A Basket of Beautiful
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.
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 here, and 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!