Lavish Litha

MidSummer is here and I will be celebrating in beautiful Door County in the northern peninsula of Wisconsin again this year. The most exciting thing is that I have the opportunity to see Ravens. Last year, I was a bit crestfallen because we were bringing an end to the weekend and I had yet to see my Raven. We stopped at a few more shops as we prepared to leave for home and I heard the familiar raspy call. My eyes eagerly scanned the boughs of a huge pine tree behind one of the shops and saw two Ravens land in the top branches. How exciting!!!

Many times, just as we are about to abandon the hope of bringing that which we want to manifest through the ethers into this physical realm, it suddenly appears. Is this a lesson to remind us to never cross that line of hope or is it intended to teach us that ‘letting go’ is the secret to manifesting?

Urbanite Treasure

One of the gems found in most cities is the Asian market. Here in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital city, we are fortunate enough to have eight. What an adventure it is to explore the aisles and look at the array of ingredients, that to many of us, seem quite exotic! Everything from bean sprouts to Quail eggs. Buy something interesting and don’t worry about what to do with it. Look up a recipe on-line that uses it and let the adventure begin.

Shrimp chips are awesome. What appears to be slices of translucent hard plastic, pop into a delicious treat as soon as they hit hot cooking oil. Many brands come in pretty colors so they make a wonderful display amid the dips and sauces, but are flavorful enough to stand on their own.

The prices are as much a treat for the wallet as the produce is for the eyes. Mini bok choy, a fraction of what it costs in trendy grocery stores. Even utensils are a bargain. This is the place to go when you’re shopping for a sturdy hand hammered wok or bamboo steamer. And if you’re hosting one of the ‘tasting’ parties so popular right now with its multi mini servings, check out the ceramic spoons, individual dipping sauce dishes and sake cups.

Another wonderful find is the huge bundles of stick incense. If you burn a lot of it, as I do, you will really appreciate the price. The scent is delightful and I have found that the flame extinguishes itself once the stick is lit and ready to smolder nicely.

When I was seventeen years old, I received my first wok and a Chinese cookbook as a gift. Soon, I was a regular in what became my favorite Asian grocery store in my native city of Milwaukee. I’d host parties and delight guests with things they had never experienced. The addition of lily buds or lotus root turned a dish into something memorable. Many items come in a dried form and just need a quick soaking in hot water to bring them back to life.

Asian cuisine is far too exquisite to be categorized by the term ‘stir fry’. That is a method of cooking, not a dish. It would be like saying, “I made ‘baked’ last night. In many kitchens, this is becoming a lost art. Care should be taken when preparing the ingredients. Fresh vegetables are often cut diagonally to expose more of the cooking surface and meats are cut paper thin to allow it to be equally dispersed throughout the dish in a country where meat is costly and hard to come by except for special occasions. Items are added to the wok in the order of the time it takes to cook and each ingredient should be the same size to assure the proper state of doneness.

Make this a ‘cooking meditation’ and not a means to clear out the fridge. Prepare the ingredients mindfully and with gratitude for its source. Thank the Earth, Water and Air when preparing vegetables, seafood and fowl. Finally, thank Fire as you set flame to your wok. And don’t forget the garnishes. It can take an Asian chef hours to carve vegetables into birds and flowers, but the addition of scallion brushes or a quick toss of fresh herbs is all it takes to create something beautiful for guests or yourself.

So, when you want a worldly adventure without having to find your passport, take a trip to an Asian market. Explore and enjoy the beauty of getting to know another culture through the intimacy of one of Earth’s greatest comforts and pleasures. Food, glorious food!

The Lusty Month of May

I’m about to embark on my journey to the central part of the state to join the rest of MoonShadow Coven in celebrating Beltane. After lunch at our favorite Chinese buffet, we’ll be heading to the rock and mineral show in Marshfield to fondle and purchase crystals and fossils.

Then, a stop at Powers Bluff on our way back to Wisconsin Rapids for a much needed connection with Nature. This place is SO Magical!!! I will be sure to do a post regarding it when I get back. Once back in Rapids, there will be dinner at a local pub and then it’s time for a fire. Snacks are served, chased down with gin and tonic, courtesy of Dianthus who never measures the gin…love Lady D!!! Dancing and merry making will reach into the night until our energy wanes or the neighbors protest. In which case, we’ll issue an invitation to party with the Witches and introduce them to the glory of Beltane!!!

Enjoy a “Mimosa”

Madison Wisconsin is said to be ‘infested’ with Witches and even though Bill O’Reilly said, “I mean, this is not Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan up there in the Madison, Wisconsin”. I must say, I have not done any ‘communing’ with the guy, and even though State Street is an unofficial parade route for a visually eclectic mix of people, I have never even seen him strolling near the Capital Square.

Madison is actually a very diverse, accepting city with wonderful shops and restaurants that range from upscale to very ‘boho’. A beautiful solid interruption to the water, built on the isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona which allows us to have a touchy-feely relationship with Nature, providing abundant wildlife and many parks and ‘green’ spaces.

The people love their bumper stickers that become mobile billboards of messages that convey the philosophy and ideology of Madisonians. A common one is “Co-exist” which pretty much sums it up. Doors are held open for you and as soon as you flip on your turn signal to change lanes, brakes are applied and a friendly wave guides you toward your target. When we first moved here, I observed that it appeared that being rude is simply considered to be unacceptable and quite gauche.

One of my favorite ‘one stop Witch shops’ is Mimosa, located near the Capital on Gilman Street. A cluster of many a trinket and found objects that bring on the ‘oohs and aahs’. The staff is very open and friendly and take being helpful to a whole new level. So, whether it’s a new Yoga mat or a tarot deck,  you’ll find it here.

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