Candle Anointing Oils

In many ways, 2016 is a year I will be glad to see the backside of.  While it has actually been a wonderful year for me personally and professionally, in all other respects it has been a Dumpster Fire.

Maybe that is why I want to burn all the things.  In previous years gone by, I would hold on to candles and incense as though they cost thousands of dollars.  In fact, the last time I went to visit my mother, I found an unused candle that a friend gifted to me on my fifteenth birthday, and I turned 33 this year!  Now, however, I get a lot of pleasure from lighting up a few candles when I get home from work.  This has also been reflected in my magical practice, where suddenly all I want to do is candle magic.

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The basics of anointing a candle with oil.  There are always variations upon the theme, though.  For example, Hoodoo practice usually holds that with figure candles or 7-knob candles that you either start from the bottom and rub up in order to banish a thing, or start from the top and rub down in order to bring a thing to you.

Over the past year, I think I must have gone through five pounds of beeswax between all the candles I’ve lit in the name of magic.  It’s not always for a full on ritual; in fact, I’ve lately gotten into meditatively using chime candles to ‘tweak’ my mindset on things.  For example, when I am feeling uncharitable to my students, I anoint a candle with some oils that help me feel loving, light it, and think upon all the things the kids have done in the past that have helped me connect with and love them.  If I am having issues getting a paycheck to stretch, I anoint a candle with oils that make me feel wealthy, and I think upon ways I can modify my budget as the flame burns.

As this year has plod on, I realized that most of what I had been doing in this respect was either to help me feel love and compassion, to help me relax when I was stressed, to help me feel happiness when I was sad or angry, to give me fortitude to see another day through, to improve my finances, and to tweak my heath.  Not long after I realized this, I had a long phone conversation with a magically-schooled friend.  While my friend is now a rabid atheist, he was once a member of the O.T.O. and continues to read and interrogate all things occult.  He can also identify patterns and references as well as any literature Ph.D. I’ve met.  During this call, he asked me about how my witchery was progressing and I began lamenting about how categorized and predictable my magic had become.  He laughed when I told him what I had been doing and said “Do you realize you just described pretty much all the blessings in the Gnostic mass? ‘Bless this spiritual food unto our bodies, bestowing upon us health and wealth and strength and joy and peace and that fulfillment of will and of love under will that is perpetual happiness.’ What more do you want?”

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An array of the candle-anointing oils that I made

I realized, of course, that he was right and that these six areas are excellent core foci for magical workings.  Once I had “names” for the workings I’d been doing, I decided to make pre-mixed candle anointing oils for each.  This was entirely self-serving on my part: the one thing that keeps me from doing magic when I need it and when I’m overwhelmed is the ‘chore’ of pulling together correspondences.  It seems that I find spellcraft a beautiful and creative outlet when I have no spells that need doing, and an insurmountable hurdle when I need it the most.  By pulling together correspondences and charging a blend when I feel fine, I am able to pull on that “battery” when my own reserves and creativity are low. I’ve also found that in just working with these six oils and some fairly regular candle magic, I have been able to see just what areas I need more help in.  I’ve run through my “love” dram twice now, and my “Peace” dram three times; but I’ve only used a quarter of my original “Health” bottle.  Clearly my life right now is making me a stressed-out cynic!

My own blends for these areas are below.  I did not want to utilize anything that would require infusing an oil because I wanted these blends to be made quickly and in small amounts (1 dram, or about 3/4 teaspoon).  So I first created a list of commonly available and generally inexpensive essential oils.  I then cross-referenced a few different texts on magical herbalism and aromatherapy to list out associations for each oil.  Then I did a bit of research into perfumery to figure out what scents generally complemented each other before playing around with proportions.

The one exception to this practice was the “Health” blend, which is essentially a “Thieves” oil blend.  In fact, 10-16 drops of a Thieves-style blend could be used instead of counting drops of the five component oils.  I have taken to using this blend so much during the school year to help keep germs at bay that cinnamon and clove now seem to me positively salubrious.  This, of course, meant that I did not want to use cinnamon in my “Wealth” blend, even though it is the backbone of a lot of wealth powders and oils in many different traditions.  The blend I did develop, though, reminds me oddly enough of the smell that bills and coins acquire, and I find it quite effective.

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The blends I developed and have been using for about 4 months now.  I am a fan of the concentrations given by these drops, which are strong enough for me to get a good smell of them as I do the anointing, but not strong enough to linger and overpower incense.

