NWK

NWK

Monday, February 28, 2011

Would anyone be interested...

Would anyone be interested in a book club sort of thingie? I have some kitchen witch cookbooks that I think would be good for discussion (yes, I can discuss recipe books the way some people discuss literature), such as Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson. We could discuss the magical information she has in the book, her spells, and even pick out individual recipes to make and photograph for our blogs. Anyone up for it? I need yet another spring project.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seafood Curry

Okay, here is the experimental recipe I talked about in my last newsletter. I've made some changes and wanted to share the final recipe. I wish I could share pictures of this beautiful, green-flecked golden curry, but alas, I've no digital camera right now. Here is the Seafood Curry with Crispy Fish for autumn:

½ pound sea scallops, cut in half if large
1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
½ cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small chili (deseeded for less heat)
1 tablespoon ginger or ginger paste
1 can coconut milk or light coconut milk
1 -2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Green onions
2 tablespoons oil, plus nonstick cooking spray

4 white fish filets, such as tilapia
flour to coat
salt and pepper


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Coat with spray before heating. Lightly dust the fish with the seasoned flour and cook 3-4 minutes per side until the fish is flaky and the outside is crisp. Remove and set aside.

Coat the skillet with more nonstick cooking spray. Sear the shrimp and scallops for about a minute on each side. Remove and set aside.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in the same skillet. Cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili and ginger and cook 2-3 minutes more, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Sprinkle over the curry powder and stir. Add the coconut milk and lower the heat to a simmer.

Gently place the seafood into the sauce and submerge is as best as you can. If the sauce doesn't cover the seafood entire, turn it once. Simmer 3-4 more minutes, turn the seafood and simmer another 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is pink and scallops are opaque and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place a mound of jasmine rice onto a plate. Layer the crispy fish and cover with the seafood and coconut curry sauce. Add fresh chopped cilantro and green onions to garnish. Serve with sugar snap peas (love).

This recipe, like most of the others, will serve about 4. You could get six servings out of this curry, however, because it is very rich. Try cutting the recipe in half for a romantic dinner for two. Magic might happen...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Essentials - Herbs and Spices

We all have a spice rack or cupboard, don't we? And, as kitchen witches, we have certain herbs and spices that we simply could not cook without. I am working on a list of essential dried herbs and spices that are handy to have in a pantry. I'll start by listing what I have, as well as the magical properties. As usual, magical information comes from Scott Cunningham.

Allspice - money, healing
Basil - love, protection, money
Bay - protection, psychic awareness, healing, purification
Black pepper - protection, purification
Cardamom - love, sex
Cinnamon - love, psychic awareness, money
Cloves - love, money, protection
Cumin - peace ,happiness
Garlic (powder) - protection, health
Ginger - love, money
Nutmeg - psychic awareness
Oregano - peace
Parsley - protection, sex, money
Peppermint - sex, purification, healing
Poppy seeds - fertility, love
Rosemary - protection, conscious mind, healing, love
Sage - longevity, health
Thyme - love, psychic awareness, purification
Turmeric - purification

In addition to these I also have some garam masala, chipotle powder, cocoa/chipotle mix, paprika and smoked paprika, and Madras curry powder.

What are some your essential dried herbs and spices? What would you add to the list?

Spring, the Introduction

Well, part of it, anyway. I'm not good at this, so I need feedback, constructive criticism, what have you.

Spring is a time of new beginnings. We stand facing East, the direction of the rising sun. Our eyes shine with hope and the promise of things to come. The earth is awakening. Early spring flowers push their way through the cold ground and turn their purple and yellow faces to the light. We are ready to emerge from our warm nests and regain our strength by eating warming foods and fresh new vegetables.

Spring is when we start planning our gardens and starting seeds indoors. Bless your seeds with what you wish to grow and nurture during the coming year, into the harvest.

Fresh asparagus, eggs, milk, goat cheese and seeds are appropriate foods for this season and the sabbat of Imbolc, as are fiery foods such as curries spiced with garlic, ginger and chiles. Decorate your table with crocuses and daffodils and purple, yellow and white candles. Honor gods of fertility and creativity and nurture your own creativity

At Beltane, the Maiden dances around the May Pole, gleefully combining masculine and feminine energies. Carry this passion into the kitchen with more dairy, more spice, oats and maybe even a glass of May Wine. Light candles of pink and green to celebrate love and fertility.

