Winter Solstice with a Kitchen Witch: Spiced Pears Poached in Red Wine

As the hearth heats up for the coming Winter Solstice, kitchen witches everywhere get ready to boil their cauldrons for ritual, gatherings and family meals.

Rich, decadent, sophisticated & colorful, this magickal recipe blends classic Yule spell ingredients, including fresh orange zest, red wine, perfect pears and star anise.

winter solstice with a kitchen witch

Oh, I’m really excited to share this one with you!  I made this for the first time a few days ago, and frankly, it turned out way better than I expected it to.

If you want to serve something magical, delicious and super chic this Yule, this dish adorns the table with a touch of class.

As with all my kitchen witch recipes, I like to share with you the magical properties of each key ingredient, and suggest a few ways to infuse your efforts in the kitchen with the magic and whimsy of cauldron spellcraft.

But feel free to scroll to the end if you just want the recipe.  🙂

We begin with the humble-yet-mighty winter pear.

pear

While you may not regard the pear with any particular passion, this fabled fruit shares a sacredness with the Greek goddesses Aphrodite & Hera, as well as Pomona, the Italian goddess of gardens & harvest.   (Source: Deaf Pagan Crossroads.)

In addition, because the pear tree enjoys a lengthy lifespan, the ancient Chinese regarded the pear as a manifestation of immortality.  (Source:  Myth Encyclopaedia.)

Its association with marital satisfaction, long life, pleasure, family & romance enchant the pear with characteristics that make it an especially appropriate addition to a holiday meal shared with family and friends.

In this recipe, we combine this with the attributes of a few customary yule spices.

orange peel and star anise

We include the orange rind in this spell to warm the hearts of those gathered around the table, as well as to inspire fond memories and lively conversation.  (I encourage you to explore the many ways to use oranges in witchcraft.)

Adding star anise to our brew, we clear the air of any lingering family grudges, inspire forgiveness, and symbolize the unbroken hope of the North Star during the winter months.

Finally, we choose a decadent, beautiful wine for our sauce base.  I recommend never cooking with wine you wouldn’t drink!

In this case, I chose this bottle of Cashmere Black Magic (available here) for its warm, spicy notes of plum and black pepper.

Also, it has the words Black Magic in the name😉

For more information on the role of wine in ritual, check out this link.

Okay, okay!  Now on to the recipe.

You Will Need:
*2 cups red wine
*1/4 cup sugar
*3 pieces star anise
*2 whole cinnamon sticks
*2-3 generous strips of orange peel|
*1/2 cup orange juice
*4 (just barely) ripe pears

1.  In a saucepan large enough to accommodate all your pears, combine the first 6 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4-6 minutes.

2.  While your other ingredients are on the stove, peel the pears, leaving the stems intact.  Slice the bottom off each pear to create a flat bottom.

3.  Place the pears in your brew on the stove, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Be sure to turn the pears occasionally throughout to ensure even color and coating.

4.  Remove from heat and set to cool uncovered.

5.  Once cool, place the entire saucepan in the refrigerator for several hours, turning occasional to avoid blotchy color.  For softer pears or pears that were less ripe, allow them to marinate for up to 24 hours.

6.  Gently remove pears and place the remaining liquid back on the stove.  Bring to boil and reduce liquid until it thickens to the consistency of a light syrup.

7.  Drizzle syrup on plate.  If you want to get fancy, put some in a pointy tip squeeze bottle and draw magical symbols on the plates.

8.  Plate pears, drizzle remaining sauce, and serve.  Delicious!

magical poached pears

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Harvest Moon Esbat Cakes

My new favorite kitchen tool:  the mini muffin tin.  I rarely want or need a full size cake or even a cupcake for Cakes & Ale.  Enter the mini muffin tin.  A perfect size for making ritual cakes, I constantly find new and creative ways to honor the seasons of the moon using this simple device.  This month?

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I usually provide a link to the recipe and focus on the ritual meaning of ingredients in my kitchen witch posts.  But one came about of my own experimentation and tinkering, so I’ll dish (I know, I’m full of cheesy kitchen jokes this time of year).

The Harvest Moon and the fall season in general signify a time to acknowledge our deceased loved ones’ memories (especially those who have passed on during the last year), give thanks for the abundance of the harvest and enjoy the company of those we hold most dear.

