Chicken Little, a Cautionary Tale

Chicken Little and Planned Parenthood

Did you know that versions of “Chicken Little” have been around for 25 centuries? That’s a pretty cool fact. I was trying to think of a good Shakespeare example of a lie repeated until a bunch of people believed it when “Chicken Little” popped into my head, and in researching it, found a bunch of cool things.

 

Basically, humans across cultures and for many centuries have instinctively known what today’s psychologists wring their hands over: A repeated lie, no matter how stupid, starts to sound trustworthy.

Chicken Little, you will remember, believed the sky was falling because an acorn fell on her head. She repeated this “news” to everyone she met, and they all believed her until she got to Foxy Loxy, who either ate them all after laughing at their stupidity or was flouted because Turkey Lurky came to his senses.

 

I had hoped, before I looked it up again, that Owly Jowly stopped them and said, “What the HELL are you thinking?” but I have not found that variation. Yet.

 

It’s a kids’ tale, but ethically quite sophisticated: We, the audience, are expected to recognize that the sky is not falling, that the character Chicken Little isn’t a particularly reliable source, and that it is absurd that no one stops to think about whether the sky actually could fall. The audience is also expected to feel sorry for the characters who don’t think about what they are repeating, especially in the versions where their foolishness leads to disaster.

Attacks against Planned Parenthood are very much like the story of Chicken Little. An absurd claim is made and a lot of people believe it, with bad consequences.

I have recently learned that my own congressperson said, in a public event, that she doesn’t support Planned Parenthood because they sell fetal body parts.

Oh for heaven’s sake. What idiocy.

Never mind that the videos used to make the assertions were proved to be fake. The notion just doesn’t make any sense.

 

Acorns falling on your head, as it takes a minute to think about, are not the sky falling. But no one stopped to think.

 

The stupid is great with this one.

 

In order to make us horrified about Planned Parenthood, alarmists have several storylines going. One involves “babies” (because the people telling the story don’t know what fetuses are) being ripped limb from limb. The narrative goes on to talk about parts being sold.

 

Which, DUH, should have been a tip off for anyone who has ever made anything . . . from . . . anything. Or used anything, for anything.

If you want to construct something, the materials must be in good shape. Seriously, people. Crushed, ripped apart, or in any other way damaged materials can’t be used constructively. The same people who talk about fetuses being destroyed go on to say there are lists of parts for sale. It just doesn’t work that way. Anybody who wanted to run a business selling fetal parts would have to make sure that every harvest was done through caesarean section. And, if you don’t personally, have reason to know that c sections are fiendishly expensive and no one is likely to use them to make a profit on anything else, I hope you know how lucky you are.

But the anti Planned Parenthood folks, famously squeamish about female anatomy, don’t want to think about how small a cervix is or how unusable “parts” obtained that way would be.

 

The business of selling parts, even if you could obtain them, is just as silly as the parts themselves. Planned Parenthood is a not for profit. A 501 c 3 medical not for profit. If you are a recognized not for profit, you not only are not organized for the purpose of making a profit, you CAN’T make a profit. If you do, you lose your not for profit status, and cease to exist. I am on the board of three not for profits at this writing, and keeping that status is a vital part of what we do, and involves a lot of paperwork.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS A MEDICAL NOT FOR PROFIT AND IT CANNOT SELL ANYTHING WITH THE INTENT TO MAKE A PROFIT.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

 

I truly do not understand why PP defenders don’t just say, “Look, folks, we can’t make a profit. We have a 100 year paper trail of not making a profit, so just shut up.” The only reason I can think of that they don’t say this is that maybe they think the American public is too stupid to understand that. I really don’t want to believe that.

 

Third, setting aside that it’s impractical to harvest fetal parts, and against the organizational model to sell them for profit—why would an organization that wanted to sell fetal parts hand out contraceptives? Planned Parenthood does so much of its work in distributing condoms, providing prescription birth control such as the pill or IUDs. It simply wouldn’t work for them to simultaneously be preventing pregnancy and depending on it. Unless of course they were the stupidest business ever run. But then how would they survive 100 years?

