Preparing for Imbolg

When celebrating Imbolg it’s usually the time of year when the earth is starting to emerge from the Winter slumber. Most of the world is not emerging from this slumber right now but our area is. The birds are singing and the bulbs are poking up from the ground. If you are in an area where you are having snow right now I would really suggest waiting a week or so to celebrate Imbolg. No one says that you have to celebrate on that day or even that week. This is an important thing to keep in mind and it’s sometimes a good excuse for delaying celebration too if you aren’t organized. Brighid won’t be offended if you are inside your house and can’t dig your car out of the snow in your driveway. Just because a book says that in ancient times (before global warming) people celebrated this holiday on Feb.2 doesn’t at all mean you have to. They celebrated because they noticed the earth’s signals and her signs. When you notice these you can celebrate as well.

For Imbolg I usually make Colcannon but I am going to make this bread as well this year. I couldn’t find malt extract at the store so maybe I will add another tsp. of Guinness. The other thing is that they had three different kinds of buttermilk so I picked the Bulgarian kind because it was higher in fat I think. 🙂 I have to convert the celsius before I start.

Guinness bread

* 2 cups coarse whole wheat flour (or 1 cup each quick-cooking oatmeal and oat bran)
* 2 cups fine whole wheat flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 8 tablespoons butter
* 1 teaspoon malt extract
* 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
* 1 1/4 cups Guinness

We call this one the “cups and cups” recipe.

Preheat your oven to 215C. Grease a loaf pan and dust with flour. Get the cup and teaspoon out and measure the flours and sugar. In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, soda, and salt. Cut in the butter.

Stir in the malt, buttermilk and Guinness. Mix well. Pour into the loaf pan, sprinkle with a heaped tablespoon of coarse whole wheat flour.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 200C and bake 15 to 30 minutes longer.

You know the bread is properly cooked if you insert a skewer into the center and it comes out clean.

Turn off the oven, let the bread cool down with the door open for half an hour. Transfer to a wire rack and eat warm or cold.

There are a lot of different variations of Colcannon but this is the one that I generally use.I sometimes use leeks but this time I am using an onion.

Colcannon

2 pounds russet potatoes
1 cabbage, trimmed, pale-green leaves finely shredded
1 leek, pale-green and white parts only, cut into 1/2-inch dice or 1 yellow onion, cut into small pieces or slices
2 sticks butter
1 cup hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper
* salt to taste

Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes. Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing lightly. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.

Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.

Add cabbage and onion to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.

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