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

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
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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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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In her 2004 novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke cites a proverb of her alternate-history 19th-century, Napoleonic Era England:

The priest plants wheat, the witch plants rye.

Clarke reads this as meaning that "Some people just can't agree on anything." But I think there's more to it than that.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yeah, white bread's for gentry, not for the likes of us wart-charmers. Wheat is finicky and has a long growing season; rye is basi
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    There was another factor involved, cost. For those that lived in town, wheat bread was more expensive than rye bread, and white br

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