Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blessed Yule

I would like to wish a very happy holiday to you and yours. May the coming year be full of blessings and love. I'm off to my parents' house tomorrow and won't be online much until around NYE. Be safe!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I. The Magician

The second card in the Major Arcana is the Magician. Looking at the card, we notice several important symbols. We see the infinity symbol. Around his waist is the uroboros – the serpent swallowing its tail. This is another symbol of infinity and the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. On the altar before him are represented all four elements.

When I look at this card, I get the image of a mature man who is comfortable with his power. Here is a man in his prime. He is powerful. He is very likely a father, possibly a young-ish grandfather. I associate this card with fire and earth. The season, for me, is summer.

Questions that we can ask about this card are, “Am I secure in my power?” “Am I using it wisely?” I think that grounding is important with this card, so I have put together a recipe that is at once light, because it’s a salad, and ground, because of the meat.

Grilled Steak Salad with Bacon-Blue Cheese Dressing

For the dressing:

• 2 1/2 ounces blue cheese
• 3 tablespoons buttermilk
• 3 tablespoons sour cream
• 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• 1 clove garlic, finely minced
• salt and freshly ground white pepper
• 6 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
• Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

8 cups mixed greens – spinach, lettuce, arugula
½ red onion, thinly sliced
16-oz sirloin steak

Lightly oil the rack of your grill and set to high heat. If using a grill pan, allow to heat on high for about 5 minutes. Grill the sirloin until rare or medium-rare (130-135 degrees F), about 3-3 1/2 minutes per side. Allow the steak to rest for about 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and top the greens and red onion.

In a small mixing bowl, mash the blue cheese and buttermilk. Leave some larger chunks of cheese for texture. Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.

Serves 4

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's Cookin' for December

I shall return soon with another card in my Major Arcana series. I'm also working on a sunrise ritual for the solstice. Breakfasty-type recipes will be included.

My boyfriend and I went to Memphis on Friday and hit three international grocery stores. I got quite a bit of good stuff and have been happily experimenting with it. Saturday we had braised octopus with spaghetti, and yesterday we had duck spring rolls with a duck I roasted.

Today I am going to use the leg meat from the duck to make duck-and-sweet-potato hash browns.

Next Sunday I am hosting a cookie swap. I'll probably make my double chocolate-cherry-almond bar cookies. They are usually a crowd pleaser.

That's about it for now. My final exams are Wednesday and my grades are due by Friday. I'm a busy, busy bee right now. I hope all is well with my readers!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day

Brush off those red ribbons and join me at virtual-candle.org in lighting a candle for those we have lost to this terrible disease, and also for those still living with HIV/AIDS. I remember the children especially.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vacation Time

I have the coming week off for Thanksgiving, and I am going to go visit a friend of mine in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii! I'll hopefully have some pictures to share, and I might try to squeeze in a blog post if I have some time. I've no idea what all is going to happen, but hopefully the journey will go smoothly. I can't wait to see my friend T!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kitchen Divination: Ovamancy

Oomantia, or ovamancy, is a form of divination using eggs. Eggs have a lot of symbolism behind them, some of which has been explored in earlier posts. Eggs were once used to predict things from the gender (and number!) of unborn babies, as well as the ever-popular practice of seeing one’s future husband.

In order to predict if a woman was having twins or not, an egg was rubbed on her belly for a few moments , and then it was broken in a bowl. If the egg held one yolk, one baby would be born. Two yolks meant twins.

One way of seeing your future spouse, and a rather unpleasant-sounding one at that, was to boil an egg, remove the yolk, and fill the hole with salt. The egg was then eaten before bedtime. According to the belief, the man bringing you water in your dream would be your husband.

The method that I am going to discuss is a simple scrying practice. Some reports say it was this very practice that Tituba practiced with Betty Parris and her cousin, Abigail Williams, in Salem. Scrying, as most of you know, is gazing into a substance or surface and reading the shapes that form. We’ve all seen the stereotypical gypsy woman with her crystal ball, and this is kind of a primitive crystal ball. According to reports I have read, one of the girls scrying with Tituba became upset when she saw the shape of a coffin appear.

To perform ovamancy, you need two or three things. First and foremost, you need an egg. Second, you need a tall glass of water. Now you may do one of two things. You can just break the egg into the glass and interpret the shapes of the egg whites, or you can use the third item, a pin or needle, and poke a hole into the smaller end of the egg. Allow the egg white to slither out into the glass without the yolk and interpret the symbols.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kitchen Divination: Reading Turkish Coffee

Coffee tasseography, or kahve fali in Turkish, is the art of reading coffee grounds. Turkish coffee works the best for this because it is very finely ground, and the ground sit at the bottom of the cup. It is a simple method of divination and very open to interpretation. Each reader will interpret the story differently. It is commonly believed that one should not read one’s own cup.

To begin, you must first prepare the coffee. Turkish coffee is prepared in a cezve, which is a small pot with a long handle. Measure the water for the coffee in the small cup from which it will be consumed. Pour this into the cezve. Add a teaspoon of coffee per cup and stir. Cubes of sugar may be added at this point.

Heat the pot as slowly as you can. When the water starts to boil the first time, pour some (not all) of the liquid into the cups. This ensures everyone gets some of the foam. Return the cezve to the stove and bring to a slow boil a second time. Pour the coffee into the cups.

In order to assure a good reading, it is believed that the coffee should only be drunk from one side of the cup. When the coffee is finished, the cup should be covered with the saucer. Make a wish, if you desire. Swirl the cup and saucer at chest level, turning widdershins a few times. Then, turn the cup and saucer upside down. If you wish, a coin may be placed on the bottom of the cup. This is to help get rid of bad omens that could be read. This is what my former Turkish student instructed me to do when he read my cup. I placed a Turkish coin (natch) on top.
After a few minutes, the cup will be cool and the grounds will have settled. The reader then turns the cup over and reads the shapes.

For divination purposes, the cup is read in two horizontal halves. The shapes in the lower half talk about the past, and the shapes in the top half talk about the future. Likewise, shapes on the right talk of positive things, and shapes on the left can sometimes be interpreted as more negative events, enemies, illness, etc.
The shapes in the cup, according to some beliefs, can predict only up to forty days in the future. I think this depends largely on the reader, as my experience was slightly different. A good reader will usually weave the shapes together into a story. If the cup and saucer are stuck together, it is a sign that the cup should not be read.

After the cup has been read, the reader may then interpret any shapes presented in the saucer. The saucer is usually interpreted as the home of the person for whom the reading is taking place. Large blank areas are seen as a sense of relief, whereas confused and jumbled shapes read in the grounds are seen as something more negative, such as an illness or a funeral.

You can find Turkish coffee and cezves from many different sites, including www.bestturkishfood.com , which is a personal favorite. If you have experience reading tea leaves, you will probably find some similar shapes left by the coffee grounds, and you can interpret these as you would tea leaves. Happy drinking and happy reading.

