Friday, October 18, 2013

“Spice-Roasted Butternut Squash With Red Onions”--A Witches Garden--"Double, Double, Toil, And Trouble"

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 a 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”. They were said to be 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. They were essences, lotions, cures, and some were 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. They also had 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, Flat Leaf Parsley, Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, and Fennel. 

My recipe this week is a delicious way to use your herbs and spices. This easy, savory, sweet, and scrumptious side dish is full of flavor. A perfect recipe for this time of year called “Spice-Roasted Butternut Squash With Red Onions.” Enjoy and remember if you pass a herb garden, know that a “Witch” is not far away…...

Spice-Roasted Butternut Squash With Red Onions.” 

1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
2 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs each)
Peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 small red onions cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
10 sprigs fresh thyme
4 Tbsp Olive Oil

Heat oven to 425° F. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Divide the squash, onion, and thyme between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Toss the vegetables on each sheet with 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, then half of the spice mixture. Arrange in a single layer and roast, turning once, until golden brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Serves: 4    

Till Next Time………………

Copyright © 2013 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Hi Dottie!

    Oh what a great post. Indeed I have read of the Witch's Garden. I use to take the Montauk ferry over to Coventry CT to Caprilands. The woman who owned it was named Adelma Simmons. Halloween was the best time to go and visit her Witch's Garden. I even have a book by her titled A Witch's Brew that I have shared on my blog.

    Your Butternut Squash recipe is a wonderful way to celebrate the season and of course all the herbs are sure to make it delicious!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Dottie...wishing you a wonderful week. Louise

  2. Hi Louise,

    Glad that you enjoyed this post. It was a fun one to write. I will have to check out Adelma Simmons and her cookbook, "A Witch's Brew". It is funny but we all use the same ingredients, there is no difference.

    This recipe is a good one. The flavors blend so perfectly together. Plus it is a different way to eat butternut squash. I bet you can do the same thing with sweet potatoes. Never tried that, but who knows.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a fabulous week too!

    Blessings, Dottie :)

  3. Hi Dottie,

    Adelma simmons wrote many herbal books. I think all of them are now out of print since she is no longer alive. The Witch's Brew is actually a booklet of perhaps, 80 or 90 pages. Another one of her books is titled Think Christmas. It too is filled with herbal lore and recipes.

    I've only recently been introduced to butternut squash. Actually by my grandchildren who love it! But, I think you're right this recipe would probably be great with sweet potatoes too.

    Thank you again, Dottie. You have a wonderful week also. I better get my butt moving now. I haven't yet posted today, lol...

  4. Hi Dottie , loved your post , butternut squash is so delicious with red onions . I grow my own herbs all of the ones you mention and a few more , I bring them inside in cold weather and put them in the foyer , fresh herbs are so nice to have around , thank you for sharing , have a great week :).

  5. HI Nee,

    Thanks, you are so right, there is nothing like the aroma of the fresh herbs in the house and cooking with them a well. I don't have the space to grow any fresh herbs, but when I was a young child my mom grew all of them. My job was to go outside and collect them when she needed them to cook with. The mint was a favorite as I would pick them your hands would have that mint smell. Was so much fun, and great memories!Have a great week as well! Blessings, Dottie :)

  6. Dear Louise,

    Thanks for the info on Adelma, I would have been going crazy trying to find her. You never know I maybe able to find a book sometime. I really like the one you mentioned called "Think Christmas".

    I love butternut squash even mashed like potatoes. It is so good for you. Your grandchildren have the right idea, they love it! I love all of the squashes, even turnips. They are fabulous. Yes, I think the sweet potato or yams would be delicious too. I have to try that.

    Looking forward to your new post...have a great week..

    Blessings, Dottie :)

  7. I have never tried pumpkin with red onion. What a great idea.It must add to the sweetness of the pumpkin.
    You have a beautiful blog!!

  8. Dear Alida,
    This dish is really delicious! The onion and the butternut squash go really well together. You wouldn't think so, but it does. Being the squash is in season now, they taste sweeter. This was a fun post to write as Halloween is right around the corner. Thank you for the complements about my blog. Till next time..Blessings, Dottie :)

  9. Dear Dottie, A beautiful dish and very colorful for the Thanksgiving Day tables. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  10. Dear Catherine, Thank you for visiting... Yes, this is a delicious and colorful side dish! Blessings for a great week, Dottie :)