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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sacred food

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Are you making beans on toast wrong ...

 

I always make baked beans for Beltane.

There are reasons and reasons. Beltane is often our first outdoor feast of the year, and baked beans are quintessential picnic food. Beltane is also a busy time and, benefiting from long, slow baking as they do, you can make them well before festivities get underway. They're cheap, nourishing, and good food. Everybody likes them. They likewise guarantee (as I make them, anyway) at least one vegetarian entree on the Beltane board.

Another seasonal connection: a friend once suggested, only half-humorously, that with the advent of Outdoor season, breaking wind becomes somewhat less socially problematic.

(The secret of good baked beans? Easily told: be generous with the sugar. For years, health-conscious kind of guy that I am, I skimped on the sugar, and my beans suffered as a result. To be everything that they should be, baked beans need plenty of sweet, paired with a nice, healthy dollop of cider vinegar.)

Baked beans were always one of my father's favorite foods. Not long before he died, I finally thought to ask him why.

My father grew up hungry: in a large family, during the Depression. “When you had baked beans for supper,” he told me, “the pot would go around the table and, by the time it got back to you, there were still enough left that you could have more.

Indeed. Even after a hungry coven has eaten its fill—witching is hard work—there are always enough baked beans left over for one of my very favorite breakfasts, beans on toast, next morning.

Beans on toast is part of the classic British full breakfast. This is not, I gather, a tradition of long-standing—dating, as it does, to the era of rationed food after World War II—but oh, it's good.

My friend Zoa and I once traveled to Malta to visit the megalithic temples there. I can truly say that Maltese food was some of the worst that I have ever eaten: bad Italian and bad British, mostly. No whole grains, no fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables. (Hopefully, in the intervening years, things have changed for the better.) For days, we lived basically on bad pizza and pasta with insipid red sauce. (Spaghetti sauce, on the other hand, does not benefit from generous sugaring.) After a week, we were both hopelessly constipated.

Then one morning, there on the breakfast menu, salvation: beans on toast. We were both so excited at the prospect that the waitress thought we were making fun of her.

Praise be to Mother Bean. Together with her partner, Father Grain, she maketh complete our protein: Complementarity writ large.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 TomorrowSeeds - Mary Washington Asparagus Seeds - 100+ Count Packet - for 2024 Perennial Cold Hardy Broccoli Fall Garden Root Vegetable

 

 I wonder what the old North European ancestors would have called asparagus, had they known of it. Considering the ways along which the old tribal imaginations were wont to run, I'm guessing, probably, “spear-grass.”

It even kind of sounds like “asparagus.”

Oh asparagus, most ephemeral of seasonal delicacies. The Red Crests savored it back in old Romeburg days, of course: “quick as boiled asparagus,” Augustus Caesar was wont to say.

(Anyone who has ever tried to poach asparagus will understand that this means very quickly indeed.)

Things look different now, of course. Driving through rural Germany in the Spring some years back, I saw fields and fields and fields of asparagus, mostly for the domestic market. Per capita consumption of asparagus (spargel) is higher in Germany than anywhere else in the world.

Just about every restaurant where we ate that Spring had a separate asparagus menu tucked into the regular menu. You could put together an entire meal for yourself from one of these, with asparagus in every course—appetizer, soup, salad, entree—even, incredibly, dessert.

Savor while ye may, O ye lovers of Spring. Like Spring herself, asparagus season will soon pass by … just as quick as boiled asparagus.

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 Whole Brown Lentils (per 50 pound bag) | Red Ginger Spices

February on the wane. Snow lies deep, but underneath, the rich earth waits.

It's a month yet until Equinox and calendar Spring: still plenty of time to stoke up the oven and savor the dark, warming foods of Winter.

Think of it as sympathetic magic. The lentils' pebbly texture and loamy, over-seasoned umami pair beautifully with the mashed potatoes' creamy blandness.

Beneath the snow, the rich, dark earth awaits.

 

Boss Warlock's 'Spring's a-Comin', But She Ain't Here Yet' Lentil Shepherd's Pie

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Cranberries?

Child of the Bog

 

Sacred to the Moon, wearing her colors, named for her totemic bird—reputedly, the stamens of the cranberry flower resemble a crane's bill—the cranberry is a perennial seasonal favorite.

