Monthly Archives: April 2015

Eat from the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week Four Wrap-Up

So Week Four involved a lot of tinned tuna.
I finally made the red lentil curry that I’d been putting off for, what, a few weeks now.
It worked out quite nicely. 🙂 I think a lot of this week’s meals are going to involve frozen roasted eggplant. I went through the chest freezer (which, at this point, contains mostly bags of frozen bones for soup stock – many of which are actually going to get emptied into my garden beds to be used as a source of slow-release fertilizer – providing the P in “NPK”, in particular) and discovered a package of sausages, a shoulder roast, and my other roasting rabbit. I feel like I’ve stumbled upon an embarrassment of riches!
No, really.
I’d be thrilled if I could use that package of sausages in dinner tonight (it will depend on whether or not they have peppers in them. If they’re Honey-Garlic, we’re in the clear, but otherwise our lovely Archivist won’t be able to eat them, and she’s over for dinner tonight). So we’ll see.
If I can’t, it’ll be tuna-fried-rice with garlic, finely slivered carrots, frozen edamame and green beans, maybe a little onion, and whatever else I can find to throw in there.
I keep looking at the contents of my fridge and thinking “Wow… there’s so much still in here!”
I mean, yes, I’ve been buying milk at an only slightly slower rate than usual (a gallon every ten days or so, rather than per week), and we’re (almost) out of cheese. But it’s been four weeks, and we’ve still got half a pound of cheddar, plus most of a tin of grated parmesan, so go us. We’re out of eggs – alas, and I do miss them. Pancake breakfasts are getting Interesting – I used a half-cup jar of black currant curd in lieu of eggs on Sunday morning, plus a cup of black currant jelly in lieu of sugar. They were really tasty – which is awesome – but they were also kind of… gummy? in a way that pancakes cooked with even just one “fresh” egg typically aren’t. They went over really well, which is fantastic, but I didn’t personally like the texture. What can you do.
Now, we have eaten out a bunch of times, between Week Three and the two restaurant meals we ate this week (or I ate, as the case may be – We went out for burritos, early in the week, and I had dinner with a friend on Friday night before going to Writers’ Fest here in town).
But a reasonably big part of our continuing abundance comes from just having known, from last year, that it’s good to have a LOT of frozen veggies on hand and, thus, making sure to put up (in freezer bags, but also in jars, and also in store-bought frozen stuff) a lot more preserved veggies than I had – or had the space for – last year. Last year, I didn’t have a chest freezer, so I was working with less than half the space I have now for frozen meat and veggies. This year, I’ve been able to do things like stocking up when the Traditionally Raised pork goes on deep discount, or pick up multiple bags of Arctic Garden (who get their harvests from Quebec and Ontario, including Ingersol which is my ancestral farming community) broccoli and similar at a time, rather than getting just one. I’ve been able, too, to plan ahead and put up 9+ large eggplants, half a dozen big bunches of Ontario ruby chard and other greens, and goodness knows how many punds of roma tomatoes (as diced tomatoes, bruschetta mix, tomato-peach salsa, and roasted-garlic-balsamic sauce). It’s been really nice to not need to buy canned tomatoes this year, so I think I did good on that front, even though I have been rationing them jarred tomatoes a little bit.
