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Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Every year in October , the Western Reserve Herb Society holds its annual Herb Fair, a wonderful day awash in homemade jams and jellies, herb and spice mixes , breads, pressed flowers and so many other beautifully handmade herbal Products, all made by the ladies of WRHS!

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Yesterday was spent with my delightful friends from WRHS making herbal soup wreaths. A soup wreath is a delicate little wreath of soup and stew herbs that can be thrown into the pot and then fished out when they are no longer needed. It was a wonderful morning... There was something about sitting at the table that was covered with fresh herbs just cut from the WRHS garden that sent me spiraling back in time.

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths


I looked around at my friends as we were quietly winding the herbs together and realized that I was taking part in a ritual that has been shared by women for centuries. It was such a magical experience . To make your own wreaths all you will need is some very strong undyed thread or twine and branches and stems of the herbs that you want to use. Rosemary makes the best base and chives are garlic chives are a wonderful wrap. Just wind everything together and wrap tightly with the thread. It will dry and be ready to use in a week or two. Remember that herbal flavors do concentrate so be mindful of the sages and oreganos... They can get very strong! To use, just throw one into  simmering pot of soup or stew. When your meal is cooked, just strain out the wreath and toss!


Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

The Witches Kitchen: Vegan First Thursdays at Whole Foods!

So I've been asked to be the guest chef and speaker at Vegan First Thursdays at the Whole Foods on Chagrin Blvd on Thursday , June the 6th and I couldn't be more thrilled!

  I can't wait to talk about vegan grilling and teaching you to throw a fabulous summer soiree that is so delicious that any meat eaters in  your crowd will be blown away and begging for more! I hope that you'll join me as we start the summers feasting! Space is limited so please call and make your reservation today!



Tea Leaves & Tarot Cards: Memories of High Tea & Jo Malones Sugar & Spice Collection



There is just something special about an traditional English tea. Everyone has tried to imitate it , but in my mind it's never been duplicated with the exception of the afternoon tea on Bergdorfs 7th floor which occasionally and with the right companion can come pretty close. Don't get me wrong, there are many lovely tea rooms here in America and I enjoy them all but there's a regality about a proper British tea that I thoroughly enjoy as well as a touch of whimsy which is allowable because tea is so entrenched in their culture that it's just understood and not worried about. British children have their own tea services for goodness sakes and It's a wonderful thing! More importantly and because the Brits are fairly addicted to sugar the sweets found at their High Teas are legendary and the savories are the perfect accompaniments.

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But in my world it was all about the sweets. You haven't lived until you've tasted a real British scone, with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, all buttery and warm I might add. You just haven't and I've never met an American scone that could come close. It's a bit like a southern biscuit…you must use Crisco or forget it. British scones are filled with butter…lots of butter and white flour.  Some things should truly just never be tampered with. Just eat one and then jump back onto the healthy band-wagon. For the majority of us, one won't hurt you and the reward is a rich and relaxing afternoon!

Tea has been a part of my world since I was a very young child. I've talked many times about my own mothers penchant for afternoon tea; raised by a very Patrician mother of her own she continued to believe until the day she died that it was the only civilized meal left to be eaten in the western world.   As a result of this passion when she died I inherited several pretty fabulous tea sets and was left with decades of wonderful memories. My father was a coffee drinker so she didn't really get to enjoy afternoon tea unless she was traveling with me.  My mother and I enjoyed  tea all around England, Scotland and Ireland and those images are engraved in my mind and heart forever. So are the smells and the perfect tea services!  I learned to love coddled eggs because of breakfast teas , egg and radish sandwiches, Scottish salmon croquettes and refreshing fruit soups!

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Because we were in the porcelain business we had appointments to visit every wonderful factory and in those days they always had a beautiful high tea prepared for us when we arrived.  I’ll never forget the high tea at the Royal Worcester / Spode factory , where the whole thing was served on  a set of Duke of Gloucester, with British sterling and Stuart Crystal…I felt like a Princess. I still remember that because because that was the first time that I ever enjoyed a buttered roast beef and watercress tea sandwich which is an absolute thing of beauty. I've even been lucky enough to have gotten the chance to enjoy many a cucumber sandwich and later in life a few martinis with Lord Wedgwood, a most charming gentleman who definitely knows his teas. More recently my nephew Michael is spending a year or two in Oxford in a masters program, and he keeps posting all of these lovely pictures of tea that he’s enjoying on a spring holiday that he’s taking through the English countryside with his darling girlfriend Molly, placing afternoon tea in the forefront of my mind once again. 

