kitchen witch

The Kitchen Witch

January, 2018

Bountiful Beef Salad

I eat salad every day. Usually for lunch, but sometimes for dinner, my salads are small meals in and of themselves. My base salad is a bowl of mixed greens, sliced red onion or Vidalia, slices of seedless cucumber, garbanzo beans and chunks of cheese – usually sharp New York State Cheddar, but sometimes Colby-Jack or Swiss. Depending on what I have on hand, I may add chunked or sliced tomatoes, salad shrimp, pieces of cooked chicken, ham or turkey, albacore tuna, avocado, sliced green pepper, celery, carrot or whatever other strikes my fancy.

One thing I always thought was strange – you see salads with almost every kind of meat on them but very rarely a salad with beef. I suppose souvlaki is a kind of salad with beef on it – or lamb – but generally, salads just don’t come with red meat on them.

Until I heard of “Bountiful Beef Salad”. It was back in the days of AOL – perhaps you remember when AOL was the big thing on the internet – the chat rooms and the screen names – I had several screen names, including “Saladqueen999” and “luvapl40” – and I eagerly joined recipe clubs, along with so many other groups that are now defunct. But I still have the recipes that I printed out. “Bountiful Beef Salad” is one of these.

As usual, get out your ingredients before you start.

I have to confess, I didn’t have the exact ingredients as listed in the recipe but I have never let that stop me from making a dish if I wanted it – and salads are easily changed to conform to what you have on hand. I have to say that I did miss the avocado but it was a delicious salad so don’t let the lack of an item get in the way of making this!

Just put it together. Make a nice base of salad greens first.

Then add the rest of your vegetables. I’m not particularly anal about this, but generally I add the onions, then the cukes, then the tomatoes, but sometimes I mix up the order. I don’t want to get too OCD about it!

The beef I used was from a leftover round roast I had a few days ago with my son. This is actually the fifth meal I made from the leftover meat! I rarely eat red meat anymore but when I do, I make it last! This salad works with leftover roast meat or with steak – it’s really good with grilled steak. The charred meat is an excellent counterpoint to the crisp greens and sweet tomatoes. Whatever kind of red meat you use, make sure it is sliced very thin

I had a hard-boiled egg, so I added that and some chunked swiss cheese.

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And then the topping – Thousand Island dressing. You can use whatever dressing you like, of course but Thousand Island dressing really makes this salad! And it was what called for in the original recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Bountiful Beef Salad

½ pound cooked roast beef

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 avocado, peeled & sliced

3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

¼ cup red onion rings

1 10-ounce package mixed salad greens, washed & dried

Thousand Island Dressing

Arrange meat, tomatoes, avocado, eggs & onion over the greens on a platter. Serve with the Thousand Island dressing. Serves 4.

As you can tell, I did tweak the recipe just a bit, since I was only serving myself and I didn’t have any avocado on this particular day and I used a Vidalia onion instead of the red onion called for in the recipe. And I added chunks of Swiss cheese. But these are small changes.

This is a wonderful main-dish salad that is great for lunch and wonderful for dinner, especially if you accompany it with a creamy mushroom soup and some crusty bread. All you need is the beverage of your choice and viola! Meal magic!

***

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

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.

Notes from the Apothecary

November, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Nasturtium

 

 

My seven year old suggested this beautiful flower for November’s Apothecary notes. He planted some seeds towards the end of summer, and despite us worrying that it was a little late for our reasonably cool climate, they flourished, and I have seen many more across my home town this month, trailing out of gardens like fire tipped vines.

 

Confusingly, the Latin name nasturtium refers to a type of watercress. Whilst delicious, I am going to ignore the watercress in favour of tropaeolum, the plant we commonly refer to as nasturtium. The plant originated in South America, and was imported to Mediterranean Europe at least as early as the 16th century, although there are some anecdotes about the round, shield-like leaves being used on trophy poles in Roman times, which would indicate it left South America much earlier than the 16th Century.