Happy Birthday, George, Part II

Happy Birthday, George



I couldn't let George Harrison's birthday pass without acknowledging it. There is some controversy as to whether he was born on February 24 or 25, so many of us celebrate both days.

I decided that a way to honor George was by honoring something that was dear to him: Krishna consciousness.

Lord Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and the writing of the Bhagavad Gita is often attributed to him. Krishna's name means "dark blue" or "black" and he is known by many names, including Govinda (finder of lost cows) and Gopala(protector of cows). Normally he is depicted as having blue skin and is often seen playing a flute. He is seen as a baby or a young man.

Those who honor or worship Krishna believe that everything offered to Him becomes spiritualized prasadam - mercy - from Him. Those who cook for him, however tend to avoid some of the things that make Indian vegetarian cooking what it is, namely garlic and onions.

I have learned that onions and garlic are not used in any food prepared for Krishna, as He finds them offensive. There could be other reasons as well, but that is what I have read. In place of garlic and onions, asafetida/asafoetida is used instead.

What, you may ask, is this exotic spice with the words "ass" and "fetid" in its name? Well, apparently that sums up the smell of this particular bit of plant matter quite nicely.

From Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs:

Asafoetida
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mars
Element: Fire
Powers: Exorcism, purification, protection

Now we see why it might be used in dishes that are offered to Krishna. Perhaps the preparer is asking for protection. Perhaps Krishna will remove negative energy with His divine mercy.

If you choose to honor Krishna by preparing food for Him, there are some steps to follow. First, you must never taste the food while you are preparing it. It must be offered to Krishna first. Cleanliness is important, so wash those grimy hands. Use the freshest ingredients possible, and only offer vegetarian food that has been prepared with asafoetida instead of garlic and onions.

The website krishna.com suggests having a set of dishes that are especially for offering food to Krishna. Offer the food with the appropriate prayers (also found on krishna.com), leave the food for a few moments and then take the plate away. Move the food to a serving platter and wash the dishes.

Curry Experiment a Success!

Yes, yes, yes, another damn curry. *L* In my last newsletter I mentioned experimenting with a recipe and posting what I thought it might end up being. Well, I changed a few things around and succeeded in making a rich, sumptuous curry featuring plump Tiger shrimp and buttery sea scallops. Oh yeah. Someone - I think it was Diandra - was asking about fish recipes for autumn. I think I found one for you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Newsletter # 2

Since February feels so long, it gets two newsletters. This one includes an experimental recipe that any brave soul can take on with me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ah, Saturday!

A day for me to clean my kitchen and then mess it up again with my experiments. Today will either yield broccoli-cheddar soup, asparagus-cheddar soup, or a combination of the two veggies. First, I gotta clean that soup pot.

Tomorrow should bring keema mattar - an Indian dish of ground lamb and peas. Looks like a good cooking weekend for me! How about you?

Should be a newsletter coming out for the end of February. Look out for the soup recipe, whatever I end up making.

BTW, if anyone else has made the curried carrot or lentil soups, or the peanut soup, let me know how the recipe(s) turned out. If you make any changes, let me know about those too, so I can work on the recipes a bit more. Maybe this book will get done before I'm 40...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Curried Lentil Soup

I'm usually on a curry kick in February, as I explained before. Today my lap band is giving me some problems, so I have decided to just eat soup for now. I threw this together in about 25 minutes and it's tasty and satisfying.

Curried Lentil Soup

1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 cup lentils
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
4 cups water or broth
pinch of chili flake, if desired
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup coconut milk

In a soup pot cook the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an addition 3 minutes. Add in the ginger. Sprinkle the spices over the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir to coat. Add the lentils and stir to coat. Pour in the liquid and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the lentils are tender (I used red lentils and they took about 20-25 minutes). When the lentils are tender, add the fresh cilantro and puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the coconut milk and add salt and pepper.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love Foods for Valentine's Day

The information for today's post comes from Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen. Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day (vomit, sez the single witch), I thought I would post some information on foods for love and yes, sex. That's right, s-e-x because, let's face it, V-D (ha ha) is made for gettin' it on.

Let's start with love first, shall we?

