Aquarius, beginning January 20, is the second sign of the winter season and usually marks the coldest, most dreary time of the year, when we move into midwinter. This mid-point is called Imbolc, which translates to "in the belly," quite appropriate for the time of year when we can literally feel like being in the belly of darkness.
You can find out what's in store for you with a 30-day Astrology Forecast now, but one thing is for sure -- it's time to feast.
Another occurrence besides Imbolc at this time of year is Candlemass, and both have their roots in ancient time. Imbolc is a Celtic or Pagan day of rituals, of honoring the Goddess as the Bride awaiting the return of God, the Bridegroom, from the dark underworld on the Spring Equinox. Candlemass is the Catholic ritual celebrated the same day as Imbolc, quite possibly because of the deep popularity of Imbolc. Candlemass is celebrated 40 days after the birth of Jesus, which corresponds to the Jewish tradition of a woman returning to sanctuary for purification in the Mikvah after giving birth. The Catholic Church translated the Mikvah into the ritual of baptism. This could be seen as a representation of the waters borne by the Water-bearer.
A third tradition happens on the same day, Groundhog's Day, the day the world awaits its fate -- is spring right around the corner, or will we be cloaked in six more weeks of bitter cold? If the groundhog comes out of his burrow and it is dreary, the remaining six weeks of winter will be mild. But if it is sunny when the groundhog emerges, he will see his shadow and run back in for six more weeks of blustery weather. Another way that Imbolc and Candlemass were celebrated was by the blessing of and lighting of candles which were paraded through the streets in the representation of the bright sunny days to come. It may be that on the first Groundhog's Day, it was the light from all the candles that caused the groundhog to see his shadow!
We may be moving into the belly of darkness, but winter is also a time when we crave comfort foods to warm our bellies. Read on to find out which foods bring out the Aquarian in all of us, and get healthy, hearty recipes to celebrate the season!
Cayenne: This pepper is a wonderful spice for the Aquarius native and the circulatory system. It is one of the most powerful herbs on the planet and some consider it to be magical. Cayenne has properties that can help return elasticity to veins, arteries and capillaries, including the tiniest in extremities which will keep blood pumping to the tips of the fingers and toes throughout the later years of life. Aquarians should keep a stash of this potent spice close by in the kitchen for daily use! Recipe for Sizzling Shrimp »
Garlic: Not everyone has an affinity for garlic, but everyone should develop one, especially Aquarians. These smelly cloves can work wonders for the circulatory system. Often called the "stinking rose," garlic can rid arteries of clogs when small amounts are finely chopped and added raw to salads or veggies every day. Garlic was first cultivated in Ancient Egypt, where it was thought to have sacred properties, and who knows, it just may be a gift from the Gods for Aquarius and all other signs. Recipe for Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes »
Oranges: Oranges are extremely high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin A, all great for the circulatory system, and with compounds in the peels that can help reduce cholesterol levels possibly as efficiently as statins. These properties also build up the arteries and clear out plaque. Aquarians need to keep oranges on hand for a grab-and-go snack to give their circulation a big boost. Recipe for Spinach and Blood Orange Salad »
Salmon: The omega-3 fatty acids in this delicious fish will keep the blood circulation up to par for all signs, especially Aquarius. Salmon is also loaded with B vitamins, vitamin D, protein, selenium, and protein. While it is especially beneficial for the circulatory system, it is a food that supports several bodily systems, which compounds its value for Aquarius and most other signs! Recipe for Hoisin-Glazed Salmon »
This shrimp is similar to the shrimp a dear friend of mine made for me in Paris. This is my version. Cooking the shrimp in the shell actually adds so much flavor. Serve over rice and you have yourself a wonderful meal.
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 pounds U-15 shrimp, deveined, with shell
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Johnny Walker Red
1. Mix the paprikas, cayenne, and salt together in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, add the shrimp, garlic, and olive oil and mix until the shrimp are well coated. Cover the bowl and store in refrigerator for at least two hours.
2. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, and add the shrimp stirring constantly. Deglaze the pan with Johnny Walker Red and continue cooking until shrimp are firm, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Roasted Garlic, Maui Onion and Chive Mashed Potatoes
I love garlic in anything, but I especially enjoy it in these mashed potatoes. What's better on a cold winter's night than mashed potatoes?
2 large heads of garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, plus1 tablespoon
2 Maui onions, diced medium
1 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch chives, trimmed and cut chiffonade style
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Cut off the tops of the garlic and place the topless bulbs in a Pyrex pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cover with foil. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until garlic cloves are golden brown and start to pop out of the bulb. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle the garlic. Squeeze the garlic cloves out into a small mixing bowl. Mix the garlic together until it is smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.
2. Place the Yukon potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and drain the potatoes. Leave the potatoes in the pot and cover.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat and add Maui onions. Reduce the heat to medium and stir every few minutes until the onions turn a nice caramel color. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Melt the stick of butter with the half and half over medium-low heat until it comes to a low boil. Remove from heat. Pour the mixture in small batches over the potatoes and mash together with a potato masher. Continue until potatoes are mashed and fluffy. Add the roasted garlic and the onions. Mix together until smooth and return to stove over medium heat and continue stirring until the potatoes are hot. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the chives and serve.
Baby Spinach Salad with Blood Orange Segments, Caramelized Onions, Toasted Pecans, Feta Cheese, Crispy Pancetta, and Honey Orange Vinaigrette
These seasonal ingredients make for a wonderful winter salad on the side or as a meal.
4 ounces thick cut pancetta diced small
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, halved and sliced in half moons
4 blood oranges, 3 peeled, segmented and 1 juiced
2 tablespoons fine champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon shallots, minced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup olive oil
8 ounces baby spinach
4 tablespoons pecans, toasted and crumbled
4 ounces French feta cheese
1. Heat heavy bottomed pan over medium-high and add the pancetta and cook until crispy. Remove with a slated spoon to paper towel to remove excess fat. Place in a warm oven until served.
2. Heat the butter and olive oil. In a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high sauté the onions, reduce heat to simmer, and stir every few minutes until the onions are caramelized. Set aside.
3. Add the vinegar, orange juice, shallots, mustard, honey, and salt to the bowl of food processor, turn on the food processor, and add the olive oil in a slow steady stream until emulsified. Use a spatula to transfer the vinaigrette to storage bowl and refrigerate.
4. In a large mixing bowl toss together the baby spinach, caramelized onions, blood oranges and vinaigrette until lightly coated. Divide evenly among four plates and garnish with the pecans, feta, and pancetta. Serve.
This salmon goes great with the Garlic Mashed Potatoes or with the Blood Orange Salad.
4- 6 ounce pieces King Salmon
½ cup Hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
¼ teaspoon garlic chili sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1. Add all ingredients except the salmon to a large bowl and whisk together until smooth. Separate out half of the sauce into a small bowl and set aside. Add the salmon to the large bowl and coat each piece with sauce. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for two hours.
2. Heat the grill to medium-high heat for 5 minutes until the grill is very hot. Spray the grill with non-stick spray, place each piece of salmon on the grill skin side down, and grill for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until charred. Using a large spatula, carefully turn each piece over to the other side. Remove the salmon from the grill to a pan and brush with the remaining sauce. Cover the pan with foil and let sit for 5 minutes. Plate the salmon and serve immediately.