Saturday, January 30, 2010

Off to Merry Olde

Woo hoo! I'm officially on vacation! Tomorrow I'm leaving for England to visit my lovely friend and Sister, Miss Mazikeen. I will spend lots of time in the kitchen and will hopefully get a chance to test some recipes. I'll update you all when I can. I shall return to Istanbul February 11.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Imbolc Recipe: Goat Cheese Cheeseball

Another recipe is up, this time for an appetizer to start your Imbolc feast. Click on the title of this post to read all about it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Imbolc Recipe

A new recipe is up on my recipe blog. Click the title of this entry to be taken to my recipe blog - Recipes from the Witch's Kitchen - and a recipe for a warm spinach salad with bacon and a vinegar-brown sugar dressing.

I'm having some for supper right now. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Variety is the Spice (Rice?) of Life

In case you were wondering about all the varieties of rice that exist, our good friends at Wikipedia have compiled a list. Behold:


Prosperity and fertility to you and yours.

Peas Pulao Hot, Peas Pulao Cold

Packed with the protective fire of onion and chiles, Indian rice with peas (Muttar Pulao) would be a welcome addition to your Imbolc feast table. Serve it with saag aloo on February 24 to honor Shiva too.

Muttar Pulao – Recipe adapted from www.daawat.com

2 cups Basmati rice (don't forget to charge it before washing, if applicable)
2 cups peas (frozen are fine)
½ cup carrots, cut into small cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 green chiles, finely minced (you can remove the seeds and membranes for less heat)
1 ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
2-3 cardamom pods (or use about ½ teaspoon ground)
2-3 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons butter, clarified butter, or oil
1-2 bay leaves
Salt to taste

Wash and drain the rice.

Heat the fat in a pan. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Allow to sputter. Don’t let anything burn.

Add the onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies and fry until they are golden brown.
Add the drained rice and vegetables. Cook until the rice is well coated.

Add 1 ½ cups water and salt to taste. Cover and cook the rice. Basmati does best if you cook it over low heat for 10-12 minutes or so, then take it off the heat and leave it alone for another 10-15 minutes.

Magic from the Pantry - Rice

Rice is to Asia what corn is to America, or what wheat is to other cultures. It is a staple of food, one of the main sustainers of life. It has been cultivated for thousands of years and many, many varieties are grown.

Rice is linked with gods and goddesses of the kitchen and of the harvest, with fertility, protection and prosperity. More than half of the world’s population eats rice at least once a day, and in some cultures rice is served at every meal, including breakfast.

Because of its importance as a food source, there are many customs and rituals associated with rice. Numerous gods and goddesses are honored with offerings of rice in one form or another. As a symbol of fertility, rice is commonly featured in marriage ceremonies, and not just by being thrown at the newlyweds. In some countries, eating out of the same bowl of rice is as good as a wedding!

In some countries, especially Japan, wasting rice is an offense for which there is no excuse. Every grain must be consumed from one’s bowl. In feudal times, salaries were paid with rice, so wasting rice is like throwing money away.

Another bit of rice lore from Japan is the use of rice to scare away evil spirits. These spirits were thought to startle babies in the middle of the night and make them cry. A bowl of rice left near the infant was thought to solve this problem.
If you’re having a problem with those pesky vampires, scattering a bit of rice at the entrances to your home will keep them busy (because the Count loves to count!) until sunrise.

Scott Cunningham recommends pouring your uncooked rice onto a clean surface and using the index finger of your dominant hand to trace an image of your goal into the grains. Visualize and trace symbols such as dollar signs or the rune Fehu for money/prosperity, hearts or male/female symbols for love and fertility, and so on.

Monday, January 18

In China the kitchen god Zao Jun is honored with prayers and offerings of sweet rice cakes. This makes the end of the Chinese years. Paper images of the god are burned for luck and dried beans are thrown onto the roofs of houses.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking up Help for Haiti

I follow Isa Chandra Moskowitz on Twitter. I'm not a vegan (duh) and while most of the vegans I know personally (bad experiences in college) irritate the crap out of me, I like Isa's style. And her recipes. She has been talking about vegan bake sales all over the U.S. as a way of raising money for Haiti. If you're interested in finding or holding one in your area, check out Isa's tips and a list of bakesales at http://theppk.com/blog/

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I have made some vegan cake in the past and it was, in fact, delicious. It's great to have a dairy- and egg free recipe on hand for those with allergies and for when you just run out of those staples and can't be arsed to go to the market!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sunday, January 17 - Wassailing the Apple Trees

January 17 is the eve of the old Twelfth Night and is marked by pouring cider on the roots of apple trees while an invocation is sung to the trees, ensuring fertility. It also serves to drive away negative energies and malevolent entities.

(I should mention that the information about the dates themselves is coming from The Wicca Book of Days by Gerina Dunwich. I think I forgot to mention that earlier.)

Saturday, January 16 - Honoring Betoro Bromo

On this date in Indonesia, the fire god Betoro Bromo is honored by Buddhist monks and pilgrims. The faithful gather at Mount Bromo. At the stroke of midnight, offerings of food and flowers are cast into the volcano where Betoro Bromo is believed to live.

This festival is known as the Kasada Festival, and among the main participants are farmers who rely on the fertile ground around the volcano. Participants murmur their prayers and wishes to the god and leave their offerings.

