Prepare Your Seeds
The first step in preparing the pumpkin seeds is to cut open your pumpkin! If you can find a peanut pumpkin,I think you'll be delighted! I was! They look like they are covered with peanuts and are a little sweeter than most pumpkins. And baking your own pumpkin, instead of using canned, is always worth the effort. What a difference!
Directions for baking the pumpkin are in an earlier post.
Oil and Season
Add one or two tablespoons of olive oil to thoroughly coat.
The final amount will depend on the size of your pumpkin and the amount of seeds.
(about 1 teas. oil per 1/2 cup of seeds)
Add 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
(inspired by Kevin Lee Jacobs - a favorite!)
Bake and Serve
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and serve warm!
VARIATION - If a friend shows up and she's in a rush to get to class and you want to share but they aren't quite done, you can turn the heat up to 450 degrees. Watch closely so they won't burn, stir to coat evenly and remove to a foil packet with a vent. Send her out the door!
This is on of many options. You'll find a lot of recipes for savory, as well as sweet, roasted pumpkin seeds! If you come up with your own variation, add it in the comments below! Enjoy!
Aconite - Aconitum napellus
© Mikell Y. Worley, Aconite, Watercolor sketch, 3' x 5"
Folk names for aconite - blue rocket devil's helmet, leopard's mane,
monkshood, mousebane, wolf's bane, woman's bane,
A thirty-three year old gardener, Nathan Greenaway, died of multiple organ failures after touching monkshood. If that doesn't convince you to keep your distance, there is no hope.
Wolf's bane is a member of the Ranunculus family, as is the seemingly innocent buttercup. But beware. All members of this family, over 500 varieties, are poisonous.
Aconite, from the Greek work akon, meaning dart or javelin, was used on the tips of arrows to kill wolves. Legend states that the arrows never missed their mark and death from the plant's poison was immediate. I can't help but wonder who gathered and prepared the arrows, as all parts of the plant are extremely poisonous even to the the touch.
Monkshood remind me of delphiniums - same family - and both are grown in gardens as ornamental flowers. You won't find them in mine. The story of the gardener is more than enough to deter me. The original headline was that he had merely brushed past the plant and the result was death, The reputation for the herb's toxicity is enough to convince me to keep my distance.
Atropa belladona (Poison)
Solanum dulcamara (Poison)
open their lids
for their lovers;
Maenads fall upon men
dripping with dreams;
& children die
from the sweetest
of inky fruits.
wine of the Bacchanals,
you are indeed the witch’s berry,
I look into your open eye & see
women in love with death,
dying with the widest
& brightest of eyes.
Have you no shame at all
The other herbs
pretend to be angelic,
but you freely play
the Devil’s part.
Dwaleberry, Sorcerer’s cherry,
your sweetness bursts
on the tongue,
the lungs relax,
& death comes
Jimsonweed - Dratura Strimonium
Today's herb is Jimsonweed, also called devil's trumpet, Hell's bells, thorn apple and moon flower, from the genus Datura. It belongs to the Solanacease (nightshade) family. Its toxic ingredients include tropane alkaloids, including atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, and it is particularly dangerous because the amount needed for a high is nearly the same as the lethal over dose which greatly increases the chance of accidental fatal overdose.
There are times I simply must pause when I do herbal research. These are the kinds of things that have guided me to avoid deadly herbs for so long. I've been sharing information on haunting herbs for years and it has all been in fun, using only herbs found in the gardens of the white witches. But there can be a dark and serious side to herbal use. The lists of illness and most often death associated with this herb are readily available on the internet so I won't list them here.
That being said, I have been in awe of the gorgeous Jimsonweed for years and would not be anymore inclined to eat it than I would poison ivy. I can enjoy it at a distance and as with all the deadly herbs, I strongly advise you look but don't touch!
Bliss, M. (2001), Datura Plant Poisoning, Clinical Toxicology Review
~ Erica Jong
of the poisonous flowers--
even your smallest buds
are said to cause
madness, sleep & death,
but your spiny ″apples,″
prickly & stiff as porcupines,
are the real villains,
& were much beloved
by Kali’s worshipers,
(O kill, kill
in a goddess’ name!)
for arrow tips
& sacrificial victims’ hearts--
you were also used
in love philters!
The cynic laughs,
knowing that love
is the first poison--
that takes the soul,
& all the organs
(O kill, kill
in a goddess’ name!)
Venus, Kali, the Great Mother
the God of the Witches--
what does it matter?
Love potion or poison,
it is the same drink
that brings oblivion
in the end.
Love-will, Sorcerer’s herb,
you were used by brothel keepers
to seduce the innocent,
& witches brewed you
for their flying ointments.