 

The Kitchen Garden

There are about 80 species of nasturtium, but for our purposes I’m going to concentrate mainly on tropaeolum majus, the species most people will have in their gardens with the round, plate like leaves and bright yellow, orange or red flowers that start with a funnel flaring out into five, flat petals. The joyous thing about this plant is it is entirely edible. The leaves and flowers can both be eaten raw, and have a slightly peppery taste, which is similar to rocket or indeed the watercress that gives the plant its common name. The seed pods can be pickled, and have been likened to capers when used in this way.

 

For those who grow their own veg and herbs, plant some nasturtiums alongside your plot, as they will help keep away some pests, and even encourage ‘good’ predators, such as ladybirds, who will eat aphids and help keep your crops healthy. Also, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars love nasturtium, and the butterflies will often lay their eggs on the nasturtiums and ignore the cabbage plants; a behaviour which can be of enormous benefit to gardeners and farmers.

 

The Apothecary

 

 

The flowers are relatively high in vitamin C, yielding about the same amount as parsley but with much more dramatic presentation! Vitamin C is great for boosting the immune system and is necessary for cellular repair.

 

Older remedies include mixing nasturtium with flax and honey, to remove pitted nails. (Dioscorides, Materia Medica). Mrs Grieve discusses the benefits of the oils of watercress, which are similar to what she refers to as the ‘true’ nasturtium, or Indian cress. She advises these oils can be used for promoting appetite, cleansing spots or blemishes on the face, and as an antiscorbutic; a food to prevent scurvy, which is backed up by the high content of vitamin C in the flowers.

 

The plant has also been indicated as a tonic for urinary tract infections, coughs and chest problems and as a mild antiseptic.

 

The Lab

Some green veg, yellow carrots, and eggs contain a substance called lutein, which may have a function in maintaining healthy eyes. The humble nasturtium (the species with yellow flowers) stands alone in this field of research, as having the highest yield of lutein of any edible plant that we are aware of currently. This is an amazing fact, and if more research is done into the benefits of lutein in humans, the nasturtium could end up being a very important medical plant indeed.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

The nasturtium is an extremely hardy plant, putting up with dry soil or soaking conditions, and even surviving altitudes of over 10000 feet. The roots live through freezing winters even when the leaves and flowers die away. This plant represents ‘toughing it out’; storing up your energy reserves for when they’re needed and biding your time. They are the knowledge that sometimes we face setbacks, and that’s OK. It’s OK to fall back, regroup, re-plan or approach a difficult problem from another angle. They also represent tenacity, wilfulness, and never giving up, all associated with the element of fire which is often attributed to this plant with its glowing, sun-like flowers.

 

The associations with sun can be drawn out in many ways; for example, you could leave these flowers as an offering for Lugh, the Celtic god with the shining visage who is often seen as a sun god. He is also a master of all trades and skills, from martial arts to music, so the nasturtium here becomes a symbol of versatility and prowess.

 

Experiment with the flower, and the leaves, and see how they speak to you. Remember, the leaves and flowers will fade and wilt once picked, so time your plant-picking so you can use the parts as soon as possible.

 

Making a meal with the nasturtiums can be a magical affair, using the flowers to bring the warmth of the sun into your meals, and the leaves to bring a peppery spice which also speaks to us of fire, heat and the passions of creativity and love. Focus on your intent whilst cooking or preparing your dishes, or murmur blessings over the meal as you decorate it with the glorious flowers.

 

Home and Hearth

Nasturtium flowers make a great addition to the south of your sacred space or altar, especially at this time of year between autumn and winter, when other bright flowers may be less available. The flowers can be pressed or dried, and used as a permanent representation of the sun to last you throughout the winter. You could keep one of the orange flowers between the pages of a journal, and use it as a focus for meditation, which is particularly useful for those who suffer from seasonal adjustment disorder, to remind yourself of the returning spring and that there is colour and brightness even in the darkest months.

 

The leaves grow on long creepers, and although they are not evergreen, if collected before they wilt, you can use these creepers much like ivy to decorate your house or magical areas; a symbol of the green that lives even in the depth of winter. Nasturtium leaves have the added bonus that as well as being decorative, you can chuck them in a salad and eat them!

 

I Never Knew…

The nasturtium is actually a brassica, just like cabbage!

 

*Image credits: Wikipedia

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

For Amazon information, click images below.

