So guess what, guys? I was a teen witch. I was very into Wicca between the ages of 13 and about 16 and technically, a practitioner of Wiccan is considered a witch. Some people may be opposed to using that terminology but The Wicca Cookbook: Recipes, Ritual, and Lore is not. What adolescent doesn’t go through a holding-sabbats-in-the-park-at-midnight phase? I no longer identify as belonging to any sort of religion, but I maintain that Wicca is a lovely religion, and I share quite a few of it’s beliefs. Which is to say I believe in nature. You can’t fight the seasons, you know?
The Wicca Cookbook, by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt, starts with a little basic information on Wicca. One of the things that drew me to this religion in the first place was that it is very adaptable with “no hard and fast rules.” It celebrates what is holy in nature and within the individual. It does give name to the practice of “aligning oneself with the natural forces of life.” It calls these forces the Goddess and the God, which together are the one guiding life-force in the the universe.
In addition to recognizing that everyone’s religious experience is their own, Wicca also acknowledges that you will want to adapt the celebration and ceremony of the sabbats, or holidays, to yourself. This year I want nothing so much as to celebrate the solstice which is this Saturday the 21st! The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. It may be my favorite of the eight sabbats because after the solstice, the days wane. As an insomniac who perks up only when it gets dark out, the earlier it gets dark, the better.
The book categorizes its recipes by sabbats, and this pottage recipe was the most intriguing of the summer solstice recipes. For each recipe Wood and Seefeldt give a bit of information on a Wiccan ritual or tradition to go with the food. I love that the bit of info given with this pottage is about gratitude. I am nothing if not grateful for my life.
Pottage was a favorite genteel dish in medieval times. It was a special pudding because it was good enough to break out the white sugar. People often “save” nice things for “special” times instead of taking them out and appreciating them. The Wicca Cookbook encourages us to celebrate and use the good stuff in life! Doing otherwise is telling the powers that be that we do not believe there is more good to come. So we hoard what we have instead of enjoying it. In addition to breaking out the finery, we are encouraged to do little things that show gratitude for the basics. For instance, it is suggested that when writing a check for something you write “thank you!” in the notes section. I adore this idea. Don’t be resentful of having to pay, be grateful that you have the funds to spend.
Any holiday is a good time to be grateful and break out the good stuff. And to me, any occasion is worthy of being deemed a “holiday.” Birthday? Of coarse. New job? Sure. Really witty hashtag? Pushing it, but yeah. That too is worthy of a toast. Heck, making toast is worthy of a toast. So is this beautiful pottage!
Cherry Pottage adapted from The Wicca Cookbook by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt
- 2 cups fresh cherries, washed stemmed and pitted (it’s a bit fiddly but worth it)
- 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup red wine (don’t use cooking wine, use something you would actually drink-I used a Zinfandel)
- 1/3 cup sugar, divided
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 slice of soft bread, made into crumbs (I grabbed a slice of whole wheat and stuck it in the immersion blender cup attachment to crumble)
- dash of salt (I used sea salt)
- sugar to garnish (I used brown, the book calls for coarse)
Combine cherries, 1/3 cup wine, about half of the sugar and puree. I put all this in a bowl and used my immersion blender but a regular blender is good too. Hint-if you go the immersion route, drape some plastic wrap around the top of the bowl to avoid some cherry red splatters. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the puree, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup wine, the remainder of the sugar and salt. Bring it to a simmer then stir and simmer until it thickens up. It takes a while, so enjoy that movie while you stir. Allow to cool a bit then chill in the fridge. When time to serve, spoon into a bowl and give a light dusting of the brown or coarse sugar. Thank you!