Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

A Basket of Beautiful

Easter Greetings 

from the Authors of 

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Many of us here were raised in the days of the Easter bonnet and matching outfits. My mother waited a long time to dress a little girl for spring on Easter Sunday---but in Montana, the dress got covered by a coat and the cute shoes traded for snowboots for the walk to church! She made beautiful marbled Easter eggs, adding a drop or two of oil to the bowls of dye after we'd finished with our eggs. And she always made cupcakes topped with white frosting, colored green coconut "nests," and jelly beans. She tells me an old boyfriend gave me this handmade Ukrainian egg in high school. I don't remember that, but traditions are often built as much on memory as fact, aren't they? Wishing you and yours a lovely day.

Apple Gallette
DARYL aka AVERY: Hallelujah! If you believe, may you enjoy the spiritual joy that this holiday represents.  If you celebrate to enjoy the newness of the season, the birth of flowers, birds, and bunnies, may your Easter basket be filled with goodies and your heart filled with light.  One of my favorite things for Easter brunch is something sweet yet savory. Try this Apple Gallette, if you get the chance. It's gluten-free but can be made regularly (by omitting the xanthin gum). The Gouda cheese is divine!

PS  I missed out on the hats, but my mother obviously didn't. I do remember my sisters and I always having matching dresses provided by our ever-so-proper grandmother. I loved each and every one. It was always a special shopping time with her.

LUCY BURDETTE: Easter was a big holiday in my family. We all got new hats for church (Put on your Easter bonnet... ), and hunted for colored eggs and baskets full of chocolate (and sometimes underwear or socks, LOL), and then had a big ham dinner. Scalloped potatoes and probably green bean casserole on the side.

This picture was probably taken in the early 60's by my dad--it includes my family and the next-door neighbors. (My mom's back left and next to her is her best friend Mary Jane, who much later became my beloved stepmother! I'm in the second row, second from right.) These days, I'm more likely to serve Eric's Coconut Cake, after attending the sunrise service on the beach!

LINDA WIKEN:  Yes, to remembering the new hats, and gloves, every year! I felt so grown up. I like to bring out these Easter eggs my son and I made when he was just a tot. They were the easy, blow out the egg and dip in boiling water kind, but they are special to me. He, of course, doesn't remember doing it so I love to remind him each year. I like to frequently remind him of all the good times we had as he was growing up. :)

I would also love hiding chocolate eggs and bunnies in his bedroom after he'd fallen asleep Easter Eve, and leave a trail out the room, down the stairs and into the family room. There the mother lode of Easter goodies awaited him, if he could figure out the final clue. This continued every year until he grew up and moved away. I had as much fun as he did!

Today, my new memories are of the beautiful hymns and masses sung during Holy Week, leading up to the Easter Sunday church service.

MARY JANE MAFFINI  aka Victoria Abbott  Easter always brings happy memories for me: bright straw baskets filled with chocolate eggs, the beginning of a lifelong love of eggs, chocolate and baskets. turkey and ham on Easter Sunday with the stuffing in this glass chicken.  We still bring it out every Easter, along with the turkey and the chocolate and family around the table.  

We always felt pretty snazzy after a walk to church sporting our new hats. It's hard to imagine everyone with the a new hat these days, but here's a picture of my mum and me a few weeks after Easter in the hats we first wore on Easter Sunday 1963.  May your own day be filled with joy and chocolate.

CLEO COYLE: I'm not sure what year my mother (Rose) began our Easter morning treasure hunts, but it became a wonderful tradition for me and my sister, Grace. The hunt would begin with a note in an Easter card or on the dining room table. We'd be sent to the laundry room or a kitchen cupboard, where we'd find another note. This one might be a riddle that we'd have to solve before finding another clue and another. (Not bad training for a mystery writer, eh?!)

At the end of our hunt, we'd find our "treasure" hidden in a closet or behind a shower curtain: beautiful Easter baskets, a wrapped toy, maybe a stuffed animal. We loved it, and the anticipation of discovery made the chocolate eggs and colorful jelly beans all the sweeter. These days, my sister and I miss our late mother very much, especially around the holidays, but we have our memories and they are as sweet as those amazing Godiva bunnies she splurged on for our baskets. Thank you, Mom! I love you! And I wish all of you every good thing on this Easter Sunday. May you, too, treasure your past memories and be blessed in the making of new ones.

