Yeah. I said it. For some reason, I’ve always been hesitant to embrace kitchen witchery. Not that I don’t respect it as a craft. It’s a little more complicated than that.
When I was a kid, all of my earliest memories revolve around dinner. Grandma and Papa had us over for dinner, or we had them over for dinner, but there was always dinner involved. And it was a very formulaic process. There would be a long afternoon of playing cards and drinking martinis before dinner was served. It was supposed to be fun.
However, sometimes shit happens when you cook. Sometimes you forget something and it burns. Sometimes you accidentally add too much salt. Sometimes you get an avocado that isn’t ripe. Shit happens. And what I really remember most of all was how hard my grandmother would work to put some delicious meal on the table (in between hands of Garbage or Spades). And I remember how my mother would stress for 3 days ahead of time about what to make, and how everything had to be perfect. I remember them running around the kitchen, coordinating dinner in this beautiful, creative dance of culinary skill.
I also remember my grandfather and stepdad bitching. They didn’t care how many hours went into planning/shopping for/preparing/cooking said meal. There was always something wrong with it. I think part of that was due to the martinis and the cut-throat card playing that put everyone in a competitive, if bitchy, mood. But still, it wasn’t OK.
I remember my grandmother’s face falling when my grandfather would start an argument about how corn was supposed to be cooked. (Hint: I don’t think he ever cooked a kernel of corn in his life.) I remember how my mother would fish for compliments endlessly, because she knew nobody would praise her cooking otherwise. (My sister and I did, but we didn’t count.)
I find myself doing the same thing. Ask Bear. When I make a really good meal, one that I’m proud of, I ask him at least 3 times what he thought. The fact that he hasn’t said a word because he’s happily munching means nothing. I have this desperate need to have him praise my food. Even if I know it was fabulous, I need to hear it.
So I always rebelled against the idea that the woman spends all her time in the kitchen, cooking for her man. I hate that idea. I really hate it. Whenever a man makes a joke about how women belong in the kitchen, or ‘Make me a sammich!’, I kind of want to punch him in his stupid fucking face. At the very least, it assures I will never, EVER prepare or serve him food under any circumstance.
However, when it comes down to it, I love cooking. I love the artistry. I love the alchemy of combining colors and flavors and herbs to make something new. I love experimenting with new techniques, new ingredients, new ideas about food. And let’s be honest, I love to eat as well.
I’ve also always made special dishes for the sabbats. Imbolc as always been potato chowder, Ostara must have something with eggs (though not now that I’m vegan- tofu makes an interesting and delicious substitute). Beltane brings us strawberries and baby spinach, and there needs to be something golden yellow for Litha. Bread for Lughnassadh, apples and grapes for Mabon, some bubbling stew for Samhain, and something rich and decadent for the long Yule night. I have recipes I’ve been making for 20 years or more for the sabbats. Now, I’m having a lot of fun coming up with vegan recipes to celebrate the sabbats, and you’ll be seeing more and more of that here.
In fact, veganism has really gotten me excited about cooking in general. I love all the different ingredients I’ve been using. Hemp hearts and chia seeds are great for protein and fiber, nutritional yeast has vitamin B12. Hummus is good on everything. Seriously, EVERYTHING. And if you make ‘nice cream’ from frozen bananas with cacao powder, it’s actually a nutritious and delicious lunch.
Right now, we’re coming into summer, and the produce is plentiful. I love it. There’s this riot of color at the farmer’s market around the corner, and everything is just so fresh and delicious. I’m obsessed with summer produce. Tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, berries, mangoes, squash. I’m filled with excitement and love for the bounty of the season.
I’m also compiling my mother-in-law’s recipes into a cookbook to distribute among my husbear’s family. It’s really cool to see all her recipes, as well as various drawings from my husbear, sketches for cakes she made, notes, etc. I wish I’d gotten to know her better (I only met her twice), but I feel like I’m getting to know her now, through her 30+ collected barbecue sauce recipes. Cooking is something that people have always done to show love for their families. And the love in her recipe collection shines through loud and clear, transcending time and even death.
So yeah. I guess I’m a kitchen witch. I guess I always have been. I love food, and it has always been magickal to me. I suppose it’s time to embrace it, and to let go of all my hangups.
My tools are a food processor, a blender, good knives, my fridge, my oven, willing taste-testers, and knowledge that was handed down to me by my grandmother and my mother.
Blessed be, and happy cooking! <3