February 2022 - Imbolc or Candlemas

In the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc or Candlemas falls
between Yule and Spring Equinox and is celebrated on
February 1st or 2nd. It is now that the lengthening days
are visible and an awareness of the earth awakening is
felt.  Our introspective days are ending and we set our
sights on what the coming year will bring us.  Winter
will end; warm, fertile days are coming once again.
There are many theories on the meaning of Imbolc,
(Imbolg, also Oimelc) One, "in the belly", refers to the
ewe about to give birth. Another prevalent meaning is
"ewe's milk".  Still another is "to cleanse oneself" which
probably connects to the coming Spring, getting rid of
Winter's gloom and preparing for the turning of the

Due to the references to milk and birthing of
livestock many foods associated with Imbolc contain milk
in some form.  As you prepare your Imbolc feast enjoy
the warmth of the hearth and think of the animals heavy
with life sustaining milk.  Use warming herbs and spices
in your feast such as cinnamon, cloves, basil, paprika and
pepper.  As you roll your cheese balls, create the broth for
the chicken stew or assemble your dessert embed your
feast with energy of good health, desire for Winter to be
on its way and visions of a fruitful year.

Imbolc Menu

  • Hot Buttered Rum
  • Mini Cheese Balls with crackers or Soda Bread chunks
  • Bacon Wrapped Apricots
  • Chicken and Dumplings
  • Tiramisu

Mini Cheese Balls

8    oz. cream cheese at room temperature
2    cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2/3  dashes Worcestershire Sauce (more or less to taste)
       pinch of cinnamon
1/2   cups finely chopped nuts
1    Tbsp. paprika or favorite dried herb mixture
1/3    cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Combine the cheeses and Worcestershire sauce in a
large bowl.  Shape into 40 balls.  Roll balls in herb or
spice of choice.  Refrigerate overnight in a covered
container.  Serve with crackers or bread.

Bacon Wrapped Apricots

8    slices smoked or regular bacon, cut ea. Into thirds
24   dried apricots
1/4   cup favorite BBQ sauce
1/4   cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
         pinch of ground cloves
1    Tbsp. honey
1    tsp. yellow or brown mustard (more or less to taste)

    Partially cook bacon in a large skillet.  Do not cook to
    crisp.  Drain on paper towel.  Wrap each apricot with
    a bacon piece and secure with a toothpick.  Place on a
    baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until the bacon is
    crisp, approximately 20 minutes.  Combine the remaining
    ingredients to make a dip.  
    Chicken and Dumplings

1    4 lb. fryer chicken, cut into quarters
1    small onion, peeled and quartered
2    stalks celery, trimmed and quartered
1    carrot, peeled and quartered
6    cups water
1    tsp. salt
1    tsp. pepper corns
1    bay leaf
1    cup carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1    cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2    cup chopped onion
1/2    cup frozen peas or green beans (optional)
1    chicken bouillon cube (optional)

1    cup all purpose flour
1    tsp. baking powder
1/2    tsp. salt
2    Tbsp. cold butter cut into small cubes
1/2    cup buttermilk

    Place chicken, onion, celery, carrot, water, salt, pepper
    and bay leaf in large pot with 6 cups of water.  Bring to
    a boil, reduce to simmer for 45 - 60 minutes. Remove
    chicken, allow to cool before taking meat off the bones.
    Strain the broth and discard vegetables, pepper corns
    and bay leaf.  Taste broth, adjust salt and pepper and
    add bouillon cube if desired to enhance flavor.  Add
    chopped vegetables to the broth and simmer for 10
    minutes.  While the broth and vegetables simmer
    combine flour, baking powder, salt and butter in a
    medium bowl. 

    Cut butter into the flour until crumbly.
    Add milk and stir to make soft dough, just until moistened.
    Drop dumpling mixture into simmering broth by the
    tablespoon allowing a little space between dumplings.
    Cover pot and simmer for 12-15 minutes.  Do not lift lid.
    Test one dumpling to see if cooked through.  Return
    cooked chicken to the pot and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
    Ladle soup into bowls topping with dumplings.
6    egg yolks
1/2    cup white sugar
2/3    cup milk
1    cup heavy cream
1    lb. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1    cup strong coffee or espresso
2    Tbsp. rum or cognac
24    packaged ladyfingers
2    Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

    Classic Tiramisu uses raw egg yolks.  This version has a
    cooked sauce for food safety.  If you prefer the classic
    there are many recipes available online.  The leftover
    egg whites can be added to scrambles eggs.  I freeze the
    whites in an ice tray, pop out and bag, then they are
    available when needed.

    In a medium pan whisk together egg yolks, sugar and milk.
    Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, stirring
    constantly.  Cook for 1 minute at a very gentle boil.  Cool
    for 20 minutes, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Once
    chilled, whisk mascarpone into the yolk mixture.  Beat
    cream until peaks form.  Combine coffee and rum or cognac.
    Sprinkle 1/3 of the cocoa in the bottom of a 9x13 baking
    dish.  Lay 12 ladyfingers on the cocoa.  Drizzle half of the
    coffee mixture over the lady fingers. Spread with half of the
    egg yolk mixture, half of the whipped cream and sprinkle
    with half of the remaining cocoa.  Repeat starting with
    ladyfingers and ending with cocoa. Cover well and chill at
    least 8 hours.  Overnight is fine.  Serve with shaved,
    bittersweet chocolate if desired.





The Witches' Almanac


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