August 1 is Lammas, Lughnasadh in old Irish, or first fruits day when the ancient people of Britain and France harvested the
first of their cereal crops: wheat, barley, oats, rye, and flax and celebrated their first harvest of the year. The sun is strong
this time of year. The summer days are warm and long with light that stretches well into the evenings but the wheel of the
year is turning, and though nature's energy now surges into the harvest tide, we look ahead knowing that this day marks the
beginning of the Sun's decent, the growing darkness of winter is coming. In Old English the word harvest, or hærfest, meant
‘autumn' or 'time of gathering' and this month our gardens yield a cornucopia of vegetables. Berry bushes are heavy with ripe
berries for this is the season of ripening and all of nature bursts with abundance.
Lammas is the first of three harvest festivals marking the midsummer point that is the beginning of the harvest season. The
wheel of the year turns, the seeds have spouted to grow and fruit, and we celebrate mindful that now is the time for
gratitude, as we celebrate not only abundance but transformation, rebirth, and the eternal turning of the wheel.
Lammas is also known as Loaf Mass Day as the liturgical year adapted to agrarian life recognizing the importance of giving
thanks for the seasonal abundance and all of the blessings in our lives. In the past when village life revolved around the
growing of the grain, this was the day the first sheaves of grain were brought in from the field and baked into the first loafs
from the new grain crop. These loaves were blessed, broken into quarters, and left to guard the grain that had been
gathered. Today we give thanks for the first grains as we honor the spirit of the field, the Grain gods and the Corn Mother
being mindful that this is a time of death and rebirth as the cycle of the harvest comes full circle.
|Cross-quarter day, Earth and Fire festival
“It was upon a Lammas Night
When corn rigs are bonny,
Beneath the Moon's unclouded light,
I held awhile to Annie...”
- Robert Burns
Basic Bread Recipe
You will need:
1 1/4 cup warm water
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
(or 1 packet if you bought it
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons of warm milk
The Lammas Loaf
The art of baking is as old as the first civilizations. Through the ages, food has played an pivotal role in
celebrations honoring the harvest and the changing seasons. Days of baking herald all the ancient feasts.
Celebration breads were skillfully made and ornately decorated. This year spend some time engaging in this time
honored practice. Every time an art is learned and practiced, such as bread making, it is inherited and infused with
new life. Through this ancient art one can reconnect to history and tune into the changing seasons. Acknowledging
the seasons is a simple way to harmonize with the world and to recognize that we are a part of it.
In many traditions a loaf of special bread is baked on this day. Engage in the tradition by making a Lammas Loaf.
It can be as simple or as extravagant as you wish it to be. Some bakers craft loafs in the image of a wheat sheaf,
some in the shape of a man or a sun wheel to symbolize the god of the harvest. Be mindful as you work the dough.
Remember intention is everything. Hold the image of the grain as a plant growing in the field. As you shape the
dough you can say something like, 'From the fields to the table, as the Wheel turns, the Earth Mother grants the
grain while the horned God lies down to be born again.' Though the fields die, the spirit of the grain god lives on
through us in the eating of the bread. Choose a recipe and update it or adapt it by including local ingredients and
let your spirit lift with joy and thankfulness for the bounty of the seasons. Give thanks for the abundance in your
life by giving a loaf of fresh bread to a friend along with the recipe and pass along a linage that weaves back to the
beginning of time.
Directions: Lightly grease a 2 pound bread pan. Set aside. In a small bowl add 1/2 cup
water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and whisk. Set aside to proof. (10 minutes)
Add flour, incorporating from the edge of the bowl. Then leave in a warm place to sponge.
This will take 20 minutes as batter becomes filled with bubbles indicating the yeast is
active. Return to mixing adding more flour from the outer edge of the bowl until mixture
has become a firm dough.
Place on lightly floured work surface and knead. Dough will become smooth and elastic
Place dough in oiled bowl. Allow to rise until dough has doubled (about 2 hours).
Punch down dough and turn onto floured surface. Roll ends under to form a loaf shape.
Put dough in bread pan and cover. Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
Slice top of loaf down center. Let sit for ten minutes while oven preheats. Bake 450 for 15
minutes. Turn oven down to 400 and bake for 25 more minutes. Turn onto a rack to cool.
Tips for working with yeast
Yeast needs warmth to rise. The ideal
temperature for yeast to proof is for the water or
milk to be between 100 to 105 degrees
Fahrenheit. Any hotter and you might kill the
Some recipes all for the yeast to proof before
adding to flour. This means stirring yeast into
1/4 cup of warm water and allowing it to set for
10 minutes or so, for it to become active or froth
as it develops bubbles. This is a good test it you
haven't used your yeast for a while and you
suspect it may be too old.
