Feed the Body, Feed the Soul: Feast of Beltane in the Bay Area
April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
By Del Lavely
The wheel of the year has circled back around, and many people are planning their celebrations for the return of the light half of the year, commonly referred to as Beltane. There are many different articles that talk about Beltane celebrations, but what I’d like to focus on today is the meal – and specifically, what’s available this time of year to celebrate the season.
We’re very blessed in the Bay Area to have mild weather, a long growing season and a thriving agriculture system. As the weather warms up and we start looking in to the light half of the year, there are many choices about what to serve that can offer up the best the season has to offer, allowing us to take the spirit of the season in to our circles, and in to our bodies, feeding both.
April and May are the time of year when we start to see much more variety in the seasonal produce available. A quick trip to your nearest farmers market will show a virtual cornucopia of ripe, juicy strawberries, crisp asparagus, sweet snap peas, meaty mushrooms, buttery fava beans, tender artichokes, and so much more.
With so many choices, it’s easy to make a simple dish to bring to your next celebration that will please many, and offer up the best of the season to feed our minds and bodies. Here are some simple and easy suggestions:
- Serve fresh (or blanched) Snap Peas and Asparagus with a creamy dip (such as Ranch)
- Quarter, remove choke, and Blanch Fresh Artichokes. Serve with melted butter or Mayo (homemade mayo truly sings with artichokes – recipe to follow)
- Toss Fava bean pods in Olive Oil and Kosher Salt. Grill or Broil, eat whole – preferably with fingers.
- Sauté sliced mushrooms with butter and kosher salt, top with sliced green garlic and serve with a crusty bread for dipping
- Macerate Strawberries (recipe to follow) and serve on top of pound cake, meringues, short cakes, or sweet biscuits. Top with whipped cream (if desired)
- Blend up a batch of Strawberry Lemonade for a Non-Alcoholic alternative to Ritual Wine (recipe to follow)
Eating Seasonally doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. For me, a large part of my practice is tied up in my beliefs about food. What we eat contributes to our health, mood, and well being. Food connects us all together, and connects us to the land around us. When we eat food that was grown in the soil and season we are celebrating, we take in all that it has to offer. So in addition to lighting a Sacred Beltane Fire, dancing the Maypole, and other celebrations, I will be taking communion with this time, this Spring and this space. I will feast with Spring Rain and Sun, the awakened earth, the fresh coastal breeze. I will take all the fertile magic of the season and feed my body and soul on the best and freshest the season has to offer.
Homemade Olive Oil and Lemon Mayonnaise
- 2 Egg Yolks*
- 1 tbs Lemon Juice
- ¾ Cup Safflower Oil
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks, Lemon Juice, and Kosher Salt until smooth.
- Starting a drop or two at a time, and working up to a slow and steady drizzle, whisk in the safflower oil. (This can be done in a stand mixer or blender for ease of incorporation – if working by hand, just go slow and steady or grab a helper to pour the oil while you whisk)
- Once all the safflower oil has been combined, you should have a thick and creamy sauce. Start whisking in the olive oil. If using a Stand Mixer or blender, remove at this time – mechanical processing of olive oil can cause bitter flavors to develop.
- Once all the olive oil has been incorporated, transfer to a jar, and allow to sit, covered on the counter for 2-4 hours, then refrigerate.
- Keeps for about a week.
*notes: Due to concerns about the safety of eating raw eggs, I recommend buying eggs locally from a small farm that you trust – all the time if you can, but specifically in cases like this where the eggs are technically uncooked. The lemon juice will provide some “cooking” like denaturing, but if you have any concerns, use caution or consider pasteurized eggs. When choosing an olive oil for this, I recommend using a high quality olive oil that you enjoy, the better the quality, the better your mayonnaise will taste.
- 4 cups hulled and sliced Strawberries
- ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar or Lemon Juice (or to Taste)
- ½ cup Sugar (or to taste)
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- Gently toss all ingredients together in a large bowl
- Cover and Chill for four hours, or overnight
- Keeps for approximately 3-4 days
- 2 Cups Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 4 Cups Water
- 6 oz Strawberries, stems removed
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- In a blender, puree Strawberries until Smooth, scraping sides if neccessary
- Add Lemon Juice, Sugar and Salt to the Strawberry Puree and blend until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Pour in to a Pitcher, and add Water and Vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Chill until ready to serve