Monthly Archives: April 2016

Full Moon – Sap Moon Crests (and Wains)

Got sick when the moon crested.
In spite of that (or possibly because of it, given how I spent last Sunday), I’m feeling a little bit more in touch with my glamourous side. I spent yesterday unpacking books that I bought during my (over-long and never-completed) MA in Religious Studies, where I focused on Menstruation and Goddess Spirituality (more on that here), and then knitting a bag for my third divination deck (the Daughters of the Moon deck that is… not actually a tarot deck, but calls itself one). It’s nice to have those books out, even if my personal understanding of Goddess Spirituality, as a faith with women’s bodily autonomy and self-(re)claimation at its core, has devoloped quite a ways away from the biological-reductionism & ciscentrism/cissexism that shows up in a lot of those texts.
I think I might be in the “slightly manic / risky behaviour looks appealing” phase of getting-over-a-breakup (at least according to this thing) which… may or may not do great things for my Glamour. But it’s giving me Reasons to drag my how-I-present-myself game up out of the doldrums it was in two weeks ago, so that’s something.
MOTION: Ye gods, I have got to get myself to a pool. With a hot tub. and a sauna. Next week can’t get here soon enough.
ATTENTION: Paying a lot of attention to the “I Wants” in my head (e.g.: I would love to go to an event like Sapphic Aquatic, but without the $100 round trip + accomodations-hunting it would require), but also trying to pay attention to, and acknowledge, the many elements of “What Happy Looks Like” (for me) that are already part of my life.
GRATITUDE: The option of buying popsicles just because I want them. A wife who is willing to do the cooking when I’m sick AF and who makes me tea and slow-dances with me in the living room. ❤ The luxury of new deoderant, Just Because (although I am laughing at myself, slightly, for believing that a femme chicky like me buying Old Spice is somehow "transgressive"… Yeah…).
INSPIRATION: Warsan Shire's gorgeous, evocative poetry (as featured in Lemonade). Clearly I have to look this woman up.
CREATION: Wrote a poem about claiming my body as my own the other day. Hopefully more to follow.

Eat From the Larder 2016 – Week Three Wrap-Up

The short version is: I got sick towards the end of Week Three.
Plus Side: I made one hell of a “Morroccan” pork ragu (er… sort of) using left-over roast pork + a pint of tomato-peach salsa + frozen greens + frozen winter squash + rice. You guys, it was SO GOOD (and SO EASY!)
Minus Side: There’s been a lot of junk food this week. A lot of rading my personal stash of fancy-organic-fair-trade-chocolate in the freezer, a lot of “Oh, hey, I forgot I had this cherry licorice lying around” on nights when my lovely wife was out for the evening and was “cooking” for one, a week of gifted food and breakfasts out, and I basically hit the Fuck-Its on Sunday. I mean, I spent the day in bed, editing my friend’s book, and seriously longing for a popsicle, and then basically slept for 12 hours.
I’m honestly looking down the paltry four-and-a-bit days remaining on this challenge, and just saying “Screw Everything, I still want that popsicle”.
Which doesn’t mean that I’m not still using on-hand (jarred and frozen) meat, fruit, and veggies + on-hand dry-goods to make meals, it just means we bought a loaf of bread on Sunday, and I bought those damn popsicles earlier today. And ate, like, four of them on the way home. My raw, feverish throat has informed me that nothing on earth has ever tasted so good.
None the less, it’s not like I couldn’t have *made* popsicles with the yoghurt in the fridge, fake vanilla in the cupboard, and frozen OJ in the freezer – and/or a jar of nectarine jam (for example). I just didn’t bother. (Which would be the kicker. The point of this exercise – in addition to the main goal of using up as many preserves as possible – is to bother). I maaay be feeling a little bad about that at the moment. >.>
Anyway. That’s my (very short) wrap-up for Week Three. Week Four’s wrap-up will be combined with the end-of-the-month summary, most likely.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Eat from the Larder 2016 – Week Two Wrap-Up

