NWK

NWK

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Kitchen Witches Tarot

Does one exist? I'm sure there's one out there somewhere. There's a housewife-themed Tarot deck that I fell in love with when it first came out and I WILL own it one day! It's just not available where I currently reside.

Back to a kitchen witch Tarot. I'm sure there's something like that already on the market,and if not, there should be! Now I'm most definitely NOT an artist. Any of my students can tell you that. Whenever I try to draw something on the board to illustrate a point, my efforts are met with much giggling. So, even though I would love to see a kitchen witch Tarot deck and in fact have some ideas for one, I would need to get in touch with an actual artist. You're about to see why.

What would such a deck include, you ask? The thing is, I'm not completely sure yet. I haven't decided what all to include. The elemental representations are fairly simple. Cups would be cups (how novel!). For wands, I have sketched out wooden spoons. Swords would be kitchen knives, of course. As for coins, the element that represents earth, I am thinking about plates. I'm still kind of stuck, but if the goal is to show representations of prosperity, abundance, and the material aspect of life, I think a plate brimming with fruits, bread, cheese, and maybe some meat would be a nifty representation. I'm open to suggestions, but I can easily visualize, for example, the Seven of Plates as one plate full of tasty things, surrounded by the other six plates that are rimmed with gold or decorated with little pentacles and other earthy symbols. Leaves, perhaps.

As for the Major Arcana, I've been toying around with a few ideas there as well. One of the first thoughts I had was to use a mixture of photos and pictures to make a prototype and to have someone like Martha Stewart as the High Priestess. Then I figured someone would throw something at me. *L* I'm still working on it. But maybe The Tower could be represented by a souffle. The Hermit could be a cook buried behind a stack of cookbooks, or a lonely baker who begins work at 2 or 3 am. Again, I'm open to suggestions and would love some feedback if you have any.

Now we come to the portion of the blog entry in which I torture your eyeballs with my "artwork". The quality of the photo isn't very good but neither is the quality of the drawing, so it all works out. I think. Anyway, I drew a representation of Justice. You cannot see her hands very well, but she is holding a cookie in each hand.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Folk Magic in the Kitchen

I plan to start discussing various superstitions and beliefs related to food and the kitchen, but first, a message about safety and healing magic in the kitchen.

Accidents happen. Most of them seem to happen in the kitchen or the bathroom, but since we’re kitchen witches here, we’ll talk about kitchen boo-boos. We’ve all cut ourselves or burned ourselves or had a block of frozen peas fall onto our bare feet, right? Well, maybe not the peas thing, but I’ve dropped plenty of things in my life, and many of those things did find their way to my poor little tootsies.

If you have children, chances are you have some sort of First-Aid kit somewhere in the house. Even if you don’t have kids, you may still have some semblance of a First-Aid kit, with bandages, Neosporin, cold packs and the like. But if you don’t have those things handy, what can you do when accidents happen? How about some American Folk Magic?

American Folk Magic, as far as I can tell, is a mixture of European folk traditions and mysticism. One of the earliest books is Pow-wows, or Long Lost Friend, by John George Hohman. It was published in 1820 for Pennsylvania Dutch spiritualists, known as “hexmeisters”. American Folk Magic survives today in hex signs painted on the sides of buildings, folk remedies, superstitions, faith healing, and stories passed down through the generations.

Herbal remedies are a popular element of folk traditions. Aloe is used to treat minor burns and abrasions. The blossoms of the calendula can be used as an anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic. For more information regarding herbs, you can visit http://www.anniesremedy.com/remedy_use76.php, or pick up a good book at your local library.

Now, I’m going to mention a name that might make some of you cringe. It might make some of you stop reading my blog, but I have to be honest when I say that the first book I ever read on American Folk Magic(k) was by…Silver Ravenwolf. Now I know many people have problems with her historical inaccuracies, the fact that she basically encourages youngsters to lie to their parents, and her blatant Christian bashing, but the book on American Folk Magick really isn’t that bad. I promise. She may even have done some research for this one!

All I know is the following chants I’m about to share with you actually work. That could just be my subconscious mind, but I have had success with these two chants, as well as another one I cannot remember. I would just open the book and type it for you, but my copy is in the United States and I am not. Please keep this in mind if you happen to have a copy of American Folk Magick and you notice that the wording to one chant is a bit off. It might be. If so, send me the correction, if you please.

To Stop Bleeding

This is a good chant to know if you (or someone around you) gets cut. It helps stop the bleeding in a timely manner. If you have a serious cut, a deep cut, please go to the emergency room. Don’t rely on a folk magic chant and then come back and haunt me when you bleed to death!

