Easter party time

This past week was as busy as it could be, with meetings, going to get a new driver’s license and working in the gift shop. My daughter came in Friday evening to help me celebrate my birthday and we had a great time! Right after she arrived, the boy down the road came over to finish up in my yard and my sister and her husband were right behind him. We visited outside for a while as he had been out and about with my sister in the car and was tired. He’s been out of the hospital for a little over two weeks and is just now getting around again. He is so proud that he can now drive his four wheeler, especially since it is not the motor-cycle type, he has a comfortable seat and does really well.
Saturday my daughter and I went to Victoria shopping and did the “shop ‘til you drop and then shop just a little while more” thing. She bought me several different things I needed around the house and some clothes for herself, and we had a wonderful lunch together at Olive Garden. We actually got home before dark, unloaded stuff from the car and eventually decided we needed some food, then, we played Rummykub® for a couple of hours before we decided we were tired enough for bed! Sunday morning I got up and went to early church and then we decided to check out an Estate Sale that was going on a few miles down the road. Not much was left, as the sale started on Friday morning, but we had fun looking around and each found a couple of things, when we got home, she got busy with beds, etc., in the house and then went outside and used my Easter cutouts to decorate my front fence. My house now looks as if maybe Easter will be celebrated here!
On Saturday of this coming week, part of my family will be here and we will do our Easter get together. It has been a while since we did it here and even though work is involved, I am truly looking forward to it, especially since we didn’t get to get together here during the holidays. Our meal of the day is going to be hamburgers. Not as much work as other things, as I will make the patties ahead of time and bake them in the oven, nice and easy without much clean up time needed. Different ones will bring things with them and the meal will be a fun time for all of us with lots of the visiting and catching up that we don’t always get to do.
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. Eggs were a symbol of fertility and new life.
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. Eggs were seen as a symbol of fertility because the coming forth of a live creature from an egg was so surprising to people of ancient times. 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.
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.
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.
For more ideas, visit the library. They have books with lots of suggestions. Almost all magazines have articles about dyeing eggs and they also give you the instructions to use food coloring. When my children were small, all I ever used was one of the Paas® coloring kits. They were always pretty and the colors were true. Also, writing names or drawing pictures on the eggs as I said above is fun too. This year, there will probably be only two children here who will be old enough to hide Easter eggs, as the third one is not quite a year old yet! This carrot cake is going to be one of our desserts!
Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cup sugar
1½ oil
4 eggs
2 cups finely shredded carrots (a food processor works great) (if you use a food processor and use water in it when you are processing, be sure they are thoroughly drained).
1 can (8½-oz) crushed pineapple, in juice, drained
½ cup chopped nuts
1 can (3½-oz) flaked coconut
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add oil and eggs to this mixture and mix well. Add carrots, pineapple, coconut and nuts. Pour into 9×13 pan or a Bundt pan and bake at 350ºF for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. A Bundt pan will need about 45 to 50 minutes baking time.
Remove from oven and cool either in the pan or remove from pan an place on a cake rack to cool completely. For Bundt pan, cool about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove. Cool completely and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup butter or margarine
1 block (8-oz) cream cheese
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy and light, gradually add sugar, beating just until creamy. If it is too stiff, add a few drops of milk until of spreading consistency.
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.
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.
Baked Brisket
1 brisket (6-8 pounds)
1 bottle liquid smoke
Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (if desired)
Thoroughly season meat well on both sides. Place in a roasting pan and bake at 250ºF to 300ºF, uncovered, for 4 to 5 hours. Pour ½ bottle of liquid smoke over meat, turn meat over and pour remaining liquid smoke over meat. Cook, covered for an additional 1½ to 2 hours. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Be sure to slice across the grain of the meat. When the grain changes, give the brisket a one-quarter turn and continue slicing.
Mountain Man Burgers
2 to 3 lbs. Ground meat
½ cup oatmeal regular or quick cooking (not instant)
¼ cup catsup
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs. prepared mustard
2 eggs
½ to 1 tsp. salt
8 (6) large slices onion
½ cup pickle relish
Cheese sauce (recipe follows)
8 regular or 6 “Texas Sized” hamburger rolls
Thoroughly combing meat, oatmeal, catsup, milk, mustard, eggs and seasonings. Shape into 8 (or if using large buns) 6 patties. Some members of my family like to add sliced jalapeños, bacon, cheese and maybe even sliced avocados to their hamburgers, rather than the cheese sauce.. Not exactly healthy, but truly delicious!
Cook on one side on the grill or under the broiler. Turn, top with onion slices and pickle relish, cook until done. Serve with this cheese sauce spooned on top:
Easy Cheese Sauce
2/3 cup Cheese Whiz
¼ cup salad dressing
2 tbs. prepared mustard.
Mix Cheese Whiz, salad dressing and mustard together; place meat patty on bottom half of bun, top with sauce, serve with lettuce and tomatoes if desired.