Category Archives: #kitchen-witchery

Witching Up a Recipe

Nothing says summer picnic to me like sweet and tangy pickled beets. You can buy your fried or broasted chicken at any number of fast food places. Purchase a pint of potato salad at the deli counter, and pick up a watermelon from the produce stand. But pickled beets—really good pickled beets, are a work of kitchen magic.

My mother was an excellent cook, the kind who used a pinch of this and a dash of that, a few cups here, a handful there—stir and taste until it’s just right. When she cooked from scratch the results were five star.

She was also a busy woman and her forte was “doctoring” things up. That meant sometimes starting with store bought sauce, packaged macaroni and cheese, or other convenience packaged, canned, or frozen mainstay. Then she added her own magic touch. I do the same, but I prefer to call it witching things up.

Back to the beets. My mother made, hands down, the best pickled beets I’ve ever tasted. Judging from the request she received for the recipe, they are the best pickled beets just about anybody has ever tasted. And it takes less than 10 minutes to make them.

Refigerator Pickled Beets

  • 2 Cans Sliced Beets (with liquid)
  • I Medium to Large Onion
  • 1.25 Cups White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Vinegar
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Quart Jar (with cover)

Pour juice from both cans of beets into saucepan, about 1.5 cups. Add generous 1 cup, (up to 1.5 cups) vinegar. I use half apple cider and half white vinegar; I like my pickled beets a bit tangier than they are sweet. Add sugar sliced onion and cloves. Bring to boil. Fill jar to 1/4 with canned sliced beets, then pour brine with onions to cover. Repeat this process until jar is filled, alternating beets and liquid with onions. Cover jar, let cool then put in refrigerator. Wait at least 24 hours before serving. If you can, wait a little longer to give the flavors a chance to develop and blend—it’s worth it. These will keep several weeks in refrigerator—but once you open the jar you’ll eat them all before that.

I alternate adding beets and liquid into the jar simply to distribute the onions throughout. You can add more vinegar or sugar to your personal taste, and yes, taste the brine while cooking until you get it just right . . . I wouldn’t know any other way to cook.

You can make this recipe with fresh beets, and I’m not going to argue that it will enhance the already delicious ambrosia. Simply clean, peel and precook the beets, and use the beet water. But honestly, if you buy a good quality of canned beets this recipe is hard to beet (lol) for it’s flavor and ease of preparation.

It’s up to you whether you share the bounty—or share the secret ingredient . . . “You’ll never believe I made it with canned beets!”

When I’m asked what the secret is, I just say, “It’s magic.”


Simple Witchery — Part 1

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What is simple witchery? Perhaps an explanation of witchery, or practicing witchcraft, is first called for.

Truly, there are so many schools and styles of witchcraft, and so many more personal takes on each, that trying to even touch on all would be a herculean task and not at all in the spirit of keeping it simple. You have Google for that.

Know this, the first rule of witchcraft is to seek knowledge, always.

It may be easier to explain some of the things witchcraft is not.

Witchcraft is not devil worship. In witchcraft there is no devil of the widespread Christian understanding. Witchcraft holds that all that is good and all that is evil coexists within each of us, much as in the Cherokee story of the two wolves. Witches acknowledge and work with their shadow side to recognize, understand, and in most cases, temper its influence, or at least reserve it for specific use.

Spells are not conjuring or working with the devil. See above, there is no devil. Spells are focused intention, usually a petition or expression of gratitude. In that way they are not unlike a prayer. However, unlike prayer they are not always directed to a deity or spiritual entity. This makes them also like a mantra or positive affirmation. To whatever extent science confirms the success of positive thinking, self fulfilling prophecy, and fake it ’til you make it, it also supports the success of spell casting.

Spells are also science. Whatever science has proven about quantum physics, it proves the same about sympathetic (or correspondence) magic.

Ethical witches do not attempt to manipulate the free will of others. This is probably the number one rule among true witches and translates to the shorthand, “You do you.” It applies to how you practice your craft, and all the personal choices you make both in magical and every day life. A coven or other gathering of witches may have guidelines and rules, but those are upon your voluntary membership—if you are accepted and join (initiate) you agree to this and that.

This is why most witches worth their salt will not cast a love spell to inspire or change the feelings of a specific person. A love spell is worked either on yourself to prepare you for the right relationship when it comes along, or to appeal to the powers that be (energies) that the right love be sent your way.

