Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Movies for Holiday Season -- Part Two

Thursday, December 20, 2007



When I covered this topic earlier this month, I covered movies that my family tries to watch as a rule, movies that I watched growing up. But to be fair there are still other great movies out there. So here is a list of other movies that are great to watch for the holiday season.

There are still many other movies out there, so If you, the reader, feel that I have forgotten one or maybe more than one, feel free to comment and let us all know.

Blessed Be!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Yule Recipes -- Part Three -- Main Course

Monday, December 17, 2007

The hardest thing about cooking for the holidays is the main course, appetizers are easy for many people, but I know many people that burn or overcook their main course. Resulting in rubbery and dry turkey or ham. Here are a few recipes from a local radio show, On the Grill.
So Good Luck and Blessed Be!

Honey Glazed Smoked Ham

From Derrick Riches and about.com

This is a great way to take a regular cooked ham and turn it into something spectacular by applying a spicy rub and placing it in a smoker. Let it smoke for a long while and it will taste great.

INGREDIENTS:

1 6 pound "ready to eat" ham

1 cup pineapple juice

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

PREPARATION:

The night before you smoke, mix together the pepper, paprika, sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard and cayenne. Rub over the surface of the ham, wrap in foil and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning remove the ham from the refrigerator and let it sit for 1 hour. In the meantime prepare the smoker. You will be smoking at about 210 degrees F. for 6 hours. Mix together the chicken stock, 3/4 cups of pineapple juice, vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, and cloves. Warm over medium heat until completely mixed. Place ham in smoker and baste with sauce once every hour. While the ham is smoking prepare the glaze by mixing together the honey, 1/4 cup on pineapple juice, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard and a pinch of ground cloves. Brush generously with glaze a couple of times during the last hour of smoking.

Rotisserie Glazed Ham

This method of heating a Holiday ham gives it that crusty sweet coating that everyone loves. Start with low heat to get the ham up to temperature, then glaze and put on the flame to caramelize the sugar and give it a good crust.

INGREDIENTS:

1 5-pound ham, fully cooked

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

PREPARATION:

Place the ham on your rotisserie spit and place on the grill over a medium to low heat. Cook for about 13 minutes per pound or about 1 hour for a 5 pound ham. Meanwhile combine the honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves. When the internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees F begin brushing the honey mixture over the surface of the ham. Once it is well coated start sprinkling the sugar over the ham. You want to get an even coating. Close lid and continue roasting until the sugar has started to turn brown and you can no longer see the sugar crystals. Turn off the heat, but leave the rotisserie running for 10 minutes to allow the sugar to set. Carefully remove ham from grill and rotisserie. Carve and serve.






Friday, December 14, 2007

The First Yule -- A Story

Friday, December 14, 2007
Once upon a time, long, long ago, a beautiful young woman lived on a blue and green island. She had many friends on the island, fairies, trees, flowers, rabbits, deer and birds... but she was the only person who lived there. She wanted to share her friends and her secrets with other people just like her, so she began to give birth. Every month when the moon was hiding, she gave birth. For the first six months, she gave birth to daughters with dark skin and eyes. For the last six moons of the year she gave birth to fair skinned daughters. On the seventh moon of every year the First Mother gave birth to a magickal, sacred oak.

As the years turned, many, many daughters were born, and quite a few oak trees as well. The daughters played games with the animals and each other, they climbed in the branches of the oak trees and gathered flowers with the fairies. One day the first born daughter of the First Mother gave birth herself. The First Mother was very proud and happy, her favorite friend Oak Tree(who was very wise) gave her a silver crown to wear and told her that she was now a Grandmother. Soon many of the daughters gave birth, and the island became an even happier place, full of babies and big girls and mommies who all played together with the animals, the trees and the fairies.