Saturday night, C was in town and came for dinner. It was nice to have time together, all three of us, again. I sent her home with a care package, and part of me is thanking my forethought when I was doing All The Canning back in August-September-October, because I was doing it with the food-needs of three people in mind, rather than “two plus occasional extras”. I admit that I’m proud to be able to hand off a couple of big bags of groceries (for one person, admittedly) and still have plenty left for in-house use, before any re-stocking needs to happen. Turns out, that’s something I want to be able to do at any time of year, which is good to know.
In other news: The rhubarb is up (barely – and only one bunch, the two from Ghost’s Dad may or may not have survived the winter. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though, as they were kept pretty shaded until yesterday) and the Vietnamese garlic is up, too! Along with a few early dandelions and the beginnings of what might develope into this year’s crop of rappini (waaaaay too young to be harvested yet, but hey).
Tonight’s dinner (which I should brobably get going on) will most likely be a stir-fry of frozen greens, frozen zucchini, roast pork, and some carefully snipped bits of the above-mentioned garlic-greens, served over rice.
I’m about to run out of cream, so will probably pick some of that (or milk) up tomorrow (along with a few pharmacy items that are definitely on the Necessities list), but I’ve been making it (and the eggs) stretch quite nicely by opting for vegan baked goods, of-which there have been many. I made a tripple-batch of almond-mocha-apricot Wacky Cake (2 dozen cupcakes + a small tray of cake to slice into squares) yesterday, as an example. Also, I totally made crackers from scratch and, even though they’re ridonkulously easy to make, I’m completely chuffed that I Made Them Myself.
Go me. 🙂
Possibly because I’m still re-stocking eggs and milk, and possibly because we are still eating out on occasion, this doesn’t feel difficult at all. I mean, yes, I’m definitely hunting up recipes that call for crushed tomatoes and diced pork as the main ingredients (this is translating into All The Ragu, All The Time, fyi), because I have lots of both to use up (hint: Green tomato chutney is a good addition to an improvised Lu Rou Fan type dish). But things have, so far, been going really smoothly. The jars on my shelves are slowly emptying, and it should be super easy to clean the fridge on April 30th (Note to Self: Make something with parsnips sooner rather than later).
Anyway. That’s my wrap-up for Week Two. Onwards to Week Three! 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Year New You 2016: Week Six – Maps (Wait, They Don’t Love You Like I Love You)

