Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Of Easter Eggs and Colored Memories

Ham . . . potato salad . . . deviled eggs . . . pasta salad . . . baked beans—the Easter feast will soon be upon us. As I filled my cart this weekend with all the ingredients necessary to bring our feast to life, I blithely passed right by the candy aisle, the basket and fake grass display, and the stuffed bunny tower—those things weren’t for us, sophisticated thirty-somethings that we are. But while I was pushing my cart down the baking aisle, I caught sight of one of those Paas egg coloring kits, and couldn’t help but smile.

My earliest memories of Easter involve two things: getting to wear a pretty Easter dress for church, and coloring eggs at the kitchen table. Come Saturday night, the table would be covered in newspapers and the freshly chilled hard-boiled eggs would emerge from the fridge and be set before we three eager kids. Dad would mix up the vinegar and dye tabs, the pungent scent wrinkling our noses and filling us with anticipation.

Two spoons would be laid out beside the little metal egg holder that came with the coloring, and inevitably we would all lunge for the coveted holder. One way or another, I swear my brother would always end up with it and would wave it in the air above his head – a victor with his spoils.

And then, the real work would begin. Kara approached the task as she did all things, carefully and with exacting standards, creating little eggy works of art with crisp lines and intricate patterns. She would sit patiently, holding the spoon just so, ignoring my brother and me completely as she worked her masterpiece.

Andy would take a decidedly different approach, dropping his egg in, waiting all of three seconds, then yanking it out and tossing it in the next color. His were always easy to pick out; muddled, pastel colors with murky lines and the occasional fingerprint marring the ugliness. Not that he saw them as ugly—no, he would laugh and hold it up for us to admire, proud of his distinctly male design.

I would fall somewhere in between, not quite having the patience and care of my older sister, but done with a much more artistic eye than my brother’s. I’d try for stripes, and plaid, and the occasional electric blue egg. I remember laughter, and colored fingers, and the exclamations of delight from my parents every time we proudly held aloft our finished product.

The next morning, the very first thing I would do after opening my eyes was shove my hand beneath my pillow – and there it was! My very best egg from the night before would be waiting for me, the first of the hunt. The rest of the morning we would scurry around the house, unearthing our colorful trophies from between couch cushions, behind books, and in light fixtures. At the end of the hunt we’d find our baskets hidden in the most clever of locals: in the oven, under the kitchen sink, in the greenhouse window above the sink.

Afterwards, we’d dress in our new finery and head to church, high on sugar and excitement. That afternoon would bring juicy ham, forbidden potato chips and dip, carrots, green beans, pasta salad, and slightly dyed hard-boiled eggs. By the end of the night, we’d be tucked into bed with our new stuffed bunnies, kissed goodnight, and left to our chocolate and jelly bean dreams.

All those memories of decades earlier brought a nostalgic smile to my face, right there in the baking aisle of Target. On a whim I claimed the egg-coloring kit and tossed it in my cart. There is much to be said for the whimsy of childhood traditions, and this year, I think I’d like to have a few tinted deviled eggs for Easter dinner. After all, we are never too old for smiles :)

What are your favorite Easter memories? Did you color eggs, or use plastic ones? Did you have a traditional meal?

Now, I've given this recipe here before, but for my newcomers, I thought I would post it again. I give you, the world's best carrot cake!

Carrot Cake
Deliciously moist, perfectly sweet cake that is perfect for any occasion. Slightly modified from the recipe found here.
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 and 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup crushed pineapple in own juice, lightly drained
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour either a 9x13 pan or three 9-in cake pans
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix (carrots, sugar, flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon. Stir in eggs, oil, vanilla, pineapple, and nuts, and mixed until combined.
Bake 23 to 28 minutes (9-in pans) or 30 to 40 minutes (9x13), or until center comes out clean

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz package neufchatel cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese, add vanilla, then slowly incorporate sugar until well mixed. Spread over completely cooled cake and ENJOY!


  1. I still dye eggs pretty much every year...it still brings me such joy to create those colorful designs. Dad's famous fried chicken was the food I remember most looking forward to. Well, after the Cadbury cream eggs, of course! A tradition I am glad I no longer have is puking after overeating whatever I had given up for Lent -- one year it was popcorn, another it was maraschino cherries. Boy did I love the dresses...that was my favorite part of all. Well, besides finding the egg under the pillow:)

  2. Mmmmm... cadbury eggs!! I totally bought one of those this year - bad Erin! And bleck - I don't remember ever gorging on Lent items, lol! But yes, those pretty dresses - heaven!