One winter night when the moon was hiding, one of the daughters gave birth to a baby that was different from anything they had ever known. It was not a daughter, it was not even an oak tree, it was a baby BOY! It was a very dark cold night, the longest winter's night of the year, so all the daughters and all the animals were snuggled up together to keep cozy and warm. After their excitement of seeing a brand new baby born passed, the daughters and the animals realized that the baby boy was not feeling well. He was not as strong or as warm as the babies and trees that were usually born on the island. They all began to worry about the new baby, and tried to help keep him warm. The animals with the furriest coats pushed up close to the mother and baby, the fairies sprinkled magick dust above him, and the little girls sang wonderful songs and danced around and around the room.

But the baby boy couldn't get warm enough and soon he was too cold and tired even to cry or to drink the healing milk from his mother. The First Grandmother was so afraid for the baby boy. She tried to hide her tears from her daughters and ran out into the forest. The snow was very deep and full of white glitter. She tried to walk but it was just to deep. So her friend the owl carried up above the snow filled clouds deep into the magick forest where her firstborn, most sacred wise friend Oak lived. The First Grandmother intended to ask Her friend for advise about the baby boy. When the owl reached the clearing where the sacred First Oak tree lived, the Grandmother gasped! There was no snow on the ground there, and in the middle of a perfect circle lay her friend the Oak. The tree had Fallen to the ground and broken into a pile of logs and branches. She rushed to kneel beside the broken tree, and her teardrops turned into sparkling icicles on her cheeks.

While she was trying to understand what had happened to her dear friend, a coyote entered the circle and brushed up beside her. First the coyote kissed her tears dry, and then whispered a secret in the First Grandmother's ear. The Grandmother nodded, and with the help of the coyote and the owl, she gathered some of the branches from her oldest friend Oak and they returned to her daughter and the baby boy.

Using the gifts from the Oak, and the secrets from the coyote, the Grandmother built the very first fire that anyone on the blue and green island had ever seen. The fairies were shocked, they had never seen anything dance like that without wings. The animals laughed, they had never seen colors so bright except on springtime flowers. The daughters didn't know WHAT to do, they had never felt anything as warm as the summer sand on the beach in the middle of winter.

The mother brought the baby boy close to the edge of the fire, closer than everyone else( they were still just a little bit scared of this new thing called fire). The baby boy opened his eyes just a little bit, and began to wiggle his fingers. Then he smiled and moved his toes too. When he was warm enough, he snuggled with his Mother and drank her milk, soon everyone was certain the baby boy would be okay. They were all so happy, they danced around the fire singing their favorite special songs and giving little gifts to the fire.

The baby boy grew up strong and happy because of the gift of the First Oak Tree. He had many sons of his own, and taught them all to plant acorns on the seventh dark moon of the year so that there would always be many, many oak trees on the island. Every winter, on the longest coldest darkest night of the year, all the people who lived on the blue and green island built a very special fire. They brought in a special tree and honored it with shiny ornaments and glittery fairy dust. They picked one very special branch or log and sang their favorite songs while they decorated it. Then they would give this beautiful log to the fore as a present... and all the children would hear the story of the gift of the First Oak tree.

On the longest night of the year, whenever you light a candle or build a fire, remember the story of the First Grandmother and the coyote who told her the secret. No matter how cold and dark it seems, The Sun will always be reborn and bring us warmth and light again


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Yule Recipes -- Part Two -- Vegan

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This is part of an ongoing series in Recipes for Yule. Part one can be found here.
While I prefer ham and turkey, there are many in the pagan community that cannot bring themselves to eat anything with a face.
And for those I have posted below a few recipes that are animal free. (Courtesy of veganfamily.co.uk)
Good Luck and Blessed Be!


Cashew Nut Roast with Sage and onion stuffing


A sixth of a cup/30g/1oz of vegan margarine

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

1 medium leek, finely chopped

1 and a half cups of hot water

1 teaspoon of yeast extract (marmite, vegemite etc.)