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!
Instructions: “[G]o some place that is sacred to you and to use the experience to guide you in your work[…]”
Tarot Card: Ten of Cups + Knight of Earth (specifically the one from my Osho Zen deck, called “Slowing Down“, though the Wildwood’s Knight of Stones has some personal relevance as well).
So, it’s been over two months since I did the previous prompt for the NYNY Experiment. Put that down to trying to regain some equilibrium after waiting to see how the cards would fall out.
Ha. On that note: Trying to do tarot readings when you have exactly one thing on your mind? Is simultaneously devastatingly accurate (whether you like it or not), AND massively annoying because you can’t get information on anything else.
But I’m back!
So. Most of my sacred places are inside my home. They’re my kitchen, my altar, my garden, my couch and my tiny dining table (especially when I’ve got people over who I can feed). But I’ve been feeling weirdly (or maybe not-so-weridly, what with Winter’s Last Hurrah having hit but a few days ago[1]) stuck when inside my home of late, so I was hesitant to try and trance out while chopping beets in the kitchen (for example – though it works quite well with apples, as long as you don’t lop off a finger in the process). All that being said, I did keep my eyes and ears open to see what would pop up and… I got something. I wrote about it a little bit in my most recent lunar post, but the majority of this message came, not from my home-base, but from my extended leather family at Queering Power.
The message was: SLOW DOWN!
Not “slow down” in the frantic, you-are-about-to-drive-off-a-cliff sense of the word, but “Slow Down” in the sense of:
When you are Triggered (yes, I’m talking about PTSD), everything starts to rush.
When you’re drowning in shame, you run around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to “justify your existence”, when you need no justification, you just need to BE.
When you are in that spiral of “I am Too Much” (too demanding, too slow, too needy, too big, too complicated… you name it), you tell yourself that you must rush through things for the benefit of someone else – don’t tell the whole story, don’t savour that meal, don’t sink into exactly as long as it takes you to get turned on, get into it, get off – instead of being really present, really authentic, really enjoying life’s pleasures.
When you are freaking out and trying to numb yourself, you rush through experiences without really experiencing them – eat a chocolate without even tasting it, skim a poem and feel frustrated by the (unfindable, in this state) meaning you didn’t give yourself time to catch.
When you are frantic, you make decisions that hurt people you care for, and also that hurt yourself (whether you are able to care for yourself in those moments or not).
So that’s the big one.
The thing is, it’s not the only one.
Possibly because all the Brene Brown I’ve been reading has been bringing home what Glamour is really about (not what I would have expected), and possibly because Glamour has been feeling kind of hard for me lately, I’ve caught myself thinking a lot about Miss Sugar’s Glamour Pop Quiz questions, particularly the one about What You Really, Really Want, and… what I really want, when I think about it – what this whole Queen of Cups project is supposed to allow me to access – is this. Nothing more, and nothing less, than the Happiness & Home embodied by the Ten of Cups.
When it first came to me, I sneared.
Really, Meliad? Happiness?? Is that all?
Shouldn’t I have been more ambitious? Isn’t wanting a steady, caring home, and a big, queer, chosen family to love and be loved by… isn’t that Not Much At All?
And then I thought: Am I greedy, to want so much? Is it too much to ask that my heart overflow with love and joy instead of sadness and yearning?
And then I had a dream.
I dreamed a house that was a weird combination of the house I once owned, a house I didn’t rent when I was in my 20s, the trailer-park home of a friend’s mom near Quebec City where I was made so welcome, the imagined architectural layout of The Cloud Club[2], my ex-partner’s apartment, and the second-floor walk-up of the Toronto friends who played host to me at the end of March and who have a huge, old, fruitful pear tree growing next to their balcony.
I dreamed this house, with the backyard I have now, and the neighbours I have now, except that the hella-gardening Vietnamese lady now looked suspiciously like Shine Louise Houston[3].
I dreamed this house with potted plants outside the balcony door, and garden ready to grow its next season of fruits and veggies. I dreamed my wife and I joking together while getting the balcony in shape. I dreamed C holed up in a messy nest of a room, healing and feeling safe and still part of my heart’s family. I dreamed a friend of my neighbour (she looked like Snow White, if Snow White had the kind of hips and ass normally associated with Fertility Goddesses and the kind of asymetrical bob currently associated with queers of a whole slew of genders) flirting with me, calling me “Hey femme,” and telling me she liked my legs.
I dreamed love and hope. I dreamed relationships that last. I dreamed joy in ordinary moments. I dreamed fruitfulness and abundance and having Enough, feeling Enough. Not Hungry. And not Overwhelming.
I woke up and knew that this was plenty “good enough” to be a Great Work. I woke up and knew it was not Too Much to ask.
So thats what my sacred spaces have had to tell me.
Onwards and upwards, campers!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Today, on the other hand, the sun is out, the snow is pretty-much GONE, the crocuses are blooming, and the leaves are starting to stretch and open up. My rhubarb survived the winter! (At least one did – we’ll see about the other two, which got planted waaaaaaaaay later and may not have got themselves established before the cold hit for real). So things are looking up. 🙂
[2] Where Amanda Palmer lives, fyi.
[3] Yes, the Shine who runs Pink and White Productions.

Eat from the Larder 2016 – What to Do With Green Tomato Chutney

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I made a lot of green tomato chutney last October, when the frost knocked my tomato plants down, and now I’m not sure what to do with it.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s working out great as a sandwich spread (I’m about to make myself yet another roast pork sandwich with grainy mustard and GTC), and the sweet-spicy-tangy-umami mix of apples, mustard, vinegar, and tomatoes doesn’t hurt as an addition to lentil stew or some kind of bean-based dip.
The thing is, sandwiches don’t take more than a teaspoon of chutney each, and even a large stew isn’t going to need more than half a cup of chutney thrown in if it’s being used as a seasoning.
The sugar content makes me wonder if it would work as a stew-base, or if it would just be too sweet, but… I’m still hoping to re-jig a few recipes (like the following) in order to use up a couple of pint-jars of green tomato chutney (maybe with some crushed tomatoes thrown in as well).
Green Tomato Stew AKA Tomato Kootu
Thakali Masiyal
Green Tomato Pork Stew
Curry In A Hurry (also ft broccoli and sweet potatoes)
Green Tomato & French Lenils Soup
Wish me luck!