 

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 

Notes from the Apothecary

October, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Pumpkin

 

 

It’s that magical time of year again, where anything that can be fragranced or flavoured seems to take on the aroma of a combination of vanilla and pumpkin, with the emphasis on the sweetness of this gorgeous gourd. But why do we revere the pumpkin at this time of year? The answer comes from Irish Celtic history, and the seasonal nature of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) itself.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Although the pumpkin, like other squashes, originated in North America, it can now be found all over the world. It’s classed as a ‘winter squash’ due to the fruits ripening around autumn and winter time. This is one of the main reasons it is so widely in use throughout Samhain and into the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Yule periods.

 

The fabulous thing about pumpkins is that so much of the plant is edible. You have probably eaten the flesh at some point, either in pies, soup or puddings. You may even have eaten pumpkin seeds, which are tasty roasted and salted or used in baked goods such as bread. But did you know you can even eat the flowers of pumpkins? The only downside to this is, if you eat a pumpkin flower, it cannot then be pollinated and grow into a pumpkin!

 

In Korea and some parts of Africa, even the leaves are eaten. In Zambia, they are boiled and mixed with groundnut paste.

 

Pumpkin is great in sweet or savoury food, and can be combined with other squashes easily. A touch of chilli adds a fiery zing, and other warming spices such as cinnamon transform a very earthy plant into a symbol of fire.

 

Growing pumpkins requires a good bit of space, and although you can start them off indoors, they really need moving outside onto a large pile of compost where they can spread out. We only grow our squashes on the allotment, as there simply isn’t room in the garden; not if we want to have space for anything else!

 

The Apothecary

Because the pumpkin was only discovered upon the exploration of North America, some of the older herbals don’t cover it in great depth. In Mrs Grieves’ Modern , she lumps the pumpkin in with watermelon, although she does clearly state that it is a very different plant. She says the pumpkin is sometimes known as the melon pumpkin, or ‘millions’; a term which has certainly gone out of fashion today.

 

She states that in combination with other seeds such as melon, cucumber and gourd (Grieves cites this as cucurbita maxima, a south American squash), an emulsion can be formed which is effective for catarrh, bowel problems and fever. She also tells us that melon and pumpkin seeds are good worm remedies, even for tapeworm.

 

For our furry friends, high-fibre pumpkin can be added to the diet of cats or dogs to aid digestion. It is also sometimes fed to poultry to keep up egg production during the colder months. Always speak to your vet before changing your pet’s or livestock’s diet.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

 

 

Pumpkins appear throughout folklore and fairy tales, often in themes of transformation. Think of Cinderella, whisked off to her ball in a coach which only a few minutes before was a giant pumpkin. The pumpkin is a symbol of our hearts’ desires, travelling towards our goals and the transformation of dreams into reality.

 

We mustn’t forget that the coach turned back into the pumpkin at midnight! This reminds us to enjoy what we have while we have it, to grasp the opportunities in front of us as we never know when they might disappear.

 

A piece of pumpkin or pumpkin seeds on your altar represents autumn moving into winter, the final harvest and goals of self-sufficiency; whether literally through living off the land and growing your own food, or through honing your passion into a craft that can support you.

 

I will have pumpkin seeds at north in my sacred space, to remind me of all the ‘seeds’ I have planted this year which I hope will grow into greater things even through the cold months; ideas for songs and poems, research into my ‘magical birds’ book, and plans to save money in preparation for our new baby. These are my seeds, and I need to nurture them. Just like the pumpkin, they need care, attention and feeding! Pumpkins need compost, sunshine and water, whereas my ideas need hard work, time and commitment.

 

Home and Hearth

The archetypal ‘Jack O’ Lantern’ most likely comes from the Irish and Scottish Celts, who would have carved a face into a turnip or swede, placed a light within and used this as an amulet to ward off evil spirits, or possibly as a guiding light for ancestral or guardian spirits. When colonists came to America carrying these traditions with them, they found the larger and softer pumpkin; a much better vehicle for the carved totems! And so the pumpkin became the new guiding light of Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve and eventually, Hallowe’en.

 

It’s only the seeds that you need to remove from a pumpkin in order to leave a space for the light inside, and you can keep a few of these seeds to try and cultivate your own plants next year. If you are able to do this (and I appreciate not everyone has the space to grow a pumpkin plant- they are quite large!) this will create a cyclical connection between this year’s and next year’s magic, cementing continuity and your own connection to the turning season.

