Posts Tagged ‘Candlemas’

Popovers and a Story for Groundhog Day

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The Problem web

We have made it to winter’s midpoint! Poised between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, February 2 is Candlemas. This ancient holiday celebrates the longer and brighter hours of daylight we now notice and enjoy.
Traditional foods for Candlemas usually contain grain of some sort, in celebration of the stirrings of crops deep beneath the still frozen ground. These foods are also often round and golden to mimic the sun.
Last night my family and I enjoyed a winter treat that nicely embodies those criteria—popovers. SOMEWHERE I have my grandmother’s recipe for cheese popovers; I recall that she gently folded 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese into her popovers. We had these at Christmas, and they were lovely.
I couldn’t find that recipe this week so instead I used the basic popover formula shared by most cookbooks I have on my shelf, a proportion of 1 cup of of milk and 1 of flour to 2 eggs.
Instead of folding the cheese in, I tried sprinkling a bit of cheddar on top of the popover batter. Alas, it fell in a bit, making little holes in most of my popovers. They were still awfully tasty, however, so I wasn’t upset.
The recipe appears below. Before we get to it, however, here is a story that celebrates another name for February 2, Groundhog Day. As you know, on this day the groundhog is alleged to wake up from hibernation and peer out of its den to look for its shadow.
If the shadow is visible (that is, if the day is sunny), winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring will come early.
Where I live in Massachusetts we are ALWAYS guaranteed another six weeks of winter (at least!) on February 2. The holiday retains its appeal, however, and my nephew Michael certainly enjoyed writing about it.
He also enjoyed eating the popovers.
by Michael Weisblat
This is a story of how two groundhogs get mad at each other, fight each other, and fix their problem.
One day in a hole two groundhogs are so peaceful and happy. Their names are Michael and Collin.
Collin said, “It’s almost Groundhog Day. Who will go up?”
Michael answered, “Me. I want to go up!”
Collin said, “No, I want to go up!”
They both started to argue about who would go first. Then Michael had an idea. “Let’s make the hole of our house wider. Then we could pop out at the same time.”
So that’s what they did. They lived happily ever after.
P.S. They did not see their shadow.
Whether or not you see your shadow today, I hope you enjoy this recipe. Happy Groundhog Day (and Candlemas)………
Cheese Popovers
1 cup milk at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (use a little more if you wish, but don’t overdo!)
In a bowl vigorously whisk together the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. If you wish to add the cheese now, do so gently. Let the mixture sit for 1/2 hour.
While the batter is resting preheat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly butter the insides of 9 muffin tins. When the oven has preheated place the tins on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for a minute or two to preheat.
Take the sheet out and quickly fill the muffin tins with the batter. If you have not yet added the cheese, put a small amount in the center of each muffin tin. If you are using a set of 12 muffin tins, be sure to pour a little water in the empty tins to keep them from burning.
Put the filled muffin tins back in the oven and bake the popovers for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake the popovers until they are brown and firm and nicely puffed up—15 to 20 minutes.
Do NOT open the oven door to look at the popovers until 15 minutes have passed—unless of course you smell something burning horribly! (This should NOT happen unless your oven thermostat is way off.) If you do, your popovers won’t pop over.
Remove the popovers from the oven and serve immediately. Makes 9 popovers.
Cheesy Popovers

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Biscuits for Candlemas

Monday, February 2nd, 2009



I celebrated Candlemas for the first time in graduate school. Teri Tynes was a creative force both in my American studies program and in our apartment complex, the Casa del Rio. One February 2 she brought a group into her ground-floor apartment. We sat in a circle on the floor, lit candles from a central flame, and shared our creative dreams. It was a night of bonding, of mystery, and of humor–in short, of illumination in many senses of the word.


Also known as Groundhog Day, Imbolc, and Brigid’s Day, Candlemas is poised between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. It marks the midpoint of our coldest season. Candlemas is an old pagan holiday and an agricultural one as well, a time at which we can at least imagine we sense stirrings of life in the cold ground. Even when snow banks dominate the landscape it’s comforting to observe that the sun is rising a little earlier and a little higher than it did in January. As the sun starts to come back, I always find myself a little more alert and a little more creative. And I find it easier to laugh at life’s small mishaps.


Traditional Candlemas foods are grain based in keeping with the day’s association with agriculture. They are often round and golden as well to evoke the sun; pancakes and crepes are popular edibles for this holiday. I’m following this tradition by making biscuits, a welcome treat at any time of year.


The recipe below comes from The Virginia Hospitality Cookbook. Put out by the Junior League of Hampton Roads, Virginia, this book is a goldmine of traditional regional recipes like Brunswick stew and crab cakes. The biscuits are also pretty darn terrific.


If you’d like to see what my talented friend Teri is up to now, visit her blog, Walking Off the Big Apple. She uses her fertile imagination and her historical knowledge to give her readers a new perspective on New York City. 

Happy Candlemas! Light a candle and get your creative (and of course culinary) juices flowing…….. 


Teri Tynes

Teri Tynes


Virginia Hospitality Country Biscuits




2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg in a measuring cup with enough milk to equal 2/3 cup liquid, lightly beaten




Preheat the oven to 450.


In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or knives, cut in the shortening until you have small crumbs.


Stir in the egg and milk until there are no dry particles. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently knead it for a moment or two until the dough holds together. Do not over handle the dough. Roll the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 12 biscuits (you may get 11 or 13!). Bake the biscuits for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are light brown. Makes about 1 dozen biscuits.


"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."

"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."