Daily Archives: August 3, 2011

Unexpectedly Lammas-Related, Poetry-Inspired Baking

Yeah, I know. That title’s a mouthful. A mouthful of deliciousness!

See, today I made Peach Jam. Specifically, I made peach jam with the addition of pear-cider vinegar and a few strawberries I had lying around (it’s a remarkably pink orange colour as a result of both the peach skins and the strawberries, I don’t mind telling you).
I used my last two 2C jars to can the stuff, though, so when I was left with about half a cup of fresh jam lying in the pot with nowhere to put it (except in me, of course), I decided that it was time to do more baking.

So I wrote a cupcake recipe (see below).

Of course, me being me, I didn’t actually stick to the recipe once I wrote it. My recipe calls for eggs, yoghurt, and a couple of other bits and pieces that I didn’t have on-hand at home. I switched up a bunch of stuff (including adding half a cup of fine cornmeal to cover the ground almonds I didn’t have, and adding a handful of chopped white chocolate plus a few dried apricot bits and dried cranberries, all of-which came from an ancient and failed attempt at making white chocolate bark one Winter Solstice) and baked with what I had. The recipe you’ll find, below, is actually an amalgamation of the original recipe with the extra thrown-in-stuff added (either as definite ingredients or as optional ones).

The resulting baked goods, possibly due to the cornmeal, taste more like a very, VERY fluffy muffin than like a cupcake. BUT they’re still uber-tasty and I recommend them, for sure. 😀

Some Notes:
The recipe itself is in part inspired by the jam I made, but it’s also inspired by Peach Creamed Honey (I hope that link works for everyone), the award-winning poem from Amal El-Mohtar’s gorgeous book of poetry, The Honey Month. So, obviously, the best choice for the small amount of honey called-for in this recipe is actual peach-creamed honey. Which I have no notion where to find. BUT it seems to work nicely with clover honey, so do what you like.
Also: While I didn’t mean for this to end up being Lammas-related, it includes honey[1], cornmeal[2], peaches[3] AND jam[4]. So I’m feeling like it’s kind of Seasonally Thematic, half by accident.

Anyway. Without further ado, the recipe:




For the Cupcakes

1½ C flour (wheat, oat, barley, mixture, whatever)
1 C ground almonds (OR ½ C ground almonds + ½ C fine cornmeal – which is what I used)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

½ C sour cream OR yoghurt
½ C margarine/butter/shortening
½ C brown sugar
¼ C peach jam
2 tbsp creamed honey (liquid honey is also okay)
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp orange extract (optional)

2 egg whites, beaten until stiff

¼ C chopped dried peaches (may substitute dried apricots – the emphasis here is on “dried”)
¼ C white chocolate chips

For the Frosting

1C icing sugar
¼ C margarine/butter
1 tsp orange extract OR vanilla extract
1 tbsp peach jam

Flaked almonds OR strips of orange zest (to garnish)


Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they are very stiff

In a large bowl, cream together the sour cream, egg yolks, sugar, and margarine

Add the jam, vanilla, honey, and optional orange extract, and blend until smooth

In a separate bowl (or not) mix the dry ingredients together, then add them to the sour cream mixture and blend gently until smooth, being careful not to over-mix

Fold in the beaten egg whites

Add the chopped dried fruit and the white chocolate chips and fold in until well-distributed

Spoon the batter into paper-lined muffin cups

Bake for 20-35 minutes (until golden brown)

Remove from oven and let stand ten minutes before moving the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling

When cupcakes are fully cooled, frost them with the frosting and decorate them with orange zest, flaked almonds, or whatever your heart desires


Please note: My oven only has one element (as opposed to the usual two) and so a dozen cupcakes tend to take a good half hour for me. If you have a fully-functional oven, chances are good that your cupcakes will only take 15-20 minutes. Be aware.

And, yeah. That’s my recipe. 😀

– Cheers,
– Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Harvested, around hear, in Mid-to-Late July. (You can also do a harvest around Hallowe’en, actually, which I’ll be keeping in mind come late October).

[2] It’s corn-harvesting season at the moment and, if you do Lammas as a specifically grain-related festival, that’s your grain if you’re in my bioregion.

[3] Currently in season in Ontario.

[4] home-canning, related to harvesting and planning for the future, plus the jam includes strawberries[5] and locally-brewed[6] pear-cider vinegar. I could also note that the dried fruit, drying being another method of preserving produce, fits the same correspondences as the jam. Just saying. 🙂

[5] Also in season (though getting late) in Ontario.

[6] By a friend of mine who had a batch of pear cider go… awry. It’s a gorgeous, mild, seriously fragrant vinegar that I love using in desserts. 🙂

Tarot A-Go-Go

So, like so many of us, I do tarot readings.  Most frequently, I do tarot readings for myself and gods know I just about never do them professionally (although I’ve had a few points where I’ve set up in a coffee shop and ended up doing readings in exchange for coffee and lemon squares, which is not a terrible thing).

