Foodie Friday: Healing in the Kitchen
-1 tbsp peppermint leaves (about one tea bag)
-1 tbsp chamomile (about one tea bag)
-½ tsp cinnamon
-½ tsp ginger
-¾ cup boiling water
-¾ cup honey (raw local honey is recommended)
-Optional: Powdered sugar, Powdered vitamin C, or Cornstarch for dusting
1. Steep your herbs in the boiling water for about 10 minutes, then strain and save the tea.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the tea and honey and heat to a gentle boil over medium heat.
3. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches a temperature of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep careful watch, as honey can burn very easily.
4. Take off of heat and allow the syrup to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
5. Transfer syrup onto parchment paper in small spoonfuls (recommended teaspoon) and allow to cool to room temperature.
6. If desired, dust the lozenges with powdered sugar, powdered vitamin C, or cornstarch. This will absorb moisture, keeping the lozenges dry and preventing them from sticking in storage.
Note: The consistency of the lozenges may vary. There are several factors that play into this, including water loss, honey quantity, temperature variation, and weather.
Here in California, we’ve been blessed with some lovely rains! And while it’s absolutely wonderful to see the green come back after five long years of drought, it does come with a few downsides. The first is that mosquito populations boom. The second is that erosion issues that we hadn’t anticipated are cropping up all over the place. And the third is that with more moisture also comes a new rash of cold and flu.
Kitchen witchcraft is not limited to delectable dinner dishes. Nor is it limited to baking or crafting culinary delights. It is also very practical and encompasses herbal remedies that can be worked in the home. And so, it seemed right to share a recipe for homemade throat lozenges. All of the ingredients are tools of the kitchen witch, from the water to the tea, but of all of the ingredients, one stands out: honey.
Last week, we covered various alcohols and how liquor has been a staple of human consumption for most of human history, but honey mead is one of the primary drinks that come to light in that topic. In addition, honey has been a natural sweetener that humanity has loved since the dawn of time, even reaching a state where its presence represents prosperity and happiness (”land of milk and honey,” anyone?), and even wealth due to its golden color.
This image of wealth is further ingrained when considering the hard work put in by honeybees to produce honey, followed by their ferocity in protecting it when the hive is low on stores. Much like how one would work hard to acquire or earn wealth, and then protect their money when it’s been obtained.
Honey is, by far, one of the most cherished ingredients for its antibacterial properties and its natural sweetness. It is a natural preservative, and is far healthier than sugars due to its chemical makeup. In addition, it is an ingredient that has helped make many much more environmentally aware…
Domesticated honeybees (from which we get most of our honey) will produce close to 80 pounds of surplus honey per year, which is why beekeeping has been such a successful trade for so many centuries. In the late summer, beekeepers will remove wooden frames from the hives on which the surplus honey is stored (contrary to popular belief, the majority of beekeepers harvest honey in non-invasive ways which don’t stress the colony, and never harvest the stores the bees require for survival). This honey and the comb are then separated, processed (in some cases), and made ready for sale. By the time it reaches the plastic bottle as a clear golden syrup, it’s been pasteurized (depending upon the country’s health regulations) and processed.
From the store, one can pick up either processed or “raw” honey, which contains trace amounts of pollen from the nectar the bees had used to make it. This makes raw honey an excellent way of bolstering the immune system against the symptoms of seasonal allergies, in addition to the other traits honey has.
Honey’s composition is roughly 17 percent water, with most (not all) of the rest being natural sugars. As a result, if any bacteria, fungi, or molds try to settle on it, the water contained within them gets pulled out, killing them and preventing honey from spoiling. In addition, depending upon the flowers that the bees had pollinated, the nectar could have additional antibacterial properties (manuka honey, for instance, is particularly good at this and is used as an antibacterial in hospitals). Our ancestors recognized the healing properties of honey, and would add it to poultices and other remedies that would be applied directly to wounds, much as we would with Neosporin today.
From the witchy perspective, there really isn’t anything to dislike about honey. First, there’s its color, which is excellent for wealth and prosperity spells. Second, there is its healing properties, which are excellent for both remedies and for healing spells. Third, is its sweetness, which can serve to enhance the sweetening spells, and makes it an excellent offering to fairies and gods alike! Pairing they variant of honey with your purposes adds a whole new level of magic to your craft, as well! For instance, if you want to encourage prosperity and luck, use clover honey; alternatively, if you want to use honey for cleansing and healing, use rosemary honey instead!
A less common thought when it comes to using honey in magic is to incorporate its creator into the work. Bees are tireless workers, often inspiring bee enthusiasts and beekeepers alike, and it’s their effective communication and work ethic that can be incorporated into spellwork involving honey. If you need a spell to encourage productivity and energy, honey is a great go-to ingredient due to the bees’ tireless efforts.
Like any ingredient, intent is key: channel your intent and energy into the honey before adding it to food or drink, or before adding it to a sweetening jar. If you’re making an offer of honey, consider what it may represent to the deities or spirits that it is meant for.
Lastly, another reason many witches appreciate honey is as I had mentioned above: it has helped increase environmental awareness. With bee populations struggling, it is important to consider ways to help “save the bees.” More specifically, save the environment. Honeybees are most well known to us, but they aren’t the only kind of bee present in our lives. Many species don’t produce honey but are integral to pollination. What makes them less noticeable is their subterranean nests throughout most of the year. Many witches feel a deep respect for the earth and for all animals, and bees are not alone in this. Consider switching from sugar to honey in most recipes to help bring honey’s properties into your life while helping fund further developments in beekeeping, and be sure to thank the bees in your life for their hard work and inspiration!
May all your meals be blessed! )O(