Silent Supper Stew and Baked Apples

Friday, November 3, 2017
Daniel Maclise, "Snap-Apple Night," 1833

The last day of October and the first few days of November, no matter what culture you are from, typically come with some kind of holiday or ritual or connotation.  Christians turned Samhain into All Hallows Eve in the 8th century to make it easier to convert the Celts.  By keeping their sacred days on or around the Christian sacred days, the Christians thought the Celts might feel a touch better about having their culture stripped from them (yeah, sure).  The Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos is still very steeped in Pagan tradition.  Most cultures have their own way of honoring the dead, but all have similarities.

Samhain (Sow-in, not Sam-hane) is a day to honor the dead and to celebrate an abundant harvest to prepare for the upcoming winter months.  Candles are placed on the graves of the dead, harvest foods are eaten, and no rituals are done on this day.  Fire is important on this day, as it is on most Pagan Sabbats, with bonfires being lit and candles being ubiquitous. Death in modern times is rarely celebrated, and if it is it's usually for the wrong reasons, but in the past many cultures had days celebrating their passed family and ancestors.  On this day, we celebrate our dead kin by holding a Silent Supper.

During the Silent Supper, we set the table with all black or white dishes or use our best china.  A place is set for each dead relative or, one place setting is set for the lot of them.  A black shroud is placed over their chair, and a candle is lit and placed on their plate.  The menu should be kept simple, and food should be served buffet style or easily served yourself, as it is tough to communicate "please pass the potatoes" when not speaking.  I made stew, which is symbolic of the bountiful "harvest" and also is a full meal with just a few ladles full.  Before the meal, it is wise to sage or otherwise cleanse your table and yourselves, and some may even say a brief prayer or rite before sitting down.  A bell is helpful to signal the beginning and end of the meal.  Once the meal begins, none may speak and all light must be candle light.  The guest seat is served first, always.  Use this time to reflect on the past year, those your lost, and those who may be sitting at your empty seat tonight.  Some may even bring a note to leave for the dead, this note should be burned in the dead's candle once the meal is finished. Once you are finished, the united meal may be buried or set out for squirrels or others if you live where it so permits.

I plan to carry out this tradition for years to come, as Alex and I both really enjoyed it.

Silent Supper Stew

5 yukon gold potatoes, roughly cubed
2 VERY large carrots (or 4 regular sized)
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
1 shallot, diced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
1 or 2 leeks, sliced
Small bunch of kale, roughly chopped
1 can cannelini beans

salt and pepper to taste

1 cut white wine
32 oz vegetable broth
vegan worcestershire sauce
splash liquid smoke
olive oil

flour to thicken

Plug in crock pot and set on "high" setting.  In separate sauce pan, heat olive oil and sauté shallot until transparent.  Add shallot to the crock pot.  Next, add in all vegetables except kale and beans.  Add all wet ingredients.  This will take around 6 hours to cook through.  About the last 2 hours, add in the kale and beans as they will not take as long to cook. Whisk in flour after all vegetables are added to thicken sauce. Stew is done when carrots and potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  Keep tasting your sauce, and season as you go. It may need a bit of this or that to be to your liking.

Baked Apples

4 apples, cubed
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
4 tbsp vegan butter
splash of whiskey (LITTLE splash, the flavor can get overwhelming fast).

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking dish and add in apples and all dried ingredients.  Stir until apples are evenly coated. Drizzle whiskey on top and stir once more.  Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring periodically.  This will be perfectly sweet, bubbly and delicious.  You can serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (both vegan, of course!)

Pumpkin Spice tea seasoned with rosemary and spiked with whiskey
Do you have any special traditions for Halloween/Samhain?
I'd love to hear about them.


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