Oh, but its signature tartness partners best with sweetness, for balance.

Bright with orange, dark with date, crunchy with toasted almond, this fruit-sweetened preparation makes a fine natural alternative to the old-style cranberry-orange relish that you grew up with, minus the truly toxic amounts of refined sugar.

Thank Goddess.

 

Boss Warlock's Fruit-Sweetened Cranberry-Orange Relish

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 Roasted Cabbage Wedges Recipe - Food Fanatic

 

Hey, I live in the frozen North. We eat lots of cabbage up here. You could even call it a way of life.

I like cabbage; in some form or other, I eat it almost every day. Like most vegetables, it can be good—even quite good—if you know how to prepare it properly.

But if you'd told me that cabbage could be delicious, one of the best things that you've ever eaten, well...quite frankly, I'm not sure that I would have believed you.

O ye doubters and cabbage-deniers: prepare ye to believe.

 

Roasted Cabbage Wedges

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 cabbagehead of white cabbage isolated on white photo by vvoennyy on Envato  Elements

Maybe I'm reverting to ancestral type.

Lately it seems as if I must be on the Cabbage Diet. Cabbage soup, cabbage strudel. Cabbage pancakes, cabbage rolls. Sauerkraut and peas in brown onion gravy. Last week I made a batch of cabbage with noodles and poppy seeds, which I hadn't tasted since I was a kid. Delicious.

Here in the frozen North, we eat lots of cabbage. Cabbage dependably grows when other vegetables have mostly given up the ghost. There's nothing showy about it, nothing pretentious. It's just good, dependable, affordable, staff-of-life food. All hail the humble cabbage!

Rightly prepared—but of course this is true of any vegetable—cabbage is delicious. (Badly prepared, it's not worth eating, but the same can likewise be said for any vegetable.) And when it comes to versatility, few can compare with it: my litany cited above only begins to scratch the surface.

And, of course, it's Yule, today being the third day thereof. Where I come from, Midwinter's Eve means cabbage rolls and poppy seed cake. Anyone that comes from Pittsburgh, regardless of ethnic derivation, knows that if you don't eat cabbage rolls at Yule, the Sun will literally not rise in the morning.

Of how many vegetables can you say that?

(And yes, that actually is a blown-glass cabbage ornament, hanging on the tree. Hey, I'm from Pittsburgh. There's a purple cabbage on there too, if you look.)

Jane Smiley's 1988 The Greenlanders is a remarkable novel. It reads like a family saga, telling the grim tale of the last generations of Greenland Norse, as the climate gets worse and the ships from Europe stop coming. Their ingrained Christianity makes it impossible for them to learn anything from the heathen skraelings who actually know how to survive in the worsening climate (but how can one remain Christian when you can't grow wheat and grapes for the eucharist?), and eventually it becomes clear to everyone that—just as the old myths said—the end is in sight, and there's no escape.

As things begin to fall apart, one old priest who, as a young man, was sent from Ghent to minister to the Greenlanders, and has lived for years, like everyone else, on milk, cheese, seaweed, and seal and reindeer meat—says to a colleague, the only other person on the island who has ever been anywhere but Greenland:

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 Still life with vegetables | Татьяна Скороход | Flickr

 

The science is undeniable: people that regularly eat large quantities of vegetables live longer and healthier lives. Like pretty much everyone else in the US, witches need to eat more vegetables.

Well, you can't hang over their shoulders at every meal. Feasts are another matter, though.

All you need to know are three magic words.

For years at family holidays like Thanksgiving, I would dutifully set out a tray of crudités with some recondite dip of my own devising (North Indian dry dip, classic tahina cream...). I would eat a few pieces of broccoli. A few hours later, I'd pack up the untouched veggies and put them back in the refrigerator.

Finally one year my sister said: “I'll show you how to get people to eat vegetables.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    The single most important thing that anyone can do to reduce her carbon footprint is to become vegetarian. Just because it's a tru
  • John Zelasko
    John Zelasko says #
    My 3 magic words are, "go vegan now". It's a moral imperative to me. After all, how could I claim to honour the earth, the animal

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