Easter finery

This coming Sunday is Easter! There are quite a few little blurbs floating around on the internet and on face book because it is also April Fool’s Day. We all pretty much know which one is going to take preference in our families, don’t we?
This past week has been a little on the busy side, as one of the organizations that I belong to had a bake sale scheduled on Saturday evening and Sunday morning at all the Masses and I had some baking to do. We did really well Saturday evening and for the first time actually set up tables with cakes at the end of the earliest Mass that starts at 7:00 a.m., which we usually don’t do. After talking it over, the officers decided that since it benefited the small church that has the early service, we needed to sell cakes at that time also. It was a success, everyone was so surprised that we had brought the cakes to them so they didn’t have to go to town for one and we sold a lot. We had everything set up at the church in town and by the time rolled around for the last Mass, the cakes, cookies, pies, and everything else that had been donated, including some plants was sold out! This was awesome and while I have no clue as to what we made, it was a successful bake sale.
Now, since the Hospital Auxiliary has on Thursday, all I can hope is that it does as well. It has been an annual affair on the Thursday before Easter for many years and this year, with a couple of us getting there when the night shift goes off duty, maybe it will be bigger than before! When I was making a trail mix and some of the spicy crackers, I made enough for both sales, now, all I have to do is decide what kind of cakes to make and get that done!
My brother and his wife have been in this week from north Texas, and we’ve gotten to spend some time together catching up on all the family happenings since they were here last time. Monday evening, we’ll get together at my house for an evening meal for the first time in quite a while, as a couple of times when they were in, my sister and her husband were in San Antonio where he was in the hospital.
Several years ago, while I was doing research at the paper office, I found the following article in a 1941 issue of The Devine News. It was interesting to me and even though it has been published within the last several years, I thought my readers might find it interesting also.
Easter began as the most joyous of Christian holidays to celebrate the rebirth of Christ. Easter comes at the same time as spring when new life begins with growth and rebirth in nature. Many ancient people honored the coming of spring. Ancient Egyptians and Persians celebrated the coming of spring by decorating and eating eggs that were a symbol of fertility and new life because the coming forth of a live creature from an egg was so surprising to people of ancient times.
The Christians adopted the egg as their symbol of new life as well. In the early days of the church, eggs were forbidden food during Lent—the six-week period before Easter.
But, when Lent ended people were glad to eat eggs again and made it a tradition to eat them on Easter Sunday. They also gave eggs to their children.
The hare or rabbit was also part of the celebration of spring long before Christianity.
In ancient Egypt, the hare was thought to have some connection with the moon since this small animal comes out to eat only at night.
Since the moon also symbolized the beginning of a new life, so did the hare and the rabbit.
The wearing of new clothes on Easter Sunday is also the symbol of a new beginning. It is the casting off of old clothes and the wearing of new ones.
In ancient Egypt and Persia people exchanged decorated eggs at the spring equinox, which was the beginning of the new year.
When Christians adopted this tradition, the Easter egg became a religious symbol. These early Christians believed it represented the tomb from which Jesus came forth. In medieval times eggs were traditionally given to all servants, and to children, along with other gifts.
Now is the time to start thinking about dyeing Easter eggs. If you want to try anything different, just check the Internet, as there is more information that you probably want or need! And, if you don’t find anything you want there, go to the library, there is lots of information to be found there also.
Mother used to tell us stories about her mother and grandmother coloring guinea eggs. They have very hard shells and do not crack as easily as chicken eggs, and they also are not a true white and the colors are beautifully muted, which makes them look as if they have been antiqued. Many years ago, a friend who was raising ducks gave me duck eggs to color for my grandchildren. They also have a harder shell and are not a true white and colored beautifully.
First and foremost, it is very important to have thoroughly cooked eggs. To do this you should use fresh white eggs and an enamel, glass or stainless steel pan to cook them. Aluminum does not work as well. Put as many eggs as you plan to color into a pan, cover with water from the cold faucet, place on burner and bring the water to a boil; turn down to simmer and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain off the water and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Dyes usually adhere better to warm eggs than to cold. If you are using an egg coloring kit, follow the directions on the box as to whether you use them warm or cold. Also, using the wax pencil that comes in the box to draw on the eggs before dyeing makes for interesting eggs and is fun to do.