What I do is place my dominant hand (unless that’s the one that’s bleeding) over the cut and move my hand over it as I chant. I envision the flesh knitting back together and the blood clotting. The chant is as follows:

Blessed wound, blessed hour
Blessed be the day the Goddess came to power
Women’s mysteries, fine and strong,
Stop this blood through female song

Repeat at least 3 times.

For Minor Burns

Again, please seek immediate care for serious burns. Use this if you splash some hot coffee on your arm, not if you knock a deep fryer over on yourself. (This is the one that won’t be verbatim, but isn’t it really the intent that counts?)

I move my hand over the burned area and visualize myself pulling the heat from the skin. I visualize drawing the burn out and I ‘shake it off’ my fingertips.

Three women (angels?) came from the East
One brought fire and two brought frost
Out fire, in front (3 x)
The fire is out, the frost is in

I do remember the book saying practitioners of folk magic don’t like to use cold water or ice on a burn, as they believe it pushes the burn deeper into the skin. I believe cool water can be very beneficial to burns and I prefer to envision the water rinsing the burn from the skin.

Anyway, be careful out there. Make sure you use clean, dry potholders or oven mitts, wear short sleeves, and always, always, always supervise youngsters. My rule is no one under 6 or 7 can be in the kitchen when things are being fried or when the oven is being used. I was never allowed in the kitchen when the pressure canner was being used either.

Another tip is to place a damp cloth under the cutting board so it does not slip. If you are cutting something round or spherical, take a tiny slice off one side so the fruit of vegetable has a bit of a platform. That will keep it from rolling around while you are trying to cut it. Keeping your knives nice and sharp will also help prevent injuries, believe it or not. The duller the knife, the more you have to hack away at the poor vegetable or piece of meat, and the more likely you are to hack into your own finger.

Happy (and safe!) cooking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fruits of the Season - Figs

Figs are in season and the stores and weekly markets are full of them. If your only experience with figs is in Newton form, I recommend trying a fresh one. I personally like them better dried (and yes I do love Fig Newtons as well), but they are really beautiful, inside and out.

A fig isn’t an actual fruit; it is a hollow, bud-like object filled with immature flowers and mature seeds. Figs are associated with several deities, including Dionysius and Juno. The fig was sacred not only to the Greeks, but also to the Egyptians. Some Biblical scholars believe that Eve tempted Adam with a fig, not an apple, and that fig leaves were used as the first body coverings.

From Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen:
Planet: Jupiter
Element: Fire
Energies: Strength, money, sex

The following recipe comes from the Williams-Sonoma website and it sounds soooooo good. I am desperate to try it. The only problem is thyme. (We could say I can’t find the thyme, but that would be too corny of a joke, even for me. Hee.) I may have to try it without the herbs and see how it turns out. I can get wonderful, fragrant fresh dill, mint and parsley, but rosemary and thyme are very difficult to find. Oregano is almost always dried. I happen to have a Greek bush basil, however, and plan to make the most of it!

Fig Tart with Goat Cheese and Thyme

(Note: This recipe calls for a fire-ruled ingredient and a water-ruled ingredient, which is the thyme. If you do not wish to combine these two elements into one recipe, I recommend using rosemary. It is a fire-ruled herb and is used as an all-purpose substitution).



Ingredients:
For the pastry:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into
1-inch pieces

1 to 2 Tbs. ice water



For the filling:

10 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 large black Mission figs, quartered lengthwise


Aged balsamic vinegar for serving

Honey for serving


Directions:
To make the pastry, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the flour and salt and beat on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the butter and continue beating until pea-size crumbs form, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the water 1/2 Tbs. at a time and continue beating, adding more water as needed, until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press together to form a 5-inch disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness to fit a 9-inch square tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang around the rim. Fold in the excess dough and press it into the sides so they are thicker than the bottom. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Line the pastry shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the shell is set, about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper and continue baking until the shell is golden, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, whisk together the goat cheese, eggs, thyme, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Spread the cheese mixture in the tart shell. Arrange the figs on top, covering as much of the cheese as possible.

Bake until the tart is golden around the edges and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and honey. Serves 9.

Source: Williams-Sonoma Kitchen, www.williams-sonoma.com

Are you drooling yet? I am!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Info for Healthy Eating

As some of you know, I had lap band surgery back in April. So far I've lost a little over 30 pounds and I'm still working on losing more. I've been trying to exercise consistently 3-4 days a week, and the band helps me with portions and also with the types of foods I can tolerate. I had a bit of an ordeal earlier this week, though, and as a result I know have a bit less restriction than I normally have. All that will be corrected when my doctor returns to Istanbul on or around August 24,
however.