Any neutral oil could be used for the jojoba oil, I suppose, but I am very partial to jojoba for candle anointing.  It is actually not an oil, but rather a liquid wax.  Therefore it sort of ‘adheres’ to the candle and becomes part of the surface layer of the wax rather than just sit atop it.  It also is close to the composition of our own skin’s sebum, and absorbs very well into our skin without leaving a feeling like we’ve just been given a massage with Crisco. I certainly don’t want to have to bring a tea towel into a ritual with me to mop up greasy hands!  Fractionated coconut oil would work well, too; after all, it is usually what rose and jasmine are diluted with.

Potions in Action: Ritual Bath Spray

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If only my crafting was this photogenic.

Six years ago, I discovered Zum Mist’s aromatherapy sprays and tried my hand at making them.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked and, for a time, sprayed the heck out of rooms and myself with my various creations.  But my day jobs since then have all had a no-scent policy.  These are in the interest of keeping people healthy, and since I have a student who goes into grand mal seizures in the presence of strong smells, I certainly don’t mind them that much.  And at home, I’ve switched to using ultrasonic diffusers which last longer and require less active work on my part.

But there are two things I use essential oil sprays for, and one of them is a “ritual bath in a bottle.”  While I usually do give myself a “spa day” before a coven ritual, it is hardly an intensive energetic cleansing.  I mostly just make sure that everything is shaved that should be shaved, my feet aren’t cracked with callouses, and my skin isn’t all dry and scaly.  (Gardnerians practice skyclad, folks.)  And, of course, I shower the morning of a ritual.  But there’s a lot of time and a lot of mundane worries and activities that occur between the time I shower and the time of ritual, and I don’t have time to take a quick shower, let alone a ritual bath.

But I do have time for a quick spray before I leave.  I just squirt a bit in the air and walk through the mist, visualizing it penetrating through my aura and clearing away any gunk.  Lately I’ve been using this blend, which I like.  Just about everything in it is cleansing, and the overall smell is bright, green, and lively.  Geranium and hyssop are florals, but grassier florals than something like rose or jasmine.  To me, they don’t make the overall smell terribly floral, but a friend recently caught a whiff of it and asked if I was wearing jasmine.  While I myself would not eliminate hyssop as I have always enjoyed it in a ritual bath, an admirable cleansing spray can be made with sage, rosemary, and lemon.  Those scents alone can put me in mind of a chicken dinner, so I might also add a tablespoon or two of vanilla extract.

While the sea salt does help prevent bacterial growth as well as being a key cleansing ingredient, I also like to add a splash of vodka to be on the safe side.  And I find that the alcohol helps broaden the scents of the oils.  That being said, I’ve never once had a water-only batch turn bad on me.

1 4-ounce Boston Round glass bottle with atomizer

2/3 ounce vegetable glycerin

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 ounce vodka or grain alcohol (optional, but nice)

40 drops sage essential oil

15 drops rosemary essential oil

15 drops lemon essential oil

12 drops geranium essential oil

10 drops hyssop essential oil

2 1/3 to 3 1/3 ounce distilled, spring, or reverse-osmosis water

Add the vegetable glycerin, salt, vodka (if using), and oils.  Fill the bottle with water up to where the top starts to curve to the neck, then cap it with the atomizer top and shake vigorously for several seconds to dissolve the salt and thoroughly mix the oils and the glycerin.  Shake again before using.

 

 

 

My Cauldron has WiFi

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And I can control it with my smartphone, too.

I am not even joking.

A friend of mine called me up a couple days ago and told me a relative had been injured and what she could do magically to help accelerate the healing process.  One conversation about ethics and energy and proximity later, I found myself setting a date with her to make an herbal salve the relative could use (with her doctor’s permission!) and which my friend could charge with intent in a circle.

I had the ingredients on hand for a favorite salve recipe, but what I didn’t have was time to baby a double-boiler or fuss with a crockpot that boils everything no matter what.  But I do have a sous vide cooker, and it can hold just about any temperature you want for just about as long as you want with no fuss at all.  So I hooked it up and held the infusing herbs and oils steady at 100℉ for 24 hours.

Holy heck, I think that was pretty much the easiest time I ever had making an oil infusion.  It took almost no time to set up, and it churned all night and all day with no problems whatsoever.  And when I was away at work and panicking that I was burning down the house, all I had to do was check my smartphone…and the cooker’s wifi connection would show me how it was running so I could abort if necessary.  But everything was fine, and I came home today to this glorious concoction:

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Not the most attractive picture ever…but dang!  That is some dark oil!

For reference, this oil is so dark green it looks black, but it started as perfectly clear coconut oil.  That was a pretty effective infusion, if I do say so myself.  And, best of all, I can say with 100% certainty for the first time ever in my herbals preparations that I didn’t “cook” the herbs accidentally.

Wanted: Balance

For those of you who do not see me on the daily, you are probably unaware that even though I still ultimately think of my teaching job as a blessing and what I am meant to be doing right now, we are currently in the “hate” phase of our love/hate relationship.  I like to think of this phase as the pre-Thanksgiving sneaky hate spiral, but people smarter than me call it the “Disillusionment Phase.”  Basically, it’s that time of year in October and  November where teachers have just turned the page on the first quarter of the school year, and we realize that the dreams we had during the summer for how amazing this year was going to be have evaporated.  We take a solid look at the students we’re teaching–who are solidly out of their honeymoon phase and have morphed into hellions–their lackluster grades, the extreme amount of work we are doing, and the microscopic amount of pay off we get in return, and we just think…FUCK THIS.

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I honestly think Walt had less stress as Heisenburg than he did as Mr. White.

This is a thing.  I think that just about every new teacher (and probably most seasoned pros) goes through this.  We feel like frauds.  We feel like we aren’t doing the job well enough.  We feel like we are hurting children with our perceived incompetence. We are so over-extended and so stressed that we have exaggerated thoughts like “You know, if I hurt myself in a car crash this morning, I might not have to go to school for a few weeks.”  Just last week, I found myself staring into oncoming headlights as I was driving into school at 6 am (after waking up at 2 am to start working) and thinking, “it would be so easy to just turn the wheel left…”

This is a dark place, the Disillusionment Phase.  And I am certainly not alone in it, even though is is easy to think that.  The day I caught myself fantasizing about crashing my car, I mentioned it to my best work friend and she laughed and said “Oh, I’ve been having that dream for weeks now!” and next thing I know, I’m getting emails from the rest of my department saying “Yup: I’ve had that thought recently, too.”

While the solidarity is nice, I’d really like to find a way to get out of the Disillusionment Phase, but it is hard to see a tangible solution for that.  My fourth and fifth periods may decide to stop being jerks, but they probably won’t. And my workload may get lighter, but it probably won’t. I have very little real control over these stressors.  But what I can do is try to tweak my own mindset.

So over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to re-boot a meditation practice.  The only time I have been genuinely successful in this in the past was in graduate school when I could arrange my schedule to have a wide swath of time in the early morning to wake up, shower, eat healthfully, exercise, meditate, and do some personal reading and work before heading into classes around 9 am.  This is not feasible now.  Nor is having a set time each day–my schedule is too locked from 6 am to 4:30 pm, and then it’s highly variable every day after that.  The one thing that I can usually count on is a 9 pm bed time (ugh, that makes me feel so old), but meditating just before bed makes me fall asleep instead of meditate.

It’s been a struggle, and I’ve certainly not been perfect.  But I have really enjoyed the app I’m using to help: Headspace.  There’s a free starter pack of 10 guided meditations that help teach technique and regularity, and it sends you nice push notifications with reminders and positive thoughts.  You can also schedule reminders to meditate, which has been very useful to me. If you subscribe to the service (about the cost of Netflix), you get access to additional meditations and resources, but honestly I can see myself spending a few months at least on just the starter 10, so I’m not currently fussed about subscribing.

It’s helping some.  At the very least, taking 10 minutes a day to not think of anything obligation related or to zone out with a TV show has helped me stop thinking about the merits of maiming myself.  And it does help me feel, at least, as though I am practicing my spirituality more regularly rather than being a “Sabbat and Esbat” Wiccan. Perhaps I’ll see some other benefits a little down the road.

A Samhain Trip Down Memory Lane via Food

Some of my favorite Samhains I’ve ever had were those I spent with my college friends.  Back when we were all at DePauw, we usually went out to a cemetery and played “Ghosts in the Graveyard” and did a few other spooky things before heading back home for a dinner party (complete with our traditional “Ghosts in the Graveyard” cake) and a ritual.  When we graduated, though, we only had a couple Samhains together before jobs and life spread us to all corners of the country.  My favorite was the first: the night of a thousand disasters.

