|Happy Yule !
"The sky was a vivid crimson in every airt. Great bonfires flamed and the
bairns were delirious with delight."
Second step make the crumb
In a large bowl mix:
1/2 cup of cool walnut flour
2 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
2 Tablespoons of cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
Cut in 1 cup cold unsalted butter.
When butter has been cut through the dough, mix by pushing your palm
through the crumb. Press until butter is distributed throughout in small
pea-sized beads. If the dough becomes sticky, return bowl to the
refrigerator until butter has hardened.
Add 1/3 cup buttermilk (Milk + 1 teaspoon of white vinegar works just
fine) Mix delicately by pushing palm through the dough and turning a
couple of times. Do not over mix. At this stage too much handling will
ruin the texture or the crumb.
This easy Eagle brand Magic Bars recipe makes a decadent treat
that is alway a favorite.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 13 x 9-inch baking pan with no-stick
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press into
bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly
over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and
nuts. Press down firmly with fork.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Loosen from sides of
pan while still warm; cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Another easy family favorite is:
CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cake flour
18 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
(for a shortcut 1 package of brownie mix that does not include a
syrup pouch can be substituted)
In another bowl mix together:
8 ounce package Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt butter with chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan
of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from
pan and whisk in eggs, 1 at a time. Sift together flour and cocoa
powder in a separate bowl and stir into batter with sugar and salt.
Spread into greased 13x9-inch baking pan.Top with Cream Cheese
mixture. Take a knife and cut through batter several times for
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is lightly
browned. Cool; cut into squares.
Known by many names, these sweet and nutty treats are always on
our Christmas baking list.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine
the 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and flour; stir into the butter
mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough
into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cool, roll in
remaining confectioners' sugar. I also like to roll mine in the sugar a
This year the Winter Solstice falls on Thursday, December 21 2017 with a waxing Aquarius moon. The Solstice marks the longest night
of the year. Since the dawn of civilization December has been a month of celebration, for after this night, the dark nights begin to grow
shorter as light once again returns to the world. Yule is a time for new beginnings. It is a time to gather together, to feast and renew
relationships, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and family ties. This is also the time to forgive, a time to abandon the things that
did not serve, to make peace with the troubles of the past and to look ahead with hope, each of us aspiring to be better, as we pay
homage to the cycle of life. It is important that we each join the celebration, taking time to gather with family and friends and join the
feast for it is at this time that relationships are renewed, that memories are made, that the bonds of friendship and family ties are
strengthened and we find that joining the celebration holds a magic for us all. Participating in holiday celebrations helps us feel
connected to our place in society. By recognizing and celebrating holidays and interacting with family, friends, and community we
acknowledge the seasonal change, attune with the natural tides, and acknowledge the rhythms of life, death, and rebirth as we
recognize that we are a part of the ever changing cycle.
The Symbols of the Season
For a millennia Yule has been a time of feasting and merriment and many of its old customs are still practiced in our modern
celebrations. Traditions such as the greening the home with pine, holly, and mistletoe, decorating a tree, wassailing, baking specialty
cakes, cookies, and breads, and the baking of the Yule log all can be traced back to antiquated Solstice customs. Even Santa, the
bearded jolly old soul, parallels stories of the god Oden and the Norse Yule Elf who leaves gifts on the Solstice to those who give him
offerings, from England he is Father Christmas, from Germany Kris Kringle, from Holland St. Nick and from Russia Father Winter.
Gathering together for the feast, the giving of gifts, putting up lights, and the hanging of wreaths are all symbols of the Yuletide and
these symbols of the season have origins dating back more than 5,000 years.
The Yule Log
The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. This solstice is also referred to as Yule, which is
derived from the Norse word jól, the name of an ancient Norse fire celebration marking the rebirth of the Sun God and lengthening hours
of light. Jol lasted for 12 days. The yule log originated from Jol when it was an actual log burned to honor Thor. It was important that
the log was found on ones' own property as it was designated to bring luck into the household for the coming winter. In some traditions
a piece of the log was kept as a lucky talisman, stored under the bed to protect the home from lightning and accidental fires until it was
revived the next solstice and used to kindle the next yule log fire. In other traditions, the Yule log was burned down to ash. Handfuls
were strewn on the fields to insure fertility. Some of the ashes were also kept to use in various charms. As the kitchen stove replaced
the hearth as the heart of the home, Yule logs also evolved. While today's yule logs are still symbols of luck and good fortune for the
coming year most are made with sheet cakes, filled, rolled, and frosted to look like a log or stump, some even decorated with meringue
YULE LOG CAKE
3 large eggs
1 cup white sugar
1⁄3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray and line a 17 x 12 inch baking
sheet with parchment paper and then spray the parchment paper.
