How to Eat Well At Festivals Without Breaking the Bank

Ah, festival season. A time of making new friends, spending time with old friends, and hitting a few workshops for entertainment, enlightenment, and education on the side.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my body is not always happy with the old standby of no sleep, with extra caffeine and sugar on the side during these sorts of events – eating well and sleeping have become important factors in getting the most out of events.

The trouble with this, of course, is that “eating well” in the hospitality suite of most indoor events is not likely to happen, and most outdoor events don’t even have a hospitality suite. And if you’re in a hotel, the hotel restaurant is always an option….but that gets expensive. So do food vendors at outdoor events.

So, what’s a Pagan who is looking to eat real food to do?

First, you have to plan ahead. Will your residence for the next few days have a refrigerator? Microwave? Electricity? How many meals will you need? (Does that include meals on the road, which are more likely to be fast food because you’re traveling?) How much space is in your luggage?

Let’s start with breakfast. We’ve successfully taken frozen breakfast sandwiches in a cooler, and let them thaw over the course of a couple of days, which is great if you have a microwave. For those times without a microwave, I usually stick with muffins or oatmeal – coffee pots can make water hot enough for instant oats, and campfires boil water pretty quickly as well.  On more ambitious outdoor weeks, we often do eggs and biscuits (using a “Bakepacker” or similar steam cooking device).

Much of my daily lunch and dinner suggestions for these sorts of things are based on dried foods and lightweight backpacking experiences, because the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking when you could be having fun. Besides, not only do dried foods store well and cook quickly with just boiling water, but they’re a good thing to have on hand in emergencies where you can’t get to the store.


A package of
The ubiquitous Mountain House freeze dried meal – usually edible, but high on sodium

While there are commercially available freeze dried meals, and the ubiquitous military surplus MRE, you’ll likely eat better making your own meals – and at a better cost too.  Interestingly, the Mormons and their penchant for keeping a year’s worth of food on hand are a great source for this sort of thing, including portioning them out into canning jars for use over the next few months. Backpacking websites are good for this sort of thing too, usually planning single-serve meals (which is not a bad thing – have a whole box of them, and let people grab their own, on their own time!)

Package of Thrive Life's Snackies - freeze dried peach slices
“Snackies” from Thrive Life are snackable dried foods, but Thrive Life has a ton of different foods, and make good pantry supplies that make a good dinner any night, even if you’re not on the road

We have a list at home, from the days when my children were often in the hospital. When someone would ask what they could do, we’d send them grocery shopping for a specific list of sandwich fixings and healthy (portable) snacks – and we’d eat that way for days in the hospital. If you’re careful not to squish your bread, you can do this for festivals too.  Pick 1-2 condiments, 1-2 lunch meats, 1-2 cheeses, and bread. Apples, oranges, and grapes don’t need a lot of handling. Pre-washed salads, single serve snacks, and cans or bottles of beverages may need a fridge or cooler, but don’t require fancy prep work.

And, as always, remember to consider bringing plates, silverware, and glasses that you’re going to wash, rather than disposables, because it’s generally better for the environment!

Blooming Tea For Healthier Life

The existence of blooming tea may still be a mystery for many people. This type of product, actually, is a combination of dried tea leaves that are wrapped around a number of dried flowers. This concept originally came from the Yunnan province of China.

Several flowers and leaves should be bound together in order to form a bulb, which will be dried afterward. The moment it unfurls and expands, the blooming flower emulates, giving way for the centerpiece to emerge. Chrysanthemum, lily, jasmine, and globe amaranth are just a few of the flowers used for creating this product.

A cup or teapot can be used to put the ball into and submerge in hot water. It must be covered in order to contain the essence of the flower. It will eventually emerge after a matter of five to ten minutes. This is an ideal drink for those who are expecting guests because it can be refilled with another cup of hot water.

Many health buffs may already have an idea that these plants can contribute to well-being. Basically, there are a lot of varieties that can provide different benefits to those who drink it. Since this type of beverage undergoes less processing time, the essential nutrients are preserved.

The therapeutic properties of this flower can be potent in treating several health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and even tooth decay. It also contains a high concentration of antioxidants that would help the body get rid of free radicals.

Achieving a healthy body can be acquired if you consider drinking a few cups per day. The white and green varieties are known to contain catechins that are excellent in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.

Avoiding diseases can be achieved if you know how to look for cost-efficient solutions. Getting a dose of blooming tea a day can be a good alternative if you are pretty conscious about your budget.
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The return of the Sun – winter fun for winter children

It’s the time of year when we are fast looking toward the days shortening and the awaiting the Winter Solstice. Cold noses and toes thaw out inside to the tune of yarn scarves sluicing off melting snows onto tile floors. Chubby little hands reach for cookies and carry sugar crumbs all throughout the house.

As the days grow darker, it is a great time to start the tale of the Sun King. There are many versions, but the one found on the Completely Pagan Facebook page is especially adorable. It is a precious moment between a grandfather and his grandchildren.

In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”

With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.

