baking

The Kitchen Witch

October, 2018

Homemade Apple Pie for Samhain

I always make a sweet treat out of apples for Samhain. It is one of my long-cherished traditions. If I have the time and enough apples, I like to bake an apple pie. I have been baking apple pies for October 31 long before I celebrated Samhain. I used to enjoy a nice slice of warmed apple pie with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream melting over it as I waited for the doorbell to ring on Halloween evening. Trick’r’treaters don’t come to my door anymore nor do I celebrate Halloween like most Americans do. But I still enjoy a piece of luscious apple pie on the thirty-first of every October.

Apple pie is one of those things that I have been making for so many years that I no longer need to use a recipe anymore. That includes making the pie crust. I had to really think about what I was doing as I was making the pie this time, so I could write down the proper amounts for each ingredient, in order to write this recipe. You know how it is when you “just know” how to do something – you just do it. It’s good to really have to think about what you are doing and why are you doing it every once in a while.

The first thing I do when I am baking any pie is make the pie crust. I learned how to make pie crust from my mother. My mother always used Crisco shortening for her pie crust. I always hated Crisco. Not because of its bland tastelessness but because it was just a pain in the ass. It stuck to the measuring cups, to the spoons, to your fingers. I know that in terms of calories and cholesterol, using a vegetable-based shortening is probably the best choice when it comes to making pastry. But I just don’t like working with it.

I know people who swear by using lard; I used to work in a butcher shop and I would never use pig fat for my pie crust. However, I’ve eaten pies with crusts made with lard and they’ve been wicked good. But the only shortening I use is butter.

I have heard that it’s harder to work with butter than with a vegetable-based shortening – I have never found this to be the case. In fact, since you want all your ingredients to be as cold as possible when you are making a pastry dough, it seems to me that using butter really makes more sense. But to each their own.

The other thing is salted butter versus unsalted butter. Most recipes call for unsalted butter. I use salted butter and reduce the salt in the recipe. But again – to each their own. Some people might even use margarine (!!)

Pie crust is really simple. It’s just flour, a little salt, cut with tiny pieces of butter or some other kind of shortening until it’s uniform and then enough cold water added in to make a pliable crust.

I always put a cup of cold water into the freezer before starting to make sure that the water is as cold as possible. Remember – when you are making pastry crust, cold is your friend. I know people who have marble or granite counter tops because they stay cold. You can also get marble rolling pins. You can chill pie crust for up to three days in the refrigerator and a whole three months in the freezer! So you can make it up ahead if you need to and store it.

The next thing I do is measure the flour and salt into my sifter and sift it into my bowl. For a two-crust pie, I use two and a half cups of flour and one-half teaspoon of salt.

Then I take the butter out of the fridge and I cut it up into tiny pieces. I never used to do this – I used to just chop the butter into quarters or eighths or whatever. But over the years, I have found that cutting the butter up into tiny pieces before adding it to the flour-salt mixture makes it easier to cut in with the pastry cutter.

Put the pieces of butter into the bowl with the flour-salt mixture and, using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like small peas. This takes a while and some might complain that it’s tedious work but my attitude is that it’s meditative and spiritual. Working with any kind of dough makes me think of the various grain goddesses and how vital breadstuffs were to the people who worshiped them – so much so that Isis, for instance, was called “The Lady of Bread”. Bread was life.

When the butter is cut into the flour-salt mixture properly, it should look like this:

Now you want to add the water that’s been chilling in the freezer. You want to add a tablespoon or two at a time, no more than that. I know it seems like there’s barely any water being added to the butter-flour mix at all but believe me, if you add all the water at once, the dough will be tough. You also want to mix the water in quickly and with as few strokes as possible. Add the drops of water around the butter-flour mixture, always dropping them on the driest parts of the dough before mixing quickly.

This is what it looks like when the water is half-way mixed in:

The last thing I do before putting the pie into the oven is cut slits into the top crust to let steam out while it is cooking. Since this pie was being made for Samhain, I made a triple Moon on the top crust. I am not much of an artist, obviously!

The oven is always preheated to 425 degrees. I always put a pizza pan on the rack below the pie, in case the pie drips over during the baking process. This has saved me a lot of cleaning hassle in the past. I leave the pie in the 425 degree oven for five minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees for the rest of the cooking period. It will take about an hour to bake, depending on your oven and the amount of apples you put into your pie and how dense they were. You’ll know when the pie is done. The crust will be golden brown and the apples will be glistening inside the slits you made. And the aroma! There is no mistaking that heavenly smell!

The finished pie.

I waited as long as I could and then I cut myself a nice big piece – you know how the first piece never wants to come out in one piece! – and then added a nice scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top of it. OH SWEET GODDESS HOW YUMMY IS THAT?

So. This is my Samhain Apple Pie. I hope you like it and maybe will try it for yourself. I personally think that this turned out to be one of the very best pies that I have made in a long time. The crust was to die for. I never used to be a “crust person” but now I could eat the crust and leave the filling! I just love that buttery, flaky crust!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings and happy cooking!

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

 

 

The Kitchen Witch

August, 2018

Absolutely The Best Pasta Salad In the World

My family usually has some kind of reunion each summer – one side gathering here and the other side gathering there – and for the last twenty-odd years, I have been bringing “my” pasta salad to every family picnic. It doesn’t even have an official name – it’s just “Polly’s Pasta Salad” – and everyone loves it. But it’s not really my salad. Like everything else I make, it’s a recipe I got from someone else and then I tweaked it – again and again – until it settled into the form it has today.

It’s funny. I don’t even use a recipe to make this salad nowadays – I have it memorized and I “do” it off the top of my head. So I was quite surprised to see my own recipe in my own handwriting with my own notes. I had forgotten a few things.

One, I haven’t called this salad “Italian Pasta Salad” in years. I just call it “My Pasta Salad” like it’s the only pasta salad in the entire world and everyone knows what I am talking about! Also I was amazed to see that I had written down to rinse the pasta after cooking. Did I ever do that? I absolutely never do that now. I do like seeing how I added the additional ingredients along the side – I prefer cherry tomatoes to grape or sundried – but I have also used Campari tomatoes, quartered.

