The Big O

An icy wet nose nuzzled my toes awake.

I was aware of 

 a panther’s tail caressing my cheek

the strong muscular arm of my co-star pulling me in close

the ruby light of bright sun through silky drapes

warm bare shoulders

my whole body was liquid with rest

all the birds fluttered, singing

it wasn’t just the crows, who bring wisdom every morning,

but I could hear everyone gathered

the percussive woodpecker rhythms

bluejays, robins, chickadees...

was I dreaming?

was it possible...that Spring was actually here?

She wasn’t just being a tease?

After all, snow was still miles high upon the ground here in the mountains, and the week ahead forecasted more coooolllllld.

And yet...

Ostara.

The ancient pagan tradition of the Vernal Equinox. 

Fertility.  Sowing seeds. Rebirth.

Time to send new creations out into the world.

Awakening after the long Winter's night.

She's stirring, inside me, and everywhere...

Ostara

I sat upright very suddenly.

All I could think was,

“I need a scone.”

Then I sat paralyzed for the next however many minutes fretting.

I didn't have the proper ingredients for a Very Important Ostara Offering. Hmmm...maybe if I race out, I can pick up some calendula flowers...if they have them...oh! maybe I should call..what if my readers are disappointed if I don't have something awesomely, purrfectly Spring-y for them...fret...fret...

Wait. I’m just going to work with what’s here.

I had to set my ritual space before anything could happen.

So I started playing Ella Fitzgerald, setting the stage for an upbeat, swingy Kitchen Witching...

but that wasn’t happening.

I switched to sultry ragas. 

Oh yes...

yesss...that’s it.

undulating all the constellations of bellydance

I began to feel intense heat, wild cosmic pattens

trance, 

sitar and tabla,

And the spices came out.

The kitchen filled with exotic heat. I began to move...I imagined I was dancing in the desert at sunset feelng the warm sand beneath my feet...

And these happened.

Sultry Spiced Scones

  • 1  C organic garbanzo flour 
  • 3/4 C tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Celtic salt
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil, chilled
  • 3/4 C unwseetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 droppers liquid stevia
  • pinch of Spanish paprika
  • 1 C chopped apples, fresh or dried
  • 1 C chopped dates
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients (minus spices) together in a large bowl. Add the spices and stir. Now cut in the chilled coconut oil with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture is crumbly. 

Add in the vanilla and almond milk, and stir. Drop in the dates and apples. Get in there with your hands to really mix everything together well. If it needs it, add a tablespoon or more of almond milk.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto a lightly olive oiled cookie sheet. You can make either six large ones or about ten small. (These are best straight from the oven, so I would go for the larger ones. You can re-heat the next day, but it's not quite as orgasmic.)

I used dried apples here, because I had fed the last of the fresh ones to my goat friend, who lives down the lane.

The scent filling the kitchen was so heady, I couldn't wait for them to cool...

I bit in.

Ohh...

The flavor at first was subtle, warm...a beautiful light, airy treasure cloaked inside a crispy shell of buttery, sensuous coconut oil.

Then the heat and the layers kick in.

And My Darlings, these are seriously heaven.

I ate a second one in sheer delight, this time with a cup of pau d’arco tea, though I wanted something vanilla-y. I haven’t been stocking much tea latley as I am working on my own brews...

(Hint, hint...more to come soon!)

So here they are: mouth-teasing delights that were born of sitar and passion.

Bake them. Devour them. Enjoy every bite.

Then, get over here and nibble on me.

xxx Alise

 

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Luna Cucina: Surviving Your Own Moon Cycle

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This is beautiful.

But what I'm talking about...not so much.

You know what I mean.

That monster that overtakes Ms. Hyde.

That civil war that rages internally.

The black cloud overhead, pressing down on your sweet shoulders, heavy.

(Don’t run fellas. Stay and listen. You might learn something about the ladies you love...)

We all have our own cycles. Men and women. (Of you think men don’t have their hormonal ups and downs, think again).  Where we get messed up is in the bucking of those cycles. We are made to ebb and flow with the earth, the seasons, the stars, and the moon. But we rarely do. In a combination of human arrogance, societal pressure to perform, and a disconnect from nature, and therefore our bodies, we push. We push hard. 

So when we hit that hormonal volcano, we’re screwed. We have to work, go to school, tend to children, carry on with our lives, all with this excruciating condition.

We can't take a day off and we can't fall apart on the job, so how do we get through?

First, give thanks to your beautiful body. 

Thank it for being strong enough to weather these trying times, for its ability to cleanse itself, and most of all, for the creation energy. The life-giving force. This doesn’t always mean making babies. We nurture and birth our art, our work, ideas that begin as tiny little beings, then grow into beautiful energies and tangible gifts we offer to the world.

Next...prepare for battle.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan ahead, way before the beast is unleashed.

Here, my sweet loves, is a Survival Guide:

Salt. No way around it, we crave salt like a mofo, don't we?

