Archive for September, 2011

Dark Mother Bread with Spiced Apple Butter

Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

>These are technically Pagan recipes but they really could be enjoyed by anyone. We eat these things at Mabon, which is the fall equinox, typically between September 20 and 23. I don’t see any reason why they could not be enjoyed throughout the fall season all the way through Samhain (Halloween) to Yule (December 19-22). Breads are very comforting and these ingredients are very reflective of the fall season. Nothing says fall more than a jar of apple butter!

Please refer to this blog for information about Mabon in general: http://jessicajewettonline.blogspot.com/2011/09/mabon-sabbat-of-fall-equinox.html

Dark Mother Bread

At Mabon, we celebrate the goddess in her aspect as the crone, or the Dark Mother. She is Demeter, she is Hecate, she is the wise old woman wielding a scythe rather than a basket of blooming flowers. This honey wheat blend is a delicious way to celebrate the end of the harvest and say farewell to the fertile months of summer. Serve warm with herbed oils for dipping, or with a big scoop of Apple Butter.

Make this either in your bread machine, or by kneading it by hand.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

    2 C. warm water
    1 Tbs. active dry yeast
    1/3 C. honey
    3 C. whole wheat flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1/4 C. vegetable oil
    2 Tbs. butter
    4 C. all purpose baking flour

Preparation:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add honey and mix well.

Stir in the whole wheat flour, salt, vegetable oil, and butter and mix until a stiff dough has formed. Gradually work the all-purpose flour into the mix, one cup at a time.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop, and knead for about fifteen minutes. When it reaches the point where it’s sort of elastic, shape it into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl. Cover with a warm, damp cloth, and allow to sit and rise until it’s doubled in size — usually about 45 minutes.

Punch the dough down and cut in half, so you can make two loaves of bread. Place each half in a greased loaf pan, and allow to rise. Once the dough has risen an inch or two above the top of the loaf pan, pop them in the oven. Bake at 375 for half an hour, or until golden brown at the top.

When you remove the loaves from the oven, allow to cool for about fifteen minutes before removing from the pan. If you like, brush some melted butter over the top of the hot loaves, to add a pretty golden glaze to them.

Note – If you’re doing this in a bread machine, remember, the recipes makes two loaves. Halve everything if you’re allowing the machine to do the mixing. If you hand mix it, you can still drop the single-loaf balls of dough into the machine to bake.

Spiced Apple Butter

This apple butter can be cooked on the stovetop or in a slower oven. Makes about 6 pints.

Ingredients:

    5 pounds, juicy tart apples, about 12 to 15
    1 cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
    2 1/2 cups sugar, approximately, or to taste
    3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Core and peel apples; cut into eighths. Put apple wedges and cider in a heavy enameled kettle over medium heat. Cook ontil soft, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. When cooled enough to handle, put apple mixture through a sieve or food mill. Add 1/4 cup white or brown sugar for each cup of apple pulp.

Return apple mixture to the kettle and stir in spices. Bring to a gentle boil; cook until sugar is melted.

You can follow directions for cooking the apple butter on the stovetop or in the oven. The stovetop apple butter should be watched very closely and stirred constantly to prevent scorching. The oven method is less apt to scorch, but might develop a caramelized skin, which can be removed.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixure has a sheen and mounds slightly on a spoon. Watch carefully and keep stirring to prevent scorching.

Or, put kettle in a 300° oven and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until mixure has a sheen and mounds slightly on a spoon.

A jelly thermometer will be just under 220° when it is ready. (sea level)

Spoon apple butter into clean hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace for 1/2-pint jars or 1/2-inch of headspace for 1-pint jars. Following jar manufacturer’s instructions, place seals and rings on jars, taking care to keep rims clean with a damp clean cloth. Adjust seals and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove jars and adjust rings to seal if necessary.

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Long Island Medium

Long Island Medium
Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

OCTOBER 5, 2012 NOTE: I AM NO LONGER ACCEPTING COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG.