 

The salad itself was adapted – as it says on the page from my personal cookbook – from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. This is one of my very favorite cookbooks. All of Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks are fabulous. It doesn’t matter if you are vegetarian or not, you are going to find great recipes in these books! And they are visually beautiful. The recipes are hand-lettered by Katzen and she does all the drawings, too. I personally can’t draw to save my life – unless we are talking about the crudest stick figures – so I have the greatest admiration for Katzen’s talents.

But again, I was amazed when I looked at the original recipe. Did I ever make it the way she wrote it? I don’t remember ever using shell pasta – I have always used rotini. And I have never – and I repeat never – used vinegar or any other herbs or spices when dressing the hot pasta. I have never used anything but extra-virgin olive oil. And Parmesan cheese in the dressing mix! I am absolutely sure that I have never included that – although honestly, it’s not a half-bad idea and one I’m going to try next time. Why not? It might really rock. But I’m looking at all this and wondering – my copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is a revised edition. Was it different in the original edition – the one from which I copied the recipe? I messaged my friend who owns the original cookbook, and he confirmed that in the original edition, the hot pasta is marinated in nothing other but extra-virgin olive oil. I wonder what prompted Katzen to make the change?

Anyway – none of rambling changes how I make the salad now or how totally fabulous this salad is. But you have to follow instructions. Like certain spells – you can change some of the items you need and it won’t change the workings of the spell – in fact, it might make it work even better, since it’ll personalize the spell. For this salad, you can change certain vegetables – you can leave out the meat and the cheese if you want a vegan salad – but you have to prepare the pasta exactly as the recipe says – and you have to use fresh herbs. I will confess – I have made this salad with dried herbs and you can get away with dried parsley if you have to. But you are short-changing yourself if you don’t have fresh basil. If you don’t have basil in your garden, buy it at the store. But it’s an integral part of the flavor of this salad.

First start a pot to boil on your stove. When it comes to a full boil, pour a pound box of rotini pasta into it and stir it well.

Pasta cooks by moving, so you want to give it a stir once in a while during the cooking process. This is a great opportunity for circle magic. If it’s the waxing moon, stir clockwise and recite out loud everything that you wish to bring into your life. Say affirmations. If it’s during the waning moon, stir widdershins and chant the things you want to remove from your world. Remember that now is always the best time for magic!

When the pasta is almost soft, drain in a strainer.

BUT DO NOT RINSE. I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. The pasta must be hot to absorb the olive oil. Put the drained pasta in a bowl and pour a third of a cup of extra virgin olive oil over the hot pasta and mix it well. Doesn’t it smell heavenly? Let it sit for a half an hour or so to cool. I usually put it in the fridge for twenty minutes or so after that to chill down a little more.

After the pasta is chilled and it’s absorbed the olive oil, start adding your vegetables. If you want, blanch the broccoli – it’s not necessary but it gives it a brighter green color. Just remember to shock it with ice cold water as soon as the water comes to a boil to stop the cooking process so that the broccoli remains crunchy.

Add the green pepper, the red pepper, the grape tomatoes (all I could get this time around), the olives and the artichoke hearts. Or whatever vegetables you wish to add.

At this point, you could stop – you have a perfectly good salad right here. And if you are vegetarian or vegan, omit the pepperoni or the mozzarella. But if you are making this for omnivores, add the meat and the cheese.

I usually slice the pepperoni in about a half a millimeter-sized slices and then quarter the slices. Naturally, a few slices get popped into my mouth!

I cut the mozzarella into half-inch cubes. I snacked on quite of few of them, too! I love cheese!

At this point I realized that I needed a bigger bowl. I wasn’t going to be able to mix the cheese in without spilling out the rest of the salad! Oops! Luckily I have one really large wooden bowl, made for salads.

The next thing is to made the rest of the dressing. I generally just add the red wine vinegar and the rest of olive oil “by eye” but for purposes of this article, I measured the vinegar:

For seasonings, I add garlic powder, garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, either fresh chopped parsley or dried parsley or freshly chopped basil. For the basil, what I usually do is take several leaves and cut them into little pieces with a pair of scissors. You really want fresh basil for this salad. If you can get fresh parsley, that’s so much velvet but fresh basil is paramount.

Mix the red wine vinegar, additional olive oil, and seasonings into the salad and stir well. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and chill at least several hours – overnight is better. You want to stir it every once in a while. Stirring keeps the magic alive.

My recipe reads that it serves 4-6 people but that depends on individual appetites and what else is being served at the picnic or reunion. I have taken this salad to Yule parties and Superbowl parties as well – it’s a hit wherever I bring it.

So here is the recipe. Try it and love it – I guarantee you will!

Absolutely The Best Pasta Salad In the World”

One 1-lb box of rotini pasta

2/3 cup olive oil, divided

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Broccoli crowns, blanched

Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

1 can small black olives

1 can quartered artichoke hearts

1 stick pepperoni, sliced & quartered

One 1-lb block of mozzarella, cut into half-inch cubes

Seasonings: garlic powder, garlic salt, pepper, fresh parsley & fresh basil

Cook the pasta in boiling water until almost soft. Drain. DO NOT RINSE. Put the pasta into a bowl & pour 1/3 cup olive oil over it & mix well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients and chill at least an hour or overnight. The longer you chill it, the better it tastes.

References

Katzen, Mollie. ion.The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: New Revised Edit Berkley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1995.

The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest (Mollie Katzen’s Classic Cooking (Paperback))

 

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

 

The Kitchen Witch

July, 2018

Instant-Pot Meatloaf Dinner

One thing I love about the Insta-Pot Pressure Cooker is that you can cook “comfort meals” in the middle of summer and not heat up your kitchen or your entire apartment, if you live in a small place like I do. My mother’s famous meatloaf was made in her old Sherman tank of a pressure cooker but my sister adapted the recipe to use with the Insta-Pot. I’ve made it several times now, and every time it just gets better. Of course I tweaked the recipe and I invite you to do the same! If you always put ketchup in your meatloaf mix, then throw some in! Or barbecue sauce or steak sauce or whatever. You know how meatloaf is! It’s an individual thing.