The baking process fills your space with the scent and spirit of the autumn season.

Sharing harvest moon cakes with a coven, friends or family solidifies bonds and honors our relationships with our communities.

Make your ritual cakes for the Cakes & Ale portion of your moon ritual to lend power to your spell work.  The focus and concentration of choosing ingredients especially for the occasion raises the vibrations in your home.

This recipe makes 24 mini cakes, but you can half it pretty easily.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter (softened)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extrac
t
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 cup milk

Any combination of the following (I just eyeballed it):

*A whole bunch of ground ginger
*A whole bunch of ground cinnamon
*A whole bunch of ground allspice
*A little less ground nutmeg

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter (softened)
8 oz.  cream cheese (softened)
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
splash of vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder and ground spices.

3.  Blend butter and sugar.

4.  Combine dry ingredients and add eggs and vanilla extract.

5.  Grease your muffin tin(s) well or use cupcake liners.

6.  Spoon mixture into tins and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7.  While the cakes are baking, combine cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract to make frosting.

8.  Allow cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing them.

9.  Optional:  garnish with soft-bake ginger snap cookies.

Enjoy at your harvest moon ritual or leave some on the altar as an offering.  They freeze well, so you can bake a big batch and use them throughout the fall during the Esbat.

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All the spices included in these cakes are traditional to the harvest season in the Wiccan religion, as well as many neopagan traditions in general.  Cinnamon in particular has many spiritual properties.

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If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy this post about yule cookies, in which I go into more detail about the meaning of the harvest season ingredients.

Feel free to leave your own harvest moon recipes in the comments or share your experience with this one!

Blessed full moon!

Mabon with a Kitchen Witch: 10 Traditional Foods for the Fall Equinox

Planning to celebrate Mabon with a traditional meal?  Try including some of these traditional, homemade, from scratch foods to bring the spirit of the season to your table.

For many more ideas on how to celebrate Mabon, check out this link.

mabon with a kitchen witch

Apple crumble.  If one symbol dominates the holiday of Mabon in North America, the apple wins!   Nothing ushers the essence of fall into your home like the sweet, warm awesomeness of a well-baked apple crisp Feature it in this traditional recipe for apple crumble.  On that note, take a moment to learn more on the significance of apples in witchcraft.

Sweet potato mash.  No need for a recipe, this one makes itself.  Just pop sweet potatoes in the over for 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees.  If you want to step it up, add maple syrup and butter.  Amazing.  Bonus:  you can make this up to two weeks in advance and freeze them for a no-fuss side dish.

sweet potato mash

Pumpkin seeds.  If your grocery started stocking the first of this season’s pumpkins, pick one up to gut and use those seeds.  But take caution: roasted pumpkin seeds disappear quickly!

Chai tea.  While not itself traditional to neopagan traditions, the typical recipe for spice chai tea usually includes many of the traditional fall equinox ingredients used in Mabon spell craft, like cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

cahi tea

Ground turkey balls.  While roasting a whole bird might not be practical for the average solitary practitioner, ground turkey balls freeze well and be made ahead to heat up on Mabon, which is especially helpful if Mabon happens to fall on a weeknight.

Brandied cranberries.  If you like to get fancy, brandied cranberries make for an elegant twist on the more typical cranberry sauce.

Green beans.  If you already canned some, consider Mabon the time to break your first seal.  Or, if you live in a region where green beans still arrive fresh at the market, fry them in garlic, butter and sprinkle some red pepper flakes on them to “heat up” a lively dinner conversation.

green beans

Spice cookies.  Remember these?  Nothing conjures the thrill and excitement of the imminent fall season like a fresh batch of gooey spice cookies.  They make a lovely addition to a group ritual as an alternative to the cake in the “cakes and ale” portion of the ceremony.

Corn on the cob.  If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of wandering through a corn field to gather your own fresh corn on the cob right off the stalk, go!  Before it’s too late!  And if you’ve already got Samhain on your mind, make it spooky by watching Children of the Corn before you do it!

corn on the cob

Spiced pears.  One lesser used but uniquely wonderful dish for Mabon takes the form of the spiced pear.  Make it as a (slightly) healthier alternative to heavier desserts.

