Book Reviews: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

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This book, title and authors in Post Title, is absolutely amazing. It’s about a family spending one year deciding to eat nothing but local food, whether from the farmer’s market or from the farm land on the farm they move to. It includes miles of information on currant environmental issues, information about the food we do and can eat and where it comes from, helpful hints and handy information on gardening/farming and raising livestock, and best of all it also includes recipes. The diversity of the information provided, coupled with humor as well, is what I love about this book. It’s not just informational, like a textbook, but ties it into a real story.

Description from the inside jackets of the book and copy and pasted from Goodreads.com.

“Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

“As the U.S. population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around. We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain.

“Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel. . . .”

Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that’s better for the neighborhood and also better on the table. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

“This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

A librarian reccomended it to me and I now reccomend it to you. I thuroughly hope you enjoy and love this book as much as I did and reccomend it to your friends too!

DIY: Natural Dyes

I found this on the internet while searching for natural dyes to dye yarn. For my upcoming ritual I want rope and yarn made of 100% natural product but I haven’t found it in the colors I like so I decided to dye the ones I could find.Hope this helps!

THE FOLLOWING IS COPY AND PASTED FROM PIONEER THINKING. HERE IS THE WEB ADDRESS: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/crafts/crafts-basics/naturaldyes.html

“Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dying.

To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.

Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric.

Color Fixatives:

Salt Fixative (for berry dyes) 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water

Plant Fixatives (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar

Add fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.

Dye Bath: Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry. Also note that all dyed fabric should be laundered in cold water and separately.

Muslin, silk, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better. White or pastel colors work the best.

NOTE: It’s best to use an old large pot as your dye vessel. Wear rubber gloves to handle the fabric that has been dyed, the dye can stain your hands. It’s also important to note, some plant dyes may be toxic, check with the Poison Control Center if unsure.

 A Listing Of Plant Material Available For Dyes

Shades Of Orange

Shades Of  Brown
Alder Bark – (orange)

Bloodroot will give a good orange to reddish orange color.

Sassafras (leaves)

Onion (skin) orange

Lichen (gold)

– Carrot – (roots) orange

– Lilac (twigs) – yellow/orange

Barberry (mahonia sp.) yellow orange (with alum) very strong & permanent. Any part of the plant will work.

Giant Coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea) Yields bright permanent orange with alum.

Turmeric dyed cloth will turn orange or red if it is dipped in lye.

Pomagrante – with alum anywhere from orange to khaki green.

– Butternut – (seed husks) – orange

Eucaluptus – (leaves and bark) beautiful shades of tan, orange and brown.

Wild plum root will give a reddish or rusty brown.

Oak bark will give a tan or oak color.

Sumac (leaves) – tan

– Dandelion (roots) brown

– Broom –(bark) – yellow/brown

Walnut (hulls) – deep brown (wear gloves)

Walnut (husks) – deep brown – black

Tea Bags – light brown, tan

– White Birch – (inner bark) – brown

Juniper Berries

– Fennel – (flowers, leaves) – yellow/brown

Coffee Grinds

Acorns (boiled)

– Hollyhock (petals)

Colorado Fir – (bark) – tan

Yellow dock (shades of brown)

Beetroot -Dark Brown With FeSO4

– Maple Trees (Red Leaf Buds) – red-brown color when dried. Found on branches before new leaves appear only present during early spring and throughout fall.

– Amur Maple (Acer Ginnala) – black, blue, brown from dried leaves.

– Ivy –(twigs) – yellow/brown

Pine Tree Bark – light medium brown. Needs no mordant.

White Maple (bark) – Light brown/ buff – Alum to set

– Birch (bark) – Light brown/ buff – Alum to set

St John’s Wort (blossom) – brown

Broom Sedge – golden yellow and brown

Coneflower (flowers) – brownish green ; leaves and stems – gold

Goldenrod (shoots ) – deep brown

Shades Of Pink
Strawberries

Cherries

Raspberries (red)

Roses and Lavender, with a little mint and some lemon juice to activate the alkaloids can make both a brilliant pink dye and a very tasty pink lemonade.

Lichens – A pink, brown, or wine colored dye can be produced from a lichen known as British soldiers.

– Camilla –It’s a nice pink-magenta. With lemon and salt.

