Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Electric Mayonnaise

One thing I can be a bit stubborn about is using electric appliances.  Well, not all of them; some electric appliances are my friends, like my oven and glass-top range--here in the Pacific Northwest, where most of the electricity is either hydroelectric or geothermal, an electric stove is probably more eco-friendly than burning propane, although there is something about cooking over an actual flame that would still be hard to say no to.  I'm not even talking about my toaster oven, or single-purpose things like my rice cooker, deep fryer, toaster, or slicer.  Now that I think on it, apparently I actually like using electric appliances a lot.  Maybe I should start again.

One thing I can be rather stubborn about is using powered mixing appliances in my kitchen.  I understand it's a lot easier to dump your ingredients in a food processor and push the button, instead of chopping things with a knife and cutting board.  I understand a hand mixer can whip eggs faster than I can do it with a whisk.  I understand that a bread machine is less effort than hand-kneading.  I understand the appliances make things easier, I just don't like the idea of having a machine do certain things for me.  I like having that connection with the food, turning it from raw ingredients into finished dishes with my own hands.  (Plus, I tend to hate the noise those things make--like fingernails on a chalkboard, if you ask me.)  So whenever a recipe says something like, "Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed," I tend to just pull out my whisk and go to it.  It just seems so much more satisfying and, well, magical to do it that way.

However, one thing that didn't quite turn out by hand was homemade mayonnaise.  I got it in my head that I wanted to try my hand at making my own, fresh, preservative-free mayonnaise, so I found a recipe, and started whisking away.  Over an hour later, I still had nothing but a bowl of oily liquid, and boy, was my arm tired.  I had a determination to try again later, but in the meantime, my sweetie decided to get me a gift, so now I have a lovely pink immersion blender (pictured right).  So, I made another attempt at the same traditional recipe, except using this electric blender instead of my whisk.  At first it thickened up beautifully, but by the time I had finished adding the oil it had collapsed into the same liquidy mess.  Before giving up permanently, though, I decided to give the far-too-easy-sounding recipe in the blender's instruction book a try.  It was the same ingredients, after all, just assembled a bit differently.  Miraculously enough, in less than five minutes start-to-finish, this motorized magic wand turned a cup full of oil with an egg at the bottom into a jar of creamy, delicious mayonnaise.  And the motor wasn't even unreasonably loud while it was doing it!  I may even end up re-thinking my stance on powered food-prep tools; seeing clouds of creamy mayo billow up into existence in the bottom of that cup felt plenty magical to me.

Of course, I am probably not going to be totally happy until I've successfully done it by hand at least once, just so I can say that I can do it.  But, surely a witch is nothing if not practical, so any tool--motorized or not--that can turn an hour's worth of heavy whisking into thirty seconds of "Poof, done!" has earned its keep in my kitchen. :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Returning to Optimisim

As a preface to this story, I craft my own candles.  It's just one of those things that felt like a natural fit for a kitchen witch; it really is a form of cooking, after all.  The skills are the same--knowing how to follow a recipe, and knowing when to tweak that recipe just like so, to come up with the perfect result.  And just like my homemade bread has spoiled me for store-bought, I would certainly hate to have to go back to mass-produced store-bought candles as well.

And so it happened that my partner and I decided I should try to share my craft, and we got a website going to sell my candles online.  During the month of June, we advertised on Google Adwords, and over 200 people came to see my site!

None of them placed an order.

As you could probably imagine, this was a bit discouraging.  I mean, I know the site is sort of basic, but I didn't think it was that bad.  Either way, I ended up feeling as though this online business thing was just harder than I imagined it would be, and sort of put things on the back burner with it.

However, last week one of my partner's coworkers decided to place an order for some candles, and we found out through her that the payment processor I was using (PayPal) was declining all of her cards.  Someone else had also previously mentioned having issues, but she had thought maybe her prepaid card didn't have enough balance on it.  So this made it seem like the problem was that the website was broken, which actually makes a bit more sense than having 200 people come after searching for candles, and none of them wanting to order any.

