International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2022

Arrrr Mateys! It’s that magical holiday that once again celebrates silly pirate talk and provides me with an excuse to drink rum! Well, more rum. The holiday was “created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.” For some reason, it took off. I suspect one reason, is that it’s silly fun, and the other reason would be the Pastafarians embracing pirates in their theology.

And so, what kind of booty does Rebecca have for all you scallywags? A yet to be formally named cocktail created by yours truly. For those who do not know, I decided that 2022 was going to be the year of classy drunk Rebecca. No basic beers, no well drink rum and Cokes, etc. To start my classy journey, I decided to have a bottle of Prosecco pretty much always in the refrigerator, because bubbles are classy, and Champagne flutes are also classy. The two main spirits to be found in our house are rum and gin. This led me to try the classic cocktail, French 75.

This is a simple, but classy cocktail. Because I want to be classy drunk, but I’m still a lazy bitch. The French 75 is 1 ½ ounces of gin, ¾ ounce of lemon juice, ¾ ounce of simple syrup all in a shaker with ice. You shake it until it gets very cold, then strain it into a flute glass and top with a sparkling wine, such as Prosecco. Simple, delicious, classy af.

However, although I love gin, it is more my husband’s spirit of choice, and as most of you know, I’m more of a rum lover. Where is my simple yet classy rum cocktail? Then it struck me, why not just flip the script on the French 75? And it works perfectly.

Rebecca’s Simple and Classy Rum Cocktail
1 ½ ounces golden or dark rum (white/silver rum is a bit too rough for this one)
¾ ounce lime juice (in most rum drinks it’s lime instead of lemon, so I made the switch here)
¾ ounce simple syrup
Then, just like the French 75, you put those ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then strain into a flute glass and top with Prosecco.

(Rebecca’s tips for the lazy and poor like herself. Lime juice used, from a bottle. Simple syrup, purchased instead of homemade. Prosecco of choice? Prosecco 90+ Cellars, which is around $10. Be sure to purchase a cap designed for bubbly beverages if you don’t plan on using the whole bottle at once. Don’t waste booze!)

And with that, I’ll be off to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day like the classy wench that I am!

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Mead, Mead, Mead!

If you follow The Magical Buffet on social media, you probably saw that Saturday, August 6, was National Mead Day. Since it was a million degrees outside and we were broke, we opted for a small gathering at our place to enjoy mead, instead of attending events. It gave me a chance to try my hand at making some cocktails with mead. Of course, I opted for Helderberg Meadworks Mead, since we have a long history with the owners, and I know I like it. Our friend brought over some canned mead from B. Nektar, which I had never tried before, but it was delicious. I pretty much drank the whole can of Mango Sorbet myself, I didn’t want to share it!

We made sure to feast the way the ancient Norse would, with fried pickles, pizza rolls, and jalapeno cornbread. Gotta’ keep it authentic. And as long as we were already way off on tradition anyway, I tried a few things out with the mead that worked out in varying levels of success.

The most successful? Mead and Prosecco. I put a small pour of Helderberg’s Cherry Vanilla Mead into a champagne flute and topped it with Prosecco. The Cherry Vanilla is incredibly sweet and paired with the dry Prosecco it was perfection! 10/10 would drink again. I suspect this would have been good with the Heritage Mead as well.

The least successful? The Mead Slushie. I put a bunch of ice in a blender and added a big pour of Heritage Mead, then crushed the crap out of it in the blender. This was CRAZY refreshing given how hot it was, but it wasn’t really “special.” I still might do it again because it was fun.

SLUSHIE!

Once all of us had more than a few pours of mead, my husband did an internet search for mead cocktails and he found one that sounded good AND we had all the ingredients necessary, minus the decorative bits. The Black Widow Mead Martini: mead, vodka, and pomegranate juice. This was okay. The pomegranate juice I had wasn’t sweetened in any way, and I think that made the flavor of the cocktail slightly “off.” It’s simple, so I don’t hate the idea of making it again, but I might add a splash of simple syrup.