 

Oh, right, “Federal Funding.” I really hope you already know this, but Planned Parenthood doesn’t get a check from the government that it distributes whatever way the admins want. Planned Parenthood “funding” means that if you get care there, PP will be reimbursed. Pap smears will be reimbursed. Wellness checks will. (Abortions won’t because of the Hyde Amendment, but that’s another column.)

 

Where I live, there is only one health clinic downtown. It’s Planned Parenthood. There is an Urgent Care center, but that is not the same as a clinic. If PP loses reimbursement for health care, this town of 15,000 is, simply, without a clinic for poor people to get care. This is indefensible.

 

Yes, Planned Parenthood is a health clinic. The name should tip you off that they actually LIKE parenthood. The idea is for it to be on purpose, and healthy. I have been a Planned Parenthood patient for many years, off and on, according to how good my health insurance has been. I have received treatment for strep throat at this clinic. Prenatal care for my child. Antibiotics for infection. Vaccinations. Pap smears. And yes, contraceptives.

 

And, there is one last desperate gasp for Planned Parenthood haters: We can’t support PP because Margaret Sanger was a bad person.

What a weird idea. I won’t even get into what she was accused of, since it is at once complicated and baseless, but so what?

We do many many things that bad people started or championed. Shall we not drive cars because Ford was an anti-Semite? All leave the country because the founders mostly owned slaves?

 

Planned Parenthood opponents, like the animals in “Chicken Little,” take bad information and don’t bother to think about it before passing it on. Are they bad people?

 

Some are. Some are people who want power over women.  Some don’t like the idea of women having sex, and some of those even go so far as to come up with reasons they should have power over with whom and how women they don’t even know run their lives.

But some are not bad people. Some are, like Turkey Lurky and friends, just afraid. They pass on information because they are afraid of what happens if they don’t, and they don’t think hard enough about whether the situation is real.

It is interesting to me that although medieval times have a reputation for being when everyone was obedient to their church or other authorities, many of the most enduring folk tales and songs cautioned against believing things without thinking them through. And many of them encouraged us to laugh at fools who believe baseless things, or acted on them.

 

It is high time we stop being defensive about Planned Parenthood, time we stopped saying how great they are—which they are—and concentrate on the narrative.

 

There are many levels of silly in the opponents of good healthcare that is Planned Parenthood, and it’s time we laughed them way.

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It ain’t necessarily

 

Remember Billy Beer? No? How about Roger Clinton’s band?

 

Future generations may believe that Jimmy Carter had a Brewery, and that Bill Clinton had a hit called, “Nothing Good Comes Easy.” Eh, maybe that’s not the best example.

 

I am heartsick at the current trend to paint Sally Hemings as the mistress of Thomas Jefferson—and for a lot of reasons. None of which has a lot to do with TJ.

 

People who hear me say, “No, that wasn’t proven,” may think I am defending TJ when that is not at all my goal.

But boy oh boy, am I bothered by the ignorance of facts. By the elevation of circumstantial evidence.

 

The first part of my distress is the misunderstanding of the word “mistress.” I don’t care whether TJ fathered every one of her children—and he certainly did not. The fact is that Hemings was a slave. She was unable to consent to a relationship with a white man. She was a slave. To elevate her being raped to a “relationship” makes me utterly sick.

 

Another problem is that of misunderstanding of what DNA can prove. DNA has proven that at least one of Hemings’ children was fathered by a Jefferson.

This information was gathered using DNA obtained from descendents of Thomas Jefferson’s uncle, Field Jefferson. It is a willful refusal to face facts when the DNA used in the sample was not even from Thomas. What people are refusing to face is that there is an awful lot of Jefferson DNA out there.

 

Let me repeat: Even the DNA used to prove Jefferson family involvement was not from Thomas Jefferson. To state that any Jefferson DNA in current Hemings descendents must be from Thomas is not only laughable, it shows a sad misunderstanding of science.

