Before we get into the post today, I want to remind everyone that my column is running at The Pagan Household today! Also, I'm not sure when it will be posted, but sometime today I have a guest post going up at the blog of wonderful author Laura DeLuca! Check it all out!
Alright! On we go. What are you having for Imbolc? We probably won't have as big a feast as at Yule, but we are going to be doing something. Every tradition and every person has their own symbols for each of the Sabbats, but for me Imbolc is about fresh foods. Raw cheese like Bocconcini, or some simple goat's cheese. Seeds and nuts. Fresh dairy and home baked bread. Corn and barley. Spicy food works as well. I've got my eye on a Jalapeño Cornbread recipe. Most of us can buy raw cheeses, seeds and nuts, even freshly baked bread.
Dairy is the most important. Imbolc literally means "ewe's milk" in Gaelic, because this is the time of year when the ewe's would start lactating. Most of us don't have access to sheep's milk, and conditioned as we are most of probably wouldn't drink it anyway. I bet a lot of people have never tried goat's milk, either. It's earthier than cow's milk, and very different, but worth trying. We usually have access to cow's milk, but most of us don't have cows anymore either. So how to get fresh dairy on Imbolc?
Make your own butter, of course! It's the easiest thing for us to do to get fresh, homemade dairy for Imbolc! It's not practical to make it for everyday, it would get far too expensive. For a special occasion though? Nothing compares. Here's what you need:
1 Cup Whipping Cream
Pinch of Salt (optional)
There are really two ways to do it. The first way is to pour the whipping cream in a jar, filling the jar half full, and let your kids shake it until their arms fall off. If you don't have kids, or simply don't feel like handing your kids a breakable jar full of liquid, you can use a bowl and an electric mixer.
We all know what whipped cream looks like, and that's the first step. When you get to the whipped cream stage, keep beating! Or shaking. When the peaks of the cream become stiff, reduce the speed on your mixer because the butter will form fairly quickly. First the cream will turn slightly yellow, then little bits of butter and buttermilk. At this point the butter will quickly separate itself from the buttermilk, and if you haven't reduced the speed on your mixer you are most certainly wearing butter. And buttermilk.
Drain the buttermilk into a separate container. It's great for baking, buttermilk really helps baked goods keep a soft crumb. But I digress. After draining the buttermilk, add half a cup of cold water to the bowl and beat the butter some more. This helps to release any remaining buttermilk, which will be poured off with the water. After pouring the water off, you can mash it with salt to make salted butter, or if you have molds you can make your butter beautiful by putting it into those! Obviously, store it in the refrigerator.
Happy Butter Making!