Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews

If you’ve learned one thing by now, it’s that Becky likey excuses to eat and drink. Fortunately for me, 2020 has delivered ample excuses and we’ll be talking about the latest one today, “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews: Herbal Potions, Magical Teas, and Spirited Libations” by Amy Blackthorn.

You may remember that not too long ago I reviewed “Witchcraft Cocktails: 70 Seasonal Drinks Infused with Magic & Ritual” by Julia Halina Hadas. It would be silly to not acknowledge there are many similarities between that book and “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews”. Both provide ample information to make you a competent home bartender, and both provide enough witchy info to effectively add magic to your drinks.

Where the two books diverge in a big way is what drinks are offered. Where “Witchcraft Cocktails” is strictly cocktails, “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews” focuses on almost anything you can drink. Obviously, there is booze involved with many of the recipes, but Blackthorn goes out of her way to provide non-alcoholic options as well. You’ll find cocktails, mocktails, teas, kombucha (which is low enough in alcoholic content that I consider it non-alcoholic), and more!

Of course, when it comes to me, I opted to make a little booze-based magic! I tried my hand at the Bishop, a recipe that goes back to the 18th century and generates success and prosperity. It calls for red wine, which I happened to have a bottle kicking around in need of using up. Along with the wine is orange juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

It is delicious! I’ve made it many times since my first attempt. It is sweet and smooth. I highly recommend it!

Amy Blackthorn’s “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews” is wonderful addition to the expanding category for food and beverage-based magic. As far as I’m concerned, it is a must own.

You can learn more here.

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A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance

What can I say? I love food. I also happen to love Dawn Aurora Hunt, owner of Cucina Aurora, purveyor of fine olive oils and other treats. When I found out that she had a cookbook coming out, I literally tracked down the publisher and emailed them out of the blue asking for a copy. And they delivered, thanks Tiller Press! I expected a standard cookbook from “A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance,” typical aphrodisiac type stuff, but it is a whole lot more.

“A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance” is an amazing exploration of love, food, and the author’s journey with both. The book is divided into 3 parts: Self-Love, Attracting Love, and Rekindling the Fires. All of this covers such topics as honesty, self-care, building friendship, dating, attracting romance, and more. Of course, along with all of that are recipes ranging from beginner to advanced. And you know what happens now, don’t you? I tell you about the recipe I tried!

I went with something easy and delicious sounding, Lemon Ginger Tonic. “This tonic with purifying lemon, heart-warming cinnamon, and lively ginger will you with warmth and healing energy. With each sip, envision negativity and hurt melting away.”

This recipe was super simple and amazing tasting! Seriously, a winter addiction may be at hand because this tastes like the best mulled cider you ever had in your life…. without the cider! Take ingredients and dump them in a glass, then top with boiling water! I had a killer headache when I made this and hand to god, this with a couple of ibuprofens mellowed me right out and I slept like a baby that night.

Owning a copy of “A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance” by Dawn Aurora Hunt is a guarantee of experiencing a life with more love and delicious food.

You can learn more here.

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Witchcraft Cocktails

If you have read the website for any time at all, or follow me on social media, you know that I am a lady that loves to eat and drink. I love it even more when my website enables my vice! Entering from stage right is, “Witchcraft Cocktails: 70 Seasonal Drinks Infused with Magic & Ritual” by Julia Halina Hadas. That is right, witchy shit meets booze. I am here for it.

“Witchcraft Cocktails” is a beautiful blend of bartending and witchcraft. Hadas does an excellent job giving the reader bartending 101. She provides an overview of spirits, bar tools, and techniques. You can become a competent home bartender with everything provided. This is followed with a nice witchcraft overview. It is hard to take such a vast and diverse topic such as witchcraft and boil it down to a manageable introduction. Hadas does an admirable job of covering basics enough to provide the reader with the knowledge they need to get the most of out of the cocktail recipes provided.

Since we are dealing with witches, the cocktail recipes that follow are divided up by season. They range from new versions of classics and some original recipes. I drink a lot of cocktails, but I am not an expert! But let’s answer the question you all have; did I make a drink out of the book? Of course!