– Grand Fir -(bark) pink

Shades Of Blue – Purple Shades Of  Red
Dogwood (bark) – blue

Red cabbage

Woad(first year leaves). Woad gives a pale to mid blue colour depending on the type of fabric and the amount of woad used.

Mulberries (royal purple)

Elderberries (lavender)

– Saffron –(petals) blue/green

Grapes (purple)

Blueberries

– Cornflower – (petals) blue dye with alum, water

Cherry (roots)

Blackberry (fruit) strong purple

– Hyacinth – (flowers) – blue

Japanese indigo (deep blue)

Indigo (leaves) – blue

Red Cedar Root (purple)

– Raspberry –(fruit) purple/blue

Red Maple Tree (purple)(inner bark)

– Nearly Black Iris – (dark bluish purple) alum mordant

– Dogwood – (fruit) greenish-blue

– Oregon Grape –(fruit) blue/purple

Purple Iris – blue

Sweetgum (bark) – purple / black

– Queen Anne’s Lace –

Elderberry – red

Red leaves will give a reddish brown color I use salt to set the dye.

Sumac (fruit) – light red

Sycamore (bark)- red

Dandelion (root)

Beets – deep red

Bamboo – turkey red

– Crab Apple – (bark) – red/yellow

Rose (hips)

Chokecherries

Madder (root) – red

Hibiscus Flowers (dried)

Kool-aid

– Canadian Hemlock – (bark) reddish brown

– Japanese Yew – (heartwood) – brown dye

Wild ripe Blackberries

– Brazilwood

– St. John’s Wort– (whole plant) soaked in alcohol – red

Bedstraw (root) – red

 

 

 

Shades Of Gray – Black Shades Of Red – Purple
 Iris (roots)

Sumac (leaves) (Black)

Carob pod (boiled) will give a gray to cotton

Oak galls – makes a good black dye.

Sawthorn Oak – (seed cups) – black

Walnut (hull) – black

Rusty nails & vinegar – set with Alum.

Pokeweed (berries)

Hibiscus (flowers, dark red or purple ones) – red-purple.

Daylilies (old blooms)

– Safflower– (flowers, soaked in alcohol) – red

Logwood (is a good purple but you have to watch it as it dyes quick when the pot is fresh. Also it exhausts fast. We use alum to mordant and using iron can give you logwood gray.)

Huckleberry – lavender (can use it for dye and also for ink.)

Portulaca – (flowers, dried and crushed to a powder) use with a vinegar orsalt mordant, can produce strong magentas, reds, scarlets, oranges and
yellows (depending upon the color of the flower)

Beluga Black Lentils – soaked in water overnight .. yield a dark purplish / black water. The color is washfast and lightfast and needs NO MORDANT and it lasts – a beautiful milk chocolate brown (when super thick) … to a lighter medium brown or light brown when watered down.

Dark Hollyhock (petals) – mauve

Basil – purplish grey

Shades Of Green Shades Of Peach/Salmon
Artemisia species provide a range of greens from baby’s breath to nettle green.

– Artichokes

– Tea Tree– (flowers) green/black

Spinach (leaves)

– Sorrel (roots) – dark green

– Foxglove – (flowers) apple green

– Lilac –(flowers) – green

– Camellia –(pink, red petals) – green

– Snapdragon – (flowers) – green

Black-Eyed Susans

Grass (yellow green)

– Pigsweed (entire plant) yellow green

– Red Pine (needles) green

Nettle

– Broom– (stem) green

– Larkspur – green – alum

Plantain Roots

– White Ash – (bark) – yellow

– Purple Milkweed –(flowers & leaves) – green

Lily-of-the-valley (light green) be careful what you do with the spent dye bath. The plant is toxic so try to avoid pouring it down the drain into the water supply.

Barberry root (wool was dyed a greenish bronze-gold)

Red onion (skin) (a medium green, lighter than
forest green)

– Yarrow –(flowers) yellow & green shades

– Mulga Acacia –(seed pods) – green

– Peach – (leaves) yellow/green

– Coneflower (flowers) – green

Peppermint – dark kakhi green color

Queen Anne’s Lace – pale green

Black-Eyed Susans – bright olive/apple green

Hydrangea (flowers) – alum mordant, added some copper and it came out a beautiful celery green

Chamomile (leaves) – green

Jewelweed – orange/peach

Broom Flower

Virginia Creeper (all parts); alum mordant; Peach.

