Full Moon – Rose/Strawberry Moon Crests

I have been picking berries. A single, deep red strawberry from my garden (and another on the way), a handful or two of serviceberries, almost a litre of red currants hastily plucked while wearing my “Of Course I Can Pick These Berries” skin – they’re going to Toronto with us, for our Archivist’s birthday dinner on Sunday.
My zucchini plant (I think) is starting to trail along the ground. My sugar peas are swelling in their pods. My eggplant bloomed this morning! :-D
I’ve been experimenting just a little bit with actively working my glamour. It’s still a very iffy thing, and it doesn’t necessarily work all the time, but some of it I’ve got down (see above, re: Goblin Fruit berries).
 
My lovely wife is opening her own Outside-the-House shop space for her leatherwork business inside of the next two weeks (if all goes well)! :-D
I’ve managed to wrangle some casual-hours reliable paid work(!) which is making my life a whole lot easier.
It’s been bucketing down rain today, and July is due to be chilly (for a given value of “chilly” that takes “July” into account). I hope my extra squash plants germinate and thrive in spite of that (and, more to the point, that the seeds don’t rot before they have the chance to get big and strong).
 
I’ve been using today – a stat, in Canada – to get packed for my trip and get all of the Birthday Feast stuff organized in the kitchen. I leave tomorrow, and I’m really excited for it all. Seeing my girl, yes, but also meeting other folks while I’m there. I’m going to see if I can’t work a little bit of glamour magic while I’m at it.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad.

The year of the Pig – Part 2: A Week of Francis (Summer Solstice Version)

So we’ve been eating Francis for about a month now. I can’t say it’s been wall-to-wall pork (or even wall-to-wall Francis). There have been a few sausages from Seed To Sausage, an a roast chicken in there. But this past week, I cooked a 4lb ham and this is what we’ve gotten out of it, so far:
 
Friday, June 19th: Braised ham (with potatoes, parsnips, and Various Cooking Greens)
Saturday, June 20th: I… think that was red-lentil curry with lots of (slightly woody) rappini, since that particular leafy-green/sprouting-broccoli has started bolting like there’s no tomorrow. It was… not a big hit. I mean, it tasted good, but the texture was a little bit… twiggy. This is why I started uprooting the rappini plants. I think they’ve served their time, and it’s appropriate to put some more heat-loving crops in the place they were previously occupying.
 
Sunday, June 21st: We didn’t eat at home, but I threw together a couscous dish (see below) that we ate later in the week.
 
Monday, June 22nd: Couscous with pork and (frozen) broccoli. This was basically “We have had a hell of a weekend and are stressed all the heck out” food. Not comfort food. Just food that would provide a heap of protein and some carbs (and some veggies) without too much effort or thought process needed.
 
Tuesday, June 23rd: Ham sandwiches on home-made bread (clearly) with red onion & rainbow chard, plus a “kale” salad made with the last of the rappini (which I’ve mostly pulled up in the interests of planting more squash) plus some crumbled walnuts and dried cranberries. Partially, this was because it’s easy to make sandwiches and salad for four (technically salad for five, actually), and partly because we had a power-outage yesterday that lasted 3-4 hours (nothing spoiled – the ice cream even stayed solid), right over the dinner period. I figured that sandwiches were a good bet.
 
I’ve still got a fair bit of pork left over, even after making a couple of sandwiches for my lovely wife to take to work this morning, so I’m thinking we can probably make it stretch quite easily to the next Fabulous Friday Dinner (which might be a shoulder roast, this time ’round) by doing a noodle dish tonight (ham + garlic scapes + cilantro + rainbow chard + some egg-drops, fried up with glass noodles in some sesame oil and soy sauce) and maybe a pork-heavy chili for Thursday (that would also use up some of my last remaining tomato preserves and some of the weird “prickly-mustard” that (a) is also starting to bolt, but (b) seems to do best when cooked low-and-slow in a liquid).
 
So that’s what a week worth of Francis looks like.
Other weeks will look different.
Like maybe we have pork chops one night, and/or bacon one morning, but the rest of the week is pasta with alfredo sauce, salads made with garden greens, nuts & dried fruit, or bean-based dishes that include onions and kale sauteed in bacon grease and grain cooked in bone stock. I’m hoping that, as the garden continues to produce delicious edibles, we’ll spend the summer eating veggie-heavy meals.
Part of this is just: Yum, veggies. Part of it is trying to squeeze the most of our garden plots while they’re still producing lots of food and have the sun and the rain (and the nitrogen-fixing power fo the legumes) help keep them recovering and keeping on.
Part of this is: hydro is expensive. The rates just went up again, and the less often I use the oven the better. If I can get the hang of baking bread only once a week (unlikely) or baking it during the same hours that I’m roasting or braising a large cut of meat, that will help use the energy efficiently.
And, yes, some of it is wanting to make the meat last for as long as possible. I’d really like it if, in spite of not buying much meat to suplement it, our half-a-pig lasted the whole year (so until mid/late May).