In the meantime, I am trying to keep a food log and I would like to share a couple of websites with you.

http://caloriecount.about.com

It's free to join and you can keep an online food log plus an activity log. Simply search for foods that you are eating (you can even search recipes) and find the nutrition information. Click to add it to your food log. Many of the entries also have a nutrition grade - A,B,C, etc. The site will also analyze your daily intake and give you a grade based on calories, fat, sodium, etc.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com

This site is also free to join. You need to register if you want to save recipes. You can look up recipes or submit your own. By adding the ingredients and providing information on the number of servings per recipe, this site will calculate the nutrition information per serving. If you have a favorite recipe and don't know how many calories, fat grams, or miligrams of sodium per serving it contains, this site will help you find out.



A New Use for Basil

A digestif is a sweet alcoholic infusion served after a meal. It is usually served straight from the freezer. Chow.com is featuring some recipes for these potent little after-dinner numbers, and the one that really caught my attention was the one utilizing basil. Basil, as you know, is used in workings for love, either to draw love or strengthen. Serve this herby drink after a dinner you have cooked for your significant other, to intensify the magic.

Source: www.chow.com

INGREDIENTS
14 large, fresh basil leaves

2 cups grain alcohol, such as Everclear 151 - The instructions say to use Everclear because it intensifies the flavors of the ingredients, but I personally find it much too strong. I would use vodka.

1 1/2 cups Simple Syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated together until the sugar dissolves)

INSTRUCTIONS
Place basil leaves in a 1-quart glass jar with a tightfitting lid, add alcohol, cover, and let steep at room temperature, undisturbed, for 6 days.
After 6 days, remove leaves and add simple syrup. Stir to combine. Store in the freezer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Books: Back to Basics

While I’m not completely finished on my blog posts about the spiritual aspects of meat, I thought I would take a little break to mention some books that I think could be of interest. Some of them are witchy, and some of them are not. The following one is not a traditionally “witchy” book, but it contains information that is useful to Pagans and non-Pagans alike.

Back to Basics has been on my parents’ bookshelf for as long as I can remember. This book is a wonderful resource for the homesteader, as well as those who are just interested in living a bit more simply and frugally. I think that’s something we’re all more interested in these days, what with the job market and economy in the shape it is.

Back to Basics provides practical information on buying land, building, generating your own energy (heating with wood, using solar and wind energy, etc.), growing and preserving your own food, and even has sections devoted to skills and crafts such as hooking rugs and making natural dyes. There is also a section on entertainment, with instructions on crafting your own dulcimer and celebrating holidays.

I Any of this information can be incorporated into the life of even the urban Pagan. If you have access to a farmers market, make homemade preserves or can beans and tomatoes for the winter. What witch wouldn’t be interested in making his/her own broom? And think of the spells you could work into your own homemade quilts (protection, love, fertility, etc.).

I have to admit that there are times when I cannot wait to return to my home country so I can finally settle down and start gardening and maybe even raising an animal or two. Confession time: I want to settle down and get married to a man who knows how to work the land and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and even reconnect with his primitive self by going hunting once in a while. I guess I really am one of those “Monster Truck Pagans” from the ecauldron list. *L*

I have a lot of memories of helping my parents pick and can green beans and tomatoes. I can still smell the aroma of peppers frying before being canned in a sweet tomato sauce, and I still love shucking corn! I’ve done my share of fishing and chicken plucking too, but there are still so many things I haven’t learned. I am anxious to get back to my family and learn those things from living, breathing, experienced people while I still have them in my life. But I digress (no surprise there).

Anyway, if you see a copy of this book at your local library, take a peek. Buy a copy if you like it, or just copy what interests you. Just make sure you aren’t copying so much that you violate the copyright laws. And if you get caught, don’t tell them Z said to do it! ;)

Bison

Bison
Abundance, patience, grounding
Earth
Symbol of strength


This animal will help us to connect to the Earth, and to our ancestors. Even if you do not claim any American Indian heritage (always a popular topic in the Pagan community), by consuming the flesh of this sacred animal, you are in a way connecting to the most primitive of humans. They may not have had bison as we know it, but the act of hunting a sacred animal such as the bison, of giving thanks to the spirit of this great beast, and by nourishing your body with its body, you are connecting with the past.