Achiote powder (annatto seed

Plum tree (roots) (salmon color on wool with alum)

Weeping Willow (wood & bark) makes a peachy brown (the tannin
acts as a mordant)

– Virgina Creeper – (fruit) – pink

Balm (blossom) – rose pink

 

Shades Of Yellow/Wheat

Bay leaves – yellow

Barberry (bark) – yellow

Crocus – yellow

Fustic – yellow

Saffron (stigmas) – yellow – set with Alum.

Safflower (flowers, soaked in water) – yellow

Sassafras (bark)- yellow

– Syrian Rue (glows under black light)

Red Clover (whole blossom, leaves and stem) alum mordant – gold

Yellow cone flower (whole flower head); chrome mordant; Brass to Greeney-Brass.

– Onion (skins) – set with Alum.

– Alfalfa (seeds) – yellow

Marigold (blossoms) – yellow

Willow (leaves)

Queen Anne’s Lace

– Heather– (plant) – yellow

St. John’s Wort – (flowers & leaves) – gold/yellow

Burdock

Celery (leaves)

Golden Rod (flowers)

Sumac (bark) – The inner pith of Sumac branches can produce a super bright yellow color.

Weld (bright yellow)

Old man’s beard lichen – yellow/brown/orange shades

Oregon-grape roots – yellow

Cameleon plant (golden)

– Mimosa– (flowers) yellow

Dandelion flower

Osage Orange also known as Bois d’arc or hedgeapple (heartwood, inner bark, wood, shavings or sawdust) (pale yellow)

Daffodil flower heads (after they have died); alum mordant

Mullen (leaf and root) pale yellow. *careful, because the little fuzzy hairs can make one itchy!

Hickory leaves (yellow) if plenty of leaves are boiled and salt added.

Tea ( ecru color)

Yellow, Curly, Bitter, or Butter Dock (despite various leaf shapes, all have a bright yellow taproot) gives you a yellow/flesh color.

White mulberry tree (bark) Cream color onto white or off-white wool. Alum mordant.

Paprika -pale yellow – light orange)

Peach (leaves) – yellow

Beetroot (yellow) (alum & K2Cr2O7)

Turmeric (spice) –bright yellow

Oxallis (wood sorrels) (flowers) – the one with the yellow flowers. Use the flower heads, some stem ok. It is nearly fluorescent yellow, and quite colorfast on alum mordanted wool.

If the oxalis flowers are fermented or if a small dash of cloudy ammonia is added to the dyebath (made alkaline) the fluorescent yellow becomes fluorescent orange. Usually I do this as an after-bath, once I have the initial colour. Useful for shifting the dye shade, and some good surprises in store!

Dahlia Flowers (Red, yellow, orange flowers) make a lovely yellow to orange dye for wool.

Mulga Acacia -(flowers) – yellow

– Sunflowers – (flowers) – yellow

Dyer’s Greenwood (shoots) – yellow

Tansy (tops) – yellow

Yarrow – yellow and gold

Just to remind, the source for this information is: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/crafts/crafts-basics/naturaldyes.html

Things I Want to Try: Ritual Ointment

I first got the idea for this when I was reading the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books by Laurell K. Hamilton. In the books, Anita Blake, who is a animator/necromancer, uses an ointment during her zombie raisings for focus and other things. Of course, I realized an ointment would be perfect for ritual use in the real world. It would help you focus, incorporate herbs that relate to your ritual or deity, and put your sense of smell into play which can be a very powerful tool in ritual. Also, you can incorporate your chakras into the mix with the placing of the ointment. Here is the information on the ointment, and the normal tools for doing a zombie raising(for fun), that Anita uses in the books, then we’ll discuss alternatives.