Although an enthusiastic consumer of food and drink, I’m also lazy. So, I chose a cocktail that merely required some juice purchases, the Revitalizing Tequila Sunrise. And while on the topic of laziness, “Witchcraft Cocktails” has a recipe to make your own grenadine, which I skipped and used my store bought. According to Hadas, “Blending the rejuvenating agave plant spirit of tequila, the brightness of lemon, and fresh, smile-inducing orange, this cocktail will put a pep in your step.” (Just remember with tequila, you may first have a pep in your step, but if you over imbibe it will put you down.) This recipe evokes the energies of youth, creativity, and purification. Each recipe includes a way to amp up its effectiveness. In the case of the Revitalizing Tequila Sunrise she suggests having citrine in hand while enjoying the cocktail. (Believe it or not, this crystal lover does not own any citrine.)

Full disclosure, I did not feel rejuvenated after drinking this. However, I did not use one lick of fresh juice in it, and it was still DELICIOUS. What is nice about “Witchcraft Cocktails” is that a drink can be as simple (me!) or complex as you want to make it.

If you are a practitioner of witchcraft that enjoys the occasional cocktail, or a cocktail drinker looking for a new perspective, “Witchcraft Cocktails” by Julia Halina Hadas is for you!

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates!

Grab Your Wallet

Are you frustrated? Angry? Feeling helpless? I know I am. As an individual, I wield extremely limited political power, and as an average American I have more debt than available funds to spend for political influence. That’s why, shortly after Donald Trump was elected, I started following the Grab Your Wallet campaign.

Given that in our country corporations are people, these corporations basically power everything that happens in the United States. Our laws, our regulations, and our elected officials are insanely influenced by what these “people” want. As you might suspect, what corporations want is to make money, as much as possible. What Grab Your Wallet does is keep a real-time, publicly accessible list suggesting companies to boycott until certain specified actions are taken to get removed from the list. That’s right fellow flat broke friends, you can make a difference by joining others in NOT SPENDING MONEY!

To learn more about the Grab Your Wallet Alliance, I encourage you to visit their website. I went to reacquaint myself with where I shouldn’t be spending money and had a few shocks. Let’s just say my makeup and skincare dollars will be getting spent in a different way for the foreseeable future. Here’s a glimpse at some of what I found.

Estee Lauder (and its subsidiaries: Aerin Beauty, Aramis, Aveda, Becca, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Clinique, Darphin, DKNY, Donna Karan, Dr. Jart, Estee Lauder, GlamGlow, Jo Malone, La Mer, Lab Series, La Labo, MAC, Michael Kors, Origins, Rodin olio lusso, Smashbox, Tom Ford Beauty, Too Faced): In 2017 Ron Lauder who sits on Estee Lauder’s board gave $100,000 to Trump Victory in 2017. Grab Your Wallet until they fire Ron Lauder and state that remaining EL execs do not have plans to contribute to any of Trump’s reelection-related efforts, including inauguration celebrations, should he win a 2nd term. Statement can also say “any presidential candidate.” Should it fail to make such a stmt., company will earn a permanent spot on the #GrabYourWallet list.

Louis Vitton (and other LVMH brands: Guerlain, Acqua Di Parma, Parfums Christian Dior, Givenchy Parfums, Benefit Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, Fresh, KVD Vegan Beauty, Fenty Beauty, Cha Ling, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Ole Henriksen, Bite Beauty, and Kendo Brands…..also, Sephora!!!!!): French businessman and chairman of LVMH—Bernard Arnault—did a photo op with the Trump administration at a Louis Vuitton workshop in Texas. Grab Your Wallet until LVMH issue a statement indicating LVMH regrets the decision to participate in a photo opp w/ the Trump administration & will refrain from participating in photo opps with political candidates / politicians for the remainder of the 2020 election cycle.

Muy! Companies (which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut): Muy! Companies CEO James Bodenstedt has donated more than $400,000 to Trump reelection efforts. Muy! is the franchiser of hundreds of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s locations across the United States. Grab Your Wallet until they fire Muy! CEO James Bodenstedt.

Wendy’s: The billionaire chairman of Wendy’s, Nelson Peltz, held a $10 million dollar fundraiser for Trump in February. Grab Your Wallet until, given that Wendy’s Chairman of the Board has already participated significantly in Trump’s reelection efforts, the only way for Wendy’s to get off the boycott list is for any top executive who has assisted and/or donated to Trump to no longer be involved w/ the company.

