Interview with Patricia Telesco

Today I am interviewing Patricia Telesco - an herbalist, poet, Wiccan High Priestess, and full-time professional author of numerous books. These include the best selling Goddess in my Pocket, How to be a Wicked Witch, Kitchen Witch's Cookbook, Little Book of Love Magic, and other diverse titles, each of which represents a different area of spiritual interest for her and her readers.

picture of Trish Telesco

Trish considers herself a down-to-earth Kitchen Witch whose love of folklore and world-wide customs flavor every spell and ritual. While her actual Wiccan education was originally self trained and self initiated, she later received initiation into the Strega tradition of Italy, which gives form and fullness to the folk magic Trish practices. Her strongest beliefs lie in following personal vision, being tolerant of other traditions, making life an act of worship, and being creative so that magic grows with you

1. Trish, thank you for taking part in our interview. Please take a moment to tell our readers a little bit about yourself and any products or services you have to offer our readers.

Trish: I'm a very eclectic 49 year old with three children, a husband and several jobs. I have a passion for organic gardening and gourmet cooking, so I find myself constantly on the go. Being so busy has been part of what drives my quest to live healthier and why I've focused on losing 50 pounds in the last year. I feel so much better and have a lot more energy!

In terms of products, I offer a variety of books on my website at Additionally, I make custom jelly, barbecue rubs, and other herb mixes for people on request. I am also a freelance "for hire" writer, Virtual Secretary and PR person.

2. Could you tell us more about your weight loss journey? What kind of approach did you take to lose 50 pounds, what changes have you made to your life, and how is it working for you?

I started a biggest looser contest at work - as a company we lost over 1,000 pounds. I and one of my team mates didn't stop there. I exercise 45 minutes every morning before work, walk at lunch time, do another set of exercises after dinner. We have a "diet" night every other night with low fat, low carb foods. Every other night is then a normal family meal, from which I eat smaller portions. Overall my outlook is move more - eat right (and dance in my kitchen).

3. You are an herbalist, and I am dying to find out how can we use herbs and whether thare are any dangers in using them.

I am more of a pleasure herbalist who makes scented oils and creams for people.

I do some "folkloric" herbs for health, with due caution. Herbs don't have nasty side effects like commercial products. Growing them yourself means they're organic (they retain all their value because there's no pesticides). This also neatly provides me with fresh culinary spices!

I do however caution people to learn about each thing they decide to plant and use thoroughly. The herbalist's rede is - "if one can cure, two can kill." Because of variances in growing conditions, the very same herb can be very mild one year and very potent the next.

4. Based on your experience, what are must have herbs for every backyard and why? Are they high maintenance?

Herbs pretty much take care of themselves if you use landscaping cloth to help block weeds. The MUSTS depend on how you use your herbs. I love to keep lavender, sage, basil, rose, and chives because of their aromatic qualities and the fact that I can use them for both health and our dinners! For folks who like mint - I strongly suggest using a growing pot otherwise it will take over your garden.

5. You have been growing your own food for years. Many of us urban dwellers are just starting to populate our tiny backyards with plants. Can you give us your advice on what the best plants are for starters? Are there easy to grow plants that produce a lot of harvest, taste good and are good for you?

First look honestly at your space constraints. I do pot gardening along the fence lines,and also plant miniature fruit trees there. Around my deck is a strand of grapes. So we can still USE our yard.

Easy starter plants are tomatoes. They just tend to be hearty and a lot of bugs don't LIKE them. You can use tomato leaf tea in your garden to deter insects too! I also love growing berries. If you prune your berry bushes after the first full yield you'll often get a second strand come fall! Because weather is uncertain, harvests will vary. Rainy seasons are great for fruit but not so good on peas and beans, for example.

My best advise is plant what YOU LIKE and especially things you enjoy raw. Fresh raw food is soooo good for you!

6. Many people experience headaches and sleepless nights. Lives are stressful. Are there any herbal remedies that we could grow on our backyards that would help with these problems?

Lavender is one very good one as is Valerian. I just prefer lavender (in tea) because Valerian smells like old sweat socks LOL! Chamomile is another good choice. It's fairly hearty and yields nicely even if you plant it in a pot.

7. You have 3 kids, and I wonder if they like herbs and spices? What could parents do to help their children to start eating more of them?

My kids LOVE spices, particularly garlic. I think the key with children is not assuming they've got "basic" pallets. If anything, they can enjoy a lot more flavor than adults because their taste buds haven't been abused by alcohol or smoking (as examples). In our house it's not uncommon for the kids to beg for fresh baked garlic to put on bread with olive oil, or to break out dipping spices for a warm loaf. That's because we've given them the opportunity to taste everything!

