.org) Pierce-Arrows were bought by the rich and famous worldwide. The long and impressive list of owners included heads of state, royalty, congressmen, ambassadors, governors, businessmen, entertainers, and as in MY story, lucky gamblers. Pierce-Arrows were part of the White House fleet from the Taft to Roosevelt administration. In 1909, President Taft, the first President to use an automobile for official duties, ordered two Pierce-Arrows, a brougham and a landaulette. The last Presidential Pierce-Arrow was a 1935 model.

Just in case you were wondering, the car in the photo, a 1905 Pierce-Arrow, was sold at auction a few years back for over $200,000. Sadly, the innovative manufacturer that brought this beauty into the world was hit very hard during the Great Depression and is no longer in existence

As I maneuver the well-traveled interstate today, I’ll try not to grumble at the construction delays or the other drivers who are distracted by their cell phones and toddlers in the backseats. Instead, I’ll let my mind wander as I settle into my climate controlled leather seat. I’ll imagine what this drive would have been like in 1904. Would I have been one of the brave and prosperous few to attempt this drive in a Pierce-Arrow? Or would I drive the tried-and-true team of horses and wagon? I’ll imagine the tedium interspersed with danger of the trek across these beautiful mountains that I am blessed to call my home. Sometimes an overactive imagination comes in handy.

 

 

 

Good Things Come in Three’s!

Good Things Come in 3’s!

its_two_boys_and_a_girl

 

No one ever really thinks that life imitates art… until it happens to them.

I created a character in my novel, Emma, who is the mother of seven sons. The inspiration for Emma came from my own lineage of amazing, strong, determined women. My grandmothers – and my husband’s grandmothers – were women who crossed the prairies in covered wagons, raised children in challenging circumstances, endured hardships I can’t even imagine, and still managed to maintain a sense of humor and a love of life in general. Yeah. They’re a pretty amazing group of women.

But let’s go back to “mother of seven sons.” In the story, Emma and her husband Jake have two sets of twin boys. When I wrote the book, there were no twins in our family. The idea of twins was fun to think about, but I didn’t have any first – hand knowledge of what it would be like to give birth to or raise twin boys.

As my book hits the streets – or stands, or whatever books hit when they’re published, my daughter-in-law is pregnant with our first grandbabies. Yes, that is plural. Twins. Twin boys. They’ll arrive sometime this fall. (Shhh…. don’t tell L that Emma had seven sons. That’s as cruel as the husband who starts talking about baby number two when his wife is in the recovery room with their first child after 20million hours of labor.) But not to worry. She’s not the only daughter-in-law.

Twin boy buns in the oven

Twin boy buns in the oven

Baby girl bun in the oven

Baby girl bun in the oven

Because awesome things happen in threes, my OTHER daughter-in-law will be bringing the first ever Melnick girl into the world sometime around Thanksgiving. I’ve seen my tiny granddaughter in a fuzzy, blurry ultrasound. She waved at me. Really. She did. I could at least recognize the little hand as a hand. The rest of it, I had to take on faith that the ultrasound tech knew her stuff.

 

The notion of twins has now transformed from the highly romanticized version in my head to the reality of two of everything. That means L is making room as best she can for two growing babies in her not-so-long-ago itty bitty body. And she’s learning on the fly about the dozens of medical terms and complications that come along with the double blessing of twins. My son and his wife are making huge adjustments in their lives to make room for these two wonderful baby boys. And their two cribs, two car seats, two high chairs. Well, you get the idea.

So of course, I can’t help but ponder what it was like for Emma when she was pregnant with her twins, back in 1884. Was she aware she was having twins? Probably not. Ultrasound technology was a long way off. Did she have to scramble after the babies’ births to find another cradle, another everything? Probably! Did she have help with the two newborn babies? Again, probably not. And she didn’t have a phone, google, or a community of mommy-bloggers to go to for advice. No wonder she’s so unflappable now.

So often, we tend to romanticize past eras. Maybe that’s just me. I envisioned a life of riding horses across an open field instead of racing around in rush hour traffic. I imagined peacefully hanging clothes on a clothesline while the sheets snapped in the breeze instead of waiting for the appliance repairman to show up. I dreamed of the joyous freedom that would come from a self-sustaining lifestyle while compiling a sales presentation at midnight amidst stacks of unopened bills. The reality is that our modern life is complicated. But with our complications, some tremendous improvements have also come about.

