Similar to Christmas, Easter is a time for reflection. For many, Easter is a time of sorrow and a time of joy; both are seamlessly intermingled. Easter stirs different emotions within different people.
In Western Christianity Easter is preceded by Lent, a period of fasting and penitence. I’m hopeless. I always forget to do either until it’s all over. By the time Easter arrives it’s too late - I’ve done neither. I think I must have lent my memory to someone else and, like a loaned book, it’s not been returned to me.
The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, as we know; but, don’t bother telling that to the two palm trees out the front of my little abode. Regardless of what the day of the week, month or year it is they drop their fronds whenever they feel like doing so - Palm Sunday or any day - it matters not to them!
Easter Saturday or Holy Saturday is sometimes known as Silent Saturday. Again, try telling that snippet of information to the kids impatiently waiting for Easter Sunday to arrive!
On the whole, to children, Easter means chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – and more, please. In their excitement as they expectantly count the hours and minutes until the Easter Bunny is due to arrive (or the Easter Bird, as it was when I was a kid) Silent Saturday can, indeed, be extremely rollickingly boisterous.
Early Easter Sunday morning, between 6.30 am and 7 am I’ll be at our local bakery picking up the Hot Cross buns I ordered a few weeks ago. From the exclamation made by the assistant answering my phone call, I was the first person here on the hill to place an order for Hot Cross buns. The early bird not only catches the worm, but the Hot Cross buns, too.
When I collect them on Sunday morning they’ll still be warm having not long come out of the bakery’s oven; then I’ll race back home to have a couple of tfor breakfast – with lashings of butter and a thick spreading of raspberry jam, and a mug of freshly-made Lavazza coffee. My mouth is already watering just at the thought!
I know for many Good Friday is the day for Hot Cross buns, but, for me, the only time I purchase Hot Cross buns is on Easter Sunday mornings...and I only buy those made by the bakery. (I am a creature of my own quirky habits and traditions – a willing creature)!
While at the bakery I won’t be able to stop myself. I’ll grab a couple of their delicious Vanilla Slices, too. I’m easily led!
I’ve enough chocolate of various descriptions in my fridge to sink the “Titanic”. No icebergs needed here. The amount of chocolate in my fridge (all dark chocolate) will do the job!
To top it off...to add to my supply, delivered to my mailbox yesterday (Thursday) was a parcel from Randall, my ex.
Yes! You guessed correctly...more chocolate! Whoohooo!!
I dare not mention the three boxes of Connoisseur ice creams I bought at my local IGA supermarket yesterday morning along with the extra four double-dipped Cherry Ripes that had my name imprinted on them. Hey! They were on display at the check-out.
What was I supposed to do? Ignore them? The Connoisseur packs of four were on special...half their normal price! Again...what was I supposed to do??
Over the weekend, somewhere along the way, I do expect to see my landlords’ daughter, her husband and their three little kids, all of whom are expected to arrive on Easter Saturday for a couple of days, staying up at “The Manor”. They’re live in Brisbane - so they won’t be travelling far to get here.
I shan’t be an Easter “Scrooge”...I’ve enough chocolate to share with the kiddies. I always have special treats for them when they pay a visit to enjoy the mountain air.
Once again, I won’t disappoint them! The joy on the face of a child is worth a pallet load of chocolates!
Every Easter when I was a teenager, as soon as I could escape from work on the Thursday afternoon, along with a couple of girlfriends, who were excited as I was, off to the coast we’d head.
Like an Olympic sprinter, faster than Usain Bolt, I’d race out the office door, bag already packed. A weekend of sun, sand, surf and record hops (no bunnies required) lay ahead!
Easter 1997 I was managing a highway motel in Cardwell. The motel’s pool was situated out front of the units, on the highway side of the property.
On the Thursday prior to Good Friday I was tending to the motel pool, a regular chore.
I heard strange murmurings, not the familiar sound of traffic travelling to and fro along the Bruce Highway.
Looking up, I was surprised to see a band of people walking down the side of the road...not on the footpath, but on the highway itself. The peaceful mob was headed in the direction of the town’s centre, a few hundred metres south.
The group, it appeared, was made up mainly of Cook Islanders, all of whom were dressed in humble, flowing robes. Leading them was a member of their group steadfastly bearing a large, heavy-looking, wooden cross on his back.
I stopped what I’d been doing, and watched them walk by. Smiling, they acknowledged my presence. I returned their goodwill gesture.
A few days later, once again, I was outside fiddling around at the pool, cleaning the filter, checking the salt concentration level etc., while letting Pauly, the Creepy Crawly do his chores on the bottom of the pool.
A cream van pulled into the kerb. Out jumped about six Cook Islanders, all of whom, I discovered, had been members of the re-enactment of Christ carrying the Cross.
With beaming broad smiles they pressed their faces up against the high, wire fence separating the property from the footpath. I went over to them.
The happy lot asked if they could collect some of the coconuts from the coconut palms bordering the interior of the fence line, offering to pay for the fruit aka drupes.
Telling the men they were welcome to as many coconuts as they could gather, I said;
“Go for it! They’re all yours – on the house! I don’t want payment.”
