There will be Greek food in my future - Saturday afternoon, to be exact.
There will be Greek food in my future - Saturday afternoon, to be exact.
I also wanna make some foccacia. With garlic and rosemary.
Also, I'm looking to try out a recipe for salted caramel candies. It seems pretty simple but I don't have a candy thermometer. Hopefully I can keep a good enough eye on it that I don't fuck it up. To finish it though, I have some vintage merlot sea salt and some black hawaiian sea salt. The vintage merlot is bright neon pink and I'm very excited to use it!
Daniel picked up an amazing, professional quality camera yesterday at a pretty reasonable price. Hopefully he'll let me take it for a spin and take some food pictures before we dig in; the couple of times I've used it so far I've got myself in trouble taking pictures of Daniel. He's really photogenic but he doesn't seem to think so. If I can get some good pictures I'll edit them - though they won't really need much, from what I've seen of this camera - and post them up with a recipe just for fun.
In other news - now that I've been fasting through the days until the end of next month, I am suddenly inspired by food very much. It's funny how that works, being apathetic until there's no good to come from passion in it. I'm particularly enamored of cheese platters and dark red wines. Also, with heavy pasta dishes with creamy sauces and meat dishes. Maybe I'll do a little food blogging at some point.
The fasting has been going pretty well. My motivation, even though the fast coincides with Lent and some of my practices are tied pretty closely with it, is not Lenten. I don't necessarily give up meat and eggs and dairy products, instead fasting in the manner of Ramadhan for the entire forty days (sun up to sun down, though my current class schedule means that three days a week, I come home and eat a slice of toast and a small cup of juice or milk at around noon), though I don't fast on Sundays in order to keep up an energy reserve. I've fasted for Ramadhan with Muslim friends of mine before and I find that if I don't take a break once a week or so, I get very very sick. Like, in a hospital sick. I'm sure it has something to do with my being 5'6" and anywhere from 115 to 125 ell-bees. Even though I don't impose a particular dietary restriction on myself once the sun goes down, I find that I tend to eat very light foods that are sans dairy and egg and (lots of) red meat any how, as those things tend to overload the system and result in sickness - so my fast actually tends to line up pretty well with that found in Eastern Orthodox churches.
All of this probably seems really out of place for a heathen such as myself. Really though, this ties in directly with my cosmology. You see,the end of the winter months and the start of spring is ritualized and very much involved with the Otherworld, Gods, and Ancestors. The White God (Bieloboh), among West Slavs, is identified primarily with a God names Jarilo - often described as a vegetation God and sometimes identified with the Greek Dionysos. He brings plenty, ecstasy, warmth, pleasure. He rejuvenates the world after the cold, dead winter. When he is reborn every spring, along with his twin sister Morena, they marry and have many children. Toward the end of the year, when the crops are brought in, Morena finds Jarilo was unfaithful, and she murders him, tears his body apart, and build a house from it. Through the winter, she becomes a frustrated old hag - a dangerous Goddess who brings ruin to the world.
When the winter is reaching its end, at the Vernal Equinox, a doll is made that is inhabited by Morena. It is dressed up, paraded through the town, and ritually sacrificed by lighting it on fire, or drowning it, or both. With the sacrifice of Morena, Jarilo is reborn and the cycle begins again.
This ritual is where the justification, rather, the need, for my fasting now is found. My personal faith draws a very strict set of purity standards brought from my Hellenic practice and combined with certain Slavic cultural practices. Historically speaking, I do not think that ancient Slavs necessarily held the same views that I do, but the justifications for certain cultural practices and attitudes/events in myths I think point to an at least similar concept.
To be in the presence of our Gods, I believe that our bodies and minds must be "clean." This includes washing the body thoroughly, wearing clean clothes, and purging the mind of thoughts of food, sex, and other things that would render an impurity. In the winter, my spiritual practice doesn't necessarily stop, but it slows down quite a bit. This has a lot to do with the absence of Ancestors as an active participant and motivation in my religious life and the absence of the Gods I regularly worship from life during those months. A bit of UPG here tells me that the rule of bad spirits and "negative" Gods over the world in the winter leads to a kind of "general impurity" that should be washed away to make way for the new year of bounty in the spring. When Morena leaves and the Black God is defeated again and the evil spirits roaming the world are again pushed away by our Ancestors and the White God, we should meet this time with clean bodies and minds. Hellenic religion does this in its own way at the end of Anthesteria - decloaking the shrines and cleaning away the bad spirits from the homes, commanding them to not return. My own practice puts Anthesteria at the end of March, a week after I take out Morena and coinciding with Easter. That fits more with my cosmology (and moving a festival is not without historical precedent - I'm not Athenian after all), and is in a way for my own benefit; a week of rest between two major festivals.
But, the month long preparation of fasting for me comes directly from Morena. As a Goddess who shall inhabit a space directly, and be directly in the presence of me and my house and family, it is doubly important to be clean. All the impurity of the winter and the year in general needs to be purged; I should be "clean as possible," so to speak. As such, every step must be taken.
So today, at breakfast with my partner (cheese, toast, apple butter, honey, and a lovely bit of freshly ground mocha in the French press), I decided I'd try my hand, do some improv, and see where it got me. My partner had the last cup, with all the grinds in the bottom. I swirled it around a bit, and turned it out onto a saucer. I turned the cup back over and peered down inside - and way down in there was a man, with a horned head, and a bulky traveler's cloak.
Two politics classes and a philosophy class. Should be fine.
Also, almost finished all the brie. Shoulda bought the whole damn wheel.
Anyways, it's almost December and it's time to get cracking on some Slovak Christmasing. That means... sweets. All kinds of sweets. On the menu so far: orechovniky (nut rolls), medovniky (honey cakes), linecké koláčiky (linzer cookies), and white chocolate chip cookies for my mommy. She loves white chocolate.
Tonight, I'm starting the dough for some orechovniky (the dough needs to rest overnight in the fridge), and I'm making the white chocolate chip cookies. Those are easy. In the morning, I'll roll out the dough for the orechovniky, make the filling, and bake off some of them, probably two at a time.
The word to sum up my December...: LAAAAAAAAAARD.
Also, I made marinara. Very easy, very good.
Hoping that the partner can get off early - my aunt got us a bunch of food for Thanksgiving, including a turkey. That makes three turkeys that will be in my freezer. I really need to figure out what to do with them. :/ Also, she's giving us a table. Yay!
One really good thing is that lately on forums and in my private life, the subject of Slavic paganism keeps coming up. I'm no expert and I'm a bit of a fence sitter on the subject (which I'm sure I'll go more in depth about at a later date), but I can't help but feel as though something is tapping me on the shoulder. The problem is, I don't know what it's trying to say. I'm going to delve into some more research and take some notes to help wrap my head around some things (it's really hard to translate Russian sources into a Slovak context - it's not as similar as one might think, but not as different sometimes either).
Also, I'm enjoying the bounty of fresh vegetation available in Ohio at the moment. Fresh veggies are just one of those things that brighten my day in numerous ways. Oh yes.