I’m not saying you have to go out and hunt a bison, or any animal for that matter, but just being aware of the process and the sacrifice may help to put you in tune with the Lord of the Hunt and help strengthen the connection with Nature. Let’s face it, many of us live thoroughly modern existences. Our meat is pre-wrapped and displayed in a refrigerated case. We hunt for bargains, not for food. Many people don’t have room for a garden, unless it’s just a pot of herbs grown on a balcony or windowsill. That may be fine and dandy for most people, but I get sick of living like a city girl sometimes. Especially now that I live in a city of at least 14 million people and concrete seems to be the most prevalent crop. It seems easier to eat seasonally and locally here without having a garden, however.

If there are any hunters out there, or people married to hunters or otherwise related in some way, give me a shout. Any country folk? Does any of this make sense to anyone, or am I just a crazy lady, rambling on in her old age? (Probably. *L*)

Back to the bison, a lot of grocery stores carry bison that has been raised on a farm of sorts. Can you still connect with this great animal if you didn’t hunt it? Well of course you can. Say a prayer of thanks. Find some information on the tribes of Plains Indians who depended upon this animal for their survival. What did they use each part of the animal for?

No matter what you choose to have for dinner, give thanks to the spirit of the animal. Thank Cernunnos, or another appropriate god or goddess of the hunt. Also, maybe take time to do a little meditation on some of the foods you eat. The information I’m presenting is just my own personal thoughts. You may have other associations for these animals. You may attribute other planets, elements, or energies to them. I would love to hear what you come up with.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A different way to purify the home

We interrupt your normally scheduled programming to bring you an article I've been meaning to write and post for a good week. It focuses on a kitchen in a new home, but of course you don't have to move in order to purify your space and generate good energies!

Most of you are familiar with smudging spaces with sage, cedar, sweet grass, or a mixture of those. Ritual spaces are cleaned, people are purified with the smoke before entering the circle, and many people smudge their homes when moving in or out.

Other methods of purification involve sprinkling salt water around the space to be cleansed, or flicking the water with a spring of rosemary, a classic herb for protection that can be used as a stand-in for most other plants as well.
We can even purify with sounds, such as the ringing of a bell or a small gong, or simply by chanting. All of the elements can be involved, or just one or two. It really depends upon your needs and personal preference.

Some older customs include carrying part of the old hearth fire into the new home, or bringing in a loaf of bread and some salt before anything else is carried into the new place. The bread is to represent an abundance of food, and salt for luck.

The home has many superstitions associated with it, but no room has more lore, customs and superstitions than the kitchen. Much lore is focused on the hearth, and in these modern times the hearth is often the stove, or the entire kitchen itself.

Since so much importance is placed on the kitchen – in fact, it is often referred to as the heart or soul of a home – why not start in this room? People move for different reasons, but most of us wish to move away from negative things and open themselves up to new opportunities.

One way to start bringing positive energies into your new home is to start in the kitchen. By all means, smudge the house or do any other ritual you deem appropriate first. Once you have unpacked your kitchen things (and feel rested enough to cook!), stir up some magic. Cooking a dish that involves lots of garlic and fragrant spices, such as a curry, fills the whole house with a warm aroma. The garlic offers protection as you consume it, and the oils released during the cooking also infuse the air. The other spices may generate energies for protection, or peace, etc., depending on what you use.

Some may say that you shouldn’t include ingredients that have conflicting energies. However, so many foods have more than one magical property attributed to them, and some may be more dominant than others. It depends on a lot of factors, especially the magical worker’s intent. If you want to include love and protection together, by all means do so. We protect the ones that we love.

Pick up a book or two about magical food correspondences (I recommend Scott Cunningham, as you know) and explore. Experiment. See what feels good and tastes good to you. The following recipe is one that I love to make because it is simple, healthy, and full of magical ingredients. Again, visualization is key. Say a blessing or a chant as you cook, or over the cooked food, and light a candle or two if you wish. And enjoy.


Pasta for a New Home (or any home)

4-5 cloves garlic, minced – protection
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake – protection
½ teaspoon dried oregano (or Italian seasoning) – prosperity, love
Fresh chopped parsley (optional) – love, luck, prosperity
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts - money, love
Parmesan cheese – various (up to you)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil – peace, spirituality
1 lb pasta – spaghetti is my preference - longevity, prosperity
1 1-lb can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed – prosperity, wealth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and let it soften for a couple of minutes. Don’t let it brown. Add the red pepper flake it let it infuse the oil for a minute. Add the beans and oregano. Let the beans heat through and combine with the other flavors. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
Remove the cooked pasta from the water with a spaghetti fork and add to the bean mixture in the skillet. Toss the pasta with the beans so all the pasta is well coated. Garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted pine nuts and spoonfuls of Parmesan cheese.
The bean mixture is also good served on slices of crusty bread or toast. Add a green salad and a glass of red wine if you wish.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pork




Pigs are a symbol of prosperity, wealth, and luck. Demeter kept a sacred pig which became a symbol of fertility. Sows were sacred to Isis and sacrificed to Osiris. The Celts also considered the pig to be an important, sacred animal, and the Druids were rather fond of it as well. I won’t go into all the details and lore about the pig here, though. There are many resources available if you are interested in the Druids’ or the Celts’ views on this animal, or any other culture’s view. I’m more interested in the ‘meat’ of the matter (pun definitely intended!).

