Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's Cooking: Nov. 11 - 17

We managed to stick to the meal plan script pretty closely last week, with only one carry over intention (because there were enough leftovers from other days to allow for a no-cook leftovers day).

The Farmer's Market turnips were a success and we'll be doing those again.  We also both enjoyed our "Chili Cheese Fries" (chili over roasted sweet potatoes) very much and will put that on regular rotation this winter.

Here's the plan for this week.

Monday Nov. 11
Ate out (we were running errands)

Tuesday Nov. 12
Argentinian Loose Meat
Steamed Cabbage

Wednesday Nov. 13
Italian Sausages 
Butternut Squash

Thursday Nov. 14
Michael's Cooking

Friday Nov. 15
Pumpkin Soup
No-Grain Bread

Saturday Nov. 16
Eating out?
(plan to be in Baltimore)

Sunday Nov. 17
No-Grain Pancakes
Sausage or Bacon

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Love of Destiny

I just finished reading a deceptively short book – deceptive because despite its length (well under 100 pages), its ideas are an important contribution to polytheistic religion.

"The Love of Destiny" by Dan McCoy draws on the mythology of the Icelandic sagas to illustrate animism – the view of the world as infused with sacredness, contrasted with the monotheistic concept of the world as profane, separated from the divine. While the book is not specifically about animism, this pervasiveness of the sacred in the natural realm reflects that philosophy.

In McCoy's definition, "monotheism" and "polytheism" are less about the number of gods, more about the perception of the physical universe. In a few pages he ably sets up these definitions, describes the dominant monotheistic groups (including modern science) and contrasts them to polytheism and, more importantly, the understanding of the divine that undergirds polytheism. As McCoy sees it, monotheism, envisioning the divine as something apart from the material universe, lends itself to binary division: sacred/profane, good/evil.

Polytheism, envisioning the divine as infused throughout the material universe, is not prone to such divisions. Morality is polyvalent. As an example, he retells the Icelandic myth of the Nordic god Tyr, normally as upright and honorable as they come, swearing a false oath for the purpose of binding the wolf Fenrir. While the oathbreaking was a dishonorable act by Germanic ethical standards, binding Fenrir was the greater good. This is an example of the "plurality of norms" that McCoy contrasts to the monotheist's "objective moral standard." In a polytheistic universe, indeed, one god's moral standards may differ from another's, yet this is not a contradiction.

The challenge for modern polytheists is to try to shake 2,000 years of monotheistic dominance and return to this earlier perspective. A "mere multiplication of the number of deities," as McCoy puts it, is only part of the difference.

McCoy is hardly the first contemporary writer to embrace and seek to describe animism. Emma Restall Orr's work is well-known, and McCoy's bibliography lists several other authors and works on the topic. What he adds uniquely is his tie-in to a specific cultural mythos to connect the dots. In the Germanic understanding of existence, time is cyclical. The story begins with the emergence of the universe from Ginnungagap, aided by Odin, Vili and Ve and the death of the giant Ymir. It ends with Ragnarok, and then begins again.

The final section of the book expands on this concept, suggesting a correspondence between the web of wyrd (destiny) and the web of nature, interdependence and interconnectedness integral to each.

Click the Amazon link above to support this site through your purchase, or buy it direct from the author (PDF format) here

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Root Veggies and a Roll-Your-Own Finish

This weekend, the Farmer's Market was full of turnips.  I think Michael and I have decided we are pretty much in favor of just about any root vegetable, but neither of us are all that familiar with turnips.  Even so, we bought a basket of them - small and tender and smelling earthy and somewhat like radishes (mmm, radishes), and last night we prepared them along with some sweet potato, and the result was delicious and tasted like Autumn.

This is what I love about going to the Farmer's Market - it makes it so easy to stretch your food repertoire.  Occasionally, you may not like the result  but most of them time, you find something new and wonderful (or in the case of turnips, classic and wonderful).  We paired our baked turnips and sweet potatoes with a hamburger patty topped with cheese and some sauteed mushrooms.  Delicious!

Baked Root Vegetables

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 small turnips, well scrubbed, stems removed
2 cups homemade beef or chicken broth (optional - can just use water)
2 cups water (approx)
1/2 cup melted butter
2-3 T. brown sugar
salt and peper to taste

(The amounts given are only suggestions - estimate how much your family will eat.  Our turnips were quite tender so we didn't peel them, but if you want to, go ahead!  Apparently this is a matter of opinion.  And of course, feel free to mix up any other root veggies you like!)

