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Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

As I recently posted, my stomping grounds are becoming increasingly winter-like.  There is the promise of a short Indian Summer this week.  I encourage you to make the most of it and enjoy the last bit of Autumn magic!

  • Admire the leaves.  Observe the changes and marvel at the magnificence of nature.  
  • Play in the laves!  Rake them into piles and jump into them.  Enjoy their earthy scent.  Collect a few to press or rub with crayons.  Try to identify them and add these to your nature journal.
  • If you don’t have a nature journal – MAKE ONE!  It’s a wonderful way to observe the magic that is all around you every day!
  • Keep track of the wildlife around you.  What birds are still around?  Have the robins left yet?  Have you seen any Canada geese flying south?
  • Pick or buy some locally grown apples and bake them.  Inhale their perfume as they cook…  Drink their juice and spice it up!  Warm cider will fill you with autumn’s spirit for sure!
  • Visit the farmers’ market before it ends for the season.  Observe what produce is available.  Try and make more meals with the food that’s in season and really connect with the agricultural cycle.  Thank the Earth Mother for her bounty.  Thank the Nature Spirits before they nurture you.  Envision the alchemy that occurs in your kitchen with each meal.  
  • Build an ancestral altar.  Pray to your ancestors and meditate on death and transformation.
  • Start to dream of the activities you can do during the dark half of the year.  Create a mental list of crafts to create, recipes to cook, card or board games to play, and books to read.
  • Preserve some food.  This is something I want to try more of in the future.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I’m proud of myself.  I’ve been so lazy all week.  After work I just wanted to play Civilization IV and watch movies/shows.

Not today!  I cleaned, sewed, cooked, exercised, and did a little in my garden.

Everything in the garden is coming along well.  Some of my beans are blossoming.  My squash and corn are shooting up (I’m experimenting with the three sisters in a giant tub).  The lettuce and herbs are showing.  I have some seedlings in the art room.  I need more pots for them!

To my gardening friends, what are you doing at the moment?  What are you growing and how?

[ For my LJ friends, please visit me at: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ ]

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Visiting for Easter

My parents want to visit next weekend!  I’m very happy and excited to see them, but the situation makes me laugh.  They were talking about going out to eat somewhere but I suggested making dinner.

“But it’s Easter!  We don’t want you to have to work.”

Oh, my silly if well-meaning parents.  I explained, for the millionth time, that I don’t celebrate Easter and that I wouldn’t mind making them a nice dinner so that they don’t have to work or spend lots of money on their special holiday.  They deserve it and I’ve been meaning to make them a nice dinner since moving up here!  We have a Cracker Barrel in Watertown and, ever since discovering it, my mum has been addicted to visiting us and going there for dinner.

As some of you know I’ve recently given up dairy, making me an ovo vegetarian.  I’m trying to eat more local when it’s available, so I’m only eating eggs from local farmers I trust.  In other words, when eating out, I’ll be a vegan.  My mother is concerned I won’t get enough protein so I’m excited to show her what I can do.  My father is surprisingly more supportive.  Although not a vegetarian, he’s been trying to give up/limit his dairy for various reasons.

One of my new favorite things to make is shepherds pie.  I make it just about every week using a haul of root veggies from Doxtater’s Farners Market and a mix of peas, mushrooms and, occasionally, tofu.  Recently I’ve been favoring the mushrooms in this recipe.  I think that will be the main dish, along with some homemade bread and some sort of green.  Maybe a few deviled eggs to celebrate the spring.  I’m not sure about dessert yet…  I have some frozen strawberries so maybe I could do something with them.  Hmmm…maybe pound cake with strawberries?

Where would we be without our freezers?  Seriously, I feel so dependent on that and my refrigerator.  This summer, I really want to do more canning and, maybe, get a dehydrator.  My soon-to-be brother-in-law has one and it works amazingly well.  When I think about how my ancestors kept their food, it’s really amazing to me, and I can understand why spring and summer were so celebrated.

So what about you, dear readers?  Do you have Christian family members celebrating Easter?  Are they including you in their celebration?