The pig would be best associated with earth. Its energies are, of course, wealth and/or prosperity.

Pigs are popular symbols in the kitchen and are available in many forms: cookie jars, aprons, magnets, pot holders, tea towels, on dishes, etc. Adding a pig decorate or two to your kitchen or placing a small statue on your kitchen altar would be a good way to start if you wish to attract prosperity.

Pork is one of the traditional foods of Samhain. It is also lovely served at Yule, a time when food was often in short supply, and much of it was preserved. People were especially lucky to have some meat for nourishment in the depths of winter.

The pig is often misunderstood. Many people believe it to be an unclean animal, and more than one religion has a taboo against the consumption of pork. Pigs actually seem to be cleaner than chickens, at least from my experience with both types of animal. Even though the pig is an unclean, unholy animal for some cultures, it was revered by others. ( As for their intelligence, I can’t really say. Again, they’re smarter than chickens, but that isn’t saying much. Some pigs, especially the pot-bellied variety, can show great intelligence. ) Today, most pigs aren't left to just forage for their food. The meat is leaner now, and the animals' diet isn't as dodgy as it used to be, making trichinosis a worry of the past.

If you wish to incorporate pork into a prosperity diet, try to avoid factory farmed animals. Again, buy locally if you can. Also try to avoid the heavily processed, over salted cuts of meat, such as bacon and ham. If you choose a cut of meat that has a layer of fat on it, symbols of prosperity can be carved into the skin before cooking.

Here is one of my favorite ways of preparing pork. It is simple and flavorful. You don’t have to use tenderloin either. Use whatever is on sale. If you’re using this recipe to draw prosperity, chances are you won’t be buying the most expensive cut of meat!

3 lbs boneless pork tenderloin
1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the piece of meat into a baking dish. Mix the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper with enough olive oil to make a paste. Paint this mixture onto your tenderloin. Roast for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 170 F.

A Simpler, More Cost-Effective Recipe

Again, if what you’re trying to do is attract wealth and prosperity, chances are you aren’t going to go to the store and buy a big tenderloin, unless you have a bit of cash to spend for a special occasion. Here, then is a simple, money-drawing recipe. It also happens to be my absolute favorite home-cooked meal. My mom prepares this meal any time she knows I’m coming home.

1 1-lb bag of pinto beans, rinsed, sorted (to make sure you don’t have bits of gravel in there too) and soaked overnight

1 ham hock (maybe two, if two come in the package)

Place the rinsed, soaked beans into a slow cooker. Add the ham hock. You can tuck in a bay leaf or two if you wish. Cover with water and set the cooker on low. Cook for 8 hours, or until beans are tender. During the last hour or so, add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flake if desired. Taste for seasoning. Add pepper and extra salt to taste.

In my house we serve this with cornbread and some chopped raw onions, which we stir into the hot beans. Beans are also good for attracting money.

As the beans cook, visualize your goal. Burn a green candle (but don’t leave it unattended!) as the beans cook. If you don’t have a crock pot, you can make these beans in a Dutch oven, or on the stovetop in a big pot. Just check back every once in a while and make sure you have enough liquid so the beans don’t scorch.

There you have it. An extremely cheap meal that will make an abundant amount, and both of the key ingredients can be incorporated into a kitchen witch’s spell for increased prosperity.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Venison



If you search for information on the deer as a totem animal, you will find possibly as many interpretations as there are actual deer in the forest. Some claim that the deer represents innocence, while others say it symbolizes perception. Still others will opine that the deer as a totem animal symbolizes familial relationships.

Deer are graceful animal, nimble and agile as they travel through the forests (and sometimes stray into people’s yards) in search of food. Fawns are especially sweet with their dappled coats meant to mimic the sun-speckled undergrowth. They seem like very docile creatures, but adults can be rather aggressive, especially when protecting territory or young. Growing up in the Mountain State taught me a few lessons about these ‘forest children’, as my uncle calls them.