Here’s a scan of my mother’s recipe:

My mother’s pressure cooker was a Mirro-Matic and she used Crisco exclusively for frying. The handwriting at the bottom is my sister’s.

I didn’t have any dry bread so I put two pieces of bread into the toaster and dried them out lightly. I didn’t bother dampening them with water – they were still a little soft. I put the ground beef into a large bowl and broke the bread into small pieces into over it. I chopped the celery and onion into small pieces and added them.

Instead of regular salt, I used garlic salt and I quadrupled the amount of pepper. I also added chopped parsley and a tablespoon of steak sauce.

Form into two loaves and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for thirty minutes. This is to set the loaf form so it doesn’t fall apart when it is cooking.

Meanwhile, prep your potatoes and carrots. If your potatoes are small enough, keep them whole but otherwise, cut them in half. Cut the carrots on the bias. I generally don’t peel the skins off my potatoes or carrots but if you like the skins removed from your vegetables, then of course, do so.

Get out your Instant Pot and turn it on. You want to have it on the “Saute” app. Melt your cooking grease.

Very carefully set the meatloaves into the hot grease.

You want to brown the loaves on both sides. Turning them can be a bit of a challenge! One of my loaves broke in half as I was struggling to get it flipped over but hey – no big deal – it doesn’t change the way it tastes, right?

After your loaves are browned, add the potatoes and the carrots and the cup of water. Sometimes I add cut-up onions as well but I didn’t this time.

Then turn off the “Saute” app and put on the lid and seal it. Press the “Meat/Stew” app (that’s how it works on my machine – maybe yours is different) and then set the timer for 10. And then wait for the pressure cooker magic!

I love hearing the pressure build in the cooker and then the steam escaping from the vent. And watching the numbers descend, knowing that my meal is cooking and it’s going to be fabulous – in such a short time! And then releasing the steam and opening the lid and finding my cooked meal:

I put it onto a platter:

This is what my plate looked like:

Believe me, it was YUMMY GOOD. And even though it was a very hot day when I cooked this meal, my kitchen remained cool and comfortable. I can NOT recommend the Instant Pot enough. Every time I use it, I like it better than the time before. It was a birthday present but if I had bought it, I would say that it was the one of the best buys ever. I have to say, it’s one of my favorite birthday presents in the last five years – for sure.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, just make up the meatloaf recipe and put it in a loaf pan and bake it at 350 degrees for about forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on your oven. This is a really good recipe. And like I said – tweak it, if you want to. I mean, I did! That’s the magic of meatloaf! You can make it totally your own.

Until next month, happy cooking! Brightest Blessings from Polly Applequeen.

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

The Kitchen Witch

June, 2018

Browned Butter Blondies

The first time I made “Blondies”, I was in fact making Chocolate Chip Cookies and I realized that I didn’t have enough time to bake four pans of twelve cookies on each pan, so I put the cookie dough into a lightly-greased 9×13 pan and a picnic tradition was born. This was many years ago – my son James was just a little guy. I have made many pans of “Blondies” – some with dark chocolate chips, some with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, some with crushed peanut M&M’s, some with walnuts or pecans or even cashews – the variations are endless.

So, I was pleasantly pleased to come across this recipe for Browned Butter Blondies at The Food Charlatan, a blog I discovered recently. I love browned butter. I love its nutty aroma and the added dimension it brings to food. I usually brown butter for my popcorn – it really rocks – especially if you add a touch of garlic salt to the butter before putting it on the popped corn.

If you don’t know how to brown butter, I suggest you go to YouTube and check out some of the tutorials on how to do it. It’s much easier once you’ve seen it done in front of you. I was lucky – I learned as a young girl from my mother. It’s quite like scalding milk – you have to keep the heat at medium and you have to keep stirring – the fun part when you’re a child. It’s very easy to burn butter – just like milk – but the technique, once you have it down, is also quite easy. Honestly, it’s like riding a bike. When you’re first learning, you fall off a lot and scrap your knees and elbows – and maybe you cry a little bit – but suddenly you just know how to do it. And then you always know how to do it.

The first thing I did was start the butter to melting.

As I slowly melted the butter, I got out the other ingredients that I needed: brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, salt, and the chocolate chips. I didn’t have any nuts in my pantry except for the almonds that I snack on each day and although I personally think that all cookies and bars of this type ought to have nuts in them, I decided that I didn’t want almonds in this batch. I also decided that I didn’t feel like running to the store to buy any other nuts!

After the butter is melted, immediately pour it into your mixing bowl so that it doesn’t burn sitting in the hot pan! I let it cool for a few minutes before adding the brown sugar.

Remember to pack the brown sugar! When you add it, mix it well! But wow! This is like candy. In fact, this makes me think of making homemade butterscotch candy with my mother when I was twelve or so. That was a lot of fun. A lot of work but a lot of fun.

Add the vanilla and mix well. And then the eggs. I put the eggs into a bowl first because I’ve had too many eggs break badly and pieces of shell fall into the batter – and this is exactly what happened – there was a bad break and I had to pick pieces of shell out of the egg in the bowl before beating them. But at least the pieces of shell weren’t in the batter. It’s always easier to get pieces of shell out of the egg than out of the batter.

And then you add your dry ingredients – the flour, the baking soda and the salt. If you have a sifter like I do, add them in that fashion, but if not, just measure them into a bowl, mix well, and then add them.

Then add the all-important chocolate chips!! Yummy!!

The recipe didn’t say to grease the pan but I did anyway.

My pan was slightly smaller than 9×13 and I had to bake them longer than the 23-27 minutes that the recipe said it would take for “gooey” bars but of course, I have an electric oven and every oven is different, even the gas ovens that I prefer. Your oven might bake these faster than mine or it might bake them slower. And in a 13×9 pan, they might have been done in that time frame. But I am not complaining.

