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Bryce Canyon ~ Utah

Words by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl // Contributing Photography by Gina Cholick

Deep in the heart of Utah lies a surrealist dreamland sprung to life. If Salvador Dalí painted the Grand Canyon full of drippy peach candlestick mountains all melting in the desert sun while Indiana Jones hosted an archaeological dig for extraterrestrial life at the center of it all…that pretty much sums up what Bryce Canyon National Park feels like. At once awe-inspiring, mind-blowing and really pretty trippy.

We took a one-day excursion out to Bryce in the middle of our Zion adventure week to take in some new scenery and hit some new trails. An easy 2-hour drive east of Zion, Bryce is definitely the wild child amongst its sleeker Utah and Arizona canyon cousins. If the Grand Canyon is Mozart, Bryce Canyon is Bowie. Nothing to see here but mind-bending intergalactic rock ‘n roll mountainsides incarnate in nature.

Upon arrival, we decided to take in the lay of the land as our first endeavor. The road into Bryce is laid out in a loop where you can pull over and hop out along the way to check out all of its epic views. And the views here are indeed EPIC. The rocks in Bryce have formed amphitheaters full of “hoodoos”—drippy spindly geological formations that gradually change color from orange, peach and white like a giant tie-dyed t-shirt.

After mapping out the domain, we hit the trails of the main event taking the Navajo Loop Trail directly into Bryce Amphitheater. A “moderate hike” that takes you down into electric nectarine slot canyons dotted with neon green fir trees before opening out into the sweeping amphitheater, the Navajo Trail delivers all the best of Bryce in just about two hours. We meandered through walls of tall crumbly hoodoos that made us feel like both a band of ancient archeologists and intergalactic futuristic explorers on an excavation mission all at the same time. We even met the “natives”—friendly chipmunks who love to come visit and have a chat to showcase their local way of life.

The day we went was sweltering. Aside from the slot canyon, most of the Navajo hike is in direct sunlight—so hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and tons of water are an absolute necessity. But the rewards for trudging through the sun here are enormous. You will never see anything like this landscape anywhere else on Planet Earth, guaranteed. Its beauty is overwhelming—it will stun you into silence, fill you with awe and absolutely take your breath away.

The final payoff at the end of the steep incline back up to the top is the lookout point waiting for you above. Take a moment to soak in the great accomplishment of completing your hike and enjoy your reward—an epic vista view of the entire Bryce Amphitheater laid out before you. Standing here on top of it all, you can’t help but marvel at the astounding beauty of Nature. How just when you think you have seen it all, your entire world can get rocked by the new and mysterious Great Unknown. An important reminder that there is so much more to explore, so much more to discover on this beautiful planet of ours if we just stay open, stay curious and remember that life is meant to be an adventure.

Our Utah Road Trip series continues next week with our stay at Happy Ours Ranch! You can check out our Zion adventures HERE! And our Grand Canyon adventures HERE!

Happy Trails! xoxo Sirens & Scoundrels


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Zion National Park

Words by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl // Contributing Photography by Gina Cholick

A couple years ago, I came across a photo of a giant bright peach of a mountainside towering over a meandering aqua river adorned with patches of bright green fluffy trees dozing under a hazy golden sunset. It seemed like something out of a dream. Or perhaps a distant memory from some other world where only peace, beauty and tranquility exist. A mythological fantasy planet that someone managed to come back to Earth with visual proof of. I recognized it somehow, though I had never seen it before. This intense feeling immediately rushed up from deep down inside my soul and commanded, “We must go to there!!” I could almost taste the gorgeous landscape on my tongue, hear it whispering in my ear. My eyes searched for the name of this biblical Eden incarnate until they landed on the word “Zion”. Of course…Zion. I had heard the tales many times from others who had made the epic journey before me but this was the first time I was laying eyes on it myself. Like meeting a man that every single one of your closest friends somehow dated and now refer to as “the one that got away”, Zion walked into my life the same way—its legend looming large before we ever officially met. And suddenly, I just knew. I had to go to Zion.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my work as a meditation teacher, it’s that when your soul sends you such a loud and clear message, you answer it. Even if you have no idea where it came from, why, or where it’s leading you. So taking my own advice, I cancelled my annual desert birthday celebration with friends and put out the adventure call to see who wanted to hop in the car and road trip it out to Utah instead. Sirens Sarah, Gina, Kelsey and Pippa immediately volunteered for the mission. So with our backpacks, hiking boots and plenty of snacks in tow, we loaded up five girls in one Prius and hit the open road.