Spices and Herbs

Anise, basil, cardamom, chicory, cinnamon, clove, coriander, fennel, ginger, licorice, marjoram, poppy seed, rose, rosemary, thyme and

Vegetables

Beet, pea, rhubarb, sweet potato, tomato, truffle

Fruits and Seeds

apple, apricot, avocado, banana, carob, cherry, guava, lemon, lime, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, passion fruit, peach, pineapple, quince, , strawberry, tamarind

Nuts

Brazil nut, chestnut, pine nut, pistachio

Fish


My Ideas: Strawberry-rhubarb pie, apple pie with ginger, cinnamon and cloves, fruit salad, roasted beets, baked or fried fish

Love Philtre (from Cunningham)
5 hazelnuts
1 teaspoon lavender flowers
1 clove
dash ginger
dash cinnamon

Place together in a mortar and pestle. While visualized, powder together. Add very small portions to food to increase love.


SEX! SEX! SEX! Now that I have your attention:

Herbs and Spices

Caraway, cardamom, coriander, licorice, parsley, peppermint, vanilla

Vegetables

Carrot, celery, endive, olive, sweet potato, truffle

Fruits

Blackberry, fig, mango

Nuts and Grains

Barley, sesame, rice

*For a complete list, see the book

Mango Upside-Down Sex Cake


2 cups ripe mangos, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat over to 375 F / 190 C

As you slice the mangos, visualize yourself enjoying sexual activity. Place the sliced mangos in a bowl; pour lemon juice over them, toss and let stand for 15 minutes. Melt the butter in an 8-inch pan or casserole. Add the brow sugar; cover with a layer of the mango slices. In a bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the beaten egg. Sifting the dry ingredients, add alternately with the mlik. Pour the batter over the mangos. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until done. Let cool slightly, and then invert the pan over a plate.

I made this cake using all butter instead of shortening because shortening wasn't available to me at the time. I would also add a teaspoon of ground cardamom and/or cinnamon to this cake to increase passion.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Culinary Epitaphs

I've really been enjoying Death Warmed Over. In addition to the funeral traditions and recipes, there are also a few culinary epitaphs, quotes and anecdontes dispersed throughout. Here are some of the culinary epitaphs presented.

"Here likes the body of our Anna
Done to death by a banana
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low
But the skin of the thing that made
Her go."

"Here lies Johnny Cole,
Who died, on my soul,
After eating a plentiful dinner;
While chewing his crust,
He was turned into dust,
With his crimes undigested,
Poor sinner."

"Oh, cruel death
To satisfy thy palate,
Cut down our Lettuce
To make a salad."

(Epitaph for Lettuce Manning)

"Worms are bait for fish
But here's a sudden change,
Fish is bait for worms,
Is not that passing strange?"

(Epitaph for a Mister Fish)


"Throughout his life he kneaded bread
And deemed it quite a bore.
But now six feet beneath earths' crust
He needeth bread no more."

(Epitaph for a baker)

"Beneath this dust
Lies the mouldering crust
Of Eleanor Bachelor Shoven,
Well versed in the arts
Of pies, puddings and tarts
And the lucrative trade of the oven.
When she'd lived long enough
She made her last puff,
A buff by her husband much praised,
And now she doth lie
And makes a dirt pie
And hopes that her crust
will be raised."

(Epitaph for Eleanor Bachelor Shoven, a baker)

"Here lies poor Burton,
He was both hale and stout;
Death laid him on his bitter beer,
Now in another world he hops about."

(Epitaph for a beer brewer)

Monday, February 7, 2011

One of these days...

I'll find a blog look that I'm happy with. Until that day, I will continue to change whenever the mood strikes me. I wish I knew more about computers and HTML. Maybe I could design something myself.

I see that I now have 170 follows through Google. Welcome, hail and well met. Sign up for the newsletter if you would like. February might be a short month, but there might be one more newsletter in me before the month expires. Lookit how fast we're plowing through it, though! It's already the 7th (and I need to pay my rent...)!

What's cooking this month? Is anyone planning a special Valentine's Day meal for his/her sweetie? I don't have a sweetie (never do, probably never will), but I'll definitely be posting a menu of love- and lust-inducing foods for you to try.

I made Curried Carrot Soup and sent the recipe out with my newsletter a few days ago. This month requires, REQUIRES Indian food to spice it up. February is a cold, dreary month, a month that is the color and texture of a cold boiled potato. We need some spice to liven things up.