THESE THINGS ARE AWESOME. They smelled so great that I couldn’t even wait for them to cool to cut into them and try them out and of course the first one fell apart completely but then I had the most fabulous idea of putting a little ice cream on the top of it – yeah really – all it needed was some hot fudge sauce and whipped cream! But damn! Was that ever good!

(picture blurry cuz I was in a hurry to chow down)

After the pan cooled, the bars came out in perfect fashion, as shown here:

And everyone who had one of these Browned Butter Blondies raved about how good they were! Believed me! They are fabulously, magically good!

So – make this recipe! I’m not even phrasing this as a suggestion – I’m telling you to do it. Add chocolate chips, nuts, oats, even dried cranberries would be good! This is kitchen witchery at its finest!

References

The Food Charlatanhttp://thefoodcharlatan.com/browned-butter-blondies/

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

April, 2018

There be Dragons

Merry meet.

When I fell in love with a Dragon’s Eye I’d seen on Pinterest, I felt I was lacking the talent and the tools to make one. Blessed be my artist friend Kerry Bower who likes to work with her dragon energy.

This is how she made them. Start to finish, you can finish one in about two hours, including baking time and cooling.

Gather Supplies:

Polymer clay (one small brick can make two eyes)

Polymer clay tools

Glass cabochons (the size of a quarter, found at dollar stores)

Multi-surface paint

Acrylic paint (or clay in the colors you desire)

Small detail brush

Oven

Shape a thin piece of clay into an oval that will be the size of the piece and place the eyeball roughly in the middle.

Roll out two clay snakes to form the top and bottom lids and place them as you wish on the eye. Using clay tools, blend the lids into the base to secure the cabochon to the base.

Form small cone-shaped horns and blend to secure them above the eye.

Roll tiny balls of clay, flatten them and place around the lid, pressing and shaping to form the scales.

Bake according to directions on the package.

If you choose to work with colored clay, you are done after baking.

Kerry used black polymer clay that she then painted with acrylics, explaining, “I like the black underneath, because when you dry brush it, it makes the colors pop so the scales stand out.”

When creating each one, I could picture each dragon and the personality that would come along with each one. Dragon energy is powerful and it is a strong part of me,” said the magical, self-taught artist who works in multiple mediums.

She plans to add Dragon Eggs and Baby Dragons to her line.

Find her beautiful work on Facebook at Kerry’s Creations; or you can email her at kbcreations5900@gmail.com

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Worth the Witch

February, 2018

You’ve Got Magick Mail with Inked Goddess Creations!

 

 

Magick Mail can be a recurring monthly subscription box or a one time box deal. Whatever floats your boat. Each month’s delivery is different from the previous and matches that month’s energy and theme. They contain exclusive Inked Goddess Creations handmade products, as well as, products from other small businesses and artists to bring you unique products.

Every box contains an exclusive to Inked Goddess Creations Candle. A DIY kit so you can focus your magick. Three more additional items that fit the theme of the month and information cards.

Magick Mail ranges in price from a One Month purchase for $25 with free shipping, to a Six Month Subscription which makes each box $20.84 with free shipping.

We were curious as to what makes this box so unique and Magickal! Let’s tear into it…

 

The Packaging

The box is adorable. It comes with a Goddess symbol and the words Magick Mail on top. The long sides say Release the Magick Within & the internet address.

The two smaller sides have a variety of style of stars on them. The packaging is fun. However, if you are not out of the broom closet, do not ask for a neighbor or anyone to pick up the package for you or have it left outside your door. I kind of think it is whimsical enough though to not be over the top.

When you open the box lid up you get a cute message from the maker. That message is hidden and for your eyes only when you open the box. It is a lovely touch.

 

The Kitchen Witch Card

The first thing your eyes are drawn to when you open the box is a postcard sized note with the words The Kitchen Witch printed on it boldly. This card introduces you to the boxes topic for the month. This particular month was Kitchen Witchery. I love this idea! How unique! Not just Kitchen Witchery as in herbs, but COOKING, too!!

The card gives a detailed list of everything the box contains and a breakdown of each items value so you know what you are getting for what you paid. The prices look fair and just and nothing seems over priced to me.

and meanings of each item are listed. Also, information on the box that the items come in is given. It is made from 100% recycled and biodegradable packaging and tissue paper. Being kind to Mother Earth!

 

Silicone Spatula

This adorable, purple, silicone Spatula comes sealed separately to keep it nice and hygienic. It is sturdy and made of good quality. The handle reads “Stir in Some Magick”. Adorable! The royal purple color was picked intentionally for divine guidance. The Kitchen Witch Card gives you all the information on safety for using the Silicone Spatula and the temperatures it is good for.

 

Reusable Grocery Bag

This is the cutest reusable bag I have seen. It came in very handy while buying supplies for a recipe that was included with the box, that will be shared later in the review. Very roomy. Holds as much, no more, than a flimsy grocery bag.

 

Candle

Great smelling votive candle. It has a thick, solid foundation. The shade of brown is simply lovely.

 

Blank Recipe Cards

Included are four 5×7 inch cards to write your own recipes on. They are on good solid cardstock so they will last. They design in the background is cute. There is ample space to write ingredients, directions, and take notes.

 

Now…the fun parts… I have saved these two pieces for last because they go together.

 

Culinary Blends Sample Pack

There are four sample bottles of Magick Spice Blends included in this Magickal Cooking themed box for you to cook and bake with and add to your own recipes. I think they are pretty large for “sample sized”. Each bottle relates to a different spell. There is Money, Love, Protection, & Healing. The herbs contained in each bottle are written on each label, as well as, allergy warnings. The flavors range from sweet to savory.

 

Recipe Cards with

Four recipe cards are included with the Magick Mail box. All four tie in the Culinary Blends Sample Pack! Each recipe is from the box creator’s personal cookbook. There is 1 Breakfast/Snack recipe, 2 Meal recipes, & 1 Dessert. All sound delicious. Each recipe comes on a pretty card, professionally printed on sturdy cardstock.

