Saturday, January 21, 2017

Foil Dinners

This isn't so much a recipe as a set of guidelines and ideas for making your own. There are about a million different ways to make foil dinners and they're so easy and can be customized for every member of the family. I'll tell you how I usually do it and also give some other ideas. Then have at it yourself to make it the way you like it.

You start with about a 2-foot-long piece of aluminum foil. I recommend the non-stick kind, but you can use the ordinary kind with a little spray of non-stick cooking spray in the middle.

Add your raw meat first. I use a hamburger patty. You could use chopped steak or cut up a beef roast or even use a chicken breast instead. Season the meat as you prefer. I like the Kroger brand hamburger seasoning or McCormick's Montreal Steak seasoning on hamburgers. Then just put the meat in the center of the foil.

Next add potatoes. I recommend red potatoes with the skin on cut into bite-sized chunks. You can use yellow potatoes or russets too. They can be chunks or wedges or those tiny little whole potatoes. Mix a little butter or olive oil with the seasonings of your choice. I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, and either rosemary or Mrs. Dash. Toss the potatoes in the oil and seasonings until coated and pile them on top of the meat.

Add veggies of your choice. Carrots and celery are my favorites to go with hamburger. My husband and I are not big fans of onion, but if you like onion, it would work well in this. You could do broccoli with chicken. Be creative and use what you have. Just chop the veggies into smaller pieces as needed and pile on top of the potatoes.

Then when you're done, take the ends of the foil and pull them up over the top and crease them together, then roll them over a couple of times to make them stay. Take the sides of the foil and fold or roll them up until you have a bundle of foil that is relatively sealed, with all the food inside. Place on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

That's it! When it's done, it's ready to serve. There may be some oil and liquid in the bottom of the foil, so be sure to keep a tray or plate under it at all times or it will make a mess. You can eat it out of the foil or transfer the contents to a plate (which I recommend).

Not only can you customize this recipe to your preference, but you can customize it for every member of the family. If some of you like onions and others don't or you have a child who doesn't like celery or different people like different seasonings on their meat or potatoes, it's easy to make everyone happy. Each person's meal is in a separate piece of foil, so it's easy to make them different if you want to. You can even have the kids prepare their own if they're old enough. Then just put all the foil bundles on cookie sheets and cook them at the same time.

It's great for singles too who want to make several meals at once with minimal time invested and yet don't want every day's meal to be exactly alike.

If you have a person with allergies, this also allows you to make their food different by leaving out things they are allergic to while everyone else can have it in theirs. If allergies are an issue, be sure to put the special foil dinner on a different cookie sheet or baking pan as liquid may run out of the bundles and thus cross-contamination could occur.

Hopefully, you'll have fun making foil dinners as they're an easy solution for dinner that makes everyone happy. Be sure to leave a comment if you find an especially helpful tip or combination that you would like to share. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Effects of a Contraceptive Mentality

The topic of contraception is a controversial one in Christian circles. There are a number of common "contraceptives" that have the real potential of ending a new human life and thus can act as abortifacients. There are other methods that do not, but that some still claim are immoral. Some believe you can use some forms of contraception morally while others believe that any type of pregnancy prevention is sinful. And there is much to be said on that topic which I will not discuss here.

But even if someone has no problem with contraception per se, there is a real danger in having a contraceptive mentality - a mentality that children are burdens to be avoided, that sex has no link to procreation, and that our fertility is and should be completely under our control.

This contraceptive mentality is not only a false view in that it does not match reality, but it leads us astray from God's plans in many ways. Here are just a few of them.

-It teaches us to think of children in terms of what they can do for us or how they fit into our plans instead of what they can do for the world and for God.

-It causes us to think that children are commodities - to be obtained when we want them for our own personal happiness - instead of the precious gifts from God that they are.

-It prevents us from fully embracing the procreative potential of the marital act and the blessing that comes from being open to new life.

-It encourages immoral sex by taking away one of the major consequences that often caused previous generations to think twice before engaging in an act that can create a child.

-It leads to a culture that sees babies as the enemy of sex and encourages disposing of them to avoid the responsibility of parenthood.