New Moon – Sap Moon Begins (And Some Thoughts on My Third Jupiter Return)

Under different circumstances, I would have called this Leaf Moon. I may yet call it that, given that this time next week, it’s supposed to be almost 20C (!!) and sunny, and that should bring the leaves out like nothing else will. But we’ve also got snow on the ground right now, and more on the way. The winter that wouldn’t start is holding on with its fingernails for a little longer yet, in spite of the tulips and crocuses poking out of the ground, and it’s (apparently) resulting in a pretty great year for maple syrup, so… plan your larders accordingly. 😉
I have to admit, I’m not feeling very magically energized right now. Glamour is hard. The weekend I spent in Toronto during the last full moon? I felt pretty – shiny, crowned, you name it – for almost the entire weekend (miss Sugar has a post, right now, about how glamour can open the door to what you can become, if you allow yourself the chance to consider it, and it’s giving me some food for thought in light of that weekend). Part of that was because I was there to work, and embodying Feminine Wiles, being the Vamp, the Untouchable Muse, is a major part of the job description… no surprise that it carried over into the rest of my stay. Hell, I was getting Attention from strangers who didn’t ping my “Ew, Gross” buttons while out hunting for take-out after a friend cancelled on me. 😉 I had to be doing something right.
…But now I’m back in my home-base, and all I want to do is sleep. Maybe it’s the resurgence of snow and ice that’s got me down, but it’s been hard to feel un-frumpy, to feel like I’m doing Glamour well, rather than getting it all backwards and presenting my Worst Self to the world, even when I’m decked out in my Femme Power Colour and have washed both my hair and my sheets in recent history. I want to travel again, and I’m suspicious of my motivation – is it just because I want strangers to think I’m pretty? Is it because I want to get away from my messy house and unwashed dishes?
My question from last full moon is still sitting in my head, unanswered:

What can I plant this growing season that can be a long-term investment? That I can think of as “bearing fruit” five years from now rather than expecting things to produce-produce-produce in six short months?

A lot of the possible answers boil down to “better personal security” in both the emotional and the material sense of the word. Do magic (and leg-work) to find a permenant part-time office job I can walk to. Pour energy into my Queen of Cups project and (re)learn how to be fully connected to my whole body without having to do and hour and a half of vocal warm-ups in order to get there. Research (in the sense of books, but also int he sense of “field work”) for the kind of how-to memoire-manuals that you want to be writing after you’ve been doing polyamourous O/p for over a decade. Pour energy into (re-)building & strengthening your (changed) relationship with your ex so that you can keep being family, but don’t force the healing process any more than you’d force the healing of a broken bone.
Maybe it’s the (theoretically impending) Promise of Spring, or maybe it’s because a couple of friends of mine are getting kicked in the teeth by their Saturn Returns right now, but I’m thinking about my own Returns and which cycles are coming round again.
Having done some quick google-searching, it turns out I’m going through a Jupiter Return this year (every 12 years – unlike the Saturn Returns, they happen relatively frequently).
Apparently, this means that I’m supposed to pay attention to Abundance (well, that’s a big part of my Queen of Cups project, so…), pleasure, and expansion, and to learn how to give and receive without guilt or expectations which, honestly, is making me totally twitchy right now for, uh… Reasons. Moving on… And, in theory, I’m going to get an eye-full of both where I’m at my most generous (because I don’t live in Scarcity Brain in that area), and where I need to take a leap of faith in order to improve my life in areas where I’m maybe not so trusting. Well… See above re: Twitchy.  
Apparently I picked the right year to do this Project?
Bully for me.
MOTION: Currently trying not to slip on the (still-icy/slushy) sidewalks, and it’s…not great. I’m hoping that the warmer weather will give me incentive to get out and about Just Because, since this business of Hunkering Down at Home is starting to wear thin. BUT: Dance party coming up with the full moon, and I’m looking forward to it.
ATTENTION: Based on the opening and closing pieces from this year’s Queering Power, I’ve started Paying Attention to where I need to slow things down in order to experience them fully. One of the ways that I numb myself (in the “numbing vulnerability” sense of the word) is by rushing through things rather than experiencing them.
GRATITUDE: Thankful for friends who keep an eye on me, for a heart that can mend, for a wife who wants to listen to me read to her so we can share books together, for people with rooms in my heart who know they can call me if they need back-up, and whom I know I can call for the same. Also thankful for the possibility of Actual Warm Weather, with trees leafing out and tulips pushing towards blooming, in the near future, ZOMG!
INSPIRATION: Ha. Heartbreak. I’m starting to get some half-way decent poetry out of this break-up. Silver linings are a thing. Some of the time. 😉
CREATION: See above, re: poetry. Looking forward to digging another garden bed, too, but that’s still a few weeks off. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

