The clean shaven St. Michael
The scruffy St. Michael
the most often mentioned archangel in the Bible.
Catholics have made Michael the patron saint
of a rather incongruous group consisting of artists, bakers, gravediggers,
grocers, milliners, mountaineers, paramedics, paratroopers, police
officers, radiologists, sailors, and soldiers.
in Hebrew, Michael means who is like unto God.
warrior image comes
from the book of the Apocalypse (Revelations) in which Michael
leads God's faithful angels against Satan and his rebellious angels in
the battle of Heaven.
art,. Michael is often pictured with a sword in his hand. Occasionally,
the winged Michael is also represented on horseback in full battle gear.
The incongruousness of a winged angel on horseback has apparently never
bothered too many artists. Even more incongruous was John Travolta
playing a somewhat scruffy Michael complete with feathered wings in the
1996 film Michael.
St. Michael's feastday is called Michaelmas in the United Kingdom where it
is still a popular celebration It was also one of the English, Welsh and Irish quarter days when
accounts had to be settled. In English manors, it was the day when a reeve
(an official elected annually by the peasants to supervise lands for a
lord) was elected. Traditional meals for the day include Michaelmas goose, a scone-like bread called a St Michael's bannock,
According to an old legend,
blackberries should not be picked after this
date. This is because, so folklore goes, Satan
was banished from heaven on this day and fell into a
blackberry bush. Satan then cursed the
brambles as he fell into them.
This is the basis for celebrating
Michaelmas with blackberry pie
There is a lovely old English tradition that one celebrates
Michaelmas by sleeping as late as one wants.
Here is an eighteenth-century verse
commenting on this tradition:
Custom requires seven;
Laziness takes nine,
traditional Michaelmas food in England is roast goose with sage and onion
dressing. This dish has almost the popular traditional role as roast
turkey on Thanksgiving in the United States. The tradition goes back to
Queen Elizabeth I who was eating roast goose when she received news
that England had won a major victory over the Spanish Armada. To celebrate
this victory she ordered that Michaelmas Day always be celebrated with
roast goose, which coincidentally was her favorite dish. The traditional
Michaelmas goose is always roasted with sage and onion stuffing because
this traditional English stuffing was also the Queen's favorite.
There is also a traditional English
called Angels on Horseback which, although not traditional for
Michaelmas Day, celebrates the symbolic inconsistency of the popular image
of St. Michael. These
were a popular dish with the
early colonists and have been adapted to various regional variations. In
Spanish California they are called ostras angeles. Another
variation called Angelenos includes wrapping the oyster with an
anchovy fillet before the final wrapping with bacon. All of these treats
are enhanced with a viewing of
Michael (996) with John
Travolta as a scruffy version of the achangel
with Sage Stuffing)
|1 11 to 13-pound
goose, fat removed from cavity
1 lemon, halved
6 cloves garlic, minced
Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1&1/2 TB rubbed or ground dried sage
|2 TB dried sage
3 TB grated orange zest
2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 14-oz bag cubed
herbed stuffing mix
1 cup chicken stock
- Boil onions until tender crisp
(about 5 minutes). Drain and chop roughly.
- Peal. core, and chop apples into
approximately 1" pieces. Mix with stuffing mix, salt, pepper, zest
and sage. Add stock and mix well. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450° F.
- Rub goose
inside and out with halved lemons. Season goose inside and out with
salt and pepper. Fill main cavity and neck cavity loosely with
stuffing. Place any remaining stuffing in small buttered baking dish
- Wrap goose in cheesecloth.
- Place goose on rack set into large
roasting pan. Roast goose 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F. Continue
roasting until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part to thigh
registers 180°F., basting every 20 minutes with pan juices, about 1
hour 20 minutes. (Place stuffing in covered baking dish in oven
during last 40 minutes.) Remove cheesecloth. Allow to cool for
20 minutes before removing dressing and carving
Angels on Horseback
|1/2 cup fresh
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 TB butter
1 dozen fresh
|1 dozen bacon
4 TB breadcrumbs
toast, crusts removed and quartered
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Brown breadcrumbs in butter. Set
- Combine lemon juice and garlic
powder in a bowl. Add shucked oysters for and marinate for 1/2
- Remove oysters from marinade.
- Preheat oven on to broil.
- Wrap each oyster with a strip of
bacon. Skewer with a toothpick.
- Broil wrapped oysters until bacon
crisps, turning once.
- After broiling, roll wrapped oysters
in browned breadcrumbs and serve on toast squares.
(St. Michael's Bannock)
There are many recipes on bannock including different grain types,
depending on the availability of various grains and flours, and the
times during the year that the bannock loaves were cooked and for what
purposes they were made. In Ireland, the bannock is typically made
from a wheat flour. Barley flours were used extensively in Wales. The
Welsh version of St. Michael's bannock is called Struan Micheil.
Folk tradition has it that the baker imbues each loaf with a
blessing during every stage of the bannock: mixing the ingredients,
kneading the dough, leaving it to proof, baking the bread, and a
special blessing if it was a gift. It was traditional to bless each
bannock as it is removed from the oven
1 cup barley flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1 cup white raisins
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 TB baking powder
2 TB baking soda
1 TB sea salt
1 TB allspice
1 TB cinnamon
1 TB cloves
1 TB nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375º F
- In a large bowl, sift both flours
together. Add salt, baking powder and soda to sifted flours. Resist
flour mixture. Add the spices and sift again.
- Add oats, sugar, and raisins to floor
mixture. Slowly add the buttermilk and mix by hand until mixture forms
- Next, turn the dough out onto a
well-floured board. Knead, turn about 50 or 60 times.
and re-flour as needed. Shape into a round flat cake about 1&1/2
inch thick. Score top of loaf with a cross.
- Bake as for 25 minutes.
Michaelmas Blackberry Pie
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
4 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 TB grated orange zest
2 TB milk
1/4 cup white sugar
- Preheat oven to 425 º F
- Beat egg with 1 TB water. Brush bottom
of unbaked pie crust with egg/water mixture. Bake for 8 minutes to
help seal bottom from getting soggy from berry juice.
- Combine 3 1/2 cups berries with the
sugar, zest and flour. Spoon the mixture into partially baked pie
- Spread the remaining 1/2 cup berries
on top of the sweetened berries, and cover with the top crust or or
the traditional heart shaped crust pieces. Seal and crimp the edges if
using full crust. Brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle with
1/4 cup sugar.
- Bake at 425 º F for 15 minutes. Reduce
the temperature of the oven to 375º F and bake for an additional 20 to
25 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and filling is hot and