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Dinosaur Kale Information and Facts 

 

“Oh, I just love kale!”

So insists my friend. Frankly, I don't believe him.

Let's be honest here: kale is not a lovable vegetable. Bearable, yes. Lovable? Well, let's be generous and credit my friend with magical (i. e. wistful) thinking. Call it the “little lie.” You really, really want it to be so, you keep saying that it is, and eventually you may even start believing it yourself.

Well, half-believing.

As a vegetable, kale has a lot going for it. It's cold-hardy: there's kale to be had when nothing else will grow. It doesn't get much more nutritious than kale.

On the other hand, there's the flavor and the texture.

If any vegetable besides onions and garlic has a claim to be the ancestral pagan vegetable, it's probably Brassica oleracea. We've been cultivating it for the last 4000 years; every bite of kale that you eat is a taste of the Bronze Age.

Here's something that I can tell you for certain: the ancestors had more sense than to make kale chips.

Unlike contemporary food-faddists, the fore-mothers understood that kale plays best in a supporting role, not as a star. So, on the principle that any vegetable can be palatable if you know how to cook it, I set about looking at the peasant cuisines of Europe. If anyone knew how to make the most of kale's nasty rubbery texture and unappealing sulfurous flavor, I figured, it would those who had to eat it because that's what there was.

My favorites so far in the search for edible kale are incavolata, an Italian bean-kale soup thickened with corn meal, and trinxát (treen-SHUT), a scrumptious savory cake of potato, kale, and onion from the Catalan Pyrenees, Iberian kin to the Irish Samhain staple, colcannon.

The major secret to enjoyable kale seems to be to blanch it first to take off the sulfur, and then to wring it dry and mince it fine, thus getting rid of the rubber.

Oh, and another thing: if you want to enjoy your kale, don't bother with that curly shite that they overcharge shamefully for at the stores: that's a decorative, not fit to be eaten. Go instead for the black or Italian variety, known mostly here in the US by the delightful name of “dinosaur kale.”

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Kroger used to have a super foods salad made of chopped kale, blueberries and cashews. I think they had something else in there a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Culture Culture, or: Ambrosia in a Glass

I love buttermilk, or rather, the probiotic cultured dairy product that, these days, we call buttermilk.

(Historic buttermilk was the liquid residue left behind after the milk solids had been churned out into butter, but nowadays only butter-makers have access to this.)

I grew up drinking buttermilk in mid-century Pittsburgh—the Posches are an old Viennese family who, like most Central Europeans, relish sour flavors—and I still drink two or three glasses of it every day.

One of the things that I especially love about buttermilk is that it's easy. Other cultured dairy products—yogurt, kefir—require that you heat the milk to near-boiling, then let it cool until it's reached the right temperature to inoculate it with the appropriate culture. This is a big pain. It makes a mess of the cooking pot. If the temperature of your milk is too hot, it kills the culture. If it's not hot enough, it doesn't activate the culture, and you have to start the whole, laborious process over again.

Not buttermilk. Dump half a cup of buttermilk into a large, clean bowl. Add a quart of milk, and cover. Come back 24 hours later, and voilà: buttermilk. (You'll want to whisk it first before decanting, of course, to homogenize the texture.)

For years, I've just bought commercial buttermilk from the store and used that as my culture. One strain I managed to keep going for almost two years.

But cultures mutate over time, and eventually it's time for a new one. When this happened most recently, I tried four different local buttermilks, one after another, all without acceptable results. One had a nasty, ropey texture; one culture wouldn't take; one had a foul flavor; one was completely flavorless.

So I did what all early 21st-century people in despair do: I turned to the internet.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches Stink

Such a smell of sulfur!”

(Glinda the Good)

 

Witches stink.

No, that's not some sort of paganophobic slur. Seriously, take a whiff. Can you smell it? That little hint of sulfur?

Yes, sulfur. Like god, like people, you might think. Well, yes, that's true, and in a bit I'll tell you the story. (There's a story for everything in the Craft.) But what it really comes down to is the old saw: you are what you eat.

What witches eat are lots (and lots and lots) of the king and queen of sulfurousness: onions and garlic. They're our favorite vegetables.

Food has to get flavor from somewhere. The gentry use meat; well, they can afford to. As for the rest of us, meat is expensive and mostly only for firedays. Most of the time, our food gets its savor grâce à that Royal Couple of the Underworld: you know who I mean.

When the Horned our god came down from heaven (but that's another story for another night), they say that where His left Hoof struck ground, garlic sprang up. (Old Hornie being Old Hornie, of course he landed Left-Hoof first.) Where His right Hoof hit, onions grew. To this day, you'll note that each clove of garlic still looks like half a miniature cloven hoof. Now you know why.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    OMGs, that sounds delicious! Wish I were able to celebrate with Prodea. xo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Slavic Irony

The traditional Polish name for cucumbers in sour cream is mizeri, “misery.”

