Archive for the ‘Witches Brew recipes’ Category

One of the best things about making jelly, jam, and other preserves is the ability to jar up some of the bright scents and flavors of summer to enjoy any time of year. That’s a nice boon when the weather heads toward late winter with gray, muddy days. Thanks to modern grocery stores and herb shops, this summery jelly can be made any time of year.

Sunshine & Roses Jelly is a recipe I created because I couldn’t find a recipe for what was in my head (a rare thing in this Internet age). There might be something like it now, but there certainly wasn’t 10 or 12 years ago. The love of these flavors combined came from a Middle Eastern-inspired cake flavored with lemon and rosewater that I made for Mother’s Day one year (my Mom was a big fan of lemon desserts). Then I read how it was popular during the Victorian era to make jellies from flowers and herbs. As creating new flavors of jelly and jam is something I enjoy (really, why make something you can buy in the store?), I decided to try using rose buds with lemon zest and juice for a jelly.

This unique jelly was the result. Some of my friends who are diehard fans of it, one even referring to it as “divine nectar.” Some people can’t stand it, but to each their own. I like using it for a jelly thumbprint cookie or fluffy biscuits – it’s a delicate and unexpected flavor.

There are a couple notes about making this. 1) Do not use florist roses, which are full of chemicals. If using roses you grow yourself, note that Damask roses are considered the best for flavoring – a lot of hybrid teas will look gorgeous but not work well for this. I usually buy dried rosebuds or petals from a local herb shop or from the Mountain Rose Herbs online store. 2) Do not let the infusion cool for much longer than what the recipe calls for. You think you can leave it to cool longer, but it can become bitter and not make a very nice jelly.

Like the idea of making jelly but never done it? It’s not that hard and only requires a few specials items in your kitchen. Check out these posts on PTM’s (rather neglected) sister blog, Hodgepodge Alley. Learn some of the basics of making jelly and jam and understand the difference between powder and liquid pectin.

Thistle’s Sunshine & Roses Jelly

2-1/2 cups water

1-3/4 cups dried rosebuds or rose petals*

Zest of two medium lemons

Juice of two medium lemons plus 2 more tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of rose water

4 cups sugar

1 package of liquid pectin

½ teaspoon of margarine, optional (to reduce foam)

Wash and sterilize four 8-ounce jelly jars and lids. Get any other items you need, such as a canning funnel, ladle, and jar tongs. Have a deep stockpot or waterbath canner filled with water and getting hot as you work. 

Put the rosebuds, zest, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, then cover and lower heat to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Note: Do be careful not to let the infusion cool too long as it can become bitter.

Pour the infusion through a strainer or jelly bag and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can into a large saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice, rose water, margarine, and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pectin and return to a full boil, stirring constantly, for two minutes. 

Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle the jelly into the jars, leaving a ¼-inch empty space at the top. Carefully wipe off any jelly from the jar rims and seal with the lids and metal rings hand tight. Place the jars in the water bath canner of boiling water, making sure water is at least an inch above the top of the jars. Process for 5 minutes; then remove to cool. 

*Be sure to use roses that are safe to consume. DO NOT use florist roses, which are full of chemicals. I typically buy them from a local herb store or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

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In lieu of a card today, I’m posting a recipe we eat frequently when the rich, heavy fare of the holidays and winter in general are starting to get a bit much. It was whipped up out of necessity. Our little family has come to enjoy some of the things I throw together when I forgot to thaw something or need to go shopping – just throwing open the cupboards and freezer and brewing an idea for something to eat is a form of kitchen witchery that is practical as well as a bit magical. Creating recipes – from my unusual Sunshine & Roses jelly to this simple soup – has also become a fun and nurturing outlet for my creativity. Perfect for this Taurus.

There’s no particular reason this soup has this name other than I’m a cottage witch, and I conjured it up because I wanted a warm but light dinner. It’s often what I reach for when we’ve been eating too heavy and still want something cozy and satisfying. This recipe uses some of my pantry staples, and I like serving it with either garlic bread or a green salad. 

If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy!



Thistle’s Cottage Witch Soup

2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pound of ground turkey
5 cups chicken stock or broth (you could use bouillon powder or cubes)
1-2 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning
1 can of cannellini beans or great white northern beans, drained
6 ounces of frozen spinach (if using fresh spinach, I would go with 1 to 1-1/2 cups packed leaves)
Salt and pepper to taste
Can of Italian-style diced tomatoes (optional*)
Eye of newt (optional)

Place olive garlic, onion, and olive oil in a three-quart or larger sauce pan. Sauté on medium heat for a couple minutes and then add the ground turkey. Cook together until meat is cooked through and onion and garlic is tender. 

Add the stock/broth, Italian Seasoning, and beans and heat until everything is simmering. Add in the spinach and tomatoes (if using) and simmer until everything is cooked through and hot. Add salt and pepper, if desired.

*I often add the tomatoes with the leftovers of this soup to counter how strong the spinach gets with sitting overnight. 

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