Rhi’s Recipes for Imbolc

January 19, 2024

Posted in DG Blog, Goddess Blogs

Imbolc, celebrated around February 1st, is the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  It is a time of transition, symbolizing the awakening of the earth as it emerges from the dormancy of winter and prepares for the arrival of spring. The name “Imbolc” is believed to derive from the Old Irish word “Oimelc,” which means “ewe’s milk.” This reflects the time when our ancestors would celebrate that the ewes would begin to lactate as they prepare to give birth to lambs.

In our community rituals we always like to break bread together and so we create a seasonal potluck meal. The focus lies on using fresh, simple, and seasonal ingredients that mirror the shifting seasons. Participants contribute a dish connected to the holiday, for Imbolc the shared meals would reflect the symbolism of returning light, warmth, and the onset of spring. Foods that are commonly associated with Imbolc and with the goddess Brigid, include oats which can be featured in cookies and muffins. Fresh herbs like chives or parsley signify the renewal of plant life. Root vegetables like carrots and turnips, along with potatoes, contribute to hearty warm dishes. Honey, representing the sweetness of life, is used as a natural sweetener. Seeds, sprouted or integrated into recipes, symbolize the potential for growth and new beginnings. Bread, often freshly baked, symbolizes the harvest and the hearth, sometimes shaped into symbols linked to Brigid like her equally armed cross.

As Imbolc is linked to the lactation of ewes, dairy products are often the focus such as milk, cheese, and butter.  Making butter is a perfectly simple, hands-on activity that you can do on your own or with a gathering.

Making Butter

  1. Fill a mason jar halfway with heavy cream or whipping cream.
  2.  If you desire add salt.
  3. Then shake, and just keep shaking.  As the cream turns to butter, in about 15-20 minutes depending on the vigor in which its shaken, it will separate out the buttermilk.
  4. Drain the buttermilk, you can save it and use it for all kinds of recipes.
    The remaining butter needs to be washed to remove any remaining buttermilk.
    This is important because any residual buttermilk can cause the butter to spoil more quickly.
  5. Rinse the butter under cold water, kneading or pressing it to release any remaining liquid.
  6. At this stage you could customize your butter by adding herbs or honey.

At gatherings we love to give everyone the opportunity to shake the sacred butter jar and infuse it with their festive vibes and heartfelt gratitude.  We’ll slather the butter on homemade bread with our chalices full of home-brewed mead, a honey-based wine – toasting to the returning sun and the renewal of spring.

For those of you who are dairy intolerant I have a wonderful recipe that I’d like to share that you can use any milk substitute that works for you.  This is my version of caffeine-free Peppermint Chai, a cherished tradition at our Imbolc gatherings and throughout the chilly months. The spices of chai tea synergistically work together to create a delightful sensory experience that is both comforting and warming.

Ingredient list:

3 bags of Peppermint Tea
1 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp whole Peppercorns
1 tsp ground Cardamom
¼ tsp ground Cloves
1 or 2 Cinnamon sticks
3 cups of milk or any of its substitutes you prefer.
2 tsp – ½ cup of the sweetener of choice, or not

Note * Make this recipe the day before as the flavors are much richer after they marinate overnight.

  1. Begin by steeping 3 peppermint tea bags in 2 cups of boiled water, covered, for 20 minutes. This initial step sets the stage for the peppermint undertones that will weave its way through the entire brew.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan or crockpot, combine the peppermint tea with a teaspoon each of ground ginger, whole peppercorns, and ground cardamom. Add a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves, and I always toss in some extra whole cloves. Break one or two cinnamon sticks in half and throw them into the mix. You can add other spices too such as star anise, nutmeg and fennel seeds.
  1. For the liquid base, you can opt for a quart of milk or any milk substitute you prefer. This year, I’m going with oat milk for my creamy and dairy-free twist. The choice is yours, and each variation adds its own nuance to the final creation.
  1. Sweetening the chai is a personal touch. Honey is always a good choice here. Feel free to use up to a ½ cup of your sweetener of choice or skip it altogether if you prefer a less sweet brew.
  1. Combine all these wonderful ingredients in your chosen vessel, whether it’s a saucepan or a crockpot. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then let it simmer, covered, for at least half an hour. If you’re in no rush, the crockpot method is a fantastic option. Let the chai simmer on low for hours, stirring occasionally to ensure all the flavors meld together harmoniously.
  1. Allow the chai to cool. Transfer to a large mason jar – a convenient and travel-friendly choice. Pop it into the fridge overnight, allowing the flavors to dance and mingle.  Strain your peppermint chai with a cheese cloth and reheat your delicious aromatic creation.

With each sip, connect with the divine, expressing your gratitude for the season’s turning and the goddess’s guidance. As the steam rises from the cup, carrying your intentions and prayers, offer this warm and fragrant elixir to Brigid with a heart full of reverence.

Bright Blessings.

Check out our taped CommuniTea about all things Imbolc below!

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