 

There were, as it happens, a great many Jeffersons arund when Sally Hemings was reproducing. There were also oral histories from that time saying that “Marse Randolph” frequented slave quarters.

 

Marse Randolph was not present during that famous stay in Paris. In fact, the only Jefferson in Paris at the time the famous movie depicts a “relationship” between Thomas and Sally was, you guessed, Thomas.

Even the most reluctant to admit TJ involvement would have to bow down when faced with Jefferson DNA in a Hemings descendent from that time period. But no.

 

The Woodson line (the Hemings family line from that time period has that surname) has been found to be no Jefferson of any kind.

That proves two things: TJ did not father Thomas Woodson. And someone else, some non Jefferson, DID.

 

If Jefferson DNA had been found in descendents from a time when only Thomas was around, that would prove pretty well that TJ had been the one.   Lack of Jefferson DNA when Hemings had a baby, when there is Jefferson DNA in at least one other Hemings line, proves that Hemings’ children had more than one father. And since she was not known to be in a marriage, this means that she was the rape victim of more than one man.

 

Can you see why it is so sad to come up with an imaginary “relationship” for a victim of more than one rape? Holy god, how can people DO this to her?

 

The Jefferson-in-Paris line not being Jefferson does not mean, of course, that TJ, conclusively, had no involvement in Hemings children.   But nothing so far has proven that of all the Jeffersons, he was the one. And DNA has also proved that of the fathers of Hemings children, he was certainly not the one from Paris.

 

Using Sally Hemings’ multiple rapes to make it look as though she had more agency than she had makes me utterly disgusted.  I’m not too surprised that if there is a Jefferson talk, they want to make it about Thomas, though. In my own family the legend was that we were descended from Maria Theresa of Austria.  Further scrutiny seems to say that we were descended from some minor brother of hers who raped a maid.  Way less painful to say we were related to the important one.  Who’d want to be descended from Billy Carter? I’d hitch my star  to Jimmy, if I had the chance.

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/true/primer.html

Incredulity

When I was a new driver, the speed limit on the highway was 55.

 

But I was a new driver, and enjoyed speed. So I routinely went 20 or so miles over the speed limit. It was fun.

 

One day, happily going 75, I passed a State Trooper.

 

My heart sank. This was it.

 

But I got all the way home. The trooper never left the hiding place.

 

And I thought, “Not that I mind not getting a ticket, but if doing 75 in a 55 isn’t enough, what IS?”

 

Kellyanne Conway made up, totally made up, the Bowling Green Massacre.

 

She didn’t lose her job over it.

 

This is the point at which the Republican Party might say to itself, “Phew! Close one! Not that I mind my spokesperson not losing her job over an outright falsehood, but if lying about a terrorist attack doesn’t get you fired, what does? Better be more careful.”

 

If I had decided that since I didn’t get caught, I should just keep on speeding–no, speed more! Tell all my friends to speed! that would have been the same, ethically, as Last Night in Sweden.

 

Didn’t get caught speeding? Speed more! Speed more locations.

 

Didn’t get fired for imaginary terrorist attacks? Well, then, anybody can make them up.  Domestic terrorist attacks are not sufficiently interesting. Let’s make up one in a whole other country.

 

And if it gets noticed???

The trooper HAD to have seen me. But he didn’t care.

 

Similarly, let’s assume the United States citizenry DOESN’T care about alienating entire countries.

 

Seems legit.

 

 

Asking the right question

 

Asking the right question

 

Did you ever see a study and say to yourself, “Ohmygod! Of COURSE!”

 

It happens.

 

I remember an aha! Moment when reading a study about people who were gay. It was so Aha! That I didn’t write down the author, the journal, or the name of the study. It seemed so obvious to me that once this was public, everyone would agree and the author would be famous forever.

 

You see, normally when scientists go searching for why people are gay, the approach is “What makes this bad thing happen?” What makes this disability, this other-ness, this wrongness, occur?