Wegman’s: They carry Trump wine. Grab Your Wallet until they stop carrying Trump brand goods.

You can find the full, up to date list here. They also provide guidance as to how to reach out to this companies to respectfully express displeasure, and a point of contact for any suggestions of other companies that should go on the list.

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Matcha Lattes and Giveaways!

You always read about the benefits of green tea and/or matcha green tea. I enjoy both, but for a long time when I wanted to “treat” myself I would get a Matcha Green Tea Latte from Starbucks. I do prefer matcha because you’re consuming the green tea, as opposed to just steeping leaves in hot water.

The thing is, as a chronic pain sufferer, I’m not that physically active. I’m also in my 40’s. What I am getting at is, I need to watch my calories. Even with making all kinds of substitutions, the Starbucks Matcha Green Tea Latte was clocking in at 200 calories. AND, I had to go out and get it.

Now I could make one at home and take it into work with me. I did that for a while, however, it meant I had to drink it as soon as I got to work, and it would be lukewarm. Then I learned about Four Sigmatic, and more specifically I heard that they had an instant Matcha Latte Mix that doesn’t suck. I decided to give it a try.

Life. Changing.

Okay, that’s a little extreme, but what I now have are convenient, individual serving packets of Four Sigmatic instant Matcha Latte Mix. It has matcha, obviously, but also Lion’s Mane (which some believe provides mental health benefits) and Moringa (which Four Sigmatic calls “nutrient dense”). Thanks to the use of dried coconut milk powder and stevia, each serving is Vegan and only 30 calories.

I have never noticed any perceivable health benefits from drinking it, but it tastes good, is convenient, and low calorie. I keep a box in my cubicle at work, and whenever I want a Matcha Latte, I just pour a packet in a coffee mug and then fill it with hot water from our office’s Keurig machine. Stir it up and drink. It would absolutely be better if made with a frother or electric mixer to really work that mix into the water, but I don’t mind doing a stir and sip.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I have a subscription with Four Sigmatic and it is great. It gets you a discount and you can skip a shipment whenever you want. With all the chaos lately, I forgot to tell them to skip my latest shipment. Since it’s warm out, I’ve been drinking it less, so I thought I would giveaway one of the boxes from my order!

It is giveaway time! As usual, I’ll be using Rafflecopter to run it. Contest ends Sunday, June 7, 2020 at 11:59PM eastern. THIS GIVEAWAY IS ONLY OPEN TO RESIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES. (To make it clear, Four Sigmatic is in no way involved with this article or giveaway. I purchased this product myself and have chosen to giveaway some of the surplus to a lucky winner.)

You can learn more about Four Sigmatic here.
(If you make a purchase through this link, I believe you get $15 off your first order, and I’ll get $15 of credit with them for my own purchases.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates!

Soup from My Skincare Supplier

It’s been quite a while since I wrote about anything food related, and I recently did a weird batch of food shopping, so I figured I’d share it with you! If you follow me on social media, you probably know that I’m into skincare and makeup, and have a particular affection for Asian brands. I do most of my Korean and Japanese brand shopping on a website called YesStyle. I know you can get better prices on eBay or Amazon, but I trust YesStyle and I’m willing to pay extra for the professionalism they provide.

I recently needed to restock my Japanese cleansing oil and favorite Korean sunscreens (are any of you interested in hearing about that kind of thing?) and while on the YesStyle website I noticed they had food. I couldn’t resist and clicked the tab. I found what I was expecting to see, which is shelf stable items. Lots of powdered instant beverages, some snacks, and lots of instant ramen packs. I know people that order ramen soups online because they can get super spicy flavors, but sadly, my stomach doesn’t handle the spice life like it used to. I did see some flavors that I don’t find in my local grocery store, and since these days finding soup on the grocery shelves is pretty hard, I splurged and ordered a few.

Here are the results.

This is Demae Iccho Classic Series Sesame Oil Flavour from the brand Nissin.

Preparation was slightly different from what I was used to. Like any instant ramen, you boil a couple of cups of water on the stove and let the noodles cook in it for 3 minutes. You take your seasoning pack and put it in the bottom of the bowl you’re serving it in.

