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.


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 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 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.


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 She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

The Kitchen Witch

October, 2016


Salmon with Apples and Maple Syrup

The fall season is filled with fabulous fruits and vegetables – various squashes, including pumpkin, which seems to be everywhere nowadays – heirloom tomatoes, many different kinds of beans, pears and plums and peaches – and my personal favorite – apples. Every year, I look forward to the fall season for the apple crop. This year in the Northeast, we have been plagued by a very harsh drought so the local apples are much smaller than usual but are they ever sweet and juicy! Like Jo March in Little Women, I can think of nothing better than to sit in a comfortable place with a few of these great little fruits and read a good book all afternoon.

Naturally I use apples in cooking. I bake pies, of course – Samhain wouldn’t be Samhain without an apple pie! And of course I make a fabulous apple crisp – using my mother’s recipe – and an apple cake that was my second husband’s recipe. But as good as apples are for dessert, they can be used in entrées as well. Here is an easy recipe using apples with salmon.

You need fresh or frozen salmon (thawed), any kind of apple you like and real maple syrup.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a pan with foil. Set the salmon in the middle of the foil. Cut the apple into slices and set around the salmon, then pour some maple syrup over all of it. Since I was only cooking for myself, I only used half of the apple and perhaps a quarter cup of maple syrup but if you are cooking for more people, of course you will increase the amount of apple and maple syrup accordingly.


After seasoning with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, lightly fold up the foil and place in the middle of your preheated oven. Let it bake for around fifteen minutes and then open up the foil and then let bake another fifteen or twenty minutes. The salmon should be light pink and flakey when you touch it with a fork and the apples should be soft but still retaining some firmness.


Place the salmon on a plate and arrange the apples around it. Pour the maple syrup over all as a sauce.


Since I only used one-half of the apple, I used the other half in a salad. This made a nice companion to the Salmon entrée. As you can see, I used mixed greens, onions, and chunks of sharp cheddar cheese in addition to the apples. With a creamy ranch dressing, this was fabulously good!


Try one or both of these for your Samhain seasonal feast! Brightest Blessings!

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

June, 2016

Dont Just Smell Them – Eat the Daisies!


Merry meet.

I take delight in introducing edible flowers to people I meet in all walks of life. Come late June, a vast amount of flowers are in bloom.

Found and gifted flowers are the least expensive, but a few plants even purchased at a nursery put in the ground or in a whatever containers you have on hand can add inexpensive dazzle to your recipes and rituals.

Consider incorporating edible flowers into your Litha celebration, mixing up a fairy cake recipe, and brewing petals to make tea or freezing flowers into ice cubes to add to your drink for cakes and ale.

Some flowers are mild, while others are slightly bitter or peppery. Some taste sweet while others taste like they smell.

A woman who was very in touch with the Fae living behind the house she rented first introduced me to the concept of eating flowers to receive their powers realizing we are what we eat spiritually as well as physically. If harvested with respect, I sense the Fae are pleased that we are aware of these energies that can help transform our very cells.

Here is a short list of some edible flowers, with most also listing magical uses. Be aware that different sources will yield different information, so trust your instincts and go by what rings true for you.

Remember to never harvest flowers growing by the roadside, or take them from plants sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Be sure all flowers are identified exactly right; if in doubt, do not eat it.

Daisy: Add petals to salads, sandwiches and omelets. Magically, daisies resonate with the energy of Venus and the element of water. They are used to represent youth, simplicity and future telling.

Lavender: Use flowers fresh or dried to flavor sugar and milk; add them to baked goods such as muffins. Brew into tea or substitute lavender for rosemary in savory recipes (doubling the amount of amount of rosemary called for). Magically, lavender works for love, protection and sleep.

Lilacs: Snip off the small, individual flowers. Great in salads. Brush with egg whites and sugar to crystalize them and use on desserts. Magical uses include protection, compassion, happiness, pleasure, youth and beauty.

Marigold: Pull apart and use the leaves. Enjoy their spicy, peppery taste. Great to add color to salads. Also mix with lettuce on sandwiches. Protection, truthfulness and inner vision are associated with marigold, which corresponds to the element of fire.

Nasturtiums: While they are perhaps the most common edible flower (you can also eat the seed pods), they are also among the best. They come in range of colors and have a sweet and spicy taste. Add to salads, use for garnishes, and stuff flowers with a mousse or crab salad for an appetizer. Associated with air, nasturtium flowers are used in potpourris for spells having to do with aspiration, ethics and festivities.

Pansy: Regardless of color, they then tend to have a slightly sweet, grassy flavor. Use in salads, as garnish or as you would lettuce in, say, a tuna salad sandwich. Pansys magical uses include love and divination.

Peony: Add to water for a summer beverage, float some in punches and lemonades, or steep for tea.

Phlox: The tall, perennial variety (not the creeping phlox) has a slightly spicy state. Using them adds pinks and whites to all sorts of summer salads.

Rose: Remove the bitter white portion and use petals in salads or as a garnish. Freeze fresh petals into ice cubes for summer drinks, or brew into tea. The most fragrant tend to have the most taste. Use rose magically for love, healing, luck, protection and psychic powers.

Violets: This family includes pansies and Johnny jump-ups, also known as violas. Put in salads, freeze in punch and adorn desserts. Magically, violets are associated with tranquility and peace. Petals are said to bring healing, luck and protection, and enhance nighttime magic. Dried, they can be used in dream pillows.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

The Witch’s Cupboard

February, 2014

Blessed Imbolc!

Pathworking for Imbolc includes some of the following:

*    Go for a holiday walk.  It can be short or long, whichever you like.  See if you can feel the impending season.  Imagine, as you walk, what activities are occurring under the soil.

