april fool’s day

Food For Fools

I remember celebrating April Fool’s Day when I was a youngster at school. Every year we would try and trick each other before noon. As the years went by, the day meant less and less. But then I discovered tarot and the day was reawakened for me with a whole new meaning!

For me, April Fool’s Day is a day to celebrate the spirit of the tarot Fool. As the first card in the tarot deck, the Fool symbolises journeys, adventures and new beginnings. We don’t know if our endeavours will lead to success or failure but we surge cheerfully ahead, hopeful of a positive outcome. The Fool card is the perfect symbol for a new year. As someone who loves Autumn and Winter and looks to them as the times when I am most productive and eager to get out and about, celebrating April Fool’s Day as my personal new year makes sense to me. As someone who loves humour, starting my year on a day dedicated to mischief is just perfect.

One of the ways I love celebrating April Fool’s Day is by thinking about recipes that trick you. Tricking the senses by serving a cold soup when everyone is expecting a hot one or serving a shot of alcohol which turns out to be a solidified jelly shot are some ideas. The names of some dishes can also be tricky, like Welsh Rabbit, which doesn’t have any rabbit in it. Visual tricks are great too and there are lots of examples of savouries made to look like sweets and sweets made to look like savouries. One of my favourite Foolish Foods is a Chocolate Salami which is a sweet made to look like a savoury. When you slice it, the chocolate, cookies and walnuts trick the eye into thinking you are seeing a salami. It’s both a fun visual and a delicious treat 🙂

Chocolate Salami

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Ingredients
100g unsalted butter
3/4 cup double cream
2 tablespoons sugar
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g shortbread cookies, broken into various small and medium sized pieces
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped into various small and medium sized pieces
icing sugar for dusting
greaseproof paper

Instructions
Heat the butter and cream in a medium sized saucepan over low heat.
Stir in the sugar.
Add the chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate melts.
Add the cocoa and vanilla. Beat with a wire whisk until combined. If the mixture looks like it has split, don’t worry. Keep whisking and it will come together as it cools.
Allow to cool for a few minutes. You have to allow it to cool long enough so that the cookies don’t turn to mush when added, but not too long or the chocolate will set.
Add the broken cookies and chopped walnuts to the chocolate mixture. Stir until combined.
Place in the fridge and allow to cool. Again, you don’t want to leave it too long or the chocolate will set and you won’t be able to roll it. I check the mix every 5 minutes. You want the mix to be pliable enough to roll but not too wet.
Place the chocolate mix onto a piece of greaseproof paper and roll into a large sausage.
Refrigerate overnight.
Unwrap and sprinkle generously with icing sugar.
You can present it tied with butcher’s string or partially wrapped in baking paper.
Cut into slices.
Refrigerate any leftovers.

Check out last year’s April Fool’s Day post for my tricky Doggie Treats recipe.

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April Fool’s Day Treat

I love April Fool’s Day – and not because I play pranks on people 🙂

April Fool’s Day is my unofficial Name Day. It’s a day when I celebrate who, what and where I am. It’s also my self-appointed New Year’s Day. It’s a time when I look back on the year that has passed and make plans for the year ahead. It’s also the day I started my blog – two years ago!

Why have I chosen April Fool’s Day as my very own special day? Well because of tarot. The Fool is the first card in the major arcana. It is the Fool who journeys through the arcana and learns the lessons of the cards. The Fool is so important symbolically that it is the only major arcana to be represented in modern day playing cards (as The Joker).

Fool

Renfield and Wolf
The Dracula Tarot

The Fool card traditionally features a brightly dressed young man standing on the edge of a cliff. His face is lifted up, not watching where he is going. His belongings are wrapped in a sack and tied to a stick slung over his right shoulder. In his left hand he holds a white rose. A dog plays at his feet while the sun shines brightly. Will he step off the precipice and fall, will he leap to the other side, or will he turn around? The Fool begins the journey of the Tarot with no knowledge of what will be. Every April Fool’s Day I too begin a Fool’s journey into the unknown.

In honour of April Fool’s Day pranks, the tarot Fool’s dog and my own very special dogs, I have created a tricky recipe for both Fools and Dogs. The oatmeal cookies below have been cut to look like dog treats and are served in a dog bowl. Surprise your friends by serving them these tricky treats 🙂

Doggie Treats

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Ingredients
1 + 1/4 cups ground oatmeal
2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
65g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Method
Preheat oven to 200C / 395F.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Combine the oatmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until combined. Add the egg and milk and continuing mixing with your hands for 3-4 minutes or until the dough comes together into a ball. The dough should be firm enough to roll out. If it is too firm add a bit of milk, if it is too soft add a bit of flour.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll dough out to about 5mm thickness. Use a dog bone shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Repeat with any remaining dough.
Place on prepared trays and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes before placing on racks to cool completely.

A Fool’s Journey

A year ago I answered the question – “what day should I start my blog?” The answer was April Fool’s Day.

A year later another question has been answered – “will anyone be interested in what I have to say?” Happily the answer is yes!

Like the Tarot Fool, I took a leap of faith and leapt into the world of blogging. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I embarked on this Fool’s Journey. I hoped people would like what I wrote and that I would get a few followers. I also hoped that I would find people I liked and could follow. I have been blown away by the encouragement I’ve received and the friends I have made. Visiting other blogs and reading what others have to say has also been fantastic.

What has surprised me is how cathartic blogging has been. Writing about painful moments in my past and present has facilitated healing I had not expected. As I wrote each piece, I felt burdens melt away on the tide of written words. Each piece made me feel lighter and happier. I was stunned and delighted as years of anger and resentment were transformed. I was also surprised by how my words resonated with others. I have been humbled by the responses and the amount of support I have received. I’m still learning the ropes, but I am so happy I began this Fool’s Journey.

