Spring equinox egg salad made with yogurt & fennel. + Watercress & black bread.

Spring.

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Happy Spring Equinox! March 20th was the equinox. A time for new beginnings, putting the past and the dreamtime of winter behind you. It is time to birth those creations you have been hibernating with all winter. I am really trying to kick my arse and be productive about this things I THINK I want to do. I'm letting go, leaving all the grief and uncertainty and questions winter leaves us stagnated with. Spring truly is about new beginnings and branching out into a new life. You can feel the soil thawing out from under you, it is a mindset of accepting this new season. Spiritually and physically. For me, this spring does mark a significant period of change, even this website is one of my new beginnings. My herbalism course ended on Tuesday and we went out under the moon that evening to give thanks for our experiences and honor the coming of spring. I am so thankful for having the experience of this herbalism course and the teachings I have received. Not to mention all the beautiful people I got to study with, it truly has made my beginning months in Charlottesville much better. They are kindred spirits whom I will be sad not to meet with every Tuesday from here on out. Ty and I made a recent trip down to GA & NC to visit friends and family. Being in Athens really rejuvenated me and filled me up with all the love that is there; something I think I have been lacking a bit of up here this winter.

I do have exciting things to look forward to and have finally been able to make a decision, at least a small one. Not one so grand as "what in the stars will I do with my life?" One battle at a time right? Ty got an internship (that will lead to a job once he finishes grad school) in Denver, CO. I've decided to hold off on working here in Charlottesville, VA and move to Denver with him for the summer. I'm extremely excited, I've never been to Denver but have always held the idea of Colorado in a very special spot in my heart. I'll be doing some work there this summer but I cannot wait to get into those mountains! Spring really is for new beginnings and for me this spring it's Colorado and all the changes that will unfold because of it. I'm just afraid we won't ever come back! 

I've always had a weird love for egg salad. A lot of people hate it and its a shame! My Mom said that when she was pregnant with me that she had mad cravings for egg salad sandwiches with chocolate milk. I really like both of those things... but not together. Though it might be why I have a peculiarly strong appreciate and cravings for egg salad. This recipe actually does combine chocolate and egg salad but in a very delicious, balanced manner. I chose to eat egg salad today though because it is the spring equinox. Spring is for new beginnings and what food better represents new beginnings than eggs? 

This black bread was slightly adapted from the beloved smitten kitchen blog. I love pumpernickel bread and have made it several ways but I love Deb's version.

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Russian Black Bread (suped-up) Two loaves.

Active Dry Yeast - 1.5TB or 2 packages

Sugar - good pinch

Warm water - heated between 105 & 115 degrees to create the right yeast environment.

Coffee - 2 cups of fresh brewed strong coffee.

Molasses - 1/4cup

Apple cider vinegar - 1/4 cup

Butter - 4TB unsalted

Cocoa powder - 1.5TB (unsweet)

Whole wheat flour - 1/2 Cup

Dark rye flour - 3 Cups

Bread flour - 3 Cups (unbleached)

Wheat germ - 1 Cup

Caraway seeds - 3TB (some people grind these, I like the whole seed texture)

Fennel Seed - 2tsp (some people grind these, I like the whole seed texture)

Salt - 1tsp

In a small bowl combine the 1/2 Cup of warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Dissolve and let sit aside for about 10 minutes until it gets foamy. This provides a nice warm environment and food (sugar) for the yeast so it can activate and begin to breed, eventually making lovely air pockets inside your bread.

Make your coffee (I made a french press) and, if the coffee is still hot, add it in a bowl with the butter and stir until butter melts (if not then heat up on a stove with the coffee until melted). Then add in and combine the molasses, vinegar, and cocoa powder. Set aside. 

Combine all your flours together in a bowl and whisk until evenly distributed. 

In a bowl fitted with a dough hook add in 2 cups of the flour mixture, the wheat germ, all the seeds, and the coffee mixture. Let stir until almost combined on a low setting. Then add in the yeast mixture and stir until almost combine. Keep adding the rest of the flour about a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together. Increasing speed as needed. I had a scant 1/4 cup flour left which I reserved for later use. The dough should be tacky but firm. Sprinkle a counter with some of this flour and knead several minutes to help the gluten continue to develop. Form the dough into a round and place into a oiled bowl, flipping the dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Leave in a warm place covered with a cloth for 1.5-2 hours or until doubled in size. 

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Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Shape the two loaves into a desired shape. You can make a round, a loaf pan, or any shape you desire. I made two bâtard shapes which is basically shaping a round (a boule) but adding pressure while rolling towards the ends to elongate and taper off. I placed each loaf onto a lightly greased baking sheet. You could also try just baking them on bread or pizza stones if desired. Let sit and rise for 45 minutes or an hour. You want it almost doubled again. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I then brushed the tops of my loaves with olive oil and put the rest of the flour in a sieve and sprinkled to coat the tops of my bread. Then I took a bread knife and slashed the loaves with three angled lines. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes - 1 hours. It took me closer to an hour. The internal temperature should be around 200-210 degrees. The bread should be a dark color and a hollow thump when tapped on the bottom with a knuckle. 

*Nice thing about making two loaves? Stick one in the freezer for later. Having homemade bread twice with half the work!

Cool it and eat it! It is so good. Or make an egg salad sammie.

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Egg salad with yogurt, fennel, & watercress. (enough for 4 sammies)

8 eggs - Hard boiled, peeled, and chopped

Yogurt - 1/3 cup. Plain, whole milk.

Dijon mustard - Scant 2TB

Fennel - 1/4 a bulb finely diced

Celery - 1 stick, finely diced

Red onion - 1/4 an onion, finely diced

Dill - 1TB scant, dried.

Salt and Black pepper - to taste

Watercress - as a topping a small handful for each sandwich. 

Combine the yogurt, mustard, and dill together. Stir until well combined. Add the fennel, celery, red onion and stir to coat. Stir in egg and combine evenly. Taste and season with salt and pepper to desired taste. 

Assemble the sandwiches. Slice medium/thin slices of the black bread and toast. Lay down some watercress on one slice and then top with 1/4 of the egg salad mixture. Top with the other piece of bread. Enjoy! Mmmm egg salad, happy spring!

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