Why is it that Easter is the shortest holiday, that one Sunday only? All the days leading up to it are sad and then it’s just that one day and then back to work on Monday. Thanksgiving has the long weekend afterwards. Christmas has the week between Christmas and New Years. Even Passover gets at least two days of attention, but Easter is one.
Easter was my mother’s favorite holiday. She was a devout Catholic so no wonder. I remember her scrubbing the house spic‘n span in the days leading up to it, washing windows and all the sheer drapes, sending the rest out to the cleaners. That fresh clean smell was intoxicating to me, so memorable even now, her Spring cleaning was deep. And then Easter. She even had me wear a hat when I was little, a new one every year, along with her new hat for church. She passed away the Monday after Easter, that year in April, 1995. One of her last words to me were, “Did you color eggs?” She wanted to make sure I was keeping up traditions with with my boys. She used to color eggs the old fashioned Polish way with onion skins. (Don’t ask me how!) Well that year, did I color eggs?? I colored six dozen of them! We lived in New Jersey at the time and two of my brothers were visiting, each of them having two boys each, plus our two, and our neighbor across the street (they had six kids) always held a neighborhood Easter egg hunt and you were required to deliver to them a dozen eggs for each child hunting. So there you have it – six dozen eggs – yikes!
We had 9 people for Easter dinner this year, a lovely party with extended family, roommates and girlfriends. One guest saw my table and said, “Oooo what fun!” Exactly what I loved to hear. But I didn’t color eggs this year. With no little ones around, I don’t, but I do like to decorate the table with the antique Easter baskets I inherited from my mother. The rectangular box even plays “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” It skips a few notes around the hippity-hoppity part but we all get a kick out of it every year. The food ended up to be a bit of a pork fest.
My sister-in-law and her mother brought the appetizers – deviled eggs and a red pepper dip with crudités and delicious homemade sesame crackers made with almond flour – gluten free!
We started our dinner with a yummy traditional Easter Polish soup that our youngest son made. It was vegetable broth based with bacon and two different kinds of garlicky Polish sausage. The broth was light and lemony, perfectly paired with a New York Finger Lakes Riesling. We then moved on to a baked, organic free-range ham (from Mike and Cindy’s Thunderhill farm in upstate NY) with a clove, honey, mustard and dark rum glaze, Italian beans with pancetta, chrzan, and roasted asparagus. The chrzan was rousingly potent with German horseradish from Greenpoint, Brooklyn and the beans were such a hit. I believe everyone had seconds on everything except the asparagus. I got a thank you note on Friday from a guest requesting the bean recipe and describing them as “silky”, which is apt. You kinda want to wrap yourself in them. I promised this recipe to you all after Christmas and I have yet to get off my butt and do it. It is complicated, which is why I haven’t done it, but I promise I will soon. My brother, Steve brought some amazing California Pinot Noir, (rare and unavailable outside of the vineyard in California – he and his wife just spent eight weeks nearby as test living arrangement) which paired beautifully with the meal. For dessert, I made a sour cream topped cheesecake and some chocolate dipped strawberries. One guest said the top of the cheesecake was so smooth, it looked like a skating rink! She took the one piece left over home – along with the jelly beans. One problem here, I was having such a good time, I forgot to take photos of the food!
Hope you had a fantastic celebration, whether it was Passover or Easter, filled with family, friends and LOVE.