Eat From the Larder 2016 -Week One Wrap-Up

So far, so many meals out.
Or things along those lines, anyway. I got gifted a couple of slices of super-fancy cake on Tuesday night, and both of us have had breakfast out at least twice this week. Yesterday’s Queering Power activities included a pot-luck lunch (I made mint-chocolate-cherry cupcakes based on the Wacky Cake recipe found in How It All Vegan, thus conserving eggs and milk, so go me) but also a dinner out with a bunch of out-of-town friends. I regret nothing. 🙂
Beyond that, I’ve been using up perishable (or more-perishable, at any rate) veggies this week, because: priorities. So there’s been a chickpea-cauliflower curry (we have left-overs for lunch tomorrow) and a lentil-quinoa stew inspired by ratatouille (pre-sliced mushrooms, frozen golden zucchini, frozen eggplant, green tomato chutney (half a cup – I still have so muchof this stuff lying around) a cup of jarred tomatoes, and a handleful crumbled tomato-chips, plus lots of parmasan cheese on top. I also did a (really delicious) sausage-potato-beets dish with pumpkin seeds and bacon[1] (two kinds of pork in one dish, and one of them wasn’t lard! I feel so decadent!) on Thursday and a pasta with tinned salmon, mushrooms, onions, and alfredo sauce for unexpected company on Wednesday.
I’m running low on (meaning running out of) mayonaise, which I hadn’t expected, so the tuna sandwiches I made the other day maybe the last I make until May. Or maybe I try my hand at making home-made mayo. We’ll see. I’m also (having used half a cup of it in the cupcakes this weekend) running low of cocoa powder and rotini. Not that I don’t have other options, but it’s something to be aware of, particularly the pasta since I tend to rely on that stuff for quick-and-easy dinners.
I have fancy cheese and paté in the fridge, but need to make some crackers before we can get on with enjoying those lovely items. Also to make: bread (for toast and for cheese sandwiches), muffins or similar (for breakfasts, snacks, and similar- thinking I’ll do pumpkin-apricot-chocolate-chip with a little bit of almond flour worked into the mix, but we’ll see what I come up with.
I’ve got a shoulder roast (or possibly an uncured ham) in the oven, roasting with potatoes, onions, butternut squash, and a little bit of white wine, which will do us for a spiffy dinner tonight (and probably several more times this week – it’s a huge roast, by my standards – done as a stir-fry with reconstituted dried mushrooms + frozen greens; dice and tossed with oregano, garlic and jarred, roasted tomatoes over (more) rice; sliced onto sandwiches (possibly with apple butter, possibly with green tomato chutney); or thrown into a stew with black beans, and either salsa or a mix of crushed tomatoes, diced onions, and dried apricots).
I’ve got family coming down from Toronto to visit this coming weekend (it’s C’s anniversary with Ghost – and would have been ours as well, but that’s life for you) and I’m hoping to send her home with a (raw, frozen) roast or two, plus some more preserves (I admit, I wonder if she’s getting sick of tomato sauce, but you give what you’ve got, so there we go). I fully expect us to go through both of those packages of paté this week – one with C, and the other (along with a lingering wedge of fancy cheese!) when a heart-sick friend comes by for tea/wine and a friendly ear later this week.
Going over old Eat From the Larder posts, it’s amazing how much I remember events by the food that we had. I remember who brought the ice cream and the super-spiffy balsamic vinegar (I ration that stuff like butter in WW2, you guys). I remember who brought the box of fancy cookies, and what went down during that less-than-fantastic visit.
In theory, this is the point where eating strictly (even for my not-very-strict version of “strictly”) from the larder starts getting hard. The fresh veggies dwindle, the eggs run out, you have to plan snack-food and make stuff from scratch that you’d usually buy pre-made (crackers and pasta come to mind for me). Let’s see how this goes. 🙂

Full Moon – Melt-Water Moon Crests (and Wains)

I spent the Full Moon in Toronto, hot-tubbing, visiting the textiles floor of the ROM, doing modeling work, and spending time with my (alas) ex-partner, C (formerlly The Archivist). My heart is still heavy over that last bit, but we were able to spend time together and be caring and affectionate and kind, and that goes a long way to making this feel… if not good, at least okay. Manageable. Erica, over at NWEdible has a post (about permaculture, but it still applies) wherein she says:

It’s like, “yeah, I don’t have to stick with something that isn’t working. I can just change it. And that’s ok.”