When the noodles are done, you pour the hot water into the bowl first to dissolve the base seasoning. Then you add the noodles.

Finally, you pour the sesame seed oil onto it.

I ate two spoonful/forkfuls, and immediately emailed my husband at work to proclaim this was the best tasting instant ramen I had ever had. For reals. The ingredients are not too unexpected for an item like this:

Noodles :Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, Salt, Acidity Regulator (452, 501, 451, 500, 339, 450), Thickener (1400, 401, 412), Antioxidant (307b, 304), Green Tea Powder. Soup Base: Salt, Flavour Enhancer (621, 627, 631), Soya Sauce Powder (Soya Beans, Wheat, Salt), White Sugar, Colour (150a), Yeast Extracts, Hydrolysed Soya Protein, Garlic Powder, Spices, Dehydrated Green Onion, Flavour and Flavouring (Chicken, Pork), Acidity Regulator (330), Rice Oil. Seasoning Oil: Sesame Oil (0.8%), Rice Oil, Flavour and Flavouring, Colour (160b, 160c).

Highly processed. Very salty. Certainly not the healthiest food choice out there. However, for a delicious quick lunch? I’m sold! I’m glad that I bought a couple other flavors from the brand to try! So, if you’re looking for a change of pace, why not?

Want to shop YesStyle? If you use this link, you’ll get a discount and I’ll get a 10% commission in the form of credit that I can use on more skincare and noodles!

The Chocolate Scorecard

A few days ago, I received a press release about 3 advocacy groups that put together a consumer purchasing guide for chocolate. Since I know that A LOT of you are chocolate lovers, I thought you’d want to see it.

Mighty Earth, Green America, and Be Slavery Free published a joint Easter scorecard, analyzing what the world’s biggest chocolate companies are doing to address social and environmental concerns. Godiva receives the “Rotten Egg Award” for its poor performance, and Tony’s Chocolonely receives the “Golden Egg Award” for its efforts to reshape the industry. The Easter scorecard has been published annually by Mighty Earth since 2018.

“Equipped with this scorecard, consumers can buy their Easter chocolates knowing whether their treats are likely tainted by deforestation and human rights abuses,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director, Etelle Higonnet. “Consumers’ purchases highlight that we, at a time of global crisis, are all truly interconnected and that we are in this together.”

The groups surveyed 13 chocolate companies and eight cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: mandatory due diligence; transparency and traceability; deforestation and climate change; agroforestry; living income policies; and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems.

Godiva was given The Rotten Egg Award for failing to take responsibility for the conditions with which its chocolates are made, despite making huge profits off its chocolate. Godiva rated poorly across the board. In comparison to other chocolate brands, Godiva has made very little progress on social and environmental issues in the last few years.

Tony’s Chocolonely, which sources from the same supplier as Godiva, earned the Golden Egg Award. When comparing the two companies’ efforts, the differences are stark. Tony’s is working to demonstrate that an ethical business model is possible in the chocolate industry and works to support its supplier to improve its operations. Tony’s performed well in every category across the scorecard.

“2020 is a big year in the chocolate sector, two decades since the world’s chocolate manufacturers signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement to clean up the industry. Sadly, very little has changed,” said Charlotte Tate, Labor Justice Campaigns Manager at Green America. “Nonetheless, the industry is recognizing voluntary initiatives are not working and more companies are calling for government regulation. Businesses are recognizing that they cannot solve these issues alone and need greater government regulation.”

Roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96 percent of whom are found to be in hazardous labor according to researchers at Tulane University. In recent years, research from the World Resources Institute found that there has been an increase in deforestation in top cocoa producing countries, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Cocoa farmers often live in extreme poverty, despite chocolate companies raking in billions every year.

While progress is being made in the direct cocoa supply chains, there are still big concerns about the harmful impacts of companies’ indirect supply chains on the environment, particularly deforestation, and people. There is little transparency about what is occurring in the indirect cocoa supply chains. These issues demonstrate an urgent need for increased efforts to transform the cocoa industry into a sustainable industry.

You can learn more about Mighty Earth here.
You can learn more about Be Slavery Free here.
You can learn more about Green America here.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates!