Also, I’m kind of pleased with myself because, yesterday, I went to a grocery store and, rather than buying any groceries at all (this is me “resisting temptation”, folks), I bought bed sheets. Which, fyi, I managed to get for damn close to FREE because I had enough grocery points to cover all but about $8 of the purchase. A fitted queen sheet + matching flat sheet + two pairs of matching pillow cases + two new, not-completely-bargain-basement pillows, for eight freaking dollars. I think I win. 😀
So it’s been a good week.
Right now, clearly, I’m looking down the barrel of the last four days of April. I don’t think I’m going to celebrate Beltane by buying groceries this year. At least probably not. We’ll see if our road-trip hostess wants us to bring anything and, if yes, we’ll pick something up if I can’t throw it together with what’s on hand. (And, yes, it is SO nice to have the option of doing that).
I know that I have a heap of drygoods, still, some of which have been around for many months already. The red quinoa, for example, which I’ve hardly made a dent in. But I’m slowly using up the red lentils and the (ye gods) brown rice, which was one of my goals for this year’s challenge. I’ve still got, probably, a good litre-and-a-bit of the rice, though hopefully I can use some of that up this evening. I’m not actually sure that I wll buy brown rice again. I mean, probably yes, at some point, but it won’t be for a while (like potentially a year) and, if I do, it’ll be a small quantity rather than the enormous amounts that I’ve been swimming through for months. I’d rather focus on barley (pot and pearl) and quinoa, I think, as well as black (and red – even though red is feeling a little iffy right now – or green) lentils for my amino acid complements at the moment.
My plan for Thursday’s dinner – partially because we’re heading out of town on Beltane, and partly because it will be a celebration of the end of Eat From The Larder Month – is to slow-cook (since I’ll be working an office job) that pork shoulder roast in our crock pot using some fancy balsamic vinegar, the last of our peach-marmalade, our last remaining onion, and the bag of dried peaches that I’ve otherwise not put to much use over the past year. I might also put (some of) the peaches into a peach-currant-coconut cake that will use the creamy-fat part of the the coconut milk (I have half a tin of the stuff in the fridge after the other night’s curry) in lieu of butter, or similar. I think it will be delicious. 🙂
Anyway. Four days to go. I look forward to writing the Challange Wrap-Up post (complete with a list of all the things I bought over the course of a month when I was supposed to be not buying anything, ummm…) and making some notes on what I want my larder to include in the future.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Restoring Sovereignty and the Path Forward