Witches do not always belong to a coven. Many witches practice their craft as solitaries. Take appropriate cautions if you join a coven, as you would joining any group of people you don’t otherwise know, remembering that a coven is considered a family bound by oath—you will likely share vulnerability and deeply personal aspects of your life.

If a witch ever, in any situation, asks you to participate in something that goes against your values and ethics, get thee away from said witch(es) post haste and never, ever return.

So, while were on the subject of covens and groups . . .

Sky clad (naked) ritual is not necessary. It is practiced by solitary witches and covens, but you don’t fail at being a witch if you don’t dance naked under the moon, or in the hot tub or whatever else may be the setting for stripping down. The reason for sky clad ritual is to show to the deity God/Goddess that you come in perfect love and trust with nothing to hide. It also demonstrates the same to your coven.

Again, if you join a group or a coven that does make sky clad ritual a required part of their group practice, it should be stated up front and understood. You can and should decline joining if it makes you uncomfortable. You should also leave any coven in which you feel there is an abusive element to naked ritual. I do not practice sky clad; for one thing, it’s too dang cold six months of the year in my realm to even consider it.  I doubt that I would ever join a coven that requires it—but never say never!

There is no rule against personal gain. Other than those which apply to dishonor and greed in every day life. So go ahead and cast that spell for a raise, or promotion, or the winning lottery numbers. It never hurts to try.

There is no threefold rule. Other than the every day concept that you get what you give, you reap what you sow, the golden rule, etc. The idea that whatever you send will come back to you times 3 is part of the folklore, crafted by some of the early, modern day witches. However, do not take this lightly, every witch has a story to tell of the spell that manifested with consequences not anticipate, even though they thought they had considered every possible outcome.

There isn’t even a rule of do no harm. That too, was written in by the modern day practitioners. Ethical witches are also just ethical people; we practice under the same real world laws of nature, physics, human emotion, and civil laws as everybody else. The important thing to remember here is our belief that all life is connected and what we do to any one, we do to all, including ourselves. For deity witches, there is also the belief that every living thing harbors the Divine within, and so to harm any is to harm the Divine. “As above so below, as within, so without, as the universe so the soul.” ― Hermes Trismegistus

Before we leave this concept, all witches believe in complete acceptance of the consequence of our actions. We do not deflect, we do not whine, we do not say, “Woe is me.” To know this down to our bones, greatly governs our actions.

Witchcraft in and of itself is not a religion. Wicca is a recognized religion, but not all witches are Wiccans. In fact not all witches practice the craft as a religious/spiritual practice. Some practice strictly as magic, magic being the understanding of the laws of nature and the physical world, and using that understanding to create (manifest) their intention, to the extent that many modern day witches study quantum science and string theory. Some witches are simply on a path of personal betterment without high magic.

Many self identify as folk, garden, hedge, herbal, kitchen, or green witches (not referring to skin color, but working with nature elements). Others identify by the deity they primarily worship, such as Hekataen witches, Dianic witches, etc. There are traditions pertaining to pantheons, such as Celtic, Norse, Italian, Slavic, etc. This is a comprehensive list.

Witchcraft is not all about the magick, but the magick is fun. First, magick with a  K differentiates the craft of the witch from the art of illusion practiced by magicians.
Magick is real. Think of it this way. Fire was magick to the ancients – sent by the gods in lighting bolts. It remained magick until they discovered the science behind fire, until some astute being observed that friction could also create fire and that s/he could create friction. And so it went until we were cooking with gas, not to mention short wave radiation! Magick happens all around us, understanding how it happens allows us to discover ways of harnessing it.

And while we’re on cooking . . .

Cooking is magic by definition. Taking any number of ingredients, applying either heat, cooling or some physical action, to arrive at an end result that is more than just the sum of its parts, is alchemical magic. Take the simple act of whipping egg whites into meringue, or churning milk into butter. Or combing milk, butter and sugar to make caramel. In a time before these things were common skill, they were first magick. Once upon a time, only nature could make a diamond, but not any longer.

