The summer has arrived and what a glorious summer it’s shaping up to be. Does it fly in the face of witchdom to love summer so much? This witch doesn’t think so. I definitely look better in black clothes, huddled around a Samhain bonfire, but these days you’ll find me in shorts, a t-shirt, and no shoes. Which suits me right down to the ground.
Summer Witchin’ In The Garden
I’m not a gardener but I enjoy gardens. Sitting in them mostly with a drink in my hand. Could be lemonade. Might be a nice cup of tea. Likely to be a cold beer or fruity little cocktail.
Gardens are fabulous. I’ve found an unusual enthusiasm for my own garden of late. I had a weekend of divine madness and went all Monty Don on myself and planted purple-top verbena, salvia, lavender, vegetables, and anything else that struck my fancy. I’ve been digging and planting and making plans for a water feature. Who am I? I’m becoming less like Nancy Downs and more like the aunts from Practical Magic than I care to admit.
A Walk In A Garden Makes Me Hungry
I walk a fair bit and there are some downright spectacular gardens in my neighborhood. The roses smell divine. Jasmine is blooming everywhere. I really do stop and smell the flowers. I’ll likely as not get arrested for trespassing because I’m all about wandering on a property so I can stick my nose deep into lemon blossoms and take a huge inhale.
What I love most are the community gardens filled with summer blooms and vegetables. Not far from my house is a walking trail that’s been replanted with native flowers. It’s just gorgeous. I can’t get enough of it. Throw in buzzing bees and butterflies alighting on fragrant flowers and twee little birdsong and we’re verging on perfection.
“But where’s the witchy, magicky stuff”, you ask? It’s absolutely everywhere. The sun is shining. The gardens are in bloom. I’m inspired. My fingers smell like lavender and dirt and I’m connected to everything. This is summer witchin’ at it’s best.
Summer Witchin’ In The KitchenOf course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about a little witchin’ in the kitchen. There’s nothing I like better than cooking up a huge meal for friends and then just faffing about for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Just last week I helped make a low country boil. Check this out – Lobster, tiger prawns, corn of the cob, potatoes, andouille sausages, whole garlic heads, and big ol’ onions, all seasoned with a wicked mix of southern spices.
We ate like gods. I had butter running through my beard and onto my chest. We quaffed ridiculously good wine, tossed back beer after beer, and generally ate ourselves into a stupor. Dionysus would be proud of me. Bacchus would be jealous and would ask for an invite to the Gwionalia (note: Bacchus was indeed invited to this feast).
I Connect To Food Through Magick.
Wait, I mean, I connect to magick through food. Correction, food is magick and magick is food and I can’t think of a better way to get my witch on than by filling my cauldron with wondrous ingredients and then sharing them. If you’re interested in food magick, I wrote a book all about it.
Summer Witchin’ Out And About
I went wine tasting last week with dear friends. Spent the day in and out of vineyards and tasting rooms. I’m going for a walk in a lavender labyrinth tomorrow. This weekend I intend to toddle off to the beach and wile away a few hours alternately eating a cheese and cucumber sandwich and dipping my toesees in the surf. I have plans to kayak with my daughter and wander through ancient redwoods. I’ll saunter about farmer’s markets with a basket brimming with fresh delectables.
It’s my plan to swan about at least once a month, and better it be if the sun is full, and assemble in some garden or park or beach with others or contentedly alone, and adore the spirit of summer.
Sounds divine, don’t it?
So the flowers I’m talking about here are cauliflowers. I suppose you could make a garland to wear on your head of cauliflowers. It seems a bit excessive, maybe even dangerous.
I’m suggesting you make a delicious gratin and take it to a Beltane potluck to share with friends and loved ones. Of course, you can make this on any old Tuesday afternoon as well and not share it with anyone.
Cauliflowers and Cheese
Okay. Stay with me here. I realize you might not associate cauliflowers and cheese with Beltane. It’s a tenuous connection, I’ll grant you that. Cauliflowers have the word “flower” in them. That’s enough of a link for me. The cheese I use in this recipe is sheep’s milk cheese. I associate sheep with spring. There. That’s why this is a Beltane potluck recipe.
Cauliflowers Are New. Who Knew?
Cauliflowers are relatively new to the United States, showing up in the 1900s. If you’ve got a cauliflower in the fridge, it’s a good chance it came from California. There are a fair few varieties of Cauliflowers too. For the recipe below, you can use any of them or even combinations to mix up the colours.
One of my favourite cheeses is Manchego. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese and originates from the La Mancha region of Spain. There’s a man from there, I think, who knows something about windmills. Manchego is nutty and tangy and smells a bit like grass, which also makes me think of springtime.
Beltane Potluck: Cauliflower Gratin with Manchego
This dish makes enough for 4-6 people. Double it if you’re going to a big pot luck or just because you want more. This dish is vegetarian and gluten free and delicious to eat and easy to make.
Ingredients You’ll need:
2 heads of cauliflower
1 cup of heavy cream
A bit of ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of Manchego cheese (you could use Parmesan or Romano, but try the Manchego. It’s worth it)
Easy To Cook
Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees F. While the oven is heating up, bring a large pot of water to the boil. The pot needs to be big enough to put all your cauliflower into, if that helps.
Cut each cauliflower in half and remove any outer leaves and the hard, central stem. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Once the water is boiling, add the florets and cook for 3 minutes. The florets will be cooked, but still firm. Drain the water. Arrange the florets into a baking dish.
Grab a small bowl, crack the eggs and whisk them up. Add the cream. Add 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon of nutmeg. Start with an 1/8 if you’re not sure you like nutmeg. Don’t forget the salt, just a pinch will do. Pour this mixture all over the cauliflower. Bake the whole thing in your oven for 40 minutes.
Here’s my favourite part, aside from eating it. After 40 minutes pull the cauliflower out of the oven. Sprinkle the Manchego over the baked cauliflower and cream mixture and put it under the broiler for 4 minutes, until the top turns a sumptuous, golden brown colour. To be honest, I cook mine just a little longer until there are little crusty black bits too, because I like that flavour.
You can serve it warm. Serve it cold. Serve it as a side. Serve as a main dish. Not take it to the Beltane potluck and eat it all yourself while watching this amazing May Pole dance from the comfort of your own sofa.
May the Cauliflower fairy bring you all the cauliflowers you dream about on this Beltane. Happy Beltane.