NWK

NWK

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No article, exactly, but a link

Here is a link to an article about America's growing obsession with being gluten-free. I happen to know several people who prefer to avoid wheat because they believe it causes everything from dyslexia to mood swings. I roll my eyes a lot. Yes, I know that people with Celiac Disease must avoid all gluten, but true Celiac sufferers are rather low in number.

http://www.slate.com/id/2223745/


I have some posts in the works, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What You Want in a Kitchen Witch Cookbook

As I have mentioned before, one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was to try to generate interest in a kitchen witch cookbook. There are a few on the market already, and some of them have the same information in them, while others are a bit different.

Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson is one that stands out. Some of the recipes are common sense, but she has included information on magic(k)al cleansing, customizing your own kitchen goddess apron, setting up a shrine to your personal kitchen deity, etc. I like that her book is more than just recipes and the same information on the Sabbats that we've read a thousand times. Some of the recipes sound tasty, but to be honest, I bought the book for the rituals, meditations, and apron suggestions!

My question for those of you who read this blog is "What do you want to see?" What do you want in a kitchen witch book? Would you like to see more information on the magical lunchbox? Would you like to read about my suggestions for creating a kitchen altar, or is that information old and tired? Would you rather I just talk about the food? Leave me some feedback. Yes, I'm writing this book for myself because I feel that it's inside waiting to come out, but I also want to write this book for the readers. What would you like to see? Where are your other kitchen witch books lacking? I can't promise I will be able to include everything in one book, but I'll do my best to accommodate my readers.

These are a few of my favorite things...

Recently a friend of mine asked me about the best thing I've had to eat so far in Turkey. I couldn't choose just one thing! The culinary traditions here are so rich and varied, not to mention old, and each region has at least one specialty. Last year I posted a Turkish menu for Mabon, complete with recipes. I thought today I could share with you all a few of the dishes that I particularly enjoy.

Iskender (Bursa) Kebap




Iskender kebap is a kind of döner kebab prepared from thinly cut grilled lamb or beef basted with tomato sauce over pieces of pide bread and generously slathered with melted butter and yogurt. It originated in Bursa. "Kebapçı İskender" is trademarked by Yavuz İskenderoğlu, whose family still runs the restaurant in Bursa, which I have visited. It's a rather hefty meal, but perfect on a cold day.


İmam bayıldı (The Imam Fainted)




This is one of the better-known zeytinyağlı (olive oil) dishes. It is braised eggplant stuffed with parsley, tomatoes, onion and garlic. It is simmered in olive oil and served cold. This is NOT a low-cal dish, but boy is it good!

As for the name, there are several stories. One version is that the imam fainted with pleasure because the dish is so tasty. Another version says he fainted because of the amount of costly olive oil that went into preparing the dish. Whatever the story, I always close my eyes and savor this yummy meze when it's served in the cafeteria. The cafeteria cooks add currants too.


Zeytinyağlı biber dolması





This is another cold olive oil dish. It's also the only dish out of the three that I have prepared at home. I was tempted to make the eggplant meze over the weekend, but I just can't consciously consume that much olive oil in one recipe. I'm happy to remain ignorant of the fat content and eat it the 2-3 time I see it in the cafeteria a month. I use less olive oil in the pepper recipe.

These peppers are stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants and spices, and usually topped with a slice of tomato before cooking. I use cinnamon instead of allspice in my recipe. The filling also includes fresh parsley, dill, mint, garlic and onion. *drool* I can never pass this up. I like the stuffed peppers better than the more popular vine leaves.

There you have it. Those are some of my favorite Turkish dishes. There are a few others that I enjoy, and fortunately the internet is full of English translations of the recipes. One of my favorite Turkish food sites is Almost Turkish. The link for this site can be found on the lefthand side of this blog.

As they say here, Afiyet olsun!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magickal Lunchbox, Part II

Now that we’ve discussed different ways to add magick to the lunch tote itself, what about the contents? Kitchen witches and company know that certain foods and herbs have certain energies, making it easy to pack some magick into your children’s daily meal. All it takes is some visualization when preparing the food
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Many nuts and seeds carry money energies and packing a peanut butter sandwich is certainly a good way for the parents to save money! However, a lot of schools are banning peanuts and even some tree nuts due to allergies.

Foods for the magickal lunch:

Noodles are a symbol of long life in Chinese culture. Noodle soup in a thermos, pasta salad (with appropriate herbs), or even pasta with marinara sauce (also packed in a thermos if you wish to keep it hot) would be good choices.

Vegetables
Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are good for protection. If you choose to pack some blanched broccoli or steamed Brussels sprouts, include a slice of lemon to help eliminate the tell-tale odor of these cruciferous veggies. Lightly steamed, chilled broccoli with a garlic-lemon sauce is a good protective dish (but again there is the issue of smell, so this might be best served at home).