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So it came as no surprise to me yesterday when I was walking through Saks Fifth Avenue that my eye was drawn to the uncharacteristically vibrant display at the Jo Malone counter. I walked over and took a look at the display of 5 little bottles with sugar spun pastel labels displayed with a covered glass cake plate filled with sweets named most appropriately  “The Sugar and Spice Collection”.  I rolled my eyes and then the really sweet SA came over to talk to me and convinced me to take a closer look.  I’m not really one for foodie scents, but I’ve got to admit I was almost immediately smitten. I don’t know if it was the perfumes themselves or just the whole presentation, but as I sprayed them I became very happy, in a distinctly childlike way. By the time I was done I was wearing them all and they blended together beautifully like an elegantly set tea table amidst a blowzy English herbaceous border. All that was missing was the perfect hat, cartwheeling children and a couple of large lovely dogs!  I brought them home to my husband to see if  it was just a product of my overly vivid imagination ,  but he loved them and said that I smelled like a perfect country day. Enough said!

Here are the descriptions of each of these pretty perfumes straight from the Jo Malone site.


Ginger Biscuit

“Just-baked biscuit. Spiced with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, melting into caramel. Butter-crumbly with roasted hazelnuts. Warmed by tonka bean and vanilla. Irresistible”


Lemon Tart

“The mouth-watering tang of lemon tart. Sparkling with citrus fruits and verbena, contrasted with swirls of meringue and lemon thyme. Refreshing.”


Red Currant and Cream

“A summer pudding. Sharp-scarlet juices of red currants, lush strawberries and raspberries, rippling through creamy musk. Vivacious and enticing.”


Elderflower and Gooseberry

“A voluptuous gooseberry fool. Crushed, summer-green gooseberries, juicy with lychee, enfolded into the soft delicacy of elderflower. Tender and feminine.”


Bitter Orange and Chocolate  

“The bite of bitter orange, layered with dark chocolate.  Orange peel counterpoised with warm, powdery cocoa, milky coconut and coumarin.  Sumptuous and addictive.”


They are all wonderful and I’d love to give a whole set not just to a granddaughter but to myself. I adore the Bitter Chocolate on it’s own and find the elderflower and Gooseberry to be something that I’d enjoy wearing all spring long. I must admit that until I smelled this collection the genre  of  sugary fruity gourmand perfumes had escaped me almost entirely, but there’s something about these  playful Jo Malone’s that’s absolutely delightful and makes the possibility of smelling like a warm ginger biscuit seem sophisticated and very romantic. They’re only available through March so you don’t have much more time and priced at 60.00 a bottle they’re easy to succumb to.  Take your inner child to tea (or at least a precocious niece or nephew!) and try them all!


 Photo Credits on each picture ~ this was originally posted on my favorite Perfume blog ~ Perfume Smellin Things

The Witches Kitchen: French Canadian Maple Pie


Every now and then a dessert can render me speechless. This French Canadian Maple pie is simply the best pie that I've ever tasted. Nothing needs changing. The recipe below comes from my facebook friend Margo who lives in Vermont, so of course she'd know a thing or two about maple syrup. The only sadness I have is that my father didn't live long enough for me to bake it for him. He loved all things maple and this would have had  him incoherent. Its amazing to me how 5 simple ingredients can meld together to create something so sublimely and intoxicatingly wonderful. My kitchen smelled as if I'd spilled  a bottle of syrup all over my woodstove...or like I'd stumbled into a sugar house in February.  When I cut into it the rich filling was still warm and the butter was dribbling out. Whipped cream was a bit like gilding the lily, but in the most perfect way. Ice cream would be too much. All I can say is enjoy. It's just perfect and just in time for your Thanksgiving table and my Halloween party!  



One prepared pie crust to line an 8-inch glass pie plate
2 eggs, room temperature
½ c. heavy cream 
1 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 real maple syrup (preferably dark amber)
2 tsp. unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350° F. Whisk together eggs and brown sugar until creamy. (I use electric beaters.) Add cream, maple syrup and melted butter. Beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake at 350°
F oven for 55 – 60 minutes until crust is golden and filling still quivers. It will set as it cools. Very rich – serve with Cool Whip.

Note: a larger pie pan will require partially baking the crust. To do that, line the crust with aluminum foil and weight it down with pie weights. Usually 400 degrees for 10 minutes will be enough.

