recipe

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2019

The Bad Witch’s Guide to The Older People”

Or You get Better or You Get Bitter”

There are some people who never seem to get old. Their bodies might age, but something in their eyes and heart has remained or even grown. Then there are people who seem to crave death. Sometimes it is depression. Often untreated, under supported and dealing with the loss of a great deal. I have been the supporter of an older relative dealing exactly with this. Without support and indeed medication these folks become something dark and unpleasant. As The Veil grows thin for a person you start to see what might be beyond for them, a light or a darkness. This is not about religion or faith but an almost physical psychic presence around people near the end. Those near their light glow. There is a peace and beauty.

Then there are the other ones. A presence like black sticky smoke. A smell of something rotten or burnt like old tires or something sickly sweet. It seems to pour from them. I can not tell if it’s their mood, their energy, their internal mean-spiritedness or the manifestation of something else.

Older people are just that, people. They are neither saints or devils, but dealing with someone whom is dark and difficult because they are family is hard work. It is often hard physically, emotional and spiritually.

So how do you live with or be around this polluting force? Toxic parents, and relatives become no less pleasant as they age and some just use their frailties (real or imagined) as weapons to brutalise their children and spouses and grandchildren.

As a child of a toxic parent and one who watched someone become one in their last years of life there is a complex soup of horrible feelings. Guilt, duty, blame, shame, fear and pain.

As a witch I have to change my perspective.

I must squint at the situation sideways and think magickally.

Firstly the mundane. Is this person mentally ill? Are they depressed, grieving or suffering in some other way? Is mental health support possible? Many older folks have still have a lot of shame and misconceptions about mental health. Many have some really ugly or difficult coping strategies. From alcohol and cigarettes, to shutting themselves away, generationally we are in a much better place to understand mental illness today. Some might be struggling with side effects of medications, not knowing that their could be newer better medications or combinations out there. Some might not have been to the doctors at all. Avoiding what they think will be a frightening truth.

Reach out. Find charities and professionals that listen not only to what they say but your input too. It isn’t easy. We had a lot of doctors simply refuse to believe Pop’s had depression. That many of his other issues would have been solved if they treated that first. In the end it was as much that as his vices that killed him.

Of course you can not help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. This is perhaps a hard truth of our own we must face. The other option is also mundane and really tough. Sometimes you have to walk away. For your self, your health, sanity and well being. This might be a break, this also might be an end to the relationship. It is not our job to watch someone destroy themselves.

If neither of these two are applicable (life is complicated and messy) protect and cleanse yourself and space as often as you can. You might want to physically clean it as well as smudge. Adding salt and essences to your wash water can help. Protective wards, charms and crystals help a lot too.

There are a couple of things that can help absorb some of the toxic seep but they are not permanent measures. One is sacrificial house plants. Sounds macabre I know. House plants tend to die in the presence of such people, yet these little heroes can and do take much of this and convert it as best as they can. They don’t have to be fancy, and if you get a few you can rotate them around (increasing their lives for a short time). Ferns are good. One near where they sit, one in their room, one in the loo or near where they spend a lot of time and absorb a lot of yuck. Some quartz pebbles might even make them live longer.

The other is a salt and barely mojo. You can make up a big batch and keep it in a jar and change out and throw away the used one. How often depends on the person.

Once a month or once a week depending on how bad it is. This can go under a mattress, or sofa cushion or even into a pillow.

You Will Need:

Salt, the best kind you can afford.

Barley (pearl barley is fine)

Calendula oil

Parsley (dried)

Per one cup of salt you will need a tablespoon of barley and calendula oil with a teaspoon of parsley. This is the base mixture and you can add other things, like moss or wheat straw (again to absorb the energy).

Say:

Spirit of Salt I call to thee

Draw what is harmful away from me.

Barley keep the Dark away

Bind it here until I wash it away.

No darkness shall harm

With this charm:

Tenebris et non nocebit (And the Darkness Will Not Harm)

Tenebris et non nocebit

Tenebris et non nocebit!

Place in fabric mojo bag as discreetly or not as you like. Under the sofa cushion, or mattress is useful and make sure to empty them regularly. Dispose of the used mixture down an outside drain with plenty of water. Don’t put it in a river, but you could put it in the sea.

This mixture can be used for a circle ward around your home, too.