 

If this simply isn’t practical, keep a few of the seeds on your altar or in a sacred space, as a reminder of the different stages of life reflected in the changing seasons.

 

If you scrape some of the flesh out as well as the seeds, keep this and cook with it at Samhain. You are making the most of your pumpkin, using as much of it as you can to avoid waste, and you are connecting your magical lantern to your Samhain feasting.

 

The lantern can be placed in a window, or on a doorstep if it is safe to do so. If you use a naked flame such as a candle or tealight, please be aware of animals and children, especially during trick-or-treating! The last thing you want is some small child setting themselves on fire or spilling hot wax on themselves. A great alternative is one of those LED candles which you can now pick up very cheaply.

 

 

 

 

The lantern guards your space, keeping away unwanted visitors, and guiding your ancestral spirits to where they need to be, including back beyond the veil once the period of Samhain has passed.

 

I Never Knew…

The word ‘pumpkin’ originates from the Greek word pepon, which means ‘large melon’, which may explain how it sometimes ends up under the melon section in older herbals!

 

Image credits: Pumpkins Hancock Shaker Village, public domain; Photograph of a homegrown pumpkin species, “Atlantic Giant”, (cucurbita maxima), copyright Ude 2009 via Wikimedia; Nathan looking at Jack O’ Lantern display in Benalmadena, copyright 2016 Mabh Savage.

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 


 

Positively Pumpkin

September, 2017

 

It’s easy to feel swamped by pumpkin everything in the autumnal landscape but pumpkin to some of us is quite a modern thing.

 

 


While there were definitely pumpkins for sale in my childhood they were expensive and certainly not the size and multitude they seemed to be in the US. No we had turnips (which is as exciting as it sounds) and last year I thought I’d carve one to honour the ancient Irish tradition. I was even using Dremel and it was still a nightmare! It fought me the whole time, it refused, it spewed gross out me, it was a serious fight and took me 3 hours over 2 days to carve one! I swore never again, but as the pumpkins rotted away within weeks to a sticky stinky paste my turnip hanging up shriveled and look, well a like severed head. In fact it hung out through rain, rain and some frost all the way until Beltane!

 


I haven’t sworn off pumpkins (though many Brits still are not sold on them) I do have the advantage that I got gifted a load of canned pumpkin.

 


Again pumpkin pie isn’t really big in the U.K. at Samhain time. That said, I like it a lot. However I think it’s much under-rated in sweet and my personal preference, savoury food. You can eat the pumpkins for sale around Halloween, though they are breed to look pretty not taste good you can wash and slice, steam or roast them up a treat. You can wash and dry the seeds and toast them and eat them too! Where I give measurements of pumpkin, I’ll be using mostly canned because I have it but you can always use fresh cooked pumpkin.

 

 

 

In the U.K. we use a lot of dried fruit. The reason for this is natural dried fruit has a high sugar content and was used to sweeten before mass produced sugars were available. Things like spices and raisins were also medicinal. Often used to add warmth into the body living in a rather cold, damp and windy climate. This is why treacles (molasses) and dried fruit are common in everything from bara brith (a Welsh sweet bread loaf) Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and mince pies. Molasses is also known for its medicinal properties being as it is high in iron, B vitamins and Magnesium. Many sweet treats were a way to get these health benefits into children who might refuse otherwise. Parkin is a traditional sweet treat from the wet and windy areas of Northern Britain, eaten around the Autumnal time of year. It has more treacle than my pumpkin recipe, and more ginger but I wanted to have that smoky warming quality in my bread. I also added white chocolate and dark chocolate chips because again our British palette prefers less sugar and I didn’t want to make a loaf you wouldn’t want to eat! I also had to get the giant bag of chocolate chips out of the cupboard to reach the flour and stuff and it seemed rude not to! You could leave out the chocolate and use dried fruit soaked in something boozey, like a rum or brandy or strong black tea. This recipe makes two regular loaves.

 

 

 

Spiced Pumpkin Bread (Sweet)


Much like banana bread you can use this batter to make muffin shapes should you desire, you’ll need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.


