Some of you will know this already, but modern earth-centered paganism is just that. Earth centered. Many pagans are very eco-conscious, very friendly to the causes of combating climate change, organic food and reducing carbon footprints.
Ostara falls each year on the spring equinox (which is March 20-22 in the northern hemisphere). It is a celebration of the return of longer days, greener fields and the fertility of animals (thus the egg and rabbit motifs).
With the eco-conscious nature of paganism and the season in mind I was really disappointed by the results of my Google search for Ostara recipes. This time of year here in the northern hemisphere the foods in season are pretty slim pickin'. Veggies are limited to sprouts and leafy varieties. Early lettuces, asparagus, spinach. Fruits are even more limited. Strawberries may barely be turning red if you started them early and rhubarb, which is not really a fruit but can be used as one, may be available. Well-kept apples, onions, garlic and winter squash may still be available (though anything you buy in the store is probably not well kept from last fall but flown in from warmer climes), but for the most part, that's it. The foods that ARE plentiful are ones that are available year round to agricultural people. Meat, eggs (if chickens have resumed laying enough to keep you in eggs, or if you have cold-hardy varieties of chickens which lay through the winter) and milk.
So then why, if pagans are trying to be tuned into the earth and watch their footprint's size, are all the recipes I'm finding calling for berries, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and all manner of other high-summer plant foods?
I posit that we have lost our way a little bit here. Even we who wish with all our hearts to steward for our Mother Earth have lost sight of what She offers us in the way of food this time of year. We have been blinded by the ever-bounty of the grocery store and have forgotten where our food is coming from. If you're eating green beans in March they have traveled a long way to make it to your plate, leaving a trail of fossil-fuel exhaust the whole way.
I'm not saying at all that having a bountiful choice of food year-round is a bad thing, but at least on our holy days, should we not keep our region's seasonal choices in mind? Even if you can't get locally grown food this time of year, shouldn't we try to at least eat as in-season as possible?
In the spirit of honoring Earth's stately pace through the cosmos, I offer these in-season Ostara recipes.
Simple Green Salad
1 head early lettuce variety (butter lettuce, baby lettuces of all kinds)
1 bunch spinach/baby spinach
1/2 onion, sliced, rings separated
Chop or tear lettuce and spinach to bite-sized pieces and toss with onion rings. Top with a simple vinegrette dressing of 2 parts your favorite vinegar to 1 part extra virgin olive oil plus minced garlic, salt and cracked pepper to taste.
Apple and Dried Cranberry Chicken Salad
1lb chicken parts (I usually use breasts), cooked and chopped into small pieces
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped (leave the skin on, it's super good for you!)
1/3 cup mayo
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 c. dried cranberries
Combine all ingredients and serve on freshly baked bread
6 eggs, boiled
2-3 T. mayo
1 t. mustard (yellow gives a nice zip but you can use any variety. Whole grain is especially nice)
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika, for sprinkling
Slice eggs in half lengthwise and remove the yolk (which, by the way, is a single cell. There, you learned something). Combine yolks with mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Place into a plastic baggie with a hole cut in the corner and pipe back into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika.
Garlic and Sage Rubbed Pork Chops with Onion and Apple Slaw
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tsp rubbed sage
2 cooking apples, sliced (since you're cooking them it is okay to peel these apples)
2 onions, halved and sliced
4 pork chops (whatever kind strikes your fancy)
Splash of apple cider or white vinegar
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the apples and onions, rub the rest on the pork chops. Brown pork chops in large, heavy skillet, add onions and apples, cover and cook until onions and apples are tender and the chops are just a tiny bit pink in the middle. Splash a little vinegar on to liven up the flavors.
See here for the recipe, I didn't concoct this myself at all and will not take credit for this recipe. I don't even suggest any variations (because it is freaking amazing) except to top it with fresh strawberries, which are closer to being in season than blueberries.
This is our menu for today. Enjoy the season, everyone, and happy Ostara!