Category Archives: Food

going veg

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Over the past few months I’ve been going through a major transformation in lifestyle. It started as a diet. In my younger days I never would have thought I’d go on a diet; I’ve been skinny most of my life. As I’ve been getting older though, my metabolism has been slowing down. And even though I wouldn’t consider myself overweight, I was still heavier than I’d ever been while not pregnant, and wasn’t happy with the heaviness and bulk of my stomach. So I started my diet by just counting calories and did have some success.

Then a few serendipitous things happened that led me to try vegetarianism again. The first of these was that my grove was going to meet at a center that was hosting a Thanksgiving vegetarian potluck, and they were letting us meet there only if we could help clean up from the potluck that was happening right before. So I decided that I might as well attend the potluck if I was going to help clean up, and then stay for my grove meeting. I looked up a wonderful vegetarian recipe to bring and all the food there was great.

Well, the next week was the actual date of Thanksgiving, and upon learning that my girls weren’t coming down for the holiday and it would just be the three of us, I decided to sign us up for the UU church potluck. It just so happened that the only slot still open to bring was for vegetarian mains. I brought the same chickpea dish I had made for the other potluck. There was a lot more people and food there than what I thought there would be! With so much to choose from, I decided to just go with all vegetarian for my Thanksgiving plate. I ate my fill and had a big plate of dessert too. And guess what, I actually lost a pound that day instead of gaining. It was then that I decided to begin a transition to a vegetarian diet. Over the next couple of weeks as I phased out meat, I lost ten pounds. The last time I ate meat (or ever will again) was at a Yule celebration I attended in December.

In my enthusiasm, I began looking up vegetarian videos on youtube, to keep myself motivated and on track, and perhaps get a few pointers. What I found was a myriad of reasons to go all the way vegan. Needless to say, I got my eyes opened about factory farms, and the milk and egg industries. All the old arguments that I ever heard (and used myself) against veganism/vegetarianism, were very logically shut down. The most compelling of these was a video titled 101 Reasons to Go Vegan. I began to become motivated, not so much by weight loss, but more for compassionate and environmental reasons. So now I’ve been transitioning to vegan, and it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would. After about a week, I didn’t crave cheese anymore.

I tried vegetarianism two other times in my life. The first time, I was married to someone who was strongly (and angrily) opposed to it, and the second time didn’t last very long because I didn’t have the information and motivation necessary to succeed. Now, I can look up any kind of vegan recipe I could ever want on pinterest, and find tons of motivational videos on youtube. I’ve already been vegetarian longer than I was the other two times I tried. And it’s been easy.

So now I’ve been thinking about all the non-vegetarian recipes I’ve shared on this blog. I’m in the process of taking most of these down, but veganizing he ones that can be veganized. I cannot in good conscious leave them up and contribute to what I no longer believe in. I only regret having not done all of this sooner. A song has been going through my head lately–
I Was Wrong… and I’m so so sorry.

Harvest Home Fruit Magic

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appleWith another harvest holiday coming up, I thought this would be an auspicious time to share with you one of my favorite tricks from ye olde kitchen witch cupboard: a simple all-purpose fruit spell.

For this easy method of magic, one chooses a fruit of the appropriate symbolism, clearly visualize your goal or desire (see associations below, or use your own intuition). Then speak the words of your spell and eat the fruit.

I find that the ever-popular apple makes a great all-purpose fruit for this spell, so I like to keep some around. If you have chosen a large enough fruit, you could also carve runes or symbols of your goal into it. You could juice it into a potion, or bake it into a pie with symbols formed in the crust. You could even slice up a piece of fruit and share it in a group spell. If using an apple, you could slice it horizontally to reveal the star in the middle, eat around the center and make a wish on the star then bury it.

Below you will find the words I have crafted for a general fruit spell, and some associations I have for some common fruits. Of course, this spell could be used for other foods as well.

“Fruit of Earth, the Mother’s gift,
with you I seek a fateful shift.
With my goal placed well in mind,
your taste brings forth my will in kind.”

Harvest Home Fruit MagicFruit Associations for Magic
Apple: health, vigor, youthfulness, wholesomeness, and love.
Blackberry: abundance, prosperity, and protection.
Cherry: love, desire, passion, and playfulness.
Blueberry: protection, happiness.
Fig: sexuality and fertility.
Grapes: fertility, prosperity.
Lemon: cleansing and purifying.
Orange: friendship, courage, luck.
Paw-paw: protection, love, or revenge.
Peach: love, beauty.
Pear: love and desire.
Persimmon: joy and wisdom.
Pomegranate: desire, commitment, mystery, lifeblood.
Raspberry: love and protection.
Strawberry: youthful attitude, love and happiness.
Watermelon: joy, freedom, prosperity.

