Category Archives: Food

going veg

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Over the past few months I’ve been going through a major transformation in lifestyle. It started as a diet. In my younger days I never would have thought I’d go on a diet; I’ve been skinny most of my life. As I’ve been getting older though, my metabolism has been slowing down. And even though I wouldn’t consider myself overweight, I was still heavier than I’d ever been while not pregnant, and wasn’t happy with the heaviness and bulk of my stomach. So I started my diet by just counting calories and did have some success.

Then a few serendipitous things happened that led me to try vegetarianism again. The first of these was that my grove was going to meet at a center that was hosting a Thanksgiving vegetarian potluck, and they were letting us meet there only if we could help clean up from the potluck that was happening right before. So I decided that I might as well attend the potluck if I was going to help clean up, and then stay for my grove meeting. I looked up a wonderful vegetarian recipe to bring and all the food there was great.

Well, the next week was the actual date of Thanksgiving, and upon learning that my girls weren’t coming down for the holiday and it would just be the three of us, I decided to sign us up for the UU church potluck. It just so happened that the only slot still open to bring was for vegetarian mains. I brought the same chickpea dish I had made for the other potluck. There was a lot more people and food there than what I thought there would be! With so much to choose from, I decided to just go with all vegetarian for my Thanksgiving plate. I ate my fill and had a big plate of dessert too. And guess what, I actually lost a pound that day instead of gaining. It was then that I decided to begin a transition to a vegetarian diet. Over the next couple of weeks as I phased out meat, I lost ten pounds. The last time I ate meat (or ever will again) was at a Yule celebration I attended in December.

In my enthusiasm, I began looking up vegetarian videos on youtube, to keep myself motivated and on track, and perhaps get a few pointers. What I found was a myriad of reasons to go all the way vegan. Needless to say, I got my eyes opened about factory farms, and the milk and egg industries. All the old arguments that I ever heard (and used myself) against veganism/vegetarianism, were very logically shut down. The most compelling of these was a video titled 101 Reasons to Go Vegan. I began to become motivated, not so much by weight loss, but more for compassionate and environmental reasons. So now I’ve been transitioning to vegan, and it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would. After about a week, I didn’t crave cheese anymore.

I tried vegetarianism two other times in my life. The first time, I was married to someone who was strongly (and angrily) opposed to it, and the second time didn’t last very long because I didn’t have the information and motivation necessary to succeed. Now, I can look up any kind of vegan recipe I could ever want on pinterest, and find tons of motivational videos on youtube. I’ve already been vegetarian longer than I was the other two times I tried. And it’s been easy.

So now I’ve been thinking about all the non-vegetarian recipes I’ve shared on this blog. I’m in the process of taking most of these down, but veganizing he ones that can be veganized. I cannot in good conscious leave them up and contribute to what I no longer believe in. I only regret having not done all of this sooner. A song has been going through my head lately–
I Was Wrong… and I’m so so sorry.

the cake formula

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For national cake day, I thought I’d share with you my method of cake baking. You see, I use the same basic recipe for most cakes I bake. It’s always a one-layer cake- that’s just enough for everyone to have some without too many leftovers. I’ve got the basic formula memorized, and many of the variations as well. I’ve done this with other baking too, which seems to fascinate people who come to visit me in the kitchen while I’m cooking, as I don’t often get my cookbook off the shelf anymore.

(I use old-fashioned abbreviations in my recipes. If you’re unfamiliar– c. is cup, tsp. is teaspoon, T. is tablespoon, oz. is ounce.)

*Edit: You can veganize these and other recipes you find on my blog (and please do), with these substitutions:
•choose from this list of vegan sugars in place of sugar
•use maple syrup in place of honey
•use Earth Balance vegan butter or coconut oil in place of butter
•use coconut milk/cream in place of sweetened condensed milk
•any vegan milk can be used in place of dairy milk
•to make vegan buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of soy milk and leave at room temperature a few minutes
•see this list of 5 Vegan Substitutes for Eggs in Baking
•use vegan chocolate

ONE LAYER CAKE

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. to 1 c. milk (or buttermilk)
4 T. oil or melted butter
½ tsp. vanilla (or other extract)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix dry ingredients. Add egg, butter, vanilla, the variation ingredients, and then just enough milk to make a medium-thick batter. Stir to combine. Pour into a greased pan. Bake 10 minutes for mini-cupcakes, about 20 for regular cupcakes, or 30 to 40 minutes for a cake. For all variations, cake is done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Makes 24 mini-cupcakes, 12 full sized cupcakes, or a 1 layer cake.

