Easter is here!

Easter is late this year, and it’s been several years since it has been this late. The weather is running true to form as far as I’m concerned. Ma Nature still hasn’t made up her mind as to whether or not it’s spring and we needed jackets this morning when it was time for church. Of course by 10:00 a.m. it was hot enough to remove them. We had a fund raiser for solar shades for our little country church. It was a success as far as I can tell. I helped with cutting up over 700 pounds of potatoes and 50 pounds of onions yesterday, and today, I helped with the bake sale. It was fun, but tiring, as these things usually are. So many folks come out to help, even though some of them don’t attend this church, their grandparents and great-grandparents attended it and in some instances helped build it.
This week is going to be busy as my sister and a friend and I are going shopping on Wednesday and that evening my friend and I are invited to supper with another friend that knows both of us. Thursday brings us to the annual spring bake sale for the Auxiliary and I have no real idea of what I want to make. It may boil down to “what do I have time to bake”, if I am running around shopping and eating out on Wednesday! It will be fun trying to make everything fit in. My sister has invited me to her home with her family on Easter Sunday if none of my family is able to be here. Happy Easter everyone, have a blessed day with family and friends.
Sunday, as we all know, is Easter, and as I said, it is a late Easter. By now, you are ready to decorate eggs, bake cakes, pies and cookies and decide what you are going to serve if you are having an Easter celebration at your home. Here are a few hints to help you get through the weekend.
Did you know that you could dye peeled, hard cooked eggs with food coloring? Since the egg white is so very white, the colors are really clear. Just follow the directions on the box for coloring shell eggs, dye them, cut them in half and make deviled eggs or make a ‘nest for them out of shredded lettuce and decorate your meat platter with the eggs. They can also be dyed in the juice from beets. Of course, this makes only red eggs!
If you prefer not to give your children or grandchildren too much candy for Easter, have you thought of using pencils, erasers, stickers and sidewalk chalk as a way to avoid too much candy?
Back in the days when we didn’t worry about calories, sugar or cholesterol, my Mother would write our name on a Milky Way® candy bar (they cost a nickel back then), with pink or white frosting. She would then decorate it with pink flowers and green leaves, and put it, along with other Easter candy and perhaps an egg specially dyed with our name on it, on Easter grass on a plate in the middle of the dining room table.
Mother used to tell us stories about her mother and grandmother coloring guinea eggs, which have very hard shells. Several years ago a friend gave me some duck eggs to color for the grandchildren. They also have harder shells, so of course, they don’t break as easily, and while the colors were muted rather than really clear, the eggs were beautiful and slightly larger than chicken eggs.
First and foremost, it is very important to have thoroughly cooked eggs. To do this you should use fresh eggs and an enamel, glass or stainless steel pan to cook them. (Aluminum does not work as well, and somehow reacts with the eggshells and causes a problem with the colors.) Put as many eggs as you plan to color into a pan, cover with cold water from the faucet, and place on the stove, bring water to a boil, turn down to simmer and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain off 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. If you really want to try something different, go to the library, they have books with lots of suggestions. You may also be able to find a web site that will have directions for various ways of coloring them.
Eggs colored by the following directions should not be eaten*********
An idea for having the children help you with eggs is to cover your table top with newspaper, give each person or child a boiled egg and a box of the fine-tipped permanent type colored markers. Have each person draw hair on an egg. It is then passed to the person on their left, who will draw eyebrows on the egg, again it is passed to the left and the next person draws the 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 be drawn on the eggs.
To make sponge painted eggs, cut thin cardboard or stiff paper into strips about 5-inches by 1-inch and staple the ends together. This will make stands for your eggs. Make as many as you need so the eggs can stay standing in them until they dry. Boil as many eggs as you want/need. Choose the colors of liquid tempera paint you want to use collect pieces of sponge or foam for each color, get enough spring-type clothespins to have one for each sponge (to use as handles). Dip a piece of sponge or foam into a color, and paint the top two-thirds of the egg; allow to dry and then repeat for the rest of the egg using various colors. Dry completely. Repeat with different colors if desired, allowing to dry completely between coats. Spray with acrylic spray if desired for a finish that will not rub off.
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.
If you want to try something totally different for a casual, picnic style Easter meal, the following chicken salad is a good choice. I tasted it at a Taste of Home cooking school that was in Victoria, TX several years ago. Since then, I’ve served it several times for either pokeno or bunco and it’s always been a hit.
Light Chicken Salad
3 or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped
2/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Enough light mayonnaise to moisten
Cook chicken breasts in water seasoned with salt and a small amount of onion and celery, cool until you can handle the meat, remove skin and bones and cut into small pieces.
Wash the apple, and cut it up, and add to the chicken, add remaining ingredients along with enough light mayonnaise to moisten. Serve with crackers or Melba toast rounds.
Another idea for a different Easter dinner is a shrimp, crab or craw-fish boil. A friend told me today that her son is doing a craw-fish boil at her home this year, and while she is not crazy about them, there will be shrimp and other goodies for the ones who don’t care for the craw-fish!
And, in case you’ve never made Deviled Eggs, here is a recipe to try. I made some the other day and added diced olives to the mixture. They were pretty good. You can use either sweet or dill relish, or neither if that’s you would like. Also, the current issue of Food Network Magazine has a front cover with about eight or ten different versions of deviled eggs.
Deviled Eggs
8 to 12 eggs
1 small rib celery, finely diced
3 tablespoons pickle relish
1 tablespoon prepared mustard or Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Hard cook the eggs, remove from heat and drain well. Shake around in the pot so the eggs crack, cover with cool water and allow to set for a few minutes. Drain eggs, peel, and cut in half lengthwise, placing yolks in a bowl. Thoroughly mash yolks, add celery and pickle relish and mix together. Add about 1 tablespoon prepared mustard and add mayonnaise to desired consistency. Spoon into egg white halves and sprinkle with either chili powder or paprika if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. The celery and pickle relish are optional, not everyone likes their deviled eggs with stuff added to them. Some recipes call for using dry mustard which would make the filling spicier.
If you’re having a crowd for Easter, the following Punch Bowl Dessert has been printed several times, but it is a dessert that is easy to make and serves a lot of people.
Punch Bowl Dessert
1 box yellow cake mix
Ingredients to make cake as per box instructions
2 large boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
3½ to 4 cups milk
2 large cans crushed pineapple (in syrup)
2 cans cherry pie filling
1 large carton whipped topping (12 to 16-oz)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Bake cake according to instructions in two 8 or 9-inch layers or in a 9×12 pan. Remove from pan(s). Cool completely. This is very important. Mix pudding according to directions on box, chill.
Place 1 layer of cake or 1/2 of 9×12 cake in bottom of very large salad bowl, trifle dish or medium punch bowl. Place 1/2 of the pineapple, 1/2 of the cherry pie filling and 1/2 of the pudding in layers on the cake. Add the second layer of cake and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Decorate with chopped pecans if desired.