Friday, October 19, 2012

"Double, Double, Toil And Trouble" A "Witches Garden" & An "Italian Fries" Recipe

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder! Enter Witches.

Three witches speak: --------'tis time! 'tis time! Round about the caldron go; “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

If that sounds familiar to all of my readers, it’s because it is a sentence from “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare. As Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to talk about what is called a “Witches Garden”. Right now you must be thinking that I am a little “witchy” but everyone has used the items that are grown in a “Witches Garden” at one time or another.

A Witches Garden is an herb garden specifically designed and used for the cultivation of medicinal herbs and herbs used in everyday cooking. For centuries the “Wise Women” and healers understood the “magic” that herbs did for healing. During the medieval period, monks, and nuns acquired this medical knowledge and grew the necessary herbs to heal people. In fear of losing their power the nobility called the Wise Women and healers, “Witches” and evil for using these practices to help heal the common people. They were eventually burned.

In today’s world, a “Witches Garden” is the center of her creations. The medicinal qualities from many plants and flowers growing within her scared space are simple in design. They contain a wealth of magical materials that can be used for healing such as essences, lotions, and cures, if they are ground up or dried. Some typical plants and herbs that are found in a Witches Garden are Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, Mint, Catnip, Marjoram, Chives, Thyme, Angelica root and leaves, Bay leaves, Oregano, Dill, Basil, Mugwort and wildflowers of all sorts.

Then there is the “Kitchen Witch.” Her garden is also her home as well as her kitchen. She works with the cycles of the seasons and the moon as she nurtures her garden sanctuary and growing sacred trees, wildflowers, plus harvesting culinary organic fruits and vegetables. The Kitchen Witch will spend time in her garden connecting with Mother Earth and enjoying nature’s beauty. She meditates in a quiet spot perhaps on a calming chamomile lawn or under a shady tree. The Kitchen Witch shares her harvest with birds and wildlife. She recycles, composts, and tends to her plants with tender loving care. The Kitchen Witch recognizes that food is sacred, life-giving, and is part of the balance of nature. She uses the freshest ingredients with intent and purpose. She adds a little “magic” as she puts together a nourishing healthy meal using her herbs with her expert cookery skills. Her kitchen usually contains a comfy chair, she has utensils that are blessed and carved with scared symbols or sprinkled with a little “magic oil”. Don’t forget to look in your kitchen you may see a special witch’s apron hanging on a hook, if you look hard enough!

Herbs are an important addition in Italian cooking and can be grown easily in pots or in the garden. They should be stored in the freezer or hung up to dry in a cool place away from the heat. Once dry, they should be placed in air tight containers. The list of spices and herbs that Italian’s mostly use with their recipes are too many to mention, so I am going to give you a few of the important ones that my family uses. Basil, Garlic, Oregano, Bay Leaves, Mint, Parsley, Black Pepper, and Fennel.

My recipe this week is a delicious way to use your herbs. This recipe is called “Italian Fries” a mouth watering finger food that you bake not fry. I have modified this recipe to my families’ tastes, but you can use whatever herbs or potatoes your family likes. Recipe is courtesy of “Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys” cookbook by Lucinda Scala Quinn. These savory scrumptious fries are full of flavor and I know you can’t just have one. Enjoy and remember if you pass an herb garden, know that a “Witch” is not far away…...

Italian Fries

6 or 7 Yukon gold or Sweet Potatoes
4 or 5 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon each of dried Italian Herbs or combo of (I use basil & oregano)
2 cups of freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/4 cup of minced Italian parsley
4 tablespoons butter
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
You can use a small pinch red pepper flakes to top them (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Peel potatoes and slice into 1/3-inch thick French fry style strips. Place them in cold, salted water so they don’t turn color while you work.
Now drain potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Spread 1 tablespoon of oil on each of two rimmed baking sheets and spread out the potatoes. Overlapping is fine. Sprinkle the dried herbs evenly over the potatoes. Liberally spread cheese and parsley on top. Drizzle the remaining oil over the cheese. Scatter bits of butter around the pans. Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, rotating the pans after 30 minutes, for a total baking time of 45-50 minutes. Baking time depends on the size of your cut potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.
Till Next Time………………

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