The seven and a half hour drive from Los Angeles, CA to Zion National Park, UT stretched into more like eleven hours after gas, rest stop, lunch and leg stretch breaks. Luckily, we had some awesome playlists to keep us company as we cruised up the 15 through Vegas and even dead-stopped for a while in a parking lot sea of thousands of cars headed to an EDM festival on the desert outskirts. Trapped amongst carloads of young kids dressed in neon as far the eye could see, their cars adorned with flashing lights and glowing signs, I could not help but feel this was all part of the plan. We were most definitely traveling to another world, possibly another galaxy. And this was just the beginning.

It was the dead of night when we finally arrived. We had to drive through the park to get out the other side where our accommodations awaited, beckoning us to come lay our heads down and sleep for awhile. As soon as we crossed the threshold into the park, the paved road turned bright red as if we had just touched down on Mars—our first clue that we definitely were not in normal life anymore. The stars were clear and bright—more stars than we had ever seen in our lifetimes, even with the low-hanging waxing moon. We wound our way through the park in pitch black, giant darkened slabs towering above us on all sides that seemed to stretch up up up forever so that we had to crane our heads to see the starry sky above. Even in total darkness, the enormity of Zion’s mountainscape was breathtaking. It felt huge, ancient and powerful. In that moment, I understood that if I could just stay open and listen for the wisdom, this journey would somehow change my life.

Driving into the park in daylight was a completely different experience, though no less surreal. The hulking darkened slabs from the previous night transformed into sweeping vistas of bright peachy sienna mountains that looked like they had been painted by Van Gogh’s brush, all thick sideways sherbert swirls. It felt like landing on some future Mars, the red planet suddenly bursting to life with trees and flocks of animals resting in the shade under the galactic sun. Surely the Prius had accidentally dropped us into some different star system in the night and we were no longer on Earth but some brand new planet just waiting to be explored.

The people of planet Zion are very friendly, I’m happy to report, and very well organized. They have a hop-on-hop-off shuttle system that runs all day and conveniently takes you to all of the different hikes and sites throughout the park. We parked our car down at the first lot inside from Springdale, the tiny town full of restaurants, markets and sporting goods stores for all your adventuring needs. Our first stop would be Emerald Pools Trail, a moderate mountain hike that leads to—you guessed it—emerald water pools. We stepped off the shuttle, crossed the bridge and collectively gasped at our first real sight of the Virgin River. It literally took our breath away. We stood in awe as we watched the gentle sea foam green water babbling across glittering rocks under the giant peach mountains dotted with bushy side-growing trees. Suddenly, I understood where we were. This wasn’t Mars at all, this must be the land of unicorns and dragons! The mythical planet that provides James Cameron and fellow filmmakers with all their sci fi inspiration. THIS is where the unicorns and dragons live, of course! I swear we saw some giant fire-breathers flapping their majestic wings off the mountaintops in the distance to take to the sun, heard the soft hooves of unicorn families drinking from the nearby stream. And it all felt perfectly normal and right. In fact, taking in this landscape, we realized it would actually be stranger NOT to see dragons and unicorns here. Clearly, this was their natural habitat.

So with our bearings finally gained, we proceeded with our hike deep into mythical creature country. We followed the winding Emerald Pools Trail across walls of giant rusty sandstone, under naturally-occurring hanging gardens and waterfalls until we reached the lower pools and then the upper pools, each stop along the way more jaw-dropping than the next. On planet Zion, time ceases to exist, so there is no pressure to have to get anywhere or do anything quickly. You can take your time—because you have all the time in the world—to just slow down and feel each drop of water fall into your palms, press your cheek to each warm earthen wall, splash your feet in the cool emerald waters. It’s a different kind of photosynthesis that occurs here, where you soak in all the natural surrounding beauty directly through your skin, filling up inside with all of your essential nutrients: peace, tranquility and a deep knowing that all is right in the world.

Day two on planet Zion was time to answer the warrior’s call. Armed with our water boots and walking sticks rented from Zion Adventure Company (and after watching the safety video to make sure we were properly prepared for our exploratory mission), we arrived at The Narrows. Why is a safety video necessary? The Narrows is a water hike where the river IS the path. You literally walk on water the entire way through red rock subway slats jutting up thousands of feet above you. While this creates stunning beauty and an incomparable experience, it can also be very dangerous. Flash floods happen in the area without warning even on a bright hot sunny day. In a slot canyon filled with water, there is nowhere to go when that happens. So when deciding to venture out on a Narrows mission, always be sure to check the park’s daily safety warnings first.

