Enchantment Learning & Living Blog

Welcome to Enchantment Learning & Living, inspirational blog about the simple pleasures, radical self-care, and everyday magic that make life delicious.

Strawberry Moon Juice

The strawberry moon is one of my favorite full moons of the year. It is the solstice moon, quite often, and one that asks us to shed our daily toils and enjoy the long, languid days of summer. I’m especially drawn to it during my year of sacred simple pleasures as it reminds me to welcome sweetness into my life.

So how do you go about doing something like that, you might wonder? Simple. Create space for things that make you feel divine and luscious like a strawberry ripening in the morning sun. Trust our instincts and let go of anything that clouds your skyscape. Allow your energy to open up to possibility. Then, like any kitchen witch worth her salt, you manifest it in what you conjure out pantry items chopped, shredded, boiled, or stewed into yumminess. Or in this case, stirred.

Seriously! What we whip up in the kitchen is like an edible spell—even if we aren’t using a recipe or thinking of our well-stocked fridge as a medicinal cabinet and our spice cabinet filled with the powders and potions that stir the magic within us.

I was ruminating on this, and the unintentional energy we conjure in our lives as we choose to hold one thought in our minds over another. What we think, we become as the old saying goes. If that’s the case, I can think of nothing better than thoughts about the warm, lush energy of the Strawberry Moon—except for maybe this drink.

Like all potions, the love and energy you pour into making it is everything. I thought of the tangy surprise of an unexpected adventure as I juiced the lime and a sweet summer romance as I mashed up the berries. Then, as I topped my concoction off with a frothy head of ginger ale, I marinated on the power of spice and heat to liven things up. This is summer in a glass: sweet, spicy, bright, and full or promise.

I personally love Q ginger ale (minimal sugar) or Zevia’s ginger beer mixer (no sugar). I don’t like drinks that are too sweet or ones that give me a sugar rush, so these two options are perfect for a fizzy, spicy drink like my riff on the Moscow Mule. This drink was so good the firs time I made it that it wasn’t until hours later that I realized I forgot to add the vodka! But who needs it when you’re drunk on the heady possibilities of summer? Okay, sometimes I do, and you might want to try this drink both with and without it. Either way, it’s a delicious tribute to the Strawberry Moon and the loving sweetness it brings to summer.

Ingredients:

1 small can ginger ale

1 small lime, juiced

1 medium strawberry, chopped

1 shot vodka (optional)

ice

Muddle strawberries and lime in large glass until fruit is mashed and the liquid is a rosy color. Pour in shot of vodka, if you are wanting a cocktail. Add ice and top with ginger ale. Serves one, so invoke the lusty energy of the strawberry moon and make two. You never know who will arrive on your doorstep. Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

The Occult Detective...with a Cocktail Recipe!

Each November, I love to write about stories that inspire, nourish, and delight.  I think this is the perfect month for setting aside more time for reading.  Autumn is well under way.  The days are colder and shorter.  The sanctuary of our homes calls to us as we settle into this contemplative month.  We are drawn to quieter past times that give us space to reflect and heal.

Over the years, I’ve written about the important comfort good stories and other simple pleasures can offer us and the power various genres have to impart wisdom.  This year, I’m waxing poetic about the Occult Detective…with a cocktail recipe thrown in, because I’m a big ol’ nerd like that.  

Introducing the Occult Detective 

So what are occult detectives?  They are usually rough and tumble characters dealing with the darker side of life.  Ghost hunters, if you will.  Vampire slayers.  Paranormal investigators.  Monster fighters.  And those drawn to the arcane knowledge of the occult and mystical. 

This archetype is found in everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all other monster of the week TV shows, to urban fantasy like the Dresden Files and the Bone Street Rumba series.  But what most people don’t know (unless you are a diehard occult detective fan like me!) is that this genre has a long history dating back to the Victorian Era. The 19th century saw not only the birth of the detective genre, but also the fad of Spiritualism.  Popular culture at the time was obsessed with understanding, studying, and experiencing the otherworldly via séances, spirit photography, and extensive research into the occult…much like we are today.

