*Note: I was taught from a young age to cook by feel. As a result, my recipes and my family’s recipes often don’t come with measurements. Adjust as you need to until you reach the flavors, aromas, and textures that appeal to you!
Ingredients: -Milk -Butter -Flour (all purpose) -Pasta of your choice (I grew up with elbow pasta, but sometimes use cavatappi), cooked - reserve a little of the pasta water -Sea Salt and fresh black pepper -Colby Jack Cheese, grated -Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated -Romano Cheese, grated -Garlic, grated or minced -Dry breadcrumbs (my family tended to buy Italian style breadcrumbs from the store, but I now substitute by using stale bread and running it in the food processor with parsley, oregano, garlic powder, rosemary, salt, and pepper) -Bacon, cooked and crumbled -Thyme -Oregano -Parsley
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). In a pot, completely melt down butter. Stir in an equal amount of flour, and continue stirring until it becomes a thick clump. Allow this roux to cook for a few seconds before gradually adding milk. Add the milk in small amounts, stirring constantly to get rid of clumps, and cooking for a few seconds before additions (this process will allow the flour taste and texture to be cooked out of the sauce).
2) When the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, give it a taste. If there is still a flour texture and taste, allow it to cook for another minute, stirring occasionally. If it doesn’t, your bechamel sauce is ready to be seasoned. Stir in salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, parsley, bacon, and grated garlic. Allow the flavors to mingle for a bit. (Bonus points if you incorporate a little bit of the rendered fats from the bacon; though less healthy, it adds great flavor!)
3) Gradually stir in the cheeses until fully melted and incorporated into the sauce, starting with the soft Colby Jack, moving next to the Romano, then to the sharp cheddar. Starting with the softer cheeses gives a better foundation to the sauce and helps to prevent the harder cheeses from separating as they melt.
4) When your cheese sauce is fully mixed, toss in the pasta and stir to coat. If the sauce is too thick to evenly coat the pasta, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out a little.
5) Transfer your macaroni and cheese into a casserole dish and coat the top with the breadcrumbs. Place this into the preheated oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and evenly toasted.
6) Serve hot with a parsley garnish! Excellent for potlucks and parties!
One of the things I love about being a witch and a cook here on the Central Coast is the fact that I can practice my spirituality freely while also experiencing a lovely culinary culture of diversity. Strawberry festivals, clam festivals, Farmers’ Markets, various restaurants… We seem to have everything because of our mild climate. But one of the culinary events of the region that really gets talked about in the kitchen is the annual Mac and Cheese Festival in Avila.
Some of my friends simply want to go and eat a lot of macaroni and cheese, while others want to compete. I personally don’t compete - I ate a lot of boxed macaroni and cheese growing up so I don’t have that much of a love for mac and cheese. However, baked macaroni and cheese when cooked right is a wonderful comfort food, and when I can get past the memories of processed neon cheese and noodles, I turn to one of several family favorites to bake off and share.
To the chef and to the witch, herbs are a staple. They are needed to lift a dish or spell, to give energy and vibrancy, and in both magic and cooking, they have specific purposes. My macaroni and cheese certainly has a few herbs in it, giving it a more complex flavor than cheese and pasta can achieve on their own. Of the herbs I add to this dish, perhaps thyme is my favorite.
Thyme has a long history in magic due to the fact that it grows fairly easily in Mediterranean climates. It is native to Europe, and has developed a very positive reputation in both magic and cooking.
As an example of how long thyme has been in use, one needs look no further than Sumeria, roughly 3000 BCE. There, it was used as an antiseptic. Later on, the Romans associated thyme with strength and courage, as well as feminine beauty.
The association with strength and courage was prominent enough that oil infused with thyme would be massaged into the feet of Roman soldiers to grant them those qualities. In addition, they would add it to their bathwater when they bathed to give them energy and vigor. Due to the Romans’ love of the herb, it spread where they went, reaching northern Europe and the British Isle.
By the time the medieval period rolled around, thyme could be found growing wild throughout mainland Europe, the British Isle, and Ireland. During this feudal period, thyme became part of tokens offered to favored knights and soldiers, sometimes woven into scarves to help grant a knight strength and bravery during contest or war.
In the Scottish highlands, thyme would be brewed into an herbal tea to not only give some comfort in the cold weather but also to stave off nightmares. So in addition to thyme’s association with strength and courage, it had developed a protective role.
Thyme was not limited to strength, courage, and protection, however. In ancient Egypt, thyme was used to help in the embalming process, and throughout Europe it would sometimes be added to coffins to help aid the spirit in reaching the afterlife.
In faerie tradition, thyme is an excellent herb for attracting faeries to the garden. It’s wonderful scent, petit leaves, and pleasant flowers draw them in and promote a happy relationship between the witch and fae.
Today, thyme is used in witchcraft for a variety of reasons. It has retained its association with courage and bravery, and is used in everything from sachets and poppets to jars and baths for that purpose. It continues to be used in faerie magic both for attracting faeries and for communicating with them.
