The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 27, 2013

Feeling festive: Easter traditions carry throughout the years

JOPLIN, Mo. — Who would have thought that enjoying Orange Leaf frozen yogurt last week at work would be a celebration of spring and sleet?

Recent weather has been more like winter than winter was. I know it happens, especially with an early Easter, but it's difficult to understand snow so close to Easter.

Easter is full of traditions. I have many fond memories from my childhood as well as my daughter's early years. When my sister, Sue, and I were small, there was no such thing as plastic eggs, so we decorated hard-boiled eggs and hid them. One year the weather was rainy and cold outside, so we hid the eggs in the house. We really should have tried to account for all the eggs, because we later tracked down a forgotten egg simply by its smell. When my daughter, Sarah, was small, I would rouse her out of bed for an outdoor sunrise service and breakfast at church. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe she was so agreeable about that early awakening, because now she is definitely not a morning person.

Other Easter traditions? Easter lilies, hot cross buns, Easter baskets, roast lamb, ham and Peeps. Just one year younger than me, Peeps turn 60 this year. I'm not a big fan of eating the little chicks and bunnies, but there's no denying Peeps are a favorite. Using Peeps is also one of the easiest ways to decorate an Easter dessert by perching them on top.

Termed by some to be "indestructible," Peeps are made from marshmallow, corn syrup, gelatin and carnauba wax. A little side note about carnauba wax: It's also used to add a glossy finish to car wax, shoe polish and dental floss as well as thickening mascara, lipstick and deodorant. Pretty versatile. Once the Just Born company purchased the chick-making business of the Rodda Company, it began mass-producing the candy instead of hand-forming each chick. I can't even begin to put a price on a package of marshmallow candy chicks that I had to form by hand Ñ I just know they would be expensive. The most Peeps eaten in a 30-minute "Peep Off" contest? That would be 102. The contest is held the Saturday after Easter because the price of Peeps is discounted by then.

Easter traditions around the world differ from country to country. In the Czech Republic, women are greeted on Easter Monday with a whipping from men with a handmade willow whip. It's said to not be painful but necessary to keep their health and beauty during the next year. Later that day, the women can pour a bucket of cold water on the men. In Poland this tradition has evolved into an all-day water fight. Germany is more sedate in its celebrating, hanging decorated eggs from branches to form Easter trees. Bermuda residents fly kites to symbolize Christ's ascent. Then they eat fish cakes. I wonder if those living in foreign countries find hiding Easter eggs strange?

I have the scoop on one of the cookbooks that will be sold at the upcoming Taste of Home Cooking School. I scrapped my original plan to use recipes from the "Best Loved Recipes Cookbook" for the event, but with 1,485 recipes from which to choose, I decided to share some of its offerings today. In the celebrations and holidays section, I found Easter has its own heading. So I chose three recipes from inside there today. Omit the rum extract from the carrots, if you wish, but they won't be as good if you omit anything else.

If you don't have a steamer basket, cook the carrots as you normally would, but a basket would be a good investment. I use mine mainly for carrots and broccoli, but there are lots of time it comes in handy.

Probably my top choice for an entree, the ham will smell as good as it tastes and will be perfect for leftover meals later. The cheesecake takes a little time to prepare, but it's worth it. It isn't your everyday graham cracker-crust cheesecake.

I used a round baking pan, and it turned out great. Happy Easter and happy eating!


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