(Incidentally, if you reduce the sugar to a third cup, you get the right amount of sweetness for muffins or breakfast bread.)

VARIATIONS:

Banana Nut – add 1 c. mashed bananas and ½ c. chopped walnuts.

Berry – add 1 c. fresh or frozen berries (chopped, if berries are large). Optional: stir pureed berries into frosting.

Coconut – use coconut milk/cream in place of regular milk. For the frosting, use cream cheese frosting and top with coconut.

Piña Colada – add 1 small can drained crushed pineapple and ½ c. coconut.

Caramel – add an extra egg, use 1/3 c. sour cream in place of milk. Frost with caramel icing.

Spice – add 1 tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ginger, ¼ tsp. nutmeg, & dash of white pepper.

Gingerbread – substitute molasses for ½ the sugar, add gingerbread cookie spices (1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. ginger, and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg).

Lemon – add 1 tsp. lemon extract to batter.

Apple Spice – add 2 peeled chopped apples, ½ tsp. cinnamon and a dash nutmeg.

Pumpkin Spice – add 1 c. canned pumpkin, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spices, ½ c. nuts.

Chocolate Chip – add 1 c. mini chocolate chips and nuts if desired.

Chocolate – add ¼ to ⅓ c. cocoa powder to dry ingredients.

German’s Chocolate – top a chocolate cake with pecan-coconut frosting.

Devil’s Food – make as for chocolate cake, but double the cocoa, increase sugar by ¼ c., and add ½ tsp. baking soda.

Red Velvet – add 1 ½ tsp. cocoa, 1 ½ T. red food coloring, and ½ T. white vinegar to batter. Frost with ermine icing.

Mississippi Mud – Top warm chocolate cake with a layer of mini marshmallows, then chocolate glaze, then chopped pecans.

Peanut Butter – add ¼ to ½ c. peanut butter.

Carrot – add 1 tsp. cinnamon to dry mix. Add one more egg and use brown sugar instead of white. Add 1 c. grated carrots and ½ c. chopped nuts to batter.

Ambrosia – add ½ small can of drained mandarin oranges. Top cooled cake with a mixture of sweetened whipped cream, crushed pineapple, & shredded coconut.

Kool-aid – add unsweetened drink mix to dry ingredients for color & flavor. –Add watermelon kool-aid to chocolate chip cake for watermelon cake.

Pecan Praline – use brown sugar for ½ the sugar. Mix ¾ c. chopped pecans into batter. Top baked cake with praline icing.

Hummingbird – add 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1 mashed banana, and 3 oz. crushed pineapple. Top cooled cake with cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts.

Pound Cake – use only ¼ c. milk, 3 eggs, increase butter to ½ c. Beat ingredients 10 minutes. Bake in a loaf pan at 325°F for 40 minutes or more.

Sponge Cake – leave out milk, vanilla, baking powder, and oil. Use just a pinch of salt and increase eggs to 4. Beat eggs till thick, gradually beat in sugar & salt, then fold in flour. Add juice of ½ a lemon/orange (or 2 tsp. cocoa). Bake at 350°F.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake – melt 1/4 c. butter in baking pan (instead of using it in the batter) and sprinkle 1/2 c. brown sugar over it. Over this, place pineapple slices and maraschino cherries, also lining sides with halved pineapple slices. Half the amount of sugar used in the cake batter and carefully pour batter into pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 375°F.

the cake formula | Ozark Pagan MammaAnd for the frostings…

Basic Glaze
1 ¼ c. powdered sugar         
3 T. milk or juice
1/2 tsp. flavoring extract (optional)
Combine ingredients and drizzle over cake. Makes about 1/2 cup of icing.

Chocolate Glaze or Frosting
3 T. cocoa
2 T. butter, melted
1 c. powdered sugar
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla
3 T. warm water
Melt butter. Add other ingredients except water. Stir until well mixed. Add water a little at a time until you get desired consistency. Stir till smooth.