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FOR IMBOLC

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “The Cailleach of the Snows” from the book “Celtic Memories” by Caitlin Matthews (for ages 8 and up).

CRAFTS

  • Make candles with beeswax sheets.
  • Make candle holders with salt dough.

ACTIVITIES

  • Look for early signs of Spring. What is the first flower to make its way through the thawing soil? What kinds of birds and other wildlife do you see? This is a good time to start a nature journal.
  • Do a Spring cleaning of your room, as well as helping the grown-ups clean the rest of the house.
  • With a grown-up’s help, make juniper room spray with a few drops of juniper oil (or a sprig of juniper) in a small spray bottle of distilled water. Use this as a spiritual cleanse on Pagan holidays.
  • Decorate a nature table with an Imbolc nature scene; put down a white cloth for snow, some green cloth for the greening land, a doll dressed like the goddess Brigit, and some of her animals (swan, cow, sheep, hibernating animals…).
  • Help grown-ups with preparing special Imbolc foods.

Kids' Activities for Imbolc

The 11th Night of Yule

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The eleventh night of Yule is sacred to all the Goddesses and and the Valkyrie.

Favorite Valkyrie/goddess crafts are gathered or made to adorn the altar. If you’re not in the mood for crafts, bird ornaments and angel figurines can be used to represent the goddesses and Valkyrie, with beautiful results.

Earth Mother

Our soundtrack for the night is Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for it’s elegance and timelessness. For our ritual meal I like to include Himmel und Erde (heaven and earth), a German dish consisting of apples (from the heavens) and potatoes (from the earth).

Our simple dinner blót includes a Valkyrie invocation and a litany of goddess hails, along with praises of their blessings.

11th Night of Yule

The 3rd Night of Yule

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The third night of our 12 night celebrations is the High Feast of Yule! This occasion is in honor of the gods Thor and Frey. Stories are told of them from either D’aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, or Brian Branston’s Gods & Heroes from Viking Mythology. Beautiful poetry and songs for Lords Frey and Thor can be found on The Heathen Songbook Online.

For gods of power and fertility, it is fitting to serve foods both hearty and sumptuous. So for this feast, it is our custom to have Spiced Roast with Rutabagas and Carrots, Rotkohl, Solstice buns, and Black Forest Cake. We read about Viking feasts in the book How to Be a Viking by Ari Berk.

High Feast

The night’s rite need not be a formal and defined ceremony (see my “No-ritual” plan). Feasting, toasting, offering, and libating are the central activities on this night of Yule. Later, little paper cornucopias full of goodies are exchanged.

3rd night of Yule

refrigerator dough

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Something I like to do now and then is make a batch of refrigerator dough at the beginning of the week and use it to make small batches of bread stuffs throughout the week. It’s especially nice to have in the fridge when there’s a holiday coming up in a few days, as it can be shaped or adapted to fit any theme. It’s also nice to have on hand for food magic or offerings.

I used to make potato refrigerator dough, but wanted a recipe for when I don’t have leftover mashed potatoes. So I found this recipe and adapted it a little. I like to use unbleached flour (sometimes with a little bit of whole wheat mixed in), but use whatever kind of flour or flour mixture you like best.

*Edit: You can veganize this, and other recipes you find on my blog (and please do), with these substitutions:
•choose from this list of vegan sugars in place of sugar
•use maple syrup in place of honey
•use Earth Balance vegan butter or coconut oil in place of butter
•use coconut milk/cream in place of sweetened condensed milk
•any vegan milk can be used in place of dairy milk
•to make vegan buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar to soy milk and leave at room temperature a few minutes
•see this list of 5 Vegan Substitutes for Eggs in Baking
•use vegan chocolate

A
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter or oil

B
1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast

C
1 well beaten egg
3 1/2 c. sifted flour

Scald together ingredients listed under “A” and pour into a large bowl and cool to lukewarm.

While “A” mixture is cooling, work on list “B”; dissolve the teaspoon of sugar into the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast into this. Let stand 10 minutes. Then stir briskly with a fork.