One of things I have loved the most is sharing my passion for food, recipes, cookbooks, eating and drinking! Nothing brings people together better than good food and drink 🙂 I recently wrote of a cookbook that was lost to me decades ago and how happy I was when I found another copy.

Another of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try from this cookbook was Istanbul Eggs. The recipe calls for eggs to be simmered in olive oil and Turkish coffee for 30 minutes. Yum! As it is Easter time I thought I would make them. The eggs were lovely but lacked the Turkish coffee flavour I was expecting. To get more flavour into the eggs I decided to combine this recipe with one called Beid Hamine, a slow cooked Egyptian egg dish with Jewish roots. Rather than 30 minutes, the eggs would now be simmered for 8 hours! The eggs ended up having a subtle coffee flavour and turned a lovely nutty brown. I am happy to say that combining the two recipes was a success 🙂

Slow Cooked Istanbul Eggs

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Special Instructions
Make these eggs the day before you need them as they need to simmer for 8 hours.

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoons Turkish coffee grounds
1/4 cup olive oil
ground cumin (optional)

Instructions
Add the eggs, coffee and oil to a large saucepan.
Pour in enough water to cover the eggs by 5cm.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to the lowest possible setting.
Partially cover the pot and simmer for 8 hours.
Check to make sure the eggs don’t boil dry and top up with water if needed.

To Serve
Drain and rinse the eggs before peeling and slicing in half.
Sprinkle lightly with cumin if desired.
Serve at room temperature.

April Fool’s Day – What’s In A Name?

I don’t know if other bloggers had the same issue as me but one of my main concerns has always been “what day should I launch”!

It could be the Jungian or mythologist in me, or just a reflection of my love of symbolism, but April Fool’s Day just seemed right.

Why? Well, April Fool’s Day has a myriad of mythology behind it. Some to do with Fool’s being King’s for a day, some to do with Spring and some to do with New Year’s Day. It is this aspect that appeals to me.

My connection between April Fool’s Day and New Year’s Day is tarot. More than a quarter of a century ago I met my first tarot deck. While it wasn’t love at first sight, it quickly turned into love and we have been happy together ever since. You can read about this first meeting in my chapter “Bewitched by Tarot” which was originally published in Practising the Witch’s Craft: Real Magic Under a Southern Sky, edited by Douglas Ezzy. As the Fool begins the journey of the tarot, I chose this symbolic Fool’s Day to be my day for starting a New Year.

The first momentous decision I made on April Fool’s day was in 2003. After almost a lifetime of wanting to change my last name, I finally did it! Why didn’t I like my birth name?

  • It wasn’t an ancestral name. My family come from a part of Eastern Europe that was colonised and as part of that process they had their name changed to reflect the nationality of the colonisers. Cultural identity is a big issue for me, one I will come back to many times here. But in relation to my last name, I hated people thinking I had ties to a cultural background that wasn’t my own. I always dreamed of having a name that reflected my ancestry but could never come up with one.
  • Personal identity is an interesting thing. I’ve loved the esoteric world since I was a child. Vampires remain my first love but as I studied more I became fascinated with witchcraft, paganism, astrology, numerology and tarot. I also loved myths and legends, particularly stories about ancient Gods and Goddesses. Wanting to reflect this I often went by the name Vicky Venus, in honour of the ruler of my astrological sign Taurus. I loved the initials VV and in my punk days I adopted the last names Vodka & Valium – but they are stories for another time! But what I really wanted was a name that had a vampire connection. Vicky Vampire just wasn’t me so I waited until a name came – it was a long wait!
  • The vampire connection. A large chunk of my world came crashing down at the turn of the millennium. I didn’t deal with it well but I came through it. What I needed most to move forward was a new name, a new identity, a new me. I wanted to be free of the past, free of old connections, free of family ties. It was late in 2002 and I was working on the Dracula Tarot. I heard a voice whisper the name Vladic. The word came with an image showing me the spelling. It clicked immediately. Finally, I had my last name! It was a VV, it was Eastern European and most importantly it had a vampire connection. Vlad is the first name of Dracula. I thought it was ironic that I would be taking his first name as my last name. On April’s Fool’s Day 2003 I handed in my change of name form. When the form was stamped I felt a chill run down my spine. Vicky Vladic was born and I have been her ever since

So now, 11 years later, another first is about to be born – my very first blog.

What can you expect to find here? Lots of different things.

  • I am a writer specialising in vampirism, tarot, witchcraft and cookery – so far!
  • I have a PhD in film theory, Jungian theory and witchcraft.
  • I have published The Dracula Tarot book and deck, illustrated by Australian artist Anna Gerraty.
  • I have just finished a cookbook which I am getting ready to send to publishers and agents.
  • I am working on a second cookbook with American artist Anne Belov.
  • I love all things vampire.
  • I love all things esoteric especially tarot, astrology, numerology, paganism and witchcraft.
  • I have a keen interest in politics, the environment and social issues.
  • I am involved in animal welfare and sponsor giant pandas, red pandas, and an Atlantic puffin.
  • I have dogs.
  • I have a long term partner.
  • I am also an amateur photographer specialising in food & drink, still life, architectural, gothic and nature photography.

You can expect me to talk about all these things and more.

Photos will also be part of this blog.

So come and join the fun at vsomethingspeaks.

I’d love to hear from you!

You can also come and visit me at my website vsomethingesoterics or on RedBubble