Summer Solstice Garden Tour 2015

Hello again!
 
So Summer Solstice has come and gone (and we’re in the long slide towards the dark again, but it’s easy to ignore that when Bountiful Season is basically upon us), and the garden is starting to offer up food that isn’t made entirely of leaves.
This is very exciting, I don’t mind telling you.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to do another Garden Tour post, partially in response to Erica’s (May) photo tour invitation, and partially just because I like showing off. To that end: Onwards!
 
Lots of Pics Behind the Cut

New Moon – Rose Moon / Strawberry Moon Begins

The roses are bursting into florid bloom righ tnow. (And, okay, have been for a while). The strawberry plants are setting fruit (so’s almost everything else, but the strawberries and serviceberries are the ones most likley to be ripe in the next two weeks, so…)
I have been harvesting actual food frmmy actual garden for a few weeks now, putting some of it up in the freezer and eating a lot of it fresh, too.
The pole beans are starting to need something to climb (besides each other and the fava bean stalks), the peas and favas (and rappini – woops) are blooming and the bees are visiting my garden. The trellis has yet to be built, but it’s getting towards the point where it won’t wait any longer. we may be able to score some free lumber from up the street (some friends have extra left over froma project) which would definitely help.
The heat has hit, and the humidity with it. The Mystery Greens have turned out to be mustard – prickly leaves which I need to harvest and start cooking. I was thinking of doing something like sag masala or something with them.
 
This is the beginning of “Much Too Much” season, as Tamar at Starving Off The Land would put it, the wanton bride that is Summer. My bioregion is a good 6-12 weeks behind the South-English one where the Wiccan year-wheel was devised. You don’t even have scilla and snowdrops around here at Spring Equinox, not typically, let alone daffodils. So it feels strange to be calling Summer Solstice “midsummer” as if it had been sunny, steamy, and fruitful for two months already rather than just barely into the hot and heady.
 
None the less, energetically speaking, things are taking off. (Maybe that’s just Mercury being out of retrograde, I dunno). Our Archivist has a little bit of interim work and a lead on a longer-term paid contract, which is great news. My wife is ever-so-slightly drowning in army boots and army hats and othe army stuff that needs repairing before tourist season really gets going. Even some of my projects are starting to bear fruit (by which I mean “generate money” or otherwise see results). My chapbook made it off the press, for example, and a few people have picked up copies already.
 
Magically speaking, I’m feeling a push towards a certain kind of glamour – which I’ll probably be blogging about in a little bit, so just bear with me – and have been working a lot of candle magic lately – mostly for other people, though I should aim some to my immediate household as well, and sooner rather than later.
 
I have a ham thawing in the fridge, which I probably won’t get to cook until Friday night (good timing), when I’ll put it with the last of my carrots, my very last apple, one of my numerous cooking onions, and as massive a kale-and-fresh-herbs salad as I can manage. (It’s funny. I’m not sick of greens by any stretch of the imagination – we eat those all year here, thanks to the chest freezer – but I’d really, really like to have something else – snow peas, or shelled fava beans, for example – to add to the salads and stir-fries and such-like. That’s still a few weeks away, though. ;-)
 
Anyway. Moving right along.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Terroir and Humanity

syrens:

Neat thoughts. Go take a look.

Originally posted on The Goblin Chief:

This is one of several natural springs which drain together to form the Danube. This is one of several natural springs which drain together to form the Danube.

We’re doing a history unit on the pre-Roman Celts (a bit deep for 2nd and 3rd graders, I know) and what’s struck me about them is their powerful sense of place. Few things were sacred except places. The Celts first emerged as a distinct people in the headwaters of the Danube, in what is now the Black Forest of Germany. The Danube gets its name from Danu, the mother/water goddess whose waters flowed out from within the earth in the time of primordial chaos. Her waters nourished Bile, the sacred oak, from which sprang the gods and goddesses. From Dyaus, the bright-one, sprang (they believed) the Celts themselves.