Recipe P.S. - One of my favorite foodie memories was my dear Aunt Mary's Easter Pie. As a tribute to her, I created a fun and easy appetizer that evokes the very same flavors of that rustic Italian treat. To get my recipe for Italian Easter Pie Palmiers, click hereand may you eat with joy! ~ Cleo

KRISTA DAVIS: I must have just missed the Easter hat tradition. I do recall a favorite white pique dress with a blue sash. We were often victims of weather. Sometimes Easter
meant sunshine and hunting for eggs, and other times the Easter finery was covered up with coats and egg hunts were out of the question. We always had Babka for my dad, which had to be baked in a tall pot and mushroom out of the top. My mother decorated the table with cute painted carved bunny decorations from Germany. 

We're celebrating in our traditional way this year, except I opted to bake a strawberry cake instead of the Babka. Very daring of me. If it's good enough, I bet no one will mind!

Happy Easter to you all!

SHEILA CONNOLLY:  Funny how kids always remember the holidays that involve sugar! Halloween, of course ("you mean, nice people just give me candy?"), and then Easter. My grandmother used to arrive from New York at our New Jersey home, laden with all sorts of yummy goodies, most of which involved chocolate. I still remember the marzipan bunnies dipped in dark chocolate (as long as no one mentioned there were nuts involved, I was happy to eat them). My parents used to hide small gifts mixed with foil-wrapped chocolate eggs around the downstairs of our house, and since my sister was barely crawling by then, I was the one who got to find them. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I had a dentist by the time I was five.

When our daughter was young, we might have cut back on the candy just a bit, but while she slept I'd arrange bunny parties around her Easter basket--and she had a lot of bunnies.

I've continued the tradition, scaled down just a bit, even though my daughter lives in a different city and is a bit past Easter baskets. The handsome gentleman on the right is my bunny James, who followed me home from the Smithsonian in Washington one year, when I was attending Malice Domestic. (He's named after James Smithson, founder of the museum.) He is a very cheerful bunny, and he deserves a basket of his own.

For the grown-ups, and a lot of the world, Easter or an equivalent holiday means the end of winter, the rebirth of spring (at least in our hemisphere). That's worth celebrating! If you're looking for a dish that honors the season and its newest crops, here a recipe for Pasta with Asparagus that I posted a while back. Asparagus in definitely in season!

Happy Spring!

And a bonus. On the left is a vintage candy mold I must have bought ten years ago. I've never used it, but this seemed like a good time. It worked!

Happy Easter, Everyone!


  1. Wonderful post, as always! Wishing everyone a very Happy Easter.

  2. Oh my, you all have me reminiscing about long ago Easter apparel now! My mother scrimped and saved and shopped carefully to make sure my sister and I always got a new outfit to wear to church on Easter Sunday. I remember one year I got an emerald green spring coat made of some material that was so scratchy it made me despise the color green to this day! When we were very young my sister and I got matching shoulder bags in different colors, and little coin purses shaped like cat faces. Each coin purse had a nickel inside for the collection basket, and we felt so grownup to be contributing to the collection. Years later I got a new leopard print hat with matching purse for Easter -- not exactly very Easter-like, but I adored them and felt so stylish! And then there were the black patent leather shoes with white ankle socks, and the scratchy, ruffly nylon petticoats to wear under our new Easter dresses, plus the home permanents to add some curl to our not very curly hair! Thank goodness all of those traditions became passé! I no longer feel the need to dress up for Easter, but sometimes I think I have gone too far in the other direction and really should make an effort to spruce up more for spring (I refuse to go the home permanent route ever again, though!).

  3. Happy Easter to all!! I love reading the memories. Cleo, your Italian Easter Palmers have become an Easter staple in our house.