Reference: Yesim Gokce (Bilkent University)/Turkish Cultural Foundation

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Divination in the Kitchen - Coming Soon

Stay tuned for a post (or maybe a few) on divination in the kitchen. As most of you already know, there are lots of superstitions and lots of lore associated with the kitchen and with food. I a going to explore how you can use everyday food items for divination purposes. I hope you'll join me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Day of the Dead! In Mexico, it is believed that the souls of the children come back on the evening of November 1, and the adults come back on November 2. Separate ofrendas, or altars full of offerings, are usually set up. The children's ofrendas might include candy and toys, while the altars for the adults include the food and drink that they loved best in life. People want to offer the very best, so moles with long lists of ingredients might be common.

Graves and ofrendas are decorated with bright flowers such as marigolds. Colorful paper art known as papel picado also adorns the ofrendas. Family members clean the gravesites of their loved ones and stay there to eat, pray, light candles, and tell stories of their beloved dead.

Sugar skulls are left on the altars for 2-3 days, and then broken up and shared among the family members. Along with sugar skulls, people prepare pan de muerto - bread of the dead - shaped like skulls and bones.

Pan de Muerto is a rich, delicious bread with anise seeds and orange zest, topped with pink sugar. It is an easy traditional food to make to celebrate Samhain (which I just learned is on November 7), or The Day of the Dead.

Pan de Muerto

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons anise seed, lightly crushed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons pink (or white) sugar

Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F (43 degrees C).

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (5-7 minutes)

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf, reserving some dough to shape a round skull shape, or bones. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.

To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with sugar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

0. The Fool

The Fool

The Fool is the first card we shall explore in this Major Arcana series. The Fool, or Jester, is the eternal traveler. This card typically signifies the new beginnings, possibly with a risk involved. The Fool reversed symbolizes recklessness, foolishness, and lack of motivation. Upright, we see a man ready for a journey, a dog at his heels. Sometimes it looks as though he’s about to walk off the edge of a cliff! His advice to us could be “Look before you leap”.
I associate this card with springtime, a time of rebirth and new beginnings.

The Fool’s Spring Salad

This salad features edible flowers and a lemony vinaigrette dressing. The citrus purifies us before a new journey, and the flowers add a touch of beauty, whimsy, and exotic flavor.

2 cups spring mixed greens per person
Edible spring flowers – violets, calendula, nasturtium*

• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon minced shallot
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
• 1 teaspoon honey
Combine ingredients in a small jar and whisk/shake to combine.

*Note: Please make sure your flowers have NOT been treated with any chemicals. Do not pick flowers that grow close to the road, either, and wash everything well before consuming.

The Major Arcana Series: An Introduction

I don't know how often I will post in this series yet. I will try to do at least two a month, but I might get inspired and do two in a day.

This series was suggested by my friend Warren. My goal is to take the symbolism in the Major Arcana and tie it to seasonal, inherently magical foods. Each entry will include a picture (ripped from google) from the Rider-Waite deck. I don't own this deck, but a lot of people do, and they're fairly easy for many people to read. I will talk about the traditional meanings of the card, the symbols, and also my interpretation of the card. My interpretation might be what the card says to me, what season it reminds me of, or anything. I will also include a recipe for a dish that compliments this card.

I will use a lot of my own recipes. If I use recipes from somewhere around the Internet, I will leave the address to the website.

I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to comment at any time. Thank you for reading so far. I really enjoy hearing from you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Samhain!

Happy Samhain, or Happy Beltane! Whatever you're celebrating today, may it be full of love and blessings.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy (almost) Halloween!

The photo quality is a bit shit, but this is more or less what my face looks like:

This was my inspiration. It's a work by Angelique Houtkamp, a Dutch artist and tattoo artist.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lugosi's Revenge - Homemade Blackberry Cordial

This post comes from my friend, Miriam, a fellow West Virginian and Mountaineer. She's a fantastically creative, intelligent, beautiful mother, daughter, and domestic goddess.

We had an abundant berry harvest this summer which I took full advantage of, freezing about fifteen pounds of black raspberries and about fifty of blackberries. So, after we'd made multiple cobblers and a few batches of jam I started pondering what else I could do with this abundance of frozen fruit. Doing something involving booze just seemed to be the natural course to take!

This a recipe of my own that I partly invented and partly snagged from other sources aka random stuff on the internet. My first batch was primarily a learning experience and this is the result. This can also be done with store-bought berries and no-one will judge you for it.

I call it Lugosi's Revenge in honour of my favourite old horror star. :)

You will need:

1 750-ml bottle of decent quality unflavoured vodka
1 pint of mid-grade brandy
5-6 cups of fresh or frozen blackberries (you can replace part or all of that with black raspberries)
Two cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4'' strip of lemon zest about an inch long

Large glass bowl
Medium saucepan
A glass jar or bottle large enough to hold about three quarts with a tight-fitting lid
Two wire mesh strainers, one coarse, one fine
A couple yards of multilayer cheesecloth
Bottles to hold the finished product (I keep the empty vodka and brandy bottles for putting the cordial in)

Put the berries in a large microwave-safe bowl and add about a cup of the sugar. Heat the berries in microwave until steaming, stirring in the berries and crushing them to release the juice. (This can also be done in a saucepan as long as you're careful not to let the berries burn at all.) Strain the resulting pulpy mess and pour the syrupy juice into a medium sauce pan. Be sure to squeeze as much juice as possible from the seedy pulp that will be left behind as every bit of it will intensify the flavour of your cordial.

Put the pot of juice on very low heat, gently bring it to the lowest simmer and stir occasionally for an hour and half or however long it takes to reduce the sweetened juice to a syrup. It will black, thick, very sweet and intensely flavoured. Let it cool in the pot (it will congeal and become fairly jelly-like; good luck resisting the urge to taste it less than three times and daydream about ladling it over ice cream).

Add the vodka and brandy, stirring it about in the pot to collect all the berry flavour. Pour it all into the large jar or bottle and add the vanilla and lemon zest. Close or cover tightly and put it away in a dark, cool spot for anywhere from two to four weeks. About once a week or so swirl the contents of the bottle and put it back.

After two to four weeks you can start the straining process. You can strain the cordial as much or as little as you like. (I prefer it clearer and more filtered, my boyfriend prefers it more murky and less filtered; it's all a matter of individual taste.)

I like to pour it through the fine mesh strainer (and you will have to stop and rinse your strainer from time to time as it clogs with residual berry pulp) at least twice before starting with the cheesecloth. I've found that starting with one layer of cheesecloth and then increasing it each time you pour the cordial through results in a nice clarity. This will consume a fair bit of cheesecloth as it also will get clogged fairly quickly. However, by the time you're done, you'll have a glorious little beverage to sip on cold winter nights.