The soldiers of Jamestown
made merry with your juice.
It was a new country
but the herbs were old.
The poisons link us
the poisons & the love philters.
Down through the Ages
we are joined by vines;
we wear garlands
of poisonous berries
Green as innocence,
green as love of death,
we bud, we flower, we fall--
& ancient herbs
out of our blind
Mandragora - Mandragora officinarum
© Mikell Y Worley, Mandrake, Watercolor and Pen and Ink, 5" x 7'
This year I'm featuring the Deadly Herbs of Halloween. We'll begin with Mandrake, the root of Mandragora. Legend states that the plant sprung from the dripping blood and semen of men who were hanged at the gallows.
Mandrake, translated as the dragon resembling man, (Atropa mandragora, Mandragora officinale) is one of the most powerful of the Halloween Herbs. The root, said to resemble the form of a human body, can grow to a length of three or four feet. It is most often associated with males (Man-drake, Mandragan, Mandragor, Mannkin), but other names include a feminine reference (Ladykins and Womandrake). And there are other folk names including Brain Thief, Wild Lemon, and Raccoon Berry. Do you see why I love herbs?
Another name is Herb of Circe, as it is thought to be the herb used in the brew made by the sorceress Circe (Kirke) to turn Odysseus's trespassing men into swine. And there is more than one herb of Circe. More on that later.
If that weren't enough, there are additional benefits! It can protect your home and assure affluence and abundance. Silver coins placed next to this handy root will double in amount over night. Even those of us who aren't known for our mathematical expertise can see the benefit!
Mandrake can be used to attract love if you hang the root on the headboard of your bed. Keep in mind, this is a three to four foot long hairy root that looks something like a person. I'm just wondering how I'd react if I woke up in the middle of the night and . . . .oh, never mind. Once true love is guaranteed it will ensure fertility and the scent ensures a peaceful night's sleep - at least until the baby arrives!
But there is a problem. Mandrake roots are rare and expensive, and, well they should be, considering the challenges involved with obtaining one. To ensure that the magic is intact, there are certain procedures that must be followed. You don't just go out with a shovel to your nearest mandrake patch and start digging.The root must be obtained on a moonless night, ideally yanked out just at the stroke of midnight.
There is another problem. The mandrake does not want to be removed from the ground. It shrieks in protest. The shrill screams seem to have a derogatory effect on all that hear them and drive them to insanity, so as you can imagine, people aren't lining up to be harvesters of the mandrake root.
There is a solution but Zippy, my Puggle, and I don't like it. "The safest way to secure a mandrake was to tie a dog to the plant on a moonless night. Plugging one's ears with beeswax and blowing a horn to drown out the shrieks, the dog was whipped at the stroke of midnight and the jumping animal pulled the screeching root from the ground and died."
Died. A dog, at least one or we know they wouldn't have given this example, died so that someone could tie a hairy root to their bedpost.
One more thing to keep in mind when considering the use of mandrake is that is is poisonous. It is a member of the Solanaceae family and the berries and roots contain anticholinergic alkaloids such as hyoscyamine and scopolamine.
There is good news though! If you're looking for a substitute for your spell this Halloween, you can use the root of an ash, which might be even more difficult to dig up than the Mandrake. It is a tree, after all. The root of betony or may apples have also proved to be worthy alternatives. For an even more easily obtainable solution, apples are said to work just as well. I hope you have read this far before running out to dig up a mandrake root. You may even have an apple readily available in your 'fridge!
In addition to it's many attributes, Mandrake inspired poetry from the hauntingly talented Erica Jong. Enjoy. I'm on my way to tie an apple to my bedpost.
Lehner, Ernst and Johanna (1960), Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees, Tudor Publishing Company
Stories from my grandmother
~ Erica Jong
little man dancing
with your great tap root,
small song-&-dance man
cloven-hoofed as the Devil--
no wonder you make such noise!
putting out fine root hairs…
Pythagoras & Theophrastus
sang your praises--
blessed you as aphrodisiac
blasted your resemblance
Like man you are tricky, devious,
like man you curse & bless.
Like man you are a poisoner
& a love-bringer;
like man you take
what you can.
bringer of fruitfulness & potency,
lamp in the darkness,
killer of starving dogs,
shrieker, gallowsman, dragon-doll--
you were once thought beneficent
in Biblical times,
but gradually the Devil claimed you.
You grew at the foot
of the gallows,
lapping up dead men’s sperm,
giving birth only to death.
& yet we all give birth
to only death,
& your other attributes--
O bringer of treasure, sensuality, love,
success in battle--
also lead to death.
So dance little Mandrake
in your doubleness.
