Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holy day baking

The Annual Grating of the Kidney Suet
Sunna's day was the big day for making the Yuletide Pudding. After gathering everything up, apples, booze, dried fruits, almonds, eggs, flour, spices and the shortening: good old fashioned beef kidney suet. Hard as marble, and fluffy as snow when grated. I have to go to the "good" butcher's shop to get it. The above is me grating it by hand, which is the start of the whole process. Around this time Madame Sandra arrived to help with the chopping, and prepping. As well as Sunday dinner, which involved smoked hamhock and yellow pea soup..MMmMMm!

Wish I could have afforded something a bit fancier in the rum dept. But we do have organic barley wine, and English stout. It was at this point the Hubby came in for a toast, and stir of the batter. We all took turns stirring and making wishes, pouring some good thoughts into the batter. Did it occur to any of us to take a picture?
So now it sits, the Pud, all steamed and waiting for the Big day!! Flame on!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ahhh pudding time again!

Antique pudding charms... I hope I get the sack of money!!!! Some one bought these clever charms, it wasn't me. I would love to make some out of silver..

It's that time of year again..Yes time to make the pudding for Christmas dinner. We just call the whole month of December Yuletide.
We do our thing, feasting and honoring the Old Gods on the Solstice, but on Christmas day I cook a goose, and have the family over for dinner. The family being my Catholic Mother in Law, who I love to bits. She's very open minded, funny, and kind.
Plus she loves my cooking.;)
Yuletide is one of those times in the year when Christianity and Pre-Christian traditions collide head on. The gift giving, the evergreens, the celebrations of life, the cooking heaps of celebratory food.
Like Pudding.
Yes, I seriously doubt my ancient pre-Christian Saxon ancestors ate puddings like the one Iam about to make for Yule, but my Protestant Victorian ones sure did.
This is a ritual that I take rather seriously every year. I spend time gathering up the ingredients, the right barley wine, Mad River's John Barley Corn for one, and then I gather it in one place and start mixing. According to the great and all knowing internet this Sunday is Stir Up Sunday, the traditional day to get your Christmas puddings in order.
I know what Your'e saying,
"But Heidi, what is a good Thor loving heathen like yourself doing making puddings set to any sort of Christian calendar?"
Well, it's like this, it's tradition. Since half of my mothers side of the family came from Britain and Christmas pudding was part of their celebrations I do it to honor them. Plus it's delicious. AND all those other pudding makers out there in the big world are doing the same thing as I am on that day. All those people thinking good thoughts as they stir the batter, excited children gearing up for the holidays, all that good energy linking us all..Christian or Not. Good old fashioned folk magic is what that is.
It can't hurt to tap into that, and share some of my good will and excitement for the season of re birth too.
This is something we can use around here. As you may or may not know we are barely hanging on financially. Yes we can eat, but that's about it. Being unable to get enough work has forced us to make some choices that are hard, but we have no other options.
Business loans that can't get repaid, mortages behind by three months,'s dire. I won't go into the misery, or even the details. The crappy economy, our lack of business/marketing skills, my broken back, all contributed.
I know there are people far worse off than we are, no one is shooting at us, or chasing us with machetes, but still,potentially losing my home, business and security is pretty shitty.

"If you are going through hell keep going."
That's what we are attempting to do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Working along...

The above is the Bavarian sign started oh, ages ago, and along with other jobs trying very hard to be done. Today I cut out 100 little pieces of sheet steel for it. They will become the petals of hop cones. You see each little cut out peice had to then be cleaned up with a grinder, then they get hammer textured, a central hole drilled, then welded onto a pre-forged stem, each petal welded individually, then shaped into a hop cone.
Phew!So I stood in one spot, all the dang day, cutting steel with the plasma cutter, then grinding, grinding, grinding..Man am I tired!!!!
I'll get some pics tomorrow I promise, of what in the hell these things look like when done.
Maybe if I feel brave I'll be in them but lately I'm not feeling too foxy for pics. Mostly I feel tired, stressed out from the hardships of late, and this has translated in me looking like , well a tired, stressed out middle aged woman. Recent pics of me have been sobering, if not sob inducing for their horrible accuracy on the toll age is taking. That and my , umm girth.