 

SOOOO….How do we know if these recipes are any good?? How do we know if these Magick Spice Blends are any good? Well, we bake…

 

Magickal Baking Fun!

I chose to bake the Lovin’ Double Chocolate Cookies. I used my new bag to purchase my supplies and got down to it. I picked this recipe because, well, I LOVE cookies & chocolate.

This recipe called for the Love Mixture. I used exactly as much as it asked for, and I KNEW it was a big “sample’ jar, because I have plenty left over to make another batch or something else. The batch of cookies is a large one. I can easily get 21 pretty LARGE cookies from it.

I followed the recipe exactly. Pouring all my energy and Love into it. Here is my batter of Love.

So first taste of cookies is always the dough. If you can eat cookie dough raw and love it, you know you have a good cookie….or just dough that will never become a cookie because you’ve eaten all the dough! Dip one….OMGODDESS!!!! I needed milk! Just for the dough! It was that good! Dip two….more milk. I couldn’t. They had to force me to bake them.

Hocus Pocus and Bam….We have Cookies!!

The taste is a mixture of Deliciousness, choco-chocolate chip cookie, part brownie, love, and heaven. There may be no such place as heaven, but this cookie is it. I think the magick of the Love in the cookie was for everyone to Love the Cookie 🙂

 

My Overall Impression of Magick Mail…

I do not see how anyone could not love this box. It engages you. It is different from the regular boxes out there that just give you incense, candles, witch supplies, and say, this does this and that. This box makes you DO MAGICK in a fun way. And, you get to incorporate your whole family. You get supplies you get to use on a regular, every day basis to remind you that you ARE a witch. A bag to do your everyday shopping. to cook everyday meals and treats. To think this box of fun changes every month with new, innovative ideas, now that is something!!

 

Now let’s learn a little more about Magick Mail and Inked Goddess Creations.

Morgan Moss is the inspiration behind Magick Mail. She took some time from her busy schedule with Inked Goddess Creations to talk with us.

PaganPagesOrg: What brought the idea of the monthly subscription box to you? 

Morgan Moss: My kids were subscribed to some monthly kits for science, crafts, etc. They loved getting them every month, so I started looking up subscription boxes that I would be interested in getting each month. The witchy boxes that existed at the time were too expensive for my family’s budget, and I knew I couldn’t be the only witch on a budget who wanted a subscription box. That’s when the idea for Magick Mail was born. 

PaganPagesOrg: How did you begin them?

Morgan Moss: I started with a lot of research, online and with my customers. I didn’t want Magick Mail to be like any of the boxes that were already on the market. My online store had been open for a few years, so I had an idea of what types of products my customers enjoyed. Once I figured out what type of box I wanted Magick Mail to be, and the price that would cover it, I launched it.

PaganPagesOrg: How do you choose what to put inside your boxes?

Morgan Moss: Each month we choose a theme that resonates with that month’s energy. We have a checklist we like to follow to make Magick Mail unique from other boxes out there. Each month we have a handmade votive, a DIY (we want the customer making magick each month), at least 1 handmade item exclusive to Inked Goddess Creations, and several other full-sized and sample-sized products. Many of the products I choose by intuition. I also like to work with other small businesses to get their products out into the world.

PaganPagesOrg: Is yours a recurring monthly box?

Morgan Moss: We have a One-Time Purchase box which does not renew, and monthly, 3-month and 6-month recurring subscriptions.

PaganPagesOrg: Are you, yourself Pagan?

Morgan Moss: Yes. I’ve walked the path of the Avalonian Tradition for about 13 years now, and am an eclectic kitchen witch.

PaganPagesOrg: What are some of your interests?

Morgan Moss: My family is my everything. My husband and I have been married for 18 years, and we have 2 kids, 15 and 13. We are very big into spending time as a family, which we do by watching movies, playing board games and collaborating on items for the store. When I’m not working or spending time with my family, I enjoy reading, catching up on my favorite TV shows, and practice regular meditation.

PaganPagesOrg: Did you feel the Pagan world was missing something to make you create your box?

Morgan Moss: I did. At the time I started my research, the pagan subscription box market was saturated with expensive monthly boxes. I wanted something the average pagan could afford, but that every pagan would enjoy.

PaganPagesOrg: Do you sell other types of products?  

Morgan Moss: We do! Inked Goddess Creations has been open since 2013, supplying the tools for your magickal life. Many of our items are handmade, such as Spell Oils, Perfume Oils, Mists, Spell Kits, Witch Bottles and more. Our candles are exclusively made for our store, and we have unique altar items, divination items, a line of Kitchen Witchery items and so much more!

 

How can you get your own Inked Goddess Creations Box , Receive Magick Mail or get in Contact with them? Here is how:

Their Direct Link to Inked Goddess Creations:

www.inkedgoddesscreations.com

Their Facebook:

www.facebook.com/inkedgoddesscreations

Their Instagram:

www.instagram.com/inkedgoddesscreations

Their Twitter:

www.twitter.com/inkedgoddesshop

Their YouTube:

www.youtube.com/InkedGoddessCreationsShop

 

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is a Witch of many paths. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMagazine.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way.

The Kitchen Witch

December, 2017

Mexican Wedding Cakes

When it comes to holiday cookies, Mexican Wedding Cakes are among my very favorites. I do have to admit – I only eat the ones that I make myself. The reason is this – I use my mother’s recipe and her recipe is the only one that has honey in it. Every other recipe for this little snowball of a cookie omits this important ingredient and the result is a dry, crumbly cookie. I know people who hate Mexican Wedding Cakes and refuse to eat them because they’re like eating “rolled up dust and nuts,” as one of my boyfriends once complained.

But these cookies will melt in your mouth and your guests will beg you for the recipe.

You only need seven ingredients: soft butter, honey, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, flour, and chopped nuts.

 

Place the butter in a large bowl and cream it well.