Friday night will be Turkish Night at my house, I believe. I will be making yogurt soup (yayla corbasi), some type of kofte with rice, and possibly even baklava if I can get off my duff and do it.

I hope everyone is comfortable. We woke up to wildly flying snowflakes and no cancellations, so here I am in my office, dreaming of a warm and cozy kitchen and someone to eat my food!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

S is for Sunday and Superstitions

Let's explore some kitchen and food superstitions and beliefs, shall we? I've been wanting to do a post or two about this for a while but the book that I wanted was at my parents' house. I dug it out before I moved here in August but forgot that I had it. Isn't that always the case?

This book is called Strange Stories, Amazing Facts and is a Reader's Digest publication. I used to check this book out of the library so often when I was a youngster that the librarian gave me an extra copy.

Kitchen Folklore

Stirring: Many housewives believed that a meal would be ruined if the pot were stirred widdershins.

Eggs: In order not to offend hens and stop them from laying, no eggshells were ever thrown onto the fire.

Knives: The knife has probably more superstitions connected to it than any other kitchen implement. A knife made of iron is thought to be protection against many forms of evil. Another belief is that if two knives are crossed on a table, there will be a quarrel unless someone uncrosses them.

Bread: There are also many superstitions connected to bread. Bread is considered to be a very sacred food. I remember seeing a loaf of bread knocked to the floor in a grocery store in Turkey, and a woman picking up the bread and kissing it and pressing it to her forehead two or three times before placing it back on the shelf.

If bread did not rise in the oven, it was often thought that an evil spirit, or perhaps the Devil himself, were responsible. This is why crosses were often cut into bread. This let the Devil out. However, if both ends of a loaf are cut off, it is believed that the Devil will be freed and be able to fly all over the house.

The table: If a white cloth is left on the table overnight, the household will soon be in need of a burial shroud.

Thirteen people should never be allowed to sit at the table at one time. This superstition is thought to be associated with the Last Supper, when 13 people were present, including Judas Iscariot. Other sources say this superstition predates Christianity. In Norse mythology, 12 gods were dining at a table when Loki appeared and started a fight that ended in the death of Balder, the favorite of the gods.


These are some of the superstitions I have found. What are some folk beliefs and superstitions about food and the kitchen that you have to share? Drop me a comment and let me know what you've heard/read. Do you think there are any rational reasons behind such beliefs?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Issue Sent

I sent out the first issue of my Witchin' in the Kitchen newsletter. I think this will be a good project for me. I've really been struggling with writers block lately. There are tons of kitchen witch blogs on the internet, so it isn't like I can really bring a whole lot of new information to the party. Still, I try. Sooooooo if you want to hear about my adventures in the kitchen and a few general food-related ramblings (amongst other things), do feel free to sign up for the newsletter. If you want a recipe for curried carrot soup, you definitely need to sign up because that's what was in this first issue. I was really pleased to see the newsletter went out to 61 people. I didn't expect that many responses. I hope I don't let you all down!

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Book

I was chatting with a friend of mine on facebook a few nights ago and she mentioned her plans to make my peanut soup and some samosas for dinner one night. She then mentioned that her samosa recipe would be coming from a book, Death Warmed Over: Funeral Food, Rituals, and Customs from Around the World by Lisa Rogak. I promptly hopped on over to amazon.com to purchase a copy.

This book is a collection of 75 recipes for foods that are typically served at funerals, along with funeral rituals and traditions from around the world. I've barely peeked inside the book and I'm already excited. There is information from African American culture, the Amish and Cajuns. There are many countries mentioned, from Belgium and Brazil down to Uganda and Vietnam.

Amish Funeral Pie, Estonian Cabbage Rolls, Ghanaian Lamb Stew, oh my. I'm salivating just thinking about this. Fortunately no one has died recently *knock on wood*, but I think these recipes can be enjoyed anytime.

Edit: If the person pounding on the door across the way doesn't stop, there might be a funeral soon.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jumping on the Newsletter Bandwagon

I'm going to try to create a Witchin' in the Kitchen newsletter. I don't know exactly how often it will come out or precisely what will go into it, but I need a project to get me writing again. Sign up over here to the right -->
and we'll see what kind of fun we can have. There will be recipes and talk about experiments in the kitchen and all that good stuff.