An Alternative Guide to Cooking
by Rachel Patterson
Practically Pagan is a new series of books from Moon Books, a publisher which focuses on Pagan spirituality and related topics. The series is designed to give readers a new perspective on everyday topics, with this volume on cooking looking at a variety of ways to incorporate your faith, spirituality or pagan practices into the dishes you make.
Rachel Patterson is a prolific author and famous as a Kitchen Witch. She heads up the Kitchen Witch Coven and is an Elder of the Kitchen Witch School of Natural Witchcraft. Previous books by Rachel include Grimoire of a Kitchen Witch and Kitchen Witchcraft Spells and Charms, so it seems a totally natural progression for Rachel to approach this topic with the same enthusiasm and positivity that shines throughout her previous volumes.
As I always find with Rachels books, I am immediately drawn in by the warmth and familiarity of her style. Although she writes from the position of an expert, the information is given in the same style as having an informal chat with a knowledgeable friend, rather than a stuffy teacher. It’s impossible not to keep turning the pages.
Rachel explores the key points of Pagan cooking, including keeping it seasonal, avoiding waste, and a mindful use of ingredients. These points are becoming more important with every passing year, and it’s great to see them addressed from the get-go as part of the underpinning philosophy of Pagan cookery.
Practically speaking, which seems important when the series is called Practically Pagan, this book really delivers. If you’re looking for recipes, seasonal cooking tips, plus notes on Pagan festivals and their appropriate dishes, look no further. Rachel works through each month of the year, mentioning the key points on the Pagan calendar and giving a range of tasty, seasonal recipes. They all seem easy enough to have a go at and, my favourite bit, they don’t include any finicky ingredients that are super hard to get hold of. The list of recipes for each month is handily included at the beginning of each month, so flicking through the book to find your favourite is also a simple task.
There are vegan recipes in here and also some with meat in, so there’s something for everyone. There are savoury and sweet dishes in here, and a focus on comfort and happiness which flows off the page like a warm hug.
Beyond the monthly calendar of recipes there’s a section on getting the basics right, from Yorkshire puddings to bread. Although, I’m from Yorkshire and despite the rumours, we don’t spread jam on Yorkshire puddings – I promise! I’d certainly be open to trying it though. Rachel also includes useful conversions and tips for vegan baking.
All in all, this is a great cookbook and a useful addition to any home-cook’s bookshelf. The way it works to associate the Pagan festivals and seasons with the food is interesting and practical for anyone trying to find a more mindful and seasonal approach to their cooking. Highly recommended.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.