Tea For The Temptress

Shall I tease you,

on this freeee-zing Winter day,

with thoughts of a mouthwateringly satisfying repast?

Delicate aromas, piquant flavors mingling

just waiting for you

as you come in from the cold

snow on your boots

your nose red

your pretty face licked by a chill wind...

A Lyonnaise bouchon, soul sister to both  the bistro and the café

A Lyonnaise bouchon, soul sister to both  the bistro and the café

These blustery Winter days always make me think of bustling about 

through the streets, 

busy people making their way indoors

to a hot and succulent supper.

Delightful steam coming from a stew, a tangine, a pottage, a cassoulet.

In the cities. 

and in the countyside

You, my busy Darlings,

popping into a tiny nook

to shake off the cold

warm up your soul

chat with friends 

smile at strangers,

raising your glass to the end of another day,

and the promise of a cozy evening.

My favorite haunts: Figaro BISTROT, Los angeles, and  CAFÉ REGGIO, NYC (below)

My favorite haunts: Figaro BISTROT, Los angeles, and CAFÉ REGGIO, NYC (below)

The bistro was born in the basement kitchens of Parisian boarding houses as a way for the owners to supplement income by opening up their hearth to the public, serving simple, usually slow-cooked dishes with wine and coffee. Over time, these became the classic small restaurants we adore for their modest prices, wonderful food, and enchanting atmosphere. I find the true bistro to be a close cousin to the café, though technically the latter began as more of a coffee house.

And though we associate them with major cities, these tiny gems are of course found in villages everywhere around the globe, serving regional fare and local charm. You can count on it. And that's such a beautiful thing.

Of course, it's difficult to maneuver menus anywhere,

so today, as I make my way home,

I think of how inviting it would be to slide into 

an old oak banquette

and savor a dish like this one

with all the charm of the old world

but none of the unhealthy ingredients.

I've conjured up something very special for you.

The secret here, Loves,

lies in the tea leaves...

Wild Rice Tease

Serves two.

  • 4 oz. organic wild rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 8 oz. organic button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 3/4 C dry red wine 
  • 1 tsp vegan butter (olive oil/flax)
  • 1 tbsp loose tea
  • Celtic salt
  • Olive oil, organic and first cold pressed if possible

Begin casting your spell by preparing a cup of loose tea. Oui!

I've used a chocolate pu-erh here, for it's rich, earthy flavor and supreme health benefits. Pu-erh has been honored in Chinese medicine for centuries as it is considered to open the meridians, 'warm the middle burner' (the spleen and stomach) and be beneficial to 'blood cleansing' and digestion. For these reasons, it is often consumed after heavy meals or sipped as a hangover cure/preventative.

A good-quality pu-erh will have an earthy, mushroomy flavor, hence my choice here. (You can find them in most tea shops, and in health food stores - Numi makes a nice one.) Of course, you can use any tea you love that compliments the flavor of whatever you're making, so experiment! Earl Grey or jasmine (the flowers, not a green tea blend) would work well here too.

So, 1 Tbsp loose chocolate pu-erh per cup of boiling water. Steep in for three minutes max. You definitely don't want any bitterness in the dish. 

Now pour the prepared tea into a saucepan, and add the wild rice. Bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes when the rice is tender but chewy.

While that little number is bubbling away, spiral a little olive oil into a gently heated sauté pan. When you can feel the heat with your hand just above, add in the garlic, and allow it to sizzle and release its scent for about three minutes, until it turns translucent. With your fingers, loosen the fresh herbs from their stems and into the pan. Give it all a little stir. Let the flavors and scent mingle for a few minutes, then add in a dollop of vegan butter (about 1 Tbsp-ish), allow it to melt in, then add your mushrooms. Here's where it all gets kind of gorgeous: Fold the mushrooms into all of it, coating them and making the whole thing come alive. Splash in the red wine, stir, and let it cook ever so gently for a while. Cover it to keep the jucy-ness inside. 

When the rice is finished, introduce it to the mushroom mixture. Give it all a great tumble, and taste. Here is where you'll need a bit of Celtic salt, some pepper, and very likely a bit more wine. Stir, let it simmer a few more minutes, then taste it again. You should be there just about now.

Enjoy this with a few roasted brussels sprouts, and of course a green salad first. I like a mix of mild winter greens with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and maybe a handful of dried cranberries and slivered almonds...

And, of course, keep that bottle of red going. *wink*

Keep playing with the tea-infused grains, my little Nibbles. I really think you'll have fun with it. Let your instincts guide you. 

Oh, and as for those tea leaves,

yes, I do read them.

And your future looks...

AMAZING.

Stay warm and well, Darlings!

I love you,

xxx Alise

In The Flesh

These harsh winds,

and their bone cold fingers,

can take us,

forcefully,

in their clutches,

and strip us bare 

of our juicy-ness.

Flesh

We can't let that happen.

We need our flesh ripe and soft,

our hair shining,

our glow undimmed.

My Loves, here are my five most potent, yet simple Winter rituals to restore your shimmer, and make sure the tides of sensuality rise ever-so-high, even when the mercury plummets. Even if you don't live in a harsh clime, you lucky little devil, these are purrfect tips for any dry environment.