 

Then you add the honey and you mix it well. I use an organic honey made from wild flowers that I bought at a farmer’s market and it smelled HEAVENLY.

After that, add the confectioner’s sugar. It’s a good idea – if you have the equipment – to sift the sugar before adding it to the creamed butter and honey mixture. It’ll make mixing it in and making a uniform creamed unit that much easier.

 

Don’t forget to add the vanilla! I forget it all the time and have to add it at the end.

Sift and add the flour. I add a little at a time to make it easier to mix in. It seems dry but if you mix it well, it should have the consistency of Scottish Short Bread.

You have to chop the nuts very fine. I used to have a food processor but I gave it to my son so I did it the old-fashioned way, with a cutting board and knife, which seems more witchy anyway. I prefer pecans but I used walnuts this time because I was on a short budget. Either one works fine.

After mixing in the nuts, put the dough into a container and chill it at least six hours. I usually put it in the fridge and go back to it the next day. There’s always something else I need to do.

Raw dough alert: this dough tastes AWESOME. If you are the kind of person who eats raw dough, it’s really easy to end up with half or less the amount of cookies you’re supposed to have. And there’s no eggs to worry about. So be warned.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Roll the cookies into little balls about the size of small walnuts. Depending on the size of your pan, you can bake twelve to fifteen cookies on each pan.

Bake them for ten to twelve minutes, depending on your oven. You want the bottoms to be lightly browned and the rest of the cookie to be golden. When you take the cookie tray out of the oven, let it set for a minute before taking the cookies off the pan or else they will crumble into yummy pieces of cookiness and you’ll be forced to eat them.

While they are still warm, roll them in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar. Again, be very careful – these are fragile cookies! I usually set a paper underneath the cooling rack to collect any sugar that falls off to make clean-up easier.

When they cool, roll them in confectioner’s once again. Sometimes I add a few sprinkles of red crystals so that some of the cookies have a more festive look. These cookies keep really well if you put them in an air-tight container.

So try this recipe! I guarantee – you will never go back to whatever Mexican Wedding Cake recipe you were using before! And please – have a wonderful Yule season! Brightest Blessings!

 

My Mother’s Recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes

Cream together: 1 cup soft butter

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add: 2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix in: ¾ finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Chill dough at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough into balls the size of small walnuts. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly brown & cookies are golden overall.

Let sit a minute after taking out of the oven. Roll in confectioner’s sugar and again when they have cooled. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

The Kitchen Witch

February, 2017

The Best Oatmeal Bars in the World!!!!!

 

I love oatmeal cookies. I do confess though – I do not particularly like oatmeal-raisin cookies. Raisins are OK but I would rather use dried cranberries or cherries. Right now, I am totally and completely in love with dried cherries. An herbalist friend of mine suggested that I eat them to help ease my arthritis and a month ago, I happened to get a big bag of them at one of Lowell’s very generous food pantries. So naturally, I decided I would put them into some cookies.

Well – if you’re going to have cherries, you just have to have chocolate, don’t you? And personally – I don’t give a hang about cookies without a bit of crunch, so there’s walnuts in here too. I tried to form them into cookies but there was really too much going on – cherries, chocolate chips, chopped walnuts – so I took the easy route and put them into a greased 13×9 pan. And WOW. I shared then with the ladies in the rental office and ya know – I don’t want to brag but they raved! I had to print out the recipe! It made me feel really good.

I usually don’t make the same cookie twice in a row and I generally don’t make cookies in January anyway – after the excesses of the holidays – but I can easily justify these by saying they’re oatmeal and therefore they’re “good for you” and I’ll just spend an extra hour on the exercise bike (yeah, right)!

Here’s the recipe:

The Best Oatmeal Bars In The World !!!

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 pan.

oatmeal1

Cream: ½ butter

½ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup honey

oatmeal2

Combine & beat until smooth:

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

oatmeal3

Sift together & add to the above:

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

oatmeal4

When completely mixed & beaten smooth, add:

oatmeal5

2 cups oats

Mix well.

Add: 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup dried cherries

½ chopped walnuts

oatmeal7

oatmeal8

Mix well. Press into greased pan & baked for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

oatmeal9

oatmeal10

Cut while still warm & then cut again when cool. These will keep for several weeks in a tightly-sealed container.

I cannot emphasize how yummy good these cookies are. Fabulous with your morning coffee or an afternoon cup of tea. I think – although I haven’t tried it out and I swear I won’t – but I think they would be quite good with some vanilla ice cream.

oatmeal11

And they are GOOD for you! Try them for yourself! Bon appetite and brightest blessings!

The Kitchen Witch

September, 2016

 

Cooking in a Small Area

 

I just moved into a new apartment. I am not quite where I want to be, nor is the apartment what I really wanted. But it’s okay for now. I like the city in which I am living – Lowell, Massachusetts – which has a lot of beautiful old buildings and historic places to explore and photograph. I eventually want to find a place nearer to the ocean.

My main problem with this place is the kitchen – or the lack of a kitchen.

kitchen1

The “Kitchen”

There are so few cupboards that I didn’t even unpack most of my dishes. And I have my baking supplies – my flour, sugars, sodas and salts – in a Coleman cooler – while my herbs and spices and decorating sugars are in two Tidy Cat containers!

kitchen2

Where I keep my baking supplies & herbs & spices.

I accidentally left my beautiful wood cutting boards back in Buffalo, so I am now using a small plastic apple-shaped one that was previously just a decoration. But I wouldn’t have room for them on these tiny counters anyway! I honestly don’t think this kitchen is meant for cooking in at all. It’s meant for reheating take-out and perhaps making a quick cup of coffee in the morning. I live right downtown so there’s any number of restaurants to choose from for eating out every night of the week, if your wallet can handle that. But – mine can’t!

So I do have to cook. Because I can’t afford to eat out more than a few times a month and I love cooking! And I love to bake. Even without anyone in my own household to bake for, I will bake. I’ll take cookies down to the rental office and give them to the office personal – I have worked in plenty of offices and I know that cookies are always welcome (and cursed!).