3 cups/550g/16oz of ground cashew nuts (or other nuts of your choice - almonds work well too)

2 Tablespoons of soya flour

2 teaspoons of fresh herbs - winter savoury is great (if using dried 1 teaspoon)

3 cups/160g/6oz of white bread crumbs

seasalt and pepper to taste

sage and onion stuffing (see recipe further down the page)

Melt the margarine (in a large pan for mixing) and cook the celery and leek in it for a few minutes. Mix the yeast extract into the hot water (alternatively you could use any stock you like) and add this to the leek and celery. Stir in the soya flour, nuts, herbs, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper and mix well. Allow to cool slightly while you grease a loaf tin. Place half the nut roast mixture in the tin and press down well - then add the sage and onion stuffing (pressing down well again) and place the rest of the nut roast mixture on top. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180/360 then turn out of the tin and slice. Nice served with all the traditional trimmings.

Variations:- you can substitute wine (red or white) or soya milk for the water and yeast extract. The sage and onion stuffing is optional - it works just as well without it and might actually slice up easier! A layer of sliced mushrooms and garlic is an alternative to the stuffing.


Creamy mushroom Puff

A third of a cup/60g/2oz of vegan margarine

4 tablespoons of plain white flour

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic, crushed or very finely chopped (this can be reduced or left out if desired)

3 cups of mushrooms, sliced

half a litre/500ml of soya milk

1 glass of white wine (or stock)

handful of chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

approx. 500g/18oz of frozen puff pastry (this even comes ready-rolled now for extra laziness!!!)

Melt the margarine and cook the onion and garlic in it for a few minutes and then add the sliced mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes more. Add the flour and stir well. Gradually add the soya milk stirring all the time and then the wine and keep stirring on a low heat until the sauce thickens. Once thick remove from the heat and add your seasoning and the parsley. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the pastry. Roll out into 2 wide rectangular shapes reserving some pastry for decoration. Place one sheet of pastry on a greased baking tray. Heap the slightly cooled sauce onto it leaving a space round the edges. Place the top sheet on and seal up the edges with some soya milk or water (fold over if needed). Make some small slits on the top of the puff and let your artistic side shine with the reserved pastry! I usually make holly leaves to place on the top but do whatever you like. Glaze with soya milk and then bake in a medium hot oven for about half an hour or until the pastry seems cooked (no soggy bits and nicely puffed up!)

Nice served with gravy, roast potatoes, stuffing, vegan sausages, cranberry sauce and vegetables of your choice - a feast!


Sage and Onion Roast Potatoes

4 teaspoons of dried sage or 8 teaspoons of freshly chopped sage

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 finely chopped onion

4 tablespoons of medium oatmeal

Potatoes, peeled and cut to desired size (this coating is enough for about 4 or 5 lbs/2 or 3 kilos.)

salt to taste

Par boil the potatoes then just when they are beginning to soften remove from heat and drain. Place in baking tray and rub the coating all over them (careful!) - roast in a hot oven until nice and crispy (30 minutes plus). You might want to baste with a little more oil half way through for extra crispiness!

Variation: sesame roast potatoes - coat the potatoes in sunflower oil and plenty sesame seeds before roasting - this has a lovely flavour too.



Friday, December 7, 2007

Top Movies for Holiday Season -- Part One

Friday, December 7, 2007



There are several books and movies out at this time of the year that kids will enjoy. Below is a list of movies that we try to watch as a family.



There are many other movies but this what we try to watch as a rule. If you haven't seen them I encourage you to buy them, you can click above. I don't recommend the newer version of the Grinch Stole Christmas, the one with Jim Carey, it is in my honest opinion not as good as the older cartoon version.
There are many other good movies for the Yule season, but with my children being younger they won't sit still for them, so we don't even try to watch. So get these movies or watch most of them on local television, make it one your family's new traditions.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Yule Recipes -- Part One -- Desserts

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

One of the best parts about the Yuletide season is the food. I mean there is family and trees and lights, but I love the food the most. So figured I would list some recipes for you all to try.
Some of the most scrumptious foods are found at Yule. From cakes and pies to turkeys and hams the food at Yule dinner can seem endless. And the foods that you cook now, will stick with your children for their whole lifetimes. Make a book of your recipes and pass them on to your children, when they finally grow up and leave your home.
And if you think that you can't cook, well try them anyways. You have to start to learn somewhere.

