November 28, 2010 at 17:03 (Ingredients)
Tags: Candle, Candlemaking, Cooking, Cooking tips, Cuisine, Herbs, Magic, Red wine, White wine, Wine, Witchcraft
Anise stars burning in a saucer.
This very decorative spice is obtained by drying the star-shaped fruits of a small evergreen tree native to China. Despite the name, suggesting a connection with the common anise (pim- pinella anisum) the two are not related. Anise is a member of the apiaceae family and native mostly to the mediterranean region, while star anise comes from the shisandraceae family and is native to China. They do, however, have something in common, and that is the presence of anethole, which gives them their distinctive flavor. This accounts for the similarity in names.
Star anise has a very distinctive shape and is often used in a way that emphasizes it. A common ingredient of desserts and liquors, it can be powdered in a mortar to enrich most cake recipes, especially gingerbread and chocolate cake. However, asian cuisine does not limit its use to desserts : star anise is one of the ingredients of garam masala, a seasoning mix very popular in India, and of the Chinese five-spice powder.
The Chinese star anise, illicium verum, should not be confused with the Japanese star anise, Illicium anisatum, which is poisonous. It is used in Japan as an incense, but even then only in small quantities. It definitely should not be consumed.
Star anise is known for its anti-influenza qualities, due to the fact that it contains large amounts of shikimic acid. The plant is, in fact, the most common source of this acid for the pharmaceutical industry and the base ingredient of anti-influenza drugs. Even dried, it can be of great help when battling ‘flu. Usually in form of infusion, but powdered flowers can also be consumed directly or, of course, as a spice.
Star anise infusion, or tisane, can also be used as an auxiliary rheumatism remedy.
Star anise has many uses in herbal magic. Like most herbs with heavy aroma, it can be used for purifying the house and for protection against negative influence : the whole stars can be put over smouldering coals to act as an incense*, which gives a pleasant, delicate aroma and a very decorative sight. Together with nutmeg, it can also be an ingredient of prosperity charms.
However, due to its aphrodisiac qualities, it is most potent when used in love and passion spells. This can be accomplished by ‘regular’, ceremonial spellcasting, but a Kitchen Witch will easily see other, more pleasant possibilities : hot chocolate drinks with star anise and cinnamon flavour, honey and anise cookies etc. These recipes have the additional advantage of being tasty, so they are more likely to give Your target a friendly disposition.
On this particular subject, star anise is also one of the ingredients of the Heartwarming Wine.
* You can try to burn the anise stars directly, but it’s quite hard as the fire will go out quickly. It’s best to use a ceramic dish with some coals so that there is a constant source of the fire. Remember that the dish itself will heat up, so watch out where You’re putting it.
November 18, 2010 at 15:25 (Basics)
Tags: Cuisine, Red wine, Salad, White wine, Wine
New beaujolais has arrived.
The third Thursday of November brings us this year’s beaujolais! This rather unique wine, contrary to the popular saying that* wine gets better with age, is only suitable for drinking when young and fresh. It does not keep very well and has a distinctive, light taste that makes it unsuitable to many “heavy” dishes. It is made from Gamay Noir grapes using the carbonic maceration technique, which is responsible for the light, fruity taste. Because of the nature of this process, beaujolais nouveau must be pasteurized.
The ephemereal nature of this wine has been the chief reason for its festive, cheerful image. Since it has to be drank fresh, the usual practice is to organize parties at which the current year’s harvest is consumed, and the Beaujolais day, the aforementioned third Thursday of November, marks the first day of the year when the wine can be sold. Restaurants and vineyards all around the world offer Beaujolais nouveau for degustation, and organize local versions of the fête. Interestingly enough, the second largest fan of the wine – after France, of course – is Japan, but Beaujolais Day is celebrated pretty much everywhere. Part of the reason for my writing this here is the fact that I’ll be attending one of those this evening. Hopefully You will have something great to drink as well, since today is a day to celebrate.
* This is quite a common misconception. That is to say, wine can be stored for long periods of time, and often will mellow and enrich the taste. The process is called aging. However, the actual period over which a wine can be safely left to age depends on many of its characteristics. Rosé stores badly and should be drank more or less immediately, and white can be stored, in most cases, for about two or three years, depending on alcohol percentage. Red is the most durable, but five to eight years is the maximum shelf-time You should allow.
This is because wines that are meant to be left for aging tend to be bottled separately, with different techniques and at a different point of the manufacturing process. Aging wine in bottles will always be inferior to storage in barrels, which, in some cases, can reach about 200 years. However, You should not expect the wines on Your kitchen shelf to keep that long.
November 15, 2010 at 22:14 (Pasta, Recipes)
Tags: Cheese, Cooking, Cooking tips, Cuisine, Herbs, Italian cuisine, Pasta, Recipe, Red wine, Spaghetti, Tomato, White wine, Wine
Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.