Add yeast mixture and well beaten egg (from C) to “A” mixture. Beat in 1 cup sifted flour. Then thoroughly blend in 2 ½ cups sifted flour. Knead 5-10 minutes, or until dough begins to resist kneading. Brush with soft butter or oil. Place dough in a lidded container with enough room for it to rise and place in refrigerator. It may be stored for a week, but can be used anytime. When ready to bake, punch down dough. Shape into desired type of bread. Cover and let rise. Makes enough for 1 large batch (2 trays of rolls, or 1 braided loaf) or 2 medium batches. Bake at 350°F. Baking times will vary depending on the size of the bread. Loaves of bread will be golden and sound hollow when tapped when they are done.

ROLLS, BUNS & BREADSTICKS
Shape as desired, let rise 20-30 minutes and bake about 20 minutes or until golden.

CINNAMON ROLLS
Roll dough out into a large rectangle, spread with butter, add cinnamon & sugar. Roll up, slice, and place in round baking pans. Let rise, bake about 20 minutes or until top appears dry and lightly browned. Drizzle with icing.

DOUGHNUTS
Roll out dough, cut out doughnut shapes, let rise, and fry in oil 325°F until golden. Dip in sugar or add icing, if desired.

SOFT PRETZELS
Shape ropes of dough into pretzel shapes. Dip in a baking soda solution (½ c. baking soda + 4 c. hot water), sprinkle with coarse salt, and bake 7-10 minutes in a 425°F oven, turning halfway through cooking.

PIZZA CRUST
Skip extra rising time, press and stretch into a crust shape. Top with pizza toppings. Bake about 20 minutes.

refrigerator dough

a kitchen witch’s wooden spoons

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Wooden spoons are an essential item in any kitchen witch’s tool kit. They are sturdy enough for mixing thick concoctions without scratching surfaces. Wood is naturally resistant to bacteria. Here is how to prepare and transform an inexpensive set of wooden spoons for magical cooking.

preparing wooden spoons

Your wooden spoons need to be cleaned in mild soapy water before you prepare them for use. Rinse and let dry.

Sand the surface, taking special care to smooth any rough edges.

At this point, you can carve or wood burn meaningful designs onto your spoons. Trace your design lightly with a pencil. An art-gum eraser works quite well on wood. Then carve it with an exacto knife or wood-burn with a pyrography tool. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Mine are very far from it! It’s the meaning, feeling, and thought behind it that counts. You can dedicate different spoons to certain deities, spirits, or powers, using symbolism and intent. Their power will be invoked when you use them. Mine are a sun for Sunna, a moon for Mani, a heart with an amber teardrop for Freya, and a goose with a basket and broom for Mother Hulda. That one is my favorite, and I have burned on my name in runes and the bottom of the handle.

Sanitize spoons in five parts warm water and one part vinegar. Let them soak about 5 minutes. Let dry completely.

Now it is time to cure them. Dip a clean rag in melted coconut oil and rub down the spoons generously with it. This keeps them from drying out and cracking. Let spoons set overnight in a warm place to soak up the oil, or use the residual heat of the oven after baking something; place spoons on a baking sheet and leave in the warm oven for a while.

You’ll want to re-oil your spoons once a week when you oil your cutting boards.

a kitchen witch's wooden spoons

Mint Water

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This year I had a few folks come to my to my house for an Imbolc ritual. I invited everyone on the message group for my protogrove, plus just about every Pagan I know. Funny how no matter how many people I invite, the amount of people that shows up is always the perfect number for filling up all the chairs around my dining room table! So we had a cozy little group and our ritual was very similar to last year’s ritual, except this year I added a segment for people to share poetry or song. A twelve year old guest recited a delightful poem about Imbolc. We shared in song and meditation and stepped through Brighid’s Girdle.

For our “Waters of Life”, I prepared a half gallon jug of mint water. So cool and refreshing! The visual of fresh green sprigs in a chilled jug of water certainly fit the name “waters of life”. I will probably be using this simple and refreshing drink for many more ADF-style rituals to come. To make mint water, simply clean a bundle of mint springs. Lightly bruise them and pop into your jug (I filled mine about half way, but probably would have used more if I had more). Fill with water and put in the fridge to chill.