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Lammas with a Kitchen Witch: Blackberry Bruschetta

Not a fan of baking the lammas bread from scratch?  There are still lots of creative ways to honor the holiday in your kitchen.

Lammas traditionally celebrates the grain harvest.   Any bread-based meal captures this spirit nicely.

This year, my favorite idea is blackberry bruschetta.

lammas with a kitchen witch

It’s pretty simple.

Start with a nice, crusty loaf of french bread.

I like to get my french bread from a local bakery or the farmer’s market.

french bread

While you’re at the farmer’s market, pick up some big, juicy blackberries (or, even better, find a “pick your own” farm and gather them yourself!)

Because it ripens on the vine pretty close to Lammas in many growing regions in North America, blackberries associate with the holiday quite naturally.

More generally, use them in kitchen spells for prosperity and abundance—-the many tiny seeds on berries symbolize future growth.

blackberries

I smashed one berry per slice a bread and rubbed it on the surface to go under the cheese, kind of like the same concept as pizza sauce.  I enjoyed getting my hands sticky and making a mess like a little kid lol.

(Be warned:  you will stain everything you touch.  But for this reason, blackberries make a nice natural dye.)

blackberry bruschetta smash

smashed blackberries on bruschetta

You might not imagine blackberries work well in savory dishes, but the acidity blends nicely with Italian cheeses and herbs.  Lucky for me, this time of year, my garden bursts with lush green, fresh herbs, so went out to grab some.

(Even the oppressive humidity in the part of the country comes with an upside—-gorgeous summer herbs!).

green witch 2

In particular, my basil came up nice this year.

basil 2

Basil embodies some interesting symbolism in folklore around the world, but I especially adore Italy’s antiquitous custom of leaving a pot of fresh basil on the windowsill to signify the occupant’s “openness to romance.”

Dried basil often finds its way into traditional Lammas incense blends and makes a nice stand-in for fresh flowers on the altar.  If you buy it at the market, put the left over stalks in the vase to fill the room with its fragrant, sunny aura.

I layered fresh graded cheese and garnished with a half blackberry per slice, popped it in the oven to broil lightly, and then finished it off with the basil leaves.

blackberry bruschetta 1

Yum.

Hope this gives you some inspiration for your own Lammas kitchen witch creations!

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Strawberry Passion Spell

Right about now, the ruby-colored jewel of the spring garden emerges:  strawberries!

Yesterday, I tip-toed barefoot into the garden to find the vines heavy with gorgeous, juicy red fruit.

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When I see them popping out, I automatically think, “Beltane is coming!”

I often think of Beltane as “our” Valentine’s Day, and an ideal time to cast beauty spells for attraction.

But this year, I decided to go with the closely related lust spell to enhance romantic feelings and encourage . . . recreational fun for lovers.  *wink*

If you plan on celebrating Beltane “the old-fashioned way,” why not try enhancing your passion with a little kitchen magic?

strawberry passion spell for the kitchen witch

For this spell, you will need:

*strawberries
*1 part cocoa powder
*1 part honey
*1 part water
*splash of vanilla extract
*pinch of cinnamon

Also:
*a small saucepan
*a whisk

In folk magic, the strawberry symbolizes passion, romance and fertility, making it the ideal ingredient for a love spell in the kitchen.

Grow your own strawberries for the best quality spell ingredient, but at least get your strawberries from a local farmer.  Or, as a last resort, find organically grown strawberries in the supermarket.

Cocoa powder finds a place in traditional medicine almost anywhere it grows.  Particularly, some indigenous healers use it as an aphrodisiac.

Its metaphysical properties share this energy.  🙂

cocao powder

Honey “sweetens” temperaments and softens hearts.

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Okay!  Let’s whip up a little passion potion to pair those little beauties with.

Combine cocoa powder, water and honey in a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes and stirring in a clockwise motion.

In kitchen magic, the spoon or whisk equates with the wand.  Take this opportunity to raise power and infuse your ingredients with the energy of your intentions.  Try a simple, cutesy chant or “draw” symbols in the chocolate with a spoon and watch them disappear.

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That’s a lot of powerful love ingredients in one little potion, but let’s add a couple more.

