Ostara Soufflé 

Happy Ostara!

 Inspired by the book The Boy Who Ate Around, our Ostara supper was the Giant Cheese Soufflé from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone with a side of asparagus. It was a big hit, and all of the ingredients are available at Aldi.

  This grand looking soufflé is baked in a round casserole- 13 – 14 inches across and at least two inches high. I used a dutch oven and a soufflé dish. Serves 6 – 8 (My family ate a double recipe) 
5 + Tbsp Butter

2 Tbsp parmesan

6 Tbsp flour

2 cups warm milk

6 egg yolks

1 3/4 cup grated cheddar


1 tsp paprika

10 egg whites

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter your large dish and dust the sides with parmesan.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour, and cook over low heat for several minutes. Whisk in the milk all at once, lower the heat, and cook for one minute, stirring. Remove from heat and beat in the yolks two at a time. Stir in the cheese. Season with 3/4 tsp. salt and the paprika.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold firm peaks. Fold them into the yolk mixture, then pour into the casserole. Put in the center of the oven and lower the heat to 375. Bake until the soufflé has risen and is golden brown all over the top, about 30 minutes. A slight quivering in the middle and firmness around the edges mean that the center will be loose enough to provide a creamy sauce. If you prefer a firmer center, bake 5 minutes longer. In either case, serve as soon as it’s ready.


Vegan Turkey Saver

Yield: 8 servings
1 gallon water
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 tsp thyme

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups vegetable broth*

1/4 cup light olive oil

1 tbsp soy sauce**

Cheesecloth (one double thick 24-inch by 16-inch piece)

2 6-inch pieces of string

1 batch uncooked stuffing (optional – I don’t use it)

*If using the homemade vegetable broth, you may need to add salt to this recipe.
**Substitute Bragg liquid aminos if desired.

1) In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a low boil.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten, yeast flakes, thyme, onion powder, and salt.

3) Add the vegetable broth, oil, and soy sauce, stir just until combined.

4) Form into a loaf shape.

5) Place gluten loaf on cheesecloth and roll up (not to tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.

6) Place in simmering water, covered, for 1 hour*** (2 hours for a double batch).

7) Preheat oven to 325.

8) Take roast out of water and remove cheesecloth. Place in baking dish with prepared stuffing, if desired.

9) Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

*** Make stuffing while turkey is simmering in the water. Cook the stuffing in the baking dish with the turkey.
I have read this variation, but never tried it:
Variation: Vegan Turkey with Puff Pastry
After turkey is done boiling, remove it from the water and remove cheesecloth. Roll out a piece of puff pastry so that it will cover your turkey. Cover turkey with puff pastry. Brush puff pastry with a mixture of half ketchup and half water. Sprinkle with a little bit of thyme. Bake turkey, uncovered, at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes.

This recipe has been adapted from this great cookbook by Brian McCarthy:

Tell the in-laws you’re pagan, already!

      I’m going to be blunt: pagan parents, start rearing your children as pagans.  Stop hiding, stop treating our religions as dirty secrets so as not to upset the in-laws. It’s one thing to hide your paganism from your parents when it’s just you; it’s inexcusable to make your kid an accomplice.
     Stop hiding behind the excuse that you want to “expose your child to many paths” or “to let them choose their own paths”.  You can expose them to many paths, and still raise them as pagans.  Don’t be fooled; no one grows up in a spiritual vacuum.  If you do not provide a pagan worldview, another worldview will be provided for them by the culture-at-large, and you may not like it.  They may move on when they’re older, but at least they have pagan roots.  Give them a spiritual context to start from, so that they CAN evaluate other paths, instead of leaving them to drift along aimlessly. 
     We are just beginning, as pagan people, to rebuild what we have lost.  Together, we can create the songs, the customs, the art, the poetry, the dances, the philosophy we need to make our many traditions into a thriving religious culture.
     So, go on, just tell them.  


Screen Free Week, April 18 – 24

Kill Your Television!

  I am gearing up for Screen Free Week. I am excited and nervous. Excited to get the damn screens out of the living room, nervous about not blogging and checking facebook.