Put broth and root veggies in a deep pot to cook, adding enough water to cover.  Let come to a boil and then simmer briskly for about 25 minutes.  Remove from pot and let cool enough to handle.  Mix butter and brown sugar in a bowl large enough to hold the vegetables. Chop veggies into bite sized pieces and turn into the butter mixture, stirring to thoroughly coat.

Place in a rimmed shallow pan and spread out to a single layer.  Season to taste, and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes.

Next time, I'm going to try them in a more savory recipe rather than with sugar, but this was a very fine introduction to turnips.

Meanwhile, I have to show this off, because I've been working on it since May, and it was such a pleasure to stitch!  This is from Ink Circles and is  the first of her Roll-Your-Own series of mandalas - she sets up the pattern, but leavs choosing the color scheme up to the stitcher, with tons of support and help picking colors.  It's been a terribly fun experience, and I have the graphs for her follow on sequel charts, although I think I will need to turn to other stitchery for awhile before tackling the next mandala.

But isn't this lovely?  I chose these colors hoping to evoke the shades in peacock feathers and I think it worked out quite nicely.  I can't wait to put this into a square frame and hang it.  (Also, it's my first finished project signed with my new married name, so it is quite special and appropriate to hail the colors of Juno's peacock!)

Shared with:  
Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Backyard Farming Connection Hop, Fat Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Time to Sparkle, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Tuesday Greens, Tutorial Tuesday, You're Gonna Love It Tuesday.
Allergy-Free Wednesday, Down Home Blog Hop, Fluster's Creative Muster, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesday, The Inspiration Exchange, Lovely Ladies Linky, Make-Bake-Create, Party Wave Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Show & Tell Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not, Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up, Whatever Goes Wednesday, What's Cooking Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wonderful Food Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday.
DIY Accomplished, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, HomeAcre Hop, Homemaking Party, Open House Blog Party, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Thursdays Treasures.          


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

High Day: Samhain (DP Entry)

The prime directive of this blog is to document our ADF Dedicant Program work.  Obviously, it has grown into more than that, but still.  Since we started, Michael completed, submitted and had approved his DP documentation and I have procrastinated at great length about getting mine written at all.

My commitment for November is to focus on getting a good chunk of this done, so there should be a lot of posts coming, and some of them won't be particularly seasonal as it includes a requirement for essays about of the eight High Days, so bear with me on that.

The actual submission requirements include a pretty rigorous word count limitation, and while 'extremely brief' makes absolutely good sense as a submission policy (both to avoid having the reviewer go insane from reading it all, and because if you can't explain what you know in a reasonably short bit of verbiage, extra padding is not likely to help), it's not really my voice to spit out thought in just a few words - so I'm just going to say it here the way I do and then do some ruthless editing to submit.

Here then, is my draft essay for Samhain.  The requirement is:  Short essays on each of the eight ADF High Days including a discussion of the meaning of each feast. (125-375 words each)

High Day: Samhain

Samhain (generally pronounced SOW-en) is an Irish word for an ancient Gaelic period of feasting which is also found in the Irish word for "November" - it did not denote simply a day but a longer time of year as Winter approached.  Traditionally, this was the time when livestock were brought in from their summer pastures and herds were culled.  It was a matter of economic and actual survival that those animals that were fed and cared for over Winter were only those few most likely to grow next year's herd, while the majority of the herd was put to use as food for the coming months.  This then, was the meat harvest, the last of the three periods of harvest before the long, lean period of the dark season of the year, and it was a period of feasting and plenty. 

Additionally, Samhain occurs at the liminal period of the year when Summer gives way to Winter and is regarded as a time when the veil between the worlds is thin. Spirits of the dead and the fae could easily cross  the veil and wander the earth, and for this reason, many Samhain customs involve protection magic and staying close to home and others involve honoring and welcoming the spirits. Many of these customs are alive and well in modern Halloween celebrations, from disguises and jack-o-lanterns to welcoming strange visitors and offering a treat to avoid a trick.  Because communicating with the dead is easier when the veil is thin, this also is a time that is regarded as favorable for divination.

There are many holidays in other cultures around this time of year that are also related to similar themes. 

