Summer has peaked, the land full and ripe with its bounty. It’s evening, windows open, cricket-song plentiful and comforting. At the stove, my gran, in her lavender nightdress, slow-cooks an old-world Irish stew, passed down mother-to-mother, with her garden’s harvest.
“You cook it now, and in the winter, take it out to bring back the healing summer sun,” she explains.
“Never rush a stew. You’ll miss the whole point.”
Over a cup of primrose tea, Gran infuses the moment with our history, the paths of hardship that were taken to survive sickness, war, emigration, discrimination, starvation. It’s the last one that she focuses on. A Depression-era child descended from the Great Famine, Gran shares what it means to make do on little.
“You have to go hungry, to understand a feast,” she’ll say. “It’s not a big table of food but a mouthful you savor the whole day.” She went on to explain, “What we call a fancy recipe now, in those days, was just what we had.”
Crafting Recipes With a New Story
Gran’s words leave a sobering effect. She’s teaching me something important: traditions evolve; recipes change and are modified; healing comes not only through the meal but through the discussions that it weaves.
This is the art and witch’s practice of recasting.
To recast, means to give something a different form by melting it down and reshaping it. A witch’s art is to cast and recast, often with an understanding that the more we repeat the process, the greater energy that builds behind it.
Gran’s stew wasn’t the original recipe, but it was close. “We each have to add a piece of our own history in.”
In recasting a recipe—a spell in its own right—you add your own vibration to the story. That’s how it gets stronger; that’s how more stories are told and the healing of our ancestral line can take place.
Every mouthful an act of gratitude for those who’ve gone before.
One limitation I’ve faced in honoring the old ways is to do so without disrupting the lives of animals. And so, rather than stop cooking certain staples, I’ve found ways to honor them in a vegan-friendly way.
The result is a nourishing meal that brings me back to walks with my gran on a lonely country road, surrounded by emerald hillsides dotted with sheep and fairies.