There is something soothing about following the flow of the seasons: planting in spring, growing in summer, harvesting in autumn and bedding down in the winter.
Nowadays, it can be too easy to ignore the seasons, aside from dressing for the weather. Electricity and long working hours can mean we miss the sunlight and passing of time. One day can flow into another until you find yourself wondering where the year has gone.
As winter slowly moves towards spring, looking back at historic February customs gives inspiration for connecting with the season.
Saxons referred to February as Sprout-Kale, as it’s the season of kale and cabbage, so if you’re into healthy eating, add it to the menu.
I only find kale tolerable when used as a butter-carrier, and even then it seems too much like bitter leather for me to eat it by choice. However, cabbage can be delicious, whether white cabbage in a coleslaw, bubble and squeak or minestrone; red cabbage slow-cooked in wine or pickled; or green cabbage with butter, parmesan or both.
If you’re less than kale-inclined, February was also referred to as month of cakes, so get baking instead.
Light Up Your Life
February 2nd is Candlemas Day, which marks the midpoint of winter and move towards spring. To celebrate, churches would light all their candles.
Candles can make a grey day seem less dreary (and lighting them was once thought to ward off illness and famine). Eating a bowl of soup and home baked bread by candlelight can bring warmth to the darkest day.
Snowdrops appear in February. Symbolising hope, some believe they were created when an angel turned snowflakes into the flowers, after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden, to show that winter would turn into spring. They are also seen as the first sign of spring by many, regardless of religion.
Enjoy a Feast
Shrove Tuesday is a time to feast before Lent. Falling on 28th February this year, celebrate with pancakes galore. I go for classic lemon and sugar, but other delicious options include:
- Orange and brandy sauce (flamed for Crepes Suzette).
- Gin, lime and sugar (or gin and elderflower cordial.)
- Raspberry coulis or jam.
- Grated or poached apple and toffee sauce.
- Dulce de Leche and banana
- Passion fruit, lime and sugar.
- Maple syrup and flaked almonds.
- Caramelised onions and mozarella.
- Spinach and parmesan.
- Sauteed leek and mushroom.
By embracing the delights of February, you can connect with the season – and get ready for the coming spring.