Tag Archives: Food

going veg

Standard

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

Standard

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.

The 11th Night of Yule

Standard

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

refrigerator dough

Standard

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

Standard

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

Our Loaf-Fest

Standard

We celebrated Loaffest a little bit early at our house. We had a week-long trip coming up and I wanted to celebrate before we left. I figured I’d have time in a day or so for a quick solitary ADF ritual (for my DP), but I wanted to first try out my “no-ritual” plan to celebrate with my family. It turned out to be a really memorable High Day, in my book. The day before our celebration, I set up a seasonal altar shelf in the dining area and pulled the dining table out to the center of the room. That night, I asked my youngest daughter to read “Sif’s Golden Hair” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. With much laughter and funny voices for some of the characters, she did so, with her little brother listening to most of it.

lammas altar

The next day we set out to pick wildflowers for the altar and take nature pictures. Later, we commenced to concocting our Loaffest feast: a savory pie, salad, honeydew melon balls & blueberries, bread rolls in all different shapes (harvest knots, various spirals and swirls) and toppings (poppy seed, sesame seed, cinnamon & sugar). We had blueberry crisp a la mode for dessert, and blackberry lemonade to wash it all down.

blackberry lemonade

When the food was all laid out on the table, I lit the altar candle and acknowledged the Three Hallows with offerings. We hailed the Kindreds Three, and the patrons of the occasion: Thor and Sif. We placed offerings in an oblong red dish at the end of the dining table closest to the altar. Que the music (via my playlist), and we began our feast! The mood of the day was just right; good food, relaxed atmosphere. We sang along with the music, named our favorites on the playlist, and sat and gazed in awe at our Loaf Fest shrine. The temperature was mild that day so we had all the windows open and the insects were already starting to sing before our meal was through. The boys went outside to play water guns. My daughter and I wrote our prayers and wishes and blessings on little strips of paper and burned them in an old copper pot. She and I ended our “rite” by singing our ending song and blowing out the candle.

loaffestcollage

Often times, I put way too much emphasis on having a formal (and often public) ritual for any given High Day. I get so preoccupied with it that I forget to play up other customs of the day. Many times I have gotten so worried about speaking at a public ritual, or anxious that things won’t turn out right when I’m in the role of leader, that I would end up not enjoying the holiday at all. I needed to have a “no-ritual” High Day for a change- to just enjoy the turn of the Wheel, and to remind myself and my family that the High Days really are fun and are meant to be enjoyed. Our celebration wasn’t exactly a blót, though it was Norse themed. It had a couple of ADF Druid tidbits, but it wasn’t “core order of ritual” by a long shot. What it was, was just right for celebrating with my family, and it will be a High Day I will remember for a long, long time.

Pepper Cookies

Standard

Not long ago, my 5 year old (autistic and verbally-challenged) son was saying that he wanted pepper cookies. At first we thought he was saying peanut butter cookies, but he corrected us and pointed to the pepper shaker. Before spending too long of a time telling him that there was no such thing, I decided to look it up. What do you know, there is such a thing- several kinds, in fact. I found a recipe that called for ingredients we had on hand (and that he would eat) and proceeded to cook up a batch of them. I let him stir a little bit– up until he started eating large amounts of the butter. Then when everything was mixed together, and I was dropping mounds of dough onto the cookie sheet, he grabbed a mound of dough and dipped it in pepper (just like you would with cinnamon&sugar for snickerdoodles)! I let him put that one on one of the cookie trays as I was popping them in the oven. He raised quite a fuss about wanting to dip all of them in the pepper, but soon settled down. After the cookies were baked, he actually ate half of that pepper-dipped one. I wish I had had my camera out to capture the expression on his face! Anyway, here is what was left of it. He took several small bites.

pepperedpeppercookie
And here’s what the non-pepper-dipped pepper cookies look like. They were quite good. I could barely taste the pepper though. Maybe I’ll but in a bit more next time.

peppercookies

And here’s the recipe…

Pepper Cookies
½ c. butter                 ¼ tsp. salt
½ c. sugar                  ¼ tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. vanilla            ¼ tsp. cinnamon
¾ c. flour                    ¼ tsp. pepper
¼ c. cornstarch        ¼ c. milk
1 tsp. baking powder
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl combine the dry ingredients. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture, alternatively with the milk. Mix well and drop by tablespoons onto un-greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350ºF for about 10 minutes or until golden around the edges.

Have fun trying new things, especially when your child comes up with them, and happy baking!

*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

Meatless Meals, Southern Style

Standard

For the last decade or so, “Meatless Mondays” have been gaining in popularity. I’m more likely to go meatless on Wednesday, when the leftovers from earlier in the week are dwindling.
I have actually converted ground beef recipes into very good meatless meals… Recipes that call for both meat and beans can be made with just the beans. Some (but not all) recipes featuring ground beef are good with cooked lentils substituted for the beef. I have made Picadillo with lentils instead of beef with good results. Also, I converted a recipe I had for Curried Beef to Curried Lentils. (I use about 2 cups of cooked lentils in place of 1 pound of ground beef.) Recipes that call for beef broth or chicken broth can be made with vegetable broth instead. Most Mexican style dishes are good with beans in place of the meat. (I have made Mexican Chef Salad without the meat a few times- its just as good with the dark red Kidney beans as the only protein.)

