Basil: powerful for more than pesto
My father escaped from his typewriter by experimenting with new food concoctions in the kitchen. Most of them came out very well. One of them even got into a cookbook. While the number of meals I cook is limited to a “safe group” that my wife and I have agreed are fit for weekly consumption, I seldom experiment in the kitchen except when it comes to herbs.
Basil, oregano and rosemary are my favorites and find their way into all kinds of things. My mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook had a chart inside the front and back covers listing foods and the herbs that went with them. According to the chart, basil goes into lots of recipes. This chart has kept me from venturing too far into the inedible.
The last time we went to a high style restaurant, they were in their basil phase, creating numerous lunch and dinner dishes encrusted with, simmered with, or liberally garnished with fresh basil. While this was good stuff, it was a cautionary experience, reminding me to be careful with fresh herbs. Everything with basil on the restaurant’s menu was too strong.
I tend to use basil in stews and spaghetti sauce more often than not. However, as I discovered in my research for Conjure Woman’s Cat, one can also use basil outside the kitchen for bringing happiness (other than a tasty meal) or as a protection from evil. If you do this all the time, you might refer to the herb as “holy basil” or “sweet basil” and grow your own rather than getting it off the McCormick spice display at Kroger or Publix.
For example, basil–used alone–or with clover, rosebuds, lavender, etc.–can be placed in a bath or sprinkled or placed in sachets around doors and windows, or kept in bowls to bring happiness and love to your home. Likewise, when sprinkled dry or used as a cleansing wash, it is said to protect a home or a person from evil.
According to the Candle Spells website, “It has been said that when tied in a cheesecloth bag and tossed into a hot bath, sweet basil will activate your money drawing abilities and you will be seeing money come to you.”
- Carolina Conjure says that, “Basil is said to attract customers to a business by placing some in the cash register, or sprinkling basil-water near the threshold. “
- Catherine Ywronwode (who also has a Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic book available on Amazon), writes on Conjure Lists by Hoodoo Psychics that basil is “A multi-talented magical herb, this one protects the home, brings love and peace to the family, and draws money to the kitchen; Sprinkle some on the floor and sweep it out the back door, for “No evil can come where Basil has been.”
- Do a search on Google using something like “basil conjure” and you’ll get a lot more hits than you ever imagined the last time you put a little basil on your beef pot roast.
Needless to say, I’m a passable cook (within fairly narrow parameters) and not a conjurer at all. So I pass these magical ideas along as curiosities only and as interesting beliefs. As a famous scientist (I forget who) once said when asked why he placed a horseshoe above his door, it’s there just in case.
One can always sprinkle basil outside the front door just in case. Otherwise, if you don’t use too much of it, Betty Crocker and others have plenty of basil suggestions for your cooking and eating pleasure.
I make sure I never run out of basil.