And it’s hitting me right in the Feelings because… eugh. So much of me says “NO! It’s NOT okay! You have to at least try to fix it!”
A friend of mine came over last night for wine plus chips-and-salsa (she is, in fact, the same friend who helped me make said salsa, back at the end of August) plus Commiseration, and she said – as my lovely wife has also pointed out, on occasion – that Yes, relationships take maintenance. But they shouldn’t feel like Work.
…And they shouldn’t.
And I’m still sad about this. Sometimes I wonder if I’m mourning the Capital-F Failure that I’m perceving here as much as I’m mourning the change in how we define our relationship, and the accompanying changes in behaviour (no kissing on the mouth, no hope for being lovers, far less frequent conversations) that come with it. In another week, it’l be Leaf Moon, and what a difference (what a painful difference, sometimes) a year can make. I feel like my job right now (and for EVAR) is going to be Learning to Navigate Uncertainty rather than trying to control everything and make everything Perfect.
So here we are. Spring has (more or less) sprung. The crocuses are poking through the ground – though not blooming yet – and, while the temperature’s supposed to drop significantly over the weekend, it feels like we’ve crossed the border and, as the days get steadily longer than the nights (hurrah!), are moving into Shoots Time. I don’t know what’s coming up yet (See what I did that?), but I find myself wanting some stability.
I’ve been hustling for years now and, while I like that way of life – the freedom it gives me to schedule weekends (or weekdays) away, the time to focus on all the things that matter, rather than just the “income keeps the roof overhead” thing – I keep looking at my finances and going “Y’know, 20 hours a week at $20/hr would still land me an extra $500/month that I could put into my savings account. A few years of that, and I’d have my whole Nest Egg back where I want it to be. We could buy a house. Plant some asparagus and a fruit tree. Have somewhere to live when we get old…”
…And it would still let me take modeling work, have that other 20 hours a week to spend making bread, darning socks, spinning yarn, and tending the garden.
What can I plant this growing season that can be a long-term investment? That I can think of as “bearing fruit” five years from now rather than expecting things to produce-produce-produce in six short months? If I were to do magic to bring that kind of slow-growth stability into my life, what would it look like? (Honestly, it would probably be another honey-pot, since those seem to work well for me, but there might be other ways to go about it).
MOTION: Walking every day,which is great. Paying attention to how my hips/knees/back are doing, and aware that being on my feet for 2+ hours means I pay for it for the next 36-48 hours. Also aware that, now that the snow is (hopefully) gone, I can throw on my old walking boots and take myself out to some of the monthly club dances (like tomorrow night, and the 23rd of this month) now that I don’t have to dress with such a careful eye to staying warm on the way to and from the club. May or may not use some of the “spare” (for a given value of “spare”) cash theoretically accumulating this month due to (a) contract extension, and (b) it being Eat From the Larder Month and spending it on occasional trips to the neighbourhood pool/hot-tub/steam-room because that stuff just feels good.
ATTENTION: Trying to get outon dates with my lovely wife, actively paying attention to each other and being romantic together. Also paying attention to where and how my anxiety shows up, and how I react to it + trying to get a read on what my less obvious “Act Two” tactics are turning out to be. Got my eye on another Relationship Book (I love you, but I’m not in love with you) that might be a good resource for building my own poly/kinky/queer Relationship Guide.
GRATITUDE: White crucuses and blue scilla blooming in Toronto front gardens last Sunday. Daylilies (and other bulby things) pushing through the dirt in my own front yard. My work-days going back to only 10am-2pm from the longer hours I’d been working through most of March. Friends who take awesome care of me. A wife who keeps telling me I’m beautiful. An ex who can still be my family. A larder full to the ridiculous with food enough to share. Hope.
INSPIRATION: My amazing, creative friend who has landed herself a literary agent and is making brilliant things happen with her gay-as-fuck YA novel.
CREATION: My second shrug is officially a work-in-progress now that I’ve got the first sleeve done, but the next few weeks are going to be heavy on the creative-in-the-kitchen front as I work through as many of my 2015 preserves as possible. Wish me luck!