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A couple years ago I was attending a Wicca 101 class lead by my good friend Katrina. At this time I had already left Wicca for Druidism, but I felt the desire to attend her class for various reasons: friendship, a hope to learn something different, a new perspective, and an excuse to practice my meditation skills. One of the biggest things I got out of the class was a newfound understanding of the Wheel of the Year and its connection to the land and agriculture. Intellectually I realized that certain foods were connected with the seasons and were therefore symbolic of the holidays. It wasn’t until her discussion on food and the High Days that it dawned on me – eating, especially to someone on an Earth-centered path, is an incredibly spiritual act!

That lesson, combined with my desire to be more sustainable and ecologically responsible, has lead me to seek out different ways of eating and cooking. My husband and I have cut out most of the HFC in our diet. We’re now trying to limit the amount of corn we have. Basically, if we don’t expect corn to be in the product but it shows up on the list, we don’t buy it. This means no more Kraft Mac and Cheese or Smuckers jam! In other words, we’re attempting to avoid processed foods while simultaneously starting to boycott big business farms/monocultures . We still buy veggie burgers but we don’t eat them often and I’m moving more towards making my own out of lentil, nuts, and bread crumbs. We’ve been religiously buying organic, naturally sweetened cereals. Our snacks are pickled veggies, fruit, nuts, and dries berries from the Mennonites and Amish. (I like to keep a dish full of nuts on the coffee table for snack attacks.) Trying to wean myself off the Veggie Bootie… I loves it… I may make it a weekend treat. Hubby still likes his chocolate syrup too… Baby steps, right?

Anyway, I was thinking more about our desire to be more supportive of our local farmers’ market and how that means, for the most part, eating within season. What’s available at the market right now? Eggs, preserves, onions, squash, and potatoes, potatoes, potatoes! We already have tons from a future in-law.

So eating in the winter means eating potatoes. Who ate a lot of potatoes? My Irish ancestors, of course! In fact, our rotund starchy friends have been a staple of the British Isles as a whole for decades. It only makes sense to look to them for inspiration. During my lunch break today I started to collect different potato recipes – Irish, British, and “Newish.”

Tonight I’m trying my hand at Cornish pasties. I remember loving them when in Penzance. I only had a couple, but I’ve always meant to try making them myself. My first batch isn’t really anything spectacular, but if I continue to practice I’m sure I’ll get better at the construction. Next on the list is vegetarian shepherds pie.

Oh, and my hubby makes some pretty mean homemade French fries.

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Eating Local

Eating local has become an important goal for me. My husband and I watched Food Inc. I had been meaning to watch it for months but …oh you know how that goes. Anyway, it was really well-done. Much was not a surprise or I already knew about it, but there were plenty of “woah” moments for me. Those who know me know that my husband and I are vegetarians for environmental and ethical reasons. I often think I’m a bit more liberal about it than my husband in that I’m always quick to tell people that I’m not anti-hunting or against small, sustainable, humane meat farms. A lot of people expect a barrage of anti-meat talk from me and, though I do consider vegetarianism to be one of the best environmental approaches at the moment, I understand that some people really don’t want to or, in some cases, physically can’t. Long story short, this documentary isn’t anti-meat – it’s anti-factory farming and anti-fast food. There were very few gory scenes of slaughter if any at all. There was definitely some footage of the animals’ living conditions (toned down – most factory farms won’t let just anyone wander in) and some food processing footage. So “icky scenes” shouldn’t be a concern.

Anyway, the movie reinvigorated my desire to eat locally. As much as I miss my old stomping ground, there are an abundant number of small, local farms who participate in markets and will sell you meat, eggs, and, in some rare cases, milk from their own cows.

But it’s getting to be the end of January! It’s cold! What could possibly be in season right now?

Well, according to Sustainable Table there are several things! All thanks to “hothouses” and storage, apples, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips, and winter squash are in season. That’s a lot of stew and soup! And mixed with dried legumes…. mmmm!

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