I love a good cookbook. If done well, they intrigue, inspire, and inform. While not really a cookbook, Laurel Woodward's Kitchen Witchery checks all the boxes and provided me with many hours of enjoyment as I reviewed it.

Recipes are sprinkled throughout, starting with the discussion of how kitchen magic works by aligning oneself with the energies present in the food being prepared, supported by the environment in which it is being created. Intention matters and while the banana bread you make make taste the same between loaves, the one baked with love and care for the intended outcome will be the better loaf.

Recipes and ideas are divided by food group:

  • Wheat and Other Flours
  • Gluten Free Flours, Meals and Groats
  • Beans, Peas, and Lentils
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Oils and Vinegars
  • Sugars and Sweets
  • Vegetables
  • Funghi
  • Fruits
  • Hydration and What We Drink
  • Spices and Herbs
  • Dairy and Eggs

A final chapter contains recipes for the eight sabbats of a witch's year. This is not a terrible useful cookbook if you are eating a diet high in meat or fish. However, if you are interested in exploring unusual items, like garbanzo or hazelnut flour, Woodward offers suggestions for how to incorporate them into dishes to produce great magical effect. The focus is always on the magical effect of the food, and I found the sheer variety intriguing and informative.

There is a pervasive issue that can't be ignored. As much as I agree with Woodward's assertion that our food has become poorer in nutrition and quality, I draw the line at agreeing that, magically speaking, an organic apple is better than a conventional one. Or that with "a bit of time and attention" will make swapping to organic, healthy, farm-grown foods possible. There are plenty of places where food choices are severely limited, as well as plenty of people -- even pagans -- who literally do not have the money to buy from a local farmer, presuming they can get to a farm stand or that their local grocery even has an organic section. I would have like to have seen more discussion acknowledging that doing so may be difficult, because that chapter (the first) may turn a lot of otherwise interested readers away.

Despite the first chapter, in the end, I liked Kitchen Witchery very much.

~review by Lisa McSherry

Author: Laurel Woodward
Llewellyn Publications, 2021
360 pages, 24.99