Breakfast Muffin Experiment – Chocolate Pear Cranberry Muffins

So I addapted a muffin recipe that I found on the internet. This is what I came up with:
 
INGREDIENTS
 
1 ½ C wheat flour
1 C almond meal
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
 
1 C sour milk (or coconut milk or whatever you want, just add some vinegar[1])
1 C pear OR pumpkin butter[2]
1/3 C oil
 
½ C dried cranberries
½ C crumbled walnuts
 
1 C cooked millet OR cooked amaranth
¼ C chocolate chips, melted[3]
 
 
DIRECTIONS
 
1) Preheat the oven to 375F
2) Cook the millet and amaranth on the stove (if it isn’t already cooked and sitting in your fridge)
3) Mix the dry ingrdients together in a bowl
4) Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well and blend everything together with a fork
5) Add the walnuts and dried cranberries
6) Throw the chocolate chips in with the cooked grain (if it’s hot[4]) so that they melt
7) Mix the chocolatey grain in with the rest of batter
8) Spoon the batter into paper-lined (or well-greased) muffin cups[5] and bake for 20-30 minutes until they pass the Fork Test.
9) Allow to cool (possibly overnight, as this is supposed to be a “breakfast muffin”, chocolate chips notwithstanding.
 
NOTE: Makes about 24 muffins.
Enjoy. :-)
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I used mostly coconut milk today, since I made curry earlier and had some left over, topped up with 2 tablespoons of cows’ milk and 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
 
[2] I used vanilla-nutmeg pear butter. If your fruit butter of choice isn’t spiced (if you’re using canned pumpkin, for example) you will – or at least may – want to throw a teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or similar into the mix.
 
[3] I melted them by chucking them in with the millet and amaranth that I cooked to make this stuff.
 
[4] If it’s not, just melt the chocolate on the stove or in the microwave.
 
[5] I used paper muffin-cup liners set in a glass casserole dish because, for some reason, my muffin tin has vanished. It’s just… gone. I don’t even know. O.O

Full Moon – Melt-Water Moon Crests

Technically the full moon isn’t until tomorrow, but this is running through my head so I’m posting it now. Who knew? A Lunar Cycles post that’s come up early! O.O
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Eating from the Larder – Edamole Fish Tacos; Multi-Jam Multigrain Pancakes; and More!

So, my attemps to eat from the larder, such as they are (and they are not overly significant – there have been dinners out and re-stocking of coffee already, for example) seem to revolve around (1) dinners based on pasta or rice/quinoa + frozen veggies + tinned/frozen fish OR leftover slow-cooked mammal AND (2) making pancakes on the weekend using recipes like this one:
 
1 C apple butter
1 C strawberry-rhubarb jam
2 C sour milk (or yoghurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc – you get the drift)
2 eggs
2 tbsp oil
+
2 C flour
1 C cooked millet
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
 
 
Basically, the trick with me is that I tend to make more sweet preserves than I use. I do this on purpose, because I tend to gift more sweet preserves than savoury ones. But I also do this “by accident” because (1) chutney tends to be a sweeter preserve than I think it is when I make it, and (2) I am more likely to be given free fruit (neighbourhood serviceberries, the apples from various friends’ trees) than free veggies that I can pickle or blanch-and-freeze. So recipes where I can use up more than one jar of sweet preserves (and, er, over-sweeten the batter in all likelihood, alas) are a Good Thing.
We’re having friends over for brunch tomorrow morning, and I’m planning on using the above recipe to (a) get rid of a couple of jars of preserves, but also (b) to get rid of the cooked millet I have in the fridge[1].
EDIT: They worked! I’ve updated the recipe to show the extra milk (2C instead of 1), but they were tasty and delicious – mostly due to the absurd amount of sugar that went into them. ;-)
 
On a related note, and in spite of the fact that I don’t have any crunchy red cabbage lying around (alas – Korean cabbage, while delicious – and a great substitute for chard, kale, or romain lettuce fyi, is not crunchy at all), I’m hoping to try making something like a taco for dinner one of these nights.
My PLAN is to make something akin to tortillas, though it will probably be closer (in recipe and consistency) to cornmeal crepes, then pan-fry some bassa filets and serve them up with (a) home-made tomato-peach salasa, (b) grated daikon radish, and (c) some sort of edamole – provided I have frozen edamame in my freezer… which I doubt.
 
