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Archive for the ‘Baking And Cooking’ Category
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Peppermint, cut right after the storm last weekend, holding the amazing energy of the first thunder of autumn.
Another year, another Mirabilis Jalapa root harvested – this one is even bigger than last year’s and has two more “arms”. Once dried, it will be made into a talisman as we did with last year’s root.
Beautiful offerings for the Seven African Powers – Lemon Cake from La Cruz Santa (The Holy Cross), a town in the north of the island.
A new kyphi dedicated to Saint Michael – it will be up for sale in a couple of weeks after it cures and dries properly.
Lucky Dumpster Find of the week – a new tin for my collection ( I collect tins and boxes with rose prints). I’ll be making a sewing box from it I think.
The first cookies of Autumn – here, it means the temperature has gone down enough to keep the oven on in our stamp sized kitchen. Such a moment deserved a special picture – things like the scent of the cookies, baking in the alchemy of their elements, speak of the change of the seasons; before us, the season of spinning wool, of tending the garden, of carving wood while listening to the rain drum on the patio roof.
Hurricane Nadine seems to be taking it slowly to arrive, so after the mundane preparations (moving plant pots away from wind, getting batteries/cash/food, charging appliances, washing all clothes in case we lose power), we spent Saturday on more pleasant activities. So, here are the things two Witches do on a slow day – hope it brings some inspiration!
Make a new batch of Kyphi, since the “The Wanderer” batch is almost sold out. Each of our kyphi batches has been a unique recipe, and this one, which we have named “The Portal”, is no different. It will be ready for selling in a week if humidity doesn’t rise too much because of the storm.
Bake the first bread of autumn, and eat it with guavas and plums.
Make an offering of fruit at the altar, and get intoxicated by the fragrance and sensuality it exudes.
Try (for the third time) to make friends with cross stitch, a craft that really tests my patience, and get childishly happy with the results.
Drink lots of black tea with cardamom while falling in love with the new little teapot Fernando purchased (its predecessor fell and was smashed to pieces after almost a decade of hard work).
All of you know, of course, that Eleggua is my father Orisha – but not all you may know that Oya is my mother Orisha, because my relationship with her is more private and I don’t talk as often about her. So, this offering for our patron was like having Mom and Dad coming for lunch; a heartwarming, joyful day filled with wonderfully loving energy.
Menu For Oya – avocado paste with fresh shrimp, on a salad of lettuce, grapes, and loquats; french wine from a new bottle, purchased and opened just for her, and papaya on a bed of spearmint and lemons. My grandfather used to make avocado paste with fresh shrimp for me every Christmas because I could eat that every single day, and since seafood is one of Oya’s favourite foods, we chose it to honour her, because wouldn’t you cook a family recipe if your mother came to visit?
Menu For Eleggua – fresh pork with red beans, Dutch beer and rice pudding. The pork and beans plate is a Cuban traditional dish, that the emigrants and immigrants brought here in the past century, so it has become part of our own tradition too. Here is made with white beans because red ones are not so popular, but I wanted to make it as Eleggua requested, so we looked for them. And the rice pudding is Fernando’s specialty – I cannot tell which one of them (Eleggua or Fernando) likes it most.
We also got them the gorgeous carnations you can see on the table. The jar for the flowers was a cemetery find (it was thrown away in the trash bin, not stolen from the tombs), so it represents our ancestors and Oya’s kingdom.
Fridays are my free day as you know, so I’m going to get some good rest and indulge on gardening and crocheting – have a wonderful weekend!
Today and tomorrow we are working on making three big offerings for Shango, Oya and Eleggua for one of our most loved patrons. That means cooking, cooking and more cooking, so much that we couldn’t fit it in just one day.
While other paths require very little amounts of food (or none) when making offerings, the Afro-Caribbean religions go completely overboard when it comes to feeding Deities. Usually, this is managed by a whole community so each time a Saint/Orisha/Spirit day comes, the altar rooms become loaded with plate after plate of delicacies, as each family cooks their specialties, along with the foods that each tradition assigns to the specific Spirit. For us, being just two people, is not that easy, but still we manage to prepare as much as we can.
Cooking for a Spirit is not just cooking. The kitchen and ourselves must be completely clean while working, and it is required to bath and purify yourself and wear clean clothes. No other foods are prepared while doing that, and the kitchen must be constantly pristine, so while one cooks, the other washes and dries the implements. While everything is done, prayers in honour of the Orisha, and in this case a specific petition, are repeated to bless the food. The table must be prepared with the utmost care, and every plate is washed right before serving the food, no matter that they are already clean. After being served, more prayers are said while the Spirits feast, and usually drumming and chanting is performed in their honour.