Simple. Kale chips.

Make a giant batch of these babies well ahead of time. They are super-easy to make, delicious, good for you, and a fraction of the cost of buying them. This version omits the nuts, keeping both calories and costs down. You may want to make more than one batch, 'cause I am telling you, they are addictive.

  • 1  bunch of organic kale
  • 5-6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 tablespoons gluten free tamari, depending how salty tasting you like them
  • Nutritional yeast. Just pour on top and mix with tongs until leaves are coated. The more you add, the cheesier it will be...mmmm!

Remove stem from kale and place in a bowl. Tear large pieces of kale, as they shrink a bit when baked or dehydrated.
Pour the olive oil on top and mix with tongs until leaves are coated. Add the tamari and mix again. Add nutritional yeast and and mix again. 

If you have a dehydrator, awesome.

Dehydrate 3 or more hours at 105–110 degrees until crispy like a potato chip.

If you don't own one, it's no big deal. I haven't made that existential leap yet, either.

Simply set your oven to the lowest possible temperature. We're trying to keep these raw, so ideally we stay under 118 F. You can crack your oven door open too, that helps. If you get above that temperature, it's okay. They won't be technically raw, but still a hell of a lot healthier than any other salty nibble out there.

Sweet. Yessss. I am going to tell you to eat chocolate. As long as it's from Sacred Chocolate. Raw, vegan, pure, and created with love by the Cacao God himself. (And yes, I do believe he is a God, having created chocolate as an offering to the Goddess. It's the only sensible explanation.)

BUT...there's also something else I want to share with you.

Bananas and walnuts.

Bananas are a PMS superfood. Fact. Loaded with potassium, zinc, iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamin B6 and fiber, they have been called nature's perfect food. They may also be a perfect food for menstrual health. Bananas help relieve digestive problems, and replenish nutrients lost during our cycles. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood majorly.  If that weren't enough, bananas are rich in iron, which produces seratonin, which regulates mood. 

Now pair that with walnuts, which are anti-inflammatory, and full of manganese, which helps to alleviate PMS symptoms...and what do you get?

Uh-huh. It is SO damned good...

Bombshell Banana Bread

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3 extra ripe Bananas (mashed)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup Maple Syrup 
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 flaxseed “eggs”-(mix 1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp. water, let it set about 10 minutes, whisk with fork)
  • 2 dropperfuls vanilla liquid stevia

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/4cup all-purpose gf baking flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon...at least
  • 1/2 cup of crushed chamomile flowers
  • 1 cup walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 (F)

  1. Grease up a loaf pan w/oilve oil
  2. In a medium-large bowl mix all the wet ingredients well
  3. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, mix until most of the lumps are gone
  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean (the top should be nicely golden)
  7. Allow to cool completely.

You can totally freeze this! Which makes it a teeny bit easier to eat just one slice at a time. Okay, maybe two...

I added in the chamomile for Kitchen Witchery. These delicate flowers have long been used in magical workings for protection and purification, both of which are needed at this time. They also act as a diuretic, eliminating extra fluids from the body. Best of all, their warm scent calms and adds a delicious note to the flavor of the bread.

Spirits.  That's right. I'm going to tell you to indulge in a little brew. Red wine or gin, specifically, which have both been known to alleviate cramps, while relaxing your stressed-out spirit. Red wine contains resveratrol, a polyphenol, which acts as a muscle relaxant. The juniper berries in gin are anti-inflammatory and help to flush fluids from the body. Of course, you could drink juniper tea, but this is much more fun.  Just keep it to a minimum, and you'll feel fine.

Banish The Bloat  A few surefire ways to minimize all that extra fluid: Natural water pills (found in your health food store-only take one per day,) water and chamomile tea, and eating lots of celery. 

Baths Settle into a good hot soak every night, adding some lavender oil and Celtic sea salt. When you emerge, rub your lower abdomen (keep going, lower...) with Clary Sage Oil from ContessaCreate to help alleviate your cramps. Now get some extra sleep, gorgeous. You'll feel better soon.

Mood Stabilizers Supplements that have anti-depressant qualities: Cat's Claw (herb), 5HTP (amino acid), L-Tryptophan (amino acid.) Incidentally, Tryptophan won't  make you sleepy, as the old story goes, usually in relation to Thanksgiving turkey consumption. In fact, it is the food/simple carb overload that makes people pass out on the couch after that holiday dinner.

Fashion Fixes  Have a few go-to get ups for puffy days, like an easy empire or A-line dress paired with great boots, chic little tunics, anything that gives you room to breathe, but still looks sexy and polished. 

Take the time for bright nails, pretty hair, makeup, foxy accessories...and don't forget scent. 

Now...breathe, drop your shoulders, get through the week imagining how hot and amazing you will look and feel when this is over.

Remember to say you're sorry to everyone you've snapped at. 

Be extra sweet. 