*    Clean house.  Physically first, then psychically, magically.

*    Make a list of things you would like to plant in yourself, and keep the list in a place you will remember.  Add to it between now and Ostara, whenever the mood strikes you.

*    Light candles for yourself and your loved ones, saying prayers and sending them light ad color symbolizing that which they most need or want to come into their lives.

*    Make some candles.  One can make hand-rolled ones from sheets of beeswax (they’re easy and quite beautiful), poured candles (this requires a mold—see what kinds of molds you can make from inexpensive items around the house), or you can ever try hand-dipping some.  You will need to heat your wax in a deep vessel—I suggest a large coffee can, and have another can nearby with very cold, or even iced water.  You will start with only a string of wick, perhaps a foot and a half long, divided in half.  Dip both ends in the wax a few times, then dip them into the cold water to set the wax.  Be sure to keep the ends from sticking together.  Repeat the above (it will take some time), until they look right to you.   Remember to dip in and out of the wax quickly, or you’ll melt off what you’ve just dipped.

*    See your healers, and give your body a “tune-up.”  You’ll feel better, more energetic, more able to let in the light and energy that is growing so rapidly this time of year.

*    Purchase some small (I call the “seed”) crystals, and think of what you will program into them, so that you will be ready to “plant” them at Ostara.

One of my favorite activities is to plant seeds that will be open by Ostara.  Take a container of soil and perhaps some Nasturtium seeds, 9 in all (which grow fast) and make a wish with each seed you plant.  A wish for the upcoming Spring Equinox.  Once the seeds have germinated keep in a sunny window and watch them grow, then blossom.  Nasturtiums are edible so come Ostara you can throw them into a nice garden salad. 

Here’s some information on Nasturtiums:

The entire plant is edible…leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, and all. I consider nasturtiums a spicy green, and grow them in my garden as such. Add the leaves and flowers to any green salad, stuff the blossoms with an herb cream cheese, or chop them and add to pastas for a delicious addition to any meal. During the mid 20th century, people used nasturtium seed pods as a replacement for pepper. We can still do this today! All you have to do is wait for the seeds to dry and then grind them in a coffee grinder (I have one that I use specifically for herbs). Note: Make a yummy herbal seasoning salt by adding ground nasturtium seeds with other dried kitchen herbs from the garden.

Nasturtiums are nutritionally dense, as their leaves contain significant levels of vitamin C and iron. Medicinally they are known to be useful in breaking up congestion of the respiratory system and they provide excellent relief from colds. Likewise, nasturtium is said to encourage the formation of blood cells and can be given as a blood purifier and detoxifier. When preparing for a harvest, remember to choose fresh leaves and flowers that show no sign of browning or withering.

Pair Nasturtiums with other edible early spring flowers such as Violets, Pansies and Cover tops for the ultimate in edible flower salads!

Herbal Creations

March, 2009

Crafty Natural Dyed Eggs and Herb Salad with Champagne Dressing

Crafty Natural Dyed Eggs

With Ostara just around the corner, everyone in my house is preparing for the coming spring.  Our yearly routine, after cleaning and clearing is the preparation for the celebration at Ostara.  I decided for this month’s column I’d add my families method of creating Ostara eggs and the herb salad that we serve with lamb.  I always use herb and vegetable dyes for eggs, as I am not about to eat or serve boiled eggs coated in chemicals.  Doing the herb dyes takes quite a lot longer than it does with the variety you buy in the local store. I personally don’t mind the extra time it takes, as I know they’re safe to eat, without any mysterious additives.  I hope you’ll all forgive me for adding some veggies to the dye list, as sadly the eggs can’t be done with herbs alone.  This method requires a bit of preparation and a lot of experimentation, but it’s all great fun.  You’ll need a pan big enough to allow the eggs to roll around in the boiling herb/veggie and water mix.  I always add my herbs first, then the eggs, cover them with enough water to leave about 2 ½ inches above them so they can roll around well.  For each quart of water you add, add about a teaspoon of white vinegar (the vinegar makes the color more bold).  Allow the eggs to come to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.   Remove the eggs, and allow them to sit in an egg carton long enough to dry, then decorate with glued-on dried herbs, markers, or similar things.

How to get the color: (Of the list below, you can add a single item or any combination you wish, it’s all experimentation to get the result you desire).

Purple:  crushed violets, purple pansy, geranium, grape juice (frozen concentrate seems to work well), blueberries or blackberries

Yellow: Chamomile tea, goldenrod, dandelion tops, daffodil blossoms, orange or lemon peels, carrot tops (yes I mean the green part), green tea, celery seed, cumin

Red: Hibiscus flowers (I use the tea), red onion skin (you’ll need a good quantity of these, ask in the produce department if they’ll save them for you), pomegranate juice, cranberries, raspberries, fresh beets (cut up, sometimes this produces a more pink color)

Blue: Red Cabbage leaves, liquid grape juice

Green: Spinach leaves (these may take a bit longer than 30 minutes, use your own judgment on the color)

Brown/Tan: I use discarded coffee grounds (about 3 pots worth), black walnut shells and black tea (used tea bags)

Herb Salad with Champagne Dressing
Herb Salad

4 cups baby spinach leaves

1-cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

Goat cheese (to your personal flavor)

Champagne Dressing for Herb Salad

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (the best quality mild flavored oil you can get)

¼ cup champagne vinegar

½ cup champagne

A dash of sea salt (to taste)

A dash of freshly ground pepper (to taste)

½ teaspoon of white sugar

Blend all of the above in a blender, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.