Beat the eggs until they turn thick and foamy. Add the sugar, milk,
and vanilla extract beating for 2 more minutes. In a separate bowl,
mix dry ingredients. Slowly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture.
Stir only until flour mixture is incorporated. Added stirring will
produce a tough cake.
Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake 12 - 15 minutes.
Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean. Lightly sift an
even layer of confectioners sugar over a cloth napkin or tea towel.
Turn the cake out of its pan onto the prepared cloth while it is still
warm. Carefully peel away parchment paper. Lightly dust top of
cake with confectioners sugar, then trim away crisp edges. Starting
with one of the short sides of the cake, immediately roll the cake
up in the cloth, jellyroll style, and cool. When cool, unroll the cake
carefully and spread with your favorite filling. Roll up again and
Ushering Positive Energy into the New Year
The solstices are threshold days and Yule is no exception. It is on these threshold days that we can petition the gods for good luck. It has long
been customary to burn a candle down to the socket to draw prosperity through thresholds. The Good Luck Bayberry Candle Spell is a perfect
example. Bayberry Candles are made from the wax of the Bayberry burnt to usher in good luck on the threshold days of Winter Solstice,
Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve. The tradition began when colonists settled the New World and discovered that the waxy coat of the
bayberry could be used to make a fragrant candle wax. However it takes a lot of bayberries to make a single pound of bayberry wax. So many
colonists saved their bayberry tapers to burn on the eve of special days and a 'good luck' tradition began.
To brew up your own good luck, light a Bayberry candle so that it will continue to burn from one day into the next bring good luck forward. (If
you have a six hour candle, light it around eight) Say, "Bayberry candles burned to the socket, bring health to the home and wealth to the
If you do not have a bayberry candle, you can use a green or gold candle that has been anointed with bayberry oil, Light it and let it burn down
to the socket so that it burns out on its own to usher good luck into your home.
Threshold days are also auspicious for any sort of divination, tarot spells, and guided meditations. To help open inspiration, brew up some
psychic tea. The Chickadee Apothecary offers a delightful Inspired Dreams Tea or you can make a more basic batch of your own with 2
teaspoons Mugwort, 2 teaspoons Peppermint, and 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon. Use only one teaspoon to each cup of boiling water. Infuse for 8-10
minutes. Then strain out the herbs and sip. Drink to boost your inner sight.
You can also use the night benevolent energy to make up a batch of Bring Me Luck Oil
Add to 1/8 cup of your favorite carrier oil: 4 drops of patchouli oil, 2 drops of carnation oil, 2 drops of mimosa oil. Use to anoint candles in any
money, prosperity or spell to change one's luck.
Create your own luck talisman with this Lucky Charm Spell
You will need: 3 green candles
1 orange candle
A dish of ground ginger
A sage wand
a charm (a piece of jewelry or a luck drawing stone (amber, citrine, lodestones or red jasper work well)
Clear your space. Set out your ingredients. Take a cleansing bath. Then cast a circle. Light the green candles and call up the powers you are
working with. (I call the four cardinal points for this one)
Light the sage and pass your charm through the smoke as you say,
"Divine powers hear my plea, let good luck come to me, let this charm hold your favor that my new found luck shall not waver."
Hold the item you are going to charm in your strong hand as you meditate. Visualize the charm filling with luck. See it bringing you positive
energy. Feel it thrumming with power. See it bringing you the object you desire be it a new car, new house, or fun vacation. Smile as you savor
that feeling, take a deep breath and relax. Set the stone on the table and sprinkle the ginger over it and the candles as you say,
"Charm of wonder, charm of might, be the holder of my delight."
Bow to rest your head on the floor. “By Earth, Air, Fire and Water this charm is fixed."
Repeat 4 times
“Good luck comes to me with harm to none. My luck does change.
So mote it be."
Thank and dismiss the energies.
Here We Go A Wassailing
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you,
A happy New Year,
And God send you,
A happy new year.
