Honey Bun Cake

On Saturday I attended the Biannual Austin Area Pagan Meetup Workshop (whew!) and Potluck. It was great! So informative and fun. The presentations were well-researched and relevant. I have to say—for all the bickering that can go on online, for all the naysaying about the Pagan community within the Pagan community…I don’t see that in the Pagans I’ve become involved with. They’re all different religions or philosophies, from eclectic to Druid to Wiccan (traditional, solitary, derivative covens) to reconstructionist to Asatru and guess what…? Everyone manages to go to the same meetup and have a damn good time.

That aside, for the potluck I made a recipe called Honey Bun Cake. I made a gluten-free version that turned out great, and as I was making it I realized it would be a perfect Imbolc dessert or to be served in the cakes and ale portion of any ritual. The cake itself is very dense, chewy and moist, while the topping is nice and crunchy. It really does remind me of those old honey bun snack-cakes.

Honey Bun Cake, Gluten Free

A lot of the proportions depend on how dry your cake mix is—gluten free mixes can vary considerably. I used King Arthur’s Yellow Cake Mix and these are the proportions I use. By the way…King Arthur gluten-free mixes are amazing. All of them.

Cake:

1 gluten-free yellow box cake mix

1 cup sour cream (maybe a little more if your box cake is very sweet)

4 eggs

1/2 c. oil

Milk to thin the batter. I think I ended up using around 2 cups.

Topping:

Up to 1/3 c. brown sugar

Up to 1/3 c. honey

1 tbsp. cinnamon

Icing:

2 c. powdered sugar

1/4 c. milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream and milk until smooth. Some lumps are fine, just not big lumps. Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon and honey on top of the batter. Swirl with a dinner knife. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes.

For the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency. Pour onto the hot cake and let set for about 10 minutes.

Here’s a link to the original recipe.

Here’s a link to a non gluten-free version.

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Foods of Imbolc

Imbolc is my favorite Sabbat. I adore it. I love the time of year–the harshest month of winter begins just as the season itself fades under the lengthening sunlight. Texas maybe gets its one day of snow a year. Then the air begins to warm, and it’s time to plant tomatoes again.

Incorporating food into my Sabbat work and ritual is important to me. It’s also important that the food be seasonal and fresh. If it’s straight from the garden, all the better. For those of us in Zone 8 that generally means no tomatoes at Yule and no green peas at Lughnasadh.

Now is the end of the citrus season. Grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, clementines can all be used to symbolize the returning sun or just enjoyed because of the fresh zip they add to food. It’s a good time to make marmalade, especially when all of the oranges and grapefruits go on sale.

My own UPG is that cultured foods are appropriate for Imbolc. In colder climates the winter stores would be nearing their end, and much of the wine, ale, fruits and vegetables that were either cultured or stored would be fermenting. Cheese, kefir, yogurt, curds and especially butter could/would be made of the milk arriving from the newly lactating sheep, goats and cows.

In my garden right now (Central Texas, Zone 8) there is an abundance of broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cabbage, green onions, snap and sweet peas, kale, turnips, lettuce and carrots. The herbs are doing well thanks to a very mild winter. I have bushes of cilantro, parsley, dill, spearmint, lemon balm, chives, oregano and rosemary. The calendula and chamomile look to be about ready to flower.  Pansies, stalwart sentinels of winter that they are, are still going strong.

For our Imbolc meal this year I’m making braised lamb, a garden salad and roasted carrots. We’ll drink wine, eat almond-honey cakes and toast to the coming spring.

Happy Imbolc/Candlemas, everyone!

Hope When It Sucks (a.k.a. It’s Imbolc)

My cat, Felix, is missing.

A house guest that is staying with us for an extended period of time let her out on Tuesday night. Tuesday night/early morning there was an epic thunderstorm–those once a year kind of deals that shake the house and light up the night sky for several hours, like some kind of sick daylight.

Even though Felix is an outdoor/indoor cat (usually indoors, but goes out to go to the bathroom), when she didn’t come home on Wednesday I was immediately worried. So worried in fact, that I despaired. I had no hope. I looked for her around the neighborhood, asked a few neighbors, but mostly I gave up. Just like that.

That’s one of my major flaws. I’m an extreme “realist” to the point of non-action. What’s the point, my thought process goes, lost pets are hardly ever found. She probably ran off. Found a home without a toddler chasing after her. Or she’s dead. Crossed the busy highway two blocks away. Joined a feral cat colony. Gone, gone, gone.

Felix, who we took from my parents’ garage when we had only been married a year. Felix, who comforted me through pregnancy and postpartum depression. My writing companion, lap warmer, co-napper. Felix, beautiful Felix, who was so sweet, so kind.

I kept looking for Felix but didn’t find her.  She didn’t come home. I grew increasingly upset as the days passed. When J and I were talking about our weeks this morning, he asked why I hadn’t put up flyers and asked more neighbors.

“It just seemed kind of pointless,” I said.

He sighed. “There’s my eternal optimist.”

I brooded a bit, but knew he was right. I just gave up. And that sucks. It sucks for Felix, who might be out there, and it’s very, very selfish of me. It’s a way of protecting myself, shielding so that if no news—or bad news—comes, it doesn’t hurt so bad.

But that’s no excuse. And it’s a shitty way to live a life.

So I let myself cry a bit. Then I made up some goddamn flyers, did some spell-work, cried some more, and finally walked around the whole goddamn neighborhood for a few hours. Through the woods, the perimeters of shared fences and apartments, up and down the streets. I noted a few cat colonies. I asked neighbors. Taped up the flyers.

My heart still hurts. I want my cat back. I want to know that she’s safe. It’s hard for me to hope. But there’s a candle burning on my altar next to a little cat sculpture that looks like her. Two cards from the Wildwood Tarot Deck are lying beside it: the Hooded Man, shining his lamplight into the dark, and Six of Vessels, subtitled Reunion.