Editorial-Oregon Begins America's "Culture of Death"; Cooking-Tried and True Recipes, with Pictures.

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Creating the Culture of Death in America

All across the natural world, deep within the rainforests, over the sands of Afghanistan, throughout the mountains of Russia, living things all have one thing in common. They try to live until the day that death takes them.

Intentional suicides aside, a mostly human phenomena, death is rarely preferable over life.

Of course it’s well known that come the twilight of life, such as cancer or other raging and cruel diseases can take over our living bodies to the point where escape from the pain is the choice.

So what’s wrong with having doctors help that choice along a little bit?

I consider it an abomination but bear with me a minute. It’s not an abomination, as I see it, to want to die when pain and a total lack of hope overtakes the normally undaunted spirit to live. By me, this is perfectly normal and given the superiority of the human brain over the rest of the animal kingdom, death can easily be achieved through peaceful but killing drugs or even violent weapons such as guns and knives. An animal caught hopelessly in a trap, left to slowly die of starvation and thirst all the while accompanied by excruciating pain, might too choose to die over living for days to an eventual and inevitable death. The animal does not have the power to overdose on a drug or pull the trigger on a gun pointed handily at its head.

So I am in no way lacking an understanding of death with dignity or our own normal natural urge to end the constant pain. In fact, if I should find my own self in such a circumstance I’d likely choose death over a slow, grueling march to an inevitable death that would sap my spirit and leave me but a ghost of the human being I once was.

I have no problem with death by our human hands when the time comes is what I’m saying here. Save those caught in a momentary life crisis who might take a permanent action not warranted or prudent, it seems such a final choice should be left to an individual with the government or society left out of it.

Thus I am totally against the recent Supreme Court decision that upheld Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law. Which law, unlike the Roe vs. Wade ruling, did not involve legislating from the bench. A state legislature had already made physician-assisted suicide legal. The Supreme Court merely affirmed the law, as state-legislated, was legal.

In both cases, we have the highest court in the land, not to mention the state of Oregon, essentially creating a culture that sanctions death beyond ordinary means.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people trumped federal authority to regulate doctors.

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Allow me to present my concerns and issues with any form of state-sanctioned suicide. Then argue with my logic if you will. I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.

If a person wants to end one’s own life it seems a simple enough thing to do.

The very first argument to come forward I suspect would be that the concept of a cancer-riddled individual, strapped to a hospital bed and hooked to many tubes or monitors, cannot go out and buy a massive dose of a drug then administer it properly. Of course not. With the choice of a physician-assisted suicide now an option, there’s no reason that said hospitalized and helpless individual would give the termination of life any thought until the tubes are hooked up and the hospital bed is battened down.

Without the option of physician-assisted suicide, an individual would give such things serious thought. Where there is a will, there is a way. It bothers me greatly that the “way” the state of Oregon and now the Supreme Court have chosen involves government intervention. Government intervention by medical personnel who take an oath to “do no harm”, for God’s sake, is not an answer.

Let me put it more succinctly. If you want to end your life, do it! Get a gun, find some drugs, do what it takes. Don’t expect the government to get involved in such an extremely personal matter.

There’s some extremely practical reasons to keep the government out of ending a life. As I understand it, Oregon requires at least two documents from qualified medical personnel. Oh please. Give me some bucks and I can find two qualified medical personnel that will sign anything. That argument will never convince me that the government can handle the oversight of death for God’s sake.

Beyond that, the handwriting’s on the wall. Soon enough entire death industries will spring up in states that allow physician-assisted suicide. The highways of Oregon will be lined with Pizza huts and let us not forget hotel suites and/or short term apartments required by the families of the about-to-be-dead. Given time, perhaps we’ll come up with a pretty “death ceremony”, much like wedding ceremonies, including flowers and solemn music to match the occasion. Death ceremonies run by enterprising individuals who will, in that manner of capitalism, make a profit.

How hard is it to put a needle into a human being? Colleges and universities will start certified “death physician assistant” programs. I could, if desired, get such a certificate and make a nice living administering drug overdoses to dying citizens.

Then there is the proverbial slippery slope. If we haven’t learned anything from the abortion morass we certainly should have learned that given an inch somebody out there will take a mile. Thus eight-month-term babies are murdered in their mother’s womb by piercing their skulls with a knitting needle. I was around when Roe vs. Wade was handed down and hailed the ruling as a great liberation for females across the fruited plain.