Black Widow Martini

If you’re interested in Helderberg Meadworks, here is an article I wrote years ago about how mead is made, and here is one from when I visited their first tasting room (they now have two). You can also learn more by visiting their website.

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Full Bloom

As most of you know, I’m a lady that loves to eat, and a lady that loves being given an excuse to eat. So here we are, now discussing “Full Bloom: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes for Your Summer Table” by Virpi Mikkonen.

Flipping through “Full Bloom” is like scrolling through one of those aspirational lifestyle wellness Instagram accounts. Everything looks beautiful, delicious, and maybe you don’t want to think about everything that goes into making it that way. While “Full Bloom” touts its simple recipes and easy to accommodate ingredients, I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a book for beginners. Although, if you’re willing to do a little extra shopping and put in a bit of effort, you’ll find this book is loaded with amazing summer dishes you can truly feel good about.

And don’t you worry, there are some STUPIDLY easy recipes nestled in “Full Bloom” and I made one! “3-Ingredient Brownies” is truth in advertising. Bananas, almond butter, and cacao powder go into a blender and then into the oven. Mikkonen suggests serving them with vanilla ice cream, and she is right. The brownies have a good taste to them, but are a bit dry and grainy in texture. I ate mine with plain yogurt and it made of world of difference.

If you’re looking for some inspired summertime, plant-based food and beverage ideas, I highly recommend “Full Bloom” by Virpi Mikkonen.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, 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.)

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Moon, Magic, Mixology

Some of you may remember that I reviewed a wonderful book back in 2020 titled “Witchcraft Cocktails: 70 Seasonal Drinks Infused with Magic & Ritual” by Julia Halina Hadas. If you missed that review, you can check it out here. I enjoyed that book so much, I was thrilled to learn she wrote a follow up, “Moon, Magic, Mixology: From Lunar Love Spell Sangria to the Solar Eclipse Sour, 70 Celestial Drinks Infused with Cosmic Power.”

Hadas does a wonderful job acquainting the reader with the importance of the moon, particularly with regards to a magic or spiritual lifestyle. And much like in “Witchcraft Cocktails”, she provides an excellent overview of the tools and ingredients of the bartender, magical or otherwise. “Moon, Magic, Mixology” offers over 70 cocktail recipes tied not only to season, but moon phase. Each recipe also features “More Moon Magic”, which is a section that offers up even more ways to amp up the magical nature of the cocktail.


“Moon, Magic, Mixology” by Julia Halina Hadas offers a unique approach to creating and consuming cocktails. The recipes range from familiar to unusual and from simple mixes to elaborate creations. This would be a fun book for someone looking to jazz up their magical practices, or home bartenders looking to up their game.

You can learn more here.


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Kitchen Witchery

I like food. Duh, right? Unless you’re new here, in which case, hello, I like food. Thusly, I am always on the lookout for books that can offer me new and exciting reasons to enjoy the foods I like. Enter “Kitchen Witchery: Unlocking the Magick in Everyday Ingredients” by Laurel Woodward.


Personally, I’m loving this renaissance of food and cocktail books infused with witchery, and “Kitchen Witchery” is a wonderful addition to this growing niche. Woodward includes plenty of recipes. However, what I truly loved was the extensive list of ingredients and their potential for adding magic to your cooking. I liked looking at the ingredients that go into some of my favorite dishes and reimaging the dish as this new, magical thing. And thanks to Woodward’s thorough writing including oils, nuts, vegetables, fruits, beans, gluten-free flours, spices, and more, you’re sure to find magic in everything!

For example, tonight for dinner I made chicken with black beans, corn and bell peppers. The side has corn, which is associated with abundance, fertility, life, luck, protection, resurrection, and spirituality, black beans for healing, love, prosperity, and wisdom, and green, red, and yellow peppers which are associated with growth and prosperity, vitality and strength, and creativity respectively. Suddenly that pile of veggies is a lot more impressive, right?

“Kitchen Witchery” by Laurel Woodward is for anyone looking for a little more in their meals.

You can learn more here.