In pre-modern times, situating a house relative to water was absolutely crucial. Ben Falk has a wonderful discussion of how do analyze a site’s hydrology before building in…

View original 362 more words

Hearth, Hospitality, and Home

My fingers are ringing with the bright chill of peppermint and rosemary essential oils. There’s lavender mixed in there, too, and white vinegar, and salt. I swear, the idea was just to deoderize (ye gods) a tea towel and some of my dish cloths, but I wound up sloshing the last of it across my steps, pouring out protections just ’cause I can.
 
That’s the lovely thing about herbal magic. Generally speaking, if it’ll cure a cold or sanitize a diaper, it’ll probably also work in protection magic. That’s how it goes, right? If mint and birch will open up your lungs again, by breathing the steam or drinking the tea, then maybe hanging a bunch of them (to dry, yeah) over your threshold will keep the sickness from your door in the first place. Maybe it’ll keep other bad stuff away, too.
 
So that – along with putting the coffee on – was what I did before 8am this morning. (I know, I know, a whole heap of you folks have to be at a desk by 8am and were doing this with the sun barely over the horizon, but we run on a slightly different schedule here).
 
I’m going to spend the day (a) prepping my set list and numbering chapbooks for my show, but also (b) catching up on various house-wifely and kitchen-witchly tasks that have been needing some attention. Stuff like re-stocking my beeswax candle supply (since I’ll be lighting my altars tonight anyway), doing the laundry in the hand-crank machine, feeding & weeding the garden, patching my wife’s skirt, plus the usual daily tasks like dishes (endless dishes…) and dinner.
 

 
Maybe it’s because Mercury is (fucking finally) out of Retrograde, and the conversations are flowing more freely again, or maybe it’s because I just read S. Bear Bergman’s Blood, Marriage, Wine, and Glitter, but I’ve been thinking (and talking) a lot about hearth, hospitality, and family of late:
Talking with a friend, as I taught her to spin, about “career housewifery” and how some people are happiest and most fulfilled when their paid work is, at most, part-time and, frequently, piecework or casual hours.
Talking with my mom about both my sister’s new baby and my (and my wife’s) new, recently-relocated girlfriend and realizing that my mom is handling the reality of my polyamoury really quite well.
Understanding, more and more, how much hospitality matters to me, how much it feeds me on an emotional, heart-and-soul level, as well as how much it touches on, and overlaps with, my faith and what, in turn, that means in terms of being welcoming and offering people my spare bed to sleep on, whether or not I necessarily want to hang with them for the next 72 hours, or whatever. All that stuff from The Oddyssey, where you invite someone[1] in, feed them a really good meal, and then get around to “So, who are you, anyway?” that’s really relevant here.
 
So much of my day-to-day work/Work is… care-taking. The sheer weight of gratitude when my girfriend gets the interview, my friends (plural) come out of their surgeries safely, my brother gets to change streams, my extended fam gets to keep its reunion for another year. That my devotional candles include my gods, my ancestors, and one dedicated to “family and friends” – to my leather/glitter family close and distant. That the garden I plant, that is connected to and is-flat-out my gods (Misha, Mattaer, in particular), that connects me to my farming (and primarily maternal, though paternal too) ancestors, that I harvest with feeding The Multitude in mind, that it was built by that family (the soil, the bedframes, even some of the plants). That the garden I planted for beauty and the bees is made up almost exculsively of plants given to me by glitter-fam, wine-kin, leather-crew.
 

“Masha, my own, my littlest sister,” the matron called down. “Take this with you.”
She bit off her yarn in her teeth and tossed the red ball to Marya, who caught it and squeezed it like fruit at the market. The yarn was softer than any wool, expertly spun, thick.
“It will always lead you back, to your country, to your home. I make all my children’s stockings with the stuff, so they will know how to come home[…]”
Deathless (Catherynne M. Valente)

 
A million years ago (AKA 2004), in an entirely different house and an entirely different life, or close to it, I commented to one of my witchy friends who’d come for Summer Solstice (a week after I’d moved in) that my religion is garden-kitchen-table religion. It’s the feasting and the feeding, the communion of wine-and-weeding, weekly brunches in untidy homes because family doesn’t care about the mess; of potluck feasting and gifted jars of fruit-butter; of “I can stretch dinner for an extra person” and “Ye gods, please take this bag of zucchini/rhubarb/mint/tomatoes off my hands”. It’s the holiness, and wholeness, that are passed hand-to-hand along with the gravy, the green beans, the goodie bags. It’s the protections stirred into the soup, spun into the yarn, sewn into the patches. Every stitch to keep you safe and bring you home again.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] And, yes, there’s a bit of a “vetting process” as to whom you invite in. In the case of Ancient Greek Nobility, it was “Does he [always he] own his own his own warship? If yes, clearly he’s The Right Sort.” But it’s just as easily understood as Bear’s “shaking the queer tree” method of couch-surfing and finding couches for others to surf based on having a friend in common, wherein said friend’s existence is a tacit approval of both the person who needs the couch and the person who has one available.

