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Salt and Shadow

Stories of food, ritual and what we grow. 

Ostara Ēostre Ôstara Austrō Aušrinė

The wheel of the year is symbol of the eight festivals of the Neo-Paganism and Wicca movement which includes the solstices and equinoxes. The modern Wheel of the Year was suggested by the scholar and mythologist, Jacob Grimm in his 1835 work, Teutonic Mythology. It was solidified in its present form by the 1950s or 60s, based on folk traditions from Celtic and Slavic cultures. Aidan Kelly, the academic and poet gave name to Ostara in 1974, and it was gradually popularized.

This is my favorite time of year. Go roll around in flowers and touch some dirt if you can.

I've added sumac to a few citrus dishes like this cake I baked on the last full moon of winter. It pairs well with lemon, orange and berries, adding a unique tart punch and an interesting element to citrus.

Sumac is native to the Middle East, and Western Asia. It's a small flowering tree in the cashew family and the berries are used. Before the Greeks encountered lemon it was widely used to add a sour element to dishes, and is frequently dried and sprinkled over food the way paprika would be. It is believed to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and has been used as a dying agent for wool and tanning leather since ancient times. The word sumac means "red" in Syriac, Arabic, Medieval Latin and Old French.

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

The color orange didn’t have a name in Europe until the 16th century. Previously it would have simply been referred to as yellow-red. Before we got the word “orange”, sometimes saffron was used to describe the color. This changed when orange trees were brought to Europe from Asia by merchants. Orange comes from the Sanskrit word, “nāranga” from Persian and Arabic, which actually means “orange tree”.

We've been getting oranges every week from the market and they're *so* good. I made these gluten-free scones and added lots of orange zest, orange juice and thyme. (And just a little bit of lemon to brighten the orange) They're delicious!

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