 

The author of this study took a historical as well as a genetic or abnormality look at it. Knowing that there have been gay people throughout recorded history, and that gay people mostly are offspring of het people, and that the proportion of gay to het people tends to remain the same, what is the advantage to the species of this variation?

He reasoned that there must be a species advantage, since the trait didn’t depend wholly on genetics, nor was it communicable.

 

He found some advantages, too. I would encourage you to read the article but darn it! I can’t find it. It seemed so obvious to me, so it’s-about-time, to me that being gay is a normal variation that I didn’t think I’d have to write the name down.

 

Asking the right question is more likely than asking the common question to yield the right answer.

 

Somebody asked, “Why do we even HAVE fevers when we are sick?” rather than “How can we get this fever to go down?” and in my lifetime the attitude was changed from giving the kid aspirin (a bad idea, anyway) at the first sign of elevated temp to letting it do what it is supposed to do, kill the germs, unless the fever itself becomes life or brain-threatening.

 

 

A similar approach was taken in the book Survival of the Sickest. This author chose to look at diabetes, and similar problems—especially the kind particular to specific populations—and examine when there might be an advantage to something we commonly see as a disease.

 

Please read Survival of the Sickest. It is wonderful

 

I don’t remember the author tackling middle aged spread.

 

I think he should.

 

When, throughout history and across cultures, it is well known that as we reach middle age, both men and women tend to put on weight, it is time we asked: what might the advantage be to the species?

 

I will digress a minute and compare being large sized with levels of literacy.

 

I can accept that sometimes large sized people simply eat too much and exercise too little. But that isn’t everybody, same as not everyone who does not read well is unintelligent.

 

As a culture, we can accept that some people who don’t read well have dyslexia, some were never taught well, some might not enjoy it for a number of reasons, some may even have vision problems.

 

When we meet the person with dyslexia, we probably accept that this person will never read well. When we meet a person who is blind we easily understand that Braille will be a better solution than the printed word.

 

But with large sized people, we tend to assume the person is lazy, and that being smaller would improve his health.

 

We wouldn’t tell a blind person, “You’d do better in school if you would just pick up a book!”

 

But we do tell large people, “You’d be healthier if you lost weight.”

 

This is simply crazy.

 

Studies have shown that being what is thought of as “normal” has no longevity advantage over being “overweight;” it is not until one reaches morbid obesity that it matters.

 

In addition, we fail to separate the whys. It may be true that a large person who was large because of fast food is healthier when switching to a whole foods diet.

 

It may not be that a large person who is already on a whole foods diet will be healthier when fighting his body and starving it to stay smaller.

 

It turns out that calories in, calories out is bullshit for several reasons, and we have a good example of this folly, right now. The show Biggest Loser has the most successful dieters in history. Guess what: they all have artificially lowered metabolic rates following starving themselves for the show. They can not go back to the way a healthy, normal person would eat if they intend to stay small because their bodies now burn calories so slowly.

Here it is, for all of us to see: there are problems with the calories in, calories out model, because calories burn differently on different people, or even on the same people after different lifestyles.

The calories in, calories out model also stinks because it assumes the only thing to change if you starve yourself is to get smaller. Well, you might get smaller. But it might be that with less energy something else that takes energy will suffer. You may have lower mentation (means your brain is in a fog). You could have your hair fall out.

 

What are the advantages to the species of getting heavier as we age?

 

Nothing comes to mind at the moment.

 

Going grey has advantages to the species. It identifies the older, wiser, and less fertile of us.

 

Humans are unusual in the animal kingdom in that we live far after our fertility is gone.

 

And we tend to get “old and fat.” It is a common phrase.

 

So maybe there is a good reason for middle aged spread. Maybe we just don’t know what it is because we are so focused on the “wrongness.”

 

Anecdotally, everyone knows old timers who said in THEIR day, they had real winters, real cold, not this wimpy stuff. Collectively, we laughed at them, and then scientists confirmed Global Warming (and then renamed it Climate Change.) The old timers were right. The anecdotes told real stories we should have listened to.

