Monthly Archives: March 2012

Food Snob Gripes About Food Snobbery

Hey there,

So I got a book out of the library the other day: Food Security For The Faint Of Heart

The author was writing in British Columbia – a climate not that much like Eastern Ontario’s, but not that different, either – and the “for the faint of heart” title sounded promising.

And it was okay. There were bits in there that were really smart — suggestions like “start slowly; pick a couple of things you want to accomplish every year” rather than trying to go from “typical Canadian food supply” (grocery stores, mass-production, etc) to “I have a flock of laying hens, a 2-acre organic garden, and hunt my own venison” all in one go. Because gods know that anyone who tries to make a complete switch from one (familiar and also easy) lifestyle to another (totally unfamiliar and, fyi, not easy) lifestyle all at once is probably setting themselves up for frustration, failure, and a lot of other f-words.
There were also handy tables about what is likely to come into season when (in BC), with suggestions on how to recalculate things for an approximation of your own area, as well as suggestions for how to stock up on dry goods all at once, and how to calculate how much flour or oil or whatever you go through in a given year.
So, yes, there were definitely some good bits.

There were also – and given the title of this blog-post, I’m sure this comes as no suprise – some bad bits.

What I’m getting at here is that there are a tonne of “food style” books – whether that “style” is ethical omnivourism, raw food, organic everything, gluten-reduction (maybe less this, as there are medical reasons people go in for celiac or diabetic cooking), or veganism – that do this Thing where there are Good (as in morally superior/desireable) foods and Bad (as in morally inferior/suspect) foods.

I’ve seen it in Laurel’s Kitchen (I may love her bread-stories, and her tea buscuit recipe, but a lot of her politics is sort of desperately dated and makes me twitch); I’ve seen it in How It All Vegan (and, actually, in any number of vegan cook books, many of them a whole lot more-so – thense HIAV’s continued punk-ass presence on my cookbook shelf, while most of the others have been long-since shipped to the used book store or re-homed elsewhere); I’ve even seen it in Animal Vegetable Miracle (which I adore rather more than a little bit). I’ve seen it in more than a couple of self-sufficiency books, and the odd kink how-to as well.
It isn’t a genre thing, I don’t think — but it might be a “fringe movement” thing.

I’m surely guilty of this myself – I know I used to cut salt out of absolutely everything because it was (for some reason I couldn’t even tell you now) on my Bad List – but it still drives me nuts to see that stuff in print, particularly in books that are supposed to (a) be approachable, and (b) turn you on to a particular way of eating/thinking/cooking.

Prases like: […] and “white death” (aka “refined”) sugar… well, we won’t get into the politics of that[…]
Eugh. Why bother “getting into the politics of that” when you’ve just smeared your views all over the page…

It comes across as a bait-and-switch kind of nastiness — presenting your work as an “everyone into the pool!” style how-to, and then making it clear that you’re snearing down your nose at everyone who doesn’t already believe the same things you do, or to the same degree.

Unimpressed, author. Unimpressed.

Anyway. Moving right along.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Sugar Moon Menu – Ten Days Late

So. It’s currently about 1/4 of the way through Leaf Moon.
Which is lovely and dandy and fine. We had a week of utterly bizarre Summer-hot weather, followed by a return to seasonal (read: cold, largely grey, and freaking windy) weather. But the Magnolia down the street is ready to burst into bloom, and the trees are budding and starting to unfurl their leaves (and, in some cases, the first beginnings of their flowers).
So it’s good.

And I ended up getting a couple of duck legs at the grocery store yesterday. I’ve got a bag of mixed beets (golden and “candy-cane”) and a bag of regular red beets both in the fridge, and decided to screw the local-seasonal for the moment and grab a bunch of baby spinach to go with them. Add a bottle of wine, and we have the makings of quite the fantabulous feast. 😀

The menu:
Roast duck legs with maple-balsamic glaze
Beet salad (three beets + garlic + balsamic vinegar and a bit of sour cream — would work well, maybe even better, with chevre, but I spulrged on the duck, so went cheap on the salad-topper) on a bed of steamed baby spinach
Wild rice with dried fruit (probably dried figs, but maybe not)
Maple-nutmeg custard over some kind of cake (possibly something involving walnuts, cloves, and orange extract)
Late Autumn Riesling (Iniskillen)


2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch each: garlic-salt, pepper, thyme
1 diced/minced shallot (or a small amount of diced/minced red onion – which is what I’m using)