Boots on, sticks in hand, our four tall American Amazons and one little Aussie Fairie waded into the refreshingly cool waters that sloshed up thigh-level, a welcome gift in the afternoon heat. We had been told to go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds that flock here in the summer. But we decided to go mid-day after a leisurely sleep-in and cabin breakfast. Our wager worked in our favor. The morning rush was coming out as we were coming in, so we had lots of room to meander at our own pace. We wound and twisted our way through the russet slot canyon. Placing one wet foot in front of the other, rock by sparkling rock, greeting every new reveal behind each turn in the path became a waking meditation connecting us to a deep and ancient part of ourselves with each new step. This must have been what it felt like before language, before words, when there was only feeling. And this feeling was pure wonder.

Our third and final day on planet Zion was all about slowing down and just enjoying the scenery, relishing this new process of nature-synthesis. We picked up treats from Café Soleil Zion in Springdale—a restaurant we found early on in our expedition because, as Siren Gina keenly pointed out, their sign was “definitely our font”. She could not have been more right. With a menu full of healthy, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as well as smoothies and lattes, Café Soleil became our go-to purveyor of all things human food while hiking through the park. But on this day, we ordered to-go with one final mission in mind: to picnic by the Virgin River and take in the sunset over The Watchman, Zion’s most famous and picturesque mountain peak.

Armed with our bounty of healthy and delicious provisions, we hiked down to the riverside under the bridge off Hwy 9 and happily discovered several small private sandy beaches just perfect for lounging. We kicked off our shoes, laid out our picnic and munched happily as the afternoon sun began its descent and Leon Bridges’ achingly beautiful “River” played in the background. All the while, The Watchman stood guard, his majestic robes ever-changing from dusty pink sherbert to electric orange nectarine to deep russet rose as the sun dipped ever lower. The air was cool and still, the water warm and inviting. Honoring our pledge to explore all native territory thoroughly, we stripped down to our bikinis and waded into the Virgin River to watch the final blaze of light pass behind the mountains. This is where time truly stopped. Was it an hour, was it three, was it a lifetime in one moment? There was absolutely no way of telling. All I know is that life stretched out indefinitely, infinitely. No life, no death, no other time or place but this. This one moment for all eternity.

As I sat there on my birthday in the Virgin River and just watched the light shift over The Watchman for three hours/three years/three lifetimes, I asked the river to lend me her ancient wisdom—what was it that I needed to know? I was instantly shown an image of us walking through the Narrows with our walking sticks the day before. How much easier it had been to walk back out when we were going with the current versus when we were first walking in against it. How slow and clumsy it felt going against the current, how many more people around us stumbled and injured themselves that way. And I was told, “Life is not just about surrendering to the will of the Universe, it’s about going with the current of your Life. Move with Life in the direction it is flowing and use that momentum to catapult you forward to where you need to be. Do not get bogged down in trying to walk against the current of your life, you will only slow your own progress. It’s not about just surrendering and floating in whatever direction the water happens to take you. Your participation and your deliberate action are required. But walk in the same direction that the water is leading you, feel how it wants to support you from behind and propel you forward. Tune into that force and use it…and you can never go wrong.”

With that, the Great Big Eternal Silence returned as the stars peeked through the evening sky and the moon smiled above the sleepy mountains. After a long while (decades, centuries, millennia), we reluctantly decided it was finally time to go. The dragons had already flown back to their evening nests, the unicorns snuggled down in cozy pairs for the night. All that was left to do was hop back in the Prius and watch the moon illuminate the nighttime mountainsides while Neil Young serenaded, “There’s a full moon risin’, let’s go dancin’ in the light…” with the windows down. See, the beauty of nature-synthesis is that it works whether the sun’s out, moon’s out or none’s out. It ALL gets distilled down through your cells into the essential core of your being, begins to alter your very DNA and gently turns you into something…more. A person made, at least partly, of pure magic.

Our Utah Road Trip series continues next week with our trippy archaeological dig down the rabbit hole at Bryce Canyon!


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© 2017 Sirens and Scoundrels

 

Summer Road Trip Playlist!

