Tuesday, 21 June 2011

So its the Solstice

And although sunrise was technically 4.42am it has yet to appear here. One of the wettest and grayest solstices I have ever known. Even the wood for the fire is so damp I doubt it will light first go!

However dancing and music abound as Littleun has a new rhythm he wants to play for his drums and we have food on the go already.

I also have a new beginning today as I go for the first of my BSL course. I have started to accept that my hearing isn't getting better and at the rate the NHS works will be a very long time before they do anything to help so decided to take matters literally into my own hands and start a course to help refresh my sign language abilities.

Hope you all have a lovely day and that the Sun finally makes an appearance!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Litha Feasting: Lemon preserving and Lamb Recipes

If you are like us any Sabbat requires celebrating the good fortune of food around us. For this Sabbat we are lucky to have some lamb from the nearby salt marshes and I thought as we are celebrating the longest day of sunshine we would go for a Moroccan dish as this has some lovely ingredients such as apricots and lemons, reminiscent of the sun in shape and colour. In searching for recipes I found that the one I wanted to use needed preserved lemons. Now I know you can buy these, but half the fun of this path is learning together with Littleun so we decided to make ours (plus it’s a lot cheaper!).

For the lemons we have the following recipe and all I’d say is if you have any cuts do put on some food gloves first!

8-10 Meyer lemons*, scrubbed very clean
1/2 cup salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar

* You don't need to use Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do, it's just that the milder Meyer lemons work very well for preserving in this way.

1 Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.
2 One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.
3 Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.
4 Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons; make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.
5 Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.
6 To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.
7 Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Now that we have done this we can use them on Litha to add to our Tagine recipe:

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

1.5kg shoulder of lamb
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
olive oil
2 or 3 preserved lemons, chopped
2 onions
1 good handful dried apricots, chopped
1 good handful sultanas
Black olives
Fresh mint, roughly chopped to serve


In a non-stick fry pan gently toast the coriander and cumin seeds until they become fragrant but don't allow to burn.
Tip the seeds into a pestle and mortar and crush with a pinch of salt.
Add the ground seeds to the lamb with a good drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, and the preserved lemons. Work all the flavours into the meat and leave to marinate.
Roughly chop the onions and put in the base of your tagine.
Then add the apricots and the sultanas followed by the lamb.
Next add some black olives, mix well to distribute the flavours and put the lid on.
Cook for about 3-4 hours at 160°C.
When cooked, sprinkle with the chopped mint and serve.

Oh I can’t wait!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Litha soon, some some crafts we are doing

Wanting to rearrange our altar with some new items this year we went on the search of things that Littleun and I could make and do together. One of our must haves is the smell of orange. Those big round juicy fruits which look so much like the burning Sun and smell of freshness and summer hope are important to us. We came across the stones below which we liked. It gives Littleun something he can make and he can craft with messages on the base, allowing him both his own special offerings and a chance to practice his runes or oghams. It’s an American recipe so uses cups but we just used English cups and added a little here and there to get the dough the right consistency.

Orange Fragrance Stones

1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup salt

1/4 tsp cornstarch

2/3 cup boiling water

1 tbls. Fragrance (orange in this case) oil

Colorant of your choice

Mix all dry ingredients. Heat water in a Pyrex cup in the microwave or on the stove. Add the f/o and the colour to the water. Stir water mixture into flour mixture. Mix as best you can and then knead the dough with your hands. At this point you just want it to look like pie or cookie dough. Roll it out about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut into shapes or use cookie cutters. Another option is to stamp the flat shapes. Let the dough stones dry. They get hard as rocks and will last for months.

We are looking forward to Litha, last year we spent it in France but this year it will be here in England on the beach with our friends.