Daily Archives: January 8, 2016

New Moon – Snow Moon Begins

The altars aren’t lit.
The shell cup hasn’t been refilled.
There is no roast slowly braising in the blue, iron pot, no wine chilling in the fridge.
Fabulous Friday Dinner is, most likely, going to be postponed to Saturday (at which point: onions, carrots, frozen chard, sunchokes, and shredded chicken for a stew served with crusty bread, I think), and I’m going to need to make more candles before those altars get lit.
This isn’t a problem.
The fact that I’m writing this – sometimes four words at a time, admittedly, – while earning a wage by answering office phones, is pretty amazing.
But I know I’ve got stock (still) to can, sheets to change, and dishes to do, and those aren’t happening while I’m typing at a desk (here or at home), so… things are piling up, as they do.
I’m planning a trip to Toronto, and waiting for various people to get back to me (about possible work, about dates, about places to sleep) before I book any tickets… Mercury hit retrograde on Tuesday, by the way, so I’m not particularly shocked that there are some delays in communications about this stuff. Doesn’t make me any more patient about it, but it’s a help to be aware of that particular situation. Chani Nicholas (in the above link) says “Make room for not knowing, make room for discovery”, and I go “Okay, that’s great and all, but I’d still like to know I’m not just fooling myself when I say I’m going on a trip.”
Still, I’m looking at what that astrological event is pulling, and noticing how much it relates to the “get vulnerable” and “stop pretending you don’t need things” parts of my 2016 New Year New You project, and… this feels a bit like when I got myself a therapist, walked in, and said “I get ten weeks with you, and I need them to count. Make it hurt. Let’s do this.”
By the time this lunar cycle crests, I’m hoping I’ll be in Toronto, enjoying my GF’s company, and having (At the age of 36, of all things) traveled by myself, for fun for all of the second time in my adult life.
Here’s hoping.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

The Year of the Pig – Part 4: Slightly Past the Half Way Point

Strictly speaking, I have slightly less than five months to go in my year-long pig experiment. To date, there have been half a dozen chickens + a couple of cuts of beef, one duck, and two rabbits (and a lot of lentils) supplementing our pork-focused diet.
I cook with lard fairly frequently, and use stock made from pork bones (as much as any other bones – see above) – in fact, I’ve got another round of bone stock in the slow cooker right now – but the majority of the half-a-pig that we picked up last May is still in the freezer. The leaf lard remains un-rendered, the kidneys, tongue, and other bits and bobs un-cooked. Though I did make Creton (Quebecois spread made from ground pork, cream – I used goat’s milk + a couple of tablespoons of lard – onion, and pie spices) from one pound of my ground pork (It makes about 3C when it’s all said and done, is thoroughly tasty on crackers.
I’ve learned that there’s not much eating on a pork hock, though the meat is marvelously flavourful and shreds up a treat for pulled pork sandwiches or stew (the next day, after cooking it for 8 hours). I’ve also learned that, as much as I love a good roast or braise, they don’t work so well if you need things to thaw out in less than 72 hours. Next time I buy half a pig in one go, I’ll ask our provider to have most of the hams (which aren’t cured, so they’re just more pork, basically) cut into ham steaks that I can thaw inside of 10 hours and cook like pork chops in the oven. That, alone, will probably mean we go through our half-a-pig faster than we’ve been doing.
On that subject: I suspect our half-a-pig will last well past May 30th (so this may become the year-and-a-half of the pig, or similar). When I started this experiment, I was more than a little worried that we would run out of pig halfway through (didn’t happen!) by eating too much meat, too often. So I made a point of cooking lentil and bean dishes once a week or so (using bone stock and poorly-rendered lard to impart hints of umami to them, so I wouldn’t call them vegetarian dishes by any stretch of the imagination) and making sure to stick with stews and pasta dishes that could use limited (left-over) pork augmented with cheese and/or beans for most of the other weekly meals.
Now that it’s officially Winter (seriously – December 26th involved getting a solid two feet of snow dumped on our heads, followed by -30 (with wind-chill) temperatures all of a week later), I’m more than happy to slow-cook All The Things (or at least many of the things) and rely on my preserves to get dinners on the table. At the moment, we’re both a little sick of finger food, having been eating Nibblies for the past 3+ weeks, so I’m focusing on stews and pasta dishes that make lots of use of the heaps of left-overs and stocked-up-upon root veggies[1] crowding my fridge, while still being hearty and filling and requiring of a fork to enjoy. It’s working out quite nicely, I don’t mind saying. It turns out that left-over creton makes a really lovely addition to a molee sauce (the pie spices do it), and pot-pie-without-the-pie (parboiled root veggies & nuts, fried onions & mushrooms, leftover meat of whatever variety, and alfredo sauce[2], all mixed up in a well-greased skillet and topped with parmasan cheese, then baked for 20 minutes until everything’s bubbly) is shockingly delicious and an amazing way to use up Leftover Everything.
Going forward, I have no idea if I’ll use up the rest of Francis The Pig more quickly, now that it’s winter and the thought of having the oven on for hours isn’t anathema. I confess to hoping that my experiment in economic and ethical eating spills over well past the 1-year point and we are munching on Francis until next October or similar, but we shall see.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] When I did the Big Stock-Up of goodies for Winter Solstice – a grocery-run that includes something like 10L of non-booze-based beverages – I got everything delivered to my door. So, naturally, I made sure to invest in HUGE bags of baby potatoes, onions, and carrots while I was at it. Like you do.
[2] which I finally bit the bullet and made from scratch. It’s marvelously easy, and super-cheap even with the parmesan cheese involved, so I’ve been making a lot of it… and wanting to invest in a Pressure Canner that much more as a result. >.>

