Spring Equinox (Ostara) 2013 – In Which I Talk About (Seasonal) Food.

Chances are at least reasonable that some of the folks reading this will connect Ostara with things like eggs and lambs and possibly chocolate, depending on the religious traditions they grew up with.
This is not entirely out of line.
This time last year, my wife (then gf) and I hit up the Experimental Farm and actually saw the one- and two-day-old lambs with their mothers, along with one very pregnant sheep who was breathing hard and – I’m guessing – working her way through labour. In my part of the world, “sheep bellies” doesn’t happen in early February, it happens now.
As for eggs…
Okay. Yes, Easter. I know. I’m due at my Mom’s place for ham and scalloped potatoes late next week to mark the occasion (and to bit my sibs a fond fairwell, as they head to opposite ends of the country for various career- and relationship-oriented reasons).
But, frankly, the eggs aspect of Spring Equinox has more to do with local-seasonal food (for me) than it does with fertility or fancy dyes. As such, I present to you a post in-which I talk about seasonal eating in the context of Spring Equinox. Here we go.
The lunar cycle that overlaps with Spring Equinox is sometimes called Hunger Moon (in my little world, anyway) because for the local-seasonal people, it’s the point where (a) your winter stores are getting really down to the bottom of the barrel, and (b) the earliest of the fresh stuff is still quite a ways away. It’s a time for salad nicoisse[1] or variations on Waldorf salad[2]. But it’s also a time when, if you’re keeping chickens (I’m not, so I’m guessing based on the writing in Backyard Chicken magazine), your hens will start laying more frequently because the temperatures are reliably above freezing most of the time. As such, now is a grand old time to focus your celebration food around Fabulous Eggs. Soufflees, strata, devilled eggs, you name it.
Spring Equinox is also the time, around here at least, when the trees are waking up. The heartbeat of the land does its once-a-year pump[3] and the Cabins a Sucre start tapping their trees and making their maple syrup.
It means that celebratory Spring Equinox meals tend to revolve around brunch: poached eggs with ham, gruyere (or brie), and cranberry compote, over soda bread biscuits; strata made with old cheddar and long-keeping apples; french toast served with last summer’s peach compote, last autumn’s apple butter; chai tea sweetened with the same maple syrup that will, eventually, become next winter’s Sortilege[4]. You get the idea.
Gordon[5] has a piece called I Truly Hate “Pagan” Food, which talks about a lot of things but, largely, about how you honour your gods and your land by (a) eating local, but (b) preparing/providing the BEST food that you can – which is not necessarily “the most pre-xian” food you can come up with. While I, personally, think that you can do something marvelous with turnips, wheat berries, fish, and fresh herbs (hint: it involves a pilaf and a beer-based marinade for the soon-to-be-broiled fish)… I do get his point. Use what you’ve got, and go to the trouble of making it beautiful as well as delicious. 🙂
And what I’ve got, at this time of year, is eggs. Eggs and preserves and cheese and milk. Eggs and flour and non-parishable baking goods. Eggs and eggs and eggs and eggs and eggs.
So. Bruch it is! 😀
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Think boiled, quartered beets and potatoes plus pickled radish rounds, frozen edamame and/or other greens/beans, hard cooked eggs and tinned tuna (ideally lemon-pepper flavoured). Sun-dried, tinned diced, or hothouse cherry tomatoes can also be added, depending on what’s available.
[2] Shredded long-keeping cabbage, grated carrots, diced apples, dried fruit (dried cranberries are a favourite for me), diced, parboiled celeriac, and roasted nuts (walnuts for sure, maybe heartnuts or beach nuts would work here too) plus some kind of aioli/mayo dressing.
[3] “…Sending a million tonnes of sap skyward”, as Terry Pratchett put it, decades ago.
[4] A maple whiskey that I get every year for Winter Solstice. If you’re a Kushiel fan, think of it as my verison of “Joie” (that’s certainly how I think of it – the taste of early spring at midwinter).
[5] I also recommend his Secular Beltane post, for similar reasons.


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