  4. Delightful memories!
    Easter meant lots of boiled eggs to use, so we had creamed hard boiled eggs on toast with a dusting of paprika.
    Easter also meant a new spring dress that usually had to be covered with a heavy winter coat due to the weather. (Just like Christmas meant snow toys that couldn't be used yet because it was too warm!)

  5. Happy Easter to All. I have enjoyed reading every one's Easter memories and traditions. What fun! I too, have great memories of dying Easter eggs and the basket of goodies the Easter Bunny would leave.

  6. One of my weirder Easter memories was the one when my engineer father decided that it would be efficient to drill holes in the (raw) eggs with his power drill so we (my sister and I, not him) could blow them out. To be fair, we didn't lose too many eggs, and I think he had fun doing it.

  7. I loved hearing everyone's Easter memories. Cee made me smile. I am glad some of those scratchy clothes are gone, too, but it's still nice to dress up once in a while.

    Sheila's Easter bunny parties are such a fun idea. I might have to do that next year.

  8. Such beautiful Easter memories! What a wonderful way to celebrate the day...

    Special reply to Sharon S.: My Aunt Mary would have been so proud to hear that. Thank you for letting me know!

    Happy Easter to you and to everyone! ~ Cleo

  9. As a child, Easter Sunday was pretty much like every Sunday. We went to church as a family followed by dinner at home with my Maternal Grandparents. My mom always tried to dress us in the best hand-me-down clothing we had (my brother and I almost always felt ill at ease given most families had all members dressed in the new, finest clothing. My Mom and Dad at times had a small basket of candy that my brother and I shared. Sometimes Easter was spring like, other times we had an spring blizzard! The mot un we had was coloring eggs the evening before and putting jigsaw puzzles together in the afternoon. Thank you for sharing your memories and recipes. To each author represented here: You’re wished all the blessings of Easter and spring— the bright hope and promise this season can bring, the beauty of nature, refreshing and new. The peaceful assurance God dearly loves you. Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

  10. Fun post~I enjoyed reading everyone's memories. My favorite memory was the year my siblings and I received a swingset for Easter. It gave us many years of joy.

  11. I remember my mother getting me a new dress for church every year. I think a few years there was a matching hat involved. There was always an Easter basket waiting for me in the living room with candy and a new bunny.
    Cleo I made your easter pie Palmiers for the first time this year and my dad loved them. I will be making them every year now.

  12. What a wonderful post. I loved learning all of your traditions. When I was growing up mine were much like Cleo. My mom would hide clues for me to find my basket, which my mom did for my until I moved out at the age of 23. Also she always hid plastic eggs with money in them. When she bought new living room furniture and gave me her old stuff, my brother in law tipped the chair and an Easter egg fell out. He was lucky, it had $5 in it. Now that I have my own children we attend church and then we find eggs and baskets hidden by their GiGi (Greatest Grandma)or as I call her mom. Happy Easter everyone.

  13. Loved the memories! Yes, we had the matching dresses and hats and gloves, and many times covered up with coats. Northern South Dakota often is blustery at Easter. Good memories!

  14. We had a busy day yesterday and Saturday so I didn't get to read these postings until today, Monday. I have a lot of memories too. One is sunrise church service and that was special to me. Many times our new white shoes were worn with a heavy winter coat due to snow or freezing temps. Ct. was cold especially when there was an early Easter such as this year. My mother always bought all three daughters a new dress, or she made us one, and we got a new hat and gloves plus shows and socks. It was so much fun to go to church all dressed up and then go to our grandparents house for dinner later in the day. Many years, when my grandmother was ill, my mother did the big family dinner and I have fond memories of all of our relatives coming to celebrate such a lovely day together.

    I loved watching my mother bake all the breads and special Easter treats all from scratch of course, and to watch her put the cloves into the whole baked ham with us three girls helping with that or with making the fresh butter from heavy cream.

    My mother always made homemade ice cream for Easter as well as many other times of the year, and that was always a big deal as that was when the ice makers used rock salt and lots of ice so it was a messy thing to do but it was so much fun for the kids at least.

    I loved reading all the other comments. I could relate to many of them. I enjoyed the trips down memory lane.

    Cynthia Blain