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Mixology and Murder

If you know anything about me it’s that I am ALWAYS looking for an excuse to eat or drink. It is safe to say that Ulysses Press has caught on to that fact because they offered me the chance to review “Mixology and Murder: Cocktails Inspired by Infamous Serial Killers, Cold Cases, Cults and Other Disturbing True Crime Stories” by Kierra Sondereker.

People have always been intrigued by true crime, and with the success of streaming documentaries and podcasts on the subject it is more popular than ever. “Mixology and Murder” features all the true crime happenings you would expect: Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Aileen Wuornos, O.J. Simpson, Jim Jones, and more. The cocktails are most of the staples you would expect in a cocktail book, except they have names to go with crimes, for example the “Check and Mate and Mule” which is a Moscow Mule renamed for the story of Alexander Pichushkin, a Russian serial killer who wanted to kill as many people as there were squares on a chessboard.

Obviously, it wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t try out a recipe, so welcome to “Big Mother Ship Brew!” Sondereker writes, “A coffee-flavored cocktail for the serial killer whose last meal was a cup of coffee. Aileen Wuornos also had some interesting last words: ‘I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus. June 6, like the movie. Big mother ship and all, I’ll be back, I’ll be back.” Why this one? Well, I found the idea of coffee and tequila interesting, and I already had everything I needed for the recipe.

It tasted surprisingly good too. I think I still prefer rum in my coffee, but tequila was not as weird as I was anticipating.

“Mixology and Murder” does a decent job as an introduction to true crime AND cocktails. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the genre or hanging out with some buddies to bullshit about the latest true crime podcast, you’re listening to, “Mixology and Murder” is a great book for you.

You can learn more here.

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Foods That Can Improve Your Mental Health

By Dr. Robert Kiltz

The link between diet and mental health is a relatively new discovery, but not all that surprising considering the way our bodily systems are all interconnected.

Interestingly, the majority (over 95%) of the body’s serotonin (a.k.a. the feel-good hormone) is produced in the gut. There’s a whole network of neural tissue lining our guts that make up the enteric nervous system. This is why the gut is often referred to as “the second brain” and is so intimately linked to mental health. There’s a lot more going on in the G.I. tract than just digestion. We’ve all seen this first hand. Anxiety and nervousness can produce “butterflies” in the stomach or a slightly nauseous feeling. This is the brain-gut connection at work signaling a physiological stress response. The gut responds to the brain, but it goes the other way too; our brain also responds to signals from our gut. Scientists have discovered that about 90 percent of the fibers in the vagus nerve, the primary visceral nerve, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. Our “second brain” also plays a huge role in immune response.

Inflammation is our body’s natural immune response to help protect and heal, but when it doesn’t turn off and simmers at a chronic level, inflammation begins to damage healthy cells, contributing to a long list of diseases, including infertility, which I’ve spent my career as a reproductive endocrinologist trying to defeat. Inflammation is often a direct result of the foods we eat—too much sugar, too many carbs and processed foods, not enough fat—and how frequently we eat them (which is why I recommend giving intermittent fasting a try).

Foods to Improve Mental Health

A high-fat, low-carb diet helps to reduce inflammation and balance hormones both of which can improve mental health. When the body is deficient in certain vitamins and proteins, it can disrupt moods and contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Eating foods rich in vitamins and proteins is a smart choice because they are believed to play a role in the brain’s production of serotonin, dopamine, and other brain chemicals that contribute to and control moods. Foods rich in Vitamin B (like liver and red meat) help combat depression and irritability. Iron-rich foods help with the production of brain chemicals that regulate mood.

Here’s a list of diet mainstays that can improve your mental health and a lot of other medical conditions too, including infertility.

Liver & Steak
Liver and steak are great sources of protein and fat, and just so happen to be the best source of vitamins, packing an even bigger nutritional punch than traditional “superfoods” like blueberries or kale.

Liver is a premium source of vitamins B12, C, E, D, Co-Q10, Zinc, Folate, and fat. Steak is a close runner-up in nutrients.