Celery sticks promote peace and psychic awareness. Carrots, along with celery, also carry sex energy, so use with caution. (I kid, not about the energies themselves, but carrot sticks will hardly turn your grade school child into a raging nympho.)

A small container of peas can be charged to release love energy.

Potatoes also promote protection, as well as compassion. A baked potato can be wrapped in foil to keep it warm. Pack some broccoli in a cheese sauce in the thermos to top the potato at lunch time. This is a warm, satisfying meal that, properly charged, may increase protection over time.

Sweet potatoes can be eaten to increase one’s ability to give and receive love. Pack sweet potatoes cooked with brown sugar, ginger and a splash of orange juice, or make a potato salad with sweet potatoes and regular. Sweet potato fries are also a good choice.

Sweet Potato Fries (This is the way I like to make them, but feel free to switch up the spices)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 3-inch fries, about ¾ inch thick. In a bowl toss fries with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon chili powder and 2 tsp. ground cumin. Place on a non-stick cookie sheet, or one that’s been lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so. Give them a few extra minutes if you want them to be crispier, but they won’t get as crispy as regular potatoes.

Fruit

Apple slices tossed with a bit of lemon juice to keep from browning are good for love, health, and peace.

Bananas – love

Blueberries – protection

Cherries – love
Mangos – protection, (sex), love

Melon – healing, purification

Nectarines – love

Oranges – love

Papaya – love

Pineapple – healing, money, protection, love

Create a Love Salad with cherries, bananas, mango, orange slices, pineapple chunks, papaya (if available), and melon. You can use a small heart-shaped cutter to make pineapple and melon hearts. This is a good salad to have in late summer, when students are headed back to school and most of the fruits are in season.

Breads and Grains

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, various grains and breads carry different energies. Tortillas are good for protection. A tortilla spread with refried beans and a spicy salsa, rolled and cut into bites, would add a tasty touch of protection, Mexican style, to the lunchbox.

Desserts

What lunchbox would be complete without something sweet? Chocolate is a perfect love food. You can include a small piece of chocolate, or bake chocolate chip cookies or brownies and include one in your child’s lunchbox.
You can also use fresh, seasonal fruits as dessert, or bake them into mini tarts.

Use your imagination and your intuition. Packing your child’s favorite foods on a test day will provide nourishment for their bodies as well as a sense of calm to help him/her focus. If your child is starting a new school, pack something for love, peace, or protection. It wouldn’t hurt if you also included an extra cookie or two for sharing!

If you want to add more love to their day, use small heart-shaped cookie cutters. Pack a sandwich on a crescent roll for moon energy. Walnuts are traditional brain food (but again, check for rules on nuts). If your teenager is looking for part-time work, pack foods that attract money and prosperity. Some examples: Mini buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup for dipping, bean burritos, rice dishes, spinach salad, sunflower seeds, or foods sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Consult a reference book. I used Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen for a lot of the information regarding the different energies of foods. It’s one of my favorite resources. Then, consult a few cookbooks or internet sites and see what you can come up with. Afiyet olsun!

The Magickal Lunchbox, Part I

Note: I don't have any children, but if I did, this is something I would do. The inspiration for this came from The Urban Primitive, a book I enjoyed reading. I'll have to do a review one of these days. The book is back in the States somewhere, though.


Lunchbox Magick


(Yes, it’s magick with a “k”. I know people debate this spelling, but it’s kind of a habit for me.)
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s summer and the kids are out of school, but this way the parents out there have time to think and plan.

Every day, most of us who have children send our little kiddoes off to school, often with a packed lunch. Sending a prepared lunch to school with your children, whether it’s in a brown bag or a reusable container (which is, as we all know, preferable to disposable), you can take this opportunity to send a little extra magick to school with them.

For the younger set, choose some stickers that represent things you want them to carry with them. Choose pictures of an animal with which they identify – a bear, a big cat, or even a mythological being such as a unicorn or dragon. This could be a power/totem animal, or one that represents certain qualities such as swiftness (to outrun bullies), strength, peace (dove stickers), or wisdom
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Designs such as sigils for protection or love can be drawn onto the inside or outside of the lunchbox with a marker, or even painted on. Runes can be drawn onto the outside or even etched into the handle of the box. Choose something you are all comfortable with ,and let the children help.

Older children may not want their lunch containers decorated with stickers or pictures, but some of them may feel comfortable with runes. S/he may wish to decorate her/his own box or bag with other pictures and stickers as well, such as pictures of celebrities or musicians. A special design can be drawn on first, then covered with the other pictures, or, if s/he prefers, simply trace the design on with your finger. Dip the index finger of your (or whoever is doing this) dominant hand into salt water and, visualizing, trace a design or word into the container. The water will evaporate, but the intent will remain.