Many of us know the word wassail to refer to a warmed mulled cider or mulled wine drink but the word wassail is actually derived from the Old
Norse 'ves heil' which translates “be in good health” or “be fortunate". This well wish was a greeting and a ritual toast. By the thirteenth century
wassail evolved into a bowl of wine or ale in which revelers dipped cakes and fine bread. Around the seventeenth century, wassailing became the
practice of taking a wassail bowl about the streets. However in many rural parts of Medieval Britain, a different sort of wassailing was practiced
in which farmers wassailed their crops and animals to encourage fertility. Farmers in the west of Britain toasted the good health of apple trees
to promote an abundant crop the next year. Some placed cider-soaked bread in the branches to ward off evil spirits. In other locales, villagers
splashed the trees with cider while firing guns or beating pots and pans. Sometimes they sang special songs:
Let every man take off his hat
And shout out to th'old apple tree
Old apple tree we wassail thee
And hoping thou will bear.
A group would choose a tree, usually the oldest in the orchard, and sing and dance around it, spiraling out, spilling wassail at its feet.
"Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a Plum and many a Peare:
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them Wassailing." - Robert Herrick 1642
Staffs were rattled or drums were beaten to drive away spirits and raise positive energy for the tree. Today this wassailing rite, and others like
it, are gaining popularity with the return of urban orchard. Awareness is growing as landowners everywhere are once again forming relationship
with the trees.
If you need a filling recipe used this:
Chocolate Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons hot water
Make your own Wassail
Apple cider has long been used as a libation to the Earth Goddess and deity in
general. The blending of these ingredients: apple for love and long health, orange
and cinnamon for love and wisdom, and nutmeg for luck and prosperity creates a truly
magickal treat to warm spirits on a cold evening.
You will need:
1 gallon apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pour the cider into a large pot. Peel the orange and add the juice to the cider. Pull
the pulp from the orange peel and discard. Cut peel into 1 inch strips and add to the
mixture. Core apple and cut into 1/4 inch slices and add to brew with cinnamon sticks
and nutmeg. Warm over low heat for 2 hours. Do not allow to boil.
4 cups apple cider
1 bottle red wine
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer
over low heat for 10 minutes.
Through the ages, food has played an pivotal role in celebrations honoring the harvest and the changing seasons. Winter Solstice
was no exception. Yule was a 12 day period of feasting before the want of the winter. Even as Solstice rituals became Christmas,
the old feast traditions remained. Kindness was bestowed on all in the community as food was shared and gifts given.
Today we are still a social bunch, even though some would like to forget, we do still live in communities. It is important, especially
at this time to recognize the random acts of kindness others show you and reciprocate the favor. Make a point of showing kindness
to your neighbors and those you come in contact with and say Thank you. Hold feasts and celebrate the season. Bake up gifts of
food and take them to those less fortunate. Gather with your family and honor your relationships. The power of ritual comes from
heritage, tradition and most of all something being emblazoned in your brain over time. Taking part in family rituals protect the
individual against a sense of loneliness and uncertainty in daily living as it transmits shared beliefs of the family group across
generations. Through ritual we connect to generations, past and future. Not only does participation in these traditional gatherings
anchor relationships, partaking in holiday celebrations helps us feel connected to our place in society and gives one a stronger
sense of self. A major portion of an individual's memories are based around their holiday experiences. Who isn't transported back
to dinners with their loved ones by the smell of pumpkin pie or baking gingerbread? So bake up some holiday magick and let your
heart fill with gratitude as you gather with those you love.
Gifts from the Kitchen
Walnut Raspberry Cookies
This crumbly, melt in your mouth treat is adapted from an old scone recipe. It is a recipe my family most often requests. It is time
intensive as the crumb is made from cold butter and must remain cold and because it uses 1/2 cup of Walnut flour produced by
toasting 1 Cup of walnut haves and then cooling and grinding to produce a fresh, cooled walnut meal.
These little gems are best the day they are made. So bake in batches before the cookies are to be eaten and keep the remaining
uncooked dough in the refrigerator tightly wrapped. The uncooked crumb will remain fresh tasting for up to a week.
First step make the Walnut flour
To begin, place 1 cup of Walnut halves in a single layer in a baking dish and toast under the broiler until brown. Do not burn. They
will become bitter and change the taste of the cookies. Let cool and grind.
Cut the dough into 3 even pieces. Divide the pieces in half - twice, so that you are left with 12 even palm-size pieces.
Press into your palm, depressing the middle to create a small nest.
Set in a bowl. Cover with parchment paper. Form all of the pieces, setting them in the bowl as you go, dividing them with parchment
paper. Wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.
When you are ready to bake. Heat the oven to 375. Place only the number of cookies that are going to be eaten within the next
couple of hours on a baking sheet, well spaced. Press a spoon of good Raspberry jam into the center. I use a French preserve, Bonne
Maman. It is very good.
When your cookies are on the sheet, topped with jam, place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes or until browned. Lift
carefully off the sheet and allow to cool before serving.