Not in my wildest dreams did I think that partial-birth abortion clinics would spring up across the land, that abortion itself would be a substitute for common-sense birth control, that abortion would grow into a major industry in and of itself that has proponents who benefit monetarily out championing for even more abortions.

There will come a time when an individual will declare him or her self so distraught that a physician-assisted suicide is demanded or else. Or else what? Or else, assume I am such a disturbed individual, I will start killing other innocent people around me. Soon the legislatures will meet and allow a state suicide in such an incident; why allow other innocent people to die?

Or there’s a severely handicapped baby who cries all the time. Obviously this baby is in great pain, let us do the kind thing. The legislatures meet and agree that this is yet another circumstance where a state-assisted and kindly death is warranted.

I write fiction. Give me some time and I can come up with hundreds of scenarios where exception after exception after exception will be made until boom, the “death industry” will grow so big and contribute so much to the politicos’ campaign coffers that death sanctioned by the state becomes a big industry with money the impetus as opposed to original kind intentions.

To expect the state to get involved in one’s own suicide is cowardly and “big-brother” of the highest order.

Finally, there’s this creep toward a “culture of death”. This country’s declaration of Independence calls for the right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”. Our constitution claims we are blessed “with inalienable rights”. Nowhere is the right to a government-sanctioned death mentioned.

Yes death is a fact of “life”, such as it is. Most of us have been there and done that. We deal with it. Plugs are pulled and breathing stops. Death is not foreign to us. Every day thousands wrestle with the morality and strategy of it all. Terry Schiavo aside, most times correct choices are made, pain is handled, life goes on. We should keep this sort of thing personal, not childishly demand that the government get all involved. I can’t think of many things where government intervention has been a good, efficient and fair thing.

Let us err on the side of life as a country. Let us deal with death as we all have to do, in our own personal way with our own personal pain.

Kill your damn self. Keep the government out of it.

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As a Public Service

…some fine cooking tips.

  • When opening a new bottle of sauce, place a straw into the bottle, turn it clockwise and counter-clockwise, and then remove the straw. After removing the straw, the sauce should pour freely from the bottle.

  • Keep covers from sticky ingredients, such as honey, syrup, and molasses, opening with ease by coating the threads with oil the first time the bottle is opened. Apply a little vegetable oil to a paper towel and wipe
    the threads of the bottle with the oil.

  • For soft cookies that have started to dry out, re-soften by adding a piece of bread or a slice of apple to the container they are stored in.

  • For crispy cookies that have started to get soggy, make them crispy again by placing them on a cookie sheet and heating in the oven at 300° for 3 or 4 minutes.

  • To keep the cut edge of a cake from drying out, place half of an apple at the end where the cake has been cut in the cake pan.

  • Use a hot, wet knife to cut cakes with sticky frosting and cheesecakes Dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a paper towel after each cut.

  • Freeze a frosted cake first by placing it in the freezer unwrapped. Once the cake is frozen, take it out and wrap it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then return to the freezer. When ready to thaw, let it thaw slightly, remove the wrap and then finish thawing.

  • Cut both ends out of a can and use the can as a cookie cutter or to cut biscuits.

  • To warm bread before serving, place the bread in a paper bag, seal it, and moisten a portion of the outside of the bag. Place it in a 350°F oven for 5 or 6 minutes. Bread will be warmed and ready to serve.

  • To prevent meringue from sticking to the knife when you are slicing a meringue pie, lightly butter both sides of the knife.

  • When having to remove that first piece of pie or cake, the piece will slid out easier if you cut an additional slice. Before trying to remove the first piece, make a cut as if you were cutting a second piece.

  • To prevent ice crystals from forming on ice cream, cover the surface of the ice cream with a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper before closing the container.

  • Crumbled brownies or cookies make a great topping for ice cream.

  • If marshmallows have started to harden, place a slice of bread in the sack, seal it, and let it set for a couple of days. The marshmallows will soften to their original texture.

  • Use thin pretzel sticks to spear hors d' oeuvres instead of toothpicks.

  • Salads that are soft or in liquid form when prepared and then refrigerated to firm, can be remolded after they have been partially eaten to give them a fresh look.

  • Microwave just enough to liquefy the salad and then pour into a smaller bowl and place back into the refrigerator.

  • If a baked dish needs to be covered with aluminum foil while it is cooking or is going be covered to transport somewhere, spray the foil with cooking spray to help prevent the food from sticking to the foil.