I originally posted this blog after the first couple of episodes of Long Island Medium in September of 2011 but I didn’t expect to receive over 2,000 readers every week. So I decided to rewrite the blog and clarify my opinions now that we have seen a lot more episodes of this show.

For me, the effect of Long Island Medium has shifted from, “Is Theresa Caputo fake?” to, “Are Theresa Caputo’s practices ethically acceptable?” That question arises in my mind whenever I see the show, although I don’t watch it very often because it elicits such a negative response in me. I have been doing various types of readings for many years (I was a child medium) but my instincts told me from a very early age not to read people without those people approaching me first. I just don’t do it. Observing Caputo go about her daily life on the show and approaching nearly everybody she meets with messages from their loved ones strikes me as so very wrong.

This is my problem with approaching strangers and trying to talk to them about their dead loved ones: a doctor or psychiatrist would never walk up to someone in a public setting and start talking about the health of the person or the health of their loved ones.  I personally believe that intuitives, psychics and mediums should hold themselves to the same ethical standards as doctors and psychiatrists.  There is a time and a place to talk about such personal things and it is not, in my opinion, in the middle of the produce section or in a dentist’s office.  The process of going through a reading with a medium is extremely personal when it’s done correctly.  It’s an exchange of energy.  It’s intimate.  Both parties have to open themselves to the exchange of energy, which means it should be done in a private setting, not because someone came up to you in the produce section and said something like, “I’m a medium and I have your Uncle Fred here.”  We only see people react positively to this on the show, for the most part, but I would like to know what happens when people don’t react well.  Not everybody wants to be read.  In fact, when I ask people about this, virtually everyone says they would never want to be read without their permission.  It’s an invasion of spiritual privacy.

Then the excuse becomes about Theresa not being able to control who comes through and when.  It’s just that – an excuse.  Mediums all over the world learn how to control the who, what, when, why and how of doing their work every single day and if she wanted to learn, she could.  There seems to be an enjoyment of the attention on her part that makes her reluctant to learn to control when and how she does her readings.  The vast majority of average mediums you will meet will tell you first and foremost that they are not in “medium mode” all the time.  If they were, they wouldn’t be able to function in their own daily life.  That’s exactly what’s happening here.  She does not appear to be in control of her daily life because she is always wandering off to read somebody new.  At least, that’s how the show portrays her.  When you are an intuitive, psychic or medium, you have to learn to control how and when and where you work, otherwise the work will control you.  There has to be work time and personal time.  In the way the show portrays Theresa, there are no lines dividing work from personal in her life and it does affect the rest of her family, not to mention herself.

At first I thought I was being a stickler about my own ethical practices, so I asked a few other intuitive colleagues who have many more years of experience on me. The responses were generally the same.

Me: What do you think of the way Theresa Caputo does things?
Colleagues: [exasperated sigh] Don’t get me started.

Discussions with other intuitives, psychics and mediums always lead to the same conclusion. It isn’t so much whether she has genuine abilities or not. The bigger issue is the way she conducts herself when she’s not “on the clock”, so to speak. Every intuitive, psychic and medium needs down time. The medium needs to learn as soon as possible after discovering such abilities to control them and develop a system of being in “normal mode” and “psychic mode” for lack of better terms. When you don’t learn to turn it on and off, the abilities begin to control your life. Before you know it, you can’t set foot outside of your home without being bombarded by psychic impressions and messages from the spirit world.  People who lived that way are on the fast track to forgetting to live for today and allowing their abilities to get in the way of personal relationships.  I see this happening with Theresa in the way that her family reacts when she starts reading people out of the blue.  When you can’t go to the dentist or go out to dinner with your family without approaching people to read them, you are letting the abilities control you too much, in my opinion.  Setting aside the emotional needs of your family and being largely absent even when you are physically present with them is a definite indicator that being a “medium” has completely taken over your life.  So my biggest concern about Theresa is that she’s not properly managing her abilities.  I’m playing devil’s advocate by assuming that her abilities are as genuine as she portrays, not saying that they actually are that genuine.