The deer that we North Americans know is not the same one that is sacred to the Celts, but both species can bestow their gifts upon us. If you’re a die-hard fan of Bambi, you may not wish to read any further. Where I come from, the week of Thanksgiving is also the first week of deer hunting season. Many counties close schools for the entire week because they know many people will be getting up before dawn to vest themselves in camouflage gear and blaze orange caps and vests in order to traipsing through the forest in search of deer.

Deer is a valuable food source for many people. In fact, some food banks set up programs to allow people to donate extra meat in order to feed those without. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, including jerky, which keeps forever. It’s a low-fat, high-protein food source. Some hunters say they are “thinning the numbers” so the animals do not starve in the winter. That’s fine, as long as the meat is used. It is a terrible insult to the spirit of the animal to hunt it only for its antlers or head.

If we look at all of the different totem information given for the deer, I think we can safely come up with some associations for this animal. Most sources mention a deer’s ability to detect subtle movements and noises. Deer may help us strengthen awareness of our surroundings, as well as psychic awareness. Another source claims that people who have a deer totem may have clairvoyant abilities, so to me it makes sense that having some representation of this animal (a knife with an antler handle, a small piece of skin that was taken with respect, etc.) may help you with meditations or strengthening your subconscious.

Some practitioners of magic believe that one’s psychic abilities are dulled by the consumption of animal flesh. Again, this is a personal belief and it is your personal decision. I believe it is entirely possible to strengthen one’s subconscious mind and eat meat if you wish. If deer is your totem animal, you may abstain from eating the flesh of the animal as well. Again, it is entirely up to you.

You may have other ideas and associations for this animal, or for any of the foods that have been and will be discussed here. If you do, please share them with me. I would love to hear your opinions. Also, let me know if you feel I've left out anything important!


Here are mine:

DeerPlanet: Mercury
Element: Air
Energies: the conscious and unconscious mind, divination, strength (of the unconscious mind as well)

And now I present to you another Two Fat Ladies recipe: Venison Medallions with Bramble (Blackberry) Jelly

• 2-3 Medallions of venison per person
• Unsmoked streaky bacon; cut
• Seasoned flour
• Bramble jelly or blackberry

• Sugar
• Meat stock
• Sour cream
• Salt
• Black pepper; Freshly Ground

Fry enough bacon very gently to extract enough fat to fry the medallions. Remove the bacon. Put enough well-seasoned flour into a plastic bag and toss the venison in it: remove and lay on some greaseproof paper. Heat the bacon fat and fry the meat on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, turning frequently. Put them in a warmed dish with a teaspoon of jelly on each medallion and keep warm while you make the sauce. If you are using blackberries instead of jelly, cook them lightly in a little red wine and sugar to taste. Spoon over the medallions as for the jelly. Depending on how much you are cooking, add enough of the stock to the pan. Boil briskly, stirring all the juices together. When it starts to look syrupy, mix in enough sour cream to make a rich sauce. Adjust the seasoning. Pour over the venison.
Serve with buttered noodles and a green vegetable.

Something else I should say

Early this morning I realized something that I left out of my first post on meat and its significance. These days, much of the meat we consume is raised on factory farms. The animals may receive growth hormones, antibiotics, and bits of other animals as food. They are also not treated very kindly. That is enough to steer (no pun intended) people away from red meat and sometimes even poultry.

If you wish to avoid meat for ethical or health reasons, or for magical reasons, again that is fine. However, it is entirely possible to be an omnivore and practice magic effectively, as stated by Scott Cunningham and as opined by me. It's a personal decision, and only you can make that decision for yourselves.

The point of this follow-up is to discuss some health and environmental issues. For the first time in decades, people are becoming more aware of where their food comes from. People are more interested now. They do not want their children to grow up thinking meat comes from plastic-wrapped polystyrene trays in the grocery store. Unfortunately, where most of our food comes from tends to make some people uncomfortable, due to the somewhat shady practices of the factory farm and the uncleaniless of many slaughterhouses.

Moreover, many people are concerned about the hormones present in the meat we consume. Some say that the hormones in beef and cow's milk cause our girls to go into puberty at an earlier age. The truth is, girls are going through puberty because we are heavier these days. We have more body fat. We get estrogen from milk, more when the cow is pregnant.

Some people think organic is the answer for health and the environment. This isn't always so. It certainly isn't very cost-effective . I am not trying to urge people to spend their hard-earned money on organic foods. I am, however, trying to urge people into buying not only local produce, but also local meat. If you are fortunate enough to have a local butcher, visit him/her instead of going to the biggest superstore. If you can buy organic, free-range meats, by all means, do so. Buying Kosher meat is also another option, but it is always more expensive . It can also get wasteful, as the rabbi can reject many of the animals.