If you live in an area that has an Indonesian population, perhaps you are lucky enough to have a good restaurant nearby. If not, it is still easy enough to put together a tasty meal with foods that will please Betoro Bromo. Even though we cannot journey to Indonesia, and most of us do not live near a volcano, you can still leave an offering in his name, buried in the ground.

The Indonesian rice table, or Rijsttafel is a Dutch adaptation of a traditional Indonesian feast called nasi padang. The meal consists of rice prepared in various ways and served with many (up to 40 or more!) side dishes.


Pork or chicken satay
Gado-gado (vegetables with peanut sauce)
Banana fritters
Indonesian yellow rice (nasi kuning)

Nasi Kuning - Yellow Rice

This is rice cooked with coconut milk and turmeric. It is traditionally served in a cone and is supposed to represent a heaping pile of gold. It is eaten on special occasions and is a symbol of prosperity.

Recipe courtesy of www.thingsasian.com

Serves 10 to 12

3 cups rice, rinsed
3 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemon grass (I would imagine it is acceptable to omit this if you cannot find it)
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon, ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

Place all ingredients, except butter, in a saucepan, then bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes over low heat or until all liquid has been absorbed, stirring a few times. Turn off heat and cover, then allow to stand for 20 minutes. Add butter and fluff, then place on a platter and serve hot.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Friday, January 15

January 15

On this day in ancient Rome, the Romans celebrated the Feast of the Ass. This celebration is in honor of Vesta, the Roman version of Hestia, and the animal that saved her. Actually, Vesta was honored in Rome long before she was recognized as Hestia in Greece. However, many people are more familiar with Hestia. You may honor Vesta as you would Hestia. To celebrate the Feast of the Ass, Vesta’s temple was lit with a sacred fire that was tended by the Vestal Virgins.

My suggestion for this day would be to give the stove and oven a good scrubbing. This is the modern hearth and center of kitchen activity. Light candles and burn a pinch of rosemary for purification. If you have a gas range, use those flames to burn the rosemary as an offering. Make any meal that is most comforting to you and your family.

Oh, and if you're wondering how an ass saved her life, it seems that the loud braying of the animal kept Priapus away. We all know a little something about Priapus, even if it's only the condition named for him - priapism. Ouch.

Thursday, January 14

January 14

On this day I Southern India, people gather to celebrate the January rice harvest, honor the sun god Surya, and give thanks to the spirits who bring in the rainy season. Called Pongal, this festival lasts for three days. To celebrate the rice harvest, whip up a batch of kheer for dessert. Kheer is a soupy rice pudding flavored with cardamom and usually served chilled.


½ cup Basmati rice, washed
4-5 cups whole milk (or 2%, but nothing lower)
2-3 whole cardamom pods, crushed, or ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 heaping tablespoons blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
3 tablespoons sugar, or more as desired
Tiny pinch of saffron strands, soaked in a spoon of hot milk (optional) saffron = $$$

In a pan combine the rice, milk and cardamom. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer until the rice is completely soft. The rice should begin to break.

Add almonds and pistachios (and saffron, if using) and simmer for 5 minutes.

Sweeten with sugar to taste. Remove from heat. Chill before serving.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Imbolc Recipe

For Imbolc and for the kitchen goddess Annapurna.

Traditional foods for Imbolc include lamb, cabbage, raisins, currants, and seeds. These foods represent rebirth and are excellent symbols of rebirth and renewal. These foods remind us of the coming of spring. For Imbolc, many people like to stick to traditional Celtic foods in honor of Brigid, such as lamb stew, colcannon, and Irish soda bread. These are warm, filling foods that provide nourishment during the cold winter months and represent rebirth, promise, and prosperity.

Those of you who know me will know several things about me. First, I am not always conventional, especially in the kitchen. Second, I love spice! As luck would have it, spicy foods are excellent for Imbolc. They represent the heat of the growing sun and infuse foods with protective energy. Garlic and chiles are great to add to dishes for Imbolc, and curries are appropriate.

In honor of the upcoming Sabbat (and to satisfy a wicked craving), I decided to get into my freshly-scrubbed kitchen and whip up a dish that includes garlic, chiles, spices and greens.

Saag (spinach) Aloo (potato)

This dish would also be good for Ostara, as it uses spinach. I also added some peas because I had some in the freezer that I wanted to use. In the spring, you can use fresh spinach and peas, but frozen veggies are perfect acceptable any time.

2-3 medium-sized potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large bag of frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze out as much water as you can)
½ onion, minced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
½ fresh ginger, grated or finely minced (or use ½ tsp. dry)
1 green chili, minced (or ½ tsp dried chili flake)
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and garam masala
½ tsp turmeric (optional)


Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and add salt and turmeric, if using.

In a skillet heat a couple teaspoons of oil and cook the onions until almost tender. Add the garlic, ginger and chili and cook for 3-4 minutes. Don’t let it brown. Add the spinach and cook until warm. Puree this mixture in a food processor and return to the skillet. Add the spices and potatoes. Add some hot water if the mixture is dry and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste and serve with Basmati rice.

Now you have a simple, healthy dish that is full of ginger, garlic and chilis, as well as the traditional potatoes. I can’t even begin to tell you how good this is! I’ll try to post a picture once I upload some, but photos just don’t do it justice.