Today I begin my vacation. This time of the year has always been special for me. More so because it’s a great time of the year to enjoy the bounty of the earth. Today is the time of the harvest, one of the major holidays for most pagans. It’s also a time celebrated by those who grow food. But what does it mean to celebrate Lughnassadh- the time of the harvest? For many pagans, it’s a time to thank the land for the bountiful crops. It’s the sign of the sickle, the threshing cord that allows us to make wheat into bread. This is the time when wheat, corn, barley and more grains come into their full maturity. Tis when we look to the earth and realize that she’s provided for us again out of her bosom. From these grains, we can make food, drink and more. They are the staples of mankind’s eatery.
Personally, celebrating the sun god, Lugh can be difficult. I have lupus and more importantly, I don’t easily deal with the sun. Now, mind you, I love the sunshine, I like the heat- just my body has issues with too much of a good thing. Yet, everytime at this year, I am outside more, I’m swimming, I’m moving and hopefully working on a garden of my own or of someone else’s. I thank the universe for providing me the tools necessary to live life to the fullest. How thankful for the day and what you have are you? Take a moment to thank the universe and the gods you believe in for what you’ve been provided.
This is also prime baking time. I love to cook and bake, when I can make the time and when I’m feeling up to it. So this is when I break out into making bread, muffins, and more. A few years ago, I discovered a No Knead Bread recipe, which I’m sharing with you. It’s simple, easy, and as you make it, think on the ingredients used to make the bread and how it was harvested for your use.
No Knead Bread Recipe
Yield: one 1 lb loaf
3 cups bread flour (I like Harvest King bread flour)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
1 1/2 cups warm water
Covered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel…something that can go into a 450F oven.)
1. Mix dough: The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop.
2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour. Set dough seam side down on top of towel. Fold towel over the dough. Let it nap for 2 hours. When you’ve got about a half hour left, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.
3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven.Â Holding towel, dump wobbly dough into pot. Doesn’t matter which way it lands. Shake to even dough out. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes.
The other thing I enjoy doing of late with this time of year– canning. Gods, I remember when my parents and grandparents would can cukes, beets, tomatoes and more. But when the winter came, there were always bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, relish and other good stuff to eat, reminding us of the hot summer days. I’m not a huge canner– partially because of space and because of time, but I’ve been learning how to do both refrigerator canning and the old tried and true techniques. Though I won’t give out Grampa Bob’s pickled beet recipe (I just can’t. I promised!) I can tell you there are some easy recipes where you can take the time to can things via your fridge. Check out Food Network and some other foodie places for some easy recipes. Gather up the ingredients and for the first time- do it exactly as they tell you. Once you master it, then you can tweak to your hearts content.
Harvesttime is one of happiness, joy and a time to be grateful for all we’ve been given. It’s a time when those of us who have, give to those who have not. It’s a time to be part of the earth, to thank her and to give to her. So, take this time at Lughnassadh to be part of the harvest time. Even if it’s just to make food and to tell others about how it got to the table.