Words by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl 

The dawn of May means one thing: road trip season is officially upon us! Time to make your plans and hop in the car with your nearest and dearest this summer to go explore the big wide wild open! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing highlights from our epic Sirens road trip to Utah’s stunning national parks. We took in the jaw-dropping majesty of Zion and Bryce Canyon and even stayed at the world’s sweetest tiny log-and-tin cabin, Happy Ours Ranch. We’re sharing our on-the-road playlist to set the mood and soothe your soul on all your summer adventures! Car packed, wheels down…go get those tires dirty with our “Dusty Trails” playlist!

MAY 2017 ~ DUSTY TRAILS // ZION

And stay tuned for this month’s adventures to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon! 

Happy Trails!! xoxo, Sirens & Scoundrels


FOLLOW US ON SPOTIFY FOR EASY LISTENING FROM ANY DEVICE!~ https://play.spotify.com/user/sirensandscoundrels

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Words & Playlist by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl

© 2017 Sirens and Scoundrels

The 14th Factory

Words by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl 

If you ever wished you could combine a haunted Halloween funhouse with a large-scale multi-media international modern art installation (minus the chainsaws and hulking guys in masks breathing down your neck), your wish has finally come true. Full of thrilling discoveries and suspense around each new darkened corner, The 14th Factory is an art-lover’s moody paradise—combining video, sound design and both static and interactive immersive environments to create an art experience truly unlike any other.

Envisioned by British-born, Hong Kong-based artist Simon Birch in collaboration with global artists from China, Hong Kong, the US, the UK and Canada, The 14th Factory asks you to step inside a nondescript seemingly abandoned warehouse located in a forgotten part of Los Angeles and follow the path it leads you down…armed with little more than the promise of experiencing a Hero’s Journey. The black box entrance greets you with a brief introduction written on the walls where you are handed a map and then let loose to discover what secrets await.

Funneling onto the darkened path, your eyes strain to adjust and find your way through the first few stops. In the blackened quiet, you become aware of sounds ringing out from somewhere—knocks and cracks echoing from an unknown faraway chamber. The familiar eerie feeling of the haunted funhouse begins to settle in as you enter into Phase One of the Hero’s Journey, passing by a painting of a man covering his own eyes with an illuminated chain hanging just beyond him. A light beckons further ahead at the end of a long dark tunnel, revealing upon approach a moving mandala made up of men—twisting, turning, contorting into the most exquisite shapes, at once tortuously pained and breathtakingly beautiful. Much like man itself. Mesmerizing, meditative and utterly hypnotic, you could easily stay here all day. But a Hero’s Journey can never stop at the very beginning and there is so much more to see. So onwards you go…

And here we take a pause. As with so many of these immersive art experiences, our honest recommendation is to go in knowing as little as possible so you can allow it all to be a true discovery in the moment. The more unprepared you are, the better. The only things you really need to know are the how-to facts. The exhibit runs Tues-Sun mornings into evenings through the end of May (exact times vary by day). Tickets are around $20 after processing fees and should be purchased in advance. It’s best to get there on the earlier side when there are less people so you can have more of the place to yourself. Neighborhood parking is not great but valet is available for $15. All pertinent info is available HERE.

If you don’t mind visual spoilers, you can scroll through the photos here. But just trust us and go immerse yourself in the full experience. Take time with each stop along the way, especially with the video installations. They have an unexpected way of working on you that require your patience and focused attention. Sit still and soak them in longer than you normally would and notice what begins to open up in you. At the end of the road, who knows? You might just find your own transformation…

If you are interested in joining us for our organized Sirens & Scoundrels field trip to The 14th Factory this month, be sure to email us at: sirensandscoundrels@gmail.com. We’ll enjoy an afternoon of soaking up art followed by a delicious meal in DTLA!

 Contributing Photography by Christina Huntington // Video by Katie HilliardChristina Huntington  


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© 2017 Sirens and Scoundrels

 

Fermentation Rocks!~ Pickles

Words by Liz Beebe  // Photography by  Becca Murray & Sarah Prikryl  // Featured Photo by Sarah Prikryl 

Welcome to the second installment of Fermentation Rocks! Your quick and easy guide to making fermented foods at home. If you missed the first installment on fermenting sauerkraut, you can read about it HERE. As a quick recap, fermented foods are great for feeding and replenishing the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Your gut health, beyond making sure your digestion is functioning properly, is also fundamentally instrumental for the well being of your immune system, in hormone regulation and production and so much more. So feed your gut! A healthy gut means a healthy life! Today, we’re gonna learn how to ferment pickles at home.



