Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mindful Cooking and Perfect Pita

Maybe I've read "Like Water for Chocolate" too many times, but I never cook when I'm in a foul, pissy mood. I don't want that kind of energy going into the food I'm preparing. I prefer to infuse the dishes with love, care, protection, and peace.

Since I've started wearing my head scarf around the house (and to the grocery store, or out to lunch...), I've become more focused in my cooking and crafting endeavors. My Aussie has noticed it and commented on it as well.

I love to bake bread. I usually can't eat it because of my lap band (more on that later, perhaps), but I love to make it for others. It's one of those foods you really have to dig your hands into, and I love that. Kneading dough is my favorite part. It gives me a chance to meditate, to get in touch with how I'm feeling and what I want to put into the finished product. Sometimes I'll sing or chant a little. Today I asked my Aussie to drum and I kneaded the dough as I swayed to the music. What fun that was! And damn, that bread turned out fine!

I like to dedicate my pita baking to Hestia. I normally dedicate bread baking to harvest gods and goddesses, but I feel that this recipe is just for Her.

If you've never made your own pita before, you will be surprised at how easy it is to make at home, and how much more delicious it is than store-bought. As you work the dough, listen to some music. Make some music. Enjoy the feel of the dough. Meditate on getting closer to the harvest deities. Marvel at how a few simple ingredients can turn into such an important staple. Most of all, be blessed in the kitchen.

Perfect Pita
1 package dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 – 1 ¼ cup warm water

Dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water. Allow to stand 10 minutes.

Mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and stir.

Slowly add the rest of the warm water, stirring to form a sticky dough.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, adding extra flour where needed, for 20 minutes. Dough will be smooth and elastic.

Coat a bowl with a few drops of oil. Turn the ball of dough to coat it and leave to rise for 2 ½ -3 hours.

Take the dough and roll into a log. Divide into 10-12 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and let them rest for 5 minutes.

Heat the oven and a baking pan to 500 F.

Take each ball of dough and flatten into a 5-6” round.

Place the rounds on the hot pan 3-4 at a time.

Bake for 4 minutes on one side.

Turn over and bake another 2 minutes.

Remove with a spatula and flatten slightly.

Repeat until you have 10-12 pitas.

Store in an airtight bag if not using immediately.

This post is copyright to the author. No portion of it may be reproduced in any manner without express permission from the author. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Giveaway Winner - The Vegetable Box

The winner of the box o' vegetable cookbooks is ManyStars of http://outlawstars.blogspot.com/

Congratulations! Contact me at hariscruff at yahoo dot com with your contact information.

The pashmina giveaway is open until Saturday, March 31. The winner will be announced on April 1, so there is still time to enter!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Kitchen Witch Altar

This is another work in progress. It may turn into a shrine to Hestia, as most of the things on it are Her symbols - a key, amethyst, and, well, a statue that represents Her.

I just set these things up a few minutes ago. I said a little prayer to Hestia and invited Her into my space. I walked past the altar a few minutes ago and I felt this amazing energy. I just walked right through it. I got goosebumps. I haven't had an experience like that in YEARS. I guess I'm doing the right thing.

My Hestia Figures

I felt called to get out the polymer clay today. I crafted two Hestia figurines, in her colors of cobalt, lavender, and silver. The one in lavender is for my altar, and the one in cobalt (who is reminiscent of the Virgin Mary in dress), might get listed in my Etsy shop. I plan to make a few more to sell, as well. I am currently researching other veiled goddesses and the colors that go with them. We shall see what happens in the coming week!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Whole Wheat Molasses Oatmeal Bread

This recipe has more of a cool weather feel to it, but since some of you are still experiencing freezing temperatures (and some ice and snow for some people, I think!), I decided to go ahead and share this recipe. I've been experimenting with it for a while, and I think I finally came up with a formula that I like.

The whole wheat flour absorbs the extra moisture, yet doesn't leave the bread dry. The oatmeal gives it a very pleasant texture, while the molasses gives color, fragrance, and the tiniest hint of sweetness. It's excellent hot out of the oven or toasted with butter or jam. My personal favorite is blackberry jam.

Whole Wheat Molasses Oatmeal Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups scalded milk (almost boiling)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 packet yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons rolled oats

Place the butter, salt, oats, and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Pour over the hot milk and stir. Leave for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and water. (I usually add a pinch of sugar, too). Leave for 10 minutes.

Add the yeast to the oat mixture. Mix in the whole wheat flour. Mix in the bread flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir to form a sticky dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Lightly dust your hands with flour and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 20 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and set in a warm place* until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and return to floured surface. Divide dough into 2 pieces and form loaves. Place loaves on baking trays. Using a serrated knife, slash the tops of the loaves 2-3 times. Let the loaves rise for 40 minutes.

Preheat the over to 350 F. Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon oats each. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool before slicing.

* To proof the dough, heat a bowl of water in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. Take the water out and put in the bowl of dough. This hot, steamy environment will help the dough to rise adequately.

I love to bake bread. It's like a meditation for me. I use the kneading time to chant, pray, or meditate. It's good therapy. I highly recommend it. :)

This post is copyright to the author. No portion of it may be reproduced in any manner without express permission from the author. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Hestia - a work in progress

Call it a rough draft.

Keeper of the flame
Goddess of the Hearth
Gentle Hestia,
Eternal Virgin,
Sister, Daughter,
Veiled one
Bless this the hearth
Of Thy sister,
She who comes
Veiled before you
May the flame
Never be extinguished
May your blessing and spirit
Always abide here.

(I'd clean up the kitchen and then light some candles around the stove for this.)

