Thursday, August 1, 2013

Celebrating Lammas

I've been planning the upcoming school year, and have been looking at celebrations and holidays that occur throughout the year. One I had not heard of before is called Lammas.

Traditionally, Lammas marked the closing of one growing season and the safeguarding of another through the winter. Lammas is recognized as a Christian holy day, and is celebrated by the church on August 1st. The celebrations often took place the last day of July or the first day of August, with the harvesting of grain. The sacredness of grain has been noted as far back as humanity itself.

Wheat Berries and Flours
Variety of wheat berries and grains in the cupboard.

It is also a cross-quarter day, one of the four High Holidays or Greater Sabbats of Paganism. "Lammas" was the medieval Christian name for the holiday and it means "loaf-mass," for this was the day on which loaves of bread were baked from the first grain harvest and laid on the church altars as offerings. Associations of grains to the Gods or Goddesses of death and resurrection were also present.

This year we tried a variety of recipes to celebrate the holiday. Several came from Pinterest while others came from recipe books I own.

For lunch, we enjoyed Tomato, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad. Actually, it included everything except the avocados since I didn't purchase them far enough in advance for them to ripen. At any rate, the salad is flavorful and uses ingredients that are being harvested in this area.

Tomato, Cucumber, and Basil Salad that we made.

Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad
Adapted from Yummy Mummy
Source: Pin and Yummy Mummy.
Serves 12

5 cups mixed heirloom tomatoes wedges
2 small English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, sliced or torn
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly cracked pepper

Place tomatoes, cucumber, avocados, and basil in a large serving bowl or platter. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over the top of the salad and mix ingredients. This can be made several hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated.


Four-Grain Batter Bread that we made.
This is delicious! We will definitely make it again.

We also had Four-Grain Batter Bread from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 packages regular active or fast-acting dry yeast
2 cups very warm milk (120°F to 130°F)
1/2 cup very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

In large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, the sugar, salt, baking soda and yeast. Add milk and water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. (Note: I didn't use a mixer; I mixed everything by hand.)

Stir in whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats and enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a stiff batter.

Grease 2 (8x4-inch) loaf pans with shortening or cooking spray; sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide batter evenly between pans. With floured hands, pat tops of loaves to round. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until batter is about 1 inch below tops of pans.

Heat oven to 400°F. Bake about 25 minutes or until loaves are light brown. Remove from pans to cooling rack; cool.


Blessed Berry Lemonade that we made.

For the beverage, we had Blessed Berry Lemonade. The pin leads to Wiccan Wonderland. I'm not sure the image on the pin is the correct one for the lemonade since it turns out to be a bit more frothy with specks of blueberries throughout it.

Nonetheless, it is a refreshing drink. It is sweetened only by honey, so it not a super-sugary drink. It tastes very natural.

Blessed Berry Lemonade for Lammas
Source: Llewellyn's Sabbats Almanac: Samhain 2009 to Mabon 2010
Serves: 8

1/2 cup honey
1 cup lemon juice
3 lemon chamomile tea bags (we used 2 chamomile tea bags and one lemon tea bag)
2 cups blueberries
6 cups water

In a small saucepan, dissolve the honey in lemon juice over low heat. Place tea bags in a blender and pour lemon juice over them. Allow to steep for 9 minutes.

Remove tea bags and puree with blueberries and water. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve over ice.

The blueberries starting to swirl around 
in the Vita-Mix Mixer.


The girls ready to have dinner.

For dinner, we had meatballs which have a variety of whole-grain bread crumbs (to tie into Lammas). The recipe is one that I often make. I had to make them in the afternoon since the girls had an equine vaulting lesson later on. When we came home from that, they were ready to eat. We also had more of the tomato basil salad from lunch.

Meatballs for dinner.

From Kinderhaus Cooks

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (we didn't include this)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, well beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form 1 1/2 inch meatballs and bake on greased cookie sheet (with sides) for 30 minutes or until no longer pink.


Muffins with white chocolate chips, 
mandarin oranges, and coconut.

We also had Lamb's Inn Chocolate Chip Muffins. The oranges in it reminded me of the warm summer days, so I thought it was an appropriate addition to our Lammas dinner.

Lamb's Inn Chocolate Chip Muffins
From Kinderhaus Cooks
Made 12 muffins and an 8" pan

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup orange juice
2/3 cup oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips)
11 ounces mandarin oranges, drained and cut in half
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In separate bowl, mix orange juice, oil, eggs, chocolate chips, and mandarin oranges. Mix try ingredients into the orange juice mixture. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. Fill 3/4 full.

Make topping by mixing coconut, melted butter, and sugar. Top each unbaked muffin with the topping. Press topping down lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


For dessert, we enjoyed Panna Cotta. The pin leads to Cafe Johnsonia. We don't have blackberries growing around here as shown in the pin, so we used strawberries.

Strawberries on panna cotta that we made. 

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or 1/2 of a vanilla bean)
Fresh fruit, for serving

Place 1 cup of buttermilk in a heat-proof bowl or top of a double boiler. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let sit for 5 minutes.

Bring 2/3 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a small pan. Pour over the buttermilk and gelatin. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water (or double boiler) and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2/3 cup buttermilk and 1/3 cup heavy cream, and the vanilla extract. Stir and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup (1 quart). Pour into six 4 oz. ramekins or custard cups. Place the cups on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

To serve, unmold panna cotta by dipping the ramekin in hot water for a few seconds and run the tip of a thin knife around the edges and invert onto a platter, or alternately serve the panna cotta in the ramekin. Top with fresh fruit. Best if eaten within 2 or 3 days.


Other highlights from Lammas:

The girls went out to look for monarch eggs and/or caterpillars. We have an abundance of milkweed this year and have noticed the butterflies flying around it.

Sophia and Olivia looking for monarch eggs or caterpillars.
They found three monarch eggs.
Hopefully they hatch soon so we can watch the caterpillars grow, and 
then transform into butterflies.
We always enjoy raising and releasing them each summer.

They also were working with Cooper on training him. They want him to learn some basic commands before they start agility training with him. He has lots of energy, so this is a great way to burn some of it off.

Cooper focused on the stick as Sophia throws it.

We had many birds visiting the feeders today. The highlight, though, was a hummingbird who seemed to excited to drink from the feeder. It would land, drink, flap its wings quickly, visit another hole, and repeat the process over again.

It's not a great picture, but a hummingbird 
visited the feeder today.

The girls had their final lesson for equine vaulting for this session.

Sophia balancing on the back of Willy.
Many of the skills they do are hands-free of the horse.
The horse, with the hands-free activities, 
is almost like a balance beam.

They did a show with other class members for family members. 

Olivia standing on Willy's back.
She is able to do this when Willy is trotting.

The girls do individual skills as well as work together. Since they have taken equine vaulting for the longest time out of the class, they work as a team. It's been a nice way for them to do a sport together they both enjoy; build trust with one another; and learn to work and communicate well together.


Redbeet Mama said...

Beautiful and festive and I can't wait to whip up some lemonade.

Happy Lammas!

renee ~ heirloom seasons said...

Such a lovely festival day you created! I think the caterpillar/butterfly activity goes so well with this time of change.
And I love seeing your girls on the horse! My girls would love it too! They are planning a "horse show" of their own these days, no standing or vaulting!
Happy late summer season to you and family,

Rita said...

What delicious recipes! I copied a couple of them. :)
How brave they are to stand on a horse at all! wow!
Enjoy your weekend. :):)

David C Brown said...

Half-awake, I thought you were celebrating llamas! But I must admire the skill on horseback.