Small slips of paper with runes or chants can also be tucked inside the containers. Even a ‘love’ note (for the younger ones, as we all know teenagers would be absolutely mortified) can give your child a sense of peace and well-being and help strengthen their spiritual defenses. You can charge the lunchbox (as well as your child's backpack and other supplies) with all of the love of protection you would normally bestow in person, to help him/her get through the day safely until s/he is back at home.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Charge of/Prayer to the Kitchen Goddess

One thing I would like to include in my book is a small section on prayers and chants of thanksgiving. I welcome submissions from friends and will gladly credit anyone who has anything s/he wishes to share.

This is not quite the Charge of the Kitchen Witch (hopefully one is forthcoming); rather more of a Charge of the Earth Mother, She who provides us with food:

Listen to the words and whispers of the Great Mother,
She who hath provided us with Her bounty
She who has been and is known as Hestia, Vesta, Annapurna, Brigid, Ut
Whenever you are hungry,
you shall find Her at the sacred hearth
Go there, and be nourished
Our first meal came from Her breast
Her body sustains us
Sit by the sacred fire and stir the sacred cauldron
Feed yourself from the Earth Mother’s bounty
And know that all that comes from Her must one day return
Give thanks for this meal in this time and place
Give thanks to all that She has provided
Know that the meal in which you partake
Will warm your body and soul
Know that this is an expression of love
May your hunger and thirst be banished with this act of love
From this day until your last

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New recipes tested

While I was in the United States visiting friends and family, I took the opportunity to get into my mother's kitchen and test some recipes for my kitchen witch cookbook. I need to get off my lazy you-know-what and get some real writing done so I can submit it. Bad Z! Someone light a fire under me, por favor.

Anyroad, the blueberry lemonade recipe a few posts back is going into the summer section of the book. It's delicious, refreshing, and perfect for Lughnasadh.

I also taste-tested a recipe for grilled pork with a marinade made up of fire- or Sun-ruled ingredients, in honor of the summer sun and gods of the harvest. I was trying to create a recipe that balances the golden sun and warmth of late summer as well as the promise of a later harvest, going into a time of darkness.

Another recipe that I want to finalize is one for blueberry-cardamom bread. The first time I made it it came out too moist and fell apart. I need to adjust the liquid ingredients. Anyone want to help out with this one?

I plan to do more cooking in the coming months and complete/create recipes and start reworking the introduction to the book, as well as introductions to each section. We'll see what happens. Wish me luck!

I've been interviewed!

Thanks to the Domestic Witch for the interview. Check out the interview and the rest of her great site here:
http://domesticwitch.blogspot.com/2009/07/witchin-in-kitchen.html#comments

Thanks for interviewing me. I really enjoyed it. :) (I'd post an actual link, but for some reason I can't. Might be my own ineptitude.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thanks, Mrs. B!

My parents, bless them, only have dial up, so I didn't get to check my mail or my blog very much. I didn't see the wonderful graphic Mrs. B made me until recently. Here it is, and it's great!





Thanks again :) Check out her Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom blog here: http://silvermoonwitch.blogspot.com/

Fruits of the Season - Berries





One of my favorite summer activities as a child was picking berries. My mom and I would gather wild black raspberries, and my pap-pap grew blueberries and red raspberries. I would eat almost as many as I put in my bucket! Berries of all types are all the rage these days. Blueberries, acai berries, and cranberries are being touted as super foods. Berries are not only delicious, but also traditional foods for Lughnasadh.

I love blueberries and red raspberries. In late summer, my hands, mouth and clothes were often stained purple from Pap-pap's blueberries. They've been used in muffins and pancakes for years, and in recent years have been added to teas and blended with pomegranate juice for an antioxidant-rich treat.

Before we get to the recipe I want to share with you, I will share some of Scott Cunningham's information on the blueberry.

Blueberry

Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Energies: Protection

Blueberries can be used to enhance our magical defense system. The color blue has long been used as a protection against the evil eye and other harm. Baby boys are dressed in blue to protect them, and blue eye charms are seen everywhere in Turkey.

In this recipe, blueberries are mixed with lemons, another moon-ruled, water fruit.


Blueberry Lemonade


This recipe begins with a berry- and lemon-infused simple syrup.

You will need:

1 1/2 pints blueberries, washed (raspberries or strawberries can also be used for this recipe)

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

5-6 lemons + zest of 2-3 of the lemons

Using a peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in long strips.

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve, then add the berries and strips of lemon zest. Allow the sugar to dissolve and simmer the fruit for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Discard the zest.

Place a mesh strainer over the mouth of a pitcher or jug. Pour the berry syrup into the strainer, mashing the berries against the mesh with a spoon or spatula.

Using a juicer or a reamer, extract the juice from the lemons and add to the syrup. Stir to combine. Dilute the mixture with 3-4 cups of cold water, depending on how strong you want the drink. Taste for sweetness and tartness and add more lemon juice or sweetener if needed.