Standard raising kit

  • A sacrifice (Usually a chicken, sometimes a goat, or even the animators own blood)
  • A ceremonial knife (Any type, from hunting knife to machete – but not one used in just day-to-day life)
  • Ointment, each raiser has their own formula that they like, but most have similar ingredients
  • Salt

The ointment used is a blend of herbs and graveyard mold. To look at, it is a pale, off-white in colour with flecks of greenish light. It has a waxy and thick feel on the skin, but is quickly absorbed. The mixture usually includes varying amounts of:

  • Rosemary: for memory
  • Cinnamon: for preservation
  • Cloves: also for preservation
  • Sage: for wisdom
  • Thyme: to bind it all together”

For an alternative, I would suggest the simplest way to go would be using petroleum jelly and mix in whole, dry, or the essential oils of the herbs you want to incorporate. The herbs above have, of course, many other properties, some probably more a prevalent property of the herb than those listed above.

This is a great resource for herbal properties: http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Herbs/herbs2.html

If you want to look up the meanings and properties within a certain pantheon or for a certain deity, then I would check out a book on the specific pantheon.

Rosemary is a great choice for an ointment as well as Lavender. Both have many properties including protection and purification. Rosemary is on the left, though you usually will find only those top green parts, not the flowers. Lavender is on the right.

As for the graveyard mold, I wouldn’t use it, because it sounds toxic and gross. It also sounds like, from reading the books myself, that the above section on the ointment Anita Blake uses is incorrect. I believe I remember Anita saying in the books that she incorporates the graveyard mold into a petroleum jelly. Anita describes it looking like squished lightning bugs (that are still “lighting”, though dead, I presume from the sparkling comment she used) in the ointment. If you want something sparkling or glittery, I would suggest that exactly, glitter. It would look pretty cool.

Also, when it comes to the herbs, I would definitely keep in mind what you know you’re allergic to and watch for signs if you don’t know you’re allergic to something. Some herbs and flowers and known to simply irritate the skin and I’ve heard that glitter can irritate some people’s skin too.

Hope it helps, and if you try or have tried something like it, please comment and let me know what you thought. I’ll be posting my own pictures when I make mine.

Picture Source #1 (Anita Blake): http://section244.blogspot.com/2011/10/marvelous-non-marvels.html

Picture Sources #2 (Rosemary): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary

Picture Source #3 (Lavender): http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=127

Things I Want to Try: The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray

In this case it’s also something I want to read. Rachael Ray is one of my favorite chefs to watch cook. I myself, LOVE cooking shows, BUT, I don’t usually cook anything I want to try. Burgers happen to be two things; my favorite food and relatively simple to make. It’s got to be easier than making brioche, hand made pasta, souffle, pie, and a million other things. I absolutely love burgers and after seeing some of the recipes on Rachael Ray’s show this morning, I can’t wait to dig in and have some fun!

There’s a reason, besides my excitement, that I posted this on here, my Wiccan themed blog. Cooking, for those of us who don’t have gardens, is another great way to connect to the foods we eat. It’s also an avenue to explore, create, and get curious. I know I’ve been using the word curious a lot today but it’s because being curious is important. It’s a way to connect with your inner child and subconscious and to keep learning and exploring throughout life. Cooking is curiousity with the taste buds on a different level. It can also offer up opportunities to bond with the family, teach yourself and others, and impress others as well when your culinary skills get better.

I’m going to dare anyone who reads this to try and cook something new or even, if you want to step it up, buy a cook book, and try anything and everything that sounds good in there. Get curious, explore new things, and try new recipes. Maybe get your family and/or friends in on the mix and maybe look up some of the stuff you’re cooking. You might learn something interesting. 😉

Things I Want to Try: Homemade Cleaner with a Spiritual Cleansing boost

“The simplest recipe for a natural cleaner is to make a paste out of baking soda and water (with a little Borax mixed in if you need extra oomph to get out hard water stains or clean a particularly grungy area). It is easy to add a drop or two of essential oil to make this “green” cleanser a little more magickal (not to mention better smelling).”

– Deborah Blake, The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch

She mentions a few other things like:

  • Making a window cleaner with equal parts white vinegar and water with a drop or two of dishwashing soap and some lemon juice too.
  • Adding a drop or two of essential oil on a broom or to mop water.
  • Making “a carpet freshner by adding cleansing or uplifting oils to baking soda. Just sprinkle it on the carpet, leave for a bit, and then vaccum as usual.

These are all in her book along with other tips in Chapter 9. When I make any of these I will post with a review.