Your near ancestors were witches. Women mostly, but men also, were kitchen, hedge and hearth witches, they were water diviners, weather predictors, and tillers of soil. Whether they called themselves such or not, their ways were the ways of the witch, they worked with the seasons, natural elements and physics. They practiced folk remedies and cures with plants and herbs. They tossed salt over their shoulders, hung symbols in their homes, planted their gardens and harvested their crops by the moons. Some of their traditions were part of a religious faith, but not all of them were. They lived with an understanding and working knowledge of the physical world around them.

Witch, as we know it, is a word and concept that was created by the early patriarchal religions of the world to wrest the power of a relationship to the natural world, divinity and faith, and cultural belief, from the hands of the masses. Power was shifted to the governing body of the church. Pagans were simply the unlearned, unbaptized country folk in the beginning—the simple folk. Most often, when they were persecuted, tortured and murdered, it was for ulterior agendas (such as property and land grabs) or out of ignorant fear.

As I said in an earlier post, my practice of witchcraft is a reflection of my reverence for the Divine signature in all living things, especially humanity. It is an ongoing effort to rise above ego and seek the greater good. My practice is rooted in the simple faith that there is something bigger than myself, bigger than humanity, bigger than this life as we know it. It doesn’t matter what I call it or how I aspire to connect with it, because when I do, when any witch does, we are woke to the knowledge that God and Love are one and the same.

Blessed be and journey well.

Click here to read Simple Witchery — Part 2


Family Recipes & Simple Magic

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Scrolling my social media today, I saw a photo of absolutely delicious looking meatballs in a saucy gravy. Someone had already asked for the recipe share.

“Sorry, It’s a secret recipe.”

When it comes to simple witchery at my house, most of it is in the kitchen. Literally, cooking is alchemy—a seemingly magical process of  combination, transformation and creation.

If you want an example, try combining milk, butter and sugar over heat. Depending on the temperature reached and briefly maintained, you’ll be rewarded with smooth caramel sauce, soft chewy caramels, melt in your mouth toffee, or (if you let it get too hot for too long), a hard-as a-rock, burnt mess and a pan you may as well recycle into a planter.

But there is something else that goes into the preparation of food, the final element of magic if you will, and that is the intention and energy of the cook. As with all magic, the more thought and mindfulness you give it, the better the results.

If you’ve made chicken soup for a soup-562163_640sick friend or family member, you are practicing kitchen magic. And why? Because even if all you do is open a can, add water and heat it up, you approach it with the intent to make somebody feel better. If you have a secret recipe,  add things like garlic, extra pepper and a dash of lemon juice—oh baby, there is no denying you are a kitchen witch!

That magic in cooking is especially present in traditional recipes handed down through generations, secret or not.

My grandmother’s peanut butter cookie recipe turns out delicious cookies every time, tender like shortbread (as opposed to soft and chewy), just the way I like them. Recently I wanted to make a batch and didn’t have all the ingredients I needed. I decided to practice a little kitchen magic of my own.

I was short on flour, but I had some finely ground almonds I’d processed for a paleo pancake I tried out. I added the almond meal to my flour to get me up to snuff. I was also short on butter, so I added some coconut oil. The batter seemed a bit loose, so I pulverized a cup of potato chips in the food processor and tossed that into the mix.

The potato chip magic is one I learned from my best friend’s mother as a young girl. They add a bit of bulk, a hint of salt, extra fat, and starch. Yeah, I know—but cookies aren’t exactly health food to begin with.

Talk about magical, those cookies disappeared!

Honestly, I have to say the little bit of tweaking, the personal energy I put into those cookies, elevated them beyond good to exceptional. I can’t give you the recipe because I didn’t accurately measure anything. If you have a peanut butter cookie recipe you like, and you consider yourself a kitchen witch, you’ll figure it out.

Chicken soup, pot roast, spaghetti sauce, bundt cake, and even Jello salad with tiny marshmallows; the meals you bring to your table, that once graced the tables of your ancestors, are magical. The act of preparing and partaking of them unite you through time and place.

Near the end of October and early November we have special days to honor our deceased loved ones—Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, All Souls Day and Día de los Muertos.  Try cooking up some of your traditional family favorites, and set an extra place at your table in remembrance of the generations that came before you and their love that created you. Honor them, and the nurturing and nourishing that has sustained you thus far.

~ Blessed Be Your Journey

Interested in learning more about Simple Witchery?

 


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