A splash of vanilla extract adds warmth to the heart and dispels any lingering or hidden resentment.

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Finally, add a dash of ground cinnamon to “heat up” passion.

cinnamon

Bring your chocolate and strawberries into the bedroom.  Or wherever.  (A naughty picnic somewhere secluded?  *wink, wink*)

How you eat the magic is up to you.

strawberry dipped in chocolate

mabon incense 3

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Faerie Cakes with Candied Violets

Spending Beltane in the kitchen this year?  Make it magical with these charming little faerie cakes.

beltane candied violet faerie cakes

Whimsical yet elegant, candied violets make a striking addition to love spells, wishing magic and faerie rituals.

Use candied violets in faerie cakes for a spring ritual, a “dressed up” cakes and ale or to serve at any spring gathering — especially Beltane!

beltane faerie cake

The best part is, they’re practically free!  If you’re in the Eastern US and you haven’t put down pesticide this year on your lawn, there’s a good chance your yard or a nearby one has wild violets in abundance.

violets

Go spend some time outdoors, bring a basket and gather those little beauties up for a Beltane with a splash of purple.

wild violet

Gather a clean, washed, dry paintbrush with a fine tip, an egg white, and some sugar.

eggs, paintbrush, sugar

Start by gently washing the violet blooms.  A spray bottle and a strainer work well for this, but be careful!  Even for flowers, wild violets are delicate!

washing violets

Allow them to dry on a paper towel.

wild violets

Dip the paintbrush in egg whites, and paint each blossom.

candied violets

Then sprinkle sugar on the violets.  Most recipes call for powdered sugar, but I use granulated because it reminds me of late frost.

sugar on violets

Finally, bake some cupcakes!

Any vanilla cupcake recipe will do, but make it from scratch.  The more you put into your ritual food, the more “fragrant” the magic of it.  Be connected to the process.

Bonus points for making the vanilla extract yourself.  Vanilla inspires passion in kitchen spells.   Here, we use it to wink and nod at Beltane’s celebration of “spring romance.”

Pipe on some cream cheese frosting and arrange violets in tiny “bouquets.”

beltane faerie cakes

beltane faerie cake

Serve and enjoy!

beltane cupcakes

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Ostara with a Kitchen Witch: Cabbage Dyed Ostara Eggs

Every year, I try to do something inspired and kitchen witchy for this most decidedly food-friendly holiday.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the concept of naturally dyed Easter eggs floating around Pinterest the last few years.

I thought this made for a perfect Ostara activity.

I tried tumeric, spinach and cabbage.

Spinach was a dud.  I boiled and boiled, but the dye wasn’t strong enough.

Tumeric worked okay, but it stained everything!  I can see why they use this in India to dye cloth!

But the humble cabbage, at 79 cents, proved to be both the cheapest and most effective option.

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The idea is pretty basic.  Start with a base for extraction.  In this case, we have our head of red cabbage.

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Shred it and place it in a pot with a 1 to 1 ratio of water.  I did 4 cups shredded cabbage with 4 cups of water.

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Meanwhile, make your hard boiled eggs.  Some recipes call for boiling the eggs with the dye, but I like my eggs cooked a certain way, so I did them separately.   (Place eggs in pot with cold water, bring to boil, turn off heat, let them sit for 10 minutes in a covered pot, then rinse with cold water—perfect every time!)

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Once your dye is done, allow it to cool and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar per cup of liquid dye.

Then submerge the eggs in the dye for 24-28 hours in the refrigerator.

But before you do that, there are some creative options that I didn’t try.  The internet rumor is that if you write or draw on the eggs with crayon, it won’t dye there.  You can imagine all the possibilities for spell work there!

I wanted to keep my eggs as natural as possible, so I skipped this, but I might try using beeswax in the future for a similar effect.

I really loved the way the dye turned out.  It felt so earthy and wholesome.  I see myself using this for a lot of things, maybe even cloth.

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And there you have it!  Charming, naturally dyed eggs for your Ostara ritual.  Use them on the altar as an offering, or for your Ostara meal as a beautiful table decoration.

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With eggs on sale at my market for 28 cents a dozen, my total cost for this project was a mere $1.08.

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