Anyway, sometimes I’ll draw a spread for myself, but I won’t actually have time to do the interpretation, so I just pack up the reading and save it to look at later.  Maybe that’s weird, but sometimes I find that it helps because it lets me look at what I drew from a fresh perspective.  Case in point:  This morning, I had a look at a spread a drew something like a week ago.  I only vaguely remember what had been on my mind when I pulled the cards, but looking at what I drew I can see what the reading is actually about.  Know what I mean?

Anyway.  I did a “Question and Answer” spread – as I’m fond of short-and-to-the-point when it comes to stuff like this. (FYI: I use the Osho Zen tarot deck – minus the Osho Card (because I did not sign up to promote someone else’s guru). I do really like the art work – as you’ll see, since I’ve linked to pictures of all the cards I drew – and find that the way the cards are named is actually far more useful to me than the more traditional terms like “Four of Wands” or whatever).

This is what I drew (given that I’m doing this reading around a harvest time – read: a time of thinking about abundance and hope for the future – I think it’s surprisingly timely):

Signifier: No-Thingness (five of major arcana), Upright.

Question: The Miser (four of earth), Reversed.

Answer: We Are The World (ten of earth), Reversed.

Hindrances: Projections (seven of water), Reversed.

Helpers: Rebirth (ten of air), Reversed.

Outcome: Adventure (page of earth), Upright.

Overarching (current) Influences: Sharing (queen of fire), Upright.

Underlying (rising) Influences: Receptivity (queen of water), Reversed.

What I think all this stuff means (that’s the lovely thing about cardboard: It doesn’t actually know anything, but it sure gives you a good way of getting your non-verbal self (who totally knows what’s going on) to talk to your verbal self (who just thinks it’s in charge), know what I mean?):

Okay. First thing: No-Thingness is basically the Card Of Potential for me. So I read this as me being sort of on the cusp of something, with all my options open. (Because I try to be positive like that).

The Question is, pretty obviously, all about “Will I Be Okay???” which has been a question/fear of mine since time immemorial and, of late, is fairly relevant to my situation BUT

The Answer is also pretty obvious: Yes. But the “Yes” involves a change in perspective (see the following two cards) to include the reality that I’m not alone and that people have my back.

The Hindrances are really familiar. That emotional tendency to project my fears onto other people so that, when I’m afraid I won’t be able to look after myself adequately, I start freaking out that maybe the people I’m counting on are going to up and disappear on me. Getting it through my head that this isn’t actually going to happen will – given the Reversed position of this card – be a challenge BUT

Getting it through my head is what’s going to Help me. The reversed Rebirth card – since it’s reversed and since it’s an air card – is, as far as I can see, saying “Change your thinking”. Not that it’ll be easy, but that’s the trick of it all. If I can do that, THEN

The Outcome will, essentially, be a degree of fearlessness and exploration that I need to get myself through everything and do what I’m meant to do. That the Adventure card is upright tells me that (a) it’s an outward adventure, rather than an inward exploration (of self, or whatever). Which, in this situation, is a really good thing. Beyond that, though, I also read it as being an easy thing to take on once I’ve dealt with my internal Issues around fear and hiding and playing it safe. This is also a good thing. I have something fairly big to look forward to.

The Overarching and Underlying Influences cards are an addition to every tarot spread I do. I picked them up from a friend of mine, as they are a bit like Advisers to a given situation (though I’ve been known to draw a context/adviser card as well, from time to time). I have to admit that, in this deck, the queen cards (except the queen of clouds, who is just a scary and nasty individual – she corresponds to the suit of swords in the trad deck, so I’m not surprised by this) are among my most favourite pieces. Taken together, I read this combination of the out-going queen of fire and the receptive queen of water (that they are respectively upright and reversed just adds to this, I think) as meaning: If I put my stuff/self/talents/work Out There right now, I will in time (measurable time, visible time, no less) be able to Bring In the benefits of what I’ve put out. Which is, of course, exactly what I need to hear. 🙂

All in all, I think this spread is incredibly positive.
(An old anthropology teacher of mine once said, in a guest-lecture about divination, that if you are doing a reading for someone else, you always have to put a positive spin on it, because a stranger will believe you because you are in the position of Expert, and a friend will believe you because you are their friend and wouldn’t lie to them. I like it when I don’t have to spin things to find something positive in a reading).

If I were to summarize the whole thing, I think I would say something like:
“Whatever you’re setting up and trying to do/start right now is going to work. It’s going to take some effort – duh – but it’ll happen. Act despite the fear and the wobbles and the uncertainty, fake it til you make it (so to speak), and you will make it. Everything you want to do, you’ll do. Everything you want to get out of it, you’ll receive. The world is with you on this one. Go-go-go! :-D”

As such: To action! Up-up-and-awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

– Cheers,
– Meliad the Birch Maiden