Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our Spring Equinox Feast

I was almost hesitant to plan a large Spring meal today.
Last year, we didn't do too much and the year before, we went all out celebrating the arrival of Spring.
And Spring is historically and physically associated with fertility.
It is the time of the year that new life is everywhere.
After our first, big Vernal Equinox celebration 2 years ago, I got pregnant with Charlie not long afterwards.
And BOY, was that a surprise!!

Seriously.

I didn't want to dare tempt the Universe with too much attention towards fertility at this very moment, but we were travelling home on Will's birthday, I was sick the following day, and so we never had our big meal and cake to celebrate his 32nd year of life.
So, I thought...well, what the heck?
Let's do it big...
but hopefully, all that fertility energy of spring will manifest itself in other ways in our life that need it.






The Menu:

Deviled Eggs
Honey Lime Couscous and Avocado Salad
Broiled Lamb Chops over Organic heirloom Lettuce w/ Sesame Mustard Sauce
Challah


The deviled eggs are easy to make and need little explanation in regards to their significance. An egg is the essence of fertility and life. In fact, dying and decorating eggs in most common thought to be an Easter tradition, but actually it originates in pagan celebrations on the Vernal Equinox...Ostara or Eostre (which is the original word origin for easter). 

This quick and easy appetizer or snack can be made in a variety of ways. I went with a more classic approach. I took the yolks from 6 boiled eggs (they didn't all make it to the final plate thanks to my helpers) and mixed them with a tablespoon or so of mayo, 2 teaspoons of prepared mustard, 2 pinches of dill weed (my special twist), salt/pepper to taste and then, filled the centers of the eggs. To serve, I sprinkled the tops with paprika. Tripp wanted his eggs plain as you can see in the pic above :)

The honey-lime couscous and avocado salad was meant to be this recipe with quinoa, but I didn't realize I was out of it, so I just made a pot of couscous instead. We pretended the couscous were tiny seeds and the presence of avocado is not only delicious, but also is an in-season food and adds a nice springy green coloring. This was YUMMY!

The lamb was my version of PF Chang's wok-seared lamb that they serve on a bed of iceberg lettuce. I broiled the lamb chops with a touch of sesame oil and salt & pepper. Then, I thinly sliced it and served it on top of some beautiful and tasty organic lettuce from Isis Gardens in Tupelo, MS at the North MS Green Festival that a friend and I attended. On top of the slices of lamb and lettuce, I drizzled the oh-so-delicious  sesame mustard sauce. 
If there were actual good sources for lamb around here, I would eat it (this) more often.
So.Good.

Oh, and let's not forget the symbolism...
Lamb is a traditional Ostara/Easter food and the gorgeous green of the lettuce adds fantastic color to remind us of the life returning back to mother earth as well as a tasty representation of her bounty.


And the Challah...Oh my favorite bread on this planet.
A few years ago, I made this for the first time and have been hunting down the recipe ever since. I can NOT find it anywhere on this wide world of webs! And, ya know, that particular challah could have been so good because we were using the fresh eggs from our chickens.
Nonetheless, today's loaf was perfection.
And guess what?!
I didn't bookmark the recipe.
And, now I can't find it anywhere including my history.
I think there is a conspiracy against me and challah.

Anyways, I think I remember everything, so here goes:

3/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
3 2/3 flour
1 t salt
1/4 cup sugar 
2 t yeast

I added the ingredients in this order to my bread machine and turned on the dough cycle. When it was all done, I divided my dough into thirds and braided it. It rose for about 45 minutes and then, I brushed it with and egg wash, sprinkled on the poppy seeds and baked it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Y'all...this loaf was amazing!
My braiding skills have really improved as well.

My mom calls challah, egg bread, so in that, you can see the connection to our Spring feast. We also topped it with the poppy seeds for an added equinox bonus.

For dessert, I went with my favorite strawberry cupcake recipe.
You can't go wrong with these.
Seriously.
Yum.
Strawberries ripen in the spring and the color is a nice pastel for the season as well.
I thought they'd be a nice addition since I didn't get to bake my hubby a birthday cake this week.
We didn't stick candles in and sing "happy birthday" to Will, but I'm sure he didn't mind.

So, we welcomed Spring with a lovely meal and enjoyed this gorgeous, albeit more like Summer Solstice with regards to weather, first day of Spring.

Stay tuned for more to come as we welcome Spring with our Spring Nature Table, do a little Spring gardening and more!

7 comments:

  1. I love this! I have my great-grandmother Sophie's challah recipe if you want to see another one. Her's is less sweet than store bought challah.

    Also, I thank you for calling it "challah" and not "challah bread." The redundancy of the latter always drives me a little crazy.

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  2. Oh, I'd be delighted (and honored) to bake your great-grandmother's recipe, Sarah! I'm more a fan of salty that sweet when it comes to anything edible and to be honest, I don't know that I've even had a store bought challah, SO I'm sure I will LOVE it.

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