So for the next year – since I signed a lease – The Kitchen Witch will be exploring ways to cook in a tiny space – with no counter space – with just a few tools – being as efficient as possible. Preparation will be the key.

This month’s recipe is a re-imagining of the classic Toll House cookie. Instead of using chocolate chips, I used peanut M & M’s. Before adding them, I cut a tiny hole in the bag and crushed them up. You can use a rolling pin for this but if you have kids helping you out in the kitchen, I suggest getting a small hammer and letting them hit the bag with the hammer. It’s a lot of fun for them – what kid doesn’t like to smash things with a hammer? I admit – I used my hammer too!

The key to cooking in a small place is having everything out and ready before you start. For me, that means clearing off my desk because that’s the only place I have to work.

kitchen3

Candy Cookies

Sift together: 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Cream together: 1 cup (2 sticks) very soft butter

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

Beat: 2 eggs & add to creamed mixture

Add: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add: flour mixture

Add: crushed peanut M&M’s

Drop walnut-sized balls onto a greased baking sheet & bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

kitchen4

These are addictively good!! I took a plate down to the ladies in the rental office and was told I could bring them cookies anytime I want.

kitchen5

Which

is a very good thing.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

May, 2016

We are in between Sabbats. Many of us just celebrated our Beltaine, and may not have even packed up all our ritual supplies yet and already are planning for Summer Solstice! Because I’m going to wait until next time to write about Solstice, I decided to write about one of my favorite topics. Food!!!

The weather is shaping up and we are beginning the warm weather festival season. What would festivals be without the food? If you go to big mainstream community gatherings, you pay to eat from food trucks and grilles- but for us Pagans, many of our festivals are smaller, private, and akin to family barbeques. Thus, Pagans love to potluck. I am sure there are plenty of people who eat Sabbat specific dishes- deviled eggs at Eostre, holiday cookies at Yule, Wassail for Samhain or Yule, ice cream pie at Imbolc- but many of us just take whatever is practical to take along depending on what the site for the Sabbat allows.

Because my friends put up with it, I have been able to do a lot of hosting from my own home. That allows me to serve whatever I please. I usually make a pot of hot stew to serve when I am hosting at home. And I always brew copious amounts of coffee, hot teas, and serve all the alcohol people want.

Sometimes, we book a gathering at a local community center instead, when we want a larger group, and I like to go for gatherings with other groups as well. While the good old fashioned crock pot is always an option if you’d like to serve hot foods, there is not always a plug-in available! I have also found that there may not always be room in the fridge. So, I have gotten in the habit of taking things that can stay fresh for a several hours out of the fridge, and that don’t need heated up. I also try not to purchase pre-made foods. How many potlucks have you attended where everybody brought packaged chips, cookies, candy, and sodas, and that’s all there was to eat? Now, I understand that not everybody is gifted in the kitchen- but I am, so unless there is some extenuating circumstance, I try to make a fresh dish. I am going to provide some of my favorite recipes for potluck foods for when I am going to a gathering. I hope you enjoy them.

Something fresh!

Salads and fresh fruit and veggie platters are a must have at these gatherings. Not everybody can eat the rich foods, and we have a lot of folks in our communities who are vegan. A lot of the folks who do not cook will buy a fruit or veggie platter from the grocery- but have you seen how much they charge for those? Ridiculous! It takes a bit longer to chop up the foods yourself, but will save a lot of cash in the long run.

For salads, since I never know who will come to a gathering and what their allergies or food restrictions may be, I have the greens in a big bowl by themselves, and have the various toppings in smaller bowls on the side. I do find it more convenient to have grape or cherry tomatoes, but it costs far less to buy roma tomatoes and cut them myself. A tradition my mother started was to have a bunch of green onions chopped up to top the salad with, and I have continued that. Also, cucumbers were a staple for me growing up, so I almost always have those for salads. But you don’t need to stop there for salad toppings. Mandarin oranges and radishes combined with red onion are fantastic on spinach with a sweet raspberry vinaigrette. Strawberries and grapes sliced and scattered over greens with a balsamic dressing are marvelous too. And who can resist sunflower seeds or pine nuts in salad? I never put dressing on the salad, but put the bottles on the side for people to use as they prefer. Yeah- I admit, I will chop up a salad, but I’m too lazy to make the dressing. I find so many good options for dressings, that I don’t even need to worry about good taste. My favorites are Cardini’s Champagne Vinagrette and Brianne’s French Vinagrette. The Champagne Vinagrette is also great to throw on cold pasta and green onions, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and capers and copious amounts of fresh garlic and crumbled feta cheese.

Fresh fruits are an easy solution as well. I find a pineapple chopped up with the tassled top stood up decoratively always gets eaten right up- or a whole watermelon or cantaloupe cut up in a bowl! But I have also never had plain old apples and oranges chopped up and layered on a plate turned down. To keep the apple slices from turning brown, squeeze a lemon or orange and toss the apple slices in the juice. If you can’t stand your sliced fruit plain, the produce section of the grocery usually sells chocolate and caramel dips!

One of the things I love is fresh green beans or asparagus boiled or steamed until lightly softened and then chilled and served with spinach dip and cubes of pumpernickel bread on the side. I also like to include on a veggie platter sliced up bell peppers, carrots and celery, sugar snap peas, radishes- OMGS radishes!!!!- and fresh , raw mushrooms.

Relishes

When I was growing up, all the ladies in the family had these gorgeous glass relish plates with divided sections for different things. And on all these plates were pickles, olives, and glorious glorious CHEESES with crispy, crunchy crackers. If you are like me, you could eat this for three meals a day. I have not found any one kind of pickle to be more or less favored, and if I serve the plain old Spanish green olives, those don’t get eaten any less voraciously than the gourmet olives that cost three times as much. My mom used to chunk up cheddar and colby jack, and my ex-husband was fond of gouda and edam. My current husband’s family, being from Eastern Europe, have taken their cheese and olive platters to new heights, and serve a mouthwatering feta and with black Greek olives and pita as opposed to crackers. Nobody loved sweet pickles like my mother- and she served the tiny gherkin sweet pickles-but I have discovered something even better- SPICY pickles with peppers by Frog Ranch. You will love them!