Mix everything together
Put your two duck legs in a baking/roasting pan (you really, really won’t need to oil this one)
Pour the glaze over top of everything

4-6 dried figs, quartered (optional)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (optional)

Bake everything at 350F for an hour-and-a-half or until the duck is Crispy and Delicious
Serve with winter veggies like red cabbage, rutabaga, beets, or kale.
(Or, in my case, beets and spinach and wild rice, but hey…)


Sugar Moon Custard:
2 C milk (or cream, or a mix)
2 eggs
1/2 C maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 pinch nutmeg

Reserve the milk.
Beat everything else together in a sauce pan (no heat yet).
Whisk in the milk until everything is smooth.
Turn the heat on at “medium” and continue whisking the mixture – slowly but constantly – until it starts to thicken.
Pour into a buttered 1L oven-proof glass dish/bowl.
Set the bowl in a baking pan half-filled with water.
Put the whole shebang into a 350F oven and bake for about 1 hour.
Remove from oven and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.
Put the custard (but not the water-pan) in the fridge and allow to chill.
Serve on it’s own, over fruit or cake, drizzled with further syrup, or however you like. 🙂

Beeswax Tea Lights

Today I made tea lights.

I’ve been collecting used tea light cups for years at this point, with the intent of re-filling them with beeswax on my own so that I could make the switch from parafin tea lights to beeswax without paying $1/candle (which, when you go through about 10/week, minimum, gets really expensive really fast).

The other idea was to do demi-votives (or eight-hour tea lights, or whatever you want to call them) in reusable steel holders (I am still looking for appropriate wicks for these – I’ll let you know when they’re ready) that I could bring out to craft shows and sell at 3/$5 or something in a decorative cloth bag. (I do something similar with soap sample packs – the idea is that they make really nice Little Somethings for your sweetheart, mom, party host, etc., and they come pre-wrapped on top of it).

I can’t do the second option yet because, honestly, re-used tea light cups look pretty awful. And a lot of them have traces of parafin in the bottoms, even after I’ve scraped them out. I wouldn’t pay money for something that looked like that. So. The plan is to order a bunch of new wicks (since I’m out – see below), and a bunch of brand new, shiny tea light cups (metal, so they’re recycleable) and to see what I can do when I’m not working with less-than-pretty packaging.

I can, however, re-use my old tea light cups around the house. Which is exactly what I spent today working on. I re-filled just shy of 60 tea light cups (it used… probably about 1.5 pounds of beeswax[1]). My altars and honey-pots now have beeswax tealights to feed them – YAY! – and will for the next 5-6 weeks.

That’s it for now.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] I ordered 10lbs of beeswax from busybee – a local business, itself – and it arrived in two huge, irregular somewhat rectangular blocks. Which is dandy, but it means I have to break chunks off with a screwdriver and a hammer and it’s not an exact science in any way what-so ever. I’m basing my weight-guess on the fact that, in the past, I’ve pulled 36 tealights out of one pound of beeswax (this was about two Midwinters ago, so it’s been a while), but I was using deeper cups that time and so probably got fewer tea lights then as a result.

Spring Equinox 2012 (weirdly hot weather wtf)

Spring Equinox
Second-Last Day of Sugar Moon

So it’s been feeling like June, maybe even July around here of late. Hot summer sun burning through bare branches. Bizarre. O.O Flip-flops and tank-tops, and no mosquitos (yet) because it’s too early and, up until a couple of days ago, has been cold enough that they weren’t hatching yet.

Everything’s getting busy.
Except that’s not even accurate (for me, anyway) because it’s been busy pretty-much since Imbolg.
Still. I’m about to launch into the Next Big Thing (work-wise) and it’s my first time hosting a conference of this type (won’t be my last though – I hope).

I’m fighting the urge to set out ground-cherry seeds and get them started outdoors. It’s been so hot the last couple of days that it feels like it would be okay to do. None the less, I’m wary. May need to check some forecasts or something to see what the next two weeks (ahaha – ’cause those are so accurate) are going to potentially look like, if I want to go that route.


Just a very speedy blog post – more to mark the day than anything else.

There may be tarot readings later (if I have the chance).

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Crafting/crafting – Craft Show Redux

I did a craft show today.
And I succeeded in selling stuff! YAY! 😀
This is way up from last year, where I barely made my table-fee back (although I suspect that had a lot to do with the show falling on the same day as the Ottawa Slut Walk).