Also, it's great when added to Sprite, ginger ale, or champagne for a sweet fizzy drink with a nice berry kick to it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest Post by Sachiel: Mead

Mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages produced by man. It was made by ancient peoples all over the world, from South America, to Asia, Africa, and Europe. Mead is a fermented mixture of honey, water, and yeast. It can be that simple, or it can be complex. Mead can be super sweet, it can be dry, it can be flavored with berries, or fruit, or spices, flowers, or even herbs. The variety of meads are only limited by imagination.

Why is mead so prevalent in ancient times? Easy. Honey is antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal. Mother Nature's selection process has evolved particular yeasts that can survive and thrive in honey/water solutions. Finding and using these yeasts to turn honey into an alcoholic drink was easier than turning fruits, grapes, or grains into drinks. And the yield is much more likely to produce a quality beverage.

Modern mead making is assisted by our knowledge of sanitation practices and their importance in killing all unwanted bacteria and yeasts. Assuring that all surfaces and instruments that will touch the honey water solution are sterilized will assure that the mead turns out just as expected.

My first experience with mead was at a Beltane fest in 2011. It was wonderful, and delicious, and amazing. I had never tasted anything like it ever in my life. It was sweet, very sweet, with the smell and taste of the flowers of the high New Mexico desert. I sipped on my glass for an hour or more. I wanted the taste to last. It was the last bottle of that batch of mead, never to be duplicated again.

I have done a bit of research into mead and it's making, and all the wonderful flavors and varieties available or even possible. I did six months of looking into mead, trying out local made meads, finding what kinds of mead I like and what kinds I don't like. And at the beginning of October 2011, I finally felt confident enough in my knowledge to start my own batch of mead.

I decided to try a version of that first mead I ever had. I did not want to duplicate it, because that would not be possible. I would start out simple. I bought a 5 gallon glass carboy, a vapor lock, and a stopper and the yeast from my local wine making supply store in September. The honey I found was full of Rocky Mountain wildflower goodness – the best honey I have tasted. The water comes from my own well. The yeast was “Sweet Mead” from Vintner's Choice.

Ingredients: 20 pounds of honey
1 pack of Sweet Mead yeast by Vintner's Choice
2 organic vanilla beans, whole
water to fill

I started by sanitizing the carboy, funnel, spoon, deep enameled pot, the stopper, the vapor lock, and a one gallon plastic bottle. I used EZ Clense, and rinsed everything thoroughly.
I placed the honey in the sink, and filled it to ¾ of the way up the honey bottles with hot water. This makes the honey flow freely.

I then decided to start the yeast activation, as the directions on the pack say it will take 15 minutes.

Then in the deep enameled pot, I heated 1 gallon of water, and added all the heated honey. I let this heat up for a while longer ( I did not measure the temperature), but I did not let it boil.

As I stirred the honey and water, I spooned off the foam that rose to the surface and deposited it into a cup. The sink was too far to not make a mess. After about ten minutes of heating and stirring, I took the pot with the honey water and placed it in a sink full of cold water. This helps bring the temperature down rapidly, and makes it safer to pour the honey through the funnel and into the glass carboy.

If you get splashed by hot sticky honey syrup, it will stick and the burn produced will be more intense than if it were hot water alone.

After I poured all the honey water solution into the carboy, I added the yeast, and gave it a sloshing, and then filled with water to a few inches below where the neck starts – allowing for foam formation.

Then I added two organic vanilla beans, whole pods, no scraping, into the solution, capped with the stopper, and then inserted the vapor lock filled with rum.

I moved the carboy and contents to a closet where the sun will never enter, and once a week I stir up the solution slowly.

I do not remove the air lock, and I do not want to force the rum out of the air lock. When I am done with the stir, I add a tiny bit more rum to make sure the air lock does not go dry.

I stirred it for the second time yesterday, and am very pleased with the color progression. It has gone from the dark color that the honey originally was to a nice golden opaque color that will continue to lighted and clear over time. By Yule, I should be bottling the 5 gallons and beginning the long 2 year aging process. It will be ready for the harvest fests in 2014.

In the mean time, I will occupy myself by starting another mead – maybe 15 pounds of honey, with 5 cloves, two orange rinds, and a stick of cinnamon, to be ready for Yule, 2014. And maybe a mead with raspberries and raisins....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Moroccan-Spiced Honey Roast Chicken

This was one of the courses served at my Walking Dead premiere party last week, and it was a big hit. I wish I'd had a chance to snap a picture of the chicken. You get crispy skin, plus a deep golden color from the honey. The Ras-El-Hanout also lends a warm sweetness to this recipe.

Moroccan-Spiced Honey Roast Chicken

1 3 ½ -lb chicken, giblets removed, washed and patted dry
3-4 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1-2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout (recipe given in an earlier post)
1 lemon
4 tablepoons honey, heated
1 cup water
Salt and pepper

Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil and butter with the Ras El hanout . Loosen the skin of the chicken and put this paste between the meat and the skin. Cut the lemon in half and place it in the cavity. Rub the other 1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter onto the skin of the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 450 F. Place the chicken on the rack of a roasting pan, breast-side down. Pour the water in the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast the chicken at 450 F for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 400 F and continue roastingfor another 35-45 minutes. Flip the chicken and brush with the honey. Return to the oven and roast another 10-15 minutes.

When the chicken is done, the juices should run clear and a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh should read 180 F. Discard the lemon. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before carving.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Mute Supper

Picture courtesy of www.shelterness.com

Hosting a mute supper for Samhain is practiced by some Pagans and Wiccans of various traditions. I think it’s a lovely tradition and would like to have a group with which to hold one. My plan would go as such:

Set the table with a black cloth, black plates, and black utensils. Place a white candle at the head of the table. Place black votive candles at the place(s) of the ancestors. Your guests may wish to place candles for those they are honoring. The chairs should be shrouded. You could use anything from fake cobwebs to a black trash bag. Use whatever you have on hand. If you have some black sheets, those would work nicely.

Before the guests arrive, the host or hostess should cast a circle, light the white candle, and invite the divine (however you see it) into the space. After this point, no talking is permitted.

Standing at the head of the table, the host/ess should light the first black votive candle to the left from the spirit candle. The guests should light each other’s candles in a clockwise motion.

The host/ess should serve the plates of the dead first, and then the guests from oldest to youngest. Since no one may speak during the supper, food may then continue to be passed family-style around the table. Before guests begin to eat, they should join hands and silently welcome their ancestors to the meal, and to ask for blessings upon the food and the ritual, if desired.

After the meal is over, guests should leave the table silently. They may take their ancestor candles with them, or leave them on the table. The host/ess should then silently close the circle in his/her usual manner. Leave the spirit candle to burn.
Everyone may then go on to practice divination, or hold a separate ritual.