Maybe you aren’t like mom’s family, and don’t have the fancy relish platters- or maybe you are accident prone like me, and are worried you might break said pretty platters. Chunked up cheese and the crackers served on a paper plate and an open jar of pickles and olives on the side has never been turned down by anybody.

Comitting “carbicide

Many gatherings see folks bring in breads and starchy foods. Our editor told me she loves carbs. Don’t we all? I have fabulous recipes for bagels, potato salad, and a strawberry bread recipe everybody loves.

Bagels

This recipe is based on the one from allrecipes.com, My friend, Kasey, who made these with me in the video is an expert on yeast breads, and instead of using the instant yeast the recipe calls for, used dry active yeast, and proofed it first. We made a video to show you how- and to make you laugh. These will not be turned down, and you will be lucky if there are any left. They are perfect for brunch, a morning meal after a group campout, or even to put sandwiches on. They take about three or four hours to make due to long rising time, but they are 100% worth it, I promise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e1FnROaTzc

Lime and Thyme Potato Salad

I get bored with the ordinary. Food is no exception. I got tired of the plain old mayo and mustard potato salad it seems like most everybody makes without any deviation. I was tickled pink when I found my potato salad recipe, which is from the July 2001 issue of Better Homes and Gardens- and it’s on page 175. I always make a double or triple batch, as it goes fast, and it keeps well. There’s never any left, though!

Toss 4 cups cooked potato cubes in a dressing made from 1/3 cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup dairy sour cream, ½ teaspoon finely shredded lime peel, and the juice of a lime. Stir in 1 tablespoon of snipped fresh thyme and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. If salad seems too stiff after chilling, stir in a splash or two of milk. Serves 4.”

Narragansett Strawberry Bread

I wish I could tell you where I got this recipe. I Xeroxed it years ago at a library , and have no clue what publication it is from. It is a modern version based on strawberry cornbread, first recorded in 1636 by Roger Williams, who said indigenous women made this.

Narragansett Strawberry Bread

½ cup butter

¾ cup maple sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup finely ground walnuts ( I use a coffee grinder)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Milk enough to make a stiff batter

1 cup wild strawberries, rinsed and stemmed, or cultivated strawberries, rinsed, stemmed, and quartered

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg, and beat until smooth.

  3. Add flour, nuts, baking powder, and salt. Stir, and add enough milk to make a stiff batter.

  4. Gently fold in the strawberries, and turn batter into an 8-or 9- inch square baking pan. (round works just as well.)

  5. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

  6. Let cool before slicing.

And Then a Spot of Tea!

The perfect place for info about how I do tea-to-go belongs under the sweet bread, methinks! You could always grab Nestea or some other mix, and it would get drank, but truthfully, nothing tastes better than freshly made tea. While there is a plethora of offerings of expensive flavored teas that everybody absolutely loves- none of that is necessary, nor is it as affordable as what I do.

First, buy a gallon jug of water- or save and wash one from when you finish your milk. Make sure this jug has a screw top as opposed to a pop on top so it doesn’t spill. Either fill the jug with tap water or use the water that was in it when you got it at the store, and pour all that water into a big pan and bring it just to a boil and turn it off immediately. There are sixteen cups of water in the gallon- so if you are using regular teabags, put ten of them in this. If you are using loose tea, put in twelve or fourteen teaspoons depending on how strong you prefer your tea. I don’;t just do plain tea, though. Sometimes, I jazz it up a bit. I throw some dried lavender in with jasmine tea sometimes. Most any Asian market carries Fujian’s Jasmine tea and it comes in both red and golden yellow tins. About three or four tablespoons lavender to fourteen teaspoons of jasmine tea of is enough. I also like to use dried rose petals, easily found at Middle Eastern markets in with black tea. I do recommend, if you can find it, and flavor of tea by Ahmad teas. The cardamom and Earl Grey they make goes over especially well at gatherings. Don’t leave the leaves or bags in the tea for long. Usually three to five minutes is long enough for teabags and five to ten minutes for loose tea. Just taste it to judge when it’s perfect. Then strain all of that out as soon as it is strong enough. Let the tea cool, and then pour it back into the gallon jug using a funnel and refrigerate it until time to head to the gathering. I never sweeten my teas, and just take sugar along in case folks want to. If you are taking the tea, take along cups as well!

Dessert

Even if you don’t eat sweets, a lot of other people do. While the simplicity of cookies makes for convenient eating at a potluck, there is nothing, and I do mean NOTHING more beautiful than a homemade cake at a gathering. My very best cake recipe was given to me by my friend, Inger many years ago, and I am not sure where she got it from. We both have become known for this cake. All you have to do is bring this along ONE time, and it will make you famous amongst your friends.

It is a good one to take for gatherings, because it is baked in a 9 ½ by 13 inch glass baking dish and just left in the pan to be iced and devoured a piece at a time. It’s a carrot cake with a cream cheese icing and it includes a lot of goodies besides just the carrots. You can always justify a piece because it has so much fresh, natural goodness in it. Ready?

Inger’s Kick Ass Carrot Cake

Cake

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup oil

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

2 ¼ cup flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups shredded carrots

1 eight ounce can crushed pineapple AND it’s juice

2 cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla and blend with a wooden spoon.

  2. Stir in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, and mix well.

  3. Fold in carrots, coconut, pineapple, and nuts until all is incorporated.

  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes and let cool.

Next, ice the cake!

Icing

6 ounces room temperature cream cheese

½ cup softened butter

¼ cup milk

3-4 cups powdered sugar

¼ teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients but the cream cheese- add that last. Blend well, and spread over carrot cake.

Well, these are just a few of the foods I share at gatherings that never fail to make folks happy. I hope you enjoy the Summer festival season with your loved ones and that good food is a big part of that!

Blessed Be!

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