GET STEAMY. If you don't have a humidifier in your Lair, go out and get one. Immediately. They range in prices and functionality, but you can pick up a little portable one that gets it done for about $60US. It's worth it. (Look for the kind that gives off a cool air mist - you'll sleep like a baby.)

Why? Because dry, stagnant indoor air drains precious moisture from you, inside and out. Not only does it leave your hair brittle, your skin parched, and your lips cracked, but it also dries out your sinuses, leading to a full-on bout of sniffling, congested grossness. Sinuses, you see, are fickle things. When enough moisture isn't naturally produced, they take the reins and begin to produce it themselves, putting you on the fast train to a never-ending cycle of stuffy-head misery. To hell with that. Use your new best friend the humidifier (I've dubbed mine "Froggy" for the little bullfrog sounds it occasionally makes) as an essential oil diffuser, and you've got what you need to add aromatherapeutic divinity to the air. Try a few drops of eucalyptus to clear nasal passages, chamomile and lavender to help you sleep, peppermint or citrus to get you moving, or something extra sexy like frankencense to spice things up in any room.

Your animal familiars will love it too. My felines  like to lie at the end of the bed with the mist rising behind them. In a dim light, it looks like they're in front of a dry ice machine. Hilarious little rockstars.

BLESSED NAKEDNESS. Now, more than ever, we have to take special care to keep our skin soft, touchable, gorgeous. Even under many pounds of clothing, isn't it our delicious secret weapon? 

The tendency is, of course, to shower or bathe in scalding water just to get the chill off, then rush madly into a strange dance with a towel so we can get back into our swaddling layers before the cold air hits us. This will never do for our Goddess (and God) selves. We need to connect with our bodies, especially during these frigid months of covering up like mad.

Here are a few little ticks I employ: Let a space heater work its magic in the bathroom 10-15 minutes before you enter. (And, yes, shut it off before you start running your bath water.) The warm steam will rise and fill the air, taking over where the heater left off. I like to warm my towels and my robe on the radiators while I'm in, reminiscent of those fantastic towel heaters in UK hotel bathrooms. (Why are these not standard features in every bathroom?)  Soak for a while in very warm water, but compensate by adding lush oils to your bath, then further up the moisturizing magic by coating your skin twice daily (do the space heater thing in the morning also, to get the chill out of the room) in a lush body butter you can make in no time at all...

Naked Body Butter

Naked Body Butter

At room temperature, this should keep at least a month. If it gets melty, just refrigerate. You can find the butters online, just shop around for the best deal, as it changes. 

  • 1/2 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 C shea butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 C cocoa butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp vitamin E oil (optional)
  • 13-30 drops essential oils

Combine the coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter in a small saucepan on a gentle flame. Allow it all to melt slowly as you stir it, sending beautiful energy into your potion. When everything is melted and combined, remove it from heat. Mix in your vitamin E and essential oils. Pour it into a bowl, and chill in the fridge for two hours.

Now the fun part: Take a hand mixer and WHIP IT! Once you get a fluffy consistency, you'll know it's ready. Spoon it into pretty jars...your skin is waiting...

WHAT YOU PUT INSIDE.  Hydration begins and sustains by what you choose to eat and drink. It's so easy to forget to drink enough water in the cold weather, but, Beauties, you absolutely MUST. Make sure you are getting at least a few good glasses of pure water in every day. Add some high quality, food-grade essential oils (see end of post) to your glass to keep it interesting. My faves? Lemon, wild orange, and grapefruit. Instead of going for that second (or sixth) cup of coffee, consider that caffeine is dehydrating, and dehydration causes fatigue, creating a vicious cycle. Oh, and it's hell on your complexion. Drink water instead. 

You can also hydrate from within by adding chia, fresh aloe, and coconut water to your shake elixirs, which you drink every day...right?

Hot, brothy soups and herbal teas also have a dual function: not only are they warming and nourishing food medicine, but they also open up and moisturize the sinus/nasal/bronchial passages and clear the way, fighting colds and other horrid nonsense. We have no time for that.

FACE IT. Your sweet faced is exposed to the elements, all the time. This is particularly ravaging during Winter months, when most of us forget to wear sunscreen, or skimp on the moisturizers. My fave products for giving good face are:

Shikai Borage Oil Hand Cream (Travel Size)- This is precious. It's inexpensive and potent as hell. Borage oil penetrates, feeding your cells directly with a major Omega-6 fatty oil called gamma linolenic acid, which lets skin retain its moisture. I use it not only on my hands, but on my face before heading out into the elements. These tiny tubes are so affordable, you can stash one pretty much anywhere. Bonus: It can repair chapped lips gloriously. Magic Bonus: Borage brings courage those who carry or wear it.

Derma E BB Cream - This goes on top: light and dewy, with a subtle foundation effect and a 25 SPF. It's so good, I use it all year long!

