It may not seem like it right now, as parts of the country are getting blasted with more snow and the usually mild South is experiencing freezing temps, but spring is coming. Sure, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, saw his shadow today, predicting six more weeks of winter. But in the grand scheme of things, six weeks really isn't all that long.
It's been nearly six weeks since Christmas, and that feels like yesterday! We can do this! We will make it to spring, and then we'll make it to summer. Why all this warm weather optimism on this 30-degree day? It's Imbolc!
The ancient pagan celebration of Imbolc, later appropriated as Candlemas by the Christians, celebrates winter's mid-point as a sort of glass-half-full approach to facing the rest of the cold days ahead. It's traditional to honor the Celtic goddess Brigid on Imbolc, and she's the bringer of light and fire, which we could definitely use on these cold, overcast, dreary days.
Back in the day, folks would celebrate Imbolc with dairy foods, since produce was scarce but animal milk was readily available. But as a vegan, I can't get down with that. So I celebrate with vegan "dairy" instead. Tonight, I made this Red, White & Green Lasagna and Winter Greens from Cooking By the Seasons to celebrate.
The lasagna has a tofu ricotta made with silken tofu, vegan mozzarella, and pine nuts. And the colors of red, white, and green are symbolic too. Red (from the marinara) is the color of fire, which keeps us warm in the winter. White (tofu ricotta, sauteed cauliflower) is color of snow. And green (wilted spinach) offers hope of new life and growth. You can't see all the layers in this pic since hot lasagna is nearly impossible to photograph. But trust me, they were there. I loved that this recipe didn't call for a ton of vegan cheese, just 3/4 cup in the whole recipe. As much as I love gooey, vegan cheese lasagna, sometimes it's nice to let noodles, sauce, and veggies shine.
The winter greens — kale, in this case — are sauteed with garlic and tossed with a yummy dijon-dill vinaigrette. It felt somehow more comforting than a cold salad on this cold night.
Blackberries are also associated with the goddess Brigid, and they're said to bring prosperity and healing. I made some Blackberry Scones using a recipe from Seasons of Witchery.
The recipe actually called for blueberries, but blackberries were on sale. And they were more appropriate for the holiday anyway. I washed down the soft, sweet blackberry-lemon scones with a sweet blackberry wine made at our local Old Millington Winery.
Happy Almost Spring!