The Magick of Food

If you follow my personal social media accounts, you know I LOVE food. My pot belly and high cholesterol also attest to this fact, but that’s beside the point. You know who else truly loves food? Gwion Raven. I was fortunate enough to be given an uncorrected proof of his new book “The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings, and Why We Eat Together” and I was simply blown away.

The first section of the book is “A Brief and Incomplete History of Food and Ritual”. For being “incomplete”, Raven starts with a small exploration of what our primitive, cave dwelling ancestors perhaps ate and what it meant to them. What flows from that starting point is an engaging history lesson on the evolution of food, faith, and where the two intersected. We visit the food, gods, recipes, and rituals of the Middle East, Greece, Rome, and what the author refers to as “A Dark Age of Cuisine” (Britain).

The second section is “Food, Magic, and Rituals for Today”. Raven explores what he considers five basic principles for food magic:
1. All food is sacred.
2. Eat what you need.
3. Share what you can.
4. Express gratitude.
5. Pass the knowledge along.
The author explores the magic to be found in a cup of tea or dinner out in a restaurant. From this point he discusses the connection between food and arousal, healing, grief, community, and the Kitchen Witch. This section if filled with magical ideas, spells, rituals, and my favorite, recipes!

The third section of the book is “All the Recipes”! Here you find ways to make everyday “mundane” recipes magical, cocktails (yes!), mocktails (alcohol free beverages), and magical libations. Rounding out the section is “Food Magick for Special Occasions”. In a book full of tempting recipes, here is where you will find some truly stand out feasts: “Goat for a God” (which I really want to try), “In Praise of Inanna”, “Demeter’s Vegetarian Feast”, and “Boar for Bacchus”. Raven also includes “A Year of Food Magick”, offering recipes for Pagan celebrations, and little more love in the form of “Four Ridiculously Good Aphrodisiacs”.

Being a food lover, I find it hard to imagine a person who wouldn’t be interested in “The Magick of Food”. It’s well-written, entertaining, informative, and loaded with recipes! What more could you want?

Learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Witches’ Kitchen Oracle Cards

If there is one thing I have clearly established here on The Magical Buffet, it’s that I love food. Full stop. End of story. Obviously, this meant that given the opportunity to try out the “Witches’ Kitchen Oracle Cards” I was all in! And honestly, this exceeded expectations.

Barbara Meiklejohn-Free and Flavia Kate Peters, together with Richard Crookes as illustrator, created an all-purpose deck for anyone who loves food. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. Each card focuses on an ingredient and has an associated theme. For example: Apple with Forbidden, Blackberry with Invasive, or Olive with Peace. Each card is densely illustrated, evoking a mood and reminding you of all the various ways that food item can be used. With that you have everything you need!

Like most oracle decks, and particularly with this one, I favor the single card draw. You may think with a food theme “Witches’ Kitchen” would be awkward used that way. You would be wrong. Not only can the evocative images and theme inspire some insight, you realize that you have a strong personal association with food, and that adds a personal depth to the deck that you won’t find with others.

The accompanying book features different spreads you can use the cards with, more detail about each card, and recipes! Yay food!

Seriously, this deck may seem “light weight” at a glance, but there is a lot of wisdom to be found in the “Witches’ Kitchen Oracle Cards”.

You can learn more here.

Any deck that makes sure to include a martini on the Olive card is A plus in my book!

The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal

If you know me, you know I love food. Thusly, when I’m given the chance to review any book with the potential to end with food, I’m there! That brings us to today’s review of “The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal: Culinary Herbs, for Magic, Beauty, and Health” by Anna Franklin.

“The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal” is nice because it focuses on ingredients that most people already have in their kitchen. Franklin gives a nice overview of each herb including its planetary associations, elemental correspondences, magical virtues, and associated deities. She goes on to talk about how to use the herb for cooking, cosmetics, and healing. The best part is at the end of each entry is recipes! And why yes, I did try one.

The internet is all about turmeric these days, so I decided to try making “Golden Milk”. It didn’t require too many ingredients. (Sadly, the recipe called for cinnamon, which I didn’t have at the time.)

Warm coconut milk with spices. Steep. Strain. Stir in honey. Enjoy! It tasted pretty good. I bet it would have been better with the cinnamon…

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.