Acure Organics Seriously Firming Facial Serum - Ohhh, this is a most delightful potion! Day or night, alone or under a moisturizer, this baby is about to become your intimate friend. You two will have sensual rituals together every day.  Its velvet texture and your flesh were meant to be together, to revel in a dew-like glow of complexion purrfection...

 Acure Organics Eye CreamAnother gem from the alchemists at Acure. Stimulating new cell growth (!) while delicately drenching your eye area with feather-light moisture. You'll look so refreshed, people will think you actually slept last night. You're welcome.

HAIR TODAY... Tresses get hit hardest of all it seems. The constant in and out of dry indoor heat and cold outdoor moisture forces the hair shaft to expand and contract at a maddening pace. It's exhausting. And it weakens hair. You can condition to your heart's content, but you still need reinforcements.

My secrets? Always, always, always cover your hair when you are going in and out of doors. It helps. A hood, a scarf, even a hat if you pile the bulk of your hair into it. It will protect the outer layer from damage, and keep you warm.

Second, you cannot have enough moisture on the ends. I'm in lust right now with Holistix Light Argan Oil Treatment. You know I've been obsessed with argan oil forever, but oils in general can weigh hair down. I've got a massive mane, but the strands themselves are quite fine, especially around the face, and can get lank and gooey all-too-easily. If your hair is coarse, go for the straight oil. But if you have a medium-to-fine texture, this is it. 

Lastly, whenever I can get away with it, I coat my ends with conditioner, and make multiple braids. My weapon of choice is Acure Organics Moroccan Argan Oil + Stem Cell Conditioner, assuring my mane of not only intense conditioning, but protecting it with a layer of heavenly-scented armor. Bonus: when you take them out at night you look like a Norse goddess. *wink*

And on that note,

I will leave you to beautify and hydrate yourselves,

while I consult the runes...

All my love, always.

xxx Alise

P.S. All the essential oils I've mentioned can be found here, in their absolute highest quality. ENJOY!

Something's Brewing

Baby, it's cold outside!

If you dwell in a climate of seasons,

you've most likely had a blast of dark, damp, chill shake you right out of a strangely warm Autumn,

propelling you headlong though frigid winds,

and dropping you down into full-on Winter.

Hard.

"What is this? We didn't have this in Babylon."

"What is this? We didn't have this in Babylon."

Snow?

It's beautiful.

But after the first delirious rush of fairytale scenes, it draws our attention inward, to an awareness that we are now susceptible to the lowered resistance that comes with a change in season. It's time to suit up into our armor, mount our steeds, and defend the castle walls which house our souls.

To fortify your gorgeous cells, and strengthen you from the inside out, 

I've concocted an immune-revving potion that will have your cauldron bubbling over with warmth, witchy wellness, and all good things...

The secret ingredient? Mushrooms! The two most powerful medicinal healing mushrooms on Earth, reishi and chaga, join forces here to defeat those horrid, Orc-y germs trying to destroy your good health. Lovely, ancient spices are then added with a touch of creamy sweetness, for a comforting, cold weather delight.

Winter's Brew

For 1-2 servings:

  • 2 C unsweetened organic coconut milk
  • 3 pieces reishi
  • 2 pieces chaga
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 9 cloves
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp coconut nectar
  • pinch of cayenne

***Note: you can purchase the chaga and reishi dried in the herb section (usually) of your local health food store. They can order it if it isn't on the shelves. Or, you can buy it online through Amazon, just check your source. If you can't find them dried, powders or tincture will work well also. Try health rockstar David Wolfe's site, or shop with the undisputed King of Mycellium, Paul Stamets.  

Here we go, Beloved Ones...

Take three deep breaths, light your kitchen altar candle, and whisper your prayers of strength, fortitude, resilience. Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan. With intention, lay the reishi in first, then nestle the chaga in between. Thank them for their superior qualities, and for finding their way to you at exactly the right time. 

Start a very low fire beneath the pan. Begin to expand your wishes with the help of the spices. Remember to visualize and feel each intention, and always thank your plant friends.

Arrange the ginger in amongst the mushrooms, for a little help in communicating with spirit.

Now gently, and with purpose, sprinkle the cinnamon in. That's for love. The kind you give yourself when you take good care of the body, and the kind you radiate outward into the world as a result.

The star anise are next. Set them in the brew like the gorgeous little creatures they are. More love.

Toss in those yummy little cloves next. They're here right now to protect you. 

The brew should be getting warm now.

Remove the mushrooms, as they can be quite bitter if steeped too long, and keep warming the rest gently. How to you feel? Is your spell cast? Wonderful. Remove the pan from the heat. Add a pinch of cayenne for even more protective energy, then swirl in the coconut nectar. The coconut, by the way, is effective for inner purification if visualized well. And it's sweet. 

"Ahh, now,  potions  I understand..."

"Ahh, now, potions I understand..."

Now, my Loves, sip this deeply. Besides the magick within, there's serious plant medicine here. You can certainly prepare a lighter version, sans milk and sweetener, but it won't be as enjoyable. This is meant to fill you, body and spirit, so enjoy it.

I'll leave you know, Beasties, 

with love and light,

xxx Alise