Monthly Archives: August 2012

G is for Glamour – Pagan Blog Project 2012

I work part-time as a model – mostly I do figure modeling, where the point is to be as Interesting a human shape as possible (my height and long limbs come in handy here) and presenting a certain Look – beyond the shape of your actual, physical body – is not such a huge thing. But I also work as a photographer’s model doing fetish, glam and art nudes, and concept shoots… and, for that, Glamour comes in handy.
Given that, it’s maybe a little weird that I’m not that good (or maybe just not that consistent) at invoking/implementing it in my day-to-day life.

I’ve written before about trying to figure out what my “hook” is, in terms of visual presentation – the work of sorting out what looks good on me and how to combine that with what I actually want to wear. But Glamour, in the magical sense, is more than that. There’s a whole slew of Things A Witch Can Do to subtly influence people around her (and her, herself) to see her the way she wants to be seen. Everything from wearing charged[1] jewelry and/or perfume, to taking magical baths or using a Glam Wash on her windows and mirrors, to doing Miss Sugar’s trick with unscented hand sanitizer, (unused) eye-shadow brushes, and sigils.

I recently started doing (or at least attempting) sigil magic. Beyond writing dollar signs, hearts, and happy faces, on my arms in body glitter[2], I mean. And I decided to try and help them along by doing a Glam Bath.

“Glam Bath” is not a technical term (but it could be!). It’s what I’m calling the mix of essential oils that call up sensuality and hedonism and which, added to my bath water (or built into a scented candle, or whatever), can be used to charm for love, joy, protection, action, and attraction (with a side of extra cash and good luck).

The foundation was Sweet Orange (happiness, love, and a few other Good Things) with additions of:
Vanilla absolute
Ylang Ylang
Cocoa absolute
… to round things out.
Strictly speaking, you could do (most, if not all, of) this with sweet orange, clove, and vanilla, but I like to add the cinnamon for an extra power boost + protection, and the cocoa and ylang ylang up the attraction factor quite a bit.
My general thought is that (a) if you’re drawing love and happiness to you, you’re going to feel beautiful and you’re going to have that Glow going on, AND (b) if you are radiating love and happiness, everyone around you is going to pick up on it (on some level) and is going to see you as beautiful and, assuming my social theory isn’t totally out to lunch, will want to do nice things for you and give you what you want.

So I had a fabulous bath, did a ritual wash of my head and my heart chakra[3], and then went about the business of actually getting clean – scrubbing off the old (I spend all day at the Pride Grounds, working an info booth. There was a LOT of exfoliating) and letting the oils soak into the new. I felt gloriously clean and pretty damn sexy by the end of. 🙂

We’ll see how it works out but… I figure it was worth a shot (and, hey, I also got a great bath out of the deal!)

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] The charging part is actually (woops) the part I tend to forget. You have to actually push some energy into the perfume/jewelry/bathwater/sigil/ingredient/whatever in order to jump-start it and get it working. That’s essentially what makes this stuff “magic” and not “wishful thinking”.

[2] Oh yeah. If you’re gonna do glamour, do glamour, baby!

[3] This was more trying to accomplish two related goals in one shot by helping myself to emotionally focus on The Good Stuff and, in so doing, draw it a little more visibly into my life.

Neil Armstrong (and the Face of the Moon)

So apparently Neil Armstrong died today.

I don’t know how old he was, or where he was living at the time, or anything about him, really, except that one day, when my parents were kids, he took a walk on the face of the moon.

My girlfriend is in awe of him. Him and Buzz and the rest of the guys who flew a bomb out of Earth’s orbit and to an entirely different piece of rock.

And I feel really conflicted about that.

Because everything around it – funding the U.S. space program, building rocket ships, trying to get there in the first place – was all done within the context of an arms race against the U.S.S.R.
Because – rather the same way I feel about Curiosity and the confirmation that there’s water on Mars – I’m really afraid that Space Exploration is just a big, huge manifestation of the whole “earth = bad; sky = good” mess that leads to the attitude of “when this planet’s ruined, we’ll just move to another one“.