Margo Howland

Be~Witching : Incense and Peppermint



Enjoy this lovely chart! Once again, I don't know who to attribute it to but I'm grateful for it. It's truly lovely, concise and one of the best tools that I've seen in a long time! I love incense and I love to make my own and burn it often.   Simply take a bowl and fill it 1/2 way with sand. I use a beautiful abalone shell that I got years ago because it does have a wonderful Venus vibe! Then get a pack of incense charcoal disks and lay one on top of the sand. Light it and let it burn until you're sure that it's burning (It will be ashy and glowing, not flaming!) and scatter any combination of herbs and spices around and on top of it. You can even add a couple of drops of any essential oil that you love provided that it's natural. Perfumed oils are generally derived from petroleum products and other nasties. They will generally send off a horrid black smoke when you light them and ruin not only the effectiveness of your spell, but the effectiveness of the smell! My favorite? A  combination of White sage, Lavender ,  Bay and Pine.  Write me please and let me know yours!

Incense and Peppermint

Sláinte...In honor of St. Paddy's Day here's my favorite hunting flask recipe!




Most know that when I was a wee little girl I fell madly in love with horses. This is a love affair that has trancended many men and many years...and thankfully I found the one man to marry who not only could tolerate playing second fiddle to the 4 legged men in my life but could also cherish them almost as much as I do. When my horse Shimmeree, a delightful gray arabian with a very happy nature snuggled up to him 30 plus years ago I knew that he was the one. That horse was always a fabulous judge of character. 

One of my first trainers when I was a little girl was an Irish woman name Noreen Bailey, who like most Irishmen and women that I've known had a way with horses that was absolutely magical and at times downright infuriating. I spent well over a decade with her and became known for my ability to speak with a bit of a brogue.  I loved and hated her at the same time...I'd be having an issue with one of my ponies and she'd hop on and whisper to him in a bit of gaelic and he'd be eating out of her hands..doing whatever she wanted him to do which was usually exactly what he'd refused to do for me seconds before. Mrs. Bailey taught me many things and was perhaps my first introduction  to natural horsekeeping. She made all of her own linaments and boiled down flaxseed on the stove to make a jelly that is still far superior as a gut and coat remedy to anything that you can buy. She'd toss pine boughs out into the pasture to keep down the worms and at least 3 times a week would fix a bran mash for the horses that you or I would eat happily. Lameness, diabetes, laminitis...all of these things were rare in her barns because she knew how to keep her horses in as natural a state as possible. They were outside morning ,noon and most evenings when it wasn't too buggy. They lived a life unlike most horses that you know today because for the most part they were free.

I used to love to spend the night there before a horse show...her apartments were right on top of the barns so I could fall asleep listening to snorting, snuffling and the occasional wall kick. The warm hay smell would follow me up the steps and I'd settle happily on her couch with a bowl of soup. Sadly her culinary skills did not transfer to humans but I loved her cooking just the same! However she did  make a mean hot toddy which really could cure whatever ailed you. Several times I'd have a cold the night before an important horse show and she'd mix me up this drink. It would go down the hatch easily, I'd fall asleep and in the morning I'd be ready to go! I didn't question her wisdom of giving it to an 8 year old and of course my mother never knew, but to this day I'm grateful and it's what I drink when I'm under the weather. It's also what I put into my flask when I go to hunter trials or foxhunting as it's a perfect sip for a cold fall morning when the leaves are falling, the horses are fresh and the air is sweet and brisk. It's really quite simple....Bushmills, Honey , lemon, cinnamon, butter and raisins  in whatever proportions you like! If you need a toddy, add some hot tea (she used Constant Comment ,a blend which this author still admits to enjoying!) and if you want it for your flask, put it all into a bottle and let it steep overnight , shaking the bottle every now and then. If you don't like lemon and butter you can use Baileys...It's pretty good either way!

Although she's been gone for many years now, I've never forgotten her.Although she could be quite mean, I could never have been the rider that I am today without her. She gave me my seat and she ignited a passion that's lasted a lifetime.  Here's to you Mrs. Bailey wherever you are...Happy St. Patricks Day...I'm hoping that all of your horses are fresh and your men are young and that you know just how much I loved you!



The Witches Kitchen: How to handle a bumper crop of tomatoes!