1 can of pumpkin
115 grams of butter or replacement
3 eggs (or 2 large duck eggs)
250 grams golden granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp fine salt
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp allspice
230 grams self-raising flour
1 tbsp. rye flour
1 tbsp. treacle (molasses)
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup dark chocolate chips.

 

I creamed my butter and sugar together and beat with a balloon whisk (feel free to use a mixer) and add my spices. Adding your spices to your fats allows the essential oils naturally within them and flavours to develop more deeply. I added my pumpkin puree and eggs one at a time. I then added the treacle.


In a separate bowl I mixed my salt, flours and baking powder whisking to aerate and remove lumps. Then slowly folded with a spatula into the wet mix. I wanted to give a nod to Parkin’s rich nutty flavour without adding fine oat meal to the mix, which is why I add the rye flour. This again is very high in iron and B vitamins but it also gives a really great depth. This gives the loaf a deeper darker flavour to it.
I then gently mixed in my chocolate chips and dived the mix between two greased loaf pans.


I then put them into a pre-heated oven at about 180 C for thirty minutes or until a tooth pick comes out cleanly.


Shoo away your children and partners until cool enough to cut sensibly. Great as a desert alone or cold with sharp Cheddar cheese. It should last well if kept in a cake tin or airtight container for about a week, but good luck with that!

The Kitchen Witch

September, 2017

Harvest Stir-Fry with Shrimp

 

     If you are like me, you either make too much pasta or not enough. Generally, I err on the side of too much. So I often use leftover pasta in stir-fries. Pasta reheats fabulously in the stir-fry pan, and absorbs the flavors of the cooking oil, vegetables and other seasonings.

     The other day, I went to the farmer’s market in Downtown Buffalo. I bought these wonderful purple and pale green peppers, as well as cherry tomatoes and zucchini. I decided to use them in the stir-fry with the leftover pasta. I also had onion and shrimp.

Here is the recipe and how you prepare this yummy stir-fry:

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium zucchini, cubed (about 1 cup)

1 purple pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

1 pale green pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

¼ cup diced red onion

13-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

2 cups leftover pasta, broken into pieces

¼ cup white wine or chicken broth

10-12 medium cooked frozen shrimp, thawed, with tailed removed

Fresh parsley and basil to taste.

     Heat the olive oil in a heavy cast iron pan or wok until just about smoking. Add the vegetables and toss in the hot oil. Season with salt and pepper and keep moving in the oil. Add the leftover pasta and stir it in well. Add the white wine or the chicken broth, stirring well. Add the shrimp, then the parsley and basil. Toss a final time and serve. With a salad, this is a perfect light dinner for two people.

Enjoy! BB!

The Kitchen Witch

August, 2017

Sauteed Zucchini with Onions and Mushrooms

 

Since my last posting, I have moved into a new home and I finally have a real kitchen again! It’s so nice to have counter space and storage space! I am still getting settled but I have lots of plans for magical meals and witchy ways to make your culinary life more charming.

It’s the height of the summer harvest season and everywhere you look, there’s zucchini! Your garden is overflowing with the bountiful green squash, at work, your co-workers bring in extras from their gardens, every farmer’s market has baskets filled to the brim with zucchini and summer squash both.

There are literally hundreds of zucchini recipes – from stuffed baked zucchini to pickled zucchini to zucchini salad to zucchini bread – and every one of those has a dozen subsets of recipes – honestly, you could make a zucchini dish every day of the year and never repeat yourself. There’s even a mock apple pie recipe using zucchini – which I have never made – but it tastes like the real deal. All you need is vanilla ice cream.

One of my favorite ways to use zucchini is to saute it with onions and mushrooms. This is a recipe I got from my mother. Of course – like so many of her recipes – it’s not actually a recipe at all – it’s just something that she did. I learned how to make this simply by watching her do it.

It’s wicked simple. All you need is:

1 to 2 tablespoons of butter &/or olive oil &/or a mixture of both

1 or 2 zucchinis or a zucchini and a summer squash

1 small onion or half a large one, sliced

2 cups sliced mushrooms

¼ cup white wine

Sea salt & freshly crushed black pepper to taste

You start by melting some butter in a pan – or heating some olive oil – whatever your preference is – I use a mixture of the two. While this is happening, slice your zucchini. I generally use a mixture of zucchini and summer squash, because I like the look of green and yellow in the pan. Slice your onions and if your mushrooms need slicing, do them as well.