The Age of Spiritualism brought us the likes of Thomas Carnaki, inventor of the electric pentacle; Flaxman Low, a self-proclaimed supernatural detective; and, Diana Marburg, a palmist who solves murders.  Then there’s Dr. John Silence, the first Victorian occult detective I ever read about, who will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to the genre.  He has a mysterious past, training in the occult, and cool animal helpers like his cat Smoke and his dog Flame. 

At their best, these stories explored our relationship to the otherworldly and our curiosity about things outside ourselves.  They show how we grapple with the mysterious, unseen forces in this world (and beyond!), the things that often reach out in touch us in our life but that we can’t always explain away or even logically process…at their worst, we get ugly things like sexism, xenophobia, and racism.  The supernatural becomes a catch-all terms for anything that isn’t white, hetero, middle-class, or male, and thus, to be feared.  Yikes!  

A Genre of Transformation

My favorite part about this genre is that is has transformed over the centuries from a genre of xenophobia to one of hope and empowering explorations of otherness. Women, people of color, LGTBQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and, yes, supernatural beings are front and center in contemporary additions to the genre.  We’ve got Maggie Hoaskie, a Navajo monster hunter in Trail of Lighting; Tony Foster, a gay wizard in Smoke and Mirrors; Kate Daniels, a magical mercenary and woman of color in a post-apocalyptic world; the canonical bi-sexual John Constantine; and many stories out of Occult Detective Quarterly that aims to make the genre more inclusive by representing both diverse characters and authors….just to name a few.  And that’s barely scratched the surface.  I mean, I haven’t even gotten into TV shows yet (I’m talking to you, Sleepy Hollow, Wynona Erp, Supernatural, Lucifer and. So. Many. Others).

Perhaps what I love most about this genre is that it’s all about how magic is a hard, gritty thing.  In one way or another, these stories are about what it takes to be true to yourself in a worlds that doesn’t like marginalized bodies, otherness, and those living on the social periphery.  Better still, these stories teach us that living within liminal spaces—not just a human but a werewolf (Kitty Norville), not just a woman but a witch (Persephone Alcmedi), or a half-dead resurrected inbetweener (Carlos Delacruz)—is empowering, transformational even.  This liminal space we occupy is the crack where the light seeps in.

In the end, this genre, and the occult detective archetype, doesn’t just grapple with the paranormal, but perhaps the even more inscrutable concept of what it means to be human…even when you’re a ghost, werewolf, or technically undead. 

The Recipe

All which means that this genre deserves a drink and so do you!  I thought about pairing various stories with treats and drinks, but really, there are so many manifestations of this archetype, from cozy mysteries like the Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft series to dark horror like Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books.  I even thought of making a cocktail called the Hellblazer…before I realized that would just be a bottle of Jack and a pack of cigarettes. 

So I came up with a cocktail that captured the spirit (pun intended) of the genre instead. This is a riff on the Manhattan, using Amaro liquor instead of vermouth.  Amor is an intensely herbaceous, bitter Italian liquor, there perfect nod to hellfire and brimstone, two things any occult detective worth their salt should know how to handle.  Then add a dash of burnt orange bitters for a touch of the ghostly (though regular orange bitters would do just a well), and another dash of cinnamon bitters as the sin that warms your bones and promises a slew of bad—but delicious—decisions.  Bourbon holds it all together, balancing the punch of Amaro and bitters with the fullness of vanilla and earth—the underlying hope and hard-earned sweetness inherent in the genre.

This drink is perfect after a hard day of proverbial monster hunting or an even longer night of literal vampire slaying. 

Ingredients:

.5 oz Amaro liquor 

2 oz bourbon

2 dashes burnt orange bitters

2 dashes cinnamon bitters

ice

Mix ingredients in a shaker and shake for one minute.  Pour into a martini glass.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick, orange peel slice, .and the ashes of the demons you’ve slayed—cinnamon stick and orange peel slice optional.  Pair with a dark and stormy night and any of the occult detective stories mentioned here or pictured below.  Serves one.  Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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Witch's Brew Cocktail

It’s been awhile since I’ve concocted a cocktail recipe, and even longer since I’ve come up with one for Halloween.  I love a good cocktail because they’ve always struck me as one of the most basic kind of potions.  Think about it: a good cocktail can give us liquid courage, exorcise a hard work week, or even act as a temporary love spell.  And as will all potions and spells, the medicine is in the dosage.  Too much and it’s poison, too little and you’re Friday night is perhaps a little less adventurous (wink wink).  