Mint Water

Mamma’s Homemaking Tips

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To all you mammas and papas out there about to begin a life of magical homemaking, I offer you some tips and advice from years of being a homebody.

setting up house
Try to get a new broom when moving house. It symbolizes a fresh start, leaving all your “dirt” from your previous residence in the past. (If you must bring your old broom with you, bring it through a window instead of the front door.)
Carry in bread and salt with you upon first entering your new home. Sprinkle some of the salt at the doorstep to ward of evil spirits. Make sure you never run completely out of salt in your home. Salt preserves, purifies and protects. Before you move your stuff in, sprinkle some salt on the floor, then sweep (or vacuum) up.
You may want to sage your new home or sain with juniper and water. You can do a full house purification and blessing either before or after you‘re completely moved in, and household altar set up.

cleaning
No one wants to spend all their time cleaning, but it is unhealthful (physically and spiritually) to live in a dirty cluttered home. There is a middle way of keeping everything reasonably clean while still having time for other activities. Consider scheduling your time to get a little housework done every day, instead of devoting a whole day to cleaning. Spend the rest of your time having fun with your kids.

Homemaking Schedule
Keep your cleaners natural and simple. (See my previous article, Natural House Cleaners.) Vinegar is used in a lot of my household cleaner formulas. I’ve found that soaking citrus peels in the vinegar I’m going to use for cleaning formulas makes it have a more pleasant smell and gives it a bit of a boost of cleaning power. You could experiment with various herbal vinegars and essential oils in your household cleaners for magical goals (test first to make sure they don’t stain surfaces).
Leave no clutter in your wake, and encourage other family members to do the same. (For example, if you sit down to have a snack or read a book, when you get back up, look around… put away any clutter in your immediate surroundings; the book and the apple core, of course, but also anything else that’s out of place.) It’s easier to clean as you go than to clean a huge mess. Have a place for everything and keep everything in it’s place. (Read “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker” by Deniece Schofield.)
Along the same lines, I’ve found that the best time to do light bathroom cleaning is immediately after taking a shower; the bathroom surfaces and mirror are already damp, just wipe with a clean rag (spray with a cleaner beforehand, if you feel it needs it). I keep a soap-dispensing scrub brush in the shower for touch-ups, filled with a mixture of ½ dish soap and ½ baking soda.

cooking
If you love to cook, like I do, keep a binder of your favorite recipes; ones you’ve clipped from magazines, tried from pinterest, and especially ones you’ve devised yourself. (You may eventually pass down copies of this book to your children.)  My binder has become a family cookbook that not only contains favorite family recipes, but also the traditions surrounding the food and holidays.
I used to plan meals far ahead (like a month in advance), but we’d frequently have more leftovers than we could use up, and often, it would come time to cook a certain meal and it no longer sounded appealing to me. So then I started using a variety supper plan, interspersed with ‘leftover’ nights. This has worked out much better. When I go to make supper, I already have the protein food in mind, and I can also transform remaining leftovers for the next meal. (For example, if I have a lot of leftover mashed potatoes that weren’t used up on leftover night, I can use them to top a shepherd’s pie, or use in refrigerator potato dough, southern potato salad, etc.)
After you have a pretty good repertoire of meals, make a list of all the ingredients used in the recipes. Use this as your pantry list to check against when making a grocery list.
For more kitchen witch how-to, see my article “kitchen witchery basics” and “stovetop hearth rites“.

Lucky Marzipan Pigs

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The 12th night of Yule is Oath Night, and is sacred to all our gods and goddesses. Our craft of the day is lucky marzipan pigs.

In modern times, Ásatrúar make their oaths on a sacred hammer or oath ring, but once upon a time, Yule oaths were made on a hog’s head. Pigs were sacred to many deities and so it was a sacred food of many northern cultures. Maybe that is why, in places like Germany, Norway and Denmark, marzipan pigs are given in the Yule season for good luck and fortune in the year to come.

To make the marzipan, you will need:
1 1/2 to 2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar (plus more for kneading)
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
a few drops of red or pink food coloring

making marzipanBegin by blending almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor. I used 1 1/2 cups of each, and mine turned out very moist, so you may want to try closer to 2 cups instead. Next, add egg white, extract and food coloring while food processor is running. Process a bit longer. Take out and knead on a surface spread with powdered sugar. After the marzipan is kneaded well, you can begin shaping.

marzipan pig assembly
Make little fat sausage shapes for the body, indented in the middle to differentiate head from body. Shape little triangles for ears. Push into the pig’s head and indent inside of ear at the same time with a skewer or toothpick. If your marzipan isn’t moist enough to stick, dab on a little water. Make a flattened circle and indent nostrils with the toothpick. Poke holes for eyes. Feet are just rolled lumps of the marzipan. Roll out a little curly-cue tail. Our batch made nine little pigs.

Good Luck Marzipan Pigs