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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Beltane!

Friday, April 30, 2010
Just wanted to drop you all a quick hello. And to wish you all a Happy Beltane. We are going to spend the day out at a local Asian Fest and maybe catch some of the Dragon Boat racing. Hope your day is well.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beltane Craft Ideas - Drums and Rattles

Thursday, April 22, 2010
I don't know about your children but my children are big fans of music, especially drumming and chanting. In fact the oldest one has a drum of her very own that I bought her. But for those that don't want, or don't have the money to invest in buying a premade drum, you can always make your own.
They won't be the best sounding drums but your kids will love you for it, guaranteed.

Things You Will Need

Empty Coffee Cans
Construction Paper
Glue
Scissors
Dry Beans or Rice

Instructions
  1. Make sure the coffee cans are clean
  2. Measure the construction paper to fit around the cans
  3. Decorate the paper
  4. Glue the paper around the cans
  5. If you wish to go a step further and make rattles then add the beans or rice
  6. Make music and have fun



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feast Fit for a Sacred Union - Guest Post by Zedral Z

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This is a guest post by Zedral Z over at Witchin' in the Kitchen

Beltane is coming up and it’s time to start celebrating spring, fertility, and the union of the Horned God and the Lady. This year, put together a feast that is fit for a sacred union.  Fill your table with fresh spring flowers, pink candles for love and green for life.  Below you will find some recipes for dishes that offer protection, fertility and love energies.

Warm Spinach Salad


This salad is made using boxes of frozen spinach.  You can also buy bags of fresh baby spinach and wilt it in the skillet, but it will take at least three bags, as it shrinks down to practically nothing!

2 10-ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture removed
6-8 slices bacon (optional for the vegetarians; see notes)
½ small onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Dressing


2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
5 tabelspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

First, fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and crumble when cooled.  Drain the fat from the skillet, reserving a little bit to cook the onions and garlic.  Cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add the spinach and let it heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a sauce pan, mix the vinegar and brown sugar.  Let the mixture reduce for a few minutes. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper, and whisk in the olive oil.  The dressing will be thin.

To serve, place the spinach mixture in a bowl. Pour over the dressing and top with crumbled bacon.

Note:  if you are making this dish vegetarian, obviously you will leave out the bacon and just use olive oil to cook the onions, garlic and spinach.

Leek and Onion Quiche


Leeks and onions provide protection, while the eggs are a symbol of fertility.  Leeks are a spring vegetable and fit the theme nicely.  Dairy and egg dishes are traditional for Beltain.

Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup chilled shortening, cut into small cubes
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water

If you have a food processor, this crust is super easy to put together. Put the flour, salt and fat (mmmm....two kinds of fat) into the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water a few tablespoonfuls at a time, pulsing in between. To test, pinch a little bit of the dough together. If it sticks together and isn't crumbly, it's ready.

Turn the mixture out onto a board or table and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.

After an hour, divide the dough into two pieces. (I actually used the whole thing for my 10-inch dish. The crust was a little thicker, which is how I like it.) Using a floured rolling pin and a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out into circles about 1/4 or 1/3-inch thick. Place in a buttered pie plate and poke holes all over the bottom. This will let steam escape and keep the pastry from being puffy.

Heat the oven to 375. Put a buttered piece of foil or parchment into the bottom of the crust and weigh it down with a handful of beans or a couple handfuls of rice. You can buy an expensive pie weight if you wish, but you probably have extra rice or dried beans lying around the house. You can't eat the beans or rice after, but you can store these items in a jar and reuse for future crusts.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Filling

2 leeks, split down the middle and sliced into thin rings **
1 1/2 white onions, thinly sliced
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

**Note on leeks: Leeks are notorious for being hard to clean. I find that the easiest way to get rid of the deep-down grit is to split them down the middle and slice them into the pieces I want to use. I discard the tough green tops. Then, put the slices into a bowl of water. The leeks will float and after a few minutes, all the grit will sink to the bottom. Use a strainer to scoop out your clean leeks.

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the onions and leeks. Cook on low, low heat until the leeks and onions have caramelized. The smell is just fantastic! They will become soft and brown and beautiful. Season with salt and pepper.

When the crust has blind baked, remove it and remove your homemade pie weight. Spread the onion and leek mixture onto the bottom. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Add salt and pepper. Pour over the leeks and onions and pop into the oven. Bake until set.