  • When reheating leftovers in the oven, check to see if it is heated throughout by sticking a table knife in the center of the dish. Leave it inserted for 15 to 30 seconds. Pull out and test on the back of your hand. If the knife is hot, the leftovers are hot.

  • When heating items in a dish in the microwave, cover the dish with a damp paper towel rather than plastic wrap. The paper towel absorbs splatters, does not collapse and will not melt.

  • To dispose of used cooking oil, open up 4 or 5 plastic grocery bags, place them inside of each other, and when oil has cooled, pour it into the center of the layered grocery bags. Tie the bags shut and dispose of

  • ~~~~~~~~~~

    A Few Tried and True

    Below a montage of pictures of recipes made in mine own kitchen. Below the picture, the recipes and honest critiques as to taste and recipe issues.

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    Stuffed Pepper Soup

    This turned out to be the greatest soup! And so easy to make.

    1 pouch (8.8 ounces) ready-to-serve long grain and wild rice
    1 pound ground beef
    2 cups frozen chopped green peppers, thawed
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 jar (26 ounces) chunky tomato pasta sauce
    1 can (14 ½ ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 can (14 ounces) beef broth

    Prepare rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the beef, green peppers and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the pasta sauce, tomatoes, broth and prepared rice; heat through.


    Artichoke Blue Cheese Fettuccine

    Here’s a great pasta dish. I used feta cheese by mistake. It still was great.

    1 package (12 ounces) fettuccine
    1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed drained and chopped
    1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
    1-1/2 cups alfredo sauce
    ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

    Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté artichokes and mushrooms until tender. Stir in Alfredo sauce; heat through.

    Drain fettuccine; toss with artichoke mixture. Sprinkle with blue cheese.


    Onion Orange Medley

    Sorry. This was simply awful. Your recipe mileage may vary.

    6 medium navel oranges, peeled and sliced
    1 medium red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
    6 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1 tablespoon sugar
    ½ teaspoon grated orange peel
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    salt and pepper

    In a large bowl, combine the oranges and onion. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, orange juice, sugar, orange peel, cloves, salt and pepper until blended. Drizzle over salad; toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving



    There’s a million recipes for pineapple upside down cake. Look no more. The following is the best of them all.

    1/3 cup butter
    1 cup brown sugar
    9 slices canned pineapple
    9 maraschino cherries
    1 3/4 cups flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    3/4 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1/3 cup of butter in a 9 inch square cake pan in the oven and remove from heat. Stir in the brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices on top of the sugar, and put a cherry inside of each pineapple ring. Set aside. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl cream remaining butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating until light. Stir in vanilla. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Pour over the pineapple in the cake pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn upside down
    over a serving plate. Leave the pan on top of the cake for 2 to 3 minutes to let all the syrup and fruit drop out. Serve warm.

    * TIP: serve with whipped cream!



    This is a good brownie recipe. It is, however, extremely, and I mean extremely, rich. There is just no need for the frosting. But I’ll leave it out there.

    4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Butter or margarine
    2 cups sugar
    4 eggs
    1 cup flour
    1 pkg. ( 14 oz.) caramels, unwrapped
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    2 cups pecans or walnut halves, divided
    1 pkg. (12 oz.) BAKER'S Real Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. grease foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pan.

    Microwave chocolate squares and butter in microwavable bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir sugar into chocolate until well blended. Mix in eggs. Stir in flour. Spread 1/2 of batter in prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until batter is firm to the touch.

    Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in microwavable bowl on HIGH 3 minutes or until caramels begin to melt. Whisk until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of nuts. Gently spread caramel mixture over brownie batter in pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if desired. Pour remaining unbaked brownie batter evenly
    over caramel mixture, sprinkle with remaining nuts. (it's OK for some caramel mixture to peek through.) Bake an additional 30 minutes. Cool in pan. Run knife around the edge of pan to loosen brownies from sides. Lift from pan using foil as handles. Cut into 24 fudgy brownies or add frosting below.

    1/2 cup margarine or butter
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup milk
    2 cups powered sugar

    Heat margarine in 2-quart saucepan until melted. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir over low heat 2 minutes; stir in milk. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Place pan of frosting in bowl of cold water; beat until smooth and spreading consistency. If frosting becomes too stiff, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Frosts a 13x9-inch cake or fills and frosts two 8- or 9- inch cake layers.

    Yield: 24 Servings



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