The Holiday Season

During my college years (it sounds like a long time ago but in truth, it took me almost 6 years to complete my degree being a teen mom and wife 2 times over), I studied many subjects. I tried to keep in my career field of art and such which brought me to theology and tolerance. What does that have to do with art? Actually, a lot. I learned how what we consider art is now, but then was just a way of expression of truth from decades past. One thing I had to keep in mind was that history was written by the victors keeping in mind that some history and stories were lost in death. I know, rambling but hear me out. Some cultures tattooed days of importance on their bodies through symbols but when they passed away those symbols of that storyteller was gone…forever. Or during the Christian wars, entire families died and most of a lineage was erased and the ones that were left could not pass on important family history.

Where am I going with this? We need to be tolerant this holiday season of other people’s beliefs. I’m fortunate enough that I don’t need to hide mine from my family anymore and can openly begin celebrating my beliefs this season. This is huge for me as I always just made sure that my kids had a happy ‘Christmas’. I’m excited this year. I’ve been wood burning and I’m going to venture to make my Yule goat (hoping that’s not a fail) and some upcoming cooking and poetry writing to coincide with my Asatru calendar. This is my first year really practicing but I’m hoping I get more adept as my studies come along. But back to tolerance. Even though I’m not of Christian faith (and haven’t been for some time now), I do like reading blogs that people write about their faith whether it be Christianity, Taoism, or whatever because how am I going to teach my kids tolerance and practice it myself if I’m not educated and providing an example?

I’m writing this because my son and his friend were having a conversation and my son was explaining about Norse gods and Asatru to the best of his studies (yup there are books for kids) and I heard,

Friend-‘Dumbass, that isn’t true! Jesus and God are the only way!
Then my son– ‘That’s ok, you believe what’s right for you.’
Then his friend-‘You’re stupid and going to hell!’

That’s when I stepped in. I asked his little friend to go home so I could talk to my son. I asked him if he was ok and he said he was. I asked him if wants to learn more about Christianity and this is what he said, ‘Sure mama but I want to believe in what I want.’ I asked him why did he want to learn more about Christianity he said, ‘I want to know why (kids name) hated what I was saying and how we can still be friends no matter what we both believe. I get what he was saying but I hated that he experienced something so judgemental and having another belief pushed on him. I further explained, ‘Sometimes people don’t want to hear alternatives to their faith because they weren’t taught tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance is when you told (kids name) that it was ok to believe in what’s right for him and not getting mean and telling him he was wrong. Acceptance is not letting what he believe bother you.

So please, I ask this season be tolerant and accept that other people’s beliefs are right for them. If you have questions, ask but without being condescending. Be respectful. There needs to be more tolerance in the world and I think it should start now. There’s already too much in the news about old classic Christmas shows and music because people are not tolerant. It’s just as easy to turn off the music, TV, or even walk away from an individual. Be kind and happy Monday everyone.


Experimenting With Curds and Whey

Yesterday after doing all the running around and chores I had made a goal. It started with my husband suggesting that we attend an Asatru Blot this month. Something that was being asked of us was to bring a dish to pass around for the feast. I can do potluck like no has ever potlucked before. It’s a huge southern tradition to get together with friends and family and pass around dishes that make up a HUGE meal. Then I read, ‘dish that has been harvested from either your garden or farmers market. Or meat that you have hunted or fish that you’ve caught for this event. Homemade baked goods from scratch are also welcome.’ Well…shit!

I just did a small experimental garden and even though fruits and vegetables grew there weren’t nearly enough ingredients to make an entire dish. My husband doesn’t hunt or fish so that is out of the question. Then I had an idea and after a little research into what the Norsemen ate I decided on making cheese and bread from scratch then add herbs from my garden. I sought out a dairy and was pretty lucky to find one on the outskirts of my town that sold by the gallon at a decent price. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated by using raw milk. Am I going to make something that will poison us all? NOPE!

It’s starting to curdle! YAY!

I made sure and set up all my utensils and ingredients for the cheese. Then I got to work. Bring the milk to temperature, worrying about the milk scorching, stirring until I thought my elbow was going to break, and then WOW. Adding the lemon juice made me realize…I can do it! I was so proud that the pot of milk was doing what it was supposed to do. The recipe isn’t mine but what I found helped A LOT! I bounced between several how-to articles and decided on:

  • A gallon of Raw Milk
  • 2 TBSPs of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBSPs of apple cider vinegar
  • Salt

Bring to temp and add acid. The method suggested was to turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes. WRONG. REMOVE FROM HEAT COMPLETELY! I added salt at the end when it should have been done during the drying process. But the final product, in the end, was AMAZING.

What to do with Whey? The leftover product from straining the cheese from the milky water is actual whey. I can’t believe people spend so much money to purchase this stuff. I could have sold it but instead, I decided that making Whey Bread would be more beneficial to the blot that we are attending. I wanted to practice ahead of time so I don’t appear so new. I found a recipe and ran to the store while the whey was to warm. This is where I was again intimidated. I make quick breads all the time that doesn’t call for active yeast. I had a HORRIBLE disaster in my younger years making bread and I haven’t used yeast since then…until yesterday.

The recipe told me to add warm whey to the yeast. I panicked and added some whey from a smaller batch that was cooled making it warm. This worked and ta-dah! Happy yeast! Even though the cheese and the bread were high in points…I still counted and ENJOYED what I had made and baked.

The batch of both cheese and bread that I’m going to make I’m going to dried basil from my garden (it wasn’t dry enough yesterday but will be by next week). So I will have made homemade cheese from raw milk (which by the way is from grass-fed cows and Whey bread (not wasting anything) seasoning with basil that I grew in my experimental garden.

Any other ideas for easy homemade cheeses? Hmm…I could make butter.

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