People coming to this blog do so largely because they have searched the phrase “Theresa Caputo fake” and that clearly means people are looking for me or anyone else to provide some magic answer as to whether she is genuine or fake.  I don’t have that answer.  I personally don’t believe in declaring someone fake or real when I have never met them.  I have friends in the paranormal television industry and the fact of the matter is the way the shows turn out are not in the control of the people in front of the camera unless they are directing or editing the particular episode.  A television show can be edited in a million different ways depending on who is in control and any television show can be edited to show a person as being genuine or dishonest.  This television show does portray Theresa as a genuine medium but I have seen enough shows edited to death that I can’t say for sure if she is real or not.  We are only seeing twenty-two minutes of Theresa’s life every week.  Nobody can accurately judge the reality of her world from twenty-two minutes of a seven day period, especially when there are production crews and editors in control of how she is portrayed.

That being said, I have seen some red flags in the way she does things on the show.

My primary concern is that she has a habit of asking a lot of questions of her clients.  In a lot of readings, she starts with broad topics and, depending on the answers provided by the client, she will narrow it down from there.  That is a classic example of a cold reading.  Anybody can do a cold reading if they know how to look at body language and understand the subtle responses by the other person.  This is an example from one of her early episodes.

Theresa: What’s going on with his head?
Client: He was shot in the head.
Theresa: Because I feel like bam right in the head.

Of course, playing devil’s advocate, I will have to say that it simply could be her reading style and the way she conducts conversations in other settings as well.  I don’t know.  I do know that asking so many questions during readings is a red flag for me that perhaps there is cold reading afoot.

My educated guess based on strictly watching the television show is that Theresa Caputo probably does have some kind of intuitive ability but I truthfully don’t think it’s as amazing as the show portrays.  Very few mediums have such an accuracy rate as what is being portrayed on her show.  I’m much more concerned about the fact that she’s approaching strangers in public places trying to talk to them about extremely personal things.  One day it’s not going to go very well for her and she could get hurt.  It’s also impossible to measure her accuracy rate when she is being edited by a production crew.  I have seen it happen before in paranormal television where the talent will feel so much pressure to provide results that the original reason why they began the work no longer exists and it all becomes about producing results that shock and stun their audiences.  The pressure will make otherwise intelligent, honest people do things that would ordinarily be called shady and greedy.  Alleged mediums who put themselves on television or in the public eye are under a lot of pressure to produce shocking results, which will inevitably push them to exaggerate their abilities.  Theresa may be headed down that road if she’s not careful.

In short, do I think Theresa Caputo is real?  I think she does care about the people who come to her and who she approaches.  I think she has some kind of intuition.  Do I think she’s a full-blown medium with shocking and amazing results every single time as portrayed on her show?  No.  I don’t believe that just because I know how the shows are edited and also because all of the mediums I work with every day don’t have such amazing and stunning results like that every single time.  Mediums, like anyone else, are fallible people who will misinterpret things.  Do I think television shows are an accurate portrayal of any paranormal subject?  Absolutely not.  Television shows should be rated as entertainment only and should never be something to teach people.

Whether or not you choose to get a reading from any person claiming to be an intuitive, psychic or medium really has to be up to you.  Use your best judgment.  If the person you’re considering getting a reading from makes you uncomfortable in any way, that’s probably your intuition telling you not to do it.  Also, consider why you want the reading in the first place before you go into it.  If the fees the reader charges seem excessive, listen to your instincts.  Don’t wait around for someone like me or anyone else with a blog to tell you if someone is real or not.  You are very capable of deciding that for yourselves.  My only cautionary reminder is that you can’t possibly reach an entirely complete conclusion about any person just based on watching them on television.  That’s why I’m not going to say whether Theresa is absolutely real or absolutely fake.  I’ve never met her, so I don’t know.  I only know what is being conveyed to me through her television show and that is the only evidence I have to go on at this point.  I have drawn my conclusions based on the television show but it is possible that if I met her in the future, my opinion could change.  I don’t know.  I do know that we are very different in our practices.  I also know that her television show has opened up a dialogue about standards and practices among other mediums.  I consider those to be good things.

