spirulina & hummous don't mix

I've got a pagan wheel of the year on the wall in front of my computer. I'm interested in the southern hemisphere versions of the rituals surrounding the solstices, equinoxes and the mid points between. When we were looking at names for our daughter, I thought she would be born on February 1st, St Brighid's Day. She came a bit earlier, but we stuck with the name we had chosen (no scans, just weirdo hippy confidence that she would be a girl). Imbolc is one of the other names for the festivals surrounding St Brighid's Day, and the southern hemisphere equivalent is tomorrow.

Much as I'm drawn to the ideas in a pagan calendar, the reality for our family is that we are governed by the seasons of school terms and school holidays. Seeing the second day back at school as a significant turning point does feel artificial to the rhythms of our lives. But still. I'm certainly ready for a sense of spring and of hope. The new chooks, the snowdrop, the onion weed flowers, the iris which is nearly out by the kitchen, the beautiful Sunday walks along the beach we've had recently, these are all potent omens of joy.

Apparently the tradition is to clean ones home for St Brighid. We cleaned the house yesterday, that will have to do. I would like to think of a fitting meal for Imbolc tomorrow night. All suggestions welcome.

Like everyone else who ever shops for food, I'm aghast at how much food prices are rising. It occured to me today at an action level that I'm going to have to make some changes. I've played round with various money saving food changes in the past, all of which involve extra time, and I'm not wild about doing it again. I've learnt that I prefer to earn some extra money rather than stay home and use my labour to save money in all directions. Only, like a whole pile of other middle class people in New Zealand, I can see I'm going to have to get my head round doing both, and probably for several years.

This afternoon, I made hummous, as is my habit. Bought stuff is very expensive and a fraction of the quality of home made. I thought for the hundredth time how I should save money and reduce my exposure to whatever nasties in tin cans the Organic NZ people warned me about by buying the chickpeas raw and cooking them up in bulk and then making hummous and freezing it. Instead of doing just that, I opened the cans and thought it incredibly wise to try putting spirulina in the mix. It was hanging round the cupboard, the product of one of my many hippy health food shop random purchases, and I thought I would spread the green love.

Don't. The colour is putrid (rather like the green on our wallpaper, a green we have disliked so much we've ripped much of it off even when we can't afford to paint or repaper over it) and the taste is definitely altered, and not for the better.

Pumpkin soup for dinner, with red lentils and kale in it for goodness and padding. The short people made dissenting noises and I told them there was more soup on the horizon. The world is on the brink you know. Once upon a time I was all about peak oil, using cloth nappies, eschewing a tumble drier or car and embracing lots of walking. Now I'm more wound up by the looming threat of economic disaster.

Geraldine Brooks' March is a wonderful book, creating the life of the father of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I had to get up and finish it last night as I couldn't sleep without finding out what happened at the end. Yay for the local library.

Gala preparations are hotting up. I've emailed Mum for her best fundraiser fruit cake recipe. Apparently fruit cakes sell well, so that's what I'll make. I'm down to do an hour on the raffle table at the supermarket on Friday and I've a meeting tomorrow night which I should attend and some wonderful teenage girls to paint nails as one of the fund raising activities. Brighid will no doubt be lining up for that.

All this for an affluent school where no one has a swollen belly from lack of food like the children in Africa on the news, or routinely goes without breakfast like in many areas of New Zealand. I wonder why I'm doing it sometimes but ultimately I do know why. Firstly, communities are only made by the sharing of responsibility and of tasks and communal activities and our school gala is all of these. Now that Fionn is old enough to go to and from school alone (I've not been allowed up the drive by Mr Independent in the morning for the last four years), activities like the gala are particularly important so I get to know the other school families and pick up tips on what is really going on in town, which is not the same is what goes in the town newspaper. The second, more important reason to me is that because of the efforts of the PTA, school trips and visiting performances are available to all children. No one misses out on going to the big local swimming pool because their family can't afford the bus fare. No one misses out on the orchestra or juggler or storyteller when they visit the school because the power bill was about to be cut off and had to be paid instead of the school. I'm prepared to put in a quite a bit of effort to keep user pays out of our school.


Heather said…
Can't remember if I've asked this before, but do you have a pressure cooker? Pressure cookers cook chickpeas etc. from dry in about 1/3 the time it takes to cook them in a normal pot. Not as fast as opening a can, I'll grant you, but soaked chickpeas are ready in about 30 minutes and unsoaked ones in around 45. For a lot of recipes you can cook the legume in the pressure cooker and whatever flavourings are to go with it in a separate pot at the same time, stirring the two together at the end. Definitely not as fast as opening a can, but maybe doable?

If you don't have a pressure cooker you could buy one second hand on TradeMe for around $40-$50 last time I looked, or any Indian grocers will sell them. I don't know if there are any Indian grocers where you are, but there are in ChCh if you're going there any time soon.

I've also written instructions on cooking beans etc. in a pressure cooker to go with one I got for a friend's wedding present. If you think that could be helpful, please email me and I'll email it to you.

I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for your writing,

--Heather :-)
Sandra said…
Thank you for your kind words Heather. I do have a pressure cooker and used to cook the chickpeas in it. But it broke and as far as I could find out, replacing the rather small broken part on the top was going to be quite expensive. So I've been using it as an ordinary pot for the last couple fo years. It's a great pot because of the heavy base.

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