Originally published for The Kitchen Witch and corresponding newsletter found here for all your witchy needs.
Imbolc, is the second of four fire festivals on the wheel of the year. Lying between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox it is not truly the end to winter but the look forward towards spring.
With the turning of the wheel, we begin to see more light illuminating our days. And with that light a renewed sense of warmth and hope.
As the snow melts away and the daily temperatures rise, new life begins to show its face. The quickening of the seasons leads to new life, new beginnings, from lambing season to fresh green buds forming on the bushes and trees.
In my part of the world, we will see Primroses and Crocuses as the first signs Spring is on its way, and who better to usher in Spring than the Goddess Brigid herself, keeper of the hearth, music, herb lore, and midwifery. In fact, another early-to-bloom flower is the delicate, white Snowdrop, considered a winter bloom by some it is associated with Brigid and the coming warmer days.
So, dress your altar in red and white and light a candle in your window to welcome Brigid to your hearth. Perhaps place a small bouquet on your table and get ready to make some magic for there is no better way to celebrate these new beginnings than in our kitchens, preparing a small feast.
To our ancestors, food magic was an act of faith in a better year and a way to show gratitude for the blessings to come. Like begets like in magic, and gratitude showers one with more to be grateful for.
Food offerings were commonly made to Brigid, ensuring fertility and abundance. Even the rounded shapes of the cakes or the yellow color of custards held meaning, symbolizing the sun and its return. This intentional meaning in what each food represented be it the goat or sheep cheese, custards, cakes, or breads is what created the magic served at the feast of Imbolc.
Here are two recipes infused with foods and spices to revive the magic of Imbolc in your kitchen. Celebrate the festival of the coming of the light!
A favorite staple on my table this time of year is Bannock for breads and cakes featured prominently in Imbolc food magic. Bannock is a type of unleavened cake traditionally left out as an offering to Brigid, once again ensuring she bestowed many blessings on the giver.
Over the years I have tried several versions of Bannock and like this one for the addition of Rosemary, an herb known to be sacred to Brigid. It can also be brushed with egg yolk on top for the egg symbolizes the sun as well as wishes of fertility. (If making a vegan version of this bread try using a replacement such as Just Egg)
This recipe came to me from GatherVictoria.com
What you will need:
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup oat flour ( I also use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free flour as a substitute)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 Tbls unsalted butter, chilled
- ½ cup cream or milk (you can also experiment with non-dairy heavy cream and milk. I find the Silk heavy cream to work well) Another suggestion is to save one tablespoon of cream to mix with egg and brush on top of bread at the end.
- 2 Tbls. minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp. Grated orange zest (optional but nice)
- 3 Tbls sugar (keep an additional 3 tbls.for sprinkling on top)
- 1 egg yolk or substitute (for brushing on top)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Grease your skillet or baking sheet
- Mix together oats, flour, salt, sugar, rosemary, and orange zest in a large bowl. With a fork cut the cold butter into the flour mixture and mix well. Stir in the cream until all the flour has been absorbed.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until it holds its form and consistency (go lightly and do not overwork the dough)
- Divide in half and roll each half into a circle of approximately ¼ inch thickness
- In another small bowl or jar, mix together the remaining 1 Tbls cream and egg yolk and then brush this mixture over the top of the Bannock. Sprinkle with the sugar.
- Cut each circle into 4 quarters or wedges and arrange on the baking sheet ¼ inch apart.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown
Another aspect to this version of Bannock that appeals to the witchy part of me is the dividing the Bannock into 4 pieces, symbolizing the four fire festivals. Everything about creating bannock in my kitchen holds meaning to this holiday.
Another popular treat at Imbolc (or anytime) and pairs well with bannock is Lavender Moon Milk. This is a version of steamed milk infused with lavender, vanilla, and honey offering a light and delicate flavor. Of course, milk invokes not only fertility but also nourishment and abundance. With this recipe, it may also invoke sleep and can be used as a lovely bedtime drink. Good for kids and adults alike!
Lavender Moon Milk
Recipe: (Just 4 ingredients)
- 1 ½ cups milk ( Dairy or non-dairy can be used depending on your preference. For a dairy substitute try Oat milk or Hemp milk for a slightly creamier experience)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons dried lavender (fresh or culinary grade)
- 1 Tbls. honey (agave or maple syrup may also be substituted)
Adding all the ingredients into a small saucepan, whisk together until gently blended. Heat the milk mixture over a low/medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer (do not bring to boiling). Simmer for 5-7 minutes and stir frequently.
Remove from heat and strain the milk through a sieve or strainer to remove the lavender. If a frothy drink is desired try whisking the milk briskly or another DIY hack is to place the mixture in the blender for a few seconds to create a frothy drink. A submersion blender works too or a frother if you have one.
Brigid is the lady of flame,
The fire that cooks our food.
Hail to her and to the hearth
And may our meal be good!
Until we meet again friends. So mote it be.