Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming in 2010

Many people still, for whatever reason, insist on making resolutions for the new calendar year. Very few of us stick with such resolutions, however. Dieting to lose weight is probably the most common resolution. For 2010 I plan to share information on magical diets, including weight loss diets (courtesy of Scott Cunningham), along with food suggestions and recipes by yours truly. Let's see where this goes. Have a happy celebration, everyone, and be safe!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue Moon Cheesecake

Here is the recipe. I mainly used Emeril Lagasse's recipe, but with a couple of teensy changes.

3/4 cup toasted walnuts and pecans (I added the pecans)
3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Process the ingredients in a food processor and press into the bottom and party up the sides of a springform pan.

2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
12-oz blue cheese, soft and crumbled
4 eggs
couple pinches cayenne pepper (my addition)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 Tablespoon fresh, chopped
2 small cloves garlic or 1 large, finely minced
salt and pepper

In a bowl combine the cheeses and mix until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Transfer to the springform pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until lightly golden and set in the middle.

Chill before serving.

Emeril served his with a salad dressed with pear vinaigrette. I'm just going to take pears and apples to slice, plus some candied walnuts and maybe some dried cherries. You could make a compote or maybe add some figs to this. I recommend cutting it into smallish pieces, as opposed to regular slices. It's rich, decadent, and gooooooooood! Yes, I licked the bowl. ;)

Once in a Blue Moon

The year 2009 has almost drawn to a close. I hope everyone who attends New Year's Eve parties has a safe night tomorrow night. How fortunate we are that the new year coincides with a blue moon! Tis surely hoped it is a sign of good things to come.

Tomorrow night I am going to attend a party at a co-worker's house in Istinye. In honor of the blue moon, I have decided to make a Once in a Bleu Moon Cheesecake. Yes, I said "bleu". This won't be a sweet dessert cheesecake, nosirree! I'm making a savory bleu cheese cheesecake.

A few weeks ago my uncle attended a dinner for some Catholic organization he belongs to. The dessert was a bleu cheese cheesecake with sliced apples. That got me to thinkin', as we say in W.Va. I thought, I could make that! I just need a recipe to use as a guideline, being terrible with measurements as I am.

I think I have found a good recipe to start with. I'll add my own touches to it, of course. I'm going to make a walnut crust, or perhaps walnut and pecan together. I think I will serve sliced apples and pears, as well as a selection of dried fruits (perhaps rehydrated into some sort of compote?) alongside. This is the sort of appetizer/party snack you want to serve in small pieces, as it sounds fantastically rich and decadent. Best to eat it now, so you don't ruin your new year's resolutions of diet and exercise. ;)

*Dairy foods such as cheese are good also good for Imbolc and Beltane
*Nuts are good grounding foods

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Prayer Request (and bonus video)

Greetings all. I hope you all had a lovely Yule/Christmas celebration with your loved ones. Today I am going to a post-Christmas dinner at the home of one of my co-workers. I will make a baked Turkish zucchini fritter to take with me. I will also take leftover rum cake that I made yesterday morning.

Now, on to the prayer request. A good friend of mine - actually we were best friends all through high school and part of college - is asking for prayers for her son. Jacob is 5 and a bright, beautiful little boy. I rarely get to see him but it's a pleasure when I do because he's a very well-mannered little guy. He has been plagued with ear infections most of his life, just as his mom was. He has also been having nasty headaches so his mom took him to the doctor where a cyst was discovered. He has a cyst on the right side of his brain. The doctors don't know if it's just filled with fluid or if it's something more serious. They have an appointment to see a neurologist on January 21. Please, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Now, because you have all been such good boys and girls this year, Zedral Claus will give you the gift of song:

(I'm a bit obsessed with George Harrison.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Holiday Music for the Kitchen

While these songs are not kitchen- or food-related, they are still appropriate for the season. Here are a few songs to have on in the background during any celebrations that take place this weekend (I know some of you celebrate Christas with your families, or celebrate Yule on the 25 for simplicity).

Jethro Tull

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Greetings

A very blessed Yule to my followers. May the newly reborn sun bathe you in love and blessings. I'm afraid I did not cook a solstice feastie, nor did I perform any elaborate ritual, but I do give thanks for all that has been bestowed upon me and to you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Been Busy

Obviously I haven't been busy blogging! I have, though, been cooking. Yesterday I made a homemade chicken pot pie for some friends. I now have an apartment full of sleeping Turkish boys, along with some embarrassing videos of them for YouTube. I promise I wouldn't upload those things to Facebook. Loophole! I'll post links to my friends and their dancing and other antics as videos are uploaded. It may not be food related, but you're sure to spray tea all over your keyboard. Try not to drink anything while viewing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dark Goddess Series, part V: Hel

In Norse mythology, Hel is the ruler of Helheim, where she was sent by Odin. She is the youngest child of Loki and Angrboda. Hel, from which we get the term “hell”, is described as half alive and half dead, with the upper body of a living woman and the blackened, moldering lower body of a corpse. Her body represents both life and death.

