Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Sunday Scripture November 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:11 pm

Les Mis

 

The popular play “Les Miserables” recently ended a month-long run in Austin. I didn’t see it this time around but I have seen it before. I also just last week DVR’d the recent movie that earned three Oscars. Many of you have probably seen both, but how many of you know that the age-old story is actually deeply rooted in Catholicism?

 

A recent article by Christian Gonzalez describes how the book, musical and movie all have a great deal of Catholic symbolism, which is amazing considering the fact that author Victor Hugo didn’t always agree with the Catholic Church.

 

Still, at the central core of the story are the concepts of love, charity, forgiveness, redemption, salvation, and hope. Kinda sounds like the Beatitudes to me. As all of us who have faith believe, as miserable and wretched as life can be at times, there is always hope. Such is the plot of “Les Mis.”

 

In his “Catholic Spirit” article, Gonzalez notes that the book version of “Les Mis” is said to be the second-most read book after the bible and that everything from pro-life to the Catholic altar can be found in its pages.

 

In the musical depiction, the Bishop of Digne is a minor character but in the book, Hugo took 100 pages to tell us about the good bishop who is pro-life and against the death penalty. In fact, as the bishop spends a night counseling a condemned man, he accompanies him to the guillotine and says, “Death belongs to God alone. By what right do men touch that unknown thing?”

 

Later in the story, Jean Valjean is paroled from prison and ends up at the bishop’s house, who invites him in by saying, “There is wine here to revive you. There is bread to make you strong,” an obvious reference to the Eucharist.

 

As the story unfolds, we learn that Valjean steals the bishop’s silver but in an act of true forgiveness, the bishop, instead of condemning the man, gives him two silver candlesticks. Throughout the rest of the film, the candlesticks are never far from Valjean and symbolically pull him out of darkness. These are reminders of candles on the altar during mass and that Jesus is the light that brings us all out of darkness.

 

Ultimately the bishop leads Valjean to conversion who then reinvents himself by running a glass bead making factory. In the movie, the beads are assembled into rosaries. You don’t get much more Catholic then a rosary!

 

Other symbolic moments include when Valjean chooses against killing Javert and instead ultimately forgives him, much like Christ forgave His executioners. In addition, if you listen closely to Javert and Valjeans’ two big solos, “Stars” and “Bring Him Home,” you will discover that both are actually prayers.

 

Prayer is also a central focus of the show’s grand finale, as Valjean prays for his newlywed daughter, “Take these children my Lord to thy embrace and show them grace,” and for himself, “God on high, hear my prayer. Take me now to thy care. Where you are let me be.” In his last breath, he prays, “Forgive me all my trespasses and take me to glory.”

 

I too want to live a life filled with hope despite the many obstacles and disappointments I face and I too ask for forgiveness and pray I am taken to glory.

 

Friday Funny November 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:16 pm

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Happy Friday!

 

Wednesday’s Words of Wit & Wisdom November 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:39 pm

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Tuesday’s Tip

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:15 am

Getting Fried

 

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Over the weekend I took a cooking class and, among many things, I learned something surprising.  Chef Katy Parker (Austin-based and fabulous!) was sautéing chicken for our homemade pizzas and revealed that her go-to fry and sauté oil is Grape Seed Oil.  Now understand, I like to cook but I don’t love to cook so this was news to me.  I soon learned though, that as with many cooking ingredients, choosing the right oil can make all the difference in the world and in your dish.

 

 

Most of you, myself included, might automatically reach for the so-called “healthy oil,” Olive Oil, but as Katy instructed us, when frying or sautéing, it’s not your best bet.  It comes down to what’s called “smoke point,” the temperature at which oil burns.  Olive Oil has a very low smoke point, meaning it burns quickly.  This not only essentially ruins the oil, it will also leave a yucky residue in your pan that can prove nearly impossible to remove.

 

 

Grape Seed Oil, on the other hand, has a higher smoke point and a mild flavor.  It is more expensive then Olive Oil, but since it’s advised to buy oils in small bottles to prevent them from aging, you can shop around and find some at an affordable price.  Canola Oil is also a great choice and it’s packed with plant-based omega-3s.

 

 

In addition, research is showing that Olive Oil is not as nutrient-rich as once thought and that the oil’s health-promoting antioxidants diminish significantly after processing, storage, exposure to light and air, and high heat.   Olive Oil is best used for antipasti dishes and for drizzling over salads and pasta dishes, specifically extra virgin oil, which comes from the first pressings of olives.  Many consider Olive Oil from the Tuscany region of Italy the world’s finest and it boasts a full-bodied, intense flavor with a hint of pepper.