Toss all of the vegetables into the bubbling butter-oil mix and saute until just tender-crisp. Add the white wine and stir until it cooks off. Season with sea salt and freshly crushed pepper and serve.

This is a great side dish to any meat or fish. You can also put it on top of pasta or rice for a vegetarian meal.

The Kitchen Witch

July, 2017

Quinoa Pancakes & Waffles Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

1 1/2 cups Quinoa flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cups milk

3 eggs beaten

2 Tbsp of butter melted

2 tsp of honey

 

 

 

Mix together & make into pancakes.

To make waffles, just add another teaspoon of milk to the mixture above.

 

I suggest you use real Maple Syrup and KerryGold butter.  

I am gluten-free and these were so light and delicious. This has become our go to dinner if we are wanting something quick and sweet. 

Notes from the Apothecary

June, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Apple
apple1

 

The apple is a fruit that is either revered or maligned, depending on which tradition or religion you look at. For Christians, it is the forbidden fruit, the ultimate temptation in the Garden of Eden. Strangely, the bible itself never names the type of fruit as an apple, and some studies suggest it may actually have been a fig, a pomegranate or even a grape. Despite this, the image of the apple as a fruit of seduction and forbidden knowledge has persisted into the modern age. For the Celts, however, there was nothing sinful about the apple at all. The fruit was associated with the afterlife, yet also with immortality and health. It was also closely associated with the faerie realm, and those who ate an apple whilst in the world of the good neighbours, would never again be able to return.

The Kitchen Garden

There is so much you can do with apples one hardly knows where to begin. For me, it’s my ‘go to’ fruit for jams and jellies. As well as making a fantastic preserve all by itself, it can be added to other fruits low in pectin (the setting agent for jelly and jam) to ease the preserving process. I’ve mixed apple with blackberry, blackcurrants, rowanberries, elderberries and even citrus fruit, all with good results.

As well as preserves, apples make fantastic crumbles, pies and cakes. One of my favourite apple cake recipes can be found here, and is an absolute doddle to make. I use eating apples rather than cooking apples, but experiment and find out what works for you.

 

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One of my favourite uses of apples is something I’ve not yet experimented with, and that’s the craft of making cider, or cyder. There is a difference, other than archaic spelling! Cyder is traditionally made from apples that have only been pressed once, rather in the same way that extra virgin olive oil is produced. Cider is made from a repressing of the same apple pulp, mixing it with water. This makes a longer and lighter drink. I’ve always fancied making my own apple press, although I have a friend who uses a hand blender on chopped apples, with some fantastic results! There’s a guide to making your own cider press here at Mother Earth News. If anyone does this or has done this please let me know how it turns out!

The Apothecary

Surely everyone has heard the aphorism, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ The original saying stems from 1866 and was originally, ‘Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’ Pithy though these little rhymes are, the apple certainly has many qualities that recommend it as a health food, if not actually a cure-all.

The pectin mentioned previously is a type of soluble fibre, and we need fibre for a healthy diet. There is some evidence that pectin can also lower blood pressure and glucose levels. Apples also contain nutrients that promote healthy bones and brain, and they also contain vitamin C which boosts the immune system and keeps cells healthy.

So while apples won’t necessarily keep all ills at bay, they will certainly contribute to good all round health.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The apple appears throughout various myths from many different backgrounds. We briefly mentioned the Celtic links between apples and immortality. In Norse legend, the apple was given to the gods to provide them with eternal youth. Apples also appear associated with fertility, including the gift of an apple being given to one praying for a child. Apples are also associated with the goddess Hel, and possibly her realm of the same name, the ninth of the nine worlds on the world tree, Yggdrasil. Hel is a realm of the dead, so here we have apples associated with fertility and birth, long life, and death and the afterlife. They are a fruit of cycles, circles and representative of all aspects of being. They are of this world and of magical realms, and represent the link between this world and others.

