Sage has been celebrating the Wheel of the Year for 25+ years. Being a holiday junkie, she just can't get enough of the sabbats!
One part of the holiday celebration that many Wiccans or Pagans look forward to is the feast- if you are part of a coven or going to a large, open ritual, you'll want to bring a seasonal dish to share. If you are having a smaller gathering in your home with family and friends, you'll want to put out a nice spread for your guests. Even if you're a solitary, it's a good idea to make yourself something delicious and traditional for the holiday season.
Whether you're looking for dinner, brunch, dessert, something to take on a picnic or something simple to enjoy at the altar, I'm going to give you some ideas and tips for preparing foods that are just perfect for the occasion-- and for some great recipes, I'm going to turn to some fellow hubbers.
Food, Glorious Food!
The types of food that fit perfectly with the Imbolc season fall into several categories:
Hearty winter dishes: Meat roasts, root veggies and heavy sauce are great for a big family meal. For something equally good but simpler, hearty stews or even soups are great.
Preserves: Deep into the winter at this time of year, the fresh foods and game were usually gone and people were surviving on whatever they pickled, canned or dried. Smoked, dried meats, picked veggies and fruit preserves go nicely. Honey, also, is ideal because it doesn't go bad.
Dairy dishes: Imbolc comes from the Gaelic world "Oilemc" which literally translates to "ewe's milk"... the whole reason the season was celebrated is because in the depth of winter came a sign that spring was on the way (the birth of baby lambs) and a new food source: milk. No matter how bleak, this sign increased your chance of survival.
So any dishes involving eggs, cream, or-- my favorite-- cheese go really well.
Breads: Is there a single Pagan sabbat that is complete without some kind of bread? During Imbolc, I like to make hearty, rich, dark breads, preferably with dried fruits or seeds in them. Of course, it's a great time to pull out the honey and preserves.
Legumes: beans, nuts, seeds, etc. are another great winter food, and add protein and heartiness to veggie dishes without adding meat.
Fruits: In my part of the world, strawberries season starts at Imbolc, and you can find the hugest, sweetest, ripest red berries for really cheap, so I make a lot of strawberry dishes at Imbolc. See what seasonal fruits are available where you live in the winter-- try pears, oranges and grapefruits, or persimmons.
Sweets: so what's a holiday without a treat? Don't forget to trudge out your favorite cake, pie and cookie recipes for Imbolc. No one is going to complain.
Delicious Recipes from Fellow Hubbers that are Great for Imbolc
I wanted to see what kinds of recipes other Hub Pages authors might have, and I found a wealth of really great looking recipe candidates! For a homestyle-Imbolc feast, you might want to try one of these dishes:
Daisydayz has made a delectable-looking recipe for How to cook a Ham - Honey, Mustard and Marmalade Glazed Ham. Looks fantastic.
My favorite flavors, garlic and herb, are found in a hub recipe by courtneylajoie for Garlic and Herb Pork Sirloin Mini-Roast. Great for those who are having a small sabbat and don't want to make too huge a meal.
I just can't wait to put some of these in my mouth!
This is basically what I use
My Roast Chicken and Root veggies
One of my family's traditional dishes to put out on Imbolc is a roast chicken with root veggies. I'm not a "by the recipe" type cook, so allow me to give you a run-down of how I prepare my chicken, which is pretty simple.
I think the key is in the dry brine- and it's so simple! I unwrap a frozen chicken about 3/4 days ahead of time, sprinkle it liberally with about 2 tbsp kosher salt mixed with 2 tbsps of ground herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage are my favorites). Wrap it up in plastic and refrigerate until the day before. It brines while it thaws.
The day before, I take it out, rinse it off, take out the giblet bag and neg, pat it dry and put it back in the fridge completely uncovered, overnight-- the drier the skin, the better it browns.
Then I throw it in a baking pan with a bunch of cut root veggies and onions. I sprinkle the veggies with herbs, salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil (I like to infuse my oil with garlic, but that's optional). I slather up the chicken and cook it on 350 for 20 minutes per pound. I start it upside-down and flip it once.
And the final key-- let it rest 30 minutes before carving!
It really is a simple but delicious meal, and chicken isn't going to break the food budget for the month.
A quick rundown of ingredients for your shopping list: a whole roasting chicken, kosher salt, fresh or dried ground herbs (I like rosemary, sage, thyme), root veggies (potato, parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets, etc.), olive oil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper.