Rejoice at the gallows’ foot.
You are indeed a dress rehearsal for man,
& we shall join you underground
© Erica Jong, Witches (1981)
Jong, Erica, (1997) Witches, Abradale Press
Yesterday I used my favorite sweet bread recipe to make pumpkins sweet rolls. Wasn't sure how they'd turn out but my neighbors, and the Amazon delivery guy who arrived just as they were out of the oven, seemed to like them. I had planned to double the amount of pumpkin next time but have been told the are 'perfect' and 'the best ever', so I'm ready to share the recipe - tested and approved!.
PUMPKIN SWEET BREAD DOUGH
Gather ingredients - listed below in bold..
Rinse a large bowl thoroughly with hot water. Empty bowl.
1/2 cup very warm water (105 - 115 degrees F)
2 teas sugar and
1 1/2 packages dry yeast (or 4 teas.) on top of the water.
Stir with a wooden spoon, not metal spoon. (This advice came from my grandmother.)
Wait for a few minutes to be certain the yeast is active, about 5 minutes. You'll see it begin to bubble.
In a small saucepan, warm
1 cup milk
I stick butter, sliced to melt more quickly
1 teas salt
In a separate bowl, beat
2 Tablespoons sugar
and beat until lemon colored.
Add both mixtures to the large bowl with yeast.
(milk mixture and egg mixture)
2 cups flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teas. cinnamon
Continue adding flour until stiff enough to knead, about
4 cups flour
Knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, oil on all sides, cover and let rise until doubled - about 2 1/2 hours.
While dough is rising, bring
2 sticks of butter
to room temperature and prepare the cinnamon mixture and pans.
In a small bowl, mix
1 cup sugar
2 teas. cinnamon
Prepare your baking pans. Lightly butter the bottoms of
4 - 8 or 9 inch round pans.
I use the wrappers from the sticks of butter to grease the pans.
Punch down dough and roll out on lightly floured surface. Divide in half.
Roll each piece to 12" x 15" rectangle.
Spread one stick butter on each rectangle. Sprinkle each with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough, beginning at the 15 " side. Cut into one inch slices. This will give you a total of 24 rolls, 6 rolls per baking pan.
Place rolls into prepared pans. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 25 minutes in middle oven rack.
3 cups confectioner's sugar
water - add a small amount at a time
I like my icing fairly thick. Some people prefer a lighter glaze. Add just a little water slowly and mix with a fork until is the consistency you prefer.
These are best served warm out of the oven! Share!
Until then, Sweet Annie can hang out with the dragonfly and copper bird feeder I got at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival several years before I moved to Baltimore.
Complete instructions for harvesting and creating your own Sweet Annie - or other herbal wreath base - are below in posts from two years ago. Harvesting Sweet Annie and making herbal wreaths is an annual event
After a summer of watching her grow and hugging her every time I walked past her in the garden, my Sweet Annie's tiny golden balls indicate that she is ready to be harvested!
She'll be wonderful for fall arrangements, wreaths and swags. Her golden color adds a perfect warmth to autumn decor!
Be sure to cut her in the morning and after the dew has dried. Inspire of her delicate look, her branches become thick and hardened so you'll need heavy garden shears. Cut close to the ground and leave one of the lowest branches on the plant so it can develop seeds for your next year's garden. Sweet Annie is an annual and grows easily from seed. Actually, your challenge will be in having too many plants since you'll only need a few for personal use. This harvest is from three plants and you can see how prolific she is. You can always share!
Oh, one word of caution. Occasionally there are people who are sensitive to her fragrance and develop allergies and headaches. And I've heard of people developing a rash similar to poison ivy if they are allergic, but have never spoken with anyone who experienced problems.
Sweet Annie is happiest drying in a dark area. Drying time varies from one week to several. I'll keep you posted on how mine dries and I usually begin making my arrangements and wreaths before she is brittle. More to come!
If you want to keep her looking fresh and retaining more of a green color, you can use glycerin. Mix one part glycerin to three or four parts of water and stand her in a vase to absorb it. Glycerin is expensive and this is most practical for small batches. Either way is a lovely option!
The miracle of a single seed never ceases to amaze me!
The wreath is layered with 5 to 6 inch bunches of herbs, and each one is attached with u shaped floral pins.
There were two very distinct color differences in the herb so I worked that into the design in layers around the wreath. You could also mix them in the small bunches if you prefer.
I began with a ring of the green leaves around the center of the straw base.
This shows the completion of the layer of green, with the addition of the more golden bunches being added towards the center of the wreath.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Do The Write Thing
Fashion And Fabrics
Lessons From Nature
Pay It Forward
Take The Rose Instead
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!