The main element of your decorating scheme for Candlemas is fairly obvious: candles. You can gather all the candles in your home in one room and light them from one central candle.
Candlemas is one of the traditional times for taking down Christmas decorations (Twelfth Night, on January 6th, is the other). If you are very careful (because they are tinder dry), you can burn them. Or, better yet, return them to the earth mother by using them for compost or mulch.
Certain foods are traditional for Candlemas, including crepes, pancakes and cakes, all grain-based foods. Pancakes and crepes are considered symbols of the sun because of their round shape and golden color.
If you have a fireplace, clean out your hearth and then light a new fire. Sit around the fire and reflect on your hopes for the coming year.
What do you hope to accomplish?
What are you passionate about?
What seeds do you wish to plant?
Discuss these ideas with others or write them down in a journal but make them concrete in some way so that on Lammas (August 2nd, the festival of the first harvest), you can look back to see what progress you’ve made.
Gingerly Baked Custard
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Finely Grated Fresh Ginger
3 large Eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups Milk
1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
Mix brown sugar with ginger and divide evenly onto bottoms of 6 buttered individual custard cups or ramekins.
In medium mixing bowl, blend eggs with milk, sugar, vanilla and seasonings. Pour evenly into prepared custard cups. Place cups in a large pan, then fill with hot water to come halfway up sides of cups (a hot water bath or bain-marie).
Bake at 350 F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until knife inserted near edge comes out clean. Remove cups from bain-marie. Run knife around edges to loosen. Place serving plate over top of cup and carefully invert custard onto plate. Serve warm or cover, chill and serve cold.
Honey Cakes (Liebkuchen)
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup sour milk* (see below)
2 Tablespoons vinegar
6 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Prepare sour milk and mix dry ingredients. Set both aside. Cream margarine and sugar, add egg, beat until light. Add honey, sour milk and vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Chill one hour. Roll out to 1/4″ thickness. Cut into 2″x3″ rectangles and place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 6 minutes. Frost with plain vanilla frosting.
* For sour milk, add 1 T. vinegar to 1 c. milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
Basic Crêpe Recipe (makes about 8 crepes)
1 c. Flour
1 ¼ c. Milk
2 T. Butter, Melted (unsalted butter can be used for dessert crêpes)
¼ t. Salt for dinner crêpes (only a pinch of salt for dessert crêpes)
1 T. Sugar (for dessert crêpes only)
Butter for cooking
You can either mix all ingredients in a blender, food processor or with a whisk till smooth. It’s best to let the batter sit for ½ hour before cooking. You can add a little more milk or a little water if you find the batter is too thick.
Use a skillet that’s about 6 – 8″ in diameter. (I used an 8″ pan and got 8 fairly large crêpes.) Put about ½ to 1 teaspoon of butter in the bottom of the pan, enough to coat it. Melt on medium high heat. Pour in about 2-3 T. batter and tilt or gently swirl the pan so that the batter covers the whole bottom of the skillet. Cook on one side until golden brown. Flip. Cook the other side till it starts to become golden, which should happen quickly, and remove from heat. Repeat this process until you’ve used all the batter.
Here are many different ways to fold the crêpes:
1) Rolled – Put filling on one end of the crêpe and roll it up, sort of like a cigar.
2) Folded in Half – Put filling on one side and fold over in half.
3) Folded in Threes – Put filling in middle of crêpe, fold the left third side over and then the right side over.
4) Folded in Fours – Just like folding in threes, but then also fold over the bottom and top.
5) Folded as a Triangle – Put filling on half of crêpe and fold the crêpe over in half, then fold in half again.
6) Layered – Put filling on whole crêpe, put another crêpe on top – you can keep layering as long as you want. This would usually be done with thinner fillings.
7) Folded like a Burrito – Put filling in middle, fold over two opposite ends about 1 inch, and roll over the crêpe starting at the side, till it’s completly rolled up.
And… you can make them savory or sweet!
Savory Crêpes (or Dinner Crêpes)
- Ham and Gruyere or Swiss Cheese Crêpes – Cube ham and fry, place in crêpe with shredded cheese and place in warm oven, at 300 F, to melt. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Cover if needed to prevent the crêpes from drying out. (A variation is to make this with chopped tomatoes.)
- Mushrooms and Swiss Cheese – Sautee mushrooms in a little butter. Place in crêpe and top with cheese. Fold crepe and place in warm oven, at 300 F, to melt cheese. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Cover if needed to prevent the crêpes from drying out. (A variation is to make this with chopped tomatoes.)
- Spinach and Goat Cheese – Sautee spinach. Spread goat cheese on crêpe, top with spinach and fold.
Dessert Crêpes (some of these could be good for breakfast too!)
- Apple Cinnamon and Walnut Crêpes – Sautee chopped apples and walnuts in a little butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Scoop mixture onto crêpe and fold.
- Lemon and Powered Sugar Crêpes – Sprinkle confectioners sugar on crêpe and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on top. Fold and eat!
- Your Favorite Jam Crêpes – Simply smear the crêpe with jelly, fold over or roll and top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
- Nutella and Whipped Cream Crêpe – Spread nutella on crêpe, top with a dollop of whipped cream and fold up.
- Banana and Nutella Crêpes – Spread nutella on crepe, and top with thinly sliced bananas. Fold crêpe and enjoy!
- Sugared Crêpes – Sprinkle crêpe with sugar and fold or roll up. These work well if you want to eat them by hand.
- Ice Cream Crêpe – Put vanilla ice cream on crêpe, some hot chocolate syrup and whipped cream and fold it up.
- Hot Fudge and Strawberry Crêpes – Clean and slice strawberries and place on crêpe, cover with hot fudge and a dollop of whip cream. Fold and enjoy!
You can see that your imagination is the only limit when it comes to making crêpes!