  I know my children will have no problem with it. We have been TV/screen less off and on for many years. And with the beautiful weather they’ll be playing outside a lot! We’re secretly buying a few new toys to restock our supplies – Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, and art supplies, in case we get a rainy day.

  It will help that we have a busy week planned too. A field trip to the museum’s Titanic display, Waldorf homeschool silk dying day, book club, 20,000 bees and the American Atheist National Conference.

   I have been listening to the lectures on Feed.Play.Love. A Virtual Conference. Some of the first ones were, well, uninspirational. But this week two really stood out: Media Impact and Child Development, a Realistic View with Kim John Payne and Dr. Thomas Cooper and Where Anything can be Anything: Fostering Creativity in Your Child  with Sharifa Oppenheimer. They discuss how parents don’t want their children to be bored, but boredom is a gift. It is the gateway to creativity. And we often give in just before the creativity happens. As a parent of 7, I really enjoyed being reminded that sometimes the bridge between boredom and creativity is sibling torture. 🙂 I enjoyed the concept of Original Thought. How much original thought do we have? How much original thought does our child have? Are they only re-enacting what they see on TV? Singing commercial jingles? We put so much stress on IQ that we forget about “EQ” – emotional quotient. How to deal with other people in an honest way.

  The American Academy of Pediatrics is pretty clear about screen time. Spending more than two hours a day in front of a screen is detrimental to your child’s (and your!) physical, psychological and emotional health. Yes, screens include ipads. These are not “crazy hippies” making these claims. In fact, the AAP finds:

The sheer amount of time spent in front of a screen does not engage active thinking or playing, creative pursuits, or talking in-depth with family and friends.

 Media exposure at a young age (birth through age 2) often substitutes for important parent/caregiver/child activities that encourage early brain development, such as playing, singing, and reading.The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends reading to children every day, starting after they are first born. Reading stimulates the development of the brain, language and a closer emotional relationship with a child.

Studies show a relationship between excessive TV viewing and declining school performance, particularly in reading and comprehension skills.

Viewers of media violence may engage in violent or aggressive behavior, become desensitized to violence, or experience the world as a scary, dangerous place. Media violence also can increase a young person’s appetite for violence in entertainment and in real life.

Children and adolescents may learn and incorporate some of powerful myths and stereotypes about people from what  they see on screen. 

Heavy media exposure may contribute to a “culture of disrespect” — intolerance, stereotyping, ridiculing, and bullying, which includes pushing, shoving, hitting, and kicking.

Children and adolescents get all kinds of messages about tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use through media, mainly that such substance use is normative and/or associated with excitement and glamour. These images and messages may shape young people’s accepting attitudes and behaviors toward smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use.

Studies have shown obesity in children — a very prevalent health problem — to be associated with heavy TV viewing. The most commonly advertised foods on TV during children’s programming are typically high in sugar, salt, and fat.

Media advertising and commercialism entice people by using powerful visual images and audio effects. This can be compelling, especially for children under the age of 8, because, developmentally, they are unable to understand the true intent of commercials and advertising — which is to get them or their parents to buy a product. Children are also frequent targets of product merchandising for new movies, TV shows, and musical groups.

  This applies to “educational” screen time as well! Just this week the Center for a Commercial Free Childhood filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Your Baby Can Read!, a video series that encourages parents to put infants as young as three months in front of screens. The complaint is part of their ongoing campaign to support parents’ efforts to raise healthy babies by stopping the false and deceptive marketing of “educational” baby videos.

  Children learn best from adults. That’s one of the reasons I homeschool. I want to teach my child the ABCs. Not have “Fish School” teach her. (I don’t actually teach my children the ABCs, they seem to just learn it , like walking…)

Remember :

◆ All media messages are constructed — and are constructed for some purpose.
◆ Media messages shape our understanding of the world.
◆ Each person interprets media messages uniquely.
◆ Mass media are often driven by powerful economic and political forces.

What do you have planned for Screen Free Week 2011?