Pass the Cheese, Please
A great resource
Sabbat Potlucks: Easy Covered Dish Options
A cheese platter-- simple, seasonal, and you don't have to cook. Seriously, who doesn't love a little platter of cheese samplings? Get a couple of different kinds of cheeses, a small bowl of grapes and some crackers, and you're in business. It is so unfussy yet everyone will jump on it-- watch.
And if you are celebrating alone as a Solitary and are a fellow cheese lover-- Imbolc is a great excuse to indulge for your own ritual feast. I know that I don't like going through big cooking productions when I'm going to be alone for a holiday, so this kind of sinful indulgence feels justified for special occasions.
Another simple but brilliant dairy dish for the Imbolc potluck is (pardon the phrase) deviled eggs.
Hubber crazyhorseghost gives us a simple but beautiful hub for Delicious Deviled Eggs Recipe
One item that is always a big HIT when I go to Pagan Potlucks is hummus!
I must credit this recipe to my son, a budding chef-- but he's still a teen so I can't release his name on the internet. However, he came up with this fabulously unique and easy Honey and Pickled Ginger Hummus recipe. You don't even have to cook! Just take put the blender and throw in:
1 drained can of chick peas, 3 tbsp tahini, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tbsp olive oil, about 1/4 cup pickled ginger, 2 tbsp honey, and salt & pepper to taste.
Puree, adding a little bit of water at a time just to loosen it up enough to keep things moving in the blender. But you don't want to thin it out too much.
It's vegan-- so let your friends know they can indulge. Serve with whatever raw veggies, tortilla chips, pita quarters or crackers you like.
Finally, bread... oh yeah.
a couple of gorgeous loaves of bread with a savory herbal butter spread or some preserves or honey to drizzle on it is just delightful. Kittythedreamer gives a great, easy bread idea using store bought bread dough on her most awesome lens, Celebrating Imbolc: Imbolc Food, Imbolc Traditions, and Imbolc Crafts. You should definitely check it out if you're planning your Imbolc celebration.
How Sweet it Is
Great for melting chocolate dip
But What About Desserts?
Oh, heck no, I can't go without getting into desserts. Desserts are the best part of the holiday.
When I lived up north, a nice poached pear in raspberry sauce fit the bill. Given with a scoop of vanilla ice cream-- sublime.
Where I live now, you practically cannot walk down the street without tripping over a produce vendor selling strawberries by the flat. I cannot resist them.
Chocolate covered strawberries are just so easy to make-- melt your chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl, stirring ever 30 seconds or so. Then dip your washed, dried berries in them, and put them out on waxed paper. 2 hours in the refrigerator and they're good to go.
If you prefer, fill a small crock pot with chocolate chips and melt them-- then have your dessert fondue-style. Put out strawberries, pears, mandarin orange slices, along with some sharp cheese slices and a few cookies.
Of course, if you really want to go all out...
To me, if you really want to go all out and do some baking, there is no more appropriate cake than a Tres Leche (three milk) cake. Anyone who loves to dunk their cake in their milk will positively be in heaven at the bite of a cake that has been soaked in sweet milks.
Sure enough, I've found a hubber -- Lamme -- who has provided us with Pastel de Tres Leches or Tres Leches Cake (3 Milk Cake).
Poll - Tell Me...
I hope you found inspiriation...
I hope you've found the great ideas you were looking for here, or maybe you are going to try one of the recommended recipes. To me, this is what holidays are really about-- not just formal ritual and prayers, but gathering with family or community, breaking bread, partaking of the Earth's bounty. I feel like when I eat seasonal foods, I take in their essence and they are part of me.
For other great Imbolc ideas-- crafts, music, rituals, spells and more, or ideas for any of the Sabbats on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, please check out my Wheel of the Year article directory. It's a collection that's growing all the time!
All images are in the Public Domain and available at Pixabay.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on January 26, 2014:
Thanks Phyllis. I have to give most of the credit to the awesome Hubbers recipes that look so great. But I'm glad I could point you to some that you enjoyed. Blessed Imbolc!
Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on January 26, 2014:
My gosh, Sage, this is a wonderful and very useful hub. I have many friends who are of the Wiccan or Pagan faiths and it really interests me. Your ideas for celebrating Imbolc are really helpful and very interesting. Olive oil, garlic, rosemary and thyme have always been in my kitchen, I would feel lost in cooking without them -- I like to infuse the olive oil with garlic, too. In fact, I usually have three bottles of olive oil, one plain, one garlic and one rosemary and thyme. Thanks for sharing these recipe and food ideas for Imbolc. I really enjoyed reading this hub.