We had friends around last week to work on our Scary Garage Project*, one of whom is vegetarian. It was cold, so I decided I'd make a large pot of soup we could share. I softened some onion and leek in a little olive oil, threw in a couple of diced sticks of celery, added lots of water, some low salt vegetable stock - not too much as I wanted to make sure I could adjust the flavour- and then threw in carrots, swede, potato, mushrooms and a can of sweetcorn, juice and all. I added black pepper, some salt, some sage and thyme, and let it cook away for about 1/2- 3/4 hour - so that the veg was cooked but not disintergrated. I also added a little more stock powder, just to tweak the taste.
Just before serving I added some good cream to it.
It wasn't until halfway through that one of our friends realised it reminded them of chicken soup and reminded them of chicken flavour! So, if you fancy chicken soup, and don't want meat, this seems to be the way to go!
* The Scary Garage Project is about a pile of people working to convert an old cowshed which had been converted into a garage space into actual working temple space - with space for dancing practice too! Also, if you know of any electricians who are happy to put their time to this cause, please let us know!
My brother-in-law and sister have just left after helping us (or rather, we were helping them!) fit our new kitchen. Shiney and black, it isn't finished yet but is going to look fab. I'm having purple and white tiles, and they bought us a purple kettle, so I'd like to find as many purple utensils as possible to really go with the black and purple theme. this is the first time I've been able to do a room how I want to, unconstained by existing colour schemes, so I'm really excited!
So, if you come across any purple utensils around please post here and let me know. It was a mission and a half to find some proper purple tiles (ie not lilac) so its worth the effort of looking for a few utensils to match!
Oddly enough, it was't until things got a wee bit tight round here that I started enjoying kitchen time again.
I have had a kitchen altar made from an empty wooden breadbox for quite some time. I have an image of Sophia and of the Logos in place of pillars, and a few other things. A bit of a temple on an altar so to speak. That in itself has been a great way to re-enjoy kitchen time. Something to look at and contemplate on while stirring and mixing.
Lately, we've had a few financial issues and it has resulted in baking bread almost daily. I have vast amounts of powdered milk, flour etc, and bought quite a bit of yeast as well, so rather than spending the money on snacks and bread for lunches, the teenagers and hubby feast on baked bread. Today it is cheese and onion bread making the house smell lovely.
Also, I've been making big pots of stews, soups and casseroles. The types of things that go along way and at the same time feel so darn wholesome.
I am a mom of 5, so our family of seven can be hard on the pocket book. But with baking bread always on the go and hearty, hot pots of goodness always on the stove, everyone has a full belly. :)
Simple, but satisfying.
The weather over the FoE season meant that we've been unable to go to the supermarket, and have had to rely mostly on the corner shop, and our huge Riverford order. One of the best things to have come out of this situation was the almost daily use of the breadmaker. As well as fresh white, brown and granery breads, Pogona has also made rye bread, Russian bread and pumpernickel bread. The pumpernickel was especially good, moist, and slightly sweet, filling and the texture was amazing. It was so completely different from the pumpernickel slices you can buy in certain delis, sad dry slices that don't make you want to reach for another piece.
The outcome of this is that, as I was crunching on some particularly good and filling toast today, I've completely gone off the idea of the insipid, plasticine sliced white crap that's sold everywhere, pretending to be bread. It's not tasty and it's certainly not filling. Okay, it's cheap, but think about it, what are you REALLY getting for your 9 pence worth of loaf? I suspect it's mostly air and false economy. A sandwich made from a decent loaf will keep me filled up for ages. One made from processed sliced white will have me hankering for something else....
And the other thing about this FoE breadmaking fest? My father, who'd bought us the breadmaker last year, recenty asked me if we were using it......I laughed, and told him exactly how much it had been used, what for, and that it was fantastic. He seemed disbelieving at exactly how much we were using it, and the types of bread that were being made. I'm very grateful to him for the breadmaker. It's one of the very few extra kitchen appliances that I would not be without.
Breadmaker Pumpernickel bread recipe (courtesy of the Goodmans Cuisine Breadmaker cookbook)
We replaced the margarine with butter and the treacle with black treacle, and instant dried yeast (the sort that doesn't need activating). Ours was a 750g loaf.
Quantities are for a 750g loaf (1kg : 1.25kg)
Water 320ml (420ml : 520ml)
Butter 1 1/2 tbs (2tbs : 2 1/2 tbs)
Skimmed milk powder 2 tbs (3 tbs : 4 tbs)
Cocoa 2 tbs (2 1/2 tbs : 3tbs)
Black treacle 1/3 cup (1/2 cup : 2/3 cup)
Salt 1tsp (1 1/2 tsp : 2 tsp)
Rye flour 120g (160g : 200g)
Strong wholemeal flour 420g (540g : 660g)
Yeast 1 1/2 tsp (1 1/2 tsp : 2 tsp)
Use your breadmaker wholewheat /wheat cycle.