  You can learn more at the Screen Free Week website, facebook page and RSVP at their event page. You can even register your family!

Homemade Paper Bag Ostara Baskets

  15 years ago, my children, grandmother and I made a basket from paper bags.  I still have this basket; it has survived floods, toddlers, and blizzards.  I was going through our house, looking for baskets for our upcoming Waldorf home school day.  I realized that this paper bag basket would be a great basket to grow wheat grass in.  It would also be an appropriate Brigid activity because of the weaving.

This is my first tutorial, so follow along carefully, but use your own intellect and experience as we go.

Here’s how they are made:
You will need

nine paper grocery bags ( I use Aldi bags, of course!)

a yard stick or ruler
a pair of scissors
a sturdy stapler

Cut twelve pieces of paper bag paper 20″x16″

and cut another six pieces 28″x16″

That’s 18 all together!

Fold them as if you are folding double fold bias tape:

Fold them to the middle, then unfold.

Then fold the edges to the middle

then again fold to the middle

then again in half. They will measure approximately 1 ” wide

Rub them over a counter to make really sharp folds.

Choose one of the longer strips to be the top edge.

Evenly space 12 of the 20″ strips from the top edge and staple them in place.

(This also looks like a hula skirt!)

Fold 6 of those strips to the opposite side and staple them.

Then begin weaving in the remaining 6 strips, as if you are making a lattice pie crust, and staple them to the opposite side.

Now weave four of the last strips around the width of the basket from the bottom up. Overlap their edges and staple them to themselves. if possible, hide the staples under the horizontal strips.

Your basket should now appear mostly done.

 Use the last strip to cover the top heavily stapled strip and glue it in place.

If you would like a handle, you could punch a hole and sew or use a  manilla envelope fastener. You could also make a handle by making one of the strips as long as possible and weaving it all the way through.

My basket looked especially good today, since it was holding all the finished wedding invitations!

Wednesdays Waldorf- Inspired Homeschool day is looking very fun.

Red Wing Blackbird Day

This year, February 19 was Red Wing Blackbird Day. Three weeks earlier than the last two years. Red Wing Blackbird Day is a holiday that my family invented and we hold it very dear. This year it started with Rhiannon hearing the trill. “Did you hear that?” she asked as she leapt across the living room.
“Hear what? “
“The blackbird!”
  Now we all jump to our feet, running to every window, opening every door, the cold rushing in. We all scan the phone lines, the prairie, the trees. Again, Rhiannon: “There, on the tallest tree in willow grove!” Sure enough, there was the red wing blackbird scout, wind whipping his feathers so we get a peek at his red, looking for the best nesting area in the field, deciding if it’s warm enough for his wives. 


  We are all cheering. We run and get cloaks, wings and birdseed. We run around and around the house, throwing seeds, yelling wishes, welcoming, begging him to stay!  Then we make a feast, using whatever we can find in the house, and place our toy red wing blackbird on the altar. The Beatles song “Blackbird” plays in the background:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

  I am a lover of summer. The arrival of the red wing blackbirds is a physical sign of its approach. Soon I will fall to my knees before the first crocus. (Tabitha just wrote that she burst into to tears this week at her first glimpse of purple and yellow blooms in Missouri). 
  There are now about 100 red wing blackbirds in my prairie. They are coming. In droves. They took on a red tail hawk and won. The red wing blackbirds will be my alarm clock, they will attack my dog, they will terrorize country bikers and walkers, they will shit on my tipi, eat my bees and scare my children. And in August they will rise in tornado like clouds, black birds by the thousands, when I open my front door. And I will build them altars. And I will beg them to stay.

First Fire

A Charm for Fire in Winter

Loudly she roars, Lung-Spear,

screaming wind, spitting ice.

Rise up, o Fire,

shield us from Her rage.

Come, o spark,

rise up from your bed,

made from the Green God’s hair.

Come, o flame,

rise up from your bench,

made from the Green God’s bones.

Come, o fire,

rise out of your hall,

made from the Green God’s limbs.

Roar, o blaze!

Answer her wrath,

and keep us ’til Sun’s return.