Read this. All the way through.

Strixian Woods

44029 Lia Fail – Hill of Tara photo by Ken Williams

The world we have inherited is one where the Sovereignty of the Land has been broken.  It’s not a single person’s fault.  It’s not a specific generation’s fault.  Throughout history, humanity has made a series of choices that have separated us from the spirit of the land, from the Otherworld, from nature itself.  Our broken Sovereignty reveals itself in our poisoned rivers and oceans that are becoming barren, in the extinction of species and our dwindling biodiversity, in our melting icecaps and rising seas.  Our unhealthy relationship to the Sovereignty of the Land is perpetuated when we vilify the poor instead of aiding them,  when we  foolishly act as if we have dominion over the Earth rather than acting as stewards of it,  and when we turn our backs on justice in this land and do not stand in…

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Eat from the Larder Challenge 2015 – RECIPE!

Hey. So week four of the Eat From the Larder Challenge is… going. That’s what I’ve got, and I’ll leave the rest for Sunday’s weekly wrap-up post.
My wife and I picked up our sweetie yesterday night at the train station, and I promised I’d make sure there was food on hand because, hey, a five-hour train ride (that got delayed, and was even longer) is no picnic and protein + blood sugar tends to make everything better.
But, of course, this is the month of No Grocery Buying, so I had to take a look at what I actually had available which… wasn’t much.
I mean, yes, I have tonnes of food (still). But our young lady has allergies that mean (a) no cheese, and (b) no hot OR sweet peppers. And the bread I’d originally thought of using had been mostly eaten for breakfast that morning (and the other loaf was still half-frozen in the fridge, where it was thawing). SO. What is a poly punk-domestic to do?
What I did was (a) make whole-wheat soda bread dough, (b) make a really awesome tuna salad (see below – it’s a recipe that I modified, but heaven only knows which website I found it on. Something on a wordpress site, conveniently, that I found after googling “tuna and fruit recipe” or similar), and (c) combine the two into something like a Cornish Pastie crossed with a Samosa.
I’m happy to report that it worked! 😀
The recipe for the bread dough is, basically, the Stratford Hall Biscuits recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen, so I’m not going to reproduce that here. The filling, however, is as follows:
Curried Tuna Salad with Apples
1 (larger-size, not the kind with the peel-off tops) tin of unseasoned, water-packed tuna, drained
1 smallish cortland apple, cored and diced
1/4 C diced onion
1/4 C dried cranberries
3 tbsp mayonaise
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2-3 tsp curry powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp tamari
1 tsp grainy mustard (iirc)
1 tsp dried cilantro
Mash everything together in a bowl (I used a fork for this).
Spoon onto thinly-rolled-out squares of dough (each square should take 2-3 heaping soup-spoonfuls, fyi).
Fold/gather the dough around the filling and pinch it shut. The resulting package should look vaguely like a dim-sum bun, honestly, but ymmv.
Bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes (until the bread is golden-brown and smells fully cooked).
Makes about four buns.
You could use this tuna salad recipe on a cold sandwich, or mix it wish pasta (or quinoa, or couscous, or rice…) for a more filling summer (or winter) caserole.
You could likewise make these packets and fill them with:
Spicy potatoes, greens, cooked lentils, and some kind of coconut/peanut sauce
Steak-onion-kidney-mushroom stew
Hummus, jarred tomatoes, frozen (diced & roasted) eggplant, and dried peaches or apricots
Pulled pork & braised root veggies
Leftover steamed squash (or sweet potatoes), dried cranberries, sauteed mushrooms, and crumbled walnuts (a little wild rice wouldn’t go amiss, either)
…Basically, you want something mooshy & space-taking (whether that’s carbs or protein or both, doesn’t matter), something protein-tastic, something bright (er, meaning acidic), and something to bind everything together and provide a little bit of moisture during the cooking process (but not too much).
So. That’s my fancy-schmancy, “look upon my awesome creation” recipe for this year’s Eat From the Larder Challenge. We’ll see if I come up with any others from here on in. 🙂
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week Three Wrap-Up

