Excerpted with permission from "Recipes From a Vegetarian Goddess: Delectable Feasts Through the Seasons" by Karri Allrich, c2000 Llewellyn Publications.

In approaching the four seasons as aspects of the Goddess, we end (and begin) our circle with midwinter, the solstice, when she emerges as the virgin, complete unto herself, the original meaning of the word virgin. We celebrate the birth of the divine child, and hope returns with the lengthening rays of the sun. By February the virgin becomes the bride, anticipating the arrival of her beloved, the Sun God.

In winter the Goddess stands in the north, dressed in white. Her element is the earth. We gravitate towards warming, grounding, earthy foods and spices. It is a time to look inward, find stillness, and surrender to the Goddess' wisdom.

Mulled Wine
A Yule tradition to warm up the festivities and brighten spirits!

1 bottle red wine, Burgundy or cabernet
1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup apple brandy
½ cup sugar
1 red apple, washed
1 orange, washed, sliced into rounds
4 cinnamon sticks

Gently combine wine, orange juice, brandy, and sugar in a large sauce pan and heat over low-medium heat. Stud the washed apple with cloves and float it in the mulled wine mixture, along with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Keep at a low simmer for 15 minutes. Serve from a warm slow cooker or crock, if you have one, or heatproof serving bowl. Let the merrymaking begin!

Linguini with White Vegetables and Pine Nuts
In honor of Brigid, a delectable recipe created in white on white. Snowy cauliflower and sweet cabbage are accented with the crunch of pine nuts on creamy white pasta. Wonderfully delicious.

1 pound Italian linguini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
½ head cauliflower, cored, chopped into small pieces
½ head white cabbage, cored, thinly shredded
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup pine nuts
Sea salt
White pepper, freshly ground
¼ teaspoon fennel seed
Juice of ½ lemon
3-4 tablespoons cream or soy cream
Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of fresh water to a rolling boil and cook the linguini till al dente. Warm up a large pasta serving bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, until soft. Add in the cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, ground pepper, and fennel. Squeeze on the lemon juice. Sauté until the vegetables are tender and the pine nuts are toasted. Stir in the cream.

When the pasta is al dente, drain and pour the linguini into the warmed pasta bowl, and drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta to moisten it. Immediately add your white vegetables/pine nuts mixture and stir well.

Serve at the table with a small bowl of freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish. Serves 4-5.

Midwinter Gingerbread
A Yuletide classic, this spicy-sweet bread is also wonderful sliced, toasted, and buttered for an afternoon tea, accompanied by a warm, cozy throw and a good book.

½ stick butter or solid margarine
½ cup molasses
1 large free-range egg
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup boiling water
½ cup orange marmalade or good apricot jam
½ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, gently melt the butter with the molasses and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg and brown sugar and beat well. Pour in the melted butter/molasses mixture and beat with an electric mixer to blend well. Then, by hand, stir in the flour, spices, and salt, just enough to blend.

Add the baking soda to the boiling water and stir well. Pour this soda water into the batter and gently mix. Add the marmalade and pecans, again, stirring just until mixed in.

Pour the gingerbread batter into a lightly greased 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch pan. Bake for about 30 minutes. The gingerbread is ready when a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Let the pan cool for 10 minutes, then insert a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread. Gently invert, placing it onto a plate.

Serve simply as squares dusted with powdered sugar or topped with a spoonful of fresh whipped cream. Serves 8.

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