Chill before serving. Serve with ice and slices of lemon or more strips of lemon zest.

Breads and Grains - Celebrating the First Harvest

As Lughnasadh is almost upon us, I thought it would be nice to devote an entry or two to some of the foods associated with the first harvest in the Northern Hemisphere. Different areas produce different foods, but these days we have access to a large variety of foods, no matter where we are. We also have access to those foods throughout most of the year, but I prefer to focus on seasonal produce. Local eating is also an important practice, but it isn’t always easy.

During Lughnasadh, or Lammas, as well as Mabon, we celebrate the harvest of grains and the foods that can be made from various grains. Beer and bread are two products that are made from different grains, making them ideal for honoring the gods of the harvest. Other traditional foods include berries and crab apples.

Bread has long been viewed as the “staff of life” and has been made in one form or another for thousands of years. Bread is a divine substance and is often given as an offering during ritual. Some religious practices also use bread as a physical representation of the Divine.

The breaking of bread is more than nourishment; it is a symbol of togetherness, binding together those who eat it.

Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen gives us some information on a few of the grains with which we are most familiar.

Barley

Planet: Venus
Element: Earth
Energies: Fertility, money, sex

Barley was an important grain to the ancient Egyptians. It was used as a medium of exchange and was even placed in tombs. According to one Egyptian legend, barley grew out of men, whereas wheat grew out of women.

Sumerians made several types of barley beer. In Indian, barley was sacred to Indra, known as “He who ripens barley”. This grain played an important part in rituals related to childbirth, marriage, and death.

Babylonians also brewed beer with barley. Greeks planted it around temples to Demeter to ask for fertility, and in China, barley is a symbol of the sexual potency of males.

Buckwheat

Planet: Jupiter
Element: Earth
Energies: Money

Buckwheat noodles, or soba, are eaten in Japan on the Japanese New Year for prosperity. Buckwheat pancakes are common in some parts of the United States. In my home state of West Virginia, the Buckwheat Festival is held every autumn. Eat buckwheat pancakes with a touch of maple syrup to attract abundance (in fertility, money, or life).

Corn

Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Energies: Protection, spirituality

An entire entry could be devoted to corn. Corn has been a fundamental part of the religious practices of North and Central America for thousands of years. The Quiche Mayas of Guatemala even believed the first humans were made of corn. Miguel Angel Asturias, a Guatemalan author, even titled one of his works "Hombres de Maiz" (Men of Corn).

The Corn Mother was a widely worshiped deity in the pre-Columbian Americas. Corn is a sacred gift of the Mother Goddess. It is a symbol of life, fertility, and rebirth. To the Zuni, different colors of corn were related to the four directions. Some people still use whole dried or ground corn in various colors to represent the directions.

Yellow - north
White - east
Red - south
Blue - west

Corn bread would be an appropriate food for Lughnasadh, as would tamales, corn chowder, or corn pudding. Place ears of corn on your altar. Blue corn is used to induce spirituality. Scatter corn meal around your ritual sites or use it to mark your circle.

Note: "Corn" outside the U.S. is used to mean any grain except for maize.

Rye

Planet: Venus
Element: Earth
Energies: Love

Rye bread made with caraway seeds (and properly charged with your intent) can increase your ability to give and receive love

Wheat

Planet: Venus
Element: Earth
Energies: various

Wheat is the second-most commonly used grain for human consumption. Rice is number one. Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Greeks, and Romans all worshiped harvest deities that were associated with wheat (sometimes seen as "corn").

Wheat-based foods are eaten to bring prosperity and money into your life. Different breads are used for different purposes. Below are a few, courtesy of Scott Cunningham.

Twisted breads - protection
Egg breads - fertility
Sprouted breads - increasing psychic awareness
Garlic bread - protection

Sweetened breads are often used for spring festivals. In Mexico, Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) is eaten on November 2. For Lughnasadh this year, why not try your hand at baking your own bread? There are thousands of recipes online, many of them very simple, and the rewards outweigh any labor involved.

I prefer making my bread by hand for several reasons. One, I don't have a bread maker or a mixer. Two, I like to get my hands into the dough and feel the texture of the flour and really put my own energies into the food. I absolutely love the kneading process required to make most breads.

The following chant is one I'm sure many of you know, and I think it is a very good one to sing when kneading bread:

Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall rise again

This year, if you can, bake a loaf or two of bread. Offer some to Lugh or another deity, and break bread with the people you care about. Light a candle, give thanks, and pass around the loaf.

Home again, jiggedy jog

I got back to Istanbul last night. I did some cooking and a little bit of recipe testing while I was in the States with my friends and family and will make some more posts soon. I also wrote to Llewellyn and it seems that they *might* be interested in looking at some of my materials. I need to get busy!