Why, yes, I did just post the Week Two wrap-up post. Can you tell I’ve had other things to do?
So Week Three involved being out of town for more than half the week. It was my mother-in-law’s 65th birthday (the whole poly-clan went down, and she was delighted to see all of us!) and then my wife and I went to Toronto for the Feminist Porn Awards and to hang out with a lovely friend who will be moving there soon and needed to do some sleuthing for housing and possible jobs. It was a really, really wonderful time and we got to see a bunch of people who we never get to see enough. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
What that means in practice, in terms of Eating From The Larder, is that we ate slightly more than half of our meals at restaurants this past week and, of the meals we ate at home, we had things like toast-and-marmite or scrambled eggs or steamed pre-fab dimsum buns instead of Actual Food Made From Scratch.
It also means that I bought some groceries. Specifically, I bough a bag of little crispy-bread things[1], two bottles of juice, and two fancy chocolates (dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt, specifically) to take on the train with us and share with our non-boozy friend so that we could all drink a toast together. In retrospect, I didn’t need to buy two bottles of juice, and I could have cut up the bread I’d made and packing it into an empty zip-lock bag (becoming somewhat mythical around here) would have done the trick for most of that. So poor form on my part there. I have no regrets about the chocolate, though.
Home-cooked meals have been minimal and have relied heavily on pre-fab stuff:
Rotini with bacon, goat cheese, and jarred tomatoes / tomato sauce.
Rotini (again) with tomato sauce, sausages, and frozen chard.
Toast and egg dishes for breakfast (that’s not going to last – If I’m lucky, I’ve got two eggs left…)
Frozen dim-sum buns
Home-made buns with butter and other spreads.
Something that did work out really well was the red-lentil “hummus” that I made for the train ride. I would have liked to bring more than 1C of it on the train (though not being able to do so meant that my lovely wife had a work-lunch already made for this morning). I’ll have to try and remember the recipe – red lentils + bone stock (so not vegan) + raw garlic + sesame oil + soy sauce + heaps of curry powder + nutritional yeast + basil IIRC. I’m quite pleased with it, and will try to make it again (or a vegan version there-of) next time I need to make a pot-luck contribution.
One thing I’m running out of, that I failed to think about going into this, is yeast. Which doesn’t mean I’m in trouble on the bread-making front. I’ve got enough left to make another batch of bread (on my to-do list for today), and even if I didn’t, I’ve made enough bread here in the past six months that I could probably start a sour dough starter in my kitchen without too much trouble (and, hey, maybe that’s my next DIY step, who knows…), even without opening a window on a sunny day. None the less, it’s something I’m noticing.
Things I bought this week, which made it an Eat From The Larder “Failure”:
1L wine in a tetrapak
1L apple juice
~1L random juice blend
1 bag of “baked crisps” or whatever they were called
2 chocolate bars
More restaurant meals than I particularly care to count, but let’s say…. seven or eight? Plus a few Train Snacks (coffee, cheese croissants, wine & beer (on the train home), and 3 servings of pringles, iirc).
So. That was Week Three.
Week Four should involve getting back on track in terms of creating from-scratch stuff like coconut-curry dal, pan-fried fish cakes (tuna + corn meal and egg, provided I’ve still got an egg – I wonder if I could use mayonaisse as a binder…), salad nicoise (probably omitting the egg in that one), and maybe some kind of light-but-filling fish stew like this one (to use up some of my salsa and stock, among other things).
Wish me luck!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week Two Wrap-Up