Further encouragement wasn’t necessary.
In a flash, a couple of the lithe fellows, as supple as Olympic gymnasts, scaled the trees dropping the coconuts down to their mates who, sans hard hats, waited bravely below to catch the dropped crop.
How wonderful it would be if everyone was as happy as those Cook Islanders. Peace and harmony would rain on everyone’s parade all year long...not just on their Easter Parade.
A world dominated by happiness...cherish the thought. How wonderful it would be to cherish the reality....
If a Vegan Easter is your plan – here are couple of ideas for you. If not, I’ve added a couple of others that aren’t vegan. I'm eager to please all tastes...
Enjoy your Easter weekend...and whatever it is you choose to eat
Of course, it goes without saying, (even though I am saying it) - chocolate is mandatory!
Vegan Easter Pie: Slice 300g mushrooms; finely dice 1 large red onion; crush 2-3 garlic cloves. Cook onion in little olive oil in pan; add garlic, then mushrooms; cook 5-10mins. Add 200ml veg stock, 1tbs balsamic glaze, season; add small bunch of thyme. Simmer gently, 15-20mins. Blend 1 can cannellini beans with 1tbs olive oil to a thick puree. Grease 2 pie dishes; line with 2-3 layers of Filo; brush each layer with oil. Spoon in puree; smooth down; top evenly with wilted spinach; top with mushrooms. Scrunch up sides of pastry; brush with oil; cook in oven, 25-30mins. Serve in pie dishes or unmold.
Berry Coconut Easter Cake: Finely chop 10 medjool dates. Add 4c gluten-free flour, or flour of choice, 1c cacao, 2tbs baking powder, 2tsp baking soda and pinch of salt to a bowl; mix. Slowly add 2c plant-based milk, 1tbs vanilla and 1c water. Be careful the dough doesn’t become too thin; add chopped dates. Pour batter into prepared 10-inch spring-form pan, lined with paper, or oiled. Bake in preheated 200C oven, 30mins; cool. For the Coconut-Cream: Slightly heat 100g coconut cream if it’s too firm; add 1000g coconut yoghurt, 1tbs maple syrup and some agar agar. (When using agar agar dissolve in water before using; simmer 5mins}. Add coconut cream to top of baked dough; chill a few hours. Add a variety of berries on top. Melt vegan white chocolate; sprinkle over cake along with coconut flakes.
Vegan Easter Nests: Melt 100g coconut oil on low heat; mix with 3tbs honey and 2tbs cocoa powder to form a sauce. Combine 50g desiccated coconut, 50g coconut flakes and 50g flaked almonds. Pour sauce over; stir until coated. Chill for 5mins; divide mixture into 8 cupcake cases; use 2tbs per case, form into nest shape with back of spoon. Chill 30mins; fill with mini Easter eggs of choice.
Roast Lamb with Mint-Pesto Sauce: Using the point of a sharp knife make small incisions all over 2kg whole leg of lamb; then poke a slice of garlic into each hole. Cut rosemary sprigs into smaller sprigs; push them into the incisions too. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Take the lamb out of the fridge 1hr before roasting to allow it to come to room temp. Heat oven 200°C. P lace 1 large red onion chopped into chunks, 3 or 4 whole garlic cloves and 2 carrots cut into chunks in a large roasting tin; sit lamb on top, season well; drizzle with olive oil. Roast 15 mins, then reduce temp to 190°C; roast a further 1hr 20 mins, or until cooked to your liking. Don’t overcook. Remove lamb, cover lightly with foil; leave to rest in a warm place for 30-45 mins. (Now’s the time to pop your potatoes and other accompanying vegetables for roasting in the oven). Meanwhile make the pesto sauce. Pour boiling water over 20g frozen pea; leave stand for 1-2 mins. Drain peas; then run under cold water. Once cool transfer to small bowl of a food processor. Add 1 small bunch of mint leaves only, 1tbs rinsed capers, 12 blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped, 1 small, crushed garlic clove, juice of ½ small lemon and 2-1/1tbs olive oil; blend to a smooth paste. Season; transfer to a serving dish. Strain lamb juices from roasting tray into small saucepan; add any resting lamb juices; heat through. Slice lamb; serve with roasting juices and the pesto.
Bacon-Wrapped Balsamic Glazed Beef Tenderloin: Wrap 3kg trimmed beef tenderloin tightly using twine, tucking in the skinny end underneath the mean so it doesn’t overcook. Place into large bowl; season generously. Mix together 1tbs freshly chopped rosemary, 1tbs freshly chopped sage, ½c balsamic vinegar, 1/4c melted butter, 5 minced garlic cloves, 1tbs coarse mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over top of meat; massage if necessary to cover. Chill, uncovered, overnight. The day of cooking, preheat oven to 218C. Remove meat from fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Transfer to a baking sheet and place, uncovered, into oven; bake for 20mins. Remove from oven and carefully wrap bacon slices around the meat (you can also wrap the bacon around the meat from the beginning and forgo this step!) Return back to oven; cook for another 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 135F. Move meat to a shallow dish and cover with foil for 10-15mins. Remove twine; slice meat. Serve immediately with vegetables of choice.