I didn't notice exactly how long mine baked. It seemed as though it were perfectly set after 15 minutes or so. Maybe it was because I had the oven on for a while.

Dessert- Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies


Chock full of love and chocolate, these will be a nice treat at the end of the day.

2.5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch or two of salt
¼ cup dark cocoa powder

1 cup butter, divided
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6-8 ounces dark chocolate (semi-sweet or unsweetened, so the cookies aren't too sweet)

1 cup chocolate chips (the darker the better)
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Melt half the butter with the dark chocolate. Put the rest of the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the melted chocolate. Mix until well combined. Beat in two eggs. Add vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the chocolate chips and dried cherries and the nuts if you're using them. I would use pecans, almonds or hazelnuts. Walnuts might be too overpowering. The cherry flavor is quite delicate.

Grab about a tablespoonful at a time, roll into a ball, and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Place the cookies 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Bake at about 350-375 for 6-8 minutes per tray. I like to remove them when they're still just a teeny bit soft and just let them finish firming up as they cool. Melting the butter helps make them really chewy.



Monday, April 19, 2010

Beltane Crafts - Paper Baskets

Monday, April 19, 2010
Next to the Maypole nothing is more iconic for May Day than the baskets that children carry, stuffed full of flowers and treats. But for those of us, like me, who don't have a lot of skill yet want to make their own baskets, what are we to do?

The answer is paper baskets. I looked around and found some instructions on making these kinds of baskets. I decided to go with two of these, posted below.

What You'll Need:

    * Plastic berry basket
    * Fabric or ribbon
    * Scissors
    * Construction paper
    * Stapler
    * Tissue paper

Step 1: Cut several strips of fabric or ribbon as wide as the openings in your basket. Weave the strips in and out of the slots around the basket. Tie each strip in a knot and trim the excess.

Step 2: To make a handle, cut a 1-inch-wide strip of construction paper. Secure 1 end of the strip to each side of the basket with a stapler. If you want, use a strip of fabric or ribbon to tie a bow around the handle.

Step 3: Line your basket with tissue paper, then fill it with goodies.


What You'll Need:

    * 2 sheets 9x12-inch red construction paper
    * 3 sheets 9x12-inch beige construction paper
    * 5-inch plate
    * 9-inch plate

Tools:

    * Clear tape
    * Ruler
    * Pencil
    * Scissors
    * Craft glue

Step 1: Cut 8 strips of red construction paper, each 12 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. With 2 pieces of the beige construction paper, glue the 12-inch-long edges of the pieces together (overlap the edges a little). After the glue has dried, cut 4 strips 16 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.

Step 2: Glue 2 red strips together at the middle to form a cross. Do this with all the other red strips until you have 4 red crosses. Place the 4 crosses on top of each other, and fan them out evenly. Glue them in place -- they should look like a star.

Step 3: Use the 5-inch plate to draw a circle on the other piece of red construction paper. Cut out the circle, and glue it to the center of the star. This forms the bottom of your basket. Fold the rays of the star up at the edge of the circle.

Step 4: Tape a beige strip horizontally across the bottom of 1 ray. Weave the beige strip over and under the rays all the way around. Remove the tape, and glue the ends of the beige strip together. Hold ends together until glue begins to dry. Repeat with remaining beige strips. Push beige strips close together before gluing.

Step 5: After you've finished weaving the beige strips, fold over and glue the red ends to the inside of the basket, forming a rim. Make a pointed lid for the basket by using the 9-inch plate to trace a circle on the last sheet of beige construction paper.

Step 6: Cut out the circle, then cut a pie wedge out of the circle (the bigger the wedge, the taller the lid). Overlap and glue the cut ends together.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maypole for Children

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Many of us know of the Maypole, but for those that don't; The Maypole is a tall pole, typically made of maple, that is decorated with flowers and has long ribbons tied to the top. Then there is done that activity that is know as the Maypole Dance. Where the dancers spin around the pole weaving and entwining the ribbons. This is representative of the fertility that this Sabbat is known for.
Now fertility connotations aside, the Maypole is an entertaining and fun activity for children. And for those that don't want to, or don't have the means to erect a giant pole in their yard, there is the mini Maypole. http://www.mppl.org/kids/maypole.html
In my opinion it is not necessary to explain it all to children who are to young to understand the sexual connotations. But older children, and this is completely up to your discretion, could be told some of what the Maypole means. And in fact could probably use this occasion as an opportunity to do magick with you for things that they need in their life.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Family Is The Most Important Thing We Can Be Part Of

Sunday, April 11, 2010
The way I normally go about preparing to blog is to look ahead on my calendar on which I have preplanned all the blog posts until the next Sabbat. But looking back I had much more traffic when I was posting on things that relate directly to issues that we as parents face. Whether it is teaching the children the Craft or tips on reconnecting with our family. So in instead of my normal post I wanted to put together an article in that vein. 