When cleansing, thyme is an herb that can be used as a smoke cleanser when the super strength of rosemary or sage isn’t needed - it’s for more mild negative energy and emotion such as that which lingers after a family tragedy, minor arguments, and sickness.
Thyme’s association with death also makes it a useful herb during the Samhain season and for use during divination intended to communicate with the dead, as well as making it helpful as an offering to ancestors.
Meanwhile, the herb’s feminine associations make it particularly well suited as an incense or offering to deities such as Freya and Aphrodite. It can be used in glamour spells or in herbal teas to promote beauty, confidence, and happiness - or if taken before bed, to dispel nightmares and promote peaceful sleep.
Thyme does have antiseptic properties, and its oil is useful for relieving congestion when added to a diffuser. When used in a massage oil, it can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, aches, pains, and athlete’s foot. Taken as an herbal tea, it can help discourage parasites such as lice or the aforementioned athlete’s foot. The same tea can be used as a hair wash for the same purpose.
In the kitchen, thyme is one of those herbs that is excellent for just about anything. It is most often used for savory dishes - meats and stews - but pairs very well with more umami based foods such as roasted tomatoes. But its usefulness also extends toward more sweet foods - thyme honey is a kitchen favorite, and when thyme is mixed with honey and paprika, it can make for an excellent spread to accompany grilled cheese sandwiches! The magical associations of the herb can be extended toward any food that it is cooked into.
I mentioned above that my macaroni and cheese is most often an indulgence for me - a comfort food for parties and potlucks. I use thyme in that recipe to promote happiness (like in a sweetening spell) and to give my friends and family strength. I’ll also sometimes pair thyme with tomato broth to encourage love and peace… honestly, the uses are near endless!
Consider the role thyme may play in your life. How can it help strengthen you or help you through transitions? You may be surprised as to the power held in this little mountain flower!
Morning morning my #Beautiful #Yogis. I hope you slept well and welcome to #Friday!! My intention for you today is to be smooth like water and just breathe while you flow through this gorgeous day.
🎤: @mikeclassic “Woosah”
Stay #light and #awesome.
I’m tempted to give a quick history lesson on Northern Irish politics, because I feel it’s really needed right now, but long-time followers know I’m not really good at doing a “quick version” of anything.
Suffice to say, I feel that concentrating on the DUP’s positions on abortion and LGBTQ rights is missing the point. And I say that as a pro-choice bisexual woman, so it’s not like I don’t care about those things. Their ability to influence those things is limited by cross-party support for same gender marriage and access to abortion.
The bigger picture is far more disturbing and the most pressing concern right now is the fate of the Good Friday agreement, peace in Northern Ireland and the fate of Irish Catholics. We have effectively just legitimised a set of people who would have stood by and cheered when the British army was gunning Irish Catholics down. This is a party who had to be publicly pressured before they denounced the Ulster paramilliatries who were supporting them in this general election.
Never mind their manifesto, it’s their history you’ve got to worry about.
They called her a witch, though whether she was then or not is debatable, and she had made a career out of avoiding people. All Fiddlefern wanted was to tend her garden and be left in peace. She had been tormented enough in her lifetime. The only connection the old woman felt to humanity was in the eyes of the young woman next door. They’d never spoken, but Fiddlefern liked to imagine that they were kindred spirits. I should bring that poor girl something, she often thought to herself as she’d watch the pregnant woman struggling with laundry or buckets of water. Some tea to help her and the baby sleep perhaps, or a book.
But her aged bones and general dislike of leaving home meant that she never really got around to doing it.
Then one night she caught her neighbor’s husband sneaking over her garden wall to steal her rampion. Of all the nerve! Furious, Fiddlefern banked on her fearsome (And mostly undeserved) reputation and threatened to cast a spell on the bored looking man.
“Look,” he said, “the missus is craving and driving me up the wall. You have lots to spare, don’t you? Don’t be stingy.”
“Just for that,” Fiddlefern snapped unthinkingly in a fit of pique, “I’ll take the baby she carries as payment for your crime!”
The man showed worryingly little reaction. Normally that would be enough to prompt an apology and a request for mercy.
“Sure, sure, just don’t turn me into a toad or anything,” the man said, a little nervously. “My bad for crossing the witch, alright?”
“Seriously?” Fiddlefern demanded, flabbergasted, “You’re just going to promise your wife’s baby to a witch to save yourself?”
Fiddlefern shook her head. “I changed my mind. I’m taking her too. And unless you want to be turned into a chair instead of a frog, you’ll keep quiet about it.”
Then she stormed back into her house to see whether there was anything in her extensive library that actually did pertain to the tricky business of turning someone into a frog.
The art of vinyasa… very informative book, recommend to all yogis… advanced individuals may be more comfortable with the concepts. Don’t be discouraged if you are new to practicing, it’s a fantastic way to gain insight!