Mute Supper Menu
Persephone’s Salad
Butternut squash cannelloni
Rosemary remembrance cookies
Chai-spiced Cider

Persephone’s Salad
8 cups mixed salad greens (whatever is in season and looks good)
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup candied walnut pieces (recipe follows)
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (about ½ cup)

For the dressing, combine:
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup olive oil
Mix first three ingredients together. Whisk in olive oil slowly. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the dressing with the greens, onion, apple, and nuts. Toss well to combine. Top salad with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Candied Walnuts

2 cups walnut halves or pieces
2 egg whites
½ cup brown sugar

In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites. Toss the walnuts to coat. Sprinkle on the brown sugar. Mix well with your hands until the nuts are all evenly coated. Spread the nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Butternut Squash Cannelloni**

1 butternut squash, roasted, scooped out and mashed (instructions follow)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Salt, white pepper
12 lasagna noodles, cooked until almost al dente (flexible)

5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
Salt, white pepper
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the shallots on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and sage and cook 2-3 more minutes.
Scoop out the halves of butternut squash and mash in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the shallots, garlic, sage, thyme, and ricotta cheese. Season with salt and white pepper.
Take one of the drained noodles and lay flat on an oiled baking sheet. Spread some of the butternut squash filling on the noodle, leaving some space at both ends. Roll the pasta and place seam side down into an oiled 9 x 13 dish. Repeat.
In a saucepan, melt the butter for the béchamel. When the butter is melted, stir in the flour. Cook 4-5 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Simmer the sauce until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour the béchamel over the rolled pasta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is brown.

To roast a butternut squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Heat the oven to 400 F. Brush a tablespoon of oil over each half. Roast, flesh side down, until tender, 40-45 minutes. Cool, scoop out the flesh, and transfer to mixing bowl. You can mash the squash with a potato masher or a fork.

Rosemary Remembrance Cookies
1 ½ cups softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vaniila
5 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vaniila. Mix in the rosemary. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes with seasonal cookie cutters, or use gingerbread men and women-shaped cutters so the cookies resemble people. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Chai-Spiced Apple Cider

This warming libation is full of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. This makes a good love blend and is a perfect match when combined with a food of love – the apple.
1 gallon apple cider
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup brown sugar
In a cheese cloth or piece of muslin, combine:
7 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (or you can use ½ teaspoon ground cardamom)*
1-2 star anise
4-5 peppercorns
9 whole cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks (or use 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon)

Pour the cider into a large pot and begin heating on medium heat. Dissolve the ground ginger and sugar into the cider. Tie the other ingredients in a piece of muslin or cheese cloth. Tie closed, whack lightly with a rolling pin to crack some of the pods, and pop into the pot. Simmer the cider and spices together for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bundle of spices with a slotted spoon and discard. Serve hot.
• If you’re using ground spices instead of whole, simply add them when you add the sugar and ground ginger.

All recipes are from the autumn cookbook I am currently working on. They may not be reproduced without permission. All that copyright hoopla that's over here ---> applies.

** You can just layer the lasagna noodles and make butternut squash lasagna if you don't feel like rolling up each noodle. They're slippery with oil and usually pretty hot!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Samhain is on its way!

And so is the first post in my Major Arcana series! Make sure you check it out!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My State IS Great!

Click on the title of this article to go over to The Secret Life of the American Working Witch and check out what makes West Virginia so great. Take me home, country roads!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Kitchen Tip

This tip comes from Mario Batali. One morning when I was watching "Molto Mario", I learned that biting on a wooden spoon helps get rid of tears when you're chopping onions. I tried it and lo and behold! it worked! I was chopping shallots today and I remembered that little tidbit of information. I grabbed a wooden spoon and held it (horizontally, of course) in my mouth and my eyes stopped burning!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

This was an experimental recipe. I haven't cut into it yet, but I did lick the bowl (raw eggs and all!) and it was pretty damn tasty.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake (cobbled together from various sources and my own mind)

3 8-oz blocks cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 beaten eggs

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Process the chocolate graham crackers until crumbly. Mix with the sugar and melted butter and press into a 9 " spring form pan. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 6 minutes.

For the cheesecake, combine the softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the sour cream and peanut butter, mixing well to combine. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat again. Pour the batter into the crust and bake in a water bath for 55-65 minutes.

I topped mine with 1/2 cup hot fudge ice cream topping and some crushed peanuts.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Samhain Pumpkin Seeds

Wondering what to do with all the leftover seeds from your pumpkin carving? Pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas in Mexico, are a tasty, nutritious snack that is easy to prepare. You can be as creative as you wish. Here I have included two recipes for pumpkin seeds - one with Indian spices and one with the warm, fragrant spices of a pumpkin pie - ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Pumpkin seeds make a delicious addition to your Samhain festivities, and if you're the type to stay up all night in remembrance, these will give you the energy you need to keep going.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Indian Spices

1 cup pumpkin seeds, washed and dried
1 – 2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon melted butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and drizzle with the butter or olive oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle on the garam masala and salt. Toss again to coat with the spice mixture. Place in the oven and roast until crunchy, about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds, washed and fried
1 tablespoon melted butter or olive oil
1 to 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and drizzle with the butter or olive oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle on the sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Toss again to coat. Place in the oven and roast until crunchy, about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spice Blends

I use a lot of garam masala in my Indian recipes, and I'm starting to discover the joys of the Moroccan spice blends, such as Ras-el-Hanout. both of these mixtures can contain several spices. Ras-el-Hanout can contain dozens of spices. This can put some people off, thinking it is too pricey to gather all the ingredients. True, you can buy both of these spice mixtures online, but you may also have many of the ingredients in your pantry already.

I have cobbled together a recipe for each, in case anyone is interested in trying their hand at making their own. Spice blends are fun to experiment with. Just make sure your spices are fresh. If you can't remember when you bought something, it's probably older than you think. Old spices don't have much flavor, and it takes more to get the same taste. When you buy your spices, write the day that you bought them on the containers. You may also wish to buy whole spices and toast and grind them yourself in a dedicated coffee grinder. This will give you the freshest mixes possible.

Ras – El- Hanout
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground mace
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground anise seed
Pinch of saffron threads, optional
½ teaspoon ground cayenne

Combine the spices in a bowl. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

Garam Masala

1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

Combine spices in a bowl and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Join My Facebook Group

Join my facebook group and help me vote on the recipes to send to the publisher!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

AMC's The Walking Dead

I'm hosting a party on Sunday night for the first episode of season 2 of The Walking Dead. I love, love, love this show. Anyone who knows me knows I'm nuts for zombies.

I'm also going to be testing out four, yes FOUR recipes for my autumn cookbook.

Moroccan-Spiced Honey Chicken
Orange-Butter Broccoli
Persephone's Salad
Butternut Squash Cannelloni

Saturday, October 8, 2011

One Book, or Four?