This post is copyright to the author. No portion of it may be reproduced in any manner without express permission from the author. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Prayers Requested

My cousins lost their one remaining grandparent, their grandmother, at 1:00 this morning. She made it to the 92nd birthday and is now hopefully happily reunited with her loving husband.

My own grandmother, my one remaining grandparent, has stage 4 lymphoma. I would appreciate prayers and energies directed toward her and her children at this time. I know that there is little hope for survival, so I am praying that she doesn't suffer and that we can all enjoy each other's company for as long as we have it.

Thank you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A ritual head covering

In my search for a comfortable, practical head covering for rituals, I have found the Al-Amira hijab. It's two pieces, no tying, wrapping needed, and it's quite comfortable to wear. I'm wearing my everyday kitchen headscarf as I type this, but Ostara just might find me in this baby!

But I probably won't wear the Oscar the Grouch t-shirt. ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pashmina Giveaway!

It's time for another giveaway! Yes, already! There's no time like the present.

For those of you who read my post "The Long Black Veil", you know that I've recently started covering my head (again) for ritual purposes, and for domestic duties as well. In this way I show respect and honor to Hestia, who seems to be my hearth goddess. I know she is for some of you as well.

That brings us to the actual item up for grabs. I am giving away a beautiful silk and pashmina (cashmere) scarf from Turkey. I could describe it, but I'll just show you some pictures of it instead.

It can be worn a variety of ways - as a head cover, or just to keep your shoulders warm when it's a little chilly out.

Interested? I thought so! Here's how to enter:

For one entry, simply comment on this blog.

For extra entries, do any or all of the following:

1. Follow this blog. Leave a note telling me you're following.
2. Follow me on Twitter. Again, let me know.
3. Tweet about this giveaway. Send me a link to the tweet.
4. Blog about this giveaway. Send me a link to the blog post.
5. Like my facebook page for Witchin' in the Kitchen and leave a comment on the wall to let me know.

A winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, April 1. No, this will not be an April Fool's Joke! Promise. :)

And now, on to some pictures! I'm afraid my model couldn't make it, so you have to put up with images of me. As for my model...well, I don't really have one. I'm not that great at wrapping a scarf the way some women are, so bear with me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Giveaway

It's time to hold a spring giveaway! The weather has been so lovely here lately. Others, gods bless them, have had problems with devastating tornadoes, but our twister season hasn't started...yet.

Because it's so lovely here (and so craptacular in other parts of the U.S.!), I decided to have a nice spring give away. I'm giving away a box of recipe books. Yes, a box of recipe books! Well, okay, this isn't a HUGE box and the books are heavy tomes of gastronomical delights, but it is a pretty damn cool little set.

This set features 14 vegetable recipe books and over 250 recipes. If you're a gardener, shop at the local farmers market, or just love vegetables, this is a great collection. It goes from Artichoke to Zucchini, with lots of other lovely veggies in between.


How do I win this box o' goodies? you may be asking yourselves (I hope). Well, there are a few ways.

1. Comment on this blog post and tell me you want to enter.
2. "Like" my facebook page for this blog (see sidebar). (+1 entry)
3. Follow me on Twitter (again, see sidebar), and let me know you're following. (+1)
4. Blog about this contest. (Link so I know!) (+1)
5. Tweet about it. (+1)
6. Leave a comment on the facebook page. (+1)

This contest is open until Ostara, March 21. Plenty of time to get your plants started and to begin dreaming of how you're going to use the earth's bounty!

Stay tuned for another special giveaway coming soon. This one will be of special interest to my witchy sisters who cover their heads!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Long Black Veil

For a while now, I’ve been doing something different in the kitchen. No, my recipes haven’t changed. I haven’t become vegan or anything like that. I’m just doing more right now. I finally put one of my own handmade kitchen witches on the back of the stove (after giving the stove a good wipe down). There’s a candle on the back of the stove now, too. As for me, I’ve been working on honoring my kitchen deity more, paying closer attention to her energies.

Ah, my kitchen deity. Many years ago, I was drawn to Hestia. There is precious little written about her, which is how she seems to like it. She avoids the drama of the other gods, and I like that, too. Then I got into Hindu deities and I researched Annapurna and Parvati. Still…I felt drawn to Hestia. My original.

So, Hestia it is! It feels good for me to get back into the swing of mindful kitchen witchin’, instead of just cooking something so we can eat it. I really want to explore my path more and do more with it. There are many ways to honor Hestia, such as offering her the first and last bits of food from a meal, or as simple as lighting a candle for her. That’s why I keep a candle on the back of the stove. It’s a little tealight that I replace each time I cook.
Another thing I’ve been doing to honor Hestia is something that I started doing a few years ago, back before I moved to Turkey. Back when this blog was brand new. What is it, already? You may be asking. Well, I’ve been experimenting with the old practice of veiling. I wear a scarf over my hair when I am being domestic. Hestia is always seen wearing a veil, and I used to cover my head when doing my devotionals, so why not?

Recently, I’ve discovered another group of ladies who cover their head as part of their religious observant dress. POLYTHEISTIC women, for the most part. There is a group on Facebook called “Covered in Light”. If you are at all intrigued by this practice and want to learn more about why people do it, when they do it, and who these people are, it’s a good group to check out.

There you have it. I like to cover my hair during some rituals and for some sabbats, and when I’m being domestic. Thoughts? Anybody else out there click with this practice? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Bonus picture of me in my scarf, holding my adorable dog!

This post is copyright to the author. No portion of it may be reproduced in any manner without express permission from the author.