Call it Slavic irony.

In these first hot days of summer, we're not getting much from the garden yet besides herbs and greens. Still, we've got the first baby cukes—you want to get them young and tender, before the seeds set—and we've got dill, and that's all you need to make summer's most cooling and delicious salad.

Sure, you could go the sweet-and-sour route—vinegar and just enough sugar to (barely) take the edge off, but for my sols and lunas (= pagan currency, gold and silver pieces respectively), nothing cools like cucumbers in sour cream.

Slice those cukes as thin as you can get them. Dress them with plenty of sour cream, a little splash of vinegar, salt, and pepper. Don't forget that good, healthy handful of chopped fresh dill: that's what raises this common summer salad to ambrosial, food-of-the-gods status.

Chill for an hour (at least), then grab a spoon and tuck in. Good old summertime.

If you're wondering what any of this has to do with paganism: Begone, foul cowan!

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Posch, You've Gone Too Far: In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Indulges Himself in a Thoroughly Tasteless—If Tasty—Bit of Satire

“Seriously, what is it about witches and cannibalism?”

(Sabrina Spellman)

 

As every witch knows, unbaptized baby is a delicious, nutritious, and—in this overpopulated and increasingly nonreligious world—readily available food.

These days you can even get organic ones at Trader Joe's.

But—you might ask—is it really worth all the effort? And—on a strictly practical level—who has a large enough oven any more?

Now, plenty of witches have oven issues, of course: completely understandably, let me say. But do remember that, when properly jointed, what is traditionally known as hornless goat* will fit quite easily—even allowing ample room for plenty of vegetables—into the average roasting pan. If it will hold a turkey, it will hold a baby.

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  • john stitely
    john stitely says #
    Martha Stewarts recipe for Unbaptised Dutch Baby INGREDIENTS 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup whole milk 2 large eggs, lightly b
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who's Bringing the Hornless Goat?

 "What is it with witches and cannibalism?"
(Sabrina Spellman)

 

What's a coven to do?

We're pagans. We don't just like to eat; food is central to our religion. Maintaining a spiritual connection with our food sources lies at the very heart of who we are, how we see things, and what we do.

So, when we get together, we eat. Therein lies the rub.

In our coven of eight, we've got one vegetarian (me), one fishetarian, and six more-or-less practicing omnivores, but that's the easy part. We've also got numerous allergies, sensitivities, and just plain don't likes. How to accommodate everyone?

When I'm thinking about what to bring to the (ahem) cauldron-luck, I'd like to be able to feed as many as possible, so I try to bring dishes without major allergens. But once you add in all the “don't likes,” acceptable foods begin to vanish mathematically with each person that we add to the group.

So, in our usual pragmatic way, we've settled on two coven food policies:

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I think of Elizabeth Marshall who, as a teen back in the 50s, went with her anthropologist parents to the Kalahari to live with so
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    We had the same problem in my old coven. We couldn't even do cakes and ale together in ritual because of allergies and sensitiviti
Edible Luck: German Traditional Foods for the New Year

As with any holiday celebration, food plays an important role in New Year's Eve and Day traditions around the world. Many people eat pomegranates, that sacred fruit of Persephone associated with rebirth. In Spain, since the turn of the 20th century, it's been the tradition to eat twelve grapes -- one for each month of the coming year and for each toll of the midnight bell. In Charleston, SC (and across the American South), hoppin' john is considered good luck -- the beans symbolize coins -- a tradition originating in African American culture. While waiting for the New Year's ball to drop, my family has always shared a platter of crackers, summer sausage and ham, and a variety of cheeses with champagne for the adults and sparkling grape juice for the kids (we always called it Kinderwein, thanks to our time living in Germany and our partially German American roots).

In addition to pork and ham, Germans also make and eat Glückschwein, marzipan confections in the shape of pigs. The Germanic veneration of pigs goes back a long way to pre-Christian times. Remember that boars are associated with Freyr and Freya -- the golden-bristled Gullinbursti and the disguised lover Hildisvini, respectively. That tradition continues today -- pigs are lucky animals in German culture, symbolizing wealth and health. The term Glückschwein means just that: "lucky pig."

...
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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    I grew up in Switzerland. On New Year's Eve at the dinner-and-dance clubs, they used to bring a baby pig at midnight and let every
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Thanks for sharing these traditions! I remember the pigs with clover from parts of Germany, too. The piglet tradition is new to me
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Greens were supposed to represent folding money, but dad would always turn the heat up to high and scorch them. The kitchen stank
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Sounds like you're from the Carolinas! I love those food traditions. Thanks for sharing!

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