Sunday, 28 January 2018

Imbolg Celebration Ideas



For Samhain 2016 I started a series of sabbat celebration posts. I haven't done one for Imbolg yet though, so here it is. :)

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere then Lammas is coming up for you. :) You might like this post on Lammas celebration ideas: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/lammas-celebration-ideas.html


Imbolg or Imbolc, also known as Candlemas is on Friday 2nd February this year. (Some people celebrate it on 1st Feb because it begins at sundown on the 1st and lasts until the end of the 2nd). Candlemas is now a Christian festival but I believe it has pagan roots. Imbolg is a fire festival, first spring festival and also the feast of Bride or Brigid (pronounced something like "Breed") the Irish Fire Goddess, who became Christianised as Saint Brigid. The Irish Gaelic word "Imbolc" or "Imbolg" is thought to translate as "in the belly" meaning the ewes who are pregnant at this time of year. There is another word "Oimelc" which is said to mean "ewe's milk".

Imbolg is the time when the land is waking and the first signs of spring start to appear. It's one of the "transitional" sabbats because while we're still in winter, spring is coming. Although it won't officially be spring until Oestara/the Spring Equinox around 21st March (I like to think that it's spring when it's my birthday at the beginning of March, but technically it's the tail end of winter!) things are shifting.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Winter Drinks

I've done a couple of posts on summer drinks in the past, so I thought it would be good to do one on winter drinks. :)

Summer is my favourite season and I love iced coffee (and drink it year round!) but hot drinks are good too. Winter will last for a couple of months or so yet and then the nights still tend to be chilly during spring, so these drinks will also be nice for early spring. (I do still like them in summer if it's not too hot).

As I mentioned in my post on getting ready for winter, I'm not a big fan of this time of year, but I do always hope that we'll get some snow because we don't get it very often here in South East England. All we've had in my area so far was some light snow one morning that had melted by the afternoon. It has been warmer lately but colder weather and Arctic winds are on their way! Weirdly I saw some daisies in the park last week and thought I saw some daffodils today! I don't think they will last though because it's  getting cold. Daffodils normally come out around my birthday at the beginning of March, so it's really quite early for them. Anyway, here are the drinks. :)


Cocoa

My favourite type of cocoa currently is Cadbury's Bournville cocoa (I'm also really into the bars as well!). It's dark chocolate, so more bitter than milk choc, but with milk and sugar it can still taste quite sweet. I get mixed up between cocoa and drinking chocolate sometimes, but I think the difference is that cocoa is a powder whereas hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate that's blended with milk etc. You can read more about the difference here: https://www.thespruce.com/hot-cocoa-vs-drinking-chocolate-3971361

It does get confusing though because Cadbury's drinking chocolate which I also like, is a powder as well. Maybe it varies depending on the country? Anyway, I'll do separate entries for them here. :)

If you fancy making your own cocoa, here's a recipe: http://afiremanswife.com/2016/11/23/homemade-hot-cocoa/

It's saved on my Pinterest Recipes To Make board and I haven't got round to making it yet, but it looks good. It's made with Nesquik.




Hot chocolate

As I mention above, Cadbury's is my fave hot chocolate. I also really like Hans Sloane drinking chocolate which I discovered the other year. That is different to cocoa because it's chocolate beads that melt when you mix them with hot milk.

Starbucks do hot chocolates. I haven't tried one but it's going on my list of things to try! Here's their menu: https://www.starbucks.co.uk/menu/drinks/hot-chocolates-and-other-drinks

And so does McDonalds. I had one before Christmas as and although it wasn't as nice as others I've had, I did like it.You can find it on their McCafe menu: https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/menu/mccafe.html

If you'd prefer to make your own hot chocolate, here are a few recipes:

Sam Stern's recipe for hot chocolate I made in 2014: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/chocolate-drinks.html

Ellie from Nashville Wife's crockpot hot chocolate that I made a year ago (if you don't have a crockpot slow cooker like me, you can put the chocolate mix in a Pyrex dish on top of a saucepan or something similar): https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/hot-chocolate.html

French hot chocolate (haven't made this but it looks good, it's dark chocolate): https://www.wellplated.com/french-hot-chocolate/




White hot chocolate
 

I first made this nearly 4 years ago but it didn't come out that well for me. It was probably because I don't have a slow cooker, so just made it it the pan. If I did it again I'd probably use the method I did for the crockpot hot chocolate (see above). Here's a link to my post about it: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/white-hot-chocolate.html


At the weekend I made some more white hot chocolate and it came out a lot better. It was simpler for me because you don't need a slow cooker and there's no whippng cream, so it's less ingredients (just milk, white chocolate chips and vanilla essence). Find the recipe here: https://lusciousmeals.blogspot.com/2017/01/homemade-white-hot-chocolate.html*


And here's a pic:


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

White Chocolate Christmas Cake + New Year Biscuits

I normally post on Sundays or Mondays but since this year those days were New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, I'm posting today instead. :)

For Christmas I made a white chocolate Wonderland cake. The recipe is from British blogger and YouTuber Tanya Burr's book Tanya's Christmas. The recipe was featured in OK! magazine. I can't actually find the recipe online but here are a couple of other white chocolate cake ones:

http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/easiest-ever-white-chocolate-fudge-cake/

 http://www.bakewithstork.com/recipes/white-chocolate-cake-with-strawberries

The Wonderland cake has white chocolate in the sponge but not in the icing itself, that's just buttercream. I think the second recipe is a bit more similar to it than the first one. The recipe has white chocolate stars on top but I just grated some on top and added hundreds and thousands. It was quite nice, although I think it got better a couple of days later. I baked it on Christmas Eve and did the icing on Christmas Day. Here's a picture: