Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Family Easter Traditions

Easter is a time for reflecting and remembering the
greatest sacrifice of all!

As a small child I remember my father calling us all
(8 children + my mom) into our living room.
There he read to us from the Bible, the Easter Story,
followed by having us all kneel as he said a very long prayer
(or at least it seemed very long to us at the time).

My parents would spend long hours at church where they
practiced confession, fasting, holy communion and prayer.
Us little ones usually stayed at home with one or two of our older siblings
during those services.
Even though I don't recall too much about those times I had a strong sense
that Easter was a sobering time as Christ's crucifixion and resurrection were
observed with much humility and honour.

Special food was prepared for Easter Sunday and the "Easter Bunny"
came to fill up our winter hats and toques with chocolate and small gifts.

Over the years we have made new traditions and added some new
foods to the Easter table.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Easter Dinner is usually a roasted "Bone In" ham with buttery scalloped potatoes, coleslaw, mixed vegetables, homemade mustard, fresh baked bread, and lots of desserts!

Onion skin dyed eggs were and still are a family tradition.




My mother's table usually included a red kidney bean salad with sliced hard boiled eggs on top. It was always served in a green glass bowl.

My Mom would often serve her freshly made donuts (fetkucha) that were served with the season's fresh maple syrup. Always a wonderful treat. Another favourite was Mom's yeast coffee cakes, sprinkled with cinnamon and coarse sugar. Several of my siblings still make these each year.

The last few years I have adopted a Russian Mennonite tradition of baking Paska Easter Bread. It is so delicious and has a very good chance of remaining our wee family's tradition for years to come, especially when we've added a Swiss Mennonite twist by dunking this delicious bread into maple syrup.




Another little tradition I've adopted is making a Polish Butter Lamb. My Mom ordered these from our neighbour for each of our wedding tables - a bygone Amish Mennonite tradition.




My sister and brother-in-law have hosted the Leis Family Easter dinner on Good Friday for many years. A delicious Easter Ham, bbq'd farmer's sausage, scalloped potatoes, pineapple rings, sweet corn, and a broccoli casserole is always served. The "pot-luck" salads and desserts are amazing and delicious.




Angela's adorable stuffed egg bunnies!

Our immediate family dinner was on Easter Sunday
and we had the joy of having them here for the very first Easter since 
they have moved back to Ontario!!
Daffodils were picked,
"eegs" were hunted and gleefully found - even during the meal blessing!
So much fun ....


Till next time ........ eating lots of left-overs and feeling blessed!





Monday, April 10, 2017

Whoopie Pies





Apparently Whoopie Pies are considered an Amish Mennonite dessert/cookie/cake
and recipes for them appear in many Mennonite cookbooks.
I don't recall my mom ever making these but they truly are delicious.

I was inspired to make some for our Easter gathering and for
an upcoming curling banquet - they sort of look like curling rocks, right?

Here is the recipe I used:
(It comes from the "Stack Your Dishes" recipe book published
by Conrad Grebel University College)

Whoopie Pies
Makes approx. 35 whoopie pies

1 Cup shortening
2 Cups sugar
2 eggs
1 Cup sour milk - I used Buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Cup Cocoa Powder
2 tsp. salt
1 Cup hot water mixed with 2 tsp. Baking Soda

Blend the shortening, sugar and eggs. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix together the flour, cocoa and salt and blend into the wet ingredients. Dissolve baking soda in the hot water and add to the creamed mixture - beating till smooth. Chill the batter for a few hours (I chilled mine for 1 hour). Drop by tablespoonful (or use a cookie dough scoop for consistent size) onto greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 400F for 8 to 10 minutes. They puff up nicely into soft muffin top shapes. Cool completely.



Traditional Filling:
1 1/2 Cups shortening
6 Cups icing sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Milk to moisten

My Filling:
I couldn't bring myself to make a filling with that much shortening and icing sugar so I found this recipe that worked great and tastes wonderful:
2 egg whites (I used pasteurized liquid egg whites since raw egg whites are not recommended for small children)

I will be using this for my Paska Spread as well.

2 Tbsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. milk (I used light coffee cream)
4 Cups icing sugar - divided
1 1/2 Cups butter - softened
Beat egg whites till stiff. Mix in the vanilla, flour, milk, and 2 Cups of the icing sugar. Cream for 2 minutes. Add the butter and remaining 2 Cups of icing sugar. Beat until fluffy. When cakes are completely cool, spoon or pipe filling onto half the cakes, cover with the remaining cakes to make a "sandwich". They freeze well.




Today I also buckled down and finally baked the Easter bread (Paska).
I think it's famous!!!


Post update - here are the finished "rocks" (I don't think anyone recognized
them as curling rocks - sigh...) I could use some decorating tips!



Till next time ........ preparing my heart for Easter.






Friday, April 7, 2017

April Winter

A sudden unwelcomed blast of Winter in April
has me thinking warm thoughts of just a few weeks ago in the sunny South!


The robins are confused and may even be thinking of heading back there?
I know those thoughts have crossed my mind ...

The bunnies are nibbling at the tulips, the frozen pine tree branches
are groaning in the never-ending wind, my tan is fading fast,
and the "outside" work is at a stand still.

Not these bunnies :)


Spring will come - right?

Never mind, this gives me a chance to catch up where I left off
at the beginning of March and get back at a project or two that puts me
in my happy place.





This quilt obsessed me in January and February
and once I finally
got up enough nerve to start it - it was time to head South.
I may get the piecing done yet this Spring
(it is Spring isn't it?)
however, the assembly and quilting will have to wait.














Anyone who knows me, knows I love trees.

The fabrics for this are absolutely
beautiful and I have the perfect place to
display it - one day ...












The best part about being home is this little person.
She's our love bug and sunshine and we missed her and her mommy and daddy
SO much!






We had some FaceTime with her while
we were in Florida and her daddy
sent us these pictures.

We just saw close-ups of her sweet smile
and teeth and sounds of M-Wah kisses.

This made my heart ache - what a little love.








Glory be - the sun is shining and the snow is melting on the South Side of the House.
It's all good.



Till next time ... I am so thankful for opportunities to travel, to love a grandchild, to spend time crafting, and a warm home to enjoy - never mind the weather.
Those images of Syrian children on the news these last few days has made me so sad. All I can do is pray that the horror will end!