I remember that we were at Natalie and Allen’s apartment, and that it was one of the first real “grown up” parties they were hosting, and that some of Natalie’s family was coming so our stakes were high.  We planned a whole menu that was really quite fancy and where everything was specially chosen.  And the pièce de résistance was to be an apple pie, but not just any apple pie: Tyler Florence’s Caramel Apple Pie.  Now, maybe Natalie will correct me, but my memory is that this pie just about killed us.  We were not unskilled in the kitchen, but none of us were all that confident in our pie-making abilities, so we followed the instructions for this one to the letter.  But it took forever to make (easily double the prep + cooking time listed), made a huge mess in Natalie’s postage stamp kitchen, and when we finally cut into it, we found that under the gorgeous top crust was a bunch of half-cooked apples swimming in a liquid so abundant that it had dissolved the bottom crust.

And you know what?  I haven’t made another apple pie in the intervening decade.  Or pretty much any pie that can’t be made in a crumb crust.  It traumatized me.  Cutting into it flooded Natalie and Allen’s kitchen with sticky juice, and cleaning everything up pushed ritual so late that I’m pretty sure me and at least one other person crashed on their sofas before scooting off to work the next morning.

The thing is, I love apple pie, and I think that it is perfect for Samhain…especially when anything “pork” is on the menu.  It’s also been tugging on my hard this year.  My grandfather passed a few years ago, and he’s the only one person I have ever been close to who has, in fact, died.  And it is unreal how badly I miss him at times, and how much I wish he was here.  He was a career teacher, and I think that he probably would have been the only person in my family who would understand all the job-related stress I’ve been going through these past couple of years.  And Grandpa *loved* apple pie.  Around this time of year, it wasn’t uncommon for him and Grandma to buy bushels and bushels of the things at the orchards down the mountain.  And during apple time, they probably ate a slab pie between them every day (basically a bunch of apples thrown in the bottom of a 9×13 with one crust draped across the top…surprisingly light in calories, actually).  So this year when my coven leader told me that they were doing a pork loin roast, I found myself reaching for the apples I’d brought back from that very same orchard when I visited the family mountain a few weeks ago.

 But with memories of the horrific apple soup, I specifically searched out recipes that minimized liquid, and I think I found a winner in Serious Eats’ Gooey Apple Pie.  Unlike the tragic Florence recipe which uses thinly sliced raw apples, this one uses thicker chunks that are parcooked, then cooled before adding.  This basically means that the pectin in the apples has time to set and hold the apple’s shape and moisture, whereas in the Florence recipe, the pectin rushes out with all the juices when the cell walls start collapsing at the higher heat and basically leaves you with apple soup.

The pie turned out wonderfully (though I probably could have left it in a bit longer or done something to help the bottom brown).  I did make a couple changes from the recipe, though.  I used 2 tablespoons of cake spice (a mix of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and clove) when I just needed 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon…because I totally misread the recipe.  The other thing I did not do was transfer my sous vide apples to a Dutch oven to thicken the liquid.  Instead, I poured the liquid into a saucepan and thickened it separately.  What I should have then done was tossed the apples in that, but instead I just poured the cooled sauce over the cooled apples in the pie crust.  The sauce went through all the apples as the pie baked, and the modification really cut down on the amount of time it took to cool the apples.

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My own gooey apple pie.  It is the prettiest pie I’ve ever made.

Altar Freshening with New Deity Representations

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Maxine Miller’s Cernunnos and Danu statuettes.

I once read in a book–I believe it was one of Deborah Lipp’s–that it was a good idea to move your deity representations around your house every so often.  The idea is that by mixing things up of occasion, the representations don’t have a chance to fade into the background and become part of the random flotsam and jetsam we become blind to in our homes.  In other words, we stay aware of them and the powerful beings they represent.

I still do not have a full home to decorate as I wish (life goals!), but I do have my room and my altar, and what I have taken to doing is changing up every couple of months the representations of deity that I display on my altar.  My true favorites remain Neil Sims’ Cernunnos and Oberon Zell’s Millennial Gaia, but I also adore Paul Borda’s seated God and Goddess, which fondly remind me of some friends who love them, too, as well as of Doreen Valiente’s famous figures.  I have a few other statuary representations that I mix into things, and sometimes I’ve printed off color images I find on the Internet and pop them into 5×7 frames.

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Maxine Miller’s Danu.  I love how regally she stands, and I can’t get enough of the detailing on the back of her robe.

