Friday, October 25, 2013

Discreet Witch's Most Creepy Ingredients

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and tow of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble...
--William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

I really miss those days when my kids were thrilled by the magical change that came over our suppers around Halloween.  The shredded cabbage I would give them with dinner was now mermaid hair, green beans became troll fingers, and tomato sauce became Vampire's Delight (served on a bed of albino worms, of course.)  A big favorite around here is a dish we call Zombie Guts which is basically just Bratwurst and sauerkraut.

The Internet is lousy with Halloween recipes right now, so far be it for me to reinvent the wheel.  Instead, I thought I'd share some my favorite creepy ingredients for readers to do with what you will.  Honestly though, you are only limited by your (or your kids') imagination--once the Halloween decorations come out, evening meals around here become a contest to come up with the creepiest ingredient names.

Discreet Witch's Most Common Creepy Ingredients:

troll fingers--sauteed green beans
witch's hair--finely shredded red cabbage (if you put a tiny bit of vinegar in it before cooking, the purple gets really vibrant)
zombie brains--cauliflower
eyeballs--pearl onions, of course!
eye of newt--soaked chia seeds (I like to soak them in cranberry juice and use them in baking, but they make an excellent food to eat on a dare)
ectoplasm--shredded mozzarella
bat wings--blue corn potato chips (make excellent batwing and ectoplasm nachos!)
swamp snot--pesto (quite tasty served over that bed of worms)
scabs--dried cranberries for sweet, sun dried tomatoes for savory
mummy toenails--slivered almonds (yummy with scabs, zombie dandruff and graveyard dust on your morning oatmeal)
zombie dandruff--shredded coconut for sweet, parmesan cheese for savory
graveyard dust--ground cinnamon, cocoa, cumin--anything brown

Troll Fingers with Scabs and Toenails
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 lb green beans
water to barely cover the bottom of the pan
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan with a lid, saute the garlic in the olive oil about one minute.  Toss in green beans and water and cover until the water has mostly evaporated, about two minutes.  Add tomatoes, almonds, salt and pepper and toss over medium heat until slight caramelization happens on the beans.  Serve.
This is especially tasty when garnished with zombie dandruff and freshly ground pepper.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crystal Ball Meditation

This weekend's Harvest Moon fell on a perfect October evening--the sky was clear, the weather was mild.  As it was a Friday, I was free to have an overt celebration--Three Sisters' Soup and Moon Wine for everyone!  And of course there were my tools to recharge by moonlight.  Of the items I recharge, none are more lovely than my crystal balls.

Over the years I have amassed quite the collection of crystal balls.  The fascination started with one my mother had--a small, perfect sphere of rock crystal set on a simple brass stand.  I loved that crystal ball (as did my Barbies, since I would often borrow it to play "gypsy fortune teller").  As an adult, I went through a phase where crystal balls seemed to make themselves available to me some regularity.  Taking it as a sign, I would (of course) buy them whenever I had the chance and the funds, but soon my wealth of crystal balls became more like a clutter of paperweights.  For a while there (during a spiritual slump), they were just something interesting to set on a coffee table book or a potential weapon to take away from the kids.  Today, however, they are usually the focus of my meditations.

While crystal ball scrying has become something of a cliche these days, as a meditation tool it can't be beat.  Unlike Tarot readings, a crystal ball reading is highly subjective for me, and consequently not helpful when seeking answers for others.  But for my personal scryings, I often prefer the ball to other focusing mediums.  The weight in my hands, the subtle patterns inside the crystal, the way the light shines through--all of these things help me lose my focus on the here and now just enough to let my mind find answers to any questions I may have that day.  

In my home, my crystal balls have ceased to be dust collectors and are now shiny reminders of my spirituality.  Add to that the personal energy they pick up during meditations as well as the energy of the full moon, and crystal balls scattered throughout my home lend a soothing and personal energy to the rooms they grace.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Bell Witch

Growing up, my mother loved to tell me stories of our ancestors.  Of course, as a kid I couldn't have cared less, but there was one story she saved for special occasions:  The Bell Witch.  This one was reserved for camping trips and late-night marshmallow roasts of course, and it used to scare the Hell out of me...but in a good way.

I'll be honest here--while I do have a John Bell in my ancestry (and seriously, who doesn't?), I haven't tried to confirm any family ties to this story.  As fun as it is to be frightened by a story, I'm not sure I want to have a biological link to it.

Anyway, the short version goes something like this:
Farmer John Bell bought land and a home in what is now Adams, Tennessee in the early 1800's.  One day while out in the field he encountered a strange animal with the head of a rabbit and the body of a dog.  When he went to investigate, it promptly disappeared.

Shortly after this, the family began to hear strange noises in the walls along with mysterious moving objects and children complaining of an unseen aggressor pinching and slapping them.  John Bell's youngest daughter, Betsy, seemed to receive the brunt of these attacks.  Not surprisingly, Betsy was a young lady of marriageable age--prime poltergeist bait.  Occurrences worsened when Betsy became engaged to Joshua Gardner, eventually leading to an end to the engagement.

The entity continued to harass the family for years until John Bell's death in 1820, but it's said that it promised to visit Bell's direct descendant in 107 years.

Of course my mother, having a wide-eyed audience hanging on her every word, often embellished the story, and without a doubt failed to mention that 107 years had come and gone.  What she would do, which I'm hesitant to do to my own children, was end the story as every good ghost story should end--with a loud BANG!!

Ah, good times.

For a much better account of the Story of the Bell Witch, here are a few links:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back Porch Halloween

Wow.  The first weekend in October has come and gone, and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies.  Gloriously, a cool front blew through this weekend and it finally feels like autumn here at Discreet Witch Central.

Not one to let a perfect autumn day go to waste, I caught a wild hare and decided that this year I would not be Halloweening up the front porch like I normally do (which frankly, is wasted on the Trick-or-Treaters since they rarely get past the "Keeper of the Candy" stationed in the middle of my driveway).  For years I went all-out on the front, much to the delight of the UPS guy and the Orkin man, and maybe the occasional kid selling something for school.  But not this year.  This year they'll have to settle for a few pumpkins and a cobweb or two.  No, this year I'm doing up my back porch in creepy Halloween style.

I should explain that I live on the water, and to be honest, my back yard gets seen WAY more than my front.  Early fishermen, kayakers, tubers, paddleboarders--I get more back yard traffic by my house than front yard traffic most days.  In the immortal words of the Joker, "Wait 'til they get a load of me..."

Being a notorious Halloweenophile, of course I own bins of decorations, but a certain amount of judicious reassigning was definitely in order here...

Interior pillows snagged from the after-Halloween sale rack a couple of years ago make their way outside.

"Fred" the skeleton takes center stage on the back porch.  His faithful companion "Lucky" was an anniversary gift from sweet spouse last year.  Sadly, his sibling "Un-Lucky" didn't survive last season very well and is barely held together with wire, glue and spit.  Un-Lucky doesn't get to hang out in high-traffic areas. 
 It's got to be five o'clock somewhere.