Telling stories is thirst work, you know. A lovely activity that you and the children can take part in to celebrate the sunshine days that will come after Solstice would be to make Winter Solstice Tea. Here an easy peasey recipe by Charming Pixie Flora, aka Flora Sage.

She gives her recipe as

Winter Solstice Tea (aka Russian tea)

1 jar of Tang (or 566 g sweetened orange drink mix)
2/3 cup Instant tea (unsweetened)
1 package Lemonade mix (unsweetened)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 tsp Cloves

Mix and store in a glass jar.

Use 2 teapoons (sic) of mixture in a mug with hot water.

However, I really like to add a burst of vitamin C and get that citric acid into the body during this time of year. So I suggest adding some sliced fruits to the mix. Lemons, limes, grapefruits, and even tangelos make fun additions, and serve as reminders of the Wheel of the Year.

Image by Scott Bauer

If you have a mind to, industrious folks can reserve a few of the fruits for peeling. They can be eaten with the tea, while the peels can be dehydrated for use. These can them be used in potpourri blends, incenses, or in other creative ways. Good times.

Crisp Citrus Herbs: Citrus in your Cooking

There are a many ways to give a crisp citrus herb flavor to any cooking you are doing. The first thing to do, is to find herbs have a citrus component to them. This is commonly misunderstood, it doesn’t mean that they have orange, lemon or lime flavor in them, but that they can emulate the taste of these sharp flavored fruits or provide a similar flavor.

If you do not know where to start, looking for crisp citrus herb, the quickest and fastest way to start is to let your fingers do the walking and get online.

If you look for crisp citrus herb itself, you may find that its is used for body washes and body lotions so you may have to look a little deeper to find what you are looking for. All this means is you expand your search to something like this: “Crisp Citrus Herbs recipes”

Image source: pexels

Some Herbs That Give a Citrus Flavor

1. Lemon Grass

This is one of most well known herbs that can provide with a lemon edge with out the sharpness of that actual lemon. Due to the acid in an actual lemon, it can curdle some dishes, so lemon grass is a good option.

2. Lemon Pepper – Not so much a herb but more of a spice which goes really well with grilled fish other similar dishes. Mixes well with black pepper.

There are also other combinations and other spices, which can help to provide citrus edge. This are lessor known ones like: Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, Lemon Basil, lemon thyme and Thai lime.

There are certain dishes that are going to work better with a citrus flavor than other dishes. Fish dishes are the best when it comes to using citrus.

The herbs that provide the citrus flavor compliment all the methods of cooking fish. This includes baked, grilled or even pan-fried. These lemons like flavors will, enhance the natural taste of the fish and give it a new edge.

Poultry is another dish that works well with a crisp citrus herb. Chicken works well, and in fact, a common Asian dish is honey lemon chicken, in which the opposite flavors of sweet and sharp work well together.

As with using any type of herb or spice like this, the best school of thought is that its designed to enhance the taste, meaning that it should be used in moderation. It should add to the flavor of the food and not override the natural taste of the meat item.



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Cooking and community for Syrian refugees in Canada

The people in Toronto made a marvelous miracle for the Syrian refugees that have come to make new lives here across the ocean.  The people of Hamilton are doing it themselves as well.  What am I referring to here? A truly blessed set of ventures, the Newcomer Kitchen and Karam Kitchen, empower women to cook together and generate income.  Using local foods, and supported by the community and crowdfunding campaigns, they are simmering their way into their new lives.

Chicken Mandi Rice

The first, the Newcomer Kitchen, is located in Toronto.  Len Senater, founder and owner of The Depanneur, had a vision that would manifest into this restaurant. Women who had been in camps for years, who had not cooked for years in a full kitchen, would come together to do this.

The is paramount to cultural integrity.  Traditions must survive.  In Lois Abraham’s story on this, in  The Canadian Press, it was crystallized in a beautifully apt observation.

The Newcomer Kitchen is an important way to keep alive the food culture of Syria, where culinary lore is passed from grandmother to mother to daughter, says Anissa Helou, a chef and food writer

There is nothing more unifying than the act of making food together, and also nothing quite as healing. Normalized living, domestic integrity, and economic development all at the end of a spoon, and on the surface of a cutting board.



I am a tree hugging, dirt worshiping, wind riding, rain dancing, Pagan greener woman, and I believe that the Goddess has poured Her bounty on all of us to share.  The seeds and soil that sustain all peoples are a common thread in this tapestry of life. The continuance of the community through cooking is as age-old a Mystery as any. By claiming a space and mission where this work happens, it is a succor and sustaining element toward healing and resettling the newest member of Canadian society.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good…”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

No matter the religion, the divine will always make itself visible in the spirits of Her children.  This project is a direct manifestation of what happens when good people come together for good works.  They are in this for the long haul, and as a woman of faith, as a person of faith, I urge all who can support either project to do so.  While the Newcomer Kitchen‘s funding has been met, the Karam Kitchen still has a long way to go.  This is a way to make a difference in Hamilton for it’s newest residents.