Time to celebrate the dawning of the Age of Ophiuchus | WHIDBEY RECIPES

How can they do this to us? We go all our lives believing we’re born under an astrological sign that partially determines our personality traits, influences major events in our lives, even tells us who would be the best type of person to marry. Not that many of us paid that much attention to the advice, but nevertheless, now we find out it was all a big mistake.

How can they do this to us?

We go all our lives believing we’re born under an astrological sign that partially determines our personality traits, influences major events in our lives, even tells us who would be the best type of person to marry. Not that many of us paid that much attention to the advice, but nevertheless, now we find out it was all a big mistake.

At least, that’s what a group of astronomers at the Minneapolis Planetarium Society recently revealed, causing a great to-do in astrological circles.

No matter whether you had any trust or belief in the practice of astrological “readings” and forecasts, virtually everyone at least knew their own sign. “What’s your sign,” became, as you know, a ubiquitous pick-up line, with many a joke response, but now it appears the joke was on all of us.

I, for one, was a Capricorn, sign of the Goat; “stable, hard-working, practical, ambitious, methodical, prudent, disciplined, plodding, determined to succeed at something, with a high work ethic and inward warmth and sympathy.” Yep, that’s me all right; well, perhaps not so much with the discipline part, and maybe not too methodical, possibly a bit short in the practical and prudent department, but pretty accurate otherwise.

The problem is, my younger sister is also technically a Capricorn; in fact, we’ve often joked about how meaningless astrological signs can be when two people as different in almost all aspects of personality as we are can have the same sign. Yes, I know that for true believers in astrology, there’s a lot more to it than I’ve indicated here, and I admit my ignorance of the nuances of planetary influences.

Well, if those Minneapolis astronomers are correct, it turns out we’re both Sagittarians, not Capricorns at all. Does this mean,

I wonder, that we have to change our personalities, learn to be more capricious, creative, clever, independent, extroverted (perhaps even “pushy”), carefree (even a bit careless), reluctant to engage in long-term commitment, philosophical, charming, curious, clear-thinking and lucky? I don’t think so, although I wouldn’t mind the lucky part; I’ve never won anything in my life.

As for those who were, but no longer are Sagittarians, they’re in for the rudest shock of all.

According to the rearranged zodiacal calendar, there are now 13 signs, not 12.

The new sign, which actually dates back centuries but is new to us, is Ophiuchus, covering those born from Nov. 29 to Dec. 17, which used to be where Sagittarius fell. And I refer to that as a rude shock because my husband, John, who has feared and abhorred snakes all of his life and who was a Sagittarius, is now Ophiuchus.

Ophiuchus, the SNAKE HOLDER!

RECIPES

I’m sure it’s obvious to readers that we’re not believers in the art/science of astrology, but many thousands are, and I doubt we’ve heard the end of this shakeup in the world of planetary influences. There are so many references throughout our culture to the signs of the zodiac, including in the food world.

Curious, adventurous Sagittarians, for example, supposedly are willing to try almost any food, but especially foods both salty and spicy, followed by something creamy, rich and smooth. I’ve not yet learned what the Snake Holder prefers, but for my ex-Sagittarian husband, here are two I know he likes.

PASTA PUTTANESCA

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped (I use 6 and sometimes 8)

1 flat tin anchovy fillets, drained

½ t. red pepper flakes (or to taste; more if you like it hot)

15-20 oil cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

3 T. capers (chop a bit, if you prefer)

1 can (32 oz.) chunky crushed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked to al dente

Parmesano Reggiano or Romano, grated

Heat a large skillet over med. heat; add olive oil, chopped garlic and anchovies. Cook, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve and melt into the juices and the garlic is tender, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add capers, tomatoes and pepper; simmer 8-10 min., until sauce is thick and bubbly. Toss sauce with the cooked spaghetti, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately, with grated cheese on the side to be sprinkled on top. Serve with crunchy bread to sop up the juices and a crisp green salad. Serves 4.

And for that sweet, creamy, silky dessert to follow?

COCONUT PANNA COTTA

1/3 cup sugar

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

½ cup flaked coconut, toasted

½ cup caramel sauce (recipe follows), or purchased caramel flavored ice-cream, or purchased (I recommend Mrs. Richardson’s) caramel/butterscotch sauce

In a saucepan, stir together sugar and gelatin. Add whipping cream; heat and stir over med. heat until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut milk. Pour mixture into six

9 oz. paper drink cups. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hrs., until well set.

For each custard, run a small knife around the edge to loosen and cut down the side of each paper cup with scissors. Peel cup away from the custard just enough so it easily inverts onto a dessert plate. Top custards with the flaked coconut. If desired, you can also top the flaked coconut with large, toasted coconut shreds. Drizzle custard with caramel sauce. Serves 6.

CARAMEL SAUCE

In a heavy saucepan, stir together ¾ cup packed brown sugar, ½ cup whipping cream,

½ cup butter and 2 T. light corn syrup. Bring to boiling over med.-high heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to med., and boil gently, uncovered, for 3 min. Stir in 1 t. vanilla. Let cool for

15 min. before serving. (Can be covered and kept chilled for up to two weeks; let

stand at room temp. for

1 hr. before serving.) Makes about 1½ cups.

Both of my parents were Libras, and as they’ve now gone on to other places in this universe, they won’t have to worry about the zodiacal changes.

Libras, I’m told, love food of almost kind and have a sweet tooth (true of mom and dad,) especially for things made with peaches (the fruit of love) and blueberries, which generate peace and calm. My mom made an outstanding peach pie, one of dad’s favorites; I later found this easier, quicker version, perfect for two.

MINI BLUEBERRY PEACH COBBLER

2 sheets filo (aka fillo/phyllo) dough, broken into pieces (not too small)

1 peach, peeled and sliced

1 cup fresh blueberries

½ t. cinnamon

2 t. sugar (white or brown; I prefer brown)

Canola spray

Spray a small casserole, or two small baking dishes with Canola spray. Place peach slices and blueberries in bottom. Sprinkle with 1 t. of the sugar. Cover with half of the filo dough pieces; spritz with Canola spray then cover with remaining dough pieces. Spritz dough again and sprinkle top with remaining sugar and cinnamon. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 20 min.

Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes, then serve topped with ice cream of choice or low-fat vanilla yogurt.

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