One thing to remember with eggs colored using anything besides a coloring kit or food coloring is that it is not really safe to eat them. Also, do not eat any that have been painted with acrylic paints.
Here is an idea that sounds as if it would be fun!
Cover your tabletop with newspaper; give each person a boiled egg (adults, teens and children can do this together), and a box of the fine-tipped permanent markers. Have the first person draw hair onto the egg, and then have them pass it to the person on their left. This person will draw eyebrows; in turn passing it to their left for the next person to draw eyes. The egg is passed from hand to hand until all parts of the face are done. Cheek color, nose, mouth, ears or even freckles can all be drawn on the eggs. Now, the eggs are ready, let’s talk about food for Easter dinner.
A traditional Easter meal is baked ham. This is much simpler than you might think, with today’s large variety of different types of ham.
You can purchase a ham, either boneless, bone-in, half or whole. To figure out how much ham you need, allow about one-half pound per person for a boneless ham and slightly more for a bone-in ham.
There is no real need to preheat the oven. Simply set at 325ºF and follow the directions on the packaging for either bone-in hams or boneless hams.
If you plan to glaze your ham, (this is for a bone-in ham), remove it from the oven 30 minutes before it is done. Drain off the drippings and remove any skin and discard. Slice into the fat surface lightly into diamond shapes. Insert a whole clove into each square if desired. Brush on the following glaze or a glaze of your choice.
Mix together 2 cups brown sugar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard and 2 to 3 tablespoons pineapple juice or vinegar. Brush or spoon over cut surfaces of ham. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest about 15 minutes before carving.
Here is a recipe for potato salad for a crowd. It was originally from an older woman of German extraction who belonged to our church in San Antonio. It was served at our church picnics.
Potato Salad
20 pounds potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 dozen hard cooked, eggs, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 pint pickles (can use pickle relish, either sweet or dill or a combination of each)
1 large jar pimentos
2 quarts salad dressing
¼ cup chopped parsley
Scrub potatoes, place in large pot and cover with water, add salt and cook until potatoes are done. Drain well; allow to cool so that you can handle them. Peel and dice into a large bowl. Place in fridge over night. Next morning, add eggs, onion, celery, pickles, pimientos, parsley and salad dressing. Garnish with additional parsley if desired. (If desired, you can mix together the vegetables with the salad dressing and refrigerate. Next morning, stir into the potatoes, it mixes much more easily).
Layered Spinach Salad
1 package fresh spinach
1 head lettuce
8 green onions, sliced, (tops too)
6 hard cooked eggs (optional)
1 box frozen peas
1 can water chestnuts, diced (optional)
Wash spinach and lettuce drain well, and place spinach in a large bowl. Shred lettuce and place on top of spinach, top lettuce with frozen peas, water chestnuts and eggs (if used).
Top with the following dressing.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup salad dressing
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Hidden Valley dressing mix
8 slices cooked crumbled bacon
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Mix mayonnaise, salad dressing, sour cream and Hidden Valley dressing mix together and spread over top of salad all the way to edges of bowl to seal it. Just before serving top with bacon and Parmesan cheese.
Easter is never complete at my house until they see the Death by Chocolate, but they also love the following treat also.
Punch Bowl Dessert
1 box yellow cake mix, baked according to directions in a 9×12 pan or 2 round layers and cooled thoroughly
1 large can cherry pie filling
1 large can crushed pineapple in juice
1 large box instant vanilla pudding mix, made according to package directions
1 carton (12-oz) whipped topping, thawed
If you baked your cake in a 9×12 pan, cut it in half cross-wise and break into pieces and put in bottom of large serving bowl or small-size punch bowl. Top cake with ½ of the crushed pineapple, then ½ of the cherry pie filling, then ½ of the pudding and lastly ½ of the carton of whipped topping. Repeat layers, finishing with the whipped topping.