Meatless Meals from Side-Dishes
Old Southern restaurants once had a feature on their menus called “Veggie Delight”; you were to create your own meal combination by choosing three side dishes to have together. The ideal (most nutritious) formula for this would be to include a protein, a starch, and something green or colorful. Cheese and eggs are good sources of protein. Beans, nuts, and legumes are also good sources of protein but should be paired with a grain or dairy food for maximum benefit. Below are some suggestions for meatless meals that consist of mostly side-dishes.

Baked Potatoes with Broccoli & Cheese
Simple Seasoned Beans, any kind of bread, green salad
Pasta Shells in Tomato sauce – with dark red kidney beans added in
Spinach Potatoes (fried potatoes with spinach and Swiss cheese)
Cornbread Salad
Cranberry-Wild Rice Bake (with pecans added in), Spinach Salad
Scalloped Potatoes, Green Beans with Browned Butter & Pecans
Bean cakes & Green Rice
Cheddar-Macaroni Salad, Corn on the Cob
Mushroom Rice (with white beans or almonds added in), Parmesan Zucchini Sticks
Oven Fries topped with Mushroom Gravy, coleslaw
Macaroni & Cheese, Fried Okra

UU Chalice Cookies

Standard

This fall I started going back to my old Unitarian Universalist fellowship; the community I first joined in 1995. I went to their Samhain service and have gone back every week since. I felt nostalgic and happy seeing old friends and singing familiar favorite UU hymns. I guess you could say I’ve been having a UU renaissance. Although my personal religion is very culture-specific (Heathenry combined with ADF Druidism), I love the idea of having a more universal outer religion to link with a larger community. It helps that the UUFF is now more awesome than ever! They don’t have a minister right now, but are lay led by a small group of dynamic, creative members. I helped with a Winter Solstice ritual there that turned out to be one of the best I’ve experienced on those grounds. They’re adopted a year-end Burning Bowl ceremony that was a favorite of mine from a different denomination, made dramatic by the special effect of flash paper! I look forward to many more happy/magical/comforting/fulfilling times within those walls and upon those grounds.

chalicecookieschalicecookies2

This past Sunday, I brought chalice cookies for coffee hour. This is how I made them:
For the cookie cutters, I used a large biscuit cutter, a small flame cookie cutter (from a craft store), and I couldn’t find a chalice cookie cutter, so I made one using instructions like the ones on The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle.
I made two batches of butter cookies; one of them plain, and to the other one, I substituted 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder for the same amount of flour. So I rolled out each of the doughs between wax paper, cut out biscuit shapes, then out of these, chalice shapes, and interchanged the dark and light chalice shapes directly on the buttered cookie sheets and lightly pressed seams closed. I cut out the flames and filled the cavities with crushed cherry flavored jolly ranchers candies. Then I baked them at 375°F for 8 minutes and left them on the pan to cool. They weren’t very hard to make, just a little time consuming!

time to make the sugarplums!

Standard

 “… the children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads…” When I was a kid, I used to wonder what that meant. What are sugarplums? I imagined they must be great if the kids in “Twas the Night Before Christmas” went to bed dreaming of them instead of dreaming of presents. At some point I decided the poem must have been referring to plums the fruit, and that any kind of fruit in the winter was a treat in those days. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally found out that what was meant (in those days) as plum, was not the fruit, but any kind of dried fruit confection. Sugar plums were usually made from a combination of dried fruits such as prunes, figs, apricots, dates, and cherries. They were chopped fine and mixed with chopped almonds, honey and spices, rolled into balls, then often coated in sugar or coconut.
So last year, I tried making some to use as stocking stuffers. They were a big hit! So now they have found their way into my calendar of food traditions. I make them well in advance, so that their flavors can meld a good long time. I mark the container “do not open till Yule” and put it way in the back of the fridge. When it’s time to fill the stockings, I divide them up into several sandwich bags and tie closed with a ribbon. I’m glad I picked up this tradition because my kids will know what the famous poem meant,and it is a link to traditions of the past. Who knows, maybe my kids, and theirs after them, will have “visions of sugarplums” as the holidays approach.

*Edit: You can veganize these 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

Sugar Plums

2 c. whole almonds
1⁄4 c. honey
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. finely chopped dried apricots (or other dried fruit)
1 c. finely chopped pitted dates
1 c. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then finely chop.
2. Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Add almonds, apricots, and dates and mix well.
3. Pinch off rounded teaspoon-size pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. (Rinse your hands often, as mixture is very sticky.) Roll balls in sugar, then refrigerate in single layers between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers for up to 1 month. Their flavor improves after ingredients have melded a while.