I love Easter. Actually, what I think I love about Easter are the rituals and traditions that go along with it. As a child it meant a brand new Easter dress, gloves, hat and purse, the only time of the year I got to wear a hat, gloves and purse. Of course, dying eggs and the Easter egg hunts were fun as well. When I met my husband, we spent our first Easter together with his family in Colorado. His aunt and uncle hosted a brunch, with the most memorable part being the Easter Egg game. This was a game for children and adults alike. Every year grandma made hard boiled eggs, boiled in purple onion skins to give them a reddish color. Everyone got one egg and had to go around to each person where the end of their eggs would meet. If your egg cracked, you were out of the game. The last one left standing got a silver dollar from grandma. Years later, when we had our own children, we went back again during Easter. Not only did we get to play the game, but grandma cooked us a traditional Lebanese Easter dinner, complete with roast kid, Lebanese rice, kousa, fatayer, kibi/kibbeh, flat bread, Lebanese green beans, cucumber salad…more dishes than I can even remember. Significantly different than my family’s ham dinner, it was intimidating at first, but the glory of the tradition wasn’t lost on me. (In fact, I went into the butcher shop where my son works to see if I could get a kid for this year’s Easter, but no luck.)
As we raised our own kids, we tried to provide some family rituals to all our holidays. Easter meant egg dying, egg hunts, and some years ham, some years a Lebanese dinner with lamb. Egg dying and egg hunts ended last year. My youngest is now 21, and even though the plastic eggs contained not only candy, but money and condoms, he seems a bit old now to be hunting throughout the house with an Easter basket. I am hoping that it is only a temporary reprieve for these rituals however, as I fully expect to start them up again with my grandchildren (some day).
I never know who will be around on holidays now with family far and near, so I plan loosely, but still overcooking and overdoing as though as the 3rd regiment were coming to eat. This year was no different, and we will be eating leftovers for the rest of the week. But the day started off right with Mango Mimosas and brunch, and ended after a lamb dinner with a dessert of…CUPCAKES!
Those cupcakes were the most fun I had had in the kitchen in a long time. I made two batches of cupcakes, succumbing to cake mix as I had several boxes on hand that needed to be used. Sadly I kept finding really good cupcake recipes in all my cookbooks, but I am trying to be realistic about time constraints, so I stuck with the boxed mix. I made two types of frosting, one a boiled frosting which is similar to a marshmallow fluff when done, and a lemon buttercream, smooth and silky with a nice Meyer lemon tang. I got to use the new pastry tips that I received for Christmas, although I have to say that I am really awkward with a pastry bag. The frosting itself, prior to having lots of fun little goodies sprinkled all over it, was pretty pathetic looking. But the colored frosting, the sugars, sprinkles, coconut, made each one look unique, and substituted for the ritual of dying eggs, which always allowed me a bit of creativity. So even though I used a box mix, and the cupcakes looked a bit like I had used the pastry bag with my eyes closed, I enjoyed myself and the cupcakes were a big hit.
Never underestimate the power of a childhood favorite.