The apple is also a symbol of poetic inspiration. A branch of apple can symbolise a Bardic or Ovate path. If seeking inspiration yourself, a leaf or small twig from an apple tree in your sacred place may help, or place an apple leaf under your pillow and see what dreams may come.

There is an old superstition that if you can peel an apple in one go, without removing the knife until the peel has come off all in one piece, then toss it over your shoulder whilst looking in a mirror, it will fall in the shape of the initial of your loved one to be. The root of this is most likely an older association with prophecy and fortune telling.

 

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Apples are strongly associated with magic of all kinds, in fact they are a kind of catalyst. Any spell can be ‘offered’ to an apple tree. Charge items with intent, and hang them from the tree, trusting that the intrinsic magic of the tree will aid your spell. Water the tree, and if your spell is successful, plant an apple pip at some point in the future as thanks.

The apple is a wonderful offering to many gods and goddesses (always research first though!), and also to the good neighbours (fairies), along with butter and milk.

Home and Hearth

Towards the end of summer, or start of winter, make a Wassail Bowl. There is a druidic celebration known as ‘Day of the Apple’ after Samhain, and a Wassail Bowl is one interpretation of the brew that was made at this time to ensure a good apple harvest the following season. You don’t have to wait until Samhain though. As soon as you have good apples, you can roast them, and mix them with ale, cider, honey or sugar (honey is nicer) and spices such as cinnamon or ginger, to make a warming, hearty drink to share with family and friends.

Pass your brew around while you brag and boast; not merely an excuse for showing off, but a serious exercise in sharing your ambitions and achievements with your loved ones and your gods. Any commitments made at this time must be seen through, or a forfeit paid.

I Never Knew…

In Greek mythology, Atalanta, the virgin huntress, was tricked into losing a race by Hippomenes rolling three irresistible golden apples in front of her. She had to marry him, which just shows, keep your mind on the job and your head in the game!

 

(Image credits: Top: Red Delicious, copyright Bangin via Wikimedia; Next, De Klok jam apple and roses, copyright Queeste via Wikimedia; Final, Malus Sylvestris, copyright Per Arvid Åsen via Wikimedia.)

 

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Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

The Kitchen Witch

April, 2011

Kitchen Witch Cleaning

Now we don’t all have to be complete domestic Goddesses, but a kitchen that is tidy and smells clean helps with energy I think.

When you are cleaning how about singing a song or playing some music?  Singing a Goddess or pagan song as you clean can really help raise the positive energy in your kitchen.  Doesn’t even have to be a pagan song, it can be one of your favourite disco ones if that’s what makes you happy and fills you with the energy to clean!

I always like to put on an apron when I am in the kitchen, it is somehow a mental switch that puts me into kitchen witch mode.

There are so many chemicals on the market now for cleaning, and yes they all work pretty well.  But, you can make safe, effective household cleaners from simple and natural ingredients. Check out the usefulness of lemon juice, baking soda and white vinegar for cleaning.  In fact some of the supermarkets even stock eco friendly cleaners now although these tend to be a bit more expensive.

Don’t forget the compost heap to, a lot of your kitchen scraps (no meat) can go into the compost bin to recycle themselves.

When I wash the floor in my kitchen I always add a few drops of essential oil, or even drop a herbal tea bag into the cleaning bucket.  Basil is good for protection, chamomile is excellent for purification and calm, try cinnamon for a happy and protected home, clove promotes love and purification, fennel is good for protection and lavender is wonderful for peace and happiness.  Rosemary works for cleansing and protection as does sea salt and sage is brilliant for purification.  Try some out and see what works best for you.

Once you have done the normal cleaning routine, give the room a sage smudge.  Let the smoke waft into all the corners, if you don’t like sage use your favourite incense instead.

I have the sort of cupboards that once in a while need a good clear out – usually when I open the doors and everything falls out I find is a good time to do it!  I put it off for a while as it seems boring, but once you have done it, and the cupboards are sorted and neatly arranged you get a wonderful feeling of achievement.

Once your kitchen is all clean, cleansed and tidy – enjoy it!  Make yourself a cup of tea maybe even grab a slice of cake and just sit there, feel the spirit of your kitchen. Usually it is the hub of any home, and if you have the space to put a chair in there it can also be a wonderful place to meditate or to ground and centre before you start your day.

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