That's still not great, of course, since that advertising investment was sort of wasted if the website wouldn't take people's money.  But, more importantly than that, I'm feeling much more optimistic now, imagining that the problem is something I should be able to fix.  I'm getting the positive energy flowing again now, and hoping for the best again--which, of course, is the only proper way for a witch to be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On being a Lady

I do think that an important part of following the Lady is to be a lady.  I don't mean that in the sense that only females can honor the Goddess, of course.  I'm simply talking about myself here, and how I believe I should choose to comport myself.  My image of the Goddess is elegant, graceful, patient, and serene, and nurturing those traits in myself can only make me feel closer to that ideal.

As an example, I choose to wear skirts or dresses; I simply don't wear pants.  I don't even own any pants.  In the non-summer months, I often wear tights under my skirt, but as is famously pointed out on the internet, tights are not pants, they are undergarments.  When asked about this (and I have been asked), I usually reply, slightly jokingly, that pants are against my religion.  Jokingly, because the "religion" of a Pagan spiritual path certainly doesn't have any Commandment against women wearing pants.  Seriously, because my spiritual path would strongly encourage me to do those things which help me feel more like a spiritual being, and to avoid those things which make me feel less so.

My partner has actually become something of a role-model for me in this area.  She and I were having a discussion in the car the other day, when I pointed out that it seemed like she just simply doesn't use swear words.  Not even like the people who end up saying "Oh fudge!" in such a way that it's obvious which 'f' word they really wanted to use; I mean she really doesn't curse.  She was telling me how, when she was in the Air Force at a time when there were very few women, she had resolved herself not to let herself become "one of the guys" like some of the other women did; she did her best to be ladylike even wearing a flightsuit, making sure she wore perfume and making a conscious choice not to use the 'salty language' that the men tended to.  In contrast, my work history (in the office of a manufacturing facility) brought me in contact with the blue-collar set for several years, and my vocabulary picked up several unfortunate additions along the way--I don't curse like a sailor or anything, but I do use the occasional swear word.  Not that it isn't perfectly acceptable for a woman to speak that way in modern culture, but it just doesn't feel very ladylike.

It does seem like over the past few months as I let my spirituality go to an extent, I also may have let myself go at the same time.  I've gained weight, I often don't put on makeup in the mornings, I let my nails get shabby-looking, and so on.  While that may seem like superficial stuff, the overall effect is that I haven't been feeling as much like an elegant lady as I did at one point.  So, I'm making kind of a mid-year resolution to start undoing some of those changes, and to remember to try to always be a Lady.

Monday, July 16, 2012


It's only proper that one should start a journal off with an introduction, don't you think?

My name is Jessica, and I am a "self-proclaimed" kitchen witch (as if there is any other kind).  More specifically, I consider myself to be an eclectic Pagan, which is more or less the earth-based-spirituality equivalent of saying "non-denominational."  I consider myself a fairly normal person, overall; my broom is for sweeping and not for flying, and my cauldron is far more likely to have stew bubbling in it than any strange potions.  I have "cast a spell" on occasion, but even that is far less arcane and supernatural than most people would imagine.

I was actually raised in a somewhat-fundamental Christian home, right in the middle of the Bible Belt.  Those teachings never really resonated with me, though, and I ended up falling away from the church.  I often felt as though there might be something missing, but I couldn't put a finger on what it was, until a few years ago when I stumbled onto a wonderful website about the modern Wicca faith.  Although Wicca turned out not to be the exact spiritual path I would follow either, it helped to solidify an earth-based spirituality that before that had just been abstract feelings in my mind.  Since then, I've discovered that the place I feel most connected to the World, and the most magical, is in my kitchen; when I open myself up to it, the art of cooking and other domestic things can feel like religious observances.  The phrase "kitchen witch" is also something I found online, when I discovered there were other like-minded Pagans out there.

All passions cool eventually, though, and it seems like the past year or so I haven't been practicing the way I should--I haven't been keeping track of moon phases or even solar holidays, I don't have an altar set up at the moment, and so on.  Which would be fine, except that now that little niggling "something is missing" feeling is creeping up again; this time, though, I know what I need to do to satisfy it.  As part of that, I'm starting this web-journal as a writing project that will hopefully help keep me in touch with my spiritual side.  So, by all means, feel free to follow along if you're interested!