First offering today – Shango. Free-range coquelet in *very hot* (as he loves it) tomato sauce with organic potatoes, fried bananas with honey, kneaded gofio in the shape of the double-headed axe (his symbol), apples, Dutch beer, herbs from our garden, candles and incense. Shango is one of the Orishas that eats more happily and abundantly, so he requires a small banquet! Although as usual traditions differ about his origin, I was taught that he is Eleggua’s brother, so Shango is Uncle Shango in our home, a much loved and very spoiled Uncle whose visits are always a reason to rejoice and feast.
On Saturday night, we made a small Blot (offering) to the Norse deities – Moroccan tea, rum, honey, milk, cheese, olives, pate, seed bread, an orange spiced with cinnamon and honey, a tobacco pipe, and of course our own kyphi incense. After meditation and prayer, we like to do some special activity devoted to the deities, and this time it was spinning. We had just made some improvements to our spinning wheel and wanted to try it, so we worked all night on spinning what it looked like a ton of red wool in three different tones for a special project I’m keeping secret for now. Sorry for the bad pic, my camera really hates red!
On Sunday, I got to finish another blanket for our charity project, and already started a third one. Colours are a little warmer than in the pic. I am really in love with this piece and it’s a perfect way to use all the wools that Peeps sent me, which were too thick for crocheting – and a wonderful practise for getting better at knitting, something I’m really slow at because of my dyslexia.
Knitting under the sun. Perfect spotless sky, and probably the first sunburnt of the year because we stayed too long moving pots to the shadier side. Temperatures are very high already, so we better hurry to plant this week.
If you want to try the Moroccan Tea, here’s the recipe. It’s a wonderfully refreshing and digestive beverage, to be enjoyed at any time of the day, and its little ritual is a sign of hospitality and friendship for Moroccans.
Moroccan Tea Recipe
- Loose tea (green is the most used, but you can use any good loose tea you like);
- Fresh Spearmint or Peppermint;
- Sugar (white, brown, fructose, even powdered saccharin);
In the pot, place first the sugar, then the tea, and on top the fresh herbs. Pour near-boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes. Take a short, slim glass and pour the tea on it: pour the glass back into the pot, and repeat two more times. Try to pour from as high as you can, so the tea makes a little foam, as the aeration benefits the taste.
After the three pourings, you can serve it, garnishing with more fresh spearmint/peppermint if you want to – a Mauritanian man I met many years ago taught me this small ceremony and told me that “The first glass is bitter as death; the second, long as life; the third, sweet as love.”
The altar, overflowing with offerings. The Carnival starts this week so we will be making some special offerings in the next days to connect with its amazing energy.
Since tomorrow is Valentine’s day, I thought it would be nice to share an extra sweet recipe – Herbal Sugar.
This recipe can be made with white sugar, brown sugar, or fructose sugar as this one you see. Actually, even honey would be used.
You must powder in a grinder the following herbs:
- A teacup of lavender flowers;
- Two sticks of Indian cinnamon;
- Seven cardamom pods;
- Half a teacup of dry ginger (or two spoons if you have it already powdered);
- A 2-inch piece from a fresh vanilla seed pod – this ingredient is not powdered, and must be retired once the product is ready because its scent would overpower the rest;
Mix well with around a pound of your chosen sugar, and let sit on a dark, cool place for three months at least. It will be perfect to sweeten tea, coffee, herbal infusions and even your bakery! It has sedative and restorative properties – but honestly, it is the scent what will make you become addicted to it!
Other herbs/seeds that can be added at your taste: jasmine flowers, orange flowers, rose petals, violet flowers, lemon balm, lemon verbena, star anise, liquorice root, fennel seeds – the possibilities are endless! Also, it is a very unexpensive gift – we made a whole batch and gave jars to everyone at Christmas. It was a great success!
This recipe also has a magical use – sweetening spells, called endulzamientos in Spanish. Sweetening spells are made when situations are too harsh between people, and trust and love must be restored. Also, it can be used as an ingredient on more complex love spells and potions. A perfect magical craft for Valentine’s Day!
I would like to let all our readers know that we have been having a lot of problems with the site that hosts our downloadable products, so we have deactivated the digital items from the shop temporarily until we find a new hosting service. We will let you know as soon as it is fixed, but that will be after we finished the newsletter sale, which we expect to have ready for next Monday, December 5.
And, as promised, the pics of the offering made for one of our patrons. Eleggua is so filled with energy after this meal, that I’ve been placing all the new work beside him to get it charged with extra Ashe. Once again, I feel a tremendous inspiration and focus after feeding the Orishas (because the offering is for all of them), and realize how close we are, and how their empowerment is my empowerment.