- Sophia Loren
I’m back! I’ve spent some wonderful time with my significant other and we cooked quite a lot. Unfortunately, there was no time to take pictures since everything vanished instantly, but don’t despair. Today’s recipe has been specifically requested by someone who has discovered the joys of pesto through Kitchen Witchcraft and asked for more recipes with it. (Incidentally, if You would like to contact me, write at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So we’ll be seeing more of this gourmet green goodness.
- Spaghetti no. 5 – suit Yourself. Again, tagliatelle, maccaroni or fettucine can be used as well.
- Onions – half an onion per person. This sauce needs less onion than napoli, but of course do as You will.
- Tomatoes – two per person. If big, take one.
- Pesto – three teaspoons per person.
- Garlic – optional, pesto has quite a distinctive taste and should be strong enough.
- Grated cheese – pesto contains it already, but there is no harm in adding some. A smaller amount than usual will generally suffice.
- Olive oil – just enough to cook the onions, since pesto will add some as well.
- Pesto is waiting to be mixed.
This pasta sauce is prepared in exactly the same way as napoli sauce, with pesto added towards the end. So prepare a pot of water for spaghetti. Dice the onions thinly and put them on a frying pan (or a saucepan if You prefer it). Pour some olive oil and let the onions fry over medium heat. Be careful not to let them turn brown as this changes the taste. When the onions have a yellow, semi-transparent look, they are ready. If the water is not boiling yet, take the onions off the heat as the next ingredient to be added are the tomatoes and they need to be peeled.
As You wait for the water to boil You can grate the cheese, chop the garlic and do all that needs doing. Once the water is boiling, put the tomatoes in and count to five. Take them out and peel them – the boiling water will make the skin go off easily. Dice the tomatoes and add them to the onions. You can turn up the heat now so that the sauce thickens faster.
Put the pasta in the pot. As You wait for it to boil, remember to stir from time to time so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Pay attention to the sauce and keep mixing it as it thickens, but don’t let it get too dry : some juice will be needed to absorb the pesto and let it mix smoothly. If You are adding garlic, do it now.
Once the tomato sauce reaches a satisfying density, add pesto and mix thoroughly. You can season the sauce with some oregano or basil, but it won’t be necessary.
This recipe should result in a grainy sauce that sticks to the pasta. The resulting colour will be brown-ish, and that’s how it should be. The taste, depending on how much pesto You add, is either stronger, suitable for dry, red wine, or fresh and light, calling for white wine. It’s all down to the tomatoes-to-pesto proportion.
November 2, 2010 at 17:30 (Ingredients)
Tags: Candlemaking, Cooking, Cuisine, Herbs, Incense, Magic, Wine, Witchcraft
Take thee principal spices : of pure myrrh, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, and of sweet calamus and of cassia and of oil olive an hin. And it shall be an Holy Anointing Oil.
- The Bible
The characteristic, bitter- sweet aroma of cinnamon is absolutely unmistakable. It is also hard to compare to any other smell or taste, so unique is the spicy, tingling, sweet quality of this herb. And cinnamon is definitely a herb : the inner bark of the cinnamomum tree, which forms characteristic, curled canes while peeling off the trunk, is then dried and powdered, making it cinnamoni cortex from the herbalist’s point of view. The most common use for cinnamon is seasoning cakes, desserts, chocolate and sweets, as I am sure You are well aware. It is fairly widespread in confectionery industry and popular in home cooking. Cinnamon goes especially well with apples, and as such it is an obligatory ingredient of apple pies.
Some recipes that benefit from adding cinnamon :
- sweet pancakes
- french crêpes
- apple pie
- chocolate cake
The interesting thing about cinnamon canes is that they can be eaten directly, making for quite an eccentric snack.
Curiously enough, cinnamon has been rather looked over by the scientists when it comes to studying health aspects of food. Although its high anti-oxidant properties are accounted for, pharmacists seem not interested. This is probably due to the difficulties of working with essential oils, which need much care, skill and appropriate conditions. However, nothing stops us from profiting of the anti-oxidant properties of cinnamon by adding it to our meals or drinks. Not to mention the anti-anxiety properties : no stress, no matter how devastating, will persist when treated with a cup of hot chocolate with cinnamon and whipped cream.
There is much use for cinnamon in magic. I have already presented a recipe for scented candles that call for it, as most prosperity charms do. The dual nature of this herb makes it useful in different occasions : the hot, warming, invigorating quality is the one addressed in spells for inspiration, energy and prosperity, including money-drawing charms. The sweet, aromatic, aphrodisiacum aspect is drawn upon in love spells, as You will see in the recipe for the Heartwarming Wine. Cinnamon is also a good catalyst for most herbal charms, although to serve in this way whole canes must be used. Since it is, essentially, dried tree bark, it can be used as a symbol of Nature, channelling the aspect of growth, strength, vitality and endurance.