Friend butterfly, friend butterfly, go fetch them one and all!
I’m waiting here to welcome every guest;
And tell them it is Michaelmas, and soon the leaves will fall,
But I think Autumn sunshine is the best!
— Cicely Mary Barker
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not…
— Revelation 12:7-8
Michaelmas, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, takes place each year on September 29th. Its close proximity to the equinox makes it an ideal time to celebrate the change of the seasons, and to prepare for the waning of daylight that happens as we turn away from the sun (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere). A celebration for the Archangel Michael, who symbolizes light and protection against evil, helps to prepare one to face not only the physical darkness of the fall and winter months, but also the metaphoric darkness that we face both in the world and in ourselves. With a young child involved it seemed best to keep the mood cheerful and light, and to keep the focus on the preparation of food and assembling of supplies. Zane and I spent our day gathering wild asters and getting ready to prepare our Michaelmas feast (see recipes below).
Traditionally a goose is eaten on Michaelmas, but I’m a vegetarian so I chose a slightly different menu and took a picture of some geese instead 🙂
Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
3 lbs. carrots, peeled and diced into small pieces (1/2″ or less)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil of some sort
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
3 cups vegetable broth, of vegetable bouillon cube in 3 cups water
1 can coconut milk (13 oz)
1 tbsp maple syrup
Cook carrots and onions in the oil, covered, until mostly softened. Add the spices and garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a low boil (last time I made this soup I forgot about this stage and it fully boiled for a minute or two and turned out ok). Next, you will puree the soup. She says do 1/2, I do the whole thing and I do it with an immersion blender. You can do whatever you like. Add the maple syrup (I also forgot this and, again, it was fine).
Saint Michael’s Bannock, adapted from several recipes
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 & 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white raisins
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375º F
In a large bowl, sift both flours together. Add salt, baking powder and soda to sifted flours. Add the spices and stir until mixed.
Add oats, sugar, and raisins to flour mixture. Slowly add the buttermilk and mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Pour into a greased bread pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.
Mixed Berry Crisp, adapted from a recipe by Williams-Sonoma
4 cups frozen mixed berries (including blackberries, which are a traditional Michaelmas food)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 stick butter or margarine, softened, cut into pieces
3/4 cup rolled oats
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Grease a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish with butter or margarine, or spray with vegetable cooking spray. Spread the berries evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the lemon juice. In a bowl, using a pastry blender or fork, mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, butter and rolled oats until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the berries. Bake until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve hot or warm, with ice cream or whipped cream!