Buttercream Frosting
1½ c. powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. flavoring extract
1/2 to 1 T. whipping cream
Whisk together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Caramel Icing
3/4 stick butter
12 oz. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Add butter, evaporated milk, and sugar to saucepan over medium heat until everything has melted together. Leave over medium to low heat stirring periodically for 1/2 hour or longer (watch the entire time to make sure it does not burn) until thickened and caramel has darkened to a beautiful golden brown. It should also coat the back of a spoon to ensure thickness. Be careful to watch, adjusting heat temperature to not let it burn. Remove from heat and add in vanilla extract. Cool for about 15-20 minutes before icing the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use. Frosts a one-layer cake or 12 cupcakes. –Variation: add 2 to 4 T. cocoa powder for chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Praline Icing
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 T. evaporated milk or half and half
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Boil 2 minutes. Pour over warm cake.

Pecan-Coconut Frosting
6 oz. evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten slightly
1/4 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans (plus extra for topping)
In a heavy 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, cook the milk, egg, and butter, and sugar 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before spreading on cake.

Ermine Icing
5 T. flour
1 c. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
Over medium heat, whisk flour and milk in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer, stirring frequently until it becomes very thick and almost pudding-like. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and salt. Pour into a bowl to allow it to cool completely. Put plastic wrap on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Use a mixer to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add the cooled flour mixture a little bit at a time. Continue to beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy and resembles whipped cream.

Harvest Home Fruit Magic

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appleWith another harvest holiday coming up, I thought this would be an auspicious time to share with you one of my favorite tricks from ye olde kitchen witch cupboard: a simple all-purpose fruit spell.

For this easy method of magic, one chooses a fruit of the appropriate symbolism, clearly visualize your goal or desire (see associations below, or use your own intuition). Then speak the words of your spell and eat the fruit.

I find that the ever-popular apple makes a great all-purpose fruit for this spell, so I like to keep some around. If you have chosen a large enough fruit, you could also carve runes or symbols of your goal into it. You could juice it into a potion, or bake it into a pie with symbols formed in the crust. You could even slice up a piece of fruit and share it in a group spell. If using an apple, you could slice it horizontally to reveal the star in the middle, eat around the center and make a wish on the star then bury it.

Below you will find the words I have crafted for a general fruit spell, and some associations I have for some common fruits. Of course, this spell could be used for other foods as well.

“Fruit of Earth, the Mother’s gift,
with you I seek a fateful shift.
With my goal placed well in mind,
your taste brings forth my will in kind.”

Harvest Home Fruit MagicFruit Associations for Magic
Apple: health, vigor, youthfulness, wholesomeness, and love.
Blackberry: abundance, prosperity, and protection.
Cherry: love, desire, passion, and playfulness.
Blueberry: protection, happiness.
Fig: sexuality and fertility.
Grapes: fertility, prosperity.
Lemon: cleansing and purifying.
Orange: friendship, courage, luck.
Paw-paw: protection, love, or revenge.
Peach: love, beauty.
Pear: love and desire.
Persimmon: joy and wisdom.
Pomegranate: desire, commitment, mystery, lifeblood.
Raspberry: love and protection.
Strawberry: youthful attitude, love and happiness.
Watermelon: joy, freedom, prosperity.

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FOR IMBOLC

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “The Cailleach of the Snows” from the book “Celtic Memories” by Caitlin Matthews (for ages 8 and up).

CRAFTS

  • Make candles with beeswax sheets.
  • Make candle holders with salt dough.

ACTIVITIES

  • Look for early signs of Spring. What is the first flower to make its way through the thawing soil? What kinds of birds and other wildlife do you see? This is a good time to start a nature journal.
  • Do a Spring cleaning of your room, as well as helping the grown-ups clean the rest of the house.
  • With a grown-up’s help, make juniper room spray with a few drops of juniper oil (or a sprig of juniper) in a small spray bottle of distilled water. Use this as a spiritual cleanse on Pagan holidays.
  • Decorate a nature table with an Imbolc nature scene; put down a white cloth for snow, some green cloth for the greening land, a doll dressed like the goddess Brigit, and some of her animals (swan, cow, sheep, hibernating animals…).
  • Help grown-ups with preparing special Imbolc foods.

Kids' Activities for Imbolc

The 11th Night of Yule

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The eleventh night of Yule is sacred to all the Goddesses and and the Valkyrie.

Favorite Valkyrie/goddess crafts are gathered or made to adorn the altar. If you’re not in the mood for crafts, bird ornaments and angel figurines can be used to represent the goddesses and Valkyrie, with beautiful results.