I don’t want to be in awe of someone who contributed to that in such a massive way, who played fucking golf[1] in a holy place. Who left footprints on the face of a distant, yet dearly familiar god.

And yet. I see a picture like this one, and he looks like he’s in love. And so I can’t hold it against him, either.


[1] Okay. Yes. I realize that we play golf on the face of a very, VERY familiar god all the fucking time, and that doesn’t diminish the holiness of this place. But that’s still how I think about this.

G is for Goddesses – Pagan Blog Project 2012

I’m what you might call homo-social. Meaning that I tend to prefer the company of my own gender in social situations. (also romantic situations, but you knew that already). In-so-far as I’ve done Group Rituals[1], they’ve tended to be more effective[2] when they’ve been mono-gendered[3]. Perhaps, then, it’s not at all surprising that my personal pantheon (other than Ancestors, because duh) is all about The Girls.

Now… How I went about finding my pantheon was… semi-intuitive, I guess. One of my gods actually grabbed me by the brain and said “Pay Attention”, even told me her name: Maia. My lady of the Moon. She covers everything from midwifery, to gender studies and academia, to rainfall and thunder (but not so much lightning… I think that one’s Mitzu’s…), to all bodies of water to lesbian sex, to creative endeavors (particularly writing and music), to chosen-phamily and love-bonds, to the colour blue… and she’s pretty awesome. (She has some connection with crows and owls, too, but not as much as Makaa… see below).

See, the rest of my goddesses were… home-made? Sort of? I basically cobbled together a job-description and sent a call-out for what I was looking for.

E.G.: Wanted: One Earth Mama, name beginning with M, to cover rocks, dirt, soil, sand, bare earth, feeding the multitude, general kitchen efficiency and chatelainerie, abundance, security, The Land, food-centric entertaining, The Hearth (as concept and also as a room in the hosue), and maybe parenting if that happens.
… And who I got was Mattaer, the Ground Beneath my Feet. Who very pointedly told my girlfriend to tell me to boil her some water. As in literally picked up and left my kitchen, went to hers, and said “Hello, I’m from the Kitchen. I want boiled water. You tell her that.” Girl is nothing if not practical and straight-forward[4].

When I went looking for a Sun Goddess, the job-description that developed turned out to be – much to my surprise – all the Things I was afraid of when I’d sent out the call: sex, money, power, action, aggression… The stuff that comes with being a (sadistic, no less) domme and being a sexworker, as it turns out. At first, Mitzu[5] reminded me of my sister – the outgoing young woman with the commerce degree and the tendency to get what she wants. And then I recognized her for what she is… and her presence and help in my life have been invaluable. O.O

Makaa is my Lady of the Crossroads. She handles chance, luck, the rollercoaster ride of Change, the corssroads, crossed paths and chance meetings, coincidences and synchronicity, transitions, liminality in general, homeless people, the gates between life and death, ushering people over the threshold to (and, one can presume, from) the spirit/non-corporial side of things to/from the human (or otherwise) bodied side of things. She’s – not surprisingly – connected with crows, ravens, and other carrion birds. Also snakes, for some reason. She’s the ass-kicker, I don’t mind telling you. She also hangs out in the same general area as my Ancestors – at least that’s where her wee shrine is – and they seem to get along quite well (I put her on an altar with a Shiva statue one time and they did not get along. Big bronze cow bells clanging the alarm everywhere in my head until I took that statue away and moved him elsewhere[6]… Girl does not share territory well, apparently). She’s an old lady – a classic “witch” if you will – and she’s just enough of a trickster (chance and luck, remember?) to have a real twinkle in her eye when she’s about to hit you with a curve-ball. She’s a good lady, but holy crap she doesn’t pull her punches. O.O

Misha, who is (symbolically but also, I suspect, literally) Mattaer’s daughter, is… a young woman. She’s probably best correspond to the idea of “Maiden”. She’s a fairly hetero (as far as I can tell, but who knows with plants, right?) gal in her late teens or early twenties, sun-shine blonde, polyamourous (two boyfriends), and is embodied by every green thing that grows but, particularly, by winter squash, chicory (those blue flowers that I love so much), and the philodendron in the South-East corner of my apartment. (Placement is not actually a Thing for this but… south-east is actually really apt in a Spring/Summer/Dawn kind of way). When I make offerings to her in winter, I tell her to dream good dreams under the snow. She covers stuff.