I've been so very busy lately since I am not longer a full time occult housewife but also a part time teacher of further education while studying for a counselling certificate and my initial teaching qualification. Never let it be said that I do things by halves!
In 3 weeks time I am also going to be ordained as a priestess in to the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.
But right now, I am facing a family crisis! Grandmother occult-housewife makes cakes and gives them to charity. She sells them at a variety of functions and gives them to those in need. Grandma occult-housewife is a complete inspiration, she is in her 70s and for her 70th birthday all she wanted to do was run a fund raiser for Macmillan Cancer nurses.
Anyway, she is having a dilemma...
To be able to give away her cakes she has always put them in cake display bags that have paper on the bottom and clear plastic on the top like this (but more rectangular for loaf tin cakes):
Trouble is, the usually very wonderful Lakeland
have stopped stocking them! I have emailed them to request that they reintroduce them but if they don't, PLEASE does anyone know where I can order them? I don't mind where in the world there are just so long as I can order them in bulk and be the best grand-daughter ever.
If you live in the UK (or you fancy some window shopping) you should definitely check out the Lakeland website if you haven't before. They sell the most amazing things that you never really knew you needed but you really do if you knew it existed!
There is a new fledgling branch of neuroscience named 'neurotheology' examining the inner workings of the brain in religious contexts.
It is being blogged about at nrp.org by a Methodist minister who, frankly, I don't think writes very well at all but the research is fascinating.
A few choice parts of the article:
Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of several books, including How God Changes Your Brain. He has been scanning the brains of religious people for more than a decade
"What we need to do is study those moments where people feel that they're getting beyond their brain, and understanding what's happening in the brain from a scientific perspective, what's happening in the brain from their spiritual perspective," he says.
Newberg did that with Michael Baime. Baime is a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Tibetan Buddhist who has meditated at least an hour a day for the past 40 years. During a peak meditative experience, Baime says, he feels oneness with the universe, and time slips away.
When Baime meditated in Newberg's brain scanner, his brain mirrored those feelings. As expected, his frontal lobes lit up on the screen: Meditation is sheer concentration, after all. But what fascinated Newberg was that Baime's parietal lobes went dark.
"This is an area that normally takes our sensory information, tries to create for us a sense of ourselves and orient that self in the world," he explains. "When people lose their sense of self, feel a sense of oneness, a blurring of the boundary between self and other, we have found decreases in activity in that area."
I find this completely fascinating and reading further on it, this is not simply some Christian funded pseudo-science, the same effects are seen in athiests meditating as Pentecostal revivalist.
As a Gnostic I look for god within myself, but that doesn't at all mean that I consider god to be merely a manifestation of my own thoughts. I loath the idea that any thought concept should ever be refered to as "merely", and in experiencing moments of invocation, oneness with the universe, God, or however you like to think of it, I have been more than aware that there is no "merely" about it. Whether it is a personal manifestation of phenomena or coming from somewhere external is of far lesser importance to me, the important thing is that it has clear neurological evidence. Certainty not faith, if you will.
The article goes on to say that:
"Just two months' practice among rank amateurs [at meditating or praying] led to a systematic change in both the brain as well as the immune system in more positive directions," he said.
For example, they developed more antibodies to a flu virus than did their colleagues who did not meditate.
That's enough for me to up my level of personal practice immediately, I'm damn sure I need it.
The studies author, Andrew Newberg, has written a book entitled How God Changes Your Brain which I really have to get to read further.
I originally made these starry cheesy scones for feasting purposes after a Feast of the Stars. I double or triple this recipe's quantities, and we're lucky if we have two or three left over for the following morning. They never, ever, especially when served warm, seem to last! It's a really lovely, simple recipe, but I'm inclined to think the addition of cheese makes the scones that much moister - and tastier of course!
I took this recipe from Delia Smith and tweaked it:-
225g self-raising flour
150ml milk (1/4 pint)
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
flour for rolling out
MethodPre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)
Have ready a baking sheet, greased
First of all, sift the flour into a bowl and rub the butter into it rapidly, using your fingertips. Next stir in the sugar and salt, then take a knife and use it to mix in the milk little by little. Now flour your hands a little and knead the mixture to a soft dough - adding a drop more milk if it feels at all dry.
Then turn the dough out onto a floured pastry board and roll it out to a thickness of not less than 3/4 inch (2 cm) using a lightly floured rolling pin. Take a 1 1/2 or 2 inch (4 or 5 cm) pastry cutter (either fluted or plain) and place it on the dough, then tap it sharply so that it goes straight through the dough - don't twist it or the scones will turn a peculiar shape! After you have cut out as many scone shapes as you can like that, knead the dough trimmings together again and repeat until you have used it all.