(As soon as you're able.)

Much love,

xxx Alise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Back The Light

"The two basic items necessary to sustain life are sunshine and coconut milk."

-Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy

I really couldn't agree more.

As we shiver in the wake of the shortest day of the year, those of us in chilly climes struggle to surrender to the limited daylight, and the blues that set in all too easily. You may not know me well enough just yet, but I am a NOTORIOUS grump the moment the mercury plunges below freezing. 

"Goin' where the weather suits my clothes..."

"Goin' where the weather suits my clothes..."

Okay, truth…the moment it falls below 50F I start to get a bit snarly. But that's beside the point.

I am, in fact, a cat. I really just want to lounge around in a patch of sun all day. 

Mmmmmm...but for those of us who are able to magically walk around on two legs, life (and finances) tend to dictate otherwise. Sigh.

Here's the thing. We need every bit of sunshine we can get in the long winter months, any way we can. Here's how to make it happen:

1. Mainline Vitamin D

I'm not kidding. If it's winter, even if you are the outdoorsy type, you aren't getting enough. 

And that leads directly to depression, anxiety, lowered immune function.

It's an easy fix. Pills are fine, but for seasonal superpowers, knock this back twice daily:  Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 liquid

2. Get Thee In The Sun

Swathe yourself in soft (animal-friendly!) fabrics, and head outside. Go ahead, brave it. Even for 20 minutes. It will help you sleep better, drastically improve your mood, and boost your immune system.

The outside air will revive you, I promise, but if the idea of venturing out is just too unbearable, wrap yourself in something sensual and curl up in a sunny window. Close your eyes and let the warmth tickle you.

Either way, protect your skin with one of my all-time-favorite beauty potions: Simplers Botanicals Carrot Seed Oil.

Carrot seed oil has amazing anti-aging, wrinkle-fighting, skin-repairing properties, and is a natural sunscreen. 

Three drops in a dollop of your day cream will cover your face, neck, decollate, hands, and forearms.

3. Let The Sunshine In

In the precious hours of daylight, amp up your sun and heat absorption by keeping your windows sparkling clean: white vinegar first, then anoint the corners of each window with a drop of pure lemon, grapefruit, or orange essential oils.  I'm in love with these from my dear and delicious friend ContessaCreate. Ask for healing solar power to come into your home and your heart, and give thanks. Then, when the sun goes down, light up your den with creamy candles and fairy lights. (If you opt for the battery-operated candles, go for eco-friendly rechargeables-more of an investment upfront, but worth in in the long-haul, and so much easier on the planet.) 

Take a cue from our pagan ancestors, and prepare meals using lots of yellow and orange foods, harnessing the energy of the sun. Try pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and LOTS of citrus fruits.

Speaking of sunshine and coconut milk...after all that cleaning and frolicking, don't you just need a nibble? 

Sunshine sweetness!

Sunshine sweetness!

Luscious Lemon Cakes

1. Make the lemon curd first:

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 to 5 lemons per cup. Zest first, then juice.)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ cups xylitol or coconut sugar 
  • 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ⅛ tsp. Himalayan pink salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons (zest finely, and zest extra!)
  • ⅓ cup plain, full-fat organic coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan butter (Olive oil Earth Balance is one of the healthiest choices)


Using a food processor/blender, combine lemon juice, water, xylitol, cornstarch, and salt. When the mixture is smooth, pour it into a saucepan and add lemon zest. Turn the heat under the saucepan to medium, and whisk until the mixture comes to a full boil, about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to boil for one minute undisturbed; the mixture should have noticeably thickened and started to turn clear. Remove from heat.

Add coconut milk and vegan butter. Whisk until everything is fully combined. Allow the lemon curd to thicken and cool in the saucepan until it reaches room temperature. Set aside.

2. Now make the rest. 

Crust:
1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 cup xylitol or coconut sugar
pinch of Himalayan pink salt
1/2 cup vegan butter

Filling:
2 cups of lemon curd 
1/4 cup all purpose gluten-free flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, stir the flour, xylitol, and salt. Then cut in the butter, until you have a fine crumb. Press the crust mixture into a greased, 8×8 inch cake pan. Bake for 15 minutes. While the crust bakes, whisk together 1/2 cup of the lemon curd and the 1/4 cup of flour, until smooth. Add an additional 1/2 of curd, and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining curd and whisk a final time. (Don't dump all the dry mixture into all the curd at once-you'll get lumps.)  When the crust is done baking, pour the filling mixture into the pan and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. The filling may still look a bit jiggly, but fear not-it will solidify when cooled.  Cool at room temperature, before garnishing with a sprinkling of xylitol (entirely optional. please note: xylitol is far from a perfect sweetener, but it does work exceptionally well in this recipe. Avoid it if you have even a slight sensitivity) , cutting, and serving. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Now, get naked beneath a fuzzy throw, and share these with a friend. 

A very close friend.

xxxAlise