Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter dinner wrap-up: yum

Happy Easter!  All the cleaning, cooking, baking, eating, enjoying and dishwashing are done.  A lovely Easter Sunday with my little family in the morning dragging ourselves cheerfully to the early service so we could leisurely prepare for Easter dinner with some of our extended family.  Worth it.  And since we were all up and ready to go I had three assistants in the kitchen and dining room.  Heaven.

Some of the Easter traditions have faded away over the years.  Thankfully we no longer dye the eggs.  I'm half Russian, the kind that is Eastern Orthodox and has Easter on a different day and the kind that creates the beautiful Pysanky eggs with the intricate designs.  I have my Grandmother Boryk's tools, wax and designs and some day I'll take the time to reacquaint myself with the technique.  But for now, I'm grateful not to have the mess for a few pretty eggs on the table.  You could not get me to eat a hard-boiled egg no matter how hard you tried.  And I really don't want to be anywhere near someone else eating one, so dying the eggs is kind of silly for me.

When my girls were babies I actually went with a friend to The Basket Case (cute name, no longer around) in Carmel and wove their Easter basket.  The baskets no longer are filled with Disney videos, chocolate eggs and jelly beans but they have a little surprise gift and maybe one chocolate bunny just because.  When they were 3 and 5 years old I decided that it was time I bought a sewing machine and made Easter dresses for my girls.  So for the next 8 years I would hunt for the perfect fabric and the cutest pattern and sew each of them an Easter dress that would match or compliment the other.  I would sew Christmas dresses, pajamas, shorts, overalls, and all manner of cute things.  Now when the girls look at the pictures of themselves in a cat patterned vest or dolphin shorts they wonder aloud how I could have tortured them.  My favorite thing to sew was their Halloween costumes.  Cinderella dresses, all manner of Beanie Babies animals (so easy:  ears, mittens and a vest with a tail), Pocahantas and whomever or whatever they wanted.  And then came the American Girl dolls and adorable little outfits, some with matching outfits for the real girls.  So much more fun than curtains and pillows and mending.  I'm glad I had home-ec and sewing and I retained enough to put some of the skills to good use years after middle school.

This tradition theme has really got the thoughts swirling in my head.  The kind of thoughts that now sneak up on me in the middle of a favorite anthem or hymn at church and bring unwanted tears to the corners of my eyes on Sunday mornings.  Will there be more or less tears next year when I'm sitting in church by myself most weeks?  Will I be able to commit to chancel choir and sit with the girls in the alto section that I last sat with when I was pregnant with Kelly?  Will that help the tears to stay away?  Oh, I doubt it.  I think that I had best just get used to having a tissue with me.  All the emotions are not likely to fade like some of the traditions.  As always, today's service ended with the "Hallelujah Chorus" and they put the words on the screen and surely that means they want you to sing along with the full orchestra and the 80 members of the choir.  My family just rolls their eyes and I try not to sing too loudly with my alto friends, but I've known every alto note of almost every "Messiah" chorus for more than 30 years.  I just have to sing it.  Some things never change.

cute
Oh well, on to the food.  The famous lamb cake was baked and decorated on Friday without incident.  Even when it comes out perfectly, we all remember the times the head was propped up with bamboo skewers and the times the poor little lamb face-planted before Easter dinner.   Enjoy the pictures and them read a little more about the meal.


batter in the front section of the pan

the back section fits on top and I secure the two with silicone bands
the cake will rise and fill both sections

cooling

buttercream icing
do you like my shirt?  from a favorite restaurant in St. Croix:
eat @ cane bay, but it's perfect for me

this year I took the easy route and smoothed the buttercream and then
pressed on the coconut, but I have done the full on Wilton decorating
(this year just the eyes, nose and some flowers and then my pastry bag
split after 20 years of decorating)


Saturday I made the dough for sweet potato rolls from a King Arthur Flour recipe.  I mixed the dough in my stand mixer with the dough hook and then refrigerated it overnight.  After church this morning I rolled the dough into balls and placed them in my big deep dish pizza pan.  They were supposed to rise for 3 hours, but here's how they looked after just an hour or so.  I baked them for 20 minutes just before the meal was served.  They have 1/2 C of mashed sweet potato, honey, cinnamon, eggs and a little butter in them.  Of course they were good.

sweet potato rolls before baking


For potatoes I bought white fingerling and red baby potatoes to boil for 20-25 minutes in salted water and then drain.  I used a Fine Cooking recipe and tossed the hot potatoes back in the pan with 1/2 C chopped shallots, juice of one and half lemons, fresh ground pepper, 3 T butter, 1 T olive oil and some chopped freshly parsley.  Really fresh and delicious.  Here's a little thought for you:  if you ever need to take someone a hot meal don't take them a casserole.  Take them some grilled or baked chicken breasts, nice fresh steamed green vegetables, fresh potatoes like this and some fresh fruit.  Someone once did this for me and I just loved having the simple, clean flavors of good food.

potatoes ready to boil

tossed with the good stuff and ready to serve


 
I love cooked carrots and used another Fine Cooking recipe for these.  The recipe called for baby carrots with the tops just taken off, but I had a 2 pound bag of carrots to use and I decided to cut them in 1/2 inch or so pieces to fit them more easily in my pan.  Sara helped me brown them on the stove in a little olive oil with a bit of kosher salt.  After about 10 minutes, we turned off the heat and added 2 or 3 T of pure maple syrup (the real kind in a glass bottle, sorry Mrs. Butterworth) and a few more grinds of salt and pepper.  Then we put them in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Amazingly good.

my computer did it again-rotated it and then as it exported it reverted, sorry Sara

out of the oven


Here's that cute lamb butter from Whole Foods.  Not the prettiest picture.  Sara also helped me roast lots of asparagus with a little olive oil and kosher salt.  Squeezed some lemon juice over it before serving.  Audie made her delicious strawberry-spinach salad.  Becky baked the too good escalloped pineapple which together with the very good Costco spiral sliced ham baked with the Boar's Head glaze made seconds on my plate.


little lamb butter
 Here's Sara not rotated, but being very helpful getting the rolls out of the pan and into the basket.


again, sorry Sara


the girls and their grandparents (well half of them, my parents celebrated in Ohio)

my little family (note I have on heels and Kelly has bare feet, I am the little one)

the table resisting rotation

2 comments:

  1. Hey, yoga-blogging-tennis buddy,
    I'm wanting to scratch something off my bucket list this summer--canning. Do you can anything? Can you spend a day teaching me? I've been searching for good recipes so I can give them as gifts. Normally I make cinnamon butter every year..this year I thought I'd kick it up a bit.
    Sher

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  2. Sherry-
    I do not can. I make strawberry jam and applesauce and put them in the freezer (cheating). Susan canned tomatoes last summer and they are beautiful. I bought some very beautiful sauces at Froelich's in Michigan (http://www.shopfroehlichs.com/jampage3.html) and loved the habanero apricot jam. I think something similar with good Southern peaches from Broccoli Bill's would be divine. Maybe we can try it together!
    Kristin

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