That's the question that is currently on my mind. Should I publish one book with all four seasons, or should I work with one season at a time so I can include more recipes? Which would you like to see? Also, e-book, or print? Or both?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Foods of October: Sweet Potatoes

As sweet potatoes were discussed in an earlier post (from Mabon), I thought I'd just make with the recipe. This recipe originally started out as a carrot soup, and you could include some chopped, peeled carrots in this soup as well. Just make sure you increase the broth by about another cup or so.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4-5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 chili, chopped, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil

Heat the oil in a soup pot and cook the onion until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chili and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and the broth and bring to a boil. Drop the heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are very tender, 20-25 minutes.

When the sweet potatoes are cooked, puree the soup either in a blender or with a hand blender. Puree until completely smooth. Pour in the coconut milk, garam masala, and salt and pepper. Reheat the soup on medium-low heat, making sure it doesn’t boil again.

Garnish with some chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Foods of October: Parsnips

Parsnips are related to carrots. They have a much stronger flavor, and roasting really mellows them out nicely. Because they are related to carrots, I would say they are also ruled by Mars. Their element is fire and sex is the energy.

Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

2 lbs each carrots and parsnips, peeled and sliced into ½” rounds
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter,melted
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
I teaspoon fresh thyme, optional

Place a sheet of foil on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the carrots and parsnips with the oil. Season with salt and pepper and pour onto the baking sheet.

Roast, stirring once or twice, until tender, 35-40 minutes. Mix together the melted butter, honey, thyme (if using) and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the vegetables and stick the pan back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Foods of October: Cabbage

Cabbage is another food of October, and a relative of the Brussels sprout. Cabbages are ruled by the moon. Their element is water, and their energies are protection and money. The many green leaves remind one of currency, and thus make an excellent visualization tool if you’re trying to attract more money. As you consume the leaves, you can visualize taking more wealth into your life, into your bank account, etc.

Information courtesy of Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Lion’s Head Casserole

This is my version of a Chinese dish. Pork and cabbage together make a powerful prosperity dish. Eat this on New Year’s Day, the Chinese New Year, or any time you want to attract more money into your life.

1 lb ground pork
2 tablespoons grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 head Napa cabbage, cored
2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
Black pepper to taste

Mix together the pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, and pepper flakes. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs.

Take the cored cabbage and gently lower it into a pot of boiling water. Leave for 3-5 minutes to soften the leaves. Remove with tongs and place into a bowl of cold (ice) water. Remove the tough stem from the leaves and pat the leaves dry.

Take a leaf of cabbage and wrap it around a meatball. Repeat until you have wrapped all the meatballs.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place any remaining cabbage leaves on the bottom of the baking dish. Place the wrapped meatballs on top.

Mix together the other 2 T of soy sauce, corn starch and pepper with the chicken broth and pour mixture over the casserole.

Cover with foil. Bake until meatballs are done and cabbage is tender, about 45-50 minutes.

Foods of October: Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts. They are one of my favorite vegetables. Fall is also a time for chestnuts, so why not combine the two into one scrumptious side dish? The cream makes it extra-rich but is completely optional. Feel free to toss in a sprig of thyme, stripped and chopped, to bring love, psychic awareness, and purification to your Samhain table.

Brussels Sprouts

Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Energies: Protection

Add Brussels sprouts to protective diets. Cooking them with garlic and chili will up the protective energies of the dish, if the intent is there.

Source: Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

2 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 slices bacon, cut into 1” pieces
1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, cut in half
1 lb peeled roasted chestnuts
Salt and white pepper to taste
½ cup water, broth, or white wine and broth
¼ cup cream, optional

Cook sprouts in a pot of boiling water until barely tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain and shock the sprouts by putting them into a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process and keep the color bright. Drain and pat dry.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove and drain, reserving the drippings. Cook the shallots and garlic in the bacon drippings until barely soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the drained sprouts and chestnuts to the skillet and sauté another 5 minutes, until sprouts are brown. Pour in the broth and simmer until sprouts have finished cooking and liquid has evaporated, 3-5 minutes. Add the cream, if using, and cook until cream is slightly thickened. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Toss with bacon and serve.

If you don’t eat bacon, you can leave it out and just cook the shallots and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil. Use olive oil and vegetable broth and leave out the bacon for a vegetarian-friendly side dish.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Foods of October: Apples

Apples are in season in October. Glorious, round, red or green crunchy apples. What is more autumn than that? Autumn is the season of crisp air, colorful falling leaves, mugs of cider, football (if you’re into that sort of thing), and apple picking.

The apple is a fruit of love. It is ruled by the planet Venus and its element is water. Its energies include love, health, and peace.

Apple seeds play a part in Halloween divination. A young lady would take three apple seeds, name them each for a suitor, and stick them either to her forehead or cheeks. The last one to fall off was her true love.

Another apple divination is to throw the peel (whole) over your left shoulder. It should fall in the shape of the initial of the person you're to marry. I don't know which initial.

For love, bake an apple pie with cinnamon and cloves, or simply carve a heart into an apple and eat it with intent.

Applesauce Loaf Cake

• 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
• 1 egg
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ½ cup sour cream
• 1 cup raisins (optional)
• 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a large loaf pan (or 2 smaller ones) with nonstick cooking spray.

In one bowl, mix together the butter and sugar. Add the applesauce, vanilla, sour cream, and egg. Mix to combine. Sift together the dry ingredients and stir into the wet ingredients 1/3 at a time. Fold in the raisins and nuts, if using.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Honoring Shakti

During this time of the year, the great Mother Goddess is celebrated in India. Navratas began on September 28. Tomorrow, October 3, is the beginning of Durga Puja.
“Navratri” means “Nine Nights” . The lore and legends associated with this holiday all go back to the Mother Goddess, Shakti.

The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion. Her various incarnations - Kumari, Parvati and Kali - are worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman. The next three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity), dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally ,the last three are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge), dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan. (Source: festivals.iloveindia.com)

Adults and children alike dress in new clothes, wearing a different color on each night. Special sweets are prepared for the celebration. In some communities, people fast for the nine days. The celebration culminates on Mahanavani. Kanya Puja is performed on this day. (Puja – prayers) Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Shakti are worshipped.

The nine forms of Shakti are:

 Durga, the inaccessible one
 Bhadrakali
 Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the universe
 Annapoorna devi, The one who bestows grains (anna) in plenty (purna: used as subjective)
 Sarvamangala, The one who gives joy (mangal) to all (sarva)
 Bhairavi
 Chandika or Chandi
 Lalita
 Bhavani
 Mookambika

(Source: en.wikipedia.org)

In honor of the specially prepared sweets, I offer you one of my own invention: Rani's Rice Pudding. ("Rani" is "Queen")

1 cup Basmati rice, washed
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2/3 – 1 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ cup slivered almonds or pistachios
½ cup dried pineapple chunks
1 mango, sliced, or 1 can of mango slices, drained

In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water and the rice to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until almost all the water is absorbed.