Family is one the most important institutions that has ever graced the Earth. It gives us a vehicle to pass on our legacy to the next generation. But a family that isn't close is nearly as bad as not having one. What I mean to say is if you are in a family full of strife and conflict then what legacy and lesson are you passing on to your children?

But with our busy lives, full of early rising, traffic jams, busy days trapped in offices. Followed by more traffic jams, late dinners (often unhealthy) and late bedtimes. So with all of that how are we supposed to connect with our family? 

Every family is different so the answers will vary as much as the families are different. But the one thing I can advocate is a life of simplicity. In my house we don't have cable television and we eat simple (but healthy meals). I know that this can be difficult at best, we are truly creatures of habit. But if you could cut back on just one day and spend that day doing something with the family it would make a world of difference. Whether it is family dinner, or a picnic in the park. For that matter you can just take a small walk around the neighborhood. It's good for your health as well. 

Yet as I said there is more then one way to reconnect with your family. So I would love to hear what you all do to bring your families closer together. Comment Below.

Blessed Be!



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beltane Activities - Crown of Flowers

Thursday, April 8, 2010
While it has been a hot Spring so far, here in Florida, but I am glad that the cold weather has finally broken. And as I drive around my area, the ditches and the fields are full of wild flowers. So I got to thinking that now is the perfect time to be making a Crown of Flowers for the children to wear for the next few weeks. And of course you can always make another one when Beltane is closer and they could wear it to ritual.


Things You’ll Need:

* 25 flowers
* Knife (optional)

Step 1:
Gather 25 flowers, such as daises or dandelions, or wild flowers. Make sure that the stems are about 4- to 5-inches long so they can be tied easily.

Step 2:
Make a slit in the stem about a 1/4-inch long through the middle of each flower stem. This should be 2 inches below the head of the flowers. Use your fingernail to do this or you can use a sharp knife.

Step 3:
Slip the end of another flower's stem through the slit you have made and pull it until you get to the head of the flower.

Step 4:
Do the same with the next flower, weaving the stem of another flower through the next slit. Keep going in this manner until you've made a chain of flowers.

Step 5:
Make sure the chain will fit your child before you finish it off by measuring it around her head.

Step 6:
Twist the ends of the chain together to form a ring. Stick each end through slits in the stems to secure it.

Step 7:
Place the crown of flowers around her head and watch proudly as she dances around her kingdom.courtesty of ehow.com

Blessed Be!



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vegan Beltane Recipes - Guest Post by Hoi Sum

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Merry Meet Friends! Here are some animal friendly recipes for your summer sabbat dinner. General ideas include: smoothie, fruit salad, green salad, soup, main dish, and a dessert. Don’t forget you can alter any of these recipes if you do not like or have certain ingredients. Feel free to be creative! I hope you enjoy them! If you have any questions about the recipes or vegan nutrition in general you can contact me at gfg1983@hotmail.com.
Blessings,
Hoi Sum - Don't forget to check out her site; Bex's Hexes

Drink:
PEACHES AND “CREAM” SMOOTHIE
Serves: 2 to 3
·        2 cups coarsely chopped, lush ripe peaches or nectarines
·        1 cup crumbled silken tofu
·        1 cup organic apricot nectar or tropical juice blend
·        1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·        1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup, or to taste, optional
·        1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, optional
·        1/2 cup crushed ice, optional
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smoothly pureed. Or, place in a container and process with an immersion blender. Adjust consistency with more liquid if desired. Serve at once in tall glasses.

Salad:
Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes, and Basil
Serves: 4 to 6
This easy salad is a great companion to many Italian-style pasta dishes or simple grain dishes, especially if the meal needs a protein boost.
·        15- to 16-ounce can chick-peas, drained and rinsed
·        10- to 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
·        3 medium firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
·        1 large celery stalk, diced
·        1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, to taste
·        Juice of 1/2 lemon
·        1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
·        Freshly ground pepper to taste
·        Mixed baby greens, as needed
Combine all the ingredients except the greens in a mixing bowl and toss well.
To serve, line individual plates with mixed baby greens and spoon some of the salad over them.

