Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Samhain Feast

Y'all know me by now.  You know that I celebrate the turning of the wheel in my kitchen.  For me, the best way to celebrate the individual seasons and the bounty provided is to cook that beautiful, wonderful seasonal food and share it with those I love.

My favorite celebration has always been the Samhain celebration.  It's the last harvest holiday, and in my path, the last day of the year.  Some people celebrate on Oct. 31 or Nov. 1, while others' celebrations depend upon the actual day.  I believe Nov. 6 is the day this year.  It varies, and you can look it up online or use your trusty almanac.

Because of our work schedules, my boyfriend and I have chosen Saturday, Nov. 2 this year as the day for our feast of remembrance.  It may just be the two of us, or a friend from work might join us.  Other friends may join us if they can make it up here, but it doesn't look too promising, sadly.

I have written before that I see Samhain as the last day of the old year and the winter solstice/Yule as the first day of the new year.  The time in between is just that - the in-between time.  The veil is still a bit thin, the nights are long and dark, and the earth rests.

This year, instead of an altar (which we never really do, anyway), I think we are just going to write down the names of our beloved dead and post their names at the table.  There will be candles, of course, and possibly some seasonal decorations if I can find time to get them together.  Time is something that is always in short supply.  Plus, I've never been that good at decorating.  Oh, well.  It's the thought that counts, right?

I've been working on some meal plans lately.  As some of you may remember from last year, I eat a vegetarian/possibly slightly vegan diet from just after Samhain until Yule.   I've been planning those meals as well as a list of funeral feasts.    I am working on putting together menus for Samhain and other times of remembrance.

The ideas behind it are to offer a variety of grounding foods and a variety of lighter fare as well.  I was thinking about offering the more grounding foods to the spirits as a way of enticing them to hang out and visit with their living relatives a bit longer, and the lighter foods would be served to the living.  The lighter, less grounding foods for the living would be a way of helping us communicate with those beyond the veil.   Some menus offer grounding foods to the living as well, so as to keep them from being 'swept away', as it were.

This year, I have planned a seasonal feast of grounding foods for the living and the dead.  There are so many wonderful foods associated with this time of year - nuts, apples, pumpkins, root vegetables, pork...The list goes on and on.   I tend to get a bit carried away sometimes, and I always want to serve as much sabbat-appropriate food as possible.

As a result of my menu planning, I expect to spend two days in the kitchen.  I may not be eating meat after Saturday, but my boyfriend will have leftovers to take to work.  I will have some vegetable dishes to take for my lunches, as well.

I have had this menu planned for several months, but I haven't unveiled (ahem) it yet, so here it is:

Persephone's Salad (recipe on this blog somewhere)
Roasted chicken
Pork-stuffed cabbage (gonna use my crock pot for these)
Brussels sprouts gratin
Mixed mushroom saute
Roasted, glazed parsnips and carrots
Roasted potatoes
Buttered poppy seed noodles
Rye rolls with caraway seeds
Chocolate-walnut cake (mostly flourless)

Hello, meat!  Hello, starch!  Yes, it's an enormous feast, especially for only 2-3 living attendees.  A plate will be left out for the ancestors as well.   I believe apple pie moonshine will also make an appearance.

I will post recipes for the parsnips and carrots, the cabbage rolls, and the salad.  The cake recipe comes to me from chow.com, and the rye bread recipe comes to me from the bag of rye flour.

For now, I am off to dream of other Samhain recipes and to enjoy my Sunday.  This week brings a full schedule of teaching, grading, planning, office hours, and getting my boyfriend to and from his job as well (we only have the one car for now).

I hope that you all have a wonderful Samhain celebration, no matter how you observe it.  May your table be full of delicious food and your home full of the love and light of your ancestors and relatives.

Until next time,


Saturday, October 5, 2013

What's in Season? Autumn Edition

Oh, Autumn, How I Love Thee!

Autumn is in full swing, despite the warm temperatures in my part of the world.  I adore the bounty of summer, true, but autumn brings about some of my favorite foods as well.