Yeah, Edamole.
In the same vein as wanting to use local (if I can find – or ideally, with time, grow my own – zone 3 or 4 hardy) apricots to make tomato-apricot salsa in place of the tomato-mango salsa that I so enjoy (right now I use Niagara peaches for this, which at least come from the same provence, even if they do take 8-10 hours to get here by truck), I am also frequently on the look-out for suggestions on how to make guacamole without the guaca part.
So far, the frijole mole from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one option, but the sort made from a heap of steamed butter beans (frozen-and-thawed edamame, typically, but shelled fava or romano beans would also work – and I’ve grown my own romanos in the past, plenty of times) plus some cider vinegar (or seaberry juice, if I ever get the chance to harvest me some seaberries), garlic, a heap of dried (or fresh!) cilantro, and a little bit of mayo would do the trick, too.
I figure… With guacamole, what you’re getting is the taste of lime, cilantro, and the smoothness of avocado’s high fat content, so a mixture of acid, cilantro, and something to add a little fat to the creaminess of low-fat but still smooth-feeling butter beans would fit the bill.
 
Anyway. That’s my plan. Here’s hoping it works. In the mean time, I shall stick with the pancakes and the more typical dinner-time fare. Eventually, I’ll get around to getting over my fear of making non-cheese-based white sauce, and then we’ll be back in alfredo in no time. ;-)
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Note to self: Cooked millet is great as an alternative to shredded coconut in chocolate macaroons. It is boring, bland, and slightly gritty – and therefore gross – as an alternative to rice or quinoa for the “starch” portion of a savoury meal. Let’s not do that again. That being said, it might work out okay when added to a stew or slow-cooked brisket/shoulder roast in place of barley or potatoes. This may or may not be worth a shot during the month of April.

G is for Glamour – Pagan Blog Project 2014

As a side-note (or pre-note?) before I begin, I’ve discovered (not to very much surprise, really) that I’ve done “G is for Glamour” every year that I’ve done the PBP. If you’re interested in seeing how my thoughts on this subjeect have evolved (or not), feel free to check out 2012 and 2013. Onwards!
 
So. I had a job interview last night.
As per Miss Sugar’s post, I’m trying to make glamour work for me – meaning I’m trying to use it to get people to see me the way I want to be seen.
 
I went in wearing something that was a mix of “classic business silhouette” and “funky yet tradition-valuing[1] creative type”. But there was – big surprise – rather more to it than that.
I wore “blood kiss” perfume – my favourite BPAL scent, and one that is my “I’m in charge, and you like it that way” go-to.
I wore the work of my hands – the pinstriped femme-tastic blouse that I taylored to fit my vaavoom body, and the arm-warmers (on the walk over, granted) that I knit from yarn that I spun on the spindle made by my wife.
I wore the teal lambskin pencil skirt and the MLO Garage Sale leather jacket that have decked me out for Leather events for ages (if you want more on that subject, see F is for Fetish).
I wore the sweater-blazer that belonged to (and may have been made by) my grandmother.
I wore earrings from one of my poly-family members. I wore the Lodolite pendant that my wife gave me, years ago, that is supposed to both enhance communication skills and help to manifest one’s desires (powerful stuff, that).
 
Yes, I was working glamoury in the traditional sense of making people see what you want them to see. But I was also spelling myself. I didn’t walk into that interview alone. I walked in carrying a posse on my skin. Andd that’s magic, too. :-)
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] “Tradition Valuing” because the job is with an arts organization that understands its form as one that has a long and multi-limbed history and pre-history. Being able to show (and speak to) a valuing of ancient arts with long histories will not have hurt me on that score.

Food Hoarders Anonymous

Hey there. So it’s been a while (I think) since I last did a post about seasonal eating and/or preserves and, hey, Erica has an April “eat down the larder” challenge going on, so I figured: Perfect opportunity! So here I am.
 
See, on the one hand, it’s April. Which means that, ever since the temperature started peaking above the freezing point (call that one mid-to-late March), and the days started – just barely – being longer than the nights (same time-frame), I’ve been going “Oh, crap! It’s only 3.25 months until the service berries start coming in!” and “Oh, crap! I have to empty out my freezer if there’s going to be room for steamed wild greens come early May!” Which means that I’ve already started “eating down the larder” in anticipation of fresher stuff to come.
Which is dandy.
The fact that empty jars are rolling in from various family members, at the same time, is also dandy… if a bit hilarious. (My gift-jars come back empty, sure, but I also wind up with old pasta-sauce jars from the grocery store… which I don’t think was planned, and which I’m hesitant to use for canning… the lids always seem a little too… cardboard to feel like a safe idea… Maybe someone can reassure me on this one?)
 