While none of this deals with the cause of the problem sometimes all we can do is muddle through and keep ourselves safe. In an ideal would this sort of thing wouldn’t need to happen but the world is often not ideal and we need to use our magick to keep us as safe as we can. Toxic relationships are difficult and draining and it can take a long time to heal from them. If a little magick can help you feel strong enough to say “no” when you need to then it has done you a great service.

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

April, 2018

Green Goddess Salad

April is the month that spring really gets into high gear, even here in Buffalo. April is the month of Venus, the goddess of love and with flowers beginning to bloom, it’s easy to see why. April is also the month of Earth day – April 22. I was ten years old the very first Earth Day. When I was a freshman in college, in my women’s studies classes, I read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. If you haven’t read this book, you really should!

I have always celebrated Earth Day with a vegetarian meal, usually a Big Salad. Green Goddess Salad is a perfect Earth Day choice. It mixes the celebration of Venus with the celebration of the green earth.

This is one of my absolute favorite salads. I have made it dozens of times, although I haven’t made it in quite a long time. It’s a little on the expensive side but I think it’s worth it. My recipe is from a cookbook that I wish I knew the name of but unfortunately it was in that period of time where I copied recipes out of books I got from the library and never wrote down the name of the cookbook! Which makes it really difficult to reference now! Suffice it to say that I have been making this salad for thirty years and I have tweaked the recipe numerous times – enough that it’s MY recipe now.

I did a little research on the history of the Green Goddess Salad. It was created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923 to honor the actor George Arliss, who was starring in the play, “The Green Goddess”, written by William Archer, which had been a big hit on Broadway and was now touring the United States. Arliss would star in two movies of that name, one made in 1923 and another one in 1930, for which he would receive an Oscar nomination. George Arliss was a big star of the stage and silent movies in the early twentieth-century but he is almost forgotten today. Likewise, both the play and the movie “The Green Goddess” have been lost in the mists of time. I read the synopsis of the screenplay and I can’t imagine “The Green Goddess” being popular in today’s culture – it’s a very silly romantic comedy about a plane wreck in a south-sea island and the need of a human sacrifice to a “Green Goddess” – all kinds of ridiculous antics before the British air corps save the day.

Unlike the play or the movie, Green Goddess Salad stayed popular throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s and into the 1960’s. There was a bottled version of the dressing but that disappeared in the 1970’s when ranch dressing became popular. Apparently, you can still buy it online but it’s $7.50 a bottle! I think it might be a tad cheaper to make it fresh! Not to mention much tastier!

If you Google “Green Goddess Salad”, you will find all kinds of salads. Some have chicken in them, some have shrimp, some have garbanzo beans. Some have “updated” versions of the salad dressing, omitting the mayonnaise and the sour cream and substituting avocado, making it a truly green dressing. Some have gotten rid of the creamy aspect of the dressing altogether – the Park Restaurant in San Francisco now serves a “Green Goddess Salad” with a dressing that is basically a vinaigrette made with tarragon wine vinegar and olive oil! Yes, the herbs are the same and there are anchovies in the mixture. But how can you have a “Green Goddess Salad” without a creamy salad dressing? Maybe I’m an old fart but that just doesn’t seem right to me!

The recipe I copied from the “mystery cookbook” was quite simple – but that was the way salads were thirty or forty years ago. Here is a scan of the recipe from MY cookbook, complete with typos:

Because I am not going to be serving six people, I too “updated” this salad for my own use. I am having it for my dinner, so naturally it’s going to be on the large size but it’ll be half the size of this recipe.

The first thing I did was make the dressing. I no longer own a blender or food processor, so this was a totally different process. In the old days, I would cut fresh parsley from my garden, coarsely chop the green onions, add everything else and blend. But I couldn’t figure out how to chop the green onions finely enough by hand for a salad dressing, so I decided to put them on the salad instead. I added garlic powder instead. And I had to use dried parsley instead of fresh.

Instead of mayonnaise and sour cream, I used plain Greek yogurt. I used a single-serve container, so it was a little more than half a cup. With that in mind, I used more or less half the amount of the rest of the ingredients. The beauty of making salad dressings is that you can fool around with the seasonings a bit – it’s not like baking a cake, where you have to be precise.