Add the milk, coconut milk, sugar, cardamom, nuts, and pineapple. Increase heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (about 25-30 minutes). There should still be some liquid left.

Cover with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly onto the surface of the pudding. This will help prevent a skin from forming. Chill. Top with sliced mangoes and serve. Garnish with extra almonds or pistachios, if desired.
Serves 6-8

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Foods of October: Pork

In an earlier post, I gave some information about the pig and its meat. I associate the meat with Earth and prosperity. For a long time, only the rich had meat on any sort of regular basis. Pork is lovely served fresh at Mabon and Samhain, and preserved (ham, prosciutto, etc.) at Yule.

The following recipe uses salty smoked bacon. It also features onions for protection, sugar for love, and maple syrup for money attraction. (Cunningham, 1990). I also used a bit of smoked sea salt for extra saltiness and smokiness. This is optional, but if you can get it, do try it. It’s amazing. I ordered mine from www.spicesinc.com. Look for Pacific Smoked Sea Salt.

Bacon Jam (Adapted from www.marthastewart.com)

This recipe uses a slow cooker. If you do not have one, you can simply cook it on low on the stove. Just keep an eye on it and make sure the sugars do not burn.

This bacon jam would be awesome spread on some Brie, wrapped in puff pastry, and baked until the cheese is oozing.

1 lb bacon, cut into 1” pieces
2 medium red onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
½ c apple cider vinegar
¾ c dark brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¾ cup coffee
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Smoked sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, fry the bacon in batches until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour out and reserve all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Cook the onions and garlic on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar and the liquids. Pour into the pan with the onions, scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom.

Pour into your slow cooker and add the bacon. Cook on high, uncovered for 3 ½ - 4 hours. Season with paprika, salt and pepper. Store in sterilized jars in the refrigerator.

I got maybe 2 ½ - 3 cups from this recipe. It did not cook down that much in the slow cooker, so I left some of the liquid behind.

This could possibly be canned with a pressure canner, but since I don’t have one, I’m not going to mess with it.

It may look revolting, but it tastes like caramelized onions with some bacony bits for texture.

Music for Rocktober

Foods of October: Hazelnuts

Planet: Sun
Element: Air
Energies: wisdom, conscious mind, fertility

Another name for Halloween is “Nutcrack Night”. Hazelnuts played an important part in divination on this night. Hazel trees are thought to be guardians against lightning. Hazelnuts are thought to bestow wisdom on those eat consume them. They stimulate the conscious mind. Eat hazelnuts before taking an exam or brainstorming for your next project. A symbol of fertility, hazelnuts were once placed into small bags and given to brides on their wedding days.

Source: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Hazelnut Baklava

1 16-oz. package phyllo pastry, thawed, sheets cut in half
1 stick of butter, melted
1 lb. hazelnuts, coarsely ground (don’t grind too finely or you’ll end up with paste)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons sugar

For the syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon

Butter a 9 x 13 pan and preheat the oven to 350.

Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp towel.

Grind the hazelnuts with the sugar and pour into a bowl. Mix with the cinnamon.

Place 1-2 sheets of phyllo into the pan. Brush with butter. Repeat until you have 9 sheets.

Sprinkle with 1/3 of the nut mixture. Layer on more phyllo, brush with butter, and repeat. You should have three layers of hazelnuts in between layers of pastry.
Brush the top layer with butter, cut into triangles, and place in the oven. Bake until crispy, about 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling the water, sugar , honey, and lemon zest together. Simmer about 15 minutes, until thickened. Cool slightly.
When the baklava comes out of the oven, pour over the syrup.

Cool completely before serving. Store uncovered so it doesn't get soggy.

Friday, September 30, 2011

National Coffee Day

In honor of Coffee Day, here is some information about one of our favorite witches' brews.

Planet: Mars
Element: Fire
Energies: Conscious mind, physical energy

The first commercial coffee house was established in Turkey in 1554. The planet probably originated in Ethiopia. Around 1000 C.E., Arabs in Ethiopia began making a hot drink from the beans of the coffea arabica plant. Another Arabic invention to be thankful for. :)

Source: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Day 13: What are some witchy books that influenced you?

I, like many of you (probably), started out with Scott Cunningham and Uncle Bucky's Big Blue Book. Wicca, however, is not for me. It is not the path I follow. I follow my eclectic path and consider myself to be a kitchen witch. Kitchen witch books that influenced me include:

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen
Cooking by Moonlight by Karri Ann Allrich
Cooking by the Seasons by Karri Ann Allrich
Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson

I would also like to add Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and The Magical Household to that list. I like books that show me how to make things for my home, whether it be food or a candle or hex sign.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Cookin' for Rocktober

Next month (which beings Saturday, yay!), I will start exploring the fruits of the season. I may not be able to do 31 days of recipes, but I'll do my best to provide you with information on the magical properties of the foods of the fall, along with recipes to use them. Stay tuned!

What else would you like to see for October? I'd like to host a giveaway once I get to 230 subscribers (one more needed), but I'm at a loss as to what. We'll have to see what I can come up with.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 12: Picture of Air Element

Mercimek Koftesi

1 cup red lentils, washed
1 cup fine bulgur, washed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon red chili flake
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
juice of one lemon
lettuce leaves to serve (butter lettuce, for example)

Cook the lentils in 2 1/2 cups water until soft. Add the bulgur. Cover and set aside until the bulgur absorbs the rest of the water.

In a skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion until soft. Stir in the chili flake, tomato paste and cumin.

Place all ingredients in large bowl. Mix well to combine. Allow the mixture to cool.

Make small torpedoes out of the mixture 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons at a time. Chill. Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves with extra lemon.

This is my take on a favorite Turkish appetizer. I am taking this to the goddess day celebration I am attending tomorrow.


Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Energies: Peace

I was watching "Spice Goddess" today, and the host, Bal Arneson, said that lentils were a sign of prosperity in India. I would add prosperity to the energies of the lentil as well, especially when combined with parsley, as in this recipe.

source: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Day 11: Oils

I don't have much to say on this topic. I don't think they're all that necessary, and they're often quite expensive. If I use any oil at all, it's olive oil, possibly infused with an herb or spice such as rosemary or cloves.

More Blog Pimping

Many Thanks

Sources for the Zodiac series:








Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Foods of Virgo

Virgo is the sixth sign of the Zodiac. It is ruled by Mercury and is considered a passive, introvert (feminine) sign. Virgos can be modest, practical, diligent and intelligent. They can also be fussy, overcritical, and harsh.

Virgo foods include almond, barley, beans, celery, chicory, dill, endive, fennel, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, oats, parsley, pomegranate, and rye.