For example, the ancient Greek celebration of the Thesmophoria occurs sometime around October to November (depending on the lunar calendar) and was a women's ritual that centered around a re-enactment of the story of Persephone and Demeter.  When Persephone was abducted into the Underworld, her mother's response in her grief and anger hurled the world into a season of cold and death where nothing would grow.

Other examples include the Norse celebration of Winternights, focused on honoring the Ancestors, and celebrating abundance before the coming of the cold months, and the Mexican custom of Day of the Dead, which combines elements of Catholic Spanish customs and Native American ancestor worship by feasting with their family ancestors in cemeteries and depicting them as happy skeletons continuing to lead normal lives.

Pope Gregory IV, in 835, moved All Saints Day (All Hallows Day) from May 12 to Nov. 1, quite likely to line it up with popular pre-Christian customs already in place.  However, since so much of our lore was written in the Christian era, it is difficult to pinpoint which customs were practiced in spite of Christian influence, and which because of them.


Monday, November 4, 2013

What's Cooking: Nov 4-10

This weekend, we made our rounds of the Farmer's Market and a local area farm for our meat.  We haven't been eating as healthy as we'd prefer over the past month, so I'm hoping to jump back on the wagon, avoiding grains, loading up on good seasonal veggies and grass-fed and pastured meats.

This is my menu plan for this week - if I remember to  take pictures, I may post a recipe or two later in the week.

Monday, Nov 4
Hamburger Patties
Caramelized Onions
Buttered Glazed Turnips

(take down chicken for Wednesday)

Tuesday, Nov 5
Begin making Kimchi
Roasted Chile, Sausage and Egg Casserole

Wednesday, Nov 6
Slow Cooked Stewed Chicken and Veggies

Thursday, Nov 7
Leftovers/aka Michael's cooking

Friday, Nov 8
Sweet Potato Chili Fries

Saturday, Nov 9
Eating Out

Sunday, Nov 10
Argentinian Style Loose Meat over Veggies


I'm starting a deck/card of the week here on Mondays.  This week, the deck I'm using is the Tarot of the Hidden Realm - I just recently bought this and I am totally in love with it.  The artwork is a beautiful rendition of the fey, and is neither childish or too dark - it hits just the right notes.  Each card depicts a figure (or more than one), and they are rendered in a delightfully evocative way.  One of the things I love best is that they are borderless, with only a small strip on the bottom listing the name of the card.

I drew three cards for a weekly reading:

Theme of the Week: Eight of Pentacles
This card depicts a nice (buff!) male figure working a forge to create Pentacles.  It reminds me of Hephaestus, the skillful metalworker of Greek lore.  It is interesting to see such a fiery card in the earthy suit of Pentacles, and it indicates to me that the theme of this week has to do with applying energy to concrete tasks.  Eights tend to have to do with creating order, often in a way that involves clearing away what is unnecessary or unhelpful, such as decluttering, getting rid of distractions and others things that steal focus away from the task at hand.  Finally, the 8 of Pents speaks of repetitive practice, and learning to be proficient enough at something that it gets solid repeated results.

As a theme for the week, this is clear:  This needs to be a work week, clearing away disorder and engaging in disciplined effort.  In addition to several householdy things, I intend to spend this month really forging ahead (hah!) on my ADF Dedicant Program - so this seems like an auspicious confirmation of where to apply my energy.

Challenge: King of Wands
This card looks rather 'bruised' to me - the coloring doesn't feel as energetic as might be expected from the Wands suit.  As the King of Wands (Fire), this speaks of the challenge of managing my energy - neither wasting it or failing to use it, but also overdoing it and winding up getting nothing done at all.  The King is in charge of his suit, and my challenge is to maintain awareness and sovereignty over where and how I use my own energies this week.  

Together, these cards both speak of controlled and mindful effort - disciplined activity.

Advice: VI: The Lovers
This last position speaks of how to meet the challenge of the Kind of Wands. How to control and remain mindful of where I put my energy - the Lovers speaks of making good decisions, based on love and compassion for self and others. The couple in this card are very organic, aren't they?  This is what I need to be mindful of - the natural needs of my own body, keeping Michael and other relationships in mind as well.  It suggests that I think of what is natural and life-affirming as I choose how to handle household disorder, as well as  the DP work I do.  If I value the signals my body sends, I will be able to read them and take breaks as needed.  If I remember the value of what it is I am doing for myself, others and my spiritual walk, I will keep in mind the value of staying focused and not let procrastination and distractions lead me to frittering away my time.