Eating from the larder continues. This week has been pretty easy, honestly, although it isn’t hurting that people keep inviting us over for meals and/or showing up at our house with snack foods.
Although I admit, we’ve eaten frozen perogies three times in the past seven days. >.>
This is not going to get any easier.
Monday the sixth – Was rotini with lemon-pepper tuna, the last of the fresh tomatoes, a diced onion, and lashings of butter.
Tuesday the seventh – My wife went on a road trip with her GF (and ate Road Food for dinner – we are totally okay with dinners out, by the way, I just need to make sure I don’t default to restaurants All The Time. More on that later) and I had potato-cheddar perogies with a dollop of yoghurt.
Wednesday the eighth – Perogies again, this time with a half-cup jar of tomato sauce and lots of parmesan cheese (have I mentioned that parmesan cheese is a wonderful thing?)
Thursday the ninth – I had a chicken sandwich at a local cafe while working on a story submission. My wife at fancy cheese (QP After Party again) and crackers, and just kind of made do. This was, I realize, a total failure on my part to make anything resembling an Actual Dinner. I also came to the conclusion, on this particular day, that I’m eating a LOT of toast and jam at the moment. Gosh, I wonder why… This is also the day that I discover my latest loaf of bread has gone mouldy (which is what I get for putting it in a bag before it fully cools down – twit that I am). Woops.
Friday the tenth – Breakfast (we ate breakfast!) is fried eggs, and it’s delicious! I make another loaf of bread (a big round one, in one of my cast-iron pots. I also make a vanilla & red-currant coffee cake (with the a rather, um, blackened brown sugar topping – woops) specifically to serve with some of the black currant curd I still have lying around. We have perogies AGAIN for dinner – this time with a one-cup jar of bruschetta mix plus a heap of parmesan cheese and a package of “mild Itallian” sausages. We also have guests drop by and bring us a giant box of fancy, chocolate-covered cookies, which is really nice of them, and which helps stretch dinner to feed three (out of five – the cookie-bearing guests having eaten before they came – thank goodness). I hadn’t expected my wife’s GF to be dropping by, too. Woops. We have 10 eggs left, and I’m starting to feel the need to ration them. :-\
Saturday, the eleventh – We were invited out for dinner at my wife’s other GF’s place, so that meal was covered. My wife and said GF spend the morning having an out-of-the-house date which included lunch out. My breakfast was more toast (YAY!) with marmalade (courtesy of a friend of my wife’s) and most of my day involved Entertaining. Red currant cake was had (and it was lovely), and so was (gifted) ice cream and (equally gifted) fancy espresso-balsamic vinegar. Guh. 😀
Sunday, the twelfth – is warm and bright and sunny, and I’m loving it! I expect the temperature will drop once the evening gets going, but for the moment it’s glorious. We had guests over for breakfast and fed them pancakes ft half wholewheat and half white flour + a half-cup jar of crab apple jelly, one egg, a glug of maple syrup, veggie oil, the dregs of a couple of jars of jam (a teaspoon or two each of marmalade and apricot butter), a handful each of frozen red currants and frozen serviceberries, and water. They worked out really nicely. We spent the afternoon putting raised-garden-bed frames together (more on that later), and then I made iced tea (three different kinds, but they all have a couple of ingredients in common) to drink in lieu of lemonade on the patio. Tonight, I’ll be making dinner – probably for 4-6 people (fingers crossed) – and it’s going to be red-lentil-and-chickpea dal made with a tin of coconut milk, some onion, some frozen greens, frozen diced eggplant, and maybe some reconstituted mushrooms. My plan is to make some sort of peanutbutter-sesame-tumeric-soyasauce-vinegar-syrup… thing… to mix with the coconut milk and call a curry-sauce (although, yes, I do realize that saying “curry sauce” is technically redundant). There will be cake (possibly with black currant curd) and iced tea for dessert. 🙂
So it’s going pretty okay, so far. I’m not feeling grouchy and hard-done-by or bored and anxious about our food situation. We’re out of milk (though I will be getting more of that) but we’ve got nine eggs left, and lots of cheese. The only thing that’s really hitting me right now is my lack of meat. Don’t get me wrong. I have heaps of tuna lying aorund. But I’ve got one roasting cut (a rabbit, that I’d honestly like to save for Beltane – which is a Friday, so…) and one stewing cut (a beef heart, plus two pig kidneys, which will likely be cooked together as some kind of “steak and kidney” casserole/braise along with onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots. I’m seeing a lot of “paella” style dishes (think tinned tuna, fried brown rice, onion, garlic, and some frozen veggies), in our future along with salad nicoise and a tuna melt or two.
I do notice that, as typically happens when I’m trying to clear out the preserves cupboard and/or when I’m in a position to not (be able to) buy groceries for an extended epriod of time, I’m eating a lot more sugar than usual. Regularly baking snacks like cookies and cakes (instead of snacks like savoury cheese tea-biscuits or super-healthy applesauce muffins or something). This isn’t a big deal – most of the sugar in question comes from fruit butter or, at the very least, jam (which, which it IS very much a sugar product, also involves a heap of fruit, which helps) rather than the granulated white stuff.
Next week we’re out of town for 4/7 days, so we’ll see what that looks like. I predict a lot of restaurant meals, and buying some juice for the non-boozing friend who will be joining us.