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2016 – Pre-Game Show

It’s April First! Which means this year’s Eat From the Larder Challenge has officially begun!
Basically, this is something I started doing a couple of years ago and have decided to try and keep up with every year. The idea is that we spend April using up the past year’s pantry staples and preserves so that there’s space in the larder for when the fresh produce (and, thense, new preserves) start showing up in the not-too-distant future. In the case of Erica, who started the whole thing (see link, above), she’s in Pacific Northwest of the USA, so her growing season starts a solid month, sometimes more, ahead of mine. So I’m not expecting fresh greens to go with my frozen eggplant and crushed tomatoes. But I still like the idea of it.
One thing I’ve noticed myself doing (this year, but also last year) is, well… hoarding my preserves for April. Part of that is just that fresh produce – even when its all root veggies plus cabbage, maybe some winter squash, mushrooms and increasing bruised apples – are preferable to stuff in jars. Remoulade, beet salad, and apple-cabbage slaw bring crunch and (sometimes) colour to a winter table that, otherwise, would be heavy on the browns and beiges (meat, grain, legumes, yoghurt) and low on texture that wasn’t soft. The other part is just… I don’t want to run out. It’s less of an issue these days – I have an income quilt, such as it is, and so does my lovely wife – but I’ve had enough months of unemployment, enough years of on-again-off-again contract work, in the not-so-distant past that the thought of running out of food is still something that preys on my mind, even when I can look at the vast quantities of dried, frozen, and jarred/tinned foods (veggies, fruits, meat, grains, legumes, nuts, mushrooms, herbs & spices, even powdered milk) I keep on hand and know that it won’t happen. So there are a lot of preserves that I haven’t used yet. Lots of jarred (and dried) tomatoes & green tomato chutney[1], lots of frozen eggplant (I’m foreseeing at least one round of ratatouille – or something like it: diced eggplant, chopped onion, reconstituted dried mushrooms, red lentils and red quinoa tossed with a pint of crushed tomatoes & dried herbs, and baked in a skillet under a heap of parmasan cheese – in our future, maybe tonight). Lots of pork from Francis the Pig that we haven’t eaten yet. Lots (ish) of tinned tuna. Lots of flour and yeast and cooking oil.
It feels almost like cheating to be this prepared. And yet part of the point of this is to take what you’ve got, get creative, and keep churning out meals when you can’t just swing by the grocery store and pick up turkey legs that aren’t frozen solid.
My own rules for this challenge include:
It’s okay to buy: milk, eggs, coffee, tea, wine and junk food.
BUT: Try not to.
Use the jam and the fruit butters to replace both the sugar and some/all fo the eggs in the baking recipes. Drink the raspberry thriller tea in order to conserve the cream in the fridge. Make cakes, cookies, and muffins, instead of buying chocolates or ice cream for dessert.
It’s okay to stock up beforehand IF things are on sale – so, just before Easter Weekend, the grocery store was clearing out as much as it could, and cheese was on for $4/lb. As such, we could now go through a pound of cheese every week, and still have extra by the time Beltane rolls around.
But when we’re out of butter, we’re out of butter. When we’re out of crackers, I need to learn how to make them from scratch (finally – how hard can it be?[2]). Pot-luck dishes cannot be picked up, last minute, from a store on the way to the event. If I forget to plan ahead, and thaw out some pork chops (or similar), even on a Friday, I need to rely on the tinned tuna, sausages, frozen fish, or legumes that I’ve got on hand and use my creativity to make something Fancy with what’s available.
As with previous years, you can follow along using the Eat From the Larder Challenge tag, and I’ll make a once-a-week post talking about how the month is going.
Wish me luck! 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I made a LOT of green tomato chutney last October, and we’ve eaten absolutely none of it. Unlike August’s chokecherry chutney, which I LOVE and will absolutely be making again, I keep giving my GTC the side-eye and wondering if it will actually taste good, or if it’ll just be so much over-sweet, not-quite-right Glop that never works with anything. Some of it will go in that ratatouille – why not – but some of it was supposed to get poured over a pork roast and… I worry that it will make everything Too Sweet. And this is the time of year when I find that out. :-\
[2] Famous last words… 😉