Merry Lammas!

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Some pics of my Lammas preparations, since I’ll be celebrating mostly tomorrow.

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Lammas preparations

Lammas is just around the corner! And what better way to celebrate a harvest festival than with food? Today and tomorrow will be entirely about making food and during a BBQ on Friday we can actually enjoy what I’ve made. And to set the scene, the weather forecast is sunny with 32 degrees Celsius. A perfect summer setting.

As the first harvest festival, for me it’s about summer fruits and veg, seeds that spread to enable new growth during spring and the celebration of the bountiful earth in general. I’ve taken a walk earlier this week as part of my walking challenge, seeing cornflower, poppy and chamomile together (planted there), making a wonderful mosaic of colours. I hope I’ll be able to collect some seeds and grow some of my own next year! On my table is a vase with (to me) enormous sunflowers as a sign for spring and my fruit basket is filled with apples, pears, peaches and mango… strawberries I keep in my fridge, obviously.

Contrast in bloemen Schaduwspel Wandeling polder Leiderdorp Wesp op bloem

I love the sweet summer fruits the first harvest brings and plan to use them optimally: fruit skewers with mango and peach, peach and strawberry salad and compote made of pear and apple. Lammas or ‘loaf-mass’ is also a festival of corn and grain and the bread you can produce with it. Even though I have some corn for the BBQ, I’m planning to make the bread for the BBQ myself. It’s been quite a while since I last made bread, because I need almost the entire day for it, but the smell alone makes it worthwhile, not to mention the satisfaction of eating home-made bread.

Many people don’t feel comfortable with chanting individually, and I am one of them. I tend to feel insecure – am I doing it right – even though I know there is no right and wrong and there is nobody to listen to me. It feels weird because I’m not used to it. So rather than talking or chanting out loud, I say what I want inside or write it down, and conduct my own little rituals. Even though making the meal is already ritual, I read something very nice on a BBC blog, by someone who spent some time on the island of Mull in Scotland and celebrated the sabbats. It is a food altar! You make an altar on the ground with food, making patterns or a picture and leave it there, returning something to the earth.

lammas food alter

I’m planning to do something similar, though it may not be done exclusively with food, but perhaps also with some of the small stones I recently brought back from my father’s house.

For now, I wish you all a blessed Lammas and hope you may enjoy the earth’s bounty once again.

Lammas: A festival of fire

During the Olympic Games, I kept hearing the same song, since it was used by the national television under images of Olympic athletes. “Sky on fire” by Handsome Poets, you can listen to it here

Yesterday I couldn’t get it out of my head. Every minute I’d start singing again: Let’s start a fire, a fire! Coincidentally, my fiancée and I had decided to spend the evening in Scheveningen for his birthday, so we could watch the final two shows of the international firework festival. I had never been there before and frankly, I was amazed! I have not celebrated Lammas this year… but yesterday certainly felt like a Lammas celebration with many, many people. 150.000 people were at Scheveningen, most of them sitting on the sand looking at the sunset, waiting for the firework spectacle.

But that was not all! In the spirit of fire, several artists held a performance with fire. From Belgium came The World of Pyro, two guys who spun around with fire, ate fire and spat fire, all with the setting sun in the background. Impressed as I was, I felt myself calm down, looking at the spinning fire…

Then, at 21.45, came the first show of fireworks by the Netherlands. There was barely any room left on the sand, with all the spectators sitting down. The sun hadn’t quite set, so the sky was filled with pale yellow, orange and pink. And then with red, white and blue as the Netherlands started their show. It was fired from a flat boat floating in sea. The sound came quite a bit later than the light, which was weird.
The Spanish show was even more spectacular. Because it was at 22.30, it was much darker already, so the fireworks looked better as well. My boyfriend and I both fell silent (though unfortunately not everybody felt that way). Enjoy and be amazed!

It was a great day, in the spirit of fire as Lammas is one of the fire festivals. A day of abundance as well, eating all kind of goods for my fiancée’s birthday, and going out for dinner. My way of celebrating Lammas. I will certainly go there again next year… you are welcome to join me and the some 150.000 people in this great feast!

Making bread

It appears I’m feeling kind of crafty these days! Today I decided to make my own bread, which fits perfectly with the Lammas season. I made it the long way, starting with whole wheat flour, yeast, salt and water and that was it! I’ve just tasted it, and it’s real dense bread, so one or two slices will probably fill enough. Here’s how to make it:

1. For a 1 3/4 L cake tray you pour 750 gram of whole wheat flour in a bowl. Make a hole in the middle and put 20-30 grams of fresh (or equivalent dry) yeast there. Put 15 gram of salt around the edges of the flour, touching the bowl.
Slowly pour 6 dL slightly warm water on the hole in the middle, stirring all the time (only in the middle section, it will become difficult). A ring of dry flour and salt remains. Cover the bowl with a dry towel and let it rest for 30 minutes,
Mix the remaining flour and salt with the wet stuff. When it becomes difficult to do it with a spoon, start doing it by hand. Make sure to cover your hands with flour all the time, to avoid sticky hands. Keep adding small bits of flour until it doesn’t stick anymore. You can then take the dough out of the bowl and kneed it further with a kind of push and pull movement. The dough needs to become more elastic.
2. Put a bit of flour in the bowl and put the dough in again. Cover it with a wet towel and place it in the warmest spot in the house to let it rise. When it is about 2 times its original size, you can take it out, kneed it again for about 5 minutes and put it in a greased cake tin. Cover it (yes, again, I told you this was the long version) with a thick towel covered with flour. It will rise a bit more.
3. Now you can preheat the oven to 225-250 degrees Celcius. When the dough bounces back when you gently poke it with your finger, it is finally ready to go into the oven  for 20-30 minutes. It’s ready when it looks good, when it sounds a bit hollow if you tap it with your knuckle or when a skewer comes out clean (not necessarily dry). Take it out of the tin and let it cool in a way the air can circulate around it (for example by putting it in the tin diagonally, like I did).

Yes, it’s quite a bit of work. It was the first time I made it, and it cost me a grand total of 3 hours. Most of it is waiting time, however, so you can do plenty of other stuff in the meantime. And it tastes GREAT, so it’s worth the effort. Because you make it yourself I think you appreciate it more as well. I think it’ll taste great with the strawberries I took home from the market, I’ll try it tomorrow. Great Lammas recipe, I can probably use this all week if it lasts! Yay 🙂