I didn’t use tarragon vinegar. It’s wicked expensive and I have to be honest – I really do not like the flavor of tarragon very much. So I used white wine vinegar instead. I did add a small amount of dried tarragon with the other herbs. When I tasted it, I decided that it needed a little more anchovy paste and a touch of sugar – I wasn’t going to add any sugar but I decided that it needed it. I also added a dash of salt.

This salad dressing needs to sit for the ingredients to fully “marry” and “get happy”, as Emeril would say. Put a cover on the bowl and set it in the refrigerator and do something else for at least fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes are better.

I arranged the greens on a large plate. I rarely eat endive because when I was a kid, I really hated it and now I don’t think about unless a specific recipe calls for it. But I had to admit that the pale curly leaves looked pretty on top of the torn pieces of romaine. I decided to add baby spinach to the mix – to make the salad greener.

The recipe calls for “two medium tomatoes” but I had a bunch of those little “Campari” tomatoes, so I took three of them and halved them and arranged them along the edge of the plate. Then I chopped the green onions that I had omitted from the salad dressing and I added them to the salad.

At this point, the recipe calls for “frozen artichoke hearts, cooked, drained & chilled” – if you want to do this, you can but I only did this the first time I made this recipe. After that, I bought canned artichoke hearts. They’re much easier to deal with and you can refrigerate the ones you don’t use for another salad on another day. As for the olives – I really wanted to get good Greek olives – Kalamata Olives would have been perfect – but the inner-city grocery store I went to didn’t have any. Honestly, I was amazed that they had anchovy paste!

I omitted the anchovies and added salad shrimp instead. This is what the salad looked like when I had it all assembled on the plate and before I put the dressing on it:

Ok – this was the problem. When I put the salad dressing on top of the salad, it flowed over the top like slow-moving lava. It wasn’t attractive at all. I quickly threw the salad into a large bowl and mixed it all together until everything was “coated” with the dressing – which was what the recipe said to do, after all. Then I rearranged the salad on the plate:

Now – that looks good enough to eat!

As I ate, I made a few mental notes. One – the salad dressing really works better if you have a blender. I think also that fresh parsley and basil are a must. Putting those fresh green herbs into the blender with the mayo/sour cream/yogurt and pulverizing the hell out of them gives the dressing the proper pale green color. My dressing – although it tasted fabulous! – was white with green flecks. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be. As with Spell-Work, sometimes improvising works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The other thing was substituting salad shrimp for anchovies. If you are serving friends who do NOT like anchovies, then by all means substitute shrimp or chicken or garbanzos or whatever else you wish. But I really missed the flavor and the texture of the anchovies. I can guarantee you that the next time I make this salad – and it will be quite soon – I will be putting anchovies on the greens.

However you make this salad, enjoy Earth Day! Praise to Venus, the Goddess of Love and Spring and all good things! Brightest Blessings!

Click Images for Amazon Information

***

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

March, 2018

Corned Beef and Cabbage

This is not going to be an essay of whether to celebrate St. Patty’s Day or not. I know that many Pagans do not celebrate St. Patty’s day with the righteousness of Jehovah Witnesses not celebrating Christmases and almost every other holiday. I am not one of those people. When I was growing up Catholic in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Saint Patrick’s Day was a secular holiday that was celebrated in my public school – it didn’t have anything to do with the Catholic Church at all – nor did Valentine’s Day, for that matter – another thoroughly secular holiday, only celebrated in my public school.

I am the type of person who believes in celebrating everything. Living in Buffalo, New York, this is really the way it is here – everyone celebrates everything, regardless of religion or cultural background – we are a partying people. Google it – Buffalo rivals much larger cities New York, Boston and Chicago in its St. Patty’s day celebrations. We have two parades on two separate days in two separate neighborhoods and they are both well attended. It’s not all Christians out there wearing the green. Everyone’s Irish – no matter if their last name is Mueller or Paderewski or Brucato or Khun.

I long ago stopped partying as hearty as I could – it just doesn’t work for me anymore. But I still like to eat the traditional foods as much as I can. And whether you are cooking for St. Patty’s Day on the weekend of March 17, 2018 or you are having a group of people over for an Ostara ritual, a plate of corned beef and cabbage is always a springtime delight.