Clearly You Need To Know What I Ate Tonight

So today was a day of sending out job applications and returning library goodies. But I made the time, once the rain had let up (for now – I’m hoping pretty strongly that we get a little more rain overnight) to get all of my glorious, gifted plants into the ground – mostly into the front yard, where the card-board weed-smothering boxes are rotting nicely and doing their job, but are also soft enough to dig through and get to the (mostly clay, rocks, and broken glass) pre-existing soil underneath. Thank you, days of rain, for helping that along! :-D Into the back yard went garlic chives and apple mint, and I took a few minutes (okay, a good half-hour) to spread the sauce tomatoes out just a little bit and give them some trellises to lean against.
That’s part of why I want the rain. I want the tomatoes to be happy. (Mainly, I admit, so that they produce a tonne of fruit, but hey. Benign self-interest?)
 
But my final garden task for the day – with the possible exception of taking a bucket of water out back and giving the tomatoes a drink – was to trim the rappini (which, given that we’re pushing Summer Solstice around these parts, is definitely starting to bolt) of its flower stalks (AKA “sprouting broccoli” or “broccolini”) and to cut a few bunches of fresh herbs, as well.
 
As you may have guessed, I’m really excited to be eating regularly (maybe even frequently – like: several times per week, so far) from the garden.
I’m also, in an entirely different way, kind of excited – or at least proud of my self – for cooking legumes from for-real scratch. As in: not just lentils, but the kind of (Great Northern, in this case) beans that you have to pre-soak, and that will give you about 3C beans for the price of one, by the time you’re done with them.
 
Partly for Year of the Pig reasons, partly for financial reasons, and partly for various health-related reasons, I’m trying to incorporate more beans-and-grains dishes into what we eat. Sometimes this means that the grain in “served on a bed of _________” becomes a mix of grain and short-cooking legumes (usually black lentils and pot barley, sometimes quinoa or white basmatic rice + red lentils) done in bone-stock, and that lets me “get away with” using half a cup of left-over roast rabbit/chicken/pork for the “meat” part of the dish without scrimping on the protein in a dish for 3+ people. Other times it’s less about being “sneaky” and more about just doing a vegetarian (ish – I do tend to cook my grains in bone stock, so…) dish for the sake of expedience and/or keeping the heat out of the house.
This was the case with tonight’s dinner.
 
Ingredients from the garden:
Sprouting Broccoli / Rappini
Greek Oregano
Sage (lots)
Basil
Winter Savory
Vietnamese Garlic greens
 
The rest:
A few stalks of asparagus (foodland Ontario for the win – I still have about half a pound of the stuff in the fridge)
Red quinoa (from somewhere south of the equator, I’m sure) + Great Northern Beans (from Saskatchewan) cooked in home-made bone-stock a couple of days ago
Black “beluga” lentils (likewise from Saskatchewan)
Dried cranberries (from California, no doubt)
Black pepper, prepared Dijon mustard, pinch of salt, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, a hint of maple syrup, and a pinch of nutmeg
 
 
I steamed the garden stuff while the lentils cooked (meaning: during the last 10 minutes of the lentils cooking), then tossed everything together in a bowl and mixed it until I couldn’t see any streaks of mustard anywhere.
It made enough for two adults plus one lunch, but we managed to get it to stretch to three (slightly smaller) adult-sized meals (plus one lunch) with the addition of a little more raw asparagus. If I’d really wanted to, I could have thrown in some of my (few) remaining walnuts and/or a few raw pumpkin seeds as well. That might have been a good idea. I find myself craving toast or some other munchable thing to fill in the gaps.
 
The salad came out tasty, just piquant enough (for someone who likes piquant – roughly 1/3 of the green stuff was fresh herbs, plus the mustard and balsamic are heavy hitters in the flavour department as far as I’m concerned) and was enjoyed by all. Had I known that I was going to be feeding three people tonight (woops), I would have cut an extra handful of rappini and made extra black lentils (I started with ¼ C raw black beluga lentils and, in retrospect, would have been better going with upwards of a ½ C of same).
All that being said: Not bad, for a dish that combines “what needs using up” with “what needs pruning”. :-)
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.