Just buy locally when you can. If you are lucky enough to know people who raise meat, buy from them. If you have the space, time and money to raise an animal or two, even better. You're assured of the quality of the feed and the animal's surroundings, and if you can't face butchering, you can always hire a professional. Eat locally, buy from places that treat their animals well, and remember to thank the spirit of the animal who has given its life so you may eat.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rabbit



Don't say, "Awwww"! Say, "Mmmm!"

Once again I refer to Cunningham’s encyclopedia to discuss foods that he recommends be added to a fertility diet. If there are no fertility problems present, adding some of the following foods to your diet could help you and your partner conceive.

Fig
Grape
Mulberry
Pomegranate
Barley
Eggs (natch)
Egg breads
Hazelnut
Hot-cross buns
Milk
Poppy seed
Rice
Sesame
Watercress

Each of these foods is ruled by a different planet and element. Some carry fertility energies, while other carry energies for passion or sex – a necessary action when looking to conceive. Since I’m currently working on a series about the magical uses of meats, I would like to add a very obvious food to the list – rabbit!

I have no doubt that you are all familiar with expressions such as “breeding like rabbits”, among others, and with good reason! Rabbits and eggs are used as symbols of Easter and Ostara because they carry strong connotations of fertility and birth. Rabbits are prolific breeders and they come in more than just chocolate and marshmallow form.

I know, I know, many of you have kept rabbits as pets or known someone who had a soft, fluffy, cute little bunny as a pet. Some of you may not be able to imagine eating one, but honestly rabbit is a lean, delicious meat. My parents raised New Zealand Whites once upon a time, and may do so again. Rabbit isn’t as exotic as it might sound. In fact, many grocery stores carry rabbit in the frozen food section, so you don’t need to don your hunter’s cap and your best Elmer Fudd accent and hunt your own “wabbits”; you can simply purchase a nice, faceless box of rabbit meat from your local market. Better yet, check your newspaper’s classified ads or pick up a community bulletin board and see if you can’t support a local breeder.

Here are my associations for rabbit.

Planet: Moon (yes, I’m aware it isn’t a planet)
Element: Water
Rune: Berkano (18th rune; birch goddess; breasts of the goddess; fertility)
Energies: Fertility, of course!


The following recipe is one that I originally saw in a Two Fat Ladies cookbook . Jennifer Paterson stated that the recipe was most likely intended for guinea pig, but rabbit is used in this version. If you live in Peru or Ecuador, however, feel free to substitute cuy (guinea pig).


Conejo en Salsa de Chocolate (Rabbit in Chocolate Sauce)

Ingredients:
2 Rabbits, about 2 1/2 pounds each
1 cup Olive oil
2 cloves Garlic cloves, peeled, minced
3 cups Finely chopped onion
1 cup Finely chopped stringed celery
1 Carrot, peeled, grated
1/4 teaspoon Ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon Ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne
1 cup Port
3 Morcilla (black) sausages, peeled, chopped (omit these if you cannot find them or are put off by black/blood pudding)
2 ounces Unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
8 cups Chicken stock (or water)
1 tablespoon Coarse salt
3 tablespoons Chopped fresh cilantro

Wipe rabbits inside and out with a damp cloth. Remove and set aside kidneys and hearts. Cut each rabbit into 3 sections: hind legs, loin and front legs; separate legs, leaving loin in 1 piece.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan; add rabbit and saute over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until brown on all sides, turning frequently. Set aside.

Pour off all but 1/4 cup oil from pan. Add garlic and onions and saute over medium heat, stirring, until onions start to turn golden, about 10 minutes.

Add celery, carrot, cloves, cardamom and cayenne. Add port, stir and cook until evaporated. Add sausages and cook 1 minute.

Add chocolate, stir, sprinkle flour on top and cook another minute, stirring. Add 3 cups stock and the salt; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Lower heat; simmer about 25 minutes, until thickened, stirring now and then. Add remaining stock and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Add rabbit and giblets. Lower heat to minimum, cover, and cook for 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring now and then and scraping bottom of pan, or until rabbit is tender and sauce is enriched and has thickened again.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve. (Serves 6)

Meat Consumption and Magic


(It was hard to come up with a title that didn't sound...adult. *L*)

Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen (a favorite resource of mine), has the following to say concerning vegetarianism:
“We’re all separate, distinct persons, connected with the rest of our fellow creatures and with the universe, and yet apart. No one diet is correct for everyone, just as no single type of haircut, food, or religions is suitable for all. “

He goes on to state that some people feel that adhering to a strict vegetarian diet is essential in order to practice magic. However, he also write, “ If you’re vegetarian because you feel that it’s the only way in which you can achieve any form of spiritual enlightenment, fine. If you’re vegetarian because you’ve decided that you can’t practice magic if you eat meat, again, fine. But others can make alternate decisions. They can decide to be omnivores, achieve spiritual enlightenment, and still successfully practice magic. Neither position, once again, is correct for all.”