New Year New You 2016: Week 4 – Relax, Don’t Do It

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
Okay, so I’m switching the order of Week Three and Week Four because: Instructions.
Week Four says (paraphrasing):
Instructions: New Year’s energy, in North America, is very much hovering around setting unreasonable goals that you over-work at for 1-2 weeks and then proceed to (a) fail at spectacularly, and (b) beat yourself up over. AVOID THIS MESS by taking this week to do something nice for yourself that has nothing to do with your NYNY Goals.
Tarot Card: I’d like to say it’s the 9 of Water… but it’s not. I’m not sure if calling it the 8 of Air is too much, though.
I… may or may not have succeeded on this one.
I bought myself a new tarot deck (WildWood, for those keeping track). I bought myself a copy of Fury Road. Those are lovely gifts to myself, and am enjoying both of them (although my Little Book for said new tarot deck seems to have gone AWOL…), and I’m not sure that they count since I ordered them well before Week Three and they technically arrived during Week Four but… Meh.
I went to the usual NYE party that I go to, saw a bunch of awesome people and, because it is That Kind Of Party, got to beat up some lovely human beings. That was great.
As far as “doing something nice for myself” goes… I went to that party solo. I didn’t feel guilty about leaving my tired wife at home to get some rest. In the two scenes I did (one pre-planned, one impromptu), I got to have the luxury (which really shouldn’t be a luxury, though it’s not necessarily one that you get if you’re doing the topping) of all the warm-up I wanted, and that made doing the work of topping someone else easy. It was enjoyable without all the fraught feelings of “Am I being mean enough fast enough to keep up with this person or am I just boring them to tears?” The negative self-talk that’s been super-loud since mid-December actually shut up for a couple of minutes, which was amazing.
Sounds like a resounding success, right?
Except… That goal of mine is ever on my mind. I feel angsty and guilt-ridden for watching Fury Road instead of washing dishes and canning stock. I tend to run to my tarot cards when my insecurities get the better of me (which they’ve been doing just about every three days, of late, it seems), so how is this not just feeding into some sort of Bad Pattern[1]? Topping is easy and fun because (okay, yes, because it’s specifically easy and fun and a good way for me to get fed, but also because…) it doesn’t require me to the do the scary-vulnerable work of receiving and opening up.
And, yeah, the whole point of this week’s prompt was to do something nice for yourself that you enjoy, but I still find myself asking: Jeebus, if I can’t accept a fucking gift, that I already know I like from myself, then how the fuck am I going to achieve this Queen Of Cups business that’s all about receptivity and trusting other people??
It’ll probably be fine.
I just need to shake off the Woe Is Me attitude and see where things go.
Okay. Onwards!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch.