Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tough Day in the Kitchen!

First, my vegetable soup tasted oily and greasy, I think it was due to the hamburger I added, although I rinsed it.  I dunno.  I strained it once, added water, some bouillon cubes (because I didn't have anymore beef stock), salt, pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder.  Let it cook for a little bit.  Tried it, not as oily, but still tasted fatty.  I strained again, added water, the same (minus the bouillon cubes), and a can of tomato soup.

While that cooked, I made cake pops.  Le sigh.  The cake pops themselves turned out fine, however, I had an avalanche of spices from the cabinet fall on me, dropped an egg (has never happened to me before), found out that my "microwave safe" mixing bowls WEREN'T microwave safe at all when I burned the crap out of my hand on them, AND despite following the directions to a "T", my white chocolate wafers skipped melt and went straight to burn.  However, the burned chocolate was melted.  Da hell?  So I had no frosting OR chocolate coverage for my cake pops.  At least, hubby enjoyed them.  I was too frustrated for that.

I burned myself on my crock pot lid and the pot itself, and my tongue while tasting.  Despite having been cooking for over 24 hours, the fresh carrots and potatoes I had used still weren't done.  Thought that was odd.

I was feeling pretty hopeless by this point.  Like a total failure, course hormones don't help the situation, nor does having a low blood sugar.  I was so irritated.  With everything.  Even my son who kept getting into the trash can where the burnt chocolate was.

While pouring the soup into a container, I got some splash on me, luckily it wasn't nearly as hot as it could've been.  Still hurt though.  Then I burned myself on the hot dish water.  And to top it all off, I had a bunch of clean, wet dishes fall--but I was quick enough to move out of the way.  Surprised it didn't wake up my son, to be honest!

And I'm proud to say that my vegetable soup, from scratch (roughly) and without a recipe, was finally a success.  A tasty, flavorful success.  Not quite like mom's, but close.  I've learned a thing or two, broth wise, and next time instead of hamburger I'm going to use beef shoulder or something.  And add corn and beans.  At least something good came of this tough day.

It's unusual for me to have that many issues in the kitchen.  I think it's time for a cleansing to be honest, so I may do that tomorrow.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Modern Cauldron Recipes

Lately, I've been cooking a lot with my crock pot, and no, it's not due to whatever challenge or foodie fad is going on, I'm doing so because I love soups, stews, chowders, and chilis.  And I think foods slow cooked for hours on end have the best flavor.  I am a lover of flavors!

And, over all, it's easy.  Just toss in your ingredients, turn it on, stir it once in a while, tastenadd, and eat!

Last week, I made some pretty rockin Beef Stew; oh it was divine.  The best I've ever made...partially because I slow cooked it for nearly 24 hours.  

(Now I'm not too much of a....measuring kind of gal.  I measure the first and/second time I make something new [including reading the recipe], but after that I go solely on memory and taste; so no measurements.  Sorry!)

Majority of the box of Beef Stock
1-2 cups of Water
4 small Potatoes, sliced and cubed
Baby Carrots, whole
Onion Powder (I'm having a touch of sensitivity to fresh onions this pregnancy)
Garlic Salt
Pepper
A chunk of beef (as it cooks, it gets tender; as it gets tender, I shred it apart), thawed

Combined it all and slow cooked it on low for near 24 hours.  It was sooooo good!
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I really like to make things from scratch, however Red Chili isn't exactly where my strengths lay.  However, I found the secret to great chili: Don't Let My Husband Help!  Why?  Because he adds waaaay too much cayenne pepper!  He likes his chili hot, whereas I like to enjoy what I'm eating.  I like flavors!  

This time, instead of having him help me with the hamburger (I hate cooking ground meat and I'm not sure why), I put him in charge of buying the ingredients.  It's a curse, I think, because he bought pre-made chili....that stuff is awful.  I tasted it and yuck!  But I was optimistic!  I knew I could fix our mystery chili problem!  

2 cans of Canned Chili
1 29 oz can of Tomato Sauce
Salt
Pepper
Onion Powder 
Garlic Salt
Oregano
Paprika
Chili Powder
1-2 cups of Water
1 lb. Hamburger, browned before added
Lots of CHEESE (which I add towards the end)

Many hours later, and perfection, with more cheese and crackers..  Even better the next day.  Normally, I don't care for meat, unless it's turkey, in my red chili.  But it was good.  