I agree with Scott Cunningham on this. I do not believe that a person or group of people is morally, intellectually, or spiritually superior to another person or group of people because of their diet. His book, though, does not include information on meat that walks upon the earth. There is a section on food from the seas and rivers, but nothing concerning beef, pork, poultry, or game.

He lists several reasons for this. One, meat was and still is very scarce in some parts of the world. Two, many practitioners of magic are vegetarians, and he wanted his book to be useful to all people. The third reason he lists is the fact that there isn’t much ritual or magical information available regarding meat. In researching information for his book, he found very few references to meat.

I am an omnivore, a Pagan, and the occasional practitioner of magic. I may not do a lot of spell work, per se, but I use the magic of cooking and prayer in my daily life. After going through the Encyclopedia or Wicca in the Kitchen for the twentieth time (at least), I started to think about meat and its significance in the world of ritual and magic.

Meat has long been prepared and eaten for special occasions, such as marriages and harvest celebrations. What, then, is its importance? We know it’s a source of protein, iron and fat, along with B vitamins, all of which are important to us. Nowadays we have alternate sources, but many years ago meat provided essential nutrition and it was consumed when available, and often preserved by salting and drying.

Brahmins ate beef around 1000 B.C.E.. The veneration of the cow as a sacred animal did not begin in India until about 2000 years ago. The cow, a producer of meat, milk, and leather, is seen as sacred because of the life-sustaining gifts which it bestows upon us. Beef, like other forms of meat, was and still is a luxury item to many.

If we look at the Runes, Fehu is said to represent the horns of cattle. It is a symbol of cattle and wealth. For this reason I associate beef (and some other forms of meat which we will discuss later) as such:

Element: Earth
Symbol: Fehu
Energies: Prosperity

A simple, inexpensive cut of meat can be used in prosperity magic. A tough cut of meat can be prepared in a crock pot, cooked slowly for hours until it becomes tender. Before cooking, inscribe the rune Fehu into the meat and visualize what you need, be it a better job, employment in general, or simply more money coming in. Picture how your life will change once you have extra income and are able to pay off your student loans, your mortgage, whatever.

Some sample dishes that combine prosperity ingredients would be sesame beef, beef served with leafy greens such as spinach or cabbage (stuffed cabbage would be ideal, just trace the rune into the air over the ground meat, or visibly mark it before mixing), or pasta with meat sauce made with tomatoes, basil and parsley.

Stay tuned for most posts involving different meats including poultry, pork and game. I would also associate pork with prosperity energy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Music to Cook By

Since today is Lammas, the song that is on my mind is "John Barleycorn". I am tempted to get into the kitchen and make a couple nice loaves of bread, but I've no one with whom to share them. I can't eat a lot of bread due to my lap band. Some days I can eat it, and some days I can't. I'll save a piece of the whole wheat bread that came with my Turkish breakfast (ordering a Turkish breakfast is my Saturday indulgence) for a simple solitary ritual this evening.

Getting back to music, I would like to know how many of you have to have music in the background when you're in the kitchen. I have to have something on in the background, be it music or a film, but I prefer music.

Do you listen to specific music when you're making specific foods? For example, do you listen to salsa music when preparing Mexican food? Opera or the soundtrack of "Goodfellas" when making Italian food?

If I'm making Indian food, I either listen to chants, or "Concert for George" because there is a lovely Indian music section in the beginning. George loved all things Indian, so just listening to his songs always helps set the mood for me.

Remember that you can purify your working area through SOUND as well as the smoke from your censer. Music that has a calming effect will help when making foods that are associated with peace. Making a romantic dinner? Put the love songs on while you're cooking it! Or listen to something sexy. If you want to create a lot of energy, put on some music with a good bit. Yes, you can dance and cook at the same time. I won't tell! ;)

What's on your cooking soundtrack? I'm putting the finishing touches on one and will share it as soon as I get it ready. I normally just go to www.playlist.com and put together lists to save and stream through the computer. Let me know what you're listening to in the kitchen.