Boston bacon bloody mary

What to do with all of the wonderful tomatoes that are beginning to come into season? I find that I simply can’t resist them! Every year I plant way too many varieties and every year I’m blessed with the same results…a bumper crop of so many wonderful tomatoes that by the end of the season I’m giving away bushels and I still have almost too many left. I love fresh vine ripened tomatoes and I’m spoiled…. I pretty much refuse to have anything to do with that luscious red fruit (Yes the tomato IS a fruit!) at any other time of the year. The fragrance of a tomato plant is incredible, I hardy know how to describe it. I love running my fingers across the leaves and I've often said that if I could find a perfume that smelled like the freshly crushed stems that I would wear it forever. Any suggestions? The closest I've found is the room diffuser in "Tomato Vine" by Saint Parfum. It was incredible to walk into my bedroom all winter long when it was so icy outside just to smell the warmth of summer vine ripened tomatoes at my bedside...bliss!
I eat tomatoes during the hot summer months practically everyday and my favorite summer meal consists of sun warmed slices and fresh burrata cheese drizzled with white truffled olive oil and lemon juice and then dusted with sea salt, cracked pepper and served on a bed of arugula. My favorite comfort food breakfast? Open faced toasted cheese on white toast with tomatoes. I think that this is left over from my childhood, when my mother (who was bit of a Dixie Chick) used to make me my favorite open faced grilled cheese with tomatoes and bacon on toast for breakfast everyday before I went to school!
I can remember being a little girl,crawling out of bed and sitting in the kitchen still in my pajamas watching her make it. There was one radiator in particular that was warmer than the others and I loved sitting by it. My mother’s kitchen was so cozy and warm and she’d always bring me a steaming cup of tea and that wonderful sandwich on a pretty Spode plate. It was the very thing that kept me warm inside while I waited outside for the bus on those cold, dark wintry mornings!
If you want to try this, it’s really a very simple and satisfying sandwich to make. Just spread a piece of Pepperidge Farm white bread with a bit of mayonnaise that you've mixed with some fine herbes and a little bit of minced fresh garlic. Put several slices of tomato that you salted lightly and top with several slices of American cheese. Put the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes and you've got the oozy, gooey toasted cheese that you remember. Add bacon or thinly sliced ham or turkey… Delicious! Add some homemade tomato basil soup ( or even Campbells) and it doesn't get much better! Another favorite? White toast spread lightly with salted butter and layered with thinly sliced rare roast beef, thinly sliced red onion, a wee bit of goat cheese and a spoonful of olive tapenade. Perfect for tea or anytime!
We've reached 103 in the shade here in Northeast Ohio so toasted cheese definitely wasn’t on the menu today! The sandwich shown above was though and it was wonderful and vegan too! Ezekiel sprouted bread,rice "Cheese", Vegannaise , freshly picked vine ripened tomatoes and those flowers are peppery edible nasturtiums also from my garden, chives and fresh basil too! I dusted the whole thing with a bit of sea salt and ate it with absolute pleasure! Quick, Delicious and so very good for you!
Tonight's meals is simple too....juicy diced tomatoes and cucumber and sliced onions with torn pieces of a day old baguette, fresh olive oil, sea salt ,pepper ,garlic and lots more of my fresh genovese basil all tossed together into a bowl with a sparkling of chopped almonds on top. On Wednesday we had freshly steamed zucchini tossed with diced tomatoes, onions and garnished with lemon verbena and fresh basil!
Tomorrow? Gazpacho! Tuesday? A huge pot of sauce for some homemade pasta! Fried green tomatoes? Everyday if I can...
Bacon Bloody Mary’s with bacon flavored vodka, garden fresh tomato juice, a bit of pickle juice , olives, horseradish, some special seasoning and a perfectly grilled strip of bacon ? Well - when isn’t it time for a Bloody Mary? Put a raw oyster in the bottom of a shot glass and add a bit of this intoxicating mix....shooters anyone?

My favorite presents this year will definitely be my new freezer and foodsaver vacuum storage units, a fairly selfish ( in the best way) gift from my delightful and always hungry husband. I went a little bit wild with my garden and I'm going to need them. Nothing is better then eating freshly steamed sweet corn that's frozen at the peak of freshness on a cold winters day or serving succotash on Thanksgiving that you made in August with that same sweet corn and crop of tomatoes! My favorite variety of tomato is the Black Krim which is a delightfully dusky smelling heirloom with thick juicy lobes. I also love the zebra striped ones and the huge oxheart varieties. If you're interested in learning about heirloom varieties go to , a wonderful organization devoted to saving seeds and plants and educating us about all of the lovely vegetables and fruits that we CAN eat, not just the one or two common varieties that we find in our markets everyday. 
So tell me...what's your favorite way to enjoy a fresh tomato? Mine's directly out of the garden eaten warm with only a bit of salt!  
This is a reprint of my post last week from Perfume Smellin Things/Foodie Sunday

Pictures by Beth Schreibman Gehring/all rights reserved
Photo of Bacon Bloody Mary's/ Chicago Grub Street