Sunday, August 31, 2014

Double Layer Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake

So, I made a thing:  

Pardon my crappy pictures, but I took them just a little bit ago.  It's 4:23 am right now.

I think the drink is vile, but I thought it would translate well to cheesecake form.  It did!  OMG this cheesecake is sooooooooo creamy and rich. I didn't use too much sugar, either.  You can kind of see the individual layers, but the colors are pretty similar.

·         1 box gingersnaps, finely crushed  (I had about 1 ½ cups of crumbs)
·         6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Mix butter and gingersnap crumbs and press into bottom and partially up the sides of a 9” spring form pan.

Latte Layer:
·         20 oz. softened cream cheese (2 ½ packages)
·         2 eggs
·         ½ cup sour cream
·         1 ½ tablespoons espresso powder
·         1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
·         ¾ cup sugar

Pumpkin Spice Layer:
·         20 oz. softened cream cheese
·         2 eggs
·         ½ cup sour cream
·         1 8-oz. can pumpkin puree
·         1 cup sugar
·         1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
·         1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Combine ingredients for latte layer until smooth.  A food processor works best.  Spoon into the crust.
Combine ingredients for pumpkin spice layer until smooth. Spoon evenly and gently on top of latte layer.
Wrap bottom of pan in foil Place pan in a water bath.  I used a large skillet for this, but you could use a roasting pan or whatever the spring form will fit in.  (Heat some water and pour about ½ - ¾ inch into the other pan.)

Bake cheesecake at 325 for about  1 ¾ hours, until middle is set.  Run a knife around the edge. Remove from roasting pan/skillet.  Cool.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.   

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Autumn is a-cumen in!

September is a little more than a day away here.  Are you as excited as I am?  Temperatures are still pretty warm, but thunderstorms are coming to cool us down a bit.  Mabon will soon be here, and then...Samhain!  The countdown to Samhain began ages ago for me, but I'm not about to forget the autumn equinox, oh, no!

Our second harvest festival in the northern hemisphere, the autumn equinox/Mabon is a time to start turning inward a bit more.  It's a time to start focusing on things we want to get rid of at the end of the year, a time to meditate on future goals, and a time to really start connecting more with our inner selves.  It's a time to get in touch with our spirituality and prepare for the long, dark winter.

At my parents' house, it's a time for canning and freezing everything from the garden.  Tomatoes, peppers, and green beans are being preserved in jars. Pickles have been made.  Corn is going into the freezer.  My parents are enjoying delicious turnips, raw with salt and pepper.  Here, since I have no garden, I am getting ready to de-clutter the house.  I have bundles of clothes to give away, books to organize, and other assorted bits of junk to get rid of.

Celebrating the second harvest and enjoying the beginning of autumn are joyful activities. The air will soon grow cool and crisp. The days are already noticeably shorter.  Pumpkins already decorate the front of the grocery store.  Today, I baked a pumpkin spice latte cheesecake. The time is nigh!

Below is a list of activities and foods for the autumn equinox. If you're having trouble thinking of ideas for decorations, activities, or dishes, perhaps it will help you.

Mabon  Ideas for Heart and Home

·         Simmer water with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves on the stove.

·         Smudge with rosemary, sage, and thyme.  Simmer some of the herbs in water and add it to your mop water.  Clean the floors, counters, and cabinet doors.  Add some sea salt for extra protection and cleansing.

·         Decorate with autumn leaf gardens that you can purchase from a craft store.

·         Place leaves on a canvas or piece of foam board. Dip an old toothbrush into some orange, red, brown, and yellow paint.  Splatter. Remove the leaves.

·         Can the rest of the fresh green beans and tomatoes.  Make pesto with the last of the summer basil and freeze it.  Freeze the corn.  Hang bundles of herbs to dry.

·         Fall cleaning.  Get rid of clutter and give away anything you don’t use or wear.

·         Make a besom. Scent with cinnamon oil.

·         Meditate on Persephone’s descent into the Underworld.  Eat pomegranate seeds while doing this.
·         Harvest seeds.  

·         Think of your goals for the coming year.

·         Think of what you want to get rid of at Samhain. What is cluttering your mind and your life?

·         Make corn dollies.

·         Make dried apples for snacks and decoration.

·         Decorate the altar with bundles of corn.  Hollow out apples to use as candle holders. 

·         Squash soup
·         Corn bread
·         Apple pie, crumble, or cake
·         Pinto beans cooked with smoked ham
·         Sauteed  greens
·         Stuffed onions
·         Sweet potatoes – mashed, baked, in pie form

Friday, August 29, 2014

R is for Ritual

What do you think of when you hear the word “ritual”?   Does it evoke images of smoking incense, candles, a wand, chalice, and athame?   Or do you associate it with your pre-Pagan days?  Prayers murmured in unison, standing up, sitting down, hymns?   All of the above?

I personally don’t do rituals, per se.  The last time I was in a formal circle, it felt very hollow and a bit silly, even.  Calling the quarters.  People using pen flashlights to read notes.  I dunno, there just wasn’t much appeal. 

Instead of formal acts of worship, I prefer daily practices.  I’ve written before that ritual, for me, largely includes cooking and feeding people.  I see those things as an act of worship – of nature and of the Divine.   The principle is similar, and the practice also has some similarities.  Instead of a wand, I use a wooden spoon. Instead of a cauldron, I have pots and pans.  I sometimes light candles when I cook or bake, and I use herbs, but in a different way most of the time.

I think that acts of reverence for the Divine and for nature are things that should be a part of my daily routine.  That’s one of the reasons my head is always covered.  I try to remain prayerful throughout the day.  I try to give thanks for many things throughout the day.   I personally don’t need to gather together with a group of people and make circle to do it. 

Sometimes it’s nice to be in the company of others, and I do attend gatherings from time to time, but I don’t participate as much as I observe while thinking my own thoughts and conducting a celebration in my own mind.  That’s just what works for me.  Everyone’s practice is different, which is how it should be. I believe the path to the Divine – however you see it – is deeply personal, and no one can tell you how or where to walk it.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Free Recipe Download

I've never done this before, so I hope it works!

As you may remember, I have been working on some recipes to go along with the calendars of meatless meals that I have planned for the time between Nov. 1 and Dec. 20.    Well, here they are!   If you're interested in cooking anything that I have planned to make during that time, here is your chance.

The recipes are yours to use and adapt as you see fit.  I've included some menu ideas that are similar to the post I made with the calendars, but there are some variations.  It's a total of 39 pages.  I didn't include every single recipe because some of them, such as spaghetti, are rather basic.

Please let me know if you nab the PDF file, if you cook anything, and how you like the recipes.  What worked? What didn't? What did you change?

Thank you and enjoy!


Feasting When the Veil is Thin

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Passing

My Samhain table will have a new guest this year.  My grandmother has passed beyond the veil.  

I love you, Grandma. So much. I hope you can feel that, wherever you are.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Q is for Queen of Heaven (music)

Mediaeval Baebes: Salva Nos

Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
Que pura deum paris
Salva nos, stella maris
Et per rubum signaris
Nesciens viri thorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
O virgo specialis
Salva nos, stella maris
Sis nobis salutaris
Imperatrix celorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
Tu mater expers paris
Salva nos, stella maris
Manna celeste paris
Et panem angelorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
O parens expers maris
Salva nos, stella maris
Partu non violaris
Paris sanctum sanctorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
Celeste manna paris
Salva nos, stella maris
Lux cecis, dux ignaris
Solamen angelorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum
Salva nos, stella maris
Et regina celorum