Soup:
Asparagus and Spinach Soup with Wild Rice and Mushrooms
Serves: 6
This bountiful bowlful offers an earthy medley of colors, textures, and flavors.
·        1/2 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed
·        10 to 12 ounces asparagus
·        4 to 6 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, such as porcini or shiitake
·        1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
·        1 medium yellow summer squash, diced
·        4 to 5 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
·        4 cups stock (see page 00 for options)
·        1 1/2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning (see page 00 for brands)
·        1/4 cup dry white wine, optional
·        5 to 6 ounces fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, and chopped
·        Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the wild rice, then cover and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the asparagus of its woody ends and peel the bottom halves of the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
Combine the asparagus with the remaining ingredients, except the last two, in a soup pot. There should be enough liquid to just cover the vegetables; add water as needed. Bring to a rapid simmer, and then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. Remove from the heat.
When the wild rice is done, stir it into the soup, followed by the spinach. Cover and cook until the spinach has wilted, then season with salt and pepper.
If time allows, let the soup stand for an hour or two before serving to develop flavor. Heat through as needed.

Main Dish:
(Non-Tofu)
Fresh Tomato, Eggplant, and Olive Pizza
3 to 4 servings
·        1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
·        3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
·        One 12- to 14-inch good-quality pizza crust
·        3 to 4 medium tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
·        Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, optional
·        1 to 1 1/2 cups grated vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)
·        1/3 cup sliced black olives, preferably oil-cured
**Additional ideas include using marinara sauce or olive oil for sauce
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the eggplant and garlic in a medium skillet with a small amount of water. Cover and steam until the eggplant is tender but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough water to keep the bottom of the skillet moist.
Place the crust on a pan. Arrange the tomatoes on the crust, and sprinkle with the eggplant-garlic mixture. If desired, season with a little salt and a few grindings of pepper. Top with the mozzarella; sprinkle the olives on last.
Bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, and cut into 4 to 6 wedges to serve.
(Tofu)
Tofu Kabobs
Ingredients:
-Extra Firm Tofu, white onion, green , yellow, and red bell peppers, pineapple, white or brown rice, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder.
Directions:
Cut up the tofu, veggies, and fruit into medium to large squares. Combine soy sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes (to taste) in a bowl and add tofu to marinate. Do not marinate long since tofu gets soggy. Put the tofu and cut up veggies and fruit on skewers. Barbecue the skewers.  Serve skewers over rice.

Vegetable Side Dish:
Greek Green Beans
Also known as fashoulakia, this traditional Mediterranean side dish is typically served at room temperature, rather than warm. Beans should be soft, not crisp.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds of fresh green beans, trimmed on ends
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 (14 oz) cans of stewed tomatoes (look for ones without salt added), undrained.
Directions:

1. Heat oil in stockpot over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until golden brown.

2. Add herbs and garlic, sautéing for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add beans and remaining ingredients, bring to a boil.

4. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Cool until room temperature and serve.

Dessert:
Apple Cobbler
·        3-4 Granny Smith apples
·        1 tsp. ground cinnamon
·        1/2 tsp. ground cloves
·        1/2 tsp. ground allspice
·        1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
·        1 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
·        1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter (Earth Balance is a good brand)
·        1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch pan. Cut the apples into thin slices; place in the pan. Sprinkle the spices and 1 tsp. of the sugar over the apples. Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and remaining sugar. Cover the apples with the flour mixture. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Preparation time: 15 minutes Baking time: 20 to 30 minutes
Or
Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars
·        1 1/3 cups flour
·        1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 cup margarine, softened
·        1 cup sugar
·        3 Tbsp. oil
·        1 1/2 cups silken tofu
·        1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
·        1 tsp. vanilla extract
·        1 cup walnuts
·        1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
·        3/4 cup coconut
·        1 cup vegan chocolate frosting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour and baking soda and set aside. Combine the margarine, sugar and oil in a food processor and process 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the tofu and process 2 more minutes. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and process until mixed. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, processing after each addition. Pour into a bowl and stir in the nuts, chocolate chips and coconut. Pour the batter into a lightly oiled, large baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Top with vegan chocolate frosting.
Makes 24 bars.