It bears repeating that I like to avoid syrupy or excessively sugary ingredients and stick to clean tastes modeled after the classics when it comes to cocktail making.  I do this because most novelty cocktail—a la Halloween drinks—are sugar bombs.  Not my idea of a good time or a tasty drink. Although I call these Halloween-inspired concoctions, I have been known to drink the throughout the year, especially the green fairy, a tasty absinthe-kissed cocktail perfect for ending the workweek and stirring up some writing inspiration for the weekend.

Lately, come Saturday night, I’ve been experimenting with this new drink: Witch’s Brew.  It was inspired by my garden and all the herbs I cultivate there: rosemary, lavender, sage…all delicious, all medicinal, all typically associated with healers and witches because of their various magical and healing properties. I started wondering how I could fold those flavors into a tasty magical brew.

I used gin as the base because of herbaciousness and went for a bold choice of mixer: chartreuse.  It’s what gives this drink the verdant green color we typically associate with potions.  It’s also an ancient healing tincture made from over 130 herbs. It tastes fresh, like mint and fennel, with the other herbs as a strong supporting cast.  Yum! I paired this refreshing taste with lime because I love a good gimlet and its variants.

The real kicker to this is what I do with the gin. I infuse it with green apples—who doesn’t think of witches without thinking of forbidden fruit?—along with rosemary and a few juniper berries to make the herbaciousness of the gin really pop. Also because I love rosemary, the natural protector of the herb world. Juniper berries are also fast becoming a kitchen witch staple in my home. Did you know juniper both protects good energy and repels the negative? If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is! Add a dash of bay leaf bitters, for the leaf’s powers of divination.

As with all spells (and drinks), feel free to play with the recipe. Chartreuse might be a bit pricy for some (though a little goes a long way so it will last a while!), try swapping it would with rosemary or ginger simple syrup or apple schnapps (or both!)—it will change the flavor, but will no doubt be equally festive, if with more sugar. The infused gin makes about two-cups of yum—plenty to experiment with or to whip up a magical batch of this brew.

All good spells require a little time, a little love, and quality ingredients. While this cocktail is a touch more labor intensive than my others in that you first need a week to infuse the gin, it’s worth it. Plus, while you wait, you can prepare the right kind of energy you want to infuse into this brew. Do you need a little more magic in your life? A little more mischief? A dash of hope or a heading dose of healing? Whatever you need, let it brew until you’re ready to infuse it into a batch of this tasty elixir.

Ingredients:

For infused gin:

2 cups gin

1 Granny smith apple

2-4 juniper berries (depending on how strong you want the juniper flavor to be)

1 large spring of rosemary

For cocktail:

2 oz apple and herb infused gin

2 dashes bay leaf bitters

.75 oz chartrues

.5 to .75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how dart you like it)

In infuse gin, slice green apple and place in clean mason jar. Squeeze juniper berries so they crack a little—this will help the alcohol absorb their flavor more—and place in jar. Pour gin over ingredients and let sit for a week, shaking when you remember to. A day or two before you want to enjoy your cocktail, throw in a sprig of rosemary that has been slightly bruised, again, to help the alcohol better absorb its flavor. I wait a little on the rosemary because the fresh stuff takes less time to be extracted in alcohol and letting it sit too long in the gin muddies the flavor. To use, pour gin through strainer into clean mason jar.

For cocktail, mix gin, chartreuse, lime juice and dash of bitters in a shaker. Add ice and shake until container is frosty. Serves one—so double or triple the batch and invite your coven over. Pair with a chilly autumn night, a full moon, and a handful of spells. Cauldron optional.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!