According to the Center for Disease Control, at the beginning of the 20th century, for every 1000 live births, six to nine women in the United States died of pregnancy-related complications, and in some U.S. cities, up to 30% of infants died before reaching their first birthday. (CDC MMWR Weekly, October 01, 1999 / 48(38);849-858)

With that being said, I’m very, very happy that MY grandchildren will be born in this time and place, to mommies with excellent nutrition and access to good medical care. My grandbabies have mommies and daddies who are making sure that they’ll have all the stuff on hand that these little ones will need. And, possibly a lot of stuff they won’t need. (Don’t judge. There are some irresistible baby things out there! And grandmothers get excited.)

Don’t forget the amazing technology at new parents’ fingertips. Colic? Teething? All of those “is this normal?” questions that usually come up in the wee hours of the night. With just a tap or two on your smart-phone, you can find suggestions, advice, and pages and pages of whining mothers who blog about stuff that makes you feel like a superstar for coping without drama.

So, I’m feeling a lot of sympathy for Emma. Sorry I made your life so challenging, girl. But I’m also thinking that right now is a good era. I’m looking forward to the adventures with my grandchildren that will take place in the not-so-distant-future.

 

triplets

3babies

Please Pass the Paraffin… or Not!

cake_balls

 

 

Please Pass the Paraffin… or Not

As my husband and I chatted over his Father’s Day breakfast, he shared happy childhood memories of long-ago breakfasts with his grandmothers and of the meals of wild game and home grown vegetables his grandfather had provided.

Food – and the preparation of food, is an integral part of our lives, our memories, and the heritage we pass to the next generation. Influenced not only by taste and cultural preferences, but by availability and (increasingly) sensitivities to certain foods, we each develop unique, personal favorites that will last throughout our lifetimes.

Some of the foods Emma and the gang eat in Season of Forgiveness are based on my own family’s recipes passed from one generation to the next. And some, such as the Trout Almandine, are items that would have been served in that particular time and place. In my search for authentic foods and recipes that my characters could and would eat and enjoy, I read through a lot of recipe books. The amount of butter and cream used in the Victorian era was astounding – and gave my modern day stomach a grumbly twinge just thinking about it.

 

I was baffled by so many old recipes that included paraffin as an ingredient. I mean, this is the stuff you melt down and pour over the top of the jelly jars to seal them, right? It’s wax. It’s made from petroleum. I freely admit that I’m no foodie. I can cook. And I have a few family favorites to my credit. But I’m far from a gourmet chef. So I had to check this out. And what I discovered really surprised me.

 

Paraffin was used in baking during World War II when rationing and scarcity made butter and shortening hard to come by. Resourceful cooks used it to stretch ingredients a little further in many recipes.  Here’s a Paraffin Sponge Cake Recipe that I stumbled across.sponge-cake

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/85/a5416085.shtml

And, check out my website for a few recipes I found in an old Methodist church ladies cookbook. (These are tasty treats by Midwestern US ladies with names like Leona and Ethyl and Edith.) http://www.templamelnick.com

 

Paraffin is added – even today – to many candies, and especially chocolates. The paraffin gives the candy a smooth, shiny finish and prevents it from melting. It also inhibits bacterial growth. Well, that sounds okay. It’s also added to a variety of other processed foods. So, whether I realize it or not, I’m probably ingesting paraffin. Is that bad?

 

Actually… it could be bad. If you scarf down the aforementioned Paraffin Sponge Cake, you may want to make sure you’ve got immediate access to good plumbing. Seriously. Paraffin is used to treat colicky horses and cattle, and is the main ingredient in some over the counter laxatives for humans. But, more long term effects could be potentially serious.  According to a study that appeared in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, parabens are fat loving chemicals that build up in our fat cells and were found in significant numbers of breast cancer tumors. (Darbre, P. D., Aljarra, A., Miller, W. R., Coldham, N. G., Sauer, M. J., Pope, G. S. Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours. Journal of Applied Toxicology 24(1): 5-13.)  Parabens -such as those found in paraffin – are chemicals that effect the body’s ability to assimilate estrogen-related chemicals, potentially leading to an imbalance of estrogen and other hormones. Additionally, the lotions, shampoos, conditioners and cosmetics we use are loaded with parabens- thus creating an even greater possibility of harmful effects.

 

So, why and I telling you any of this? Simply, this: If you’re determined to replicate Great Aunt Martha’s Candy Balls…go ahead. Enjoy. I’ll even give you the recipe. (Check my website!) But if you skip the paraffin and your homemade candy balls melt all over your grandkids chins … that’s probably even better. After all, I want you to make as many memories as possible with your loved ones. Because the way I see it, that’s what food is all about. Oh, and one more thing… From now on, splurge on the good chocolate… the stuff without added wax and fillers. You’re SO totally worth it.

parabens-free