PICKLES


INGREDIENTS~

3-4 cucumbers (your choice what kind!)
3 cups of organic green beans
1 bunch of fresh dill, ripped into large pieces
1/2 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp of peppercorns
1/2 Tbsp of red pepper flakes (1 Tbsp if you like spicy food)
1 gallon of water

INSTRUCTIONS~

I use a fermentation crock at my house. It is a one-time investment but makes for the easiest “set it and forget it” at-home fermentation. Mine was about $60 for a 5L crock on Amazon, but you can usually find deals online here!


I like to use a mandolin to slice my cucumbers into rounds with ridges (roughly about 1/8″-1/4” thick so they stay crispier as pickles) but you can ferment them whole or sliced however you like.

Dissolve 1/2 c of sea salt into 1 gallon of water in a separate container. Set aside.

Pour sliced (or not sliced) cucumber into a fermentation crock.

Pour whole green beans into crock.

Pour in peppercorns, pepper flakes and fresh dill.

Pour in salted water over all ingredients.

Place the weights on top of the ingredients, they should be submerged underwater.

Place the lid on top of the crock, fill the reservoir around the lid with plain water.

Leave covered for at least a week.

After a week, taste test! You can leave the pickles in the crock longer until the desired taste is achieved.

Remove from crock and jar in sealable jars. You can keep them in the fridge or pantry.

Beans and pickles should remain crisp! Any soggy pickles can be composted.

Enjoy and share!


Liz Beebe is the lady lead singer of LA band Dustbowl Revival. When she’s not touring, she spends her time in Silverlake snuggling her French bulldogs and cooking food. She manages auto immune symptoms via lifestyle and diet and writes about her health journey at lizbeebe.com/blog. Follow her tour adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @beebejesus.


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© 2017 Sirens and Scoundrels //  Recipe © 2017 Liz Beebe

Wildflower Hunt ~ California Superbloom

Words by Christina Huntington  // Photography by Sarah Prikryl // Contributing Photograph by: Adam Grimes

If you live in California, you have no doubt been inundated all spring with photos of your friends and every Instagram model under the sun frolicking in fields of orange poppies alongside the word “Superbloom!” with varying degrees of exclamation points. (PRO DECODER TIP: three “!!!” generally means a 10/10 experience.) While the neon blooms of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve are certainly reminiscent of Dorothy’s intoxicating fields on her way to the merry old land of Oz, we honestly would not recommend this particular destination if you’re looking to get up close and personal with some California blossoms. Officially overrun with way too many visitors who were clearly never taught to “leave no trace”, you have a pretty fat chance of being able to peacefully commune with the beauty of nature at this ever-more-popular spot. But the good news is that due to our record rainfall this past winter, ALL of California is experiencing a Superbloom right now. Just walk outside your front door and you can witness the evidence all around you. But if you are itching for a little wildflower hunting adventure beyond the immediate homefront, we’ve got you covered. Here are our recommendations for experiencing the California Superbloom in all its magnificent floral glory!

ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

Located deep in the heart of the California desert just west of The Salton Sea, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a goldmine for the discerning bloom seeker. Definitely not your typical landscape (although flower fields do dot sections of the arid mountainous state park), Anza-Borrego is really all about prickly, fuzzy, spindly desert plants abloom. Walking the desert terrain with the giant ocotillos towering overhead, their wiry arms and bright red blossoms shooting out in every direction, you can’t help but feel that you are somehow simultaneously underwater—as if you just went for a deep-sea dive and find yourself now on the bottom of the ocean floor still drenched in desert sunshine. If Dr. Seuss wrote a book about plants, it would take place here in Anza-Borrego. Short and spiky, tall and twisty, furry and bloomy…the cacti and desert plants become characters all their own that you could swear almost speak to you. I may or may not have had an actual out-loud conversation with a chubby stubby cactus who reminded me of R2-D2. We are not able to confirm these events, but it MAY have happened. If you would like to find some floral desert friends of your very own, they are all waiting to be discovered at Anza-Borrego.