New Moon – Leaf Moon Begins

So we got home from Toronto yesterday, just in time for New Moon.
I’m not gonna lie (though I am going to be kinda vague), but my heart is brim-full of hope. And dread. But mostly hope. Sitting on a patio in Toronto without a coat, on Friday, eating a late lunch with some of the Chosen Family, soaking up the sunshine and watching the leaves open up on the shrubs… I feel like this right now. Like I’m opening, knowing there’s still a danger of frost.
In Ottawa, the nights are still chilly, and the leaves aren’t nearly as far along, but I feel that, by the time Leaf Moon is full, they will be. Leaf Moon is our month of spring, between the winter of slush & mud and the summer of lilac blooms (to pull on the weather of Palimpsest to describe where we live). My garden bedframes are waiting to be filled with earth and seashells and coffee grouds, and then with seeds (and perhaps some mulch, if I can swing it). My Secret Project that went live back in February is stepping things up ever-so-slightly. My heart is full of My People and the amazing, got-your-back community that we’ve built, the love that blossoms every-which-way on so many levels.
It was a good weekend. I hope it’s set the tone for Leaf Moon, and for Life going forward. 🙂
What secret seeds are germinating in your world? What things are starting to poke their noses above the soil to see results?

Full Moon – SnowMelt Moon Crests

So the snow continues to melt (and fall again, and melt again, as is the way of things in Ontario, apparently). My sister gave birth on Friday. We are babysitting the pet cockatiel of one of my lovely wife’s Other Partners while said partner visits a friend out of town. Eat From the Larder Month has begun (and is still in the easy stages). I’ve made more beeswax tealights and remembered to light up my altars today. My wife and I slow-danced in the living room and we finalized (uh… for a given value of “finalized”) the design for the garden’s raised beds. I’m drinking tequilla (straight) for the first time. It’s… a weird drink. But hey.
I finished my nibbling’s baby blanket – my mom is taking it, along with a co-ordinating cowl/infinity-scarf/knitted-accessory for my sister, down to Calgary late next week when she visits for a few days. Currently working on a co-ordinating scarf for my sister’s fiance/baby-daddy/partner so that Everybody Gets A Thing, though the scarf (and an accompanying “Welcome to the family!” card for baby Zain) will be sent by mail once it’s finished (2 more days, unless I want to spend every waking hour knitting, which I don’t – shocking, I know, but It’s Spring).
The perfume/ritual oil that I ordered from The Mermaid and the Crow… works? I’m saying that tentatively because (a) magic means pushing the odds in your favour, so maybe it’s not shocking that the responses I’m getting are largely from reasonably expectable corners, but also (b) It’s Spring (among other sitautions) and Certain People tend to be a little more energetic in X department at this time of year anyway. I think we’re all a little bit solar-powered in that regard, though I could be wrong.
I confess, a little part of me is going “What have I gotten myself into” on this front, but I’m a Big Fraidy Cat, so it’s almost definitely nothing to actually worry about.
Anyway. I feel like life is (finally) starting to look up. Here’s hoping it keeps going like this. 🙂
By the time this Lunar Cycle ends, we’ll be on the train home from Toronto and, hopefully, the front yard will be full of tulips and daffodils (or, well, crocuses and scilla, because the tulips and daffs won’t be up until early May) instead of snow.
Big changes coming. Good ones, I hope.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Peanut-Butter Chocolate-Chip Shortbread-Esque Cookies (Recipe)

So, possibly to convince my squirrel-brain that we do, in fact, have enough food in the house to eat All The Things and not run out of food before the end of April – and possibly also because it’s been a long weekend and a relatively (HA!) guest-heavy five days – I’ve been baking cookies of late.
Today, I made a small batch of fairly crispy/snappy vegan peanut-butter cookies that started out as a shortbread cookie recipe and wound up including a small number of chocolat chips, too.
Here’s the recipe:
Peanut-Butter Chocolate-Chip Shortbread-Esque Cookies
1½C white (all-purpose, wheat) flour
½ C brown sugar (well-packed)
½ C smooth peanut butter (ideally the “just peanuts” kind, but whatever)
¼ C sunflower oil
2tbsp maple syrup[1]
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼C large-size chocolate chips (or more, but start low and build, as this is fairly crumbly stuff)
Preheat the oven to 350F
Grease a baking sheet really well
Mix everything BUT the chocolate chips together in a big bowl. Kneed it with your (warm) hands to help it stick.
Kneed in the chocolate chips
Pack into flat, mishapen rounds about 1½” in diameter (oiling your hands a little bit will help)
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until things are getting golden-brown around the edges
Allow to sit for a couple of minutes before trying to move the cookies[2].
Serve and enjoy, ideally with a refreshing drink.
Make about 18 cookies.
So there you have it. The second batch of thrown-together cookies I’ve made in five days. Given that I’m about half-done my small jar of peanut butter, I’m going to have to either start cooking with butter again (I have three pounds of the stuff in the freezer, so), or otherwise go easy on the kind of cookies I make over the course of the rest of April.
Meliad the Birch Maiden
[1] It’s a nice touch, but I found the cookies just a little bit sweet… not sure what to do about that, since the liquid sugar is also acting in the role of a binder. Maybe don’t keep the brown sugar fairly loose in the measure?
[2] I let them sit for 3-5 minutes after coming out of the oven, and then I shift them just a little bit on the tray so that they don’t stick once they’re all-the-way cool. Then I leave them there and wait for the chocolate chips to mostly solidify-up again.