 

Everyone knows an old woman who sighs that what she used to do to lose weight doesn’t work. We have laughed at her. She told us, but we laughed. She risked heart disease and decreased mentation and incurred great expenses to lose weight, and society laughed at her even as she tried to explain that, really, her body is as stubborn about holding on to the weight as the world is stubborn about providing warmer winters.

 

What if she is right? What if, not only is she right, but there’s an evolutionary reason for what’s going on?

 

It is high time we asked those questions.

I exist

 

 

I just saw Sing, an animated movie about, you know, aspiring musicians.

 

I am almost in tears with joy.

 

The plot is the usual about will the singers make it and will the impresario be able to keep his theater. (Spoiler: Happy ending.) The characters are all anthropomorphic animals.

 

But I was weepy with what I didn’t have to give up to enjoy this movie: My self respect.

 

You see, I am a woman. And in order to enjoy movies made past the Bette Davis/Katharine Hepburn era, I have to suspend my sense of self-worth.

 

You may have heard, in the theater, of the expression “suspend your disbelief.” In order to enjoy a lot of theater and movies, you have to suspend your disbelief, and believe that problems can be truly solved in an hour and a half, or that no one ever needs to go to the bathroom.

 

But, also. . . in order to enjoy The Princess Bride, I have to be ready to accept that in the entire country of Florin, no two women ever say anything of importance to each other. To enjoy any action film, I have to accept that the hero can be 25 years older than the heroine and ugly but they fall in love just the same.

All the Minions are male. Most of the Muppets are male, and those that are not are mostly blondes. Even Frozen, after you got past the sisters, the main characters were male and most of the dialogue was given to male characters even though the plot was about sisterhood. And their mom didn’t speak at all.

As a young woman, I barely existed. As an old woman, I don’t exist, except maybe as a murder victim or somebody’s mom.

In Sing, however, I EXIST. There’s a middle aged woman—OK, she is a pig—a mother of many, who goes to the audition after having had the problem of finding care for her children.

 

Not only does she get to sing, the movie highlights her skill as an engineer.

 

There is also a porcupine emo teenager, who dumps her boyfriend after he betrays her, and is amazing at playing guitar and writing songs. They make the story about HER, not about her reaction to the boyfriend.

 

And a young woman, an elephant, who has a beautiful voice but crippling stage fright.

 

Here’s the clincher: Not only do all of these characters get to perform, none of them has to undergo a makeover.

 

They stay plump for the whole movie.

 

And no one even mentions it.

MY. GOD.

My fave holiday special

Now, THIS Christmas show I like.

 

Some time ago I wrote about a holiday movie I just can’t stand.

 

Here’s one I love: The He Man She Ra Christmas special.

I’m serious.

 

Does it fill me with Christmas spirit? Well, no. That is OK. I’m a grown up.

But it is a good story, and has these advantages.

 

  1. More than passes the Bechdel Wallace test. This is a measure that asks whether there are women who talk to each other about something other than a man. This show is Bechdel plus! Mermista, She Ra, Peekablue, Alicia—a bunch of characters talk to each other about other things than men. And it’s Mermista and She Ra that save the day by getting the crystal! (Whoops, spoiler.)
  2. Racially inclusive. The little boy in the show is named Miguel.
  3. Size inclusive. While it is true that most of the characters are running around nearly naked (and I do mean running) Miguel’s father is a large sized man and is not used for comedic effect.
  4. Transition of Skeletor. Yes, Skeletor becomes the good guy for this episode. But wait, there’s MORE! Skeletor finds the transition from total bad guy to the person saving the children to be a painful change. Yes, in the He Man She Ra special, it is acknowledged that change is emotionally difficult. I love that.
  5. They address both the Bible story and Santa.
  6. The children, who are away from their parents, are allowed to miss them.

 

The animation is of the so bad it’s good variety. I suspect that the writing was so good, and so progressive, because it was made at the height of He Man’s popularity, and the writers figured they could get away with anything.