I’m happy with the tally in part because I raised my prices this year — most of my jewelry is now $20/piece (up from $15) and my soap is now $3/bar rather than $2/bar. So it’s a fairly big mark-up, percentage-wise (though also a more accurate price-point. In the case of the jewelry, it reflects the time, materials, & overhead that go into them – and in the case of the soap, I’m no-longer under-cutting the market… woops).

I’m not sure if what I did pre-show, magically, had anything to do with my sales today, but I figure I’ll make a note of it anyway:

Sigils done in glitter-eyeliner on my wrists;
Coconut oil (fast luck, in particular with money) all over my hands in lieu of moisturizing cream;
Lit my honey-pot candles (only briefly, though — would have liked to give them each a whole tealight but there wasn’t enough time before we had to go, so).

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

General Status Update – Magic, Moon Phases, and Gettin’ Things Done

I’ve been looking at my calendar, and I’m finding that a big chunk of the Busy in February and March has all fallen within the span of Maple Sugar Moon. Some of it extends into Leaf Moon – in particular next week’s Rainbow Health Ontario Conference – but most of it’s been contained within this particular lunar cycle.

I suspect it’s just a fluke. (I’d have to monitor things for a fe years to see if there was some kind of a pattern going on that might correspond to the coming of Spring and melt-season, but who knows).

I’ve been working on a bunch of events (some finished, some happening inside of the next ten days, and some still a ways off), and I’ve been semi-neglecting my New Year New You practices. I need to feed my honey pots and light up my altars; need to get my Wedding Singer cards into the freshly re-opened bakery in Little Italy and the bridal shops around downtown; need to take time to write fiction and/or poetry (although taking time to write this blog post is – believe it or not – acutally a step in that direction); need to get back into doing yoga and vocal warm-ups in the mornings (though – what with the glorious spring weather we’ve been having – I have been getting out for a walk every day for the past little while). Generally get back in touch with the “embodied/living/doing art” part of my work/life, rather than focusing (as much) on the “activism/arts organizing” part.

Presently, I’ve got a bathtub full of (cold) water, because they were (allegedly) going to shut down the water today starting at 9am[1]. I’ve also got the patio door cracked open and am letting some of the above-freezing air into the apartment to freshen things up. There may be fresh bedsheets in our future as well. (Gods… I’ve spent the last two days working on a grant application and a safer-sex presentation, and it feels freaking WONDERFUL to be writing about vaguely-cosmology-related stuff that I’m doing around the house! A breath of fresh air in and of itself!)

From an NYNY perspective, I’ve got some potentially awesome and at least marginally lucrative[2] job prospects in the horizon. One’s a one-off almost-sure thing with the (theoretical) potential for further contracts down the line, and the other is… not massively likely but, if it happened, would give me at least a few months (maybe even a year?) of part-time (yay) regular paid work doing a job I’m good at (even if I don’t love it in-and-of-itself) for an organization that I adore and already volunteer for[3].

But there’s more that needs doing – the stuff that *isn’t* the hustle, but that keeps me going, lets me be creative, lets me be in my body and – with any luck – joyfully so. And that stuff’s important.

So that’s where I’m at.

I’ve got turkey in the oven, and I’ll be braising red cabbage in apple juice[4] and doing up some rice for the rest of dinner once my sweetie gets home.

Wish me luck with all my endevors! Spring approaches! YAY! 😀

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Our building is under new management and they’re spiffing things up to the tune of new washing machines (thank freaking goodness!!!) and a lick of paint.

[2] I still have issues with how much of my Radical Magical Transformation has to do with income. I feel like one of the newage-rhymes-with-sewage types who sit around sanctifying greed and acting like their doing it in order to benefit The Entire World. Or something. But there it is. I can arts-and-crafts, karaoke, scribble, volunteer, and TF* my way through all the stuff I love, without much if any problem at all. The part where my life radically transforms is the part where I can actually make a reliable living doing as much.

[3] Think good thought for me on both of those fronts – and the poetry show grant front – for me, will you Internets? It’d be a big help. 🙂

[4] Still trying to do seasonal eating — although I got to tell you, we are getting tired of cabbage around her and have had more than a few frozen pizzas (featuring spinach and peppers!) and dinners out in the past month and a bit. I miss bright, colourful veggies and fruit that doesn’t come out of tins. But we’re working with it. I’m foreseeing a lot of salads and possible a weekly Raw Vegan night at our house come summer time, I’m just sayin’.