Hel is the goddess of the inglorious dead - those who did not spend their lives raping, pillaging and burning. Those who died in battle were received into Valhalla instead. Even goddesses get rather unglamorous jobs, but Hel made the job and the domain her own.

Her domain is a damp, dank, depressing place. It isn’t the place of fire and brimstone. There are no souls being roasted over eternal flames. Rather, the wicked have the blood sucked out of their bodies by the dragon Nidhogg.

Some of the research I have found draws a parallel between Hel and Kali. There are some similarities in appearance, such as the black flesh, as well as similarities in position, as both goddesses sit in judgement on the souls of the dead.

Symbols of Hel include the elder tree and the holly. Wells are sacred to her, perhaps because they represent an entry into the underworld.

In all honesty, this was a difficult post to put together, which is why I hesitated earlier. There is a lot of information about Hel but some of it is a bit sugar-coated. None of it was terribly helpful in assisting me.

My domain is the kitchen, which is a warm, happy place (hopefully), although I would also welcome the elderly and the sick. I would provide them with nourishment and comfort as best I could before they had to depart this world. Maybe those who honor Hel don’t even know it. Maybe it’s the person who provides a person’s last meal, or gives that person some comfort before they die and release their soul to whatever good place they believe in.

My suggestion – not because I have absolute authority or knowledge, but because I’m sharing my personal ideas – would be to honor Hel in October, when the spirits of the dead are remembered. I think she should be thanked for keeping order over her realm, of receiving the sick and the old, and of sharing her provisions with them.
When you set a place on your altar or at your table for your beloved dead, set on in memory of Hel as well. Offer her some of your feast and light a candle for her, to let her know you respect her and her world.

Showing respect for her is showing respect for death and for the dead, and recognizing the end to which we all must come. The dark goddesses and goddesses of the underworld are there to remind us that death is a time of rest, a time of preparation for the next life.

As a goddess of the underworld, I would recommend offering potatoes, turnips and beets. Offer meat and bread as well. You can do this at any time, really, but I feel that around Samhain, even though that is more of a Celtic thing, would still be appropriate.

Now can I have the spout for my water pump back?

Fruits of the Season: Oranges

Oranges, like most citrus fruits, are good for purification. They also, according to Cunningham, carry love energy as well. Oranges are one of the fruits that are fresh during the winter and their bright orange color reminds us of the sun that slowly starts to return at Yule.

Oranges, tangerines and grapefruits are wonderful little reminders of the sun. Dried slices of these fruits can be used to decorate wreaths or hung around the kitchen as a garland for Yule. Just having a bowl of citrus fruits on the table in the kitchen or dining room can bring some cheer. Their bright hues add a splash of color to what is an otherwise drab time of year.

A garland of dried citrus slices can also add a nice touch to your Yule/Christmas/Holiday tree. Add some sticks of cinnamon hung with festive ribbon, a garland of cranberries, and some lights and you have a beautifully decorated tree.

To dry citrus fruits, slice them into ¼-inch slices. Squeeze out some of the excess juice and dry on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet in your oven. Set the oven to about 150 degrees F. Leave the door slightly ajar and dry for 5-6 hours.

Another idea for this holiday season is a pomander. What, you may be asking, is a pomander? Well, a pomander is basically a medieval air freshener. It’s a preserved orange, usually, that has been studded with cloves. They aren’t terribly difficult to make. You can find instructions all over the internet. For your convenience, I will include instructions below.

A pomander is a great thing to have in your house, not only because it smells good but also because of the combination of citrus and cloves. These make great protection/purification charms. Get together with your family or magical group and make these. Make some out of small tangerines and hang them on the tree. They make great housewarming gifts. I clearly remember the pomander hanging in the broom closet at my mom’s house when I was growing up. I believe my granny had at least one as well.

To make a pomander you need:

1 orange
1 ounce whole cloves
1 tablespoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
Sandalwood oil or orris root powder *
Toothpick, ice pick, or something else to make holes in the orange
Paper bag

*Orris root powder comes from a type of orchid. One website recommends using the sandalwood as a preservative instead, as some people are allergic to orris root. It’s used to make ice cream here in Turkey, as well as sahlep, a popular winter beverage. You may not be able to find it, so sandalwood oil is probably your best bet.

1.Knead the fruit in your hands to loosen it up a bit.

2. Mix the spices together with the sandalwood oil (several drops).

3. Use masking tape to mark off a crisscross design on your fruit. This is where you will place the ribbon.

4. Using the toothpick or other sharp object, poke holes on the parts of the orange that aren’t covered in tape. Insert a whole clove into each hole.

5.Place the spice mixture into a paper bag. Roll the orange in this mixture until it is completely covered.

6. Leave the orange in the bag in a cool, dry place for 4-6 weeks until is it completely dried out. Roll the orange in the spice and oil mixture daily. If you notice any mold on your fruit, throw it out and start again. You’ll know it’s ready when it sounds hollow when you tap on it.