Recently, though, when I close my eyes and try to envision the Goddess, the figure that swims in my mind’s eye looks less like Gaia and more like Robin Wood’s High Priestess card: a lady with watery robes and long, cascading hair.  As it happens, I was flicking through various pagan blogs last year and came across an image that stopped me in my tracks.  It was an image John Beckett had on his post on Danu–Maxine Miller’s statue.  I had seen this statue before at Celtic Jackalope’s booth at Pantheacon, and a local pagan store in Olympia, Druid’s Nook, had carried it, but it had never really jumped out at me before.  But now, it seemed like I was looking at the Goddess in the way I’ve been seeing her more and more these days.  I did a bit of Googling to find other images, and eventually found one that showed the back of the statue–and the gorgeous oak tree under a triple moon with a dragonfly buzzing within its branches and a frog and a salmon leaping at its base.  I thought it was stunning, and all those symbols mean a great deal to me, personally.  A quick pop onto Celtic Jackalope revealed another bonus, at least to my mind:  they were discontinuing her original green finish and were introducing her in cold-cast bronze, which I vastly prefer.

Now, I originally ordered the statue in April.  Soon thereafter, Deborah at Celtic Jackalope contacted me to let me know the stock was out and wouldn’t be replenished until June.  Well, June turned into late August, and the statue that first arrived had some major problems with the finish.  Deborah was really great about working with me, though, and this week my replacement finally arrived.  I couldn’t be more pleased, and am enjoying how my morning devotionals have changed when I use her as a focal point.

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Maxine Miller’s Cernunnos.  This particular representation really makes me ponder who the God is.  It has proved very illuminating to sit and meditate upon some of the symbols Miller wove into his sculpture.

During the long wait for Danu, Miller also expanded her “Celtic Goddesses” line by adding her first God to it:  Cernunnos.  Of course, as soon as I saw it, I placed an order.  It is so hard to find an image of Cernunnos that I feel like I can relate to.  To me, he is an incredibly dynamic, powerful figure–one that I am simultaneously attracted to and repelled by.  The representations that show him to be a benign, bearded man with horns–almost like a Wiccan Jesus–or sleepily seated as on the Gundestrup cauldron as a Buddha don’t really do anything for me, and they feel like they misrepresent his energy.

I really like Miller’s take on him.  He’s a bit different here than on her previously released plaque, which is also amazing.  There’s so much iconography here that captures my imagination, from his elfin features to his hair circling out behind him to create a sun, to the bear claw on his chest, to the oak laves vining out from his groin.  At his feet are scattered coins imprinted with pentacles and a fox. Upon his back is a gorgeous relief of three horned beasts–a ram, a bull, and a stag–crowned by the sun.  He stands in a modified magician’s pose, one hand upraised, the other lowered.  The wicked looking horned serpent he holds upraised in his left arm is not under control as it is in Sims’s representation–it is ready to strike.  This is a representation that makes me think, and–if I’m to be honest–makes me shudder a little.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I had both Sims’ and Miller’s Cernunnos figures on my altar for a few weeks, and meditating on both of them at the same time was highly illuminating.  And, as you see below, Danu looks very nice with Sims’ representation, too.

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A decided bonus for me:  Danu looks especially nice with Sims’ Cernunnos.  They are scaled identically, and look very nearly like a matched pair.

Potions in Action: Bone Broth

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“When shall we three meet again?” croaked chicken feet, bone, and veg.  The veg is not pictured.  And I actually took this photo.

A few people in my acquaintance have jokingly called me a kitchen witch on occasion, and I’ve laughed right along with the joke.  I am a great cook and a passable witch, don’t get me wrong, but nearly all of my magic gets done in circle, not the kitchen.  I mean, when you work skyclad, it’s usually not a great idea to get too near bubbling pots.

That being said, I never feel more like a witch than when I’m tinkering away at something in the kitchen, particularly if that something needs a little boost from nature–like scalding milk for yogurt or cheese, steeping tea for kombucha, punching down risen bread dough, or fermenting mead.  Or if I am making a decadent bone broth.  Because, come on, I’m literally using toe of chicken.

I’ve been whipping out bone broths on the regular for a few years now, and I am really surprised at how good I’ve gotten at them.  These days, especially once October hits, I drink at least a mug of it a day.  If I feel a cold settling in, I add lime juice, Sriracha, fish sauce, and a dollop of sesame seed oil.  I have a theory that the extra vitamin C from the lime helps prevent and can lessen the severity of a cold, and the Sriracha is an effective decongestant.  The other ingredients just make things taste great, though I suppose the fish sauce imparts some marine minerals to the brew.  To be honest, I drink this even when I’m not coming down with a cold–it’s my favorite soup, especially when I boil potstickers in it and add cilantro, beansprouts, and other odds and ends.