JOSHUA TREE

Continuing on the desert wildflower hunt, Joshua Tree National Park is also experiencing the gorgeous side-effects of the superbloom. Although here, the “superness” is far subtler. You have to keep your eyes peeled as you travel through the park since this bloom will not hit you over the head with obvious huge swaths of bushy flowers. But wildflowers are indeed everywhere. Look down at your feet, look closely, and suddenly you realize there are teeny gorgeous wildflowers of every color and variety spread across the desert floor like an old English fairy garden. Alice could have easily wandered through these whimsical tiny beauties during her adventures in Wonderland. Delicate purple, violet, pink, cream and yellow flowers dance and bob about in the wind, forcing you to become super present as you zero in on each new find…a true treasure hunt where every new discovery brings a little more joy and wonder to the desert flower seeker. With the cacti here adorned in bright red and yellow blooms like gorgeous Spanish dancers and the Joshua trees themselves growing in thick forest formations, there is even more beauty to behold here if you are willing to get beyond the obvious and allow each new step to be its own magnificent discovery.

YUCCA & COACHELLA VALLEYS

Both the Yucca and Coachella Valleys are bursting with wildflowers at every turn right now. You don’t even have to travel to an official park to see them. Just hop in the car, start exploring and you are bound to run into countless superbloom explosions of your own discovery. We found tons of beavertail cactus plants busting into bright fuchsia blooms all along 29 Palms Highway in all directions. Just off Highway 62 headed from Palm Springs towards Yucca, the entire landscape is covered in fields of bright yellow flowers, huge bushes creating neon yellow forests. Set against the backdrop of the snow-capped San Jacinto Mountains to the south and Big Bear to the West, you could easily have made a quick daytrip to the Swiss Alps without leaving California. Simply pull over and hop out wherever strikes your fancy…just be mindful of your step and be sure not to trample any flowers as you set about your expeditions.

LAKE ELSINORE & DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE

To the west of the desert superbloom, Lake Elsinore and Diamond Valley Lake are both experiencing wildflower blooms of the more traditional variety. Be aware that these destinations are popular, so you might want to plan for a weekday excursion if you can swing it. The trail that winds around Diamond Valley Lake is covered in sheets of orange poppies interspersed with giant purple bluebonnets—a truly stunning sight to behold against the dark blue waters. It’s also an easy hike for those with older or younger relatives who might want to join in on some wildflower hunting fun. The hills above Lake Elsinore in Walker Canyon are also currently covered in orange poppies and bright yellow bushy flower fields. BONUS: Walker Canyon is dog-friendly, so bring along your pooch and let them stop and smell the superbloom with you!

While you’re out there hunting flowers and enjoying California’s beautiful spring bounty, take a moment to consider:

What do I want to be planting in my life right now? What areas need a little tending to so they can come more fully alive? What are the things that bring me true joy…and how can I experience more of that in my day-to-day life?

Happy Superblooming!!! love, Sirens & Scoundrels xoxo


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© 2017 Sirens and Scoundrels

Greek Easter ~ Magiritsa Soup

Words by Christina Huntington  // Original Family Recipe by “Mama Gina” Gina Trikonis // Photography by Sarah Prikryl 

In my house, we grew up celebrating Greek Easter. My mom was a Greek New Yorker who believed in keeping our family traditions alive, even as she found herself raising two native Angeleno children in the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley. We went to Greek school, Greek church, learned traditional Greek songs and Greek dances but, most importantly, we inherited the Greek way of life…a deep passion and love for food, family, friends, nature and Life itself. For Greeks, every day on Earth is a gift to be unwrapped and enjoyed, a reason to celebrate! And there is truly no bigger Greek celebration than the Anastasi!

Known to Americans as “Greek Easter” or “Eastern Orthodox Easter”, many Greeks, Armenians and Russians celebrate the Easter holiday in accordance with a different calendar—which is why it often falls on a completely different weekend than when the Easter Bunny comes to visit, much to the confusion of many of my childhood friends. (For the factually curious, Eastern Orthodox churches still abide by the Julian calendar instead of the western Gregorian calendar.) Greeks traditionally celebrate the Resurrection with a midnight candlelight church ceremony, followed by the Anastasi Dinner—the feast to end all feasts, the party to end all parties. Lamb, red dyed eggs and tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) pour out of the kitchens as children and grandparents alike eat, sing and dance until dawn.

