I originally posted this is 2007 and decided to put it up again with only minor alterations.
All Hallows Even is Friday.
Surely you want to know what to cook?
I’ve observed Samhain, the Celtic New Year, in one form or another for more close to 20 years including taking in a Loreena McKennitt concert in the mid-1990s.
My celebrations invovle food at the best of times, and Samhain is the best time ever for playing with food. Apples, wormwood (think tarragon), corn, and Dittany of Crete (Origanum Dictamnus, a variety of oregano) are associated with Samhain. Dittany of Crete is used in astral projection. I’ve grown it and I love the energy of it, but I have no experience astrally projecting with it.
This brings us to the Nightshades, an interesting and varied family with some really deadly members. It’s the killers which are associated with Samhain as well as Beltaine, observed in the spring.
Well, Nightshade is Nightshade to me. As long as it’s in the family I figure I can use it. Thanks to my husband’s botany textbooks I learned that eggplant (Solanum melongena), bell peppers (Capsicum annuum), potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), are members of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family.
Tomatoes were thought “poisonous because many European members of their family (the Solanaceae) have bitter fruits containing toxic or hallucinogenic compounds.” (p.119. Economic Botany: Plants in our World by Beryl Brintnall Simpson and Molly Conner-Ogorzaly. Copyright 1986, McGraw-Hill Book Company.)
Lycopersicon esculentum, is Latin for “juicy wolf-peach,” the text book said. “The German common name ‘wolf-peach’ reflected the belief that the fruits could be used in cabals to evoke werewolves.” (IBID)
Reading on I learned that alkaloids from the potato family control muscles spasms. The solanaceous alkaloids are hyoscyamine (and l-hyoscyamine), atropine and scopolamine (or hyosine).
Technically, they’re known as tropane alkaloids and are commonly extracted from Atrope belladonna. (IBID p.371)
Anyway, with potato, tomato, bell pepper, and eggplant to work with I knew I could do something. My husband likes veggies, even eggplant, so I wanted something we’d both enjoy.
A few experiments later I had the Solanaceous Supper that’s become a Samhain tradition.
It’s easy to prepare and creates few dishes making for a fairly quick clean up. Here’s what to do:
Peel, slice and salt a firm, healthy medium-sized eggplant. I’ve read that they don’t need salting, but I feel better doing it. They’ve got lousy public relations already, finding a bitter one won’t help their cause.
Let it leach for at least a half-hour then dry with paper towels and cut into bite–sized pieces.
Take a large, healthy, firm green pepper. Remove stem and seeds and cut into small pieces. Imagine you’re making a Greek Salad and cut accordingly.
Use between four and six medium potatoes. This depends on the size of the spud and the number of people you’re feeding. Chop into small pieces. Peel or not as you see fit.
Use four to six medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped.
Use at least a half-cup of chopped onion. I use purple because it’s tasty and it looks good.
Mix together in a 9 x 13” casserole dish and coat with cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil and add good quality red wine vinegar.
Spice it with thyme, basil, and oregano along with your choice of parsley, chervil, and/or garlic. If you like, then sprinkle some cayenne on it, too. Capsicum frutenscens is also in the Solanaceae family. Use salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Ready to cook:
Cook at 350 degrees. It’ll take about 50-60 minutes. At the 40-50 minute mark remove from oven and sprinkle a cup of finely chopped Feta cheese on it. Return to oven for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Allow to sit for at least five minutes before serving.
The finished product:
When serving on Samhain always set an extra place at the table. On this night the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and otherworldly guests should be made welcome.
Nothing is a failure if you can learn from it. And, as far as I am concerned, you can learn from anything and anyone at any time.
I like to learn from food. Specifically, I learn what works and what doesn't when making something. Generally speaking, we can eat the result no matter what.
On Saturday I decided to make gluten free pita bread to go with the homemade beef vegetable soup I had simmering on the stove.
I had wondered from time to time what would happen if I cooked the whole lot together rather than breaking off bits of dough for individual pitas.
So I tried it.
I rolled it out onto a pizza pan and baked it.
It was tasty enough, but it stuck to the bottom of the pan. It broke a bit during the flipping, but I pushed it back together as well as I could and popped it back in the oven.
It was cut into pieces later and served as flatbread rather than pita, but so what?
I got to conduct an experiment.
Yesterday I tried it again only this time I cut the dough into thirds. It flipped easier and seemed to be fine. I froze it and will know for a fact next time I want pita bread.
I am grateful for a great many things: forming the thought to experiment, enjoying the process, and getting to eat it afterward.
Learning is tasty.
By that I mean pizza topped with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
I'd been craving pizza and had the turkey so I figured, why not?
I threw together a gluten free flour mix made from ground rolled oats, sorghum, coconut, brown rice, tapioca and potato starches as well as ground hazelnuts and almonds.
Next I consulted a wide variety of recipes for use as a jumping off point for my own as I require some idea as to how much yeast, salt, oil, and sugar ought to be used.
I decided along with turkey it needed mushrooms and onion. Further, it needed avocado which I decided to add after it was out of the oven.
Dips are a fine adjunct to pizza. My favourite is chipotle. I had some coconut sour cream that needed using up so I consulted several recipes for chipotle sauce and threw together my own with chipotle flakes and chipotle tabasco in it.
It was a fine addition and I am grateful it, and the pizza, worked out.
We normally get up at 5:30 a.m. weekdays as husband starts work at 7 a.m. I am an early riser by nature though it is more compelling in summer as I tend to get up with the sun.
I prefer early mornings. I get more done and usually just plain have a better day.
Bed is a comfortable and comforting place. It's not always easy to bounce out and get on with the day so a chance to laze a bit is always welcome.
Today was such a day. Husband has the day off and will work tomorrow instead.
Consequently, we slept in until almost 8 a.m.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family.
I am grateful for all of you.
Yes, even you.
We had the turkey yesterday. It was a small one, about eight pounds. That makes a nice size for Mike and me. I like that it's just the two of us. Holidays deserve their special memories as much as regular daily life does. It's good to have them alone.
I commonly bake pie for holidays, but didn't feel like it this year. I bake pie when the spirit moves me, not the calendar.
Instead we had cake. I'd baked my first ever coffee cake on Friday and in playing around with the recipe I added rum.
I discovered years ago all baking, mine anyway, is improved with a good glug of rum. I saw no reason this cake ought to be an exception.
I found a recipe for gluten free sour cream coffee cake. The sour cream I use is made out of coconut milk and is easy to throw together. Instead of the cupful called for I used about one-third and made up the rest with regular coconut milk.
It's still very rich,
The cup of butter, softened, called for became about two-thirds of a cup of coconut lard to which I added enough hot water to get things all warm and melty.
We have plenty of eggs courtesy my FIL so I used three rather than the two the recipe listed.
The gluten free flour mix I'd made really soaks up the moisture. That's my good reason for glugging in the rum. The real reason is noted above.
It turned out well and for that I am grateful.
Almost too well. It's hard to stop eating it. We smother it in thick coconut milk which makes it even tastier. If I sound like I am bragging it is because I am. I celebrate when things work out and am not shy about saying so.
I am grateful for that, too.