Then place the scones on the greased baking sheet, dust each one with a little extra flour and bake near the top of the oven for 12-15 minutes. When cooked the scones will have turned a crisp golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and eat them slightly warm, still crisp on the outside and soft and light inside.
My tweaks: I added a generous amount of mustard, black pepper and rosemary, mixed in cold butter, not warm, and grated enough mature vegetarian Cheddar cheese into it to give it a slightly crumby texture. I also use a star-shaped cutter to make these all the time now as the husband reckons they've got a better edge texture that way and besides, I think they're fun! I'm also planning a savoury cream tea with these, soft cheese and quince jelly sometime in the summer......
The other recipe is one I decided to make at the last minute as part of my contribution to a feast after a very long and beautiful day.
Strawberry, rocket and garlic salad
Two punnets of good strawberrries
Garlic (I used 1 1/2 bulbs of mild garlic)
Two bags rocket
1 bag baby spinach
Chocolate balsamic vinegar (I got mine from the Oil and Vinegar franchise in Cardiff but there are recipes to make your own out there too)
Black pepper to taste.
Chop up strawberries, roast the garlic briefly - I did mine with olive oil drizzled over it, unpeeled, then snipped the ends off with scissors to squeeze the garlic out. Add garlic to strawberries and let the flavours infuse. I made the dressing and let it sit overnight, but may try putting it together fresh sometime, the texture of the strawberries will be better for it. Add the oil and vinegar, roughly about one third vinegar to two thirds oil (or to taste). Season with black pepper and toss strawberries and garlic with the rocket and spinach and serve. I may also try this sometime on ciabbatta, as an alternative light summer bruschetta style starter. May also be an idea to serve with a wedge of lemon to cut through the sweetness, so people can flavour to taste.
we have a pare of cats who are going to be out side cats when the weather warms up more. but they will not use a litter box at all. and i am all ways finding suprises they leave all over the house, my durty landrey is where they go the most. we all so have hard wood floors. the problem is this how do i get the cat smell out of my floors, the clothing, and the rest of the house with out sanding or useing man made cleaners. we are trying to go green as much as we can.
This occult housewife is currently snowed-in in the Coltswolds and really not very happy about it. I was supposed to be in Wales for the wonderful 'Twinkle, twinkle little star' ritual that I posted about last week but it was not to be.
So since we couldn't go anywhere by car I decided to pull on my spotty wellies and trudged through the snow to see what they had at the local shop. I got enough things combined with what was in the cupboard to make chocolate cinnamon whirls. I really couldn't just eat one!
This batch made me about 35 whirls which sounds like a lot but I have to eat at least three at a time!
- 500ml milk
- 150g butter
- 800g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g demerera sugar
For the filling
- 75g butter
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 40g demerera sugar
- 35g caster sugar
- 2 tsps cocoa powder
- 50g chopped pecan nuts (you can leave these out if you are allergic)
- Large mixing bowl
- Smaller mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Baking paper
- A flat-bladed knife (like a butter knife)
- Cling film
- Sharp knife for cutting the whirls
- Muffin cases
- Muffin tin
- Oven :p
1. Heat the milk and the butter in a pan until it is warm and the butter is melted.
2. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a big bowl. Pour the warm milk and butter into the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball of dough and there is no dry flour left.
3. Dust a clean work surface with flour and tip the dough out onto it. Stretch and pull the dough for 10 minutes or so until it is elastic. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm.
4. Leave the dough to rest while you make the filling. Melt 25g of butter and mix with the rest if the butter, the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and sugar. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
5. Take a large sheet of baking paper and put it onto a clean work surface. Put the dough on the paper an pull out into a large rectangle about an inch (2.5cms) thick all over.
6. Using flat-bladed knife, spread the filling all over the dough, right up to the edges. Lift up the paper along the longest edge of the dough and roll the dough over as you lift it. You might need a pastry brush to dust off the excess flour as you roll it up. Keep lifting the paper untilits completely rolled up, like a big Swiss roll.
7. Cut the roll into 2cm thick slices and place each in a muffin case. I found this bit a bit difficult because I think my dough was a bit sticky. This meant I didn't get perfect whirls but I popped them in muffin cases and had swirled buns which were just as tasty. Place each case in a muffin tin and cover the whole thing with cling film. If you have far more than there is room in the tin for, like I did, then I put them in baking dishes while they proved and covered them in clingfilm too and backed them in batches.
8. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
9. Heat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Discard the cling film and bake until risen and golden brown. Took about 10-15 minutes per batch for me. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before eating, if you can!