If I want a good Western-style chicken bone broth, I basically just take a couple chicken carcasses that I’ve picked clean of most of the meat and throw them into a 12-quart pot with enough vegetables to fill the pot about 3/4 full.  I always use at least two carcasses, typically from rotisserie chickens these days because a) my work hours are insane and b) Costco is literally around the corner from my house.  I also always use at least two large onions, which I typically French with their skins on (all the better to get more surface area for the water to get into), and a lot of celery, which I typically roughly chop.  Usually the celery is saved hearts from 3-4 bunches that I freeze, but sometimes I buy a fresh bunch and use that.  I also use a ton of carrots.  Typically these are older baby carrots from a half-forgotten bag.  I’ve never really measured, I just use what I have.  I also usually put a whole head of garlic in–sometimes two.  If I just have cloves frozen, I throw in a handful of those.  If I have fresh heads, I remove a fair bit of the papery skin, then slice them in half across the middle to expose all the cloves and give a surface that water doesn’t have to fight to permeate.  I also invariably throw in a handful of peppercorns.

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Most of my bone broths have looked like this.  You definitely can’t see through them–a consommé this is not!  I stole this image from loveurbelly.

I’ve also thrown in parsnips, apples, and handfuls of parsley and sometimes other fresh herbs like thyme.  The apples are quite lovely; I just make sure to quarter them first.  If I want things super gelatinous, I also add chicken feet, which I pick up at a local Asian grocery here in Indianapolis.  I’ve also just thrown in some unflavored gelatin just before finishing, which is nice though sometimes makes things a little sticker than I would like.

Whatever I throw in the pot, I make sure to cover it with water and let it simmer on the stove all day long, taking care that it doesn’t ever turn into a boil.  After six hours, I taste test here and there, adding a pinch of salt to the bit that I taste–I find the salt helps me gauge when it’s done as I may be likely to misjudge it as too bland without when it is, in fact, perfectly fine.  When I think it’s done, I cut the heat and let it stand for a couple hours to chill off enough to pour safely, then pour it through a couple of strainers into another pot or a Cambro bucket, which then gets popped in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, I pick off whatever fat has accumulated on the surface and ladle into smaller containers for freezing.  I season with salt whenever I finally drink it, as I’m apt to use it in other recipes too and frequently like to monitor the salt in the final dish.

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Chicken pho, or pho ga.  I brazenly stole this image from the Splendid Table.

If I want to make a more pho-like broth, I use a smaller pot because there is significantly less veg involved.  For this, I think the chicken feet are a must–I really want this broth to be really gelatinous.  I still use two chicken carcasses.  I also use two large onions, though I roast them up in the oven after I slice them until they are wilted and a little charred.  I also roast a whole hand of ginger with them, which I slice in half long-wise.  To the pot, I add about a tablespoon of whole coriander, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, 3-4 heads of star anise (I typically use broken pods, so I guesstimate what it would be for whole heads), a cinnamon stick (at least 3 inches long), four whole cloves, two tablespoons sugar (I use palm or light brown sugar), and about 1/4 cup fish sauce.  I again cover everything with water and simmer at least 6 hours.

I really do love the alchemical workings of a simmering bone broth, and prefer to cook it in this way whenever possible…but sometimes I need to not be in my house all day, or sometimes it’s just too hot to have something simmering for hours, or any other of a million reasons I give myself.  When this happens, I break out the pressure cooker.  I have an Instant-Pot, which is a total game changer for me.  I find that 90 minutes at high pressure gives an excellent broth, no matter what.  If I can, I like to let the pot come back to normal pressure naturally, but I’ve also done quick release and it’s been just fine.

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Potion bottles from a far more talented artist than me.

So how do I get off calling bone broth a potion?  Well, the basic definition of a potion is a liquid with healing, magical, or poisonous properties…what else could a bone broth be?  And, frankly, you can tinker with the veg and herbs ad infinitum in order to fine tune what you’d like your potion to do.  Want to amplify the healing?  Thrown in more onion and garlic and add some apple and fennel.  Need some protection?  Add clove, anise, and parsley to the mix.

Amusingly, I looked up most of the ingredients I mentioned in Cunningham’s Magical Herbs and found that the basic ingredients of a classic western chicken stock–onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and parsley–only share one correspondence between them: lust.  I gotta say, if a nice man came up to me with a bowl of homemade chicken soup when I was feeling down, I probably would jump his bones…so maybe there’s something to that.