Apples – Put ‘em in pies and crumbles, bake them, fry them, make apple sauce and apple butter, and don’t forget the cider!
Beets – Pickled or roasted, I love beets.  They are good in juice, and my Aussie boyfriend loves a slice of beetroot on his burgers.
Broccoli – I love broccoli-cheese soup and sesame broccoli.
Brussels sprouts – I love, love, love these teensy little cabbage creatures!   I love a good casserole – something with creamy sauce, bacon, and herbs.
Cabbage – Another under-appreciated cruciferous veggie. Cabbage rolls will most likely be on my Samhain table this year.
Carrots – Paired with parsnips and a sweet-tangy glaze, I could eat a bushel.
Cauliflower – Gobi Manchurian, anyone? Gobi pakora?  Aloo gobi?  Yes, my favorite cauliflower dishes are Indian.
Celery – I missed celery when I lived overseas. Sure, we had celery root, but it wasn’t the same.  I love a stalk of celery with cream cheese and raisins. 
Chard – This is one of my most favorite vegetables. I love it sautéed with garlic and maybe some Balsamic vinegar.  Don’t forget the pine nuts!
Chiles – What would a curry be without chiles? 
Cranberries – I love these tart little garnet berries.  Cranberry-orange juice is one of my favorites, and I make a mean cranberry-apple chutney to go with a pork roast. Mmmm!
Figs – Before Istanbul, I’d never had a fresh fig.  I actually prefer them dried, however. 
Grapes – I prefer to juice them.  Eating them reminds me of eyeballs.
Kale – Kale is certainly popular these days.  It’s no wonder – it’s delicious! I prepare it the same way I prepare chard.  Both are good in frittata as well.
Leeks – Leek and onion quiche.  ‘Nuff said.
Mushrooms – I’ve written posts on the moony, magnificent mushroom.  Morels are springtime fungi, but the other goodies come in the fall.
Onions – Necessary for life.  My life, anyway.
Parsnips – Carrots and parsnips with a butter-honey-Balsamic glaze.  Oh, yeah. 
Pears – I like mine a little bit firm.
POMEGRANATES  - Easily my most favorite thing on this list.  Beautiful symbols of the feminine aspect of the Divine, delicious, and so good for you. 
Potatoes – Another necessity.
Pumpkins and other cold-weather squashes (Mmmm…butternut!) – I actually prefer butternut squash to pumpkin, but I did buy a white “ghost” pumpkin to make my favorite Turkish dessert.  Kabak tatlisi, here I come!
Spinach – Popeye was really on to something.  I love wilted spinach salad with bacon, spinach quiche, spinach dip…
Sweet potatoes – Gimme a baked sweet potato with butter, a touch of honey or brown sugar (cause I have a major sweet tooth), and some garam masala for seasoning. 

These and so many more fruits and veggies are in season this time of year, and I cannot wait to add them to my autumn table.   For these and all other autumn foods, I give thanks.  

If you’re interested in learning more about the magical significances of these foods, stay tuned.  I’m still looking for my reference books.  Yes, I’ve been here since the end of August. No, I haven’t finished unpacking yet.  It happens! J

The best laid plans...

After Samhain, I will be eating a meatless diet until Yule.  I did the same thing last year.  As some of you may remember, I posted menus for what I had planned to cook during those days.  Some things I made, and some things I did not.

As always, I make grand plans to do things, and then life gets in the way.  I expect the very same thing to happen this year. Actually, I expect it to be worse.  I am working longer hours, live farther away from work, and my boyfriend's work schedule is 4 pm - 1 am.   We have one car, so I have to go pick him up.  He isn't home for dinner, of course, and I truly hate cooking a meal just for myself.   It's a pain in the ass when I get home at 6.  I manage to destroy the kitchen, and then I am too tired to clean it up before I nap.  I nap for a few hours, get up, drive the 25 miles to the boyfriend's place of employment, and get back home around 1:30 or 1:45.   Ugh.  Just, ugh.

Still, I plan to make a few meals here and there, and I am planning plenty of options.  I will actually get around to posting some recipes, too, I hope.

I'm tired.  I need a break already.

My Samhain menu is planned and huge.  We'll see what happens.  I'll be celebrating on the cross-quarter day, which I do believe is November 6.  I will double check before then.   That will give me some more time to get my shit together.  I may just shoot for the weekend between Nov. 6 and Oct. 31.  I think that will be my best bet.

I love my new job and my new place of employment.  It is a bazillion times better than that awful place where we were trapped before moving back home.  Thank gods I'm back in my home state!

So, what are you doing this year?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I did a Pagan Identity tag thingie from YouTube.   I have no idea who posted the original, but there are a lot of response videos to be watched.