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week One Wrap-Up

So, as-you-know-bob, I’m doing Erica’s Eat From the Larder Challenge this year. I shall endevor to do it with at least a little less whining than last year (fingers crossed), but we’ll see how it goes.
It’s rapidly dawning on me that I am going to do this challenge by starting with the Easy Stuff. (This will come as no surprised, and I’m kind of hoping that I’m not alone in this boat, but hey). As such dinners (and the resulting Leftovers-as-Lunches) are tending towards either (a) eating out, for various definitions of “out” due to Holiday Stuff going on, and (b) stuff in tins and jars and bags (which was the point, I realize). I’m not quite at the juncture where I have to put red lentils in everything due to being completely out of all other possible protein. I’m not quite at the stage where I have to plan ahead in order to have “snack foods” – like last year’s millet-based breakfast muffins – and get creative about making things like cornmeal crepes and “edamole” (instead of tortilla wraps + tub-o-guacamole from the store) if I want to make tacos for dinner some night.
We’ll see how this holds up (if I’m wise, I’ll have the sense to make coconut-dal with swiss chard or something long before I’m out of other options – variety is key, as I discovered last year).
Anyway. The first (short) week of April has gone like this:
Wednesday the 1st – A friend stopped by, brought us crackers and goat cheese, and I proved hummus – courtesy of the Queering Power Party – plus a dinner of rotini with sauteed (in lashings of butter) mushrooms (dried, reconstituted), snap peas (QP Party again), fresh grape tomatoes (see also: QP Party), a shake or three of parmasan cheese, and some of the chevre my friend brought over. There was also wine – I like wine, and I know I’ll be buying more of it as the month goes on, in spite of staying out of the grocery stores – and I made a batch of double-chocolate peanutbutter cookies as well (the last of-which we ate on Saturday morning). My wife had taken the last of the West Texas Dal for her lunch that day.
Thursday the 2nd – Was a friend’s birthday dinner, so we were actually eating elsewhere. My wife had left-over pasta for lunch.
Friday the 3rd – Breakfast (which happened around noon) was bacon + apricot french toast (using 2 eggs, a bit of oil, a bit of milk, and a couple of tablespoons of apricot butter) made with mainly-whole-wheat home-made bread. Dinner was… out. This time, at a pub. (I remember that it felt like we ate out a lot last April, and I couldn’t tell if that was because we actually were eating out more than usual, of if it just felt like that because (a) not spending money on food at the grocery store, and (b) variety, ye gods, variety). I’m putting this one down to it being the first real warm day of Spring. We’ll see what happens as the month goes on though (full disclosure: We will be visiting Lovely Wife’s Mom for her birthday on the 15th, and then in Toronto – eating at restaurants for, I suspect, 100% of our stay, for the rest of that week).
Saturday the 4th – Fried eggs and toast for breakfast, Easter Lunch with My Mom (at a local cafe), snacking on home-jarred cucumber pickles (there’s going to be a lot of this – I have, like, 9 pints of cucumber pickles left, you guys…), and the following dinner:
2 potatoes, thinly sliced and boiled, added to a frying pan containing:
Bacon grease
1 onion, diced
1 one-cup jar of tomato-peach salsa
1C (approx) frozen edamame
2 pucks (about 1/2 C) frozen diced-roasted eggplant
1 tin of red kidney beans
1-2 tbsp goat cheese
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
Sunday the 5th (today) – has included (a) chocolate bunnies (from my Mom) for breakfast – because we’re ever-so-healthy around here, (b) cheese sandwiches using the last of the home-made bread (new bread is on its first rise at the moment, and I’m hoping to get it baked in the next 2 hours) plus some of our copeous cheddar, and a variet of spreads incuding grainy mustard and apricot butter (not *as* good as apple in this context, but pretty tastey). Dinner is tube-pasta with the last of the QP tomatoes, and the last of a mixed bag of frozen veggies[1] that includes julienned carrots, snap peas, broccoli florets, green beans, and edamame, plus dried basil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and a tablespoon or two of chevre.
It’s worth noting that, most working-week days, “breakfast” actually boils down to “coffee”, with the possibility of toast in there if we really plan things well. I’ll have to make a point of remembering that we have the better part of a kilogram of plain yoghurt in the fridge, along with heaps of frozen red currants, smaller heaps of frozen serviceberries, and various other berries still in the deep freeze. Yoghurt and berries (and walnuts and a drizzle of our very abundant maple syrup) are a fast, easy, really TASTEY, and reasonably healthy way to start the day, so I should probably have that more often. 😉
If you are doing the Eat From the Larder Challenge this month, how is it going so far?
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I love those mixed bags that you get from the freezer case at the grocery store. They’re a wonderful EASY way to throw a good mix of veggies into a chili or a stew (or a stir-fry, or a curry, or a pasta-dish… you name it) when you need something that’s relatively no-brains or no-prep. Looking towards the impending garden, and its imagined (fingers crossed) harvest, I’m hoping to put up enough IQF stuff – like pucks of kale, ruby chard, and eggplant plus snap beans, rounds of blanched golden zucchini and just-as-blanched diced winter squash – to be able to do this without relying (as much – I’m not planning on growing broccoli or cauliflower any time soon) on the grocery store stuff. Wish me luck! 🙂