It’s Not About Vaginas

Okay. So. Goddess Spirituality and biological reductionism. Let’s talk about that.

I think by now (given that this happened literally over a year ago at this point) everyone already knows about what went down at Pantheacon wrt transmisogyny in Z Budapest’s ritual space (link goes to Miss Sugar’s blog, fyi – she’s got some “do you want to know more” links at the bottom of the post).

As such, I’m kind of late to addressing this.

So. How do I begin.

I haven’t entirely bought into the Maiden-Mother-Crone trifecta as the be-all and end-all of women’s experiences for quite some time. I’m not sure if I ever did — the categories get stretched out of shape so much because we’ve been trying to get them to cover “happily child-free career woman” and the like. But, at the same time, I get how they are still being used, if not entirely why.

More on that in a little bit.

As a cis woman who, until only about.. four(?) years ago, didn’t actually have a concept of myself that included sexual agency OR bodily autonomy; as a cis woman who knows that my reproductive system and the primary and secondary sexual characteristics[1] are used as justification for trampling my human rights in every single arena from legislature to the bus stop, from the school system to my own damn marriage bed, and punishing the audacity of my existence with every conceivable form of violence from micro-agressions to murder. (Stay with me here folks, I’m getting to it); as a cis woman in the context of a seriously woman-hating culture… yes, I absolutely found the treatment of cis-female biological functions like menstruation as Good and Powerful to be a really big, really wonderful deal.

The thing is… trans women? They get exactly the same bullshit[3], exactly the same trampling of their human rights, exactly the same systemic violence from micro-agressions to murder as cis women do, but in their case, it’s justified because of their lack of a bleeding, baby-growing, factory-direct vagina + reproductive-system.

So. Big reveal here: It’s not about vaginas.
Whether the assholes are assuming we have them, or assuming we don’t, we’re all systemically hurt, disempowered, and generally down-trodden by a culture that says, at every possible volume, in every possible way, that Girls Suck. (Here, have a kinda, sorta, tangentially-related video about femmephobia and transmisogyny and how they are connected within the (queer) Women’s Community – I think it’s relevant. Go watch it, I’ll wait).

And we’re back.

So, it’s not about vaginas.
Which, as it happens, brings me back to the M-M-C triad.
See… life doesn’t fall neatly into those age-and-biology-based categories, anyway. Not really. To site a personal example: The whole “Maiden” thing, where you’re exploring the world, being adventurous, and striking off the beaten path to find your own way and your own power? I sold a house and got divorced before I started that stuff. My “maiden phase” isn’t remotely tied to menarche, so why should it have to be so for any other chick?

My girlfriend, when this stuff first came up, asked “Why does it have to be body-centric at all??” and I think she has a point.

Hapaxnym has a post about an alternative Triple Goddess whose facets aren’t based on, or tied to, menarche, pregnancy, or menopause but, instead, focus on agency and skill-sets: The Warrior, the Healer, and the Queen. I like this a lot, and will probably revisit this Alternative Triad later on this blog.

Similarly, Miss Sugar has a post about Dianic Wiccan rituals she’s done that have to do with mutual care and strengthening, and on Traditional Women’s Work, rather than on, say, menstruation.

From a different direction, Foxfetch has this gorgeous post that looks at primary and secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive functions as Holy Mysteries that aren’t connected to (cis) gender. (He’s also got this and this, neither of which I’ve read yet, but which look at menstruation in association with the Horned God – I’m looking forward to having a look at them).

And (late addition, since I had to find it, first), there’s this piece by Little Light as well which, while not specific to trans women or goddess psirituality, is still quite relevant.

So that’s kind of where I’m at with regards to This Stuff.

More to come (in theory).

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] You know, those visible-from-the-outside body parts that suggest to random passers-by, and/or people I go to bed with, that my reproductive system includes a uterus and ovaries[2]?

[2] Uterus and ovaries not being visible from the outside, and all. For all anyone walking by me know, my vagina (a) doesn’t exist, (b) is only about an inch and a half deep, and I don’t have a cervix, or a uterus, or ovaries, (c) built on a surgeon’s table, OR (d) was formed cell by cell in utero and is deep enough and flexible enough to take a fist or deliver a child from my body.

[3] With, I might add, bonus intersectionality!