 

It’s not Christmas in this house until we see He Man and She Ra.

For real.

NaNoWriMo

It’s December 6, and I am still resting from National Novel Writing Month. I took time off my blog to write a novel.

 

If you have never done NaNo, I invite you to try. There’s not a cost, and all you have to do is meet a daily word count. As my 11 year old daughter noted, it doesn’t even have to be good.

 

Two truisms about writing: Write what you know, and Write the novel you want to read. So I wrote historical fiction, which I am rabid about.

 

But who else wants to read a fictionalized account of the Wallis-N-Edward story?

 

Also, I can’t even ask for a Beta, because I am at the point of I only want to hear nice things about my baby. I worked so freaking hard on this thing, writing for 2 hours a day before work, and that was AFTER reading a bunch of full length bios on Wallis, Edward, and a gazillion of their friends and relatives.

 

Did I say friends? they had few of them.

 

If you wanna be my Beta, let me know. But I tell you ahead of time: I am only in the mood for sycophants.

 

 

 

 

HAIR

 

HAIR

I’m hairy noon and nighty night night!

 

Not that hairy. My hair is medium thickness, mostly straight, and I usually keep it in a long pageboy. Like Jo March, I am aware that my hair is beautiful.

I recently learned that Locks of Love throws out most donations as un needed, and learned that wigmakers will buy your hair on order—in other words, unsolicited donations of hair are not actually useful, but if you make an appointment and get cash for your hair, it will really make a wig. For that reason I am growing my hair long. But to keep it long, it does need the dry ends cut off, regularly.

 

I can trim my own bangs but have not figured out how to get the back even.

 

I HATE GETTING MY HAIR CUT.

 

The sexism makes me want to cry.

 

It is amazing and appalling that in this day and age, salons are allowed to charge, “Men’s Cut, 15 dollars, women’s 20.” (Children’s 11.)

 

Rather than by the cut.

 

My brother, who has curls, cowlicks, and a bald spot, and has to get complicated layers as a result, pays less than I do for a plain trim.

 

Well, not always. I have found several salons that will cut my hair for a man’s price. But they are not always open when I need them.

 

The fact is, when I make an issue about it, I ALWAYS WIN.

But my brother does not have to decide, every time he gets his hair cut, whether he is in the mood for a fight. He can just GET HIS HAIR CUT.

 

Perfectly reasonable people have told me to simmer down, that women tend to get more complicated cuts than men, it is not really sexism. They look straight at me and my long page boy while saying it.

 

THEN. CHARGE. BY. THE. COMPLEXITY. OF. THE. CUT.

 

Kids’ cuts are generally one price—apparently when girls turn 18, they magically want more elaborate cuts than when they are 17.

 

This article is more articulate than I about gender based pricing.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-extra-cost-of-being-a-woman-214445601.html

In many places it is illegal to charge differently by gender, and this illegality is generally cheerfully ignored. I’d love to hear of a salon being shut down for illegal pricing the way convenience stores get shut down for selling a beer to a teenager, but it does not happen.

 

Try to imagine if the signs said, “White haircuts 15, black 20.” Try to imagine if the sign said, even, “Coarse hair 15, thin 20.” “Republican hair 15, Liberal 20.”

 

 

But here’s what takes me from sad to MY BLOOD IS BOILING.

 

Right now, in 2016, a few days before, for fuck’s sake, the FIRST woman endorsed by a major party is on the ballot for president, right now, when walking around town—and I live 4 blocks from my work—I might see five signs saying women are charged more for a service solely on basis of their gender—RIGHT NOW people tell me there is no need for feminism in the Western World.

 

Fuck that.

SO. MANY. FUCKS.

 

It is not “just hair.” It is the fact that the sexism is so accepted, it’s on hand written signs all over the city. It’s the fact that the patriarchy is so entrenched that when I point out that charging more for a cut just because I am a woman is nonsense, both women and men look at me with pity because they think I am over reacting. OVER REACTING to an economic punishment for having matching chromosomes that I must revisit EVERY month in order to abide by my culture’s standards of beauty????????