Eggs
Eggs are another superfood packed with nutrients in a perfect little package: protein, Vitamin A, D, E, K, B12, folate, and even the beneficial antioxidant lutein. Eggs are also a rich source of choline. The body needs to obtain a majority of its required choline from diet, as it can only naturally produce a limited amount.

Salmon, Sardines, and Other High Omega-3 Fish
Salmon is an oily fish that is packed with protein, omega 3s, and essential fatty acids. Interestingly, depression appears to be less common in countries where people eat large amounts of fish. Two omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found primarily in fish oil — are thought to have the biggest potential to benefit people with mood disorders through two primary mechanisms: (1) omega-3s easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain; and (2) they have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help relieve depression. Children and adolescents with depression may also benefit from omega-3 supplementation.

Butter & Other Full-Fat Dairy
Natural fats from butter, cream, whole milk, and full-fat yogurt are needed to keep the lymphatic system running. Eating fat lubricates the lymphatics and filters out harmful pathogens to protect the body from illness-causing invaders. The lymphatic system is critical to maintaining optimal health. It is part of the circulatory system and the immune system. Besides being a rich source of cholesterol, full-fat dairy also contains many nutrients.

Berries
Berries are a healthy, sweet, and sometimes sour, tasty snack. They are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that are known to combat inflammation. Berries are also high in folate and vitamin C.

Beans & Lentils
Beans and lentils have vitamin B, which can help improve depression and irritability. They also contribute to the production of serotonin.

Our Brains Need Fat & Cholesterol

Despite the popular misconception, our bodies need fat. It’s the building block for our brains, and our best source of cellular energy. Eating fat is one of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation and improve immunologic function. The human brain is nearly 60% fat and requires both saturated and unsaturated fats to provide a balance of structural integrity and fluidity to its cells. More specifically, our brains need EPA and DHA–neither of which exist in plant foods. EPA has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps with healing. DHA serves many functions. It helps with the formation of myelin, the white matter that insulates our brain circuits. It also helps maintain the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which keeps the brain safe from unwanted outside influences. But most importantly, DHA is critical to the development of the human cortex—the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking. Without DHA, consciousness and symbolic thinking—essentially what makes us humans—would be impossible.

Cholesterol is essential too. It gives our cells the required stiffness and stability and is vital for the production and function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to depression and aggression. Antidepressants often don’t work for patients who are eating a vegetarian diet. Cholesterol acts as a precursor to important hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against cancer and heart disease.

This is why fatty meats, fish, and full-fat dairy all top the list of foods that contribute to good mental health. These combined with other low carb and low-sugar foods are building blocks for good physical and mental health.

Foods to Avoid

And if you’re wondering which foods to avoid, I recommend limiting or removing the five biggest inflammation producers in our diets: plant toxins, vegetable & seed oils, carbohydrates & added sugars, trans fats, and too much alcohol. These foods expose people to high levels of known inflammatory compounds.

Don’t Forget Your Supplements!

It can be challenging to get all of the essential vitamins and minerals through diet alone. Even the healthiest eaters are likely low in some vitamins and minerals, particularly those who consume fruits and vegetables as the bulk of their diet. Supplements are a great way to support total body and mental health.

My Nutritional Solutions line of supplements was designed with just this purpose in mind: to provide a convenient, high-quality source for essential vitamins, minerals, collagens, proteins, growth factors, unique enzymes, and co-factors that only exist in tissue specific organs. We use superior, grass-fed cattle as our primary source. State-of-the-art freeze drying and hydrolysis processing techniques ensure optimal nutrient preservation and bioavailability. Dr. Kiltz’s Nutritional Solutions products are hormone, pesticide, and GMO- free and contain no fillers, flow agents, or other additives. I recommend my Grass-Fed Beef Liver, Grass-Fed Organ Meats, and Grass-Fed Connective Tissue supplements. These all come in capsule form to make getting the very best nutrients easy and convenient.