On their birthdays my children get to request whatever meal they want. I never get a request for hot dogs and burgers any more. Last year my daughter asked for lemon-garlic marinated tempura halibut, while my son wanted pomegranate beef and asparagus with asiago cheese and garlic! I won't be able to afford them much longer (smile).

8. You are practicing the lost art of preserving and canning food. Many of us never did it. Could you tell us what are the types of preserves one could make? Is some preserving style healthier than the other? Can canned food be unhealthy?

Canned food can be unhealthy if you don't follow USDA safety precautions. My main rule with canned and preserved food is if you're not certain - throw it out. Having said that, pressure cookers, dehydrators and freezers are very advanced now and reduce the risks of any unhealthy results from preserving substantively.

There are so many things you can preserve that it's astounding. I can chili, German potato salad, various jellies, soups, sauces, etc. I dry herbs and then grind them to make customized blends or salad toppings. I freeze leftovers in partitioned containers as home made TV dinners (without preservatives!). Canning and preserving saves money, and you always know what's in your food. If I buy in bulk it saves money. If I preserve in bulk it saves energy - and then my family can go to the pantry any time (like on diet nights) to have the food they most enjoy. I also often ship these out to friends during the holidays. Ready made gifts!

9. As an author of many books, including "Kitchen Witch's Cookbook" and a Wiccan, can you explain to use how Wiccan cooking is different from regular cooking?

My best answer comes from the 8 fold path - cooking mindfully. Food changes life and life changes food. It's alchemical. I never cook when I'm angry. In fact, every Saturday is dedicated to dancing in my kitchen and preparing food for the rest of the week. My kitchen is an altar for my home, my life, my family and the offering is lovely food prepared with joy. It may sound a little silly, but even the kids have gotten in on the act. My daughter will often come out to dance a tune or two and watch me make family favorites (which is also a way of teaching her recipes indirectly).

10. Could you share some of your gourmet recipes?

I thought about what I wanted to share a lot and while pork ribs aren't the healthiest of foods, the way I make them they're far less fatty. First, I get rid of as much fat as possible from the ribs including the thin layer adjacent to the bone. Next I rub them with home made barbecue rub (this is created from home-dried herbs and spices so again I know what's in my food). Step three is slicing the ribs and putting them on the smoker. Slow cooking tenderizes but it also allows a lot of the fat to drip off so you're not eating it. Step four is optional - putting them in a marinade for 24 hours in the refrigerator - this tenderizes and adds another layer of flavor. The last step is a quick turn on the grill with home made barbecue sauce (from home grown tomatoes). What's "gourmet" here is the steps involved and the careful layering of flavors that come out when you enjoy the finished dish. We typically serve this with a rice or lentil salad on the side.

11. Trish, thanks again for joining us today. For this last question, please tell us what first got you interested in the lifestyle you currently lead, what got you interested in Paganism and Wicca, and how did you become a writer? Thank you and have a great rest of the year!

Some 20 years ago I ran into some friends who had gotten involved in New Age ideology. What they said resonated with my heart and made so much sense. I also really fell in love with the idea of personal culpability - as mama said, if you mess up you clean up! It's so simple and sublime! Don't apologize - fix it. So now I say "yes" to life, to myself, to learning and growing and letting my faith grow with me. When your belief systems no longer inspire you to be the best person you can, there's something wrong IMO. So on the heels of this discovery I began writing a newsletter called the Magi. After several years it went out to a few hundred people quarterly. Then I got the chicken pox as an adult (yes really). Now stick a type A personality at home with nothing to do for a week and what happens? Yep, I started writing (I guess you could say I was "itching" to write - giggle). I bundled up the work and sent it off to a publisher never thinking for a minute they'd like it. I was wrong. A while later I had a contract for The Victorian Grimoire. Once I started on books it was like floodgates opened inside me. Writing is in my blood, my mind, my soul. A writer is WHO I am, not simply what I do. That's why I do so many types of writing and try to work with websites that offer a positive message - about health, about personal lifestyles, about relationships etc. The internet is the ideal venue from which to reach out and help people looking for GOOD information. I've been very fortunate to find individuals who want to work with me regularly, and who I can trust (the internet doesn't always provide that trust factor).

The rest, as they say, is history!

Trish, thank you for all the great advice that you shared with us, and for giving us an insight into your interesting life! I am gone to my backyard to pick some herbs and make my own mix just like you do (smile)! All the best to you.

Please visit Patricia's website at and find her books at


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