7. Shake off the spice mixture. Place the ribbon where the tape was. Sew the ends of the ribbon together to make a loop for hanging. Now your pomander is ready.

If you are using this as a protective charm, separately charge the spices and oil and the fruit. You can recharge the spice mixture every day when you roll the orange in it, or as you see fit.

New Blog

I decided to start a blog that lists recipes I've posted on this blog. I wanted to make it easier for people to find specific recipes without having to read through every single post. Feel free to follow that blog as well.

Join me at http://witchsrecipes.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


A week or so ago I had planned to do an entry about Hel and give some information about her and her realm, as well as ideas for letting her know that the job she does is not unappreciated. Sometimes even gods get the short end of the stick. Well, writers block set in and I wasn't really sure what to say. How would one honor Hel? Would anyone want to? Well, someone wants me to write that article, I think. Yesterday I came home to discover the spout from my water pump missing. I've no idea what happened. It was on the pump when I left for work. I think someone or something is playing a trick on me. Loki, is that you? I guess a proper entry on Hel is coming up soon, folks.

Now bring back the spout to my water pump, please!

Winter's Bounty

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter is upon us. Many places are still enjoying mild or warm temperatures, while others are experiencing cold, rain or even snow. Long gone are the fresh, fragrant herbs of summer, the plump juicy fruits and crisp colorful vegetables. What’s a person to do? Surely we can’t be expected to sit in our homes eating uninspiring, lifeless junk food!

Fortunately we have the gift of agriculture to help sustain us, unlike our earlier ancestors, who had to live on preserved foods throughout the long winter months. We know have access to a huge variety of produce all year round. What could be wrong with this? Well, one issue is the fact that certain things just aren’t in season this time of year. Using hothouses to forcibly grow out-of-season produce wields tasteless, inferior products that are nowhere near as lovely or tasty as the fresh, seasonal foods.

Yes, we can go to the freezer section of the grocery store and buy lovely frozen spinach, raspberries, tender peas, and even asparagus. These fruits and veggies were picked at their peak and frozen to preserve their flavor and vitamins. Canned produce is okay too, but the quality isn’t quite as good as frozen. The taste, too can be a bit off-putting. I’ve found that beets, corn and beans are the only veggies that taste okay out of a can. Everything else, to me, tastes like, well, the can.

Happily we can still find fresh fruits and vegetables growing even in winter. Some things may still need to be shipped from one part of the country to the next, or from another country, but at least these things are being harvested while they are in season, as opposed to being grown in a greenhouse somewhere.

What can we eat at Yule? What about at Imbolc? Yule is right around the corner and some of you may already be planning your winter solstice meals. At Yule we celebrate the sun’s returning, This is the longest night of the year, and in some places it is very cold, so we need hearty, satisfying food to give us energy and to ground us after a ritual.

Let us first take a look at what the season offers us in the way of fruits and vegetables. Then we can begin discussing properties of those foods, and ways to prepare them.

Some of the vegetables available in winter include Brussels sprouts, leeks, cabbages, parsnips, sprouting broccoli, and kale. These vegetables pack a nutritional punch, contribute their green hues to the season, and are all protective foods! How nice that so many protective foods are available to us during this dark half of the year. We can begin adding these foods to our diet to fill ourselves and our homes with protective energy.

We also have turnips, rutabagas (I’ve never eaten one of these. Has anyone?), bok choy, artichokes, celery root, sweet potatoes, and chestnuts. Artichokes are also protective. Chestnuts and sweet potatoes are love foods.

Fruits of the season include citrus fruits such as clementines, oranges, blood oranges and grapefruits, as well as kumquats, pears, persimmons (another food I’ve never tried but have seen at the markets here in Istanbul), kiwi, bananas, red grapes, pomegranates, and cranberries.

Citrus fruits are good for purification. Many of the fruits available in the winter are a deep red or orange, the color of the sun we are welcome into our lives again. These fruits make lovely decorations for the altar or the table, as well as a tasty addition to your Sabbat feast.

As you can see, we do not have to have a boring diet in the winter. Even though our bodies crave heavier comfort foods such as thick stews and holiday sweets, we can still incorporate fresh produce as well. The next few posts will discuss ways of using some of winter’s bounty for food, magic, and decoration. We will also continue exploring dark goddesses. Keep reading!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reminder - World AIDS Day

Today is December 1, World AIDS day. Let us remember those who have died from this dreadful disease, as well as those who are still living with it. Hopefully one day we will find a cure and be able to eradicate this awful disease from the planet.

To people who say AIDS is a punishment, answer me this: What did the young children who are suffering from HIV/AIDS do to deserve it? Really? People like that make me sick. People who try to say a vengeful god is punishing people for their lifestyle make me so made I can't even see straight. That, however, is another rant for another time.

In honor of World AIDS Day, please visit http://virtual-candle.org/index.php to light a virtual candle in remembrance. Wear a red ribbon. Talk to people about HIV/AIDS prevention, and above all, if you know someone with HIV/AIDS, give that person your time, love and support.