And… those are my Girls.

There are other spirits in and around my home – my Ancestors, of course (my Dad, in particular, tends to turn up and see how things are going), plus a heap of happy little water spirits (who, I think, largely live in the bath tub[7]), Boroslava, and, I suspect, a couple of earth spirits, too… though I’m never entirely sure about them.

And that’s my introduction to the various spirits and small deities who share my home.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Outside of, granted, the local Pagan Schola – where the point was to teach people how to do energy work within a ritual setting. That was co-ed and it worked just fine in terms of MoreWorld Awareness.

[2] By whatever criteria you judge effectiveness – in my case “How aware was I of MoreWorld and Other People being in the place with the humans?” and “How did I feel afterwards in terms of fulfillment and general well-being?”

[3] I will eventually get around to talking about biological essentialism and things like the MMC Triad-of-Life and so-on, but that’s for another day. For now, you could try this entry.

[4] And by “straight-forward” I mean “finds a means of getting her message across when dealing with a Bunker Person” such as myself.

[5] All of their names start with M. Deal with it.

[6]I actually put him on the Ancestor Altar – being a graveyard type guy – and that seemed to work out. And, yes, I had a statue of Shiva. He’s a good fellow, as far as I can tell and, honestly, if I’m hanging out with dudes, chances are they’re the long haired, dance-loving, snake-handling, graveyard types anyway. Who’s surprised? But, no, I don’t venerate him.

[7] I can’t see them any more than I can see anyone else, but they sound slightly curious about New People, and generally content with their lot. (I suspect my running a lot of baths is helping with this). I imagine that they look a little bit like the Kodama from Princess Mononoke, only… bluer? And slightly smiley. 🙂

F is for Fall – Pagan Blog Project 2012

I’ve got another “F” post coming along, but there’s been just enough of a change in the weather that I’m really wanting to write F is for Fall today.

It’s August. Until earlier this week, it was very much deep summer – the drought had broken (ish), in the city at least, and we were getting rain again, but it was still hot, humid and glorious.
Then the nights turned chilly and I found myself needing extra blankets on the bed, wanting hot chocolate-chai lattes instead of rhubarb spritzers. I picked up my knitting.

I picked up my knitting.

Now that is a sure sign of a seasonal change.

It may, I’m willing to argue, be a symptom of the two-week temp job I’ve taken, working for an air conditioning company (that, natch, keeps their offices on the chilly side). And I’d lay money that the early loss (and turning) of the leaves around here is due to the effects of the drought rather more than the turning of the seasons. But I find that, if I’m starting to knit again, that means that, at the very least, Summer is winding down and – more often – Autumn is truly upon us.

My thoughts – which have been occupied with the harvest since some time around Summer Solstice – are turning to slow-cooked stews, soup stocks, fresh-baked bread, apple pies, and the kind of cooking that fills the house with hours of aromas and, not to put too fine a point on it, heat.
I keep eyeing my cherry tomato plant and wondering if I should just make a batch of green tomato pickles (like the one offered here) with the last of them:

Green cherry-tomato pickles (marginally modified from Food in Jars recipe)

1 C unripe (green) cherry tomatoes

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp water
1 tsp salt

1 tsp dill seed
1 garlic clove
5 whole black pepper corns
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of basil (about 2″ long – if the stem is a little woody, that’s great)
1 sliver candied ginger (about ½” x ¼”)


Pierce cherry tomatoes with a fork a couple of times

Sterilize a 1C mason jar in a boiling-water/steam bath

Into the jar, place the dill, garlic, pepper, and bay leaf

Fill the jar the rest of the way with pierced green cherry tomatoes

In a (very) small pot, combine the cider vinegar, water, and salt

Bring vinegar solution to a (speedy) boil

Pour vinegar solution over the tomatoes, cap the jar, and process it in a boiling-water/steam bath for 5-10 minutes

Allow to cool on a wire rack – you’ll hear the “plunk” as it seals


Hah. And yet. In spite of all this, of course, we’re expecting 30-degree Celsius temperatures this weekend, and my young lady and I are going Naked Camping in order to enjoy it.