-It gives women a false sense of security about their own fertility, leading them to delay marriage and childbearing, with often tragic results.

-It separates dating and marriage from parenthood such that many people neglect to choose their dating and marriage partners according to criteria that would make them good parents.

-It produces many unplanned, and even crisis, pregnancies from people engaging in sex when a pregnancy would be difficult or in situations where there is no stable home to raise a child.

-It harms children born out of wedlock and raised without married parents.

-It removes the norm of openness to new life within marriage and makes decisions around childbearing and parenting more complicated.

-It causes married couples to see their fertility as a liability and their intimacy as something that must be medicated instead of a gift.

-It prevents people from planning properly to be able to afford children, leading them to make life decisions that would make providing for and caring for children difficult.

While contraception is not necessarily inherently immoral in that it is possible to prevent pregnancy without sin, a contraceptive mentality is extremely destructive to individuals and to society at large. And once it has become culturally entrenched, it is so often accepted without thought by even those, such as Christians, whose worldview would normally contradict this mentality. That is why it is so important to examine our views in the light of scripture and develop a comprehensive Biblical worldview rather than uncritically accepting the prevailing views of the culture.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Apparent Age versus Mature Creation

There is an important difference between a mature creation and apparent age. God is not deceptive and would not create things with a false appearance of age. But he did create things mature. Careful study can show the difference.

For example, while Adam was created as an adult, and adults usually have to go through the childhood stages to reach adulthood, Adam didn't. He was created mature. However, he was not created with false signs of aging. Thus, on first glance, a doctor examining him right after his creation would think he was 20 or 30 years old due to the body size, ability to grow a beard, sexual maturity, etc. But on closer inspection, the doctor would notice something peculiar. There would be no wrinkles, no scars, no callouses, no belly button. Adam wouldn't show signs of actual aging or having lived years on the earth or having been injured in events that never happened or having been born. If he had, that would be apparent age, not merely a mature creation. Close inspection would be needed to indicate the difference. Whereas a cursory inspection and initial conclusion might point to a man who had lived a couple decades or more, closer and more detailed inspection would give reason to think he hadn't actually started as a baby and grown to adulthood, and thus the appearance of age would disappear.

Much the same thing is true when we study our planet as well. On first glance, there are a number of features that look, superficially, to be signs of great age. On closer inspection, there is evidence that they did not actually take a long time to develop.

One might look at the amount of sedimentary rock on the planet, which would indicate millions of years of slow sediment deposition (which is the way we usually get such sediment deposition), and think the earth is millions of years old. But on closer inspection, we see that there is little or no erosion between most of those layers and there are animal and plant remains in the layers that appear to have been buried very rapidly and are well preserved and in positions that indicate catastrophe. There are fossils that extend between more than one layer. There are soft tissues found in some of these fossils, including in the remains of dinosaurs, in which individual cells and their parts can be distinguished quite clearly. These features and others lead one to believe that the sediment did not actually take millions of years to deposit and that another, more rapid and catastrophic explanation fits the evidence best.

Perhaps the most problematic use of apparent age is to explain away distant starlight by suggesting that it might have been created in transit rather than originating at the actual star. Yet this would be apparent age, not merely a mature creation. Mature creation is creating an actual star instead of a dust cloud that must condense into a star. Saying that the starlight we see that appears to tell us chemical composition, location, distance, motion, and also events that have happened to that star (such as exploding into a supernova) did not actually come from an actual star or actual events would mean that starlight serves only to deceive through apparent age. What's more, if that were true, then the night sky is all a sparkling facade - a light show with no substance - and we have no ability to know what is actually out there in space or to study it. There are several potential explanations for distant starlight reaching a young earth, but apparent age is not one of them.

The fact that God created Adam as a grown man and trees that never grew from seeds and animals that were never juveniles does not allow us to ignore evidence of age like celestial events or to fail to seek good explanations for things like rock strata that might look superficially old. We can't lump all those things together as if they were all the same kind of thing. That's lazy and ignorant thinking. It's important to distinguish between apparent age and a creation that was simply created mature. We should not attribute deception to God or offer simplistic explanations that fail to account for the facts. Neither of those bring glory to God.