Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Harvest Some Fun For Lammas

Lammas, or Lughnassadh can easily be a forgotten Wiccan/Pagan holiday. It is not as showy as Samhain, or as lusty and festive as Beltane. But it remains one of the major sabbats, and should be recognized as such. The harvest is a time to gather: thoughts and blessings. It is about taking stock. We are getting ready for the next big seasonal shift. It is actually quite a powerful time, if you stop to ponder it. What better way to celebrate than to host an intimate gathering, simply to bake and break bread together; to just be? 

I would keep this one at four to five guests, tops. You know the old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen! Assign one person on each bread recipe– I have three that you could try. Have a fourth person on oven-tending and clean-up duty. If you have a fifth, let them set up serving plates and make sure everyone's glass stays filled with one of the following: sparkling apple juice, a hearty locally made craft ale, or a nice fruity barley wine. 

These recipes should provide variety for everyone, but please feel free to play with the flours or ingredients to make one vegan. Note that the Bacon Buttermilk Corn Bread should keep the gluten-free folks happy.

FLAT BREAD (Italy)

"Flat bread is another food that travels well. The symbolism of removing the air from this bread can be used as a magical process for removing negative energy from our lives."  (Telesco, p. 59)

Yield: About 6 flat breads.

3 cups flour                                             1/4 cup olive oil

1 envelope active dry yeast        1 cup very warm water

2 teaspoons sugar       (120 - 130 degrees F)

1/4 teaspoon salt               3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Mix one cup of the flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized bowl; add the olive oil and water. Beat with a mixer on low speed for 1 minute, scraping the bowl frequently. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is easy to handle.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead for 7 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Punch down the dough and divide into the number of individual flat breads that you desire. Form each portion into a ball; let rest 5 minutes. Roll each ball 1/2-inch thick. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes. Prick the surface with a fork; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 13 minutes.

"Variation: To further encourage protective energy, add red and yellow pepper slices, onions, and cheese over the olive oil, oregano, and garlic base (basically sauceless pizza).

Magical Attributes: Taking the 'wind' out of gossip, decreasing undesired love, smoothing difficulties." (Telesco, p. 59)

(Recipe from Patricia Telesco's, "A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook," Llewellyn Publications, 1994.

NONNIE'S BISCUITS

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons shortening

2/3 cups milk

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in shortening– add in milk. Place on floured board and slightly knead.

Roll 1/4 inch thick. Bake on ungreased sheet (500 degrees F) 10 - 12 minutes. For shortcake, add 1/2 cup sugar.

(Recipe from Ann Jacobs, my great-grandmother.)

BACON BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD

Prep time: 15 minutes

Makes 9 servings

2 strips lean bacon, chopped

Vegetable oil (optional)

1 1/3 cups cornmeal

2/3 cup all-purpose flour *or gluten-free all purpose baking mix

2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Dash salt

2 large egg whites

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup low-fat (1% milkfat) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving drippings. Drain the bacon on paper towels; set aside.

Measure the drippings. If necessary, add vegetable oil to the drippings to measure 3 tablespoons; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the egg whites, egg, buttermilk, the 3 tablespoons drippings, and the bacon pieces. Add to the flour mixture all at once and stir until combined. 

Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. 

Nutritional information: 1 serving: 182 calories. Total fat 7 g. Saturated fat 2 g. Protein 6 g. Carbohydrate 25 g. Fiber 2 g. Sodium 290 mg. Cholesterol 28 mg.

(Recipe adapted from Sandra Granseth's and Elizabeth Woolever's "Like Grandma Used to Make," The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1996.)

Serve up your finished breads with jams, butter, peanut butter, honey or cheese, and drink a toast with your pals with the libation of your choosing. Eat outside, even if just on your back porch or in your back yard. Breathe in those last wisps of summer. Harvest.

Photo, "Bakery," by Carlos Porto from freedigitalphotos.net

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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work was featured in Crone Magazine and the Marquette Journal online. She resides with a black cat named Bootsie, who always wants to keep her company at her computer.

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