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Who wants chowdah?! Beth’s Maine clam chowder

Posted by Jessica Jewett 1 Comment »

Who wants chowdah?!

When I think of going back to Maine, the first thing that comes to mind every time is sitting around the table in Beth’s awesome house built in 1818 just cooking, eating, laughing and being very Maine. The first time I visited, she made a huge pot of clam chowder and I eyeballed the offending soup suspiciously, having always detested clam chowder from cans.

“This is different,” she assured me.

Preaching to the converted, my friend. I’m obsessed with Beth’s chowder. It’s not exactly the thick, white, creamy stuff you buy in cans though. It’s a little thinner and has more of a brothy texture and appearance but still has the yummy clam taste. That being said, the picture I’m using in this blog is not exactly how Beth’s chowder looks but it’s close enough. I asked her to share the recipe with me for a blog but I forgot that she doesn’t really cook by measurements and such. She wings it. I’ve never seen her look at a recipe, in fact.

My adopted home in Maine where the chowdah lives!

Here are Beth’s instructions for her epic Maine clam chowder.

OK, this is going to be hard. [Our friends] asked me how to make the corn chowder I made for them when they were up a couple of times and the answer is … I don’t know exactly … but here’s the basic gist of it:

Cut potatoes in to chunks – you can decide whether to peel them or not – I kind of like the rustic quality of the peels on. Set those aside, but cover them so they don’t discolor. Saute butter and salt pork (if you can’t get it, use bacon or pancetta) in a heavy dutch oven or stock pot and add in onions and celery, cooking those until they’re just tender. Then put the potatoes in there and immediately add as much chicken or vegetable stock (or fish stock, although this is rare and would make the chowder “fishier”) as needed to just cover the potatoes so that they cook in this mixture. You can also add the juice from your fresh or canned clams, but don’t put the clams in at this stage. When the potatoes are tender, add milk or cream or half and half (choose depending on how rich you want this to be) and fresh chopped clams (in Maine these can be purchased in the supermarket) or canned clams are ok too. You want to add the clams toward the end because the longer they cook, the more possibility you get for them to become rubbery. At this point add salt and pepper to taste. Some people also like carrots in the chowder – you can add that with the potatoes if desired. Some people also like other herbs or seasonings in it – experiment, but don’t make them too strong as the flavor of the clams can be easily overpowered.

I know I have given no quantities. I never make soup with a recipe so I just don’t know. I think the seat of the pants method is pretty foolproof if you just follow your gut (ha ha – gut – get it?) instinct.

In order to help you less experienced cooks, I tried to find a more specific recipe that looks sort of like Beth’s version. I recommend using the salt pork and fresh clams from her version because they really make the soup, in my opinion. Substitute the bacon with salt pork because they’re flavoring bacon with funky things these days that change the way the chowder should taste. She doesn’t thicken it up as much with the cream as you would find in canned soups or more traditional New England clam chowder either. Personally, I find the creaminess detracts from the taste of the other ingredients. Her chowder looks like it has chicken broth that has been thickened a bit. Mainers just don’t make it that thick.

Maine Clam Chowder

    1 (8 ounce) jar clam juice
    3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
    8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 stalks celery, diced
    2 quarts shucked clams, with liquid
    2 cups half-and-half cream

In a small saucepan, heat clam juice and peeled potatoes. Bring water to a boil and let simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Place bacon in a large stock pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Stir in onions and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add potatoes, clam juice and clams to the stock pot. Heat until simmering. In a separate pot, gently warm (do not boil) half and half. Pour warm half and half into the stock pot and heat just until warmed through. Do not boil the chowder or the cream will separate. Serve hot.

Now pour yourself a glass of chardonnay or make a bloody Mary and enjoy your cold Maine night by the fire.

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