Anyway. The point of this post is to talk about, well, my hoarder tendencies when it comes to food.
Because, while I am trying to incorporate things like 2012 rhubarb syrup and 2013 apple butter version 2.0 (I had, like, 16 jars of the stuff at the end of September and have… at least 8 left) into everything from sweet-and-sour cabbage (it worked!) to half-empty-jars-of-jam pancakes (also worked!), and while eating from the pantry is a pretty much staple thing to do at our place anyway (in that “seasonal eating means never having to by non-tinned tomatoes in january” kind of way)… I’m still seriously freaked out at the thought of intentionally eating the cupboards bare.
 
Some back story:
I’ve been poor – below-the-poverty-line poor – for most of my self-supporting life. Recently, while still being pretty low-income, the addition of my wife’s salary (retail/production, so low-but-not-minimum wage) has popped my household income over that line. But we’re still pretty broke a lot of the time.
Years of temping have meant that I’m used to making about $12K per year and having multiple month+ periods of being unemployed during any given year.
This means that:
(1) When I have money coming in, I buy non-parishable food.
(2) When I am about to stop having money coming in, I buy non-parishable food (and frequently fill up a coffee-shop gift-card while I’m at it, so I can still go out with my frinds on occasion).
(3) Eating down the larder when I don’t “have to” feels a bit like firing off “Help me I’m lost in the woods” flares in lieu of improvised fireworks, two days before going hiking in Bear Country.
 
This is not to say that I think it’s a bad idea. Quite the contrary.
It’s to say that… I guess one way of putting it would be to say that my idea of “par” – to use another concept I learned from Erica – fluctuates depending on what kind of money I have lying around and how willing (or wise) I am to trust in local resources (read: foraging and gleaning) to make up the gap. In early April, with buckets of snow still on the ground – albeit melting quickly – I am in the heart of Hungry Month. We are still four weeks away from the earliest wild greens – dandelions and garlic mustard, the latter of which is bitter enough that it doesn’t make a very good primary vegetable in a given meal – and…
Oh, this is silly.
To quote my own sister “You have more food than anybody I know”.
This is something she said to me, in June of 2008, when I was freaking out about having to sell a now formerly-marital home before the cold weather hit, because I knew I couldn’t afford to heat the house. I was for-real afraid that I would not have enough to eat.
And yet I still had more food than anyone else my sister knew. I had cupboards stuffed with whole grains and tinned beans and dried vegetables and pasta… But cooking from the larder is a skill, and I didn’t have it yet.
Now I do.
Now I can throw tinned tomatoes and left-over pork and frozen greens and dried ancho chilies (these are mild, folks) into the frying pan with a little bit of lard (or butter or name-that-oil), stretch it with half a cup of raw red lentils (and a cup of stock or water) or a tin of well-rinsed beans and serve it over millet or rice or quinoa or whatever grain I happen to have on hand… and that’s what we eat all winter.
 
And I still dread the thought of less than five tins of tomato or cream-of-mushroom soup in the cupboard. I still dread the thought of running out of beans. I still dread the thought of my freezer contents dwindling to where I can see the bottom of the bin[1].
 
I’m afraid I won’t be able to fill it up again if I let my stores drop that low.
 
So, in the past couple of days, I’ve been out and buying things to try and get myself back up to what I think of – in my haphazard way – as “par”, and to make sure I have something to serve all those to-be-eaten-down preserves with or on or in, as well. :-)
 
Tonight will be grilled cheese sandwiches (with apple butter and hot mustard and tinned garlic-chili tuna) + tinned tomato soup.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Which maybe doesn’t bode so well for my hopes of buying meat by the animal… Good thing the local meat CSA delivers in batches rather than in one fell swoop.

New Moon – Melt-Water Moon Begins

Technically, the new/dark moon was yesterday, but we’ll go with this. In addition to being the last day of March, today was also my last day of Temp Job.
I am so happy to be done, kids, I can’t even articulate it.
And it’s not that the job was bad.
It was actually really pleasant. I was working with a team (for the first time in my temp-work history) and we all got along, and the work – while a tad on the stressful side, due to time-limits and the necessary reliance (in order to get the information we needed to finish the job) on people who had more power and less time than we did – wasn’t actually arduous or unpleasant. The money, for temp work, was good. And it means I’ve got four months of (may share of the) rent in the bank, which is nothing to sneeze at.
None the less, I’m really happy to be home.
 