Chicory and White Bean Soup

• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 5 garlic cloves, smashed
• 2-3 ribs celery, sliced
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
• 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (40 fluid ounces)
• 1 head chicory (1 pound), torn into 2-inch pieces (16 cups)
• 1 (16- to 19-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained

• Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; extra-virgin olive oil

Cook onions in oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Stir in chicory and beans, then simmer, uncovered, until chicory is tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender and purée until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), then stir into remaining soup to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with oil.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chicory-and-White-Bean-Soup-108876#ixzz1YuLjjokP

Foods of Taurus

Taurus is the second astrological sign of the Zodiac. Taurus is considered a passive, introvert (feminine) sign. Characteristics of Taurus include patient, reliable, determined, loving, and placid. They can also be jealous, possessive, resentful, greedy, and stubborn.

Foods for Taurus include: beef, apples, apricots, bananas, barley, avocado, bean, blackberry, buckwheat, cake, capers, cardamom, cherries, chestnuts, gooseberries, guava, kiwi, mangos, oats, peas, peaches, pears, persimmons, raspberries, rhubarb, rye, spinach, thyme, tomatoes,and wheat.

Raspberry-Rhubarb Pie

Pastry for 2-crust pie
1 1/3 to 2 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
2 c. rhubarb
2 c. raspberries
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Mix sugar and flour, mix in fruit, pour into pie crust and dot with butter. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg, cover with top crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits.

Recipe source: www.cooks.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

Foods of Capricorn

Capricorn is the tenth sign of the Zodiac. Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo are the earth signs. Capricorn is considered an introvert (feminine) sign. It is ruled by the planet Saturn, and it rules bones, joints, and teeth. Capricorns can be ambitious, disciplined, patient, careful, humorous and reserved. They can also be pessimistic .

Foods that are appropriate for Capricorns include barley, beets, cheese, corn, cranberries, peas, bananas, cabbage, lamb, spinach, walnuts, beef, potatoes, quince, tamarind, turnips, vinegar, jams and jellies and preserved foods.

Baby Beet, Lamb, and Spinach Salad

• 500g lamb backstraps
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 100g baby spinach leaves
• 75g feta cheese, crumbled
• 425g can baby beets, drained, halved
• 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Preheat a barbecue plate or chargrill over medium-high heat. Brush lamb with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook lamb for 5 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Remove to a plate. Cover with foil. Set aside for 5 minutes to rest.

2 Combine spinach, feta, beets and walnuts in a large bowl. Thinly slice lamb. Add to salad. Toss to combine.

3 Combine vinegar and remaining oil in a jug. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad. Serve.

Recipe source: www.taste.com.au

Foods of Libra

Libra is the seventh sign of the Zodiac. It is considered a masculine, positive sign. Libra originated from the constellation of the same name. It rules the kidneys.

Libra, the sign of the scales and balance, is reflected in the traits of people born under this sign. Libras can be diplomatic, romantic, charming, sociable, idealistic, and peaceful. They can also be very indecisive, gullible, and self-indulgent.

Foods include: apple, apricot, avocado, barley, bread, broccoli, buckwheat, pea, peach, pear, plum, caper, cardamom, carob, cherry, cookies, raspberry, rye, spearmint, strawberry, gooseberry, granola, kiwi, mango, oat, passion fruit, pasta, tarts, thyme, tomato, vanilla, wheat

Mixed Fruit Tart

For the crust:
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and slightly softened at room temperature
• 1 egg yolk

For the frangipane:
• 6 ounces almonds, toasted, and cooled
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 2 eggs
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup apricot preserves
• Assorted fresh fruit, including raspberries, apricots, peaches, plums, kiwis, mangoes, and strawberries, sliced
• 2 tablespoons water

To make the crust, put the flour in a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix. Using your hands, make a well in the center. Place the butter pieces and egg yolk in the well. Using your fingers, work the butter and egg yolk together until well combined then work the butter-egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined. The dough will be crumbly, but when you squeeze a handful in your hand, it should hold together.

Sprinkle into a 10-inch pie or tart pan. Press the dough firmly and evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Make ropes of the dough and press them onto the walls, making sure not to let the crust thicken at the corners. It should make a clean right angle where the sides meet the bottom. Chill the crust at least 30 minutes or, covered, up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the frangipane filling, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the almonds and sugar just until sandy. Do not over-process, or the mixture will become pasty. Add the butter and process just until blended. Add the eggs and process until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla and flour, and process until smooth (you have just made a frangipane).

Spoon the frangipane into the unbaked tart shell. Bake until the frangipane is golden brown and puffy and the crust is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

Let cool. Spread 3/4 cup apricot preserves on the surface of the baked tart to act as a bed for the fruit. Slice fruit and arrange it decoratively. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup apricot preserves with the water until boiling and smooth. Brush the fruit with the apricot preserves to protect the fruit from drying out and make it glisten.
Recipe source: www.foodnetwork.com

Foods of Gemini

Gemini is the third sign of the Zodiac. It is ruled by Mercury. Geminis can be versatile, witty, communicative, eloquent, lively and witty. They can also be tense, inconsistent, or superficial.

Foods for Geminis include: almonds, beans, caraway seeds, celery, fennel, mulberry, mung sprouts, pecans, pistachios, pomegranate, fennel, chervil, dill, parsley, peppermint, black pepper, and turmeric.

Fennel-Celery Slaw

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 teaspoons ground pepper
• 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
• 1 poundsfresh fennel bulbs, trimmed, thinly sliced
• 1/2 pound celery, thinly sliced

Mix the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add fennel and celery and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Chill before serving. Toss again before serving.

Recipe adapted from www.epicurious.com

John Barley Corn is Dead

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Mabon!

Mabon, Equinox, first day of fall, Harvest Home, whatever you call it, maybe it be full of blessings.

Ways to celebrate:

*Go for a walk. Collect leaves and pine cones.

* Feed the birds and squirrels.

*Make a donation to a food bank.

* Simply light a candle and give thanks for the blessings in your life.

*Share a meal with loved ones. Light orange, yellow and purple candles. Place mums on the table. Enjoy foods of the season, such as squash and apples.

* Do a kitchen/hearth/home blessing.

*Bake a loaf of bread. Enjoy with some wine.

* Meditate on the balance of light and dark. Find the balance in your life.

*Pick apples. Make apple sauce, apple butter, apple everything, and share!

From my kitchen to yours, Mabon blessings. May you never hunger, may you never thirst.

Foods of Aquarius

Aquarius is one of the air signs. It is the eleventh sign of the Zodiac, and it is considered to be masculine and extrovert. Aquarius rules the ankles.

Aquarians can be friendly, honest, loyal, original, inventive, independent and intellectual. They can also be contrary, unemotional, and detached.

Aquarius is often associated with Ganymede, a beautiful youth with whom Zeus fell in love. Zeus carried Ganymede up to Olympus to be a cup-bearer to the gods.