Tips for working dough
When working with dough you must add water
until the right texture is reached. The amount of
water needed to reach the ideal consistency is
always an unknown because it is the flour that
determines how much water is needed. Every
variable such as the type of flour, where the flour
was grown and even the weather conditions
during its development can contribute to the
flour's ability to hold water. If dough is too dry to
mix, slowly add water until desired texture has
been reached. If dough is too wet, add flour while
kneading until dough is firm, smooth and elastic.
Wheat brims with earth energy. It symbolizes the Goddess, rebirth, and renewal and holds energy for: abundance,
beginnings, fertility, protection, and wealth. Yeast has holds energy for activating. When we combine the two and
infuse it with our intent through mindfully working the dough we create a magickal loaf to nurture body and our
Directions: Preheat oven to 425. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large
mixing bowl. Transfer to a food processor. Cut butter into pats and add to flour, then pulse
5 or 6 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (You can also cut butter into flour
using a pastry cutter.) Return dough to bowl, add milk and stir with a fork until it forms a
rough ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and press into a rough rectangle,
about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently pat it down again. Repeat. Cover the dough
loosely with a oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Gently pat out the
dough once more, so that the rectangle is roughly 10 inches by 6 inches. Cut dough into
biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps
the edges of the biscuit and impedes its rise.
Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to15
You will need:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted
1 cup whole milk
Best Ever Rich and Flaky Biscuits
If bread making isn't your thing, this recipe uses baking powder instead of yeast to produce a perfectly light and
unbelievably flaky biscuit with layers that are moist, rich, and tender.
You will need:
2 pie crusts
5 cups blackberries, rinsed and picked clean
1 cup sugar
(or more depending on how sweet your berries are)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 Tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca
Directions: Mix sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, almond
extract, and tapioca in a large bowl. Gently fold in berries until
they are all well coated with sugar mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Spoon the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. Cut second crust into
strips. Lay on top in a lattice pattern.
To avoid a burnt crust, bake the pie in two stages. First at 400°F
for 30 minutes. Then place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie to
protect the edges and tops from getting too burnt. Reduce the heat
to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until crust has
browned and filling is bubbly. Cool on wire rack. Consistency of pie
will get thicker as it cools.
It's Berry Picking Season
If you live in an area where berries are abundant pack up the family and head to a U-pick farm or if forest hikes are more
your thing, pack a nature guide and go foraging for wild berries. Here in the Pacific Northwest you will find: blackberries,
blueberries, boysenberry, loganberries, Marion berries, raspberries, and strawberries ripe and ready for the picking. Berries
represent an abundant harvest and are traditionally baked into pies to celebrate the first harvest festivals.
I have a resident blackberry bush that is both a blessing and a curse as it is an invasive thorny bramble that grows like a
weed and throughout the early spring and summer I have to dig out shoots every weekend to keep it contained. On the
upside it yields a bounty of small soft tart berries that are a delight to use in baked goods, jams, and wines. Blackberries
carry energy for: abundance, healing, and protection.
The Family Vegetable Garden
My family has always tended a garden. Growing up my mother kept flower beds while my father persistently filled the backyard
with herb and vegetable plots. Every spring he would study garden guides and experiment with something new. I remember
one year it was jicama, another it was luffa gourds but no matter what he concentrated his efforts on, every August we always
had a surplus of zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers that would be worked into our every meal until we were forced to come up
with variations to keep from getting sick of the unending supply. As a result I came to love zucchini breads and squash
pancakes, hot fresh salsas served with stuffed peppers, caprese salads and rich tomato sauces.
I still keep a garden. My life simply would not be complete without my vegetable bed, my raised pumpkin plot, or my slew of
herbs. During the growing season, not a day goes by that I do not visit it, checking its progress, monitoring its health. Like my
father I always plant a good amount of tomatoes, squash, and peppers, although I also put in a yearly pumpkin patch, and
like him I also in veritably find something new to experiment with. Last year it was kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. This year, it
was beets and Swiss chard.
You will need:
4 or more zucchini
salt and pepper
Directions: wash zucchini and slice into boats. Arrange
on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Top
generously with shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle with
thyme and salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 400.
Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly caramelized.
Fresh Garden Salsa
You will need:
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1/3 cup minced cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
lime juice to taste
1 jalapeno or Serrono pepper
seeded and chopped
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Directions: Put onion garlic and pepper into a food
processor and pulse until the mixture is the texture you
prefer. Add tomatoes, herbs and spices and pulse once