Figures. 🙂

We’ve been having a slightly wacky year – the drought, yes, but also the coresponding stress on the local fruit trees meaning that they’re all pushing to get their fruit ripened before they dehydrate completely. The choke cherries which would normally be dropping around early September have already been gathered and turned into jelly and syrup. The crab apples are so ripe they’re dropping off the trees.
… And yet there’s still a hint of Autumn in the air. Maybe it’s the noticeably shorter days along with the cooler evenings. This happened last year, too – that the cool weather hit before I was expecting it.
I’ve touched on this before, in C is for Calendar, that I want to have a better in-body understanding of when the seasons change, the flow of bioregional events (so to speak) in my area, than I currently do, in order to further deepen my connection with the land.
When does Summer turn to Autumn where you are? When does it happen and what are the signs of the shift? What do you find yourself doing, craving, and attending-to that let you know your body is shifting seasons?

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

F is for Film (and Fiction) – Pagan Blog Project 2012

So. I recently ordered myself a copy of Practical Magic because, while I’ve seen bits and pieces of it (generally on youtube, so generally the same bits and pieces over and over again), I’ve never seen the whole thing. And I keep seeing people I respect (Mama Fortuna, Miss Sugar, a surprising number of others) quoting bits of it that I haven’t seen and so… I decided that I needed to watch this. I mean, yes, I know, it’s basically a rom-com. But it’s also witches(!) doing their Thing(!!) and living exceedingly practical yet totally magic-infused lives(!!!) at the same time.
So I ordered a copy.
When I told my partner I had done this, she promptly asked if I liked The Witches of Eastwick, which I’d never seen in my life.

Within 24 hours this dreadful oversight had been remedied.
So I have now seen The Witches of Eastwick.

Which brings me to:

F is for Film

I like watching movies with witches in them. I like to watch them for the parts they get right – watching what went into that wax poppet, for example – and for the way that hollywood movies signify “witch”. That, after 500 years, “witch” is still symbolized by open sexuality (or total lack of sexuality), by being “a woman, alone”, by living on the fringes of one’s society (being an artist, being a goth, being an aromatherapist, you name it). That Major Magic is connected with mind-altering substances (though I can’t tell if this is a nod to Flying Ointment or if it’s – more likely – a hollywood nod to “Your sinful, hedonistic ways will only lead to DOOM!”)… I think that’s neat.
I like the way the three witches in Eastwick were fire-water-earth[1], and wonder how much of that was done on purpose (the vast majority, I’m sure) versus how much of it is me reading stuff into the movie.

I’m looking forward to seeing Practical Magic and doing cultural/folkloric exegesis (however shallowly) with it as well. 😀

Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂

[1] I keep wondering if the Felicia character – who didn’t make a lot of sense (I think a good bit of her story wound up on the cutting room floor) – was a fourth witch, but one who buttoned up her appetites and presented an Ultra Conservative face to the world, and so whose magic went in very destructive ways… or something. The “air” to the other three elements. I don’t know. But it’s crossed my mind a bunch of times.

Red-Wine Pickled Rutabaga (it’s shwarma-tastic!)

Today (and technically yesterday, since it’s a two-day process), I made pickled rutabaga using red wine vinegar (mostly) and some sliced beets as well.

These are the pink things that you see in shwarma shops. I’ve also had them presented as a bright (colour-wise and flavour-wise) addition to salads (very tasty). So I decided to try making them at home.

Below is my recipe, and below that are my comments on the things I changed around a little bit.