Over the years, we adopted our own Anastasi celebration at home, centered around the Greek Easter traditions while gathering our family together to celebrate the gift of life and each other. We eat tsoureki Greek Easter bread, a sweet and fluffy egg bread that is hand-braided into circular loaves with red dyed eggs baked on top. We make these at home, but you can find them at your local Greek or Armenian market, or just buy a good soft loaf of egg bread in a pinch. We also dye our hard-boiled eggs red to symbolize the gift of the Resurrection—of death and rebirth. The red egg dye can be purchased at any Greek, Armenian or Russian market or deli. We play the traditional game where each person picks an egg and you go around the circle, tapping your egg ends against each other until one person is left with at least one side of their egg uncracked. The winner is blessed with good luck for the year.

The star dish at our dinner table is always my mom’s famous magiritsa, the traditional Greek Easter soup. Magiritsa has a tart-tangy-sweet flavor unlike any other soup you will ever eat… and it is instantly addictive. The flavor comes from the lemon and egg broth (avgolemono) that gets added in at the end, as well as a small amount of organic chicken or beef liver that is incorporated into the main soup. Even people who swear they don’t like liver (me included) love this soup. Every single person who has ever tried this dish at our dinner table has gone back for seconds and asked to take some home. I’m literally smiling just thinking about it. It’s that good. And paired with the subtle sweetness of the tsoureki Greek Easter bread, it is a dream come true that makes your body hum and sing with joy from the inside out.

This Magiritsa recipe is our family recipe brought over by my grandmother from her ancestors in Greece and I am so happy to share it with you now. Serve it with a big chunk of Greek Easter bread or good crusty bread, fresh feta cheese and olives on the side. Greek Easter is a time to celebrate life and renewal, but you don’t have to celebrate the traditional holiday to enjoy this delicious soup. Spring is a time full of promise—with so much new life, new energy, growth and expansion at your fingertips. Gather up your family and friends, set a pretty table and celebrate the joy of being alive on this beautiful Earth together! What an incredible gift it is!

MAGIRITSA GREEK EASTER SOUP

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total: 2 hours 30 mins

Serves: 8 people

 INGREDIENTS~

  • 1 lb. organic ground beef or bison (or lamb if you can find it)
  • ½ lb. organic chicken or beef liver
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 bunch green onion, finely minced (use both the white & green parts)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely minced & well-packed
  • ½ cup fresh dill, finely minced & well-packed
  • ½ cup fresh basil, finely minced & well-packed (optional, but we add it to our recipe)
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely minced
  • ¼ cup white basmati rice
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 6 eggs
  • juice of 2-3 lemons (to taste)
  • 1 tsp light olive oil or butter (to grease the pot)

ASSEMBLY~

In a large soup pot, heat 1 tsp olive oil or butter to coat the bottom of the pot on medium heat. Sauté onions until they turn translucent. Add ground meat and stir until it browns. If the meat renders any excess fat, spoon the fat out of the pot and dispose of it.

Cut off any tough tissue or fat from the liver. In a Cuisinart or blender, pulse liver until it liquefies.

Add liquefied liver to the meat and continue to heat until the whole mixture browns. Add minced garlic and stir. Add all minced vegetables and herbs (green onion, parsley, dill, basil & celery) and stir into meat.

Add 10 cups of water. Add 1 dried bay leaf. Let simmer on low heat for 1½ -2 hours on low heat.

Add ¼ cup white basmati rice and stir.

Add ½ cup white vinegar.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, just until the rice softens. Keep an eye on the water levels and make sure it does not reduce down too much. Add a small amount of water if necessary.

Now it’s time to prepare the avgolemono (lemon and egg broth) to be added into the soup.

In a blender, beat 6 eggs until frothy.

With the blender running on low speed, add the juice of 2-3 lemons (to taste) through a strainer. Keep the blender running and slowly ladle in 2 ladles of broth from the soup pot into the egg mixture in the blender, one ladle at a time until everything is incorporated. It’s important to do this slowly so that the eggs do not curdle or separate. Turn blender off.

Slowly pour the egg mixture from the blender into the soup pot a little bit at a time, stirring gently until everything is incorporated.

Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

HOT TIP: You can make the soup base in advance, but wait to make the avgolemono until right before serving. After it is all made, the soup is fine to keep in the refrigerator and reheat for leftovers. But when first serving to guests, it is best served with the avgolemono freshly prepared.

Celebrate life this weekend! Ask yourself what new life you want to create!~ How do I want to expand? How do I want to grow? What seeds do I wish to cultivate?

Happy Easter and happy eating!! love, Sirens & Scoundrels xoxo


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