Take your willful ignorance and . . . goddamit, I can’t even think of anything as hurtful to the willfully ignorant, smug assholes–ANYTHING that can possibly hurt as much as my daily being faced simultaneously with blatant sexism and patronizing denial.

Advanced boiling it down

 

 

If you have been poor, you are never un poor. We all have seen movies—or maybe even have it in our families—where the ancient ones who now live in Malibu still save toilet paper tubes in case they ever need to start a fire, because they used to pick up coal in the railroad tracks to heat the house during the Depression.

I have had a good job for almost 20 years, but I still get giddy when I use my debit card and the little screen says, “Approved.”

So I will never stop “boiling it down,” getting every last nutrient out of my veg or my meat.

I think it was Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) who said that while necessity is the mother of invention, low budgets are the mother of innovation.  Having been poor—not the type which starves you, but the type where there is nothing in the house but dried beans and spices and only three bucks til the next paycheck, I have gotten really good at discovering food ingredients.

Advanced boiling it down part 1—what to boil down

 

Now that you have gotten good at boiling down a turkey or chicken, you can boil down other things. As in any other bone. You are going to get broth, yes, but also you will probably get some oil or fat, and you’ll want to figure out how to best use that. But first, boiling bones.

 

You can boil bigger bones right in the meal you are going to have, by which I mean you can leave a ham bone in ham soup. Do not do this with any poultry bone, as they are small and could pose a choking hazard.

If you boil the bones quite clean, you can throw them in your composter. They will add niceness to your compost and not add a bad smell, as long as you have made them clean.

 

Yes, you will see me collecting the bones from steaks my family has consumed—they are going to be boiled, remember?? Same with KFC, which makes a fabulous base for soup. Alison Arngrim, who once played Nellie Oleson, said in her memoirs that take out chicken should not be used for soup, but I find the 11 herbs and spices quite a time saver.

 

It’s up to you whether you want to segregate the bones. A soup base made from multiple animals is usually delicious, but if you are going to use the fat, you want to segregate.

Advanced boiling it down Part 2–using the fat

WHAT? FAT IS BAD, why is she USING THE FAT????

First, how: After the broth is done, and the bones are removed, put the broth in a bowl in the fridge. When the fat has solidified, you can either discard it or use it. Your call. It will rise to the top, and you can easily peel it up.

Different fats have different tastes and qualities. By qualities, I mean both the temperature at which it burns, and what the fat does to whatever you are cooking.

Most of us purchase olive oil, corn oil, butter–some form of fat is necessary in cooking, and some kinds provide nutrition. Why throw away something you are going to purchase later in the week? Animal fats CAN be used.

Butter makes anything yummy but burns at a low temperature so you can’t use it for making popcorn, for example. You CAN add a butter taste to popcorn cooked in corn oil by adding a small amount of butter to the oil in which you cook the popcorn.

Chicken fat is good for sautéing. Lard—pork fat—is good for deep frying. Beef fat is tricky. It is good for deep frying but it also solidifies to a rock-like consistency that makes it hard for me to use. Also, it makes food taste good but, to me, does not smell good, so I don’t use it very much. McDonald’s used to prepare their French Fries in beef fat. They were delicious.

Old folk tales tell of the poorer people using tallow candles, richer people using wax. “Tallow” is beef fat, which gives you an idea how hot it has to be before it burns.

My favorite is the fat from a ham. It melts nicely, can be used for sautéing or deep frying, and adds a wonderful, salty taste.

Most animal fats give a flavor and crispness not provided by corn oil.  The very thing which makes olive oil so wonderful–if used right you may barely notice it–is what makes animal fats so paradoxically useful: You always know what you have.

If I die while I’m still young enough to be an active cook, I pity the person who has to clean my freezer, who will find a selection of unlabeled fats. I know what they are and how to use them without labels, you see.

And I’ll go to my grave knowing that at least in the kitchen I have kept waste to a minimum.