Pickled Rutabagas

First, chop a two-pound rutabaga into “french fries” (thin, but not too thin, strips that are NOT longer than your 1-cup jar is deep).
Slice a couple of beets up into rounds, while your at it. This is mainly for colour, but also for a little added sweetness.
The end result should be eight cups of rutabaga strips plus however many beets you have.
THOUGHT: You could do a mix of rutabaga, white turnip, daikon radish, watermelon radish(?), and maybe golden and chioggia beets, for a really interesting combination of roots. 🙂

Next step: Brining the rutabaga
Throw your rutabaga strips and your beet slices into a large tupperware
Sprinkle with ¼ C salt and cover with about 1 litre (4C) water.
Put a lid on it, and let it sit for 24 hrs
NOTE: This will make your kitchen smell like slightly fermenting turnips because that is exactly what’s going on. Don’t worry, the smell clears out quickly. But I thought I should give you the heads up.

24 hrs later…
Sterilize 8 one-cup jars (plus lids and rings) in a boiling-water/steam bath

Drain the water off the rutabagas-and-beets and give them a bit of a rinse

Into each hot jar put:
1 (small-medium) clove garlic
½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 slice of beet

Pack hot jars full of rutabagas

Make pickling solution:
Pickling Solution:
2 C red wine vinegar
1 C white wine vinegar
½ C apple cider vinegar
½ tsp each: coriander seeds (ground), salt, paprika, and cumin

Bring pickling solution to a boil
Ladle boiling pickling solution over rutabagas
Cap with sterilized lids and rings
Process in a boiling-water/steam bath for 5-10 minutes
Allow to cool on a wire rack – you’ll hear the “plunk” as they seal


And that’s my recipe.

The white wine vinegar was actually a late addition – 2C red wine vinegar + half a cup apple cider vinegar was enough to do six jars of pickles, but not eight. So two of my jars are white-wine pickled rutabagas, rather than red-wine pickled rutabagas. I’ll be interested to see what the colour and flavour differences are once we open them up. 🙂

Also, because I had a LOT of extra beet slices left over (I sliced up all six of the rather wizened beets that were drying out in the bottom of my crisper), so I also made a one-cup jar worth of pickled beets.

I used more or less the same spice blend – the corriander seed, salt, cumin, and paprika, plus the mustard seed and garlic as additions in the jar but (1) I also added a tiny sliver of candied ginger plus about six whole black peppercorns to the Additions, and (2) I used a mix of balsamic vinegar (a little over half a cup) and apple cider vinegar (about a quarter cup) for the pickling solution. I’m quite the fan of beets in balsamic vinegar, so I’m looking forward to trying these in a little while.

Anywhoo. That’s my quick canning-related post for this evening. Stay tuned. Having just watched The Witches of Eastwick for the first time in my life last night, I’ll be doing “F is for Film (and/or Fiction)” in a day or two. 🙂

Spicy Peach Chutney 2012

So I have a basket of peaches in the kitchen that need using up. My plan for about 8 of them is to turn them into four cups (or so) of spicy peach chutney.

This is the recipe I’ve cobbled together



8 peaches, peeled and finely diced[1]
1/2 C red onion, diced
1/2 C dried appricots (diced) OR dried cranberries OR dried red/black currants[2]
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 piece candied ginger, crumbled
1/2 tsp each: salt, black pepper, tumeric, and cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (coarsly ground)


1) Throw everything into a pot and bring it to a boil, stirring to make sure everything is well-mixed

2) Sterilize eight half-cup jars (or whatever you like) in a boiling-water/steam bath

3) When the chutney mixture is a gooey, flavourful mess, pour it into the sterilized jars

4) Cap the jars and process them in a boiling-water/steam bath for 5-10 minutes

5) Allow jars to cool – you will hear the “plunk” as they seal


That’s it! In theory, this makes about 3 cups of chutney (alas, as I was hoping for four). But it smells good, and it’ll do. 🙂

It feels a bit weird to be saying this is August but: I now have three elements of my DIY Xmas Gift Baskets sorted out: Balsamic Roasted Tomato Sauce, Choke-Cherry Jelly, and this. (The rest – apple-cranberry chutney, cranberry curd, and potentially pumpkin butter (or so my Plans are currently telling me) will be made during September and October. Wish me luck!)