According to my Joy of Cooking, corned beef got its name in Anglo-Saxon England when beef was preserved with salt the size of a kernel of wheat – called “corn” – not the yellow corn that Americans know, that would be “maize” – and unknown to Europe at that that time, anyway. Note the similarity of the words “corn” and “kernel”. “Corning” was a type of preservation so that meat could be kept for months. Salting meats and fish was ancient – every culture has ways of doing this to preserve food through the lean months. The way it was done in the middle ages meant that the meat was much saltier than we would recognize it nowadays – probably much saltier than we would find palatable! Modern refrigeration and brining methods has changed this and the corned beefs and pastramis that we eat today are much less salt and much more flavor than their medieval ancestors.

Usually corned beef is on sale this time of year. Look for either a good-sized brisket or round – I like a brisket because it’s more traditional but a round generally has less fat and will cook down less dramatically. You can get them from a butcher but generally they are prepacked in heavy plastic, with the brine and a small pack of seasonings included.

You can cook it in a slow-cooker – it takes about six to eight hours. I looked up how to do it in the Insta-Pot pressure cooker – it would take 90 minutes for the meat and another 10 or so minutes for the potatoes, carrots and cabbage. But I opted to do it the old-fashioned way – on the stove-top, in a large pot. The package also has instructions on how to cook it.

You need:

a corned beef, between 3-5 pounds.

Enough cold water to cover the meat.

Contents of the seasoning packet.

4 to 6 small white or red potatoes, or larger ones, cut into quarters.

Several small white onions or a larger one, cut into wedges.

3 to 5 carrots, cut into pieces.

Half a cabbage, cut into wedges.

Take the corned beef out of the packing and rinse it off. Set it in the pot and cover with cold water. Add the seasoning packet. Put on the stove and bring to a boil.

You don’t have to do this, but I do: I add a stalk of celery, a carrot and a piece of onion to the water. Just for added flavor and general food magic.

When the water comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. You’ll notice that there’s “scum” on the top of the water, so take a spoon and skim it off and discard it.

Now – some recipes say to cover the meat and let it simmer for several hours – some say to leave it uncovered. I personally always cover my corn beef as it cooks. Once in a while, I take the cover off and poke it with a fork and turn it over. But generally, I leave it alone and go about other business.

After two or so hours, you will notice that the meat has shrunk quite a bit! The aroma of the corned beef spiced should be drifting through your kitchen and making you hungry for dinner. This is when you should remove the celery and carrot and onion that was added when you first started – if you did add them. If not, just add the potatoes, carrots and onion wedges.

Cover the pot again and after about a half-hour to forty-five minutes, add the cabbage wedges. These only take fifteen minutes to cook! Dinner is almost ready! Set the table!

My son was over the day I cooked this and I almost forgot to take a picture of a fixed plate of the finished meal! We were having such a good time together, as we always do. But here is it:

Naturally, that’s my small plate and not the large one I prepared for my son. I should have taken a picture of that plate but he had it almost finished before I had mine even served up!

Anyway, this is a meal that always satisfies. I usually take the leftovers and make corned-beef hash – just chop everything up and fry it all together with a little butter. But that’s if there is any leftovers! Usually the meat gets all eaten up and there’s just a few potatoes and carrots left and a wedge of cabbage. There’s never any complaints when I cook up this meal.

So try this one out. It’s wicked easy – it practically cooks itself! If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is! Brightest blessings this Ostara season!

References

Rombauer, Irma S. and Marion Rombauer Becker. Joy of Cooking. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1975.

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

Dex and Ken. “How Do You ‘Corn’ Beef?” https://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2153/how-do-you-corn-beef/

***

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

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.

The Kitchen Witch

November, 2017

My Favorite Butternut Squash

I love squash. I love all varieties of squash – zucchini and summer squash – acorn squash – spaghetti squash – buttercup squash – delicata squash – hubbard – pumpkin – just to name a few! There are so many kinds and so many ways of preparing this versatile vegetable – its Latin name is Cucurbita – that you could literally eat squash at every meal every day for a year and never repeat yourself.

Acorn squash is usually on my Thanksgiving table. My son loves it with brown sugar and butter. I often also cook up some butternut squash. I adore butternut squash. It’s really easy to cook and you can prepare it ahead – even days ahead – and reheat it just before serving. You can put off deciding what seasonings you want until the last minute.

Butternut squashes come in all sizes. The ones I bought were smaller, but generally they’re bigger than this.