Foods for people born under this sign include: anchovies, duck, rice, pineapple, lemon, yogurt, tuna, hearts of palm, ocean fish, chicken, beets, broccoli, almonds, apples, walnuts, lentils, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, brown rice, corn, lobster, spinach, cabbage, and oranges

Salad Nicoise


• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 medium shallot, minced
• 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
• 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 2 grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks* (8 oz each) or 2-3 cans of tuna
 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered
 10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
 8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
 1/4 cup niçoise olives
 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional)


*Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.

1 Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

2 Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.

3 While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter (I used two serving platters, shown in the photos). Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

4 Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

5 Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.

Source: www.simplyrecipes.com

Foods of Scorpio

Scorpio is the eighth sign of the Zodiac. It originated from the constellation Scorpius and is considered a feminine, negative/introverted sign.

Scorpios can be determined, intuitive, powerful, passionate, and magnetic, or jealous, resentful, forceful, and obsessive-compulsive.

Foods for Scorpios include: asparagus, basil, cardamom, figs, onions, cauliflower, lean meat, onions, radishes, coconut, and fish

Curried Coconut Cauliflower Soup

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 chili, minced (optional)
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 14-oz can coconut milk
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 – 1 ½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot heat the oil. Saute the onion for 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chili and cook until softened. Add the spices and stir to coat.
Add the cauliflower florets and stir to coat with the spices. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to medium and simmer until the cauliflower is quite soft, about 20 minutes.

Using a stick blender or a regular blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to the soup pot, stir in the coconut milk, and reheat gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Foods of Cancer

Cancer is the fourth sign of the Zodiac and one of our water signs. According to a Greek legend, the figure of the crab was placed in the sky by Hera after it was stomped on and killed by Heracles.

Cancers are said to be loyal, dependable, caring, adaptable, and responsive. They can also be moody, clingy, and self-pitying.

Foods for Cancers include tomatoes, pumpkins, pears, pineapples, kiwi fruit, milk, white fish, red and white cabbage, yogurt, cheese, lettuce, rye, and beets.

Borscht and Rye Bread

• 8 cups beef broth*
• 1 pound slice of meaty bone-in beef shank
• 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
• 4 large beets, peeled, chopped
• 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
• 1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
• 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
• 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 cup sour cream
• Salt and pepper to taste

1 Bring 4 cups of the beef broth, the beef shank, and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

2 Transfer meat to work surface; trim fat, sinew and bone and discard. Chop meat; cover and chill. Cool broth slightly. Chill in pot until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

3 Spoon fat from top of chilled broth and discard. Add remaining 4 cups broth, beets, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

4 Stir in meat, cabbage and 1/2 cup dill; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in vinegar.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining 1/4 cup dill.
Yield: Serves 6.


Rye Bread

• 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup rye flour
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/4 cup bread flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons dry milk powder
• 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon caraway seed
• 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add the yeast to the water with a pinch of sugar. Allow to bloom for a few minutes. Combine the other ingredients except the rye flour and ½ cup of the AP flour. By hand, stir in the rye flour and the rest of the AP flour to form a dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Punch down and turn out onto a floured surface. Shape into a loaf. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let rise a second time, 45 minutes.

Slash the top with a sharp knife. Back at 400 F for 30-35 minutes. Loaf will sound hollow when tapped.

This seems like heavy, wintery food for a sun sign, but in the summer Cancers can enjoy white fresh and fresh salads. Enjoy a salad with this meal too.

Foods of Pisces

Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are our water signs. Pisces was once said to be ruled by Jupiter, but Neptune is now considered to be the ruler. Pisces, the twelfth sign, is also connected to the twelfth house.

According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish that Aphrodite and Eros turned into in order to escape the wrath of Typhon. The fish are tied together with a cord at the tails so they do not lose each other.

People born under this sign are said to be compassionate and adaptable, but they can also be over sensitive, self-pitying, and lazy.

Pisces rules the feet and the lymph system. The following list of foods, procured from various sources, is a list that the fish should consume. (The list even includes fish. Hmmm… Astrological cannibalism??)

Almonds, artichokes, endive, leeks, salmon, other fish, seafood, tarragon, apples, cabbage, figs, dates, grapes, olives, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Almond-Crusted Salmon with Leeks and Cream

• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
• 2 medium leeks, halved, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1 cup sliced almonds, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup all purpose flour
• 6 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
• 1 large egg, beaten to blend
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat
Add leeks; sauté 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until leeks are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium; add lemon juice and stir until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute.
Mix in cream.
Simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
Transfer mixture to blender. Blend until smooth.
Strain sauce into same saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Mix almonds, parsley, lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper on plate.
Place flour on another plate.
Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper.
Dredge salmon in flour, shaking off excess.
Lightly brush 1 side of salmon with beaten egg.
Press brushed side of salmon into almond mixture, pressing lightly to adhere. Arrange salmon, nut side up, on baking sheet.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium heat.
Add half of salmon to each skillet, almond-coated side down, and cook until crust is brown, about 5 minutes. Turn salmon over. Sauté until salmon is cooked through and opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to plates.

Reheat sauce, stirring over medium heat. Spoon around salmon and serve.

Serve the salmon with a potato gratin and you have a great meal for any Pisces.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Foods of Sagittarius

Like Aries and Leo, Sagittarius also needs meat and spice. Sagittarians should avoid excess alcohol and too many rich foods such as chocolate, too much fat, and fast food. They should eat lean meats and fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, strawberries, figs, and potatoes. Sagittarians should also consume whole grains and foods that are good sources of vitamin C. All the information I’ve seen on fire signs also recommends raw eggs, but I don’t recommend those to you unless you have a strong stomach and a healthy immune system. Just in case.

Not only are they delicious and good for you, pears and figs are also in season when Sagittarius is the ruling sign. Here, then, is a recipe for a delicious fig and pear crumble. It is full of sweet fruit and gently enhanced with honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If you want to avoid too much sweetness, reduce the amount of sugar in the crumbly topping, or skip it all together.

Fig and Pear Crumble

1 package dried Mission figs, quartered
1/8 cup Port wine
3 large pears, any kind, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon flour
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg (fresh if you can get it)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter

Nonstick cooking spray for the baking dish

For the topping

½ cup AP flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark (I prefer dark)
¼ white sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Coat an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Alternately, you can butter it, but we’re trying to avoid too much extra fat. Nevermind the butter in the topping. ;)

Put the figs in a bowl with the wine and let marinate 15-20 minutes.
Place the pears in the baking dish. Sprinkle with flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Melt honey and butter together and drizzle over pears. Arrange the fig quarters over the pears.

Combine the flour, salt and sugar for the topping. Rub in the butter with your hands or a pastry cutter (or two butter knives, or whatever) until crumbly. Sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until topping is brown and filling is bubbly. Serve warm.