 

 

Whatever oil you prefer, be sure to use the refined version whenever possible, as refining removes impurities and raises smoke points.

 

 

There are many oils on the market today and they all come with different smoke points, flavors, and uses.  Here is just a quick snapshot to get you started:

 

 

           OIL                                                                          SMOKE  POINT

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                                                              320F

Vegetable Oil                                                                          325F

Grape Seed Oil                                                                       420F

Corn Oil                                                                                  450F

Peanut Oil                                                                               450F

Safflower Oil                                                                          450F

Sunflower Oil                                                                         450F

Canola Oil                                                                               470F

Avocado Oil                                                                            520F

 

Olive Oil

There are different varieties of Olive Oil: extra virgin, virgin, extra light, and refined. Extra virgin olive oil is the most common. There are many uses for all varieties, such as stir-frying and in salads. It is considered by many to be one of the most healthy of all the oils as it is high in mono unsaturated fat, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable Oil is probably the most commonly used of all the oils. It is actually a blend of several oils, such as corn, soybean, palm, and sunflower and health-wise, it’s one of the most discouraged.

 

Grape Seed Oil

An aromatic oil and light medium-yellow oil that is actually a by-product of wine making.  Ideal for sautéing and frying.

 

Corn Oil

Corn Oil is relatively low in both saturated and mono unsaturated fats. It is popular in baking but should only be used when frying on medium temperatures.

 

Peanut Oil                                                                                                                                                     

Peanut Oil is a great oil to use when frying in high temperatures. You may be familiar with it particular during Thanksgiving as many people use it in their turkey fryers.

Safflower Oil

A clear, almost flavorless oil made from the seeds of safflowers. Safflower Oil is a favorite for salads because it doesn’t solidify when chilled.  Safflower Oil is pale yellow and has a bland flavor. It is a good all-purpose oil low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat.

 

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower Oil is low in saturated fat and high in Vitamin E and can be used in the home to fry, cook, and for use in salad dressings. Many food manufacturers are recognizing the health benefits of Sunflower Oil and are using it as the preferred oil in snack foods like potato chips.

 

Canola Oil

Canola Oil is considered one of the most healthy of the cooking oils because of its low saturated fat content and high mono unsaturated fat. It is commonly used in frying, but only at medium frying temperatures.

 

Sunday Scripture November 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:49 pm

Fall6

 

As we wind down from the Halloween hullabaloo and head into the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I thought it’d be a good time to think about pumpkins in a whole different way.  I’ve always liked this little passage I received years ago from my sister Patti:

 

“Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin.  God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.  He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff, including seeds of doubt, hate, and greed.  He then carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.”

 

Last week in my class we said the following “Pumpkin Prayer” as we carved a pumpkin.  Maybe next year as your carving your Jack-o-Lanterns, you can do the same:

 

Dear God:

Open my mind so I can learn about you

Take away all my of sins and forgive me for the wrongs I do

Open my eyes so I can see your love

Forgive me for turning my nose up at all the blessings you have given me

Open my ears so I can hear your word

Open my mouth so I can tell others about you

May your light shine in all I say and do.

Amen.

 

Friday Funny November 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:19 pm

Halloween

Just in case you want to be a Martha Stewart and get rid of some of that candy from last night, here are some recipes courtesy “The Austin American Statesman:

Pumpkin Butterfinger Cookies

 

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

1½ tsp. vanilla

½ 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 regular or 8 fun-size Butterfinger candy bars, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

 

In the large bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium speed. Add egg, vanilla, and pumpkin, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

 

In a medium bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing until just combined. Stir in chopped Butterfingers.

 

Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to cooling rack and rest for 10 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Adapted from a “White Lights on Wednesday” recipe by Melissa Martinez

 

 

Oatmeal Milky Way Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 regular or 8 fun-size Milky Ways, chopped then frozen

 

In the large bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing well after each addition.

 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing until just combined. Manually stir in oats until the dough comes together. Chill dough for 30 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Stick 2-3 small pieces of frozen Milky Ways into the tops of the cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown on the edges, and cool 3 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and rest for 5 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

Adapted from a “Sally’s Baking Addiction” recipe by Melissa Martinez

 

 

Peanut Butter Milk Dud Cookies

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 regular or 6 fun-size boxes of Milk Duds

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the large bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, vanilla and peanut butter, mixing well after each addition.

 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing until just combined. Chill dough for 1 hour.

 

Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. You can either hide one Milk Dud inside each cookie or roll the dough around the Milk Dud for cookies with a visible chocolate center. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown on the edges, and cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheet.

 

Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and rest for 5 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Adapted from a “Taste of Home” recipe by Melissa Martinez