Well meaning friends saying things like "No , really, you don't look THAT bad for a woman your age.." or " I think your beauty lies within." - do not help, trust me.
I might be a tomboy, but I do care what I look like.
Iam not ready to look like an 80 year old babushka, not yet anyways, Iam only 44!!! The girth part, well, Iam working on it. I admit to not being one of those beauty treatment mad kind of women, I try to wear sunscreen, I use facial scrub, but Botox? no.
I know, if I had just been more careful, didn't drink, ate only veggies, coated myself in goo each night before bed..
Maybe if I was wealthy lady I would just go get a face lift and have a month stay at some swanky spa to sort it all out.
Oh well, there are plenty of other waaay more important things to be worrying about, but sometimes a girl has to vent.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Me on youtube....

Here Iam, talking about the dragon gate...

No, Iam not dead..

A cart load of hops

Greetings to all and any who have wandered back here to see if Iam indeed, alive. Iam, but our old computer isn't. No excuse, not blogging all Sept. was due to laziness on my part. Then a truly nasty trojan horse infected our windows operating system. We pulled the plug, and thanks to the kindeness of friends (James and Karen) we have a new system, and a fancy flat screen!!! Ya see, we have only just upgraded from using tin cans with strings to cordless phones around here, so a flat screen is a big fat, luxury from the future.
Sept. was the annual hop harvest at the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, and as shown above, here Iam looking a bit like Bellatrix Lestrange I have to say, with a load of our hops ready to be plucked.

Dan admiring our haul
We loaded up our contribution, and then went over to our freind John's house to pick up his fine crop of hops..Then off to the Lab.

Our haul seen from the back..
Happy, happy hops! I have no idea how many Lbs that was, alot is all I can say. The truck smelled of hops for days after, yellow resin was everywhere.

History Nerds Anyone?
Iam always happily amazed by who gets this one, and is amused by it. Here in the USA you have to be either an English Lit. major or a History nerd to get it, and I proudly count myself as one of latter.
There was one history boor who felt it was his job to point out(ad nauseum) that the Saxon's did not have automobiles, and therefore this just didn't make sense, nor was it funny.
Rolling my eyes...
sigh..there's one(or two) in every crowd of re-enactors.

Ben cutting down the bines at the Lab
We arrived to find folk gathering, and Ben one of the brewers at the lab, cutting down their hops out in the back lot.

Here is our pile.

Then it grew!
Iam sitting behind that wall of vines, it was amazing.
The weigh in final was over 200lbs. of hop cones!!WoW!
We picked hops all day, from midday to evening. It was a fun time had by all, all be it scratchy and itchy.

Updates= Most of you know my father has lung cancer, so here is the update. He's doing okay, had a nasty bout of pneumonia last week, but is home and getting better. The new drug he is on costs $6000.00 dollars a month, but as they qualified for a special grant it costs them nothing.
Whew! that's a good thing, as they are not rich, and neither am I. Their insurance only covered part of the drug's cost, so they are lucky to have qualified for the drug makers financial program,
- they waved the remainder of the fees.
This according to my mother who called me in tears at hearing how much it was going to cost to help keep her husband alive, and her relief when she found out they would not have to sell everything and move into a trailer.
He has to take the drug, as the chemotherapy was killing him faster than the cancer, and this drug is the only one his tumor is responding to...
This all leads back to my anger about our lack of affordable healthcare, nay, national healthcare.
Why my fellow countrymen don't want National healthcare is beyond me. If my folks had not gotten that grant they would have gone bankrupt attempting to pay for the drug.
Americans, out of compassion we can send thousands of dollars to help with foreign disasters, like the tsunami in Indonesia , but help your neighbor pay for their basic medical care? "Hell no!!!! That's communism! I got mine, and I ain't sharin!!!"
sigh...What a world.
As for us, well, things are hard, but we trudge on.