Earth Mother

Our soundtrack for the night is Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for it’s elegance and timelessness. For our ritual meal I like to include Himmel und Erde (heaven and earth), a German dish consisting of apples (from the heavens) and potatoes (from the earth).

Our simple dinner blót includes a Valkyrie invocation and a litany of goddess hails, along with praises of their blessings.

11th Night of Yule

The 3rd Night of Yule

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The third night of our 12 night celebrations is the High Feast of Yule! This occasion is in honor of the gods Thor and Frey. Stories are told of them from either D’aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, or Brian Branston’s Gods & Heroes from Viking Mythology. Beautiful poetry and songs for Lords Frey and Thor can be found on The Heathen Songbook Online.

For gods of power and fertility, it is fitting to serve foods both hearty and sumptuous. So for this feast, it is our custom to have Spiced Beef with Rutabagas and Carrots, Rotkohl, Solstice buns, and Black Forest Cake. We read about Viking feasts in the book How to Be a Viking by Ari Berk.

High Feast

The night’s rite need not be a formal and defined ceremony (see my “No-ritual” plan). Feasting, toasting, offering, and libating are the central activities on this night of Yule. Later, little paper cornucopias full of goodies are exchanged.

3rd night of Yule

refrigerator dough

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Something I like to do now and then is make a batch of refrigerator dough at the beginning of the week and use it to make small batches of bread stuffs throughout the week. It’s especially nice to have in the fridge when there’s a holiday coming up in a few days, as it can be shaped or adapted to fit any theme. It’s also nice to have on hand for food magic or offerings.

I used to make potato refrigerator dough, but wanted a recipe for when I don’t have leftover mashed potatoes. So I found this recipe and adapted it a little. I like to use unbleached flour (sometimes with a little bit of whole wheat mixed in), but use whatever kind of flour or flour mixture you like best.

*Edit: You can veganize this, and other recipes you find on my blog (and please do), with these substitutions:
•choose from this list of vegan sugars in place of sugar
•use maple syrup in place of honey
•use Earth Balance vegan butter or coconut oil in place of butter
•use coconut milk/cream in place of sweetened condensed milk
•any vegan milk can be used in place of dairy milk
•to make vegan buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar to soy milk and leave at room temperature a few minutes
•see this list of 5 Vegan Substitutes for Eggs in Baking
•use vegan chocolate

A
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter or oil

B
1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast

C
1 well beaten egg
3 1/2 c. sifted flour

Scald together ingredients listed under “A” and pour into a large bowl and cool to lukewarm.

While “A” mixture is cooling, work on list “B”; dissolve the teaspoon of sugar into the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast into this. Let stand 10 minutes. Then stir briskly with a fork.

Add yeast mixture and well beaten egg (from C) to “A” mixture. Beat in 1 cup sifted flour. Then thoroughly blend in 2 ½ cups sifted flour. Knead 5-10 minutes, or until dough begins to resist kneading. Brush with soft butter or oil. Place dough in a lidded container with enough room for it to rise and place in refrigerator. It may be stored for a week, but can be used anytime. When ready to bake, punch down dough. Shape into desired type of bread. Cover and let rise. Makes enough for 1 large batch (2 trays of rolls, or 1 braided loaf) or 2 medium batches. Bake at 350°F. Baking times will vary depending on the size of the bread. Loaves of bread will be golden and sound hollow when tapped when they are done.

ROLLS, BUNS & BREADSTICKS
Shape as desired, let rise 20-30 minutes and bake about 20 minutes or until golden.

CINNAMON ROLLS
Roll dough out into a large rectangle, spread with butter, add cinnamon & sugar. Roll up, slice, and place in round baking pans. Let rise, bake about 20 minutes or until top appears dry and lightly browned. Drizzle with icing.

DOUGHNUTS
Roll out dough, cut out doughnut shapes, let rise, and fry in oil 325°F until golden. Dip in sugar or add icing, if desired.

SOFT PRETZELS
Shape ropes of dough into pretzel shapes. Dip in a baking soda solution (½ c. baking soda + 4 c. hot water), sprinkle with coarse salt, and bake 7-10 minutes in a 425°F oven, turning halfway through cooking.

PIZZA CRUST
Skip extra rising time, press and stretch into a crust shape. Top with pizza toppings. Bake about 20 minutes.

refrigerator dough