Punk-Domestic Chatelainery – Some Thoughts on Language and Meaning

So Erica, from NorthWest Edible Life, posted the following picture to Twitter and asked folks “What is Homesteading To You?”

Picture of a rural log-based house (with a big front porch) in early Winter, ft a hazy mountain in the background. Over it all is written:
“Homesteading Is: // being self-sufficient // Living simple // getting back to our roots // breaking away from commercialism // growing your own food”

So. “Homesteading”… It’s convenient. It’s good shorthand for what most of us tend to be doing which, I suspect, falls roughly in line with what’s on the list in that picture: D-I-Y rather than B-U-Y, embracing frugality for a whole slew of reasons, reconnecting with the daily-living skills of our ancestors to a greater or lesser degree, actively taking part in the rhythms of the land that sustains us. But, if you’re a white person (which, by the looks of things, many of us self-identified homesteaders – urban or otherwise – are) living pretty-much anywhere other than Europe, but particularly in North America, the term “homesteading” has a pretty fraught history. If you’re Canadian, some of the stuff our ancestors did (and which is still going on – so maybe try writing your MP about the need for reparations and a good, hard look into the MMIW situation?), directly or indirectly, was genocide. Here. Where we’re growing our own food and taking great joy in planting the Three Sisters together in our gardens.
So as much as I find the word useful (my twitter bio says “I live in 1821”, among other things) in terms of how it manages to imply wood stoves, fibre arts, cast iron cookware, home-grown veggies, pre-electric machinery, wild-crafting/forraging, seasonal rhythms, cozy-warm candle-light, and making cheese from scratch… it’s also a bit of a problem.
So I have to ask: Is there another word I could be using? Something that takes the rural implications (and Quiver-Full-reminiscent family isolation) out of “back to the lander” while hanging onto the seasonal rhythms and self-sufficiency? Something that pushes “DIY” to a more extreme and broad-spectrum conclusion than stenciling “Riot Don’t Diet” onto a hacked-up t-shirt? Something that takes the term “Productive” out of the assembly line and the cubical farm and plants it firmly in the rich, creative soil of an anti-consumerist, pro-interdependence It-Takes-a-Village home and community?
I’ve seen “Green Living” tossed around. “Voluntary Simplicity” (although that just doesn’t fit our stuff-intensive house or people-intensive home-lives) has popped up a few times, too. I rather like “Punk Domestic” and “Radical Homemaker”, in significant part becuase they invoke the activism and, frankly, broke-ass necessity, of some of my personal Do-It-Yourself Skills. My wife and I, as part of our Power Dynamic, use the language of fealty to describe What We Do. As such, the language of the Chatelaine also seems appropriate: The whole idea of the “Keeper of the Keys” deciding who – and in this case what – is and isn’t allowed entry into the Keep (be that BPA, Monsanto, & CAFO-raised critter-flesh, vs thrifted clothes, home-grown veggies, & eight million mason jars… or whatever your personal dichotomies are), maintaining the stores, spending a heap of time on fibre arts[1] and home-preserving in an eminantly social, but also practical and necessary, way. Even the notion of a whole village turning out to handle the bulk of the harvest together (although heaven and earth know that this is hardly an out-of-date way of doing things).
Anyway. If all of the above gives you an idea of what I mean when I say “(Urban) Homesteading”, if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
– Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] In my case, this is for fun. In the case of actual Medieval Ladies of the Manor? It was because the work was basically never-ending. The silver lining, when there was one, was that most of it was automatic-pilot enough that, by the time you hit puberty (and had been doing this stuff for 10+ years) you could at least hang with your ladies-in-waiting/relatives/room-mates and be social while getting all of it done.