You want to wash them off, then cut off the end from each side and then slice them length-wise.

After they are sliced, scoop out the seeds and discard. Brush with olive oil or melted butter and place face down in a small pan. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil.

Put into a preheated oven. I usually set the oven at 400 and then turn it down to 350. If the squash are large, I roast them for about an hour, but these guys were smaller and only took 40 minutes. You’ll know by the lovely aroma of baking squash filling your home. Another clue is the way the skin looks when it’s done – it gets all shiny and papery. You should be able to take a fork and prick the meat of the squash easily with no resistance when it’s fully cooked.

I let the squash cool a bit because it’s always wicked hot when it first comes out of the oven. But as soon as I can handle the baked gourds, I scoop out the orange goodness into a bowl.

Now for the seasoning. As I said before, my son James prefers butter and brown sugar with most winter squashes. I know some people who want “pumpkin spice” – the mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger – no matter if the dish is supposed to be savory or sweet – I am not one of those people. If I have a squash or pumpkin soup, I do not want it to taste like a watery pumpkin pie!

These are the seasoning I like in my mashed butternut squash:

I put about a quarter of a teaspoon of each in, along with a dash of salt and pepper and mix well.

For Thanksgiving, I will garnish it with sour cream but I didn’t have any on hand so I just added more butter and it was AWESOME. This is definitely my favorite way of making butternut squash! I didn’t even miss the sour cream! This recipe was supposed to make at least two servings – maybe three – but as you can see –

I ATE IT ALL.

SO – Happy Thanksgiving and Brightest Blessings!

**

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

October, 2017

Enchanting Apple Crisp

 

To me, it is not a proper Samhain celebration without a dish made of apples. Apples are sacred to several of my favorite goddesses and long ago, I took the name “AppleQueen” as a magical name. Apples, harvested in the fall, are a perfect offering for this Sabbat. Hecate is the goddess of Samhain but do not forget that Pomona, the goddess of Apples, has her own feast day November 1. Influenced by the Romans, the Celts easily integrated this feast day into their own Samhain festivities and later, when the Christians came, and Pagan rites went underground or were turned into some other acceptable form, Pagan divinations using apples passed into folk-lore. Many of these divinatory acts were turned into Halloween party games such as bobbing for apples or peeling an apple and then throwing the peel onto the hearth to see what letter it would create, believing that whatever letter you would see would predict the first letter of the person you would marry someday! I remember doing this with my sisters and cousins when I was a young girl. I also remember getting thoroughly soaked bobbing for apples in a large wooden trough at a Halloween party at my friend Joanna’s house when I was twelve. I was dressed as Raggedy Ann and my red yarn wig came off in the water and was floating around with the apples!

I was born in May during the time of apple blossoms. My mother told me that she craved apples the entire time she was pregnant with me. She said she ate “bushels” of apples when I was growing within her. “The sweetest apples that fall,” she remembered. Perhaps this is why I love apples so much and why I took “AppleQueen” as a magical name. There are apples everywhere you look in my home. In my old age, I have grown round like an apple.

If I am invited out to a Samhain gathering, usually I will make an apple pie – a classic two-crust pie or maybe a Dutch Apple pie with a yummy streusel topping – but nowadays it seems like I’m so stressed for time and pies take a lot of time to do properly. So here is a quick recipe for Apple Crisp. Like so many of my *best* recipes, it’s based on one of my mother’s.

Apple Crisp

2 cups apples, peeled, cored & sliced (about 4 or 5 apples, depending on size)

½ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup flour

¼ cup oats

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons soft butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x5”x3” pan. Place apples in the pan. Blend the remaining ingredients until crumbly. Spread the sugar-flour mixture over apples evenly. Bake 30-35 minutes, until apples are soft and topping is golden brown.

I put red sugar sprinkles on the top of the sugar-flour mixture before baking and as you can see, it made the apple crisp look really festive! And of course – you have to have ice cream for a topping! I topped my serving with maple walnut ice cream – it was divine!

This is literally one of the quickest and easiest recipes you will ever make and I will tell you something else – it won’t last the night. This recipe serves 4 to 6 people but I have to confess – I ate it ALL myself! AND I AM NOT SORRY!!

Brightest Blessings!

References:

http://jessicajewettonline.com

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