Stollen

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (110°F / 45°C)
1 large egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup sultana raisins
1/3 cup red candied cherries, quartered
2/3 cup diced candied citron
6 ounces marzipan
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, white sugar, salt, butter, and 2 cups bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants, raisins, dried cherries, and citrus peel. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal. Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack. Dust the cooled loaf with confectioners' sugar, and sprinkle with the cinnamon.


Yule Gingerbread
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
4 tbs milk
1/2 cup light molasses
2 tbs dark molasses
2 tbs ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375F. Combine all the dry ingredients (except baking soda) in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tbs of milk into a large saucepan along with the molasses (both) and butter. Melt together over low heat. Add beaten eggs and flour mixture to the melted ingredients. Dissolve baking soda in remaining 1 tbs of milk, then add to the batter. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch baking pan. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.


Blessed Be!


Monday, December 3, 2007

Decorations and Symbols of Yule -- Part One

Monday, December 3, 2007

Yule is a major holiday to many pagans; to some it is the beginning of the year and the rebirth of the Pagan God of Light, to others it is the return of the sun as Frey. But many decorations, symbols and traditions are held in common, even with Christmas and Hanukkah.
When people think of Yule, they, in most cases, instantly think of evergreens and mistletoe. Evergreens have always symbolized power to conquer death and winter, since they stay green throughout the year. Mistletoe was called "All-Heal" by the Druids and represented their god. There is also an ancient Norse legend relates that Freya, the goddess of love, placed mistletoe in a tree between Heaven and earth, and decided that people who pass underneath it should kiss. The plant then became a sign of love and friendship.
But what else can you decorate with as a Pagan practicing Yule? Well staying within the plant family there is Holly and Ivy, and there is the Yule log. Holly long a symbol of protection, it is also an evergreen bush. Also Romans at one time would send the plant to friends and family at the new year as a symbol of good wishes.
The Yule log was used by the Celts to symbolize the story of Yule. This log, representing the Oak King, adored with traditions evergreens, representing the Holly King, signifies the death of darkness and the warmth of the Sun during the newly born solar year. According to ancient Celtic tradition, the log should burn continuously for twelve days, and a bit of wood should be saved to start the next year’s fire. The first day of Yule varies depending upon religious belief. Pagans usually light the Yule fire on the Winter Solstice. This may not be practical especially in these days, when many do not have fireplaces. What you can do is take a oak log and decorate it with holly and mount three candles within it. Light these candles to represent the returning light. The number of candles does not matter, I have seen three candles, representing the three faces of the Goddess, and I have heard of eight, like the menorah.
Speaking of candles, they are also an appropriate decorations. The tradition of lighting candles may have come from the ancient Romans, who gave them as gifts during the festival of Saturnalia. Their brightness was thought to chase away the dark and urge the sun back into the sky.
Now we come to the Yule tree, itself. The Germans originally decorated their trees with fruit, candy, cookies, and flowers. These ornaments symbolized the abundance to come when the Sun shed His warmth. They decorated their trees with round, three-dimensional shaped ornaments replicating the shape of the Sun to honor it. You can also decorate the tree with tinsel and lights to represent the stars and put a star on the top to represent the sun and moon.
According to legend, the snowflake was formed from the tears that Demeter cried after Persephone’s descent into the Underworld. The microscopic flakes have six sides, and since six is the numerological digit associated with affection, the snowflake was used by Pagans as a winter symbol of love

So incorporate some of these things into your Yule traditions and make merry. Don't be afraid to take traditions of other religions, because in most cases a lot of these things have already been adopted from the Pagans of ancient Europe.

Blessed Be!