I’m so happy to know that, starting now, my time is MINE. Yes, I’ll be devoting necessary bits of it to filling jewelry orders (tomorrow) and working on my “regular day job[1]” stuff, but I’ll be able to run errands during the day. I’ll be able to multi-task by getting the bread started and the laundry in the machine, and then working on fill-in-the-blank while the dough rises and the washer does its thing.
I’m so happy that I can get back into my usual routine, dedicating Friday hours to blogging, devotions, good cooking, and adding a new item or two to that list. I’m so happy to know that I’ll have the time and space to go for walks (did I mention that today felt like the first real day of Spring?[2]) to sit in libraries or coffee shops[3] and work on my National Poetry Month poetry project.
Yeah, I have a poetry project. My plan is to write 2 poems (drafts) per day, every day of April, in order to come up with a draft manuscript for a poetry book (tentatively titled “How to Cook a Heart”). It’s going to be poems about food and seasonality, but I’m curious to find out what else comes out in the metaphors (I have theories… we’ll see if they pan out).
 
So that’s where I’m at. I have a freezer full of bones that need to be made into stock (and no pressure canner with-which to can said stock, which means waiting until I get through the last few jars in the fridge before doing a new batch). I have a duck carcase to hack up and store in the fridge (more bones… oh, darn. ;-)) and quinoa to put in a tupperware as well. I have a fridge to clean out, since the bits and pieces have been building up and, honestly, some of them are definitely past their best. I have tidying to do, and a home to get settled into again.
The seasons are turning. The next lunar cycle will be busy, but busy with the labours of my heart. :-D
 
 
- TTFN,
- Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Queer & Trans health outreach. Ten hours a month = stable, albeit small, income for me.
 
[2] Eleven degrees (celsius) and sunny. The sun was warm. I walked home with my jacket open and my sunglasses on! :-D
 
[3] I know, I know. Coffee shops aren’t the best use of my limited funds, but they’re a great way to designate Writing Time by setting it in a space that has neither (a) distracting Things I Must Get Done, or (b) fascinating books I haven’t read yet. So I go with that.

F is for Freeze and Thaw (Spring Euqinox is Upon Us) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

My ritual group is meeting (at my place, this time ’round, which is handy) for our Spring Equinox ritual tonight. (I’m making almond cookies and Cleaning All The Things when I get home from my day-job this evening). Right now – even as I write this – I’m trying to come up with a variation on Starhawk’s “Tree Meditation” that I can addapt into a “fountain meditation” for thawing creative and emotional blocks and generally giving one’s personal Energy a good spring cleaning.
My mind keeps wandering to spinning and yarn and knitting, and I’m not sure why – it could very easily just be that I have new roving to spin and new yarn with-which to continue the work on my shawl. No idea. Thoughts? Beuler?
 
Spring Equinox, in this time and place, is a time of freezing and thawing, a time of edges between one season and the next[1]. It’s a liminal time in a more noticeable way than Autumn Equinox is (though that, too, stands on the cusp between Goat-Tail Summer and The Autumn of Pumpkins). I walk to my temp job on uneasy feet, skating along iced-up roads in the rubber boots I’ll need to keep my feet dry on the way home. Precipitation fluctuates between snow, sleet, freezing drizzle, and chilly rain, depending on what the wind is like.
 
One of my group-mates has talked about how rebirth is a fairly significant theme for her at this time of here. Between that and the water stuff, I’m put in mind of a song (or song-fragment?) I co-wrote ages and ages ago.
Walk me to the river
to the place where it runs fast and deep
Let the rive take me
and turn me in my sleep
Wash over me, sweet water,
and give me life once more
Birth me from your depths again
to wake upon your shore

 
…Which is all well and good, except that another of our group-mates nearly drowned, once upon a time, and I don’t really want to depict a water-based rebirth when someone in our group knows what it’s really like (hint: Not pretty, not peaceful, not safe).
 
ANYWAY. So I’ve got to poke at this a little bit more. (I feel better having a good idea of what we want to do of an evening, and am feeling woefully underprepared at this stage of the game… with people turning up in all of three hours, no less. O.O)
 
But that’s where things are at right now. I gather it’s turned balmy and beautiful outside over the course of the work day. That bodes well for my walk home.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] That’s the thing. If you’ve ever read Palimpsest you will know about the Four Winters – bare branches, snow, ice, and mud – that come before Spring arrives. We have the same thing in Ottawa, most years, except that we have two springs – the spring of mud and the spring of crocuses. By the time the lilacs come out and the apples bloom, we’re already into Summer.