About Dr. Robert Kiltz:
Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Founder and Director of CNY Fertility, one of the largest and most dynamic fertility centers in the country, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, and CNBC for helping shape the future of fertility medicine. Dr. Kiltz has earned recognition outside of the fertility world for pioneering the holistic health movement and the keto lifestyle. He is the author of several books including The Fertile Feast and Daily Inspirations, and his latest, Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow which released April 2021. In addition to his own media outlets, Dr. Kiltz appears regularly on numerous popular blogs and has shared his views as a TEDx speaker.

For more information, check out www.doctorkiltz.com or follow Dr. Kiltz on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Cooking with Disney Villains

When I posted this book on social media, you guys were EXTREMELY interested. I think this proves that one of the best ideas Disney has had is creating a “villains” franchise. It certainly took them long enough to realize that princesses are nice, but villains are where the fun is to be found. Obviously, Insight Editions and author Julie Tremaine agree because they published and wrote, respectively, “Disney Villains Devilishly Delicious Cookbook: 50+ Dishes Inspired by Your Favorite Villains, Including Ursula, Scar, and Cruella De Vil.”

Let us tell you the thing you most want to know first, what villains are represented in this book?
Tamatoa from Moana
Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid
Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog
Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty
Iago from Aladdin
Gaston from Beauty and the Beast
Lady Tremaine from Cinderella
Scar from The Lion King
Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians
Ursula from The Little Mermaid
Hades from Hercules
Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland
Mother Gothel from Tangled
Jafar from Aladdin
Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone
Mr. Smee from Peter Pan
Evil Queen from Cinderella
Captain Hook from Peter Pan
Chernabog from Fantasia
Shere Khan from The Jungle Book
Anastasia and Drizella from Cinderella

Yes, villains new and old are well-represented throughout the book. The variety of food and beverage recipes is just as diverse. Tremaine does an excellent job of offering beginner friendly recipes, such as Jolly Roger Brisket, Flotsam & Jetsam Party Mix, and Hypnotizing Snake Staffs, but also supplying more complicated recipes for chefs looking for a challenge, such as Voodoo Top Hat Cake, Huntsman’s Pie, and Poor Unfortunate Rolls.

Obviously, I needed to try a recipe and I chose a beginner friendly recipe that I thought would go well at a barbeque that I was invited to, Horrible Wholesome Sunshine Salad. Its name is based off a quote Madam Mim says in The Sword in the Stone, “I hate sunshine! I hate horrible wholesome sunshine! I hate it!”


As you can see, as promised it was a simple recipe that does not require too much in the way of ingredients. Unfortunately, my local grocery store was lacking in citrus diversity and was out of fresh mint, so I was forced to use dry.


That said, this recipe came out great! Light, refreshing, healthy, and went great with all the assorted grilled meats.

Is “Disney Villains Devilishly Delicious Cookbook” by Julie Tremaine a necessary cookbook? Not really. However, if you love Disney villains and cooking, Tremaine’s book is absolutely worth every penny!

You can learn more here.

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Devil’s Margarita

As you might remember, over the course of last year I read and reviewed several books about magic in cooking and drinking. 3 of my favorite things, food, booze, and magic! A while back I stumbled across a cocktail recipe on Liquor.com that sounded good and had a very cool name, Devil’s Margarita. I thought, why not try it out and apply a little of what I learned from all those books to find deeper meaning.

So, what goes into a Devil’s Margarita?

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce red wine
Garnish: lime wheel

Steps
Add the tequila, lime juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Float the red wine on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a bar spoon so it pools on the surface of the drink.

Garnish with a lime wheel.

This is delicious, and obviously super bad ass in appearance. That alone is enough reason to try it yourself, but how about we apply what we’ve learned from all those books to justify drinking it even more?

Tequila, which SO MANY people like to bitch about and avoid, is thought to have protection, banishing, and purification properties. Everyone quit being such stinkers when it comes to tequila! Lime is associated with friendship, luck, hex breaking, and act as an anti-depressant. Wine provides inspiration, prosperity, and love.

If you enjoy cocktails, I suggest checking out Liquor.com.

And if you want to have a whole lot of fun, I’d suggest any and all of these titles:

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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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