Imbolc, Brigid’s Day, Candlemas
Celebrating the halfway mark of winter & Brigid

In ancient times, this was the time of year when the livestock started giving birth to the babies they carried all winter. As this was the case, it was the time of the first milk. The livestock mothers started producing milk for their young, and the farmers took advantage of this to gather milk to make butter, cheese and other dairy products. Some of the dishes you can use for this time of year are spicy dishes, and/or dishes that contain curry, dairy, poultry, pork, lamb, peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, raisins, garlic or chives. A couple of popular beverages for this time of year are spiced wines and herbal teas.


Braided Egg Bread

1 ⅓ cup milk
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs butter
1 package rapid yeast
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 - 4 cups all purpose flour

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil and remove. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and eggs. Slowly stir in milk mixture. Add flour until dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until elastic, adding flour as needed. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place in a floured bowl, cover with damp cloth and let rise for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn out dough , punch down and knead. Divide dough into half, and place both halves into 2 floured bowls, let rise for another 10 to 15 minutes. One at a time, turn out the dough, punch down and knead. Divide dough into 3 equal parts, roll into long strands and braid from the center out on each end. You can brush the bread with an egg wash, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Yield: 2 loaves

Mrs. Renny’s Soda Bread

4-6 cups flour (I use 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white)
2 cups sour milk or whole buttermilk
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together starting with 4 cups of flour, then add sour milk. You will need to add the additional flour little by little to until a firm dough is formed. The dough will be very sticky, you will need to coat the outside with flour for the next part, to keep it from sticking. Knead dough gently for a few minutes, shape into a flat round disk about 3” thick. Cut a cross into the center top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes, then 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool.
How to sour milk: 1 cup of sour milk = 1 tbs vinegar or lemon juice, plus enough milk to make 1 cup of milk. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to sour.


Heavy whipping cream
salt (optional)
Jar with lid (alternately you can use a blender or food processor)

Clean and sterilize jar, or blender/food processor container. This can be done in the dishwasher with the extra hot water cycle and heat dry mode. Pour the cream into the container, seal it up, and if you are using a jar, shake it vigorously until the butter starts to form. As the butter forms, a liquid will separate from the butter solids, this is buttermilk, and can be kept for cooking, especially soda bread.

Herbed  and Flavored Butters

Once you have made your own butter, you can now add herbs to make your own herbed butters to help flavor different dishes. Here are some suggestions to add to a ½ cup of butter, these can be made using a food processor. In the food processor, add a ½ cup of butter and desired ingredients below:

Cranberry Butter
⅓ cup cranberries
1 tbs orange zest

Garlic Herb Butter
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs fresh parsley
2 tbs fresh chives
1 tbs fresh lemon juice

Parsley Butter
2 tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Red Wine Butter
2 tbs red wine
2 tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs shallots
1 tbs fresh lemon juice

Lemon Rosemary Thyme Butter
Zest of a half of a lemon
3 large sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme

Vanilla Cinnamon Honey Butter
¼ cup honey
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon

Shepherd’s Pie

4 cups mashed potatoes
garlic salt
1 lb. ground beef
⅓ cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbs flour
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
2 cups frozen vegetable medley - corn, peas, carrots and greenbeans
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the meat is completely cooked, stir in flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and chicken broth. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Turn heat off and stir in frozen vegetables, salt and pepper to taste. Pour beef mixture into a large, oven-proof, casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and smooth with spatula. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Place casserole dish in a baking sheet to catch any sauce that may bubble over, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Guinness Beef Stew
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut in 1” cubes
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs all purpose flour
1 pinch salt & pepper
2 large onions
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbs tomato paste
1 or 2 bottle of Guinness Draught, or another dark beer
2 cups chopped carrots
1 sprig fresh thyme

Toss beef in 1 tbs of olive oil. In a separate bowl, stir together salt, pepper and flour. Dredge the beef in flour and seasonings to coat. Heat remaining oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef and brown on all sides. Add onions and garlic. Stir tomato paste into a small amount of water to dilute; pour into the pan and stir to blend. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Pour ½ cup of beer into the pan, and as it begins to boil, scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Pour the rest of the beer into the pan, add carrots and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Hungarian Goulash

2 lbs of stew beef or lamb
3 tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp Hungarian paprika
¼ cup of oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups beef stock
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp dried marjoram
2 medium carrots, cut as desired
2 medium parsnips, cut as desired
1 cup mushrooms (optional)

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. Toss in meat, and coat evenly. In a large stew pot or dutch oven, pour in oil and begin to heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute a few minutes. Add meat and brown on all sides. At this point, you can either continue to cook in the pot, or transfer to a crockpot for slow cooking. Add beef stock and tomato paste, stir to blend the tomato paste into beef stock. Add in the remaining spices, carrots, parsnips and mushrooms. If cooking in a crockpot, cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. If cooking on the stovetop, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Spiced Wine
1 bottle of red wine
1 cup water
2 cups pineapple juice; organic if possible, freshly made is best
1 cup orange juice; organic if possible, freshly squeezed is best
1/4 cup (or to taste)  raw, local honey
9 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
a Pinch of sea salt

Add all ingredients to a crock pot and heat on high for 2 hours, stirring once or twice.
Turn crock pot to low, remove lid, and wait for juice mixture to come to below 180 degrees.
Add a bottle of red wine, and allow to warm up.
Enjoy while planning a spring project.

Blessed Bride’s Cake

1 cup sugar
1 cup walnut meats, chopped
1 cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
1 cup raisins, not packed
1 cup flour
4 medium eggs
1 tsp baking powder

Mix all the ingredients until moistened. Do not over-mix. Pour into a greased and lined square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool before serving.

Herbal Tea Blend
Raspberry Leaf
Green Tea
Jasmine Flower

Blend herbs according to your preferences, and steep in hot water. This blend is to honor the Goddess Brigid’s triple aspect. They are as follows: Raspberry leaf - Mother, Green Tea - Crone, Jasmine Flower - Maiden, Lavender - Purity, Chamomile - Calm.

Meal Plan Suggestions

Dinner option #1
Guinness Beef Stew
Mashed potatoes
Mrs. Renny’s Soda Bread

Dinner option #2
Hungarian Goulash
Mashed potatoes or noodles
Braided Egg Bread
Decorating and Tablescaping

With hopes of spring just around the corner, we light candles to encourage the return of more light and warm weather. This is the perfect time to use candle magic. The colors to use for Imbolc are pink, yellow, green, brown, black, red and purple. You can add arrangements of colorful spring flowers to your dinner table. For your altar, you can make “earth” candles by using dirt, either outside or in a container, create a well, add a wick longer than needed and tied to a straw, pencil or bamboo skewer to rest on the top of the well, and pour in the wax to the desired height. Allow to set, and either remove from the dirt or burn it where it is. You can also create ice luminaries to decorate your patio or walkway. And, you can create unique candles by filling a container with ice around your wick, and then pour the wax over the ice. As the wax cools around the melting ice, it will create empty spaces in the wax, and create a cool looking candle.

Simple Prayer

Here is a simple chant to use when lighting your candles on Imbolc

Candle, Candle, Burning Bright
Winter’s halfway done tonight
With a glowing -
We are knowing
Spring will come again!

With the illnesses that come with winter, here is a simple prayer that can help to heal your body:

Goddess Brigid, Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
Protector of life, I ask that you return to me/
[name other people] during this season of imbolc.

Please send your healing power to mend bone
and flesh, ease breathing, and restore full life.

Above all else, please ease the pain and
discomfort until health is restored.

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