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] I’ll be scalding the peaches – with an X cut into the bottom of each one – in order to facilitate peeling them. Which means I’ll probably be using eight mashed peaches… but that’ll just make for a smoother, runnier chutney… which I don’t actually mind at all. 😉

[2] I went with the appricots, as that’s what I had. The currants/cranberries would add a little more colour and an extra bit of sharpness, though. 🙂

E is for Environment – Pagan Blog Project 2012

I was out gleaning this morning – harvesting choke cherries (plus a couple of crab apples and one sweet apple) from neighbourhood trees – and made a bunch of jelly plus a small bottle of syrup out of my haul. 🙂

It seems appropriate that – as someone who harvests food from the wild and weedy places around my neighbourhood – I should talk about Environmentalism and its place in my Pagan practice. As such:

E is for Environmentalism

You’d think it would be a no-brainer. But everywhere I look, I actually see Pagans and Heathens bemoaning the way other Pagans and Heathens lack a connection to the Natural World. I see authors recognizing that most of us live in cities, don’t like bugs, and so on. I periodically come across bloggers going on about how they’re wild witches in the woods – unlike those wanna-be fluffy bunny types who barely go camping…

I think there’s a bit of a thing – a combination of the culture/nature dichotomy with-which a lot of us were raised and the guilt that comes from being part of a petroleum-dependent culture – wherein a lot of us think of “Nature” as being places that are less obviously touched by human activity.
And that’s an attitude that isn’t help us. It’s not helping “us”, people who are part of this culture that sees humans as separate from the rest of Life; It’s not helping “us” who are guilt-ridden about environmental degredation but can only envision a change as being either “useless” (switching lightbulbs, bringing cloth bags to the store, and other tiny things that – when held up against the Enbridge Pipeline – don’t seem to do much good) or too drastic to handle (living off the grid a million kilometers from the nearest grocery store and virtuously freezing/starving/suffering all through the winter while going slowly round the twist from the isolation). And it’s also not helping “us”, people who do earth-based religion/spirituality and are wondering how to Comune With Nature when they feel that “nature” is only available on the weekends or at Fest.

I think that a more wholistic (sorry – there are New Age Buzz Words that, while they make me cringe, are also occasionally very applicable) aproach is needed here.

If you stop thinking of pigeons as “vermin” and recognize that they’re part of an urban ecosystem – same as squirrels, raccoons, flies, starlings, crows, grackles, sparrows, cats, dogs, emerald ash borers (you don’t have to like them either – my mother-in-law sticks her knitting needles into the holes they drill in her Rowan tree, with no remorse what-so-ever), choke cherries, dandelions, crab grass, norwegian maple, juniper, carp… (you’re getting the idea) – you maybe lose the idea that humanity and The Natural World parted ways some time in the 1600s.
And when you do that – when you realize that “The Environment” isn’t some abstract idea, possibly connected with Brazil, but is, rather, what you are and where you live – then making those small changes doesn’t seem quite so futile (because you’re helping your own neighbours, right?) and the big changes (living in the middle of nowhere) don’t seem like the only “real” option.

My goal? A down-town bungalow, retrofitted with solar pannels and (hopefully) geothermal heating, that has a big garden and a couple of fruit trees.
That’s my goal. Not disappearing into the wilderness.
Fishing in the river down the street from where I live, not sitting Up North for three days, hoping a moose comes by at the right time (I can barter for that stuff). There is probably a CSA Share in my future, and a chest freezer. But there’s also a closeness to friends and phamily (and family), because that’s important, too.

And, for what it’s worth, that’s my post on Environment (The environment; My environment; you name it…)

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Balsamic Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe I’ve cobbled together from a couple I found online (here and here – although more-so the first one).


16 roma tomatoes (AKA: 2kg OR 7-8 cups), diced and roasted
1 yellow pepper, diced and roasted
1/2 C red onion, diced
8 medium-sized cloves of garlic
Olive oil (to drizzle)

1 sweet-pickled red pepper, rinsed and mashed

1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 C red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp dried basil, crumbled
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp marmite[2]
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper


1) Dice the tomatoes, the onion, and the yellow pepper

2) Roughly chop the garlic

3) Throw them all onto a greased cookie sheet and roast them for half an hour

4) Throw the roasted veggies, plus the sweet-pickled red pepper, and all the seasonings, into a food processor and blend until you have a very smooth sauce

5) Transfer sauce to a large sauce pan and heat on low, stirring regularly (bring to a boil)

6) Sterilize seven 1-cup jars (or 14 half-cup jars, or a mix of whatever sizes you want to use) plus their lids and rings in a boiling-water/steam bath for 5-10 minutes while bringing the sauce to a boil

7) When the sauce is boiling and the jars, lids, and rings are sterilized, ladel the sauce into the sterilized jars

8) Cap the jars and process them, upside down, in a boiling-water/steam bath for 5-10 minutes

9) Set the jars on a wire rack to cool – you will hear the “plunk” as the lids seal (they all need to do this, so pay attention – any lids that can be popped up and down with a fingertip after an hour or so probably need to be re-sealed… or kept in the fridge and used up in the next couple of weeks).

Makes about five cups, total. (Ten half-cup jars).


And there you have it. Balsamic roasted tomato sauce with added peppers and garlic. The flavour of the peppers is very prominant – I acutally added the 2tbsp and the extra salt mid-way through because I found that the peppers made it too bitter… however, with the added seasonings (salt helps to cancel out bitterness on the palate, and sweetness will temper it) it’s quite tasty.

The next time I make this sauce, I’ll probably only use one pepper, will add extra garlic (I love garlic), and may up the marmite a tad. We shall see.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Yes, really. Although if you’re marmite-averse, you can use tamari – or half a teaspoon of table salt – and you’ll be just fine. That said, if you do go the marmite route, you’ll get an extra hit of umami… Which, as someone who really enjoys meat and cheese, is a nice way to add that rich, pungent, complexity of flavour while, say, making something vegan.

More Canning Plans

Back from Funeral Number Two in as many weeks, and feeling a big need to create, create, create. So last night I made a batch of chocolate soap (vanilla and chocolate absoluts + saponified olive oil, soy wax, and coconut oil… plus a couple of scraps of beeswax in there for hardening). Today, I’m planning to make balsamic tomato sauce and peach-apricot chutney.

I made a spicey peach-apricot chutney last year using tinned peaches and dried apricots. This year, I’ll be using fresh peaches and may or may not add the apricots at all (not sure yet), though I do have a heap of dried apricots lying around, so I could…

I wrote, the other day, about choosing recipes for preserves that you will actually use, and mentioned about the difference between tomato salsa and tomato (pasta) sauce. I’m personally a much bigger fan of salsa – the mix of sweet and sour, fruit and vinegar and tomato and cilantro and garlic – than I am of tomato sauce that’s destined for pasta. However. I do love rosee sauces, and a little bit of fresh tomato thrown into the sauteed veggies that, yes, I’m about to pour over pasta, tells me that I don’t actually dislike tomato sauce. I just prefer it in moderation. (Not a big fan of spaghetti swimming in tomato-and-onion sauce, I have to confess).

So my Big Idea is to make a batch of balsamic tomato sauce – with lots of garlic, but not very much onion – and can it in very small (half-cup) jars. So that, when I’m doing pasta – or slow-cooked roasts, for that matter – I can add a taste of tomato without having to drown everything in it. (Also, using half-cup jars means that I have twice as many jars of sauce… meaning that I’ll probably have enough to give away in gift baskets this winter!)

First, however, I need to actually find half-cup jars. My local grocery store seems to be pretty… random… about its jar sizes (this year it’s one-litre and one-cup; last year it was two-cup and half-cup… Who knows…)

So off I go to my local hardware store. I’ll post recipes later on. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.