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Here's a recipe that my SIL gave me yesterday.  She makes it and loves it.  It came on, when I was talking about my love for Mexican Hot Chocolate.  

Cocoa Chili
2 lbs beef
1 64 oz can tomato juice
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 1/2 cup chopped onion (I usually just use the whole onion lol)
1/4 cup chopped green pepper (usually use the whole pepper too)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
Salt & pepper
Brown beef & drain. Combine all ingredients in big pot... let boil on high then let simmer for 1 hour 45 mins 

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Last night, I started on one of my favorite chilis, White Chili:

(This is only my second time making this recipe, so there are some measurements.)

3-4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I shred as they get tender)
3 15 oz cans of Great Northern Beans
8 oz. Sour Cream
2 cups Water
1 cup of Medium Salsa
Salt
Pepper
1 25 oz can of Corn
2 lbs 1 lb.  of Queso Blanco (white cheese), cubed, sliced, or shredded.

You can add green peppers, tomatoes, and other peppers and herbs like cilantro if you want; but since the salsa I bought already had these ingredients, I didn't feel the need to add anything else.  Although I may next time!  Oh, and some recipes call for turkey instead of chicken, and spicier cheeses, like pepper jack or a mild/medium queso.  Let your taste buds be the judge!

You can eat it as is; instead of crackers, use tortilla chips.  In the past, we've wrapped it in tortillas.  Use it as a dip.  Eat it with rice.  It's food and we've eaten it in a variety of Spanish/South Western inspired ways.

It was nummers, but 2 lbs of queso is far too rich!  And next time I'm going to add more salsa and MORE beans!  

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Later this week, I'm planning on making some delish vegetable soup, it'll be my first time making it (and without a recipe) so fingers crossed.  I'll be trying to go on what my mom's looks and tastes like from memory.  AND I'm going to make some homemade bread!

There's something about cooking in a crock pot (using my wooden spoons) that just feels so Witchy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Doorway

This year I'm going to use the Pagan Blog Project to talk about things that I don't normally talk about.  Things which are and aren't new to me, but are new for my blog.  Often I mention that I'm a Kitchen Witch, and I talk about Hestia, my working altar, giving protection magiks, house Spirits, the giving of offerings, and things of that nature, but I don't really talk about the hearth and home, which are just as important to my Witch practices as Ancestral veneration is in my Pagan practices.

So continuing on with that plan, I've taken an idea from Tess Whitehurst's Magical Housekeeping.  Overall, it's an okay book, I found it to be a little...eh....fluffy and too love and light, I just don't care for her style of writing, but that doesn't mean that I can't take anything away from her book.  The author does have some interesting points in it, such as your door. 


The door?  Seems pretty mundane, but in many places, doors--and like structures--are important in magik.  Leading from world to world.  From ignorance to knowledge.  Providing a safe haven.  Many of us are sure to protect our homes by locking our doors and windows, as well as adding powerful charms, amulets, runes, and sigils of protection to keep out unwanted people, energies, and entities.  We may even look to other doorways, like mirrors, spirit entries, and such, and are sure to keep them secure. 

I like big, old, double doors.  I'd like to have one of a tough old wood, like oak.  I'm attracted to some of the more ornate and artistic ones, the classy doors and the ones with pretty windows, but when it comes to protecting my home and family, I want something durable with strong locks, and no windows.  Windows are breakable.  Breakable means intruders can enter.  I'd rather not have that happen.  (Although they could just break any house window, but symbolically, door windows just seem like a invitation for negativity...and windows on/around your door isn't exactly gonna work against some zombies...)

In her book, the author talks about the magik of making it inviting, allowing good energies to flow.  Keeping it clear, beautiful, lively, and "entrancing":  "It is a magical tool for drawing blessings [...].  It also dictates the quality, quantity, and vibration of energy that enters" (50). 

As a devotee of Hestia, one of my duties is hospitality.  Making sure my guests are comfortable in my home.  Making my home inviting.  I like to provide a clean and organized home for my guests.  Cleanliness is important to me, I'd hope that they also feel part of it.  The air smells fresh, there's plenty of light, there's lit candles, there's plenty of seating, they know where the bathroom is, as well as everything they need to make themselves feel at home.  I'm attentive, polite, genuine, and so on. 

The inside of my home is in order, heck maybe even the garden!  So why not my door?  Yes, I have sigils of protection physically on and above it, but what about something visual.  I almost always notice a person's door, especially if it's painted a different color than the rest, if it's of a different make, or even if they've done something to dress it up, say hang a wreath, a swag, or a sign.  I appreciate a beautiful entrance.  It's very inviting.  Yes, I do judge a book by it's cover when someone's gone out of their way to paint such a picture.

If you're able, Whitehurst suggests painting your door (51):

Royal Blue: Water, Whimsy, Otherworld
Red: Protective, Energy, Blessings, Celebration
Green/Teal: Wealth, Prosperity, Enhanced Health
Black: Powerful, Strength, Career Alignment

I recently saw a teal door and wondered if it had significant meaning, other than being the resident's favorite color.  Of course, door color meaning may change depending on faith, region, type of house, realty, literature,color psychology, military, and other factors.

What Does Your Front Door Say?

Or if you don't have the chance or want to paint your door, you can decorate it with a wreath, a swag, and any number of decorations that hang or stick.  Most of the objects you can make yourself, customize, purchase (of course), and all you can charge with specific intentions, be it for filtering, protection, or attraction.

You can simply buy or make your own doormat.  Something beautiful, perhaps naturally made.  Maybe something with a pretty picture or just feels nice against bare feet.  Some don't.  Some just feel awful.  And others shed.  What's the point of having a doormat outside if you're just going to track the mat inside?  Personally, and I believe I share this with Whitehurst, I'm a fan of river stone doormats, be them real or a pattern. 

One of my weird little quirks is that I like doormats.  I'm an odd person.  Doormats, windchimes, swags, bottles, spoons--different things.  Anyway.

Be sure to keep your stoop/porch clean by sweeping.  Decorate if you want, say you have one of those stone geese.  My aunt had one that she always dressed up.  I don't know how many of yall remember that trend, but it was an epidemic.  Lots of people did, and some still do, have those geese sitting on their porches.  Personally, I'm a fan of gargoyles.  They're meant to be protectors of the home, so why not?  Perform some protection magik, giving offerings if you want, turn it into an anchor or a scapegoat, and voila!  Your own "guard dog". Although I've also seen stone dragons, owls, dogs, and fae in and around some porches.  But then what more ambiguous than a pink flamingo?  Aside from being tacky.

Decorating my stoop, I don't usually do unless it's fall and I have some gourds, wheat stalks, or a broomstick (that I won't miss if it's stolen).  I've seen others hang crossed broomsticks on their doors.  Keep it free of debris and ice, if you can.  Also might want to think about clearing your gutters, because if it's raining harder on your stoop than what's falling from the sky due to overflowing gutters, well, might be time to do something about it.  Can't clean it yourself, make a report to you landlord or rental office.  I'm only mentioning it because during the fall it was raining harder on my stoop than on the rest of my window world.


Wanna talk about porches?  I would love to have a slightly elevated, railed, covered, wrap around porch.  Love those!  With part of it screened, overlooking a deck and a beautiful natural view, with a connection to my kitchen.  I love big porches.  My heart belongs in the country.  Nothing more inviting than a big ass porch that you can feel safe on, with comfy furniture, wrapped in a blanket, drinking some tea, and just relaxing.

Sorry about that, moving on.

Say you still live with your parents or can't or don't want to decorate your front door, you can decorate your bedroom door or the door to your sacred space, magik room, etc.  As long as you're able to, you can decorate in a variety of ways, with signs, hanging things from your doorknob, or using curtains of cloth or beads to create a sense of magic to your room.  When I lived with my mom, I always had a dog choke chain with a lock and key which was empowered for protection against nosy parents and siblings.  I also had hanging a butt load of key chains, certain ones were also enchanted with specific intentions.

I hope this post wasn't too boring for ya, Door Magik isn't something that I'd say is exciting but hey, another form of magik to think about.  If you have fun decorating your door and your enchantments work, it's a success, right?

~)O(~

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An Inspiring Friend

One of my friends is going natural nuts and I love it!  So far, she's made a lot of stuff, including make-up, butters, and coconut oil.  Here's a link that she posted on Facebook, that helped her:

How to Make Virgin Coconut Oil

~)O(~

Friday, February 7, 2014

Annoying Household Chores

Daily Prompt asks:
What’s the household task you most dislike doing? Why do you think that is — is it the task itself, or something more?
As a Kitchen Witch and Hestia Devotee, cleaning is very spiritual for me, however, doesn't mean that I enjoy every little aspect of my weekly/monthly/quarterly chores.  Tasks I loathe are:
  • Cleaning the oven- It's a small space, low to the ground, and I'm 6'3, 290lbs.  It ain't exactly easy for me to get down and in there.
  • Cleaning the burners- Despite that my husband has showed me how to dis- and re- connected the burners so I can access the thing underneath, I'm always afraid I'm going to do it wrong and cause a fire.  I hate electric stoves.
  • Cleaning around the toilet.  I don't mind cleaning the top and the bowl, that's easy.  Once again, it comes down to my size and the cramped space between the sink and the tub.  That and it's just nasty.  Dusty, dried pee, condensation.  Not my cuppa.
  • Cleaning the tub. It's easy enough to dampen it, and sprinkle it with some cleaner, but after it's ready to be scrubbed, it's just hard on my knees and back.  Size and cramped space once again.
One of these days, I'm moving into/having a home that's better for tall and large people.  These average sized houses ain't cutting it!
  • Cleaning the ferret cage.  Ferrets are stinky by themselves!  But then who enjoys cleaning their pet's cages?  We all appreciate it, yes, but it's still nasty and annoying, especially when he leaps and clings to the poop bag, or tries to tear into it.  I love him, but he's frustrating sometimes.  "Hey!  Whatcha doing?  I'm "helping" you!"
I don't know that there's one chore that I hate doing the most, however, I hate when I'm the only person doing the cleaning.  You're a grown ass adult, you're responsible, pick up your damn clothes, take your dishes into the kitchen, clean up after yourself.  I am not your mother.  Clearly, I'm talking about my husband.  Ugh, and he does this thing that irks the crap out of me.  He'll throw his clothes beside the laundry basket!  Beside or around it!  Are you that bad at aiming?  Even I can make the basket and I'm awful at aiming!  Or he'll drop them in our bedroom floor, when the laundry basket is maybe 10 feet away in the hallway.  If I toss it, he'll whine, "Hey, that was clean!"  And I'll retort, "It was on the floor, it's dirty."  If it's clean, why didn't you put it where it goes?  It's not rocket science, buddy!  Which is kind of funny because he does the laundry and puts it away....most of the time.  (So you don't think he's a complete oaf, he also takes out the garbage, is involved with our son [not just mommy], and cleans/cooks when I ask.  He's a good man and dad...he's just lazy with his laundry and dishes.)
  • Picking up after my husband is my least favorite household task.  Why?  Because he's a responsible, grown ass man, and I am not his mother.  Shit gets old.  I hate picking up after other people.  The only people I do it for are guests, those who ask nicely, and my son because he doesn't know how to do it yet.  Other than that, expect nagging and defiance.

Cleansing the Self

Cleaning the self is just as important as cleaning the house.  If you're not happy, how do you expect to make your family happy?  Or your guests to feel welcomed in your home?  Faking it only works for so long, my friends.  

Last Friday, I wrote a post on giving your house a spiritual cleansing, so this post is going to be over few of the many ways you can give yourself a cleansing as well. 

Ways you can cleanse, not just your physical self, but also your spiritual self.  Cause let's face it, from our own emotions to mental illness to those we pass on the streets to the energies of a place, we can pick up some nasty, dirty, clingy energies which can really put a damper on our moods and connection.
  • Maybe ya just need to take a shower or bath?  How many times how I been feeling yucky or down in the dumps, only to hop in the shower and come out feeling like a million bucks?  Water is a great cleanser!  Often doesn't get the credit it deserves in our community as being a body and soul cleanser.  But if you need an extra oomf, add sea salt to your bath, or various herbs, a couple drops of oil, or even milk (and honey).  Sometimes I'll add a tea bag of lavender, chamomile, or green tea leaves to my bath, and just soak.  
  • You can also add stones/gems/crystals to your bath, but do your homework because some stones will break down in tap or salt water, and I believe some can even become hazardous when wet, or so I've read.  Same goes for ingestion of liquids that have had stones soaking in them; they can be potentially hazardous.  I cannot stress enough to do the research and ask experts!  Back to bathing safely: Depending on the energy needed, I've placed gems into a bath, charged the water with said stones and intent, and soaked it all in.  Favorites for me are amethyst, clear quartz, and rose quartz.
  • Add some charged waters to your bath, like say you've made Sun, Rain, Storm, or Moon Water?  Add it.  Though you might want to be cautious of any pollutants that may exist in water gathered from nature.  Just sayin.  
  • If you're able to, charge your water with the light of the Moon or of the Sun!  If it's possible, that is.  Not everyone has a window in their bathroom.  Or they have one of those high ass windows where there's just no point in having one.  Once, while bathing in a luxurious tub, I had access to a window, but the moon was just out of reach, so, no shit, I used a serious of mirrors.  I was kind of bored and just wanted to see if I could do it.  It worked.  I laughed at my odd success dropped an item that I charged in the Moon's light into the water instead.
  • Draw the Moon, Sun, or Earth into yourself.  Theirs is powerful when utilized correctly.  Don't forget to ground, though.  
  • Grounding can work.  Once when I was really stressed and overwhelmed--crowd anxiety--I grounded and got my center on, and it calmed me considerably.  I was able to conquer my fears, if only for a moment.  It cleansed the anxiety right out of me!
  • Smudging yourself.  Yep, take an herb you know is safe for you to use and won't mess with your breathing, and simply fan the smoke over yourself.  Spiritually Cleansed.  You can also do this with incense smoke, but I wouldn't recommend smoke from an oil burner....more of a chance you'll seriously burn yourself.  
  • Meditation.  Simply get in your zone of peaceful harmonious meditation.  Visualize yourself being surrounded by light, it can be white light or whatever color you need to give you the right type of energy.  White purifies, orange energizes, red increases passion, pink is loving, whatever.  The colors may mean something different to you and that's just fine.  Personally, I like to bring the light into myself, flowing through me.  Inhale, bringing the light inside, exhale seeing it leave with any nasty energy clinging to it.  I do this several times until the energy is clear of nasties.  
  • Chakra cleansing.  Once again, get in the zone, however you do it.  I usually start at the base chakra, seeing it spin and work on opening it.  It's not a easy as it sounds.  Not always, though for some, depending on method, it can come easy.  It took me a while to do this.  A long while.  I still have problems getting some of them to open, but I don't force it.  I just move onto the next.  It'll take time.  A lot of patience and practice.  When I've reached a moment of satisfaction, I do a run through of purifying energy, like above, then end the session.  You can use various ways of helping to achieve opening your chakras.  Don't limit yourself and do the research.  There wasn't a whole lot of research available to me at the time I started.  I've learned, tried, and failed a lot.  Once upon a time, I was able to get them all to open, but those days have passed, I've got a lot of work ahead of me.  
  • Clean your house or your room.  Sometimes a simple clean up, physically and spiritually, works.  Or if cleanliness stresses you out, take a page out of Tallahassee's book and wreck it until you're happy!  I like things clean and orderly, clutter and disarray overwhelms me, but not everyone is the same.  
  • Take a walk.  Go to a park, be it the city or out in nature, different people have their different comfort levels.  Personally I hate the city, but I know people who love it.  An urban sprawling cityscape is their connection to the divine or self.  Get out of your house or out of your normal habitat; stagnation can be a real downer.  Stuck in a rut?  Do something outside of your comfort zone.
  • Stones: wear em, put em in bags, satchels, charms, jewelry, whatever.  Charge em to promote protection against bad energies or people.  Empower them to bring your courage, peace, or healing.  Same thing with oils or scents, anoint yourself or spritz on some perfume or cologne.  Clear your space, your mind, and your body. 
  • Make Over! Beautify yourself.  Maybe it involves some things mentioned above?  
  • Exercise, yoga, run, go shooting, slap some paint on a canvas, get that shit out of you.  
  • Get back to doing your daily rituals, or create some.  Be them morning prayers to maintenance shrines or altars to whatever.  Whatever connects you to the spiritual and/or magikal.
  • Venting can also do wonders for ya.  Whether you're writing in a journal, typing on a blog, expressing yourself through artistic means, praying, talking to a friend, a deity, a spirit, a clerical member, family, a stranger; do what you gotta do to get out of the funk.  Best to not let that anger, disappointment, sadness, nastiness build up, because most likely it's going to explode and it ain't going to be pretty.  Explode outward or inward.  Neither are good.  

There are a ton of different ways you can cleanse your body, mind, and spirit.  Just try em.  Don't limit yourself.  Think outside the box.  Do something new.  Be spontaneous for a change, if it's not normally your thing.  But don't be dumb about it, don't wanna end up on Ridiculousness.  Gotta do the work.

** Once again, I am not an expert in anything.  Research, research, research.  Seek out professionals, cross-check, whatever.  These are just my experiences.  Don't get all sue happy and come after me if something happened to your ill-informed ass; not that that would happen, but hey ya neva know. **

~)O(~