Thursday, April 13, 2017

EASTER, BIRDS, BUNNIES AND MEMORIES....





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.

 

Cherry Ripe Chocolate Cheesecake: Grease a 24cm round spring-form pan. Process 150g plain chocolate biscuits until fine.  Add 75g melted butter; process until combined.  Press mixture over base of pan. Place pan on oven tray; chill 30mins. Preheat oven 160°C (140°C fan-forced).  Place 1c (200g) drained morello cherries on absorbent paper. Beat 500g cream cheese and 1/3rd  cup of caster sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth; beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in 200g melted, cooled dark chocolate; stir in 150g chopped Cherry Ripe bars and cherries. Spread filling into pan; bake for about 50 minutes. Cool in oven with door ajar.  Refrigerate cheesecake for 3 hours or overnight. Serve cheesecake topped with whipped cream, dust with cocoa and scatter with extra morello cherries.



22 comments:

  1. Happy Easter to you, enjoy your chocolate eating.
    Never do we buy Hot Cross Buns from anywhere, have done in the past long ago and they just went to waste.

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    1. Is there a reason why you don't buy Hot Cross buns, Margaret? Do you make your own? I've never made my own...too lazy to do so...but I imagine home-made are wonderful!

      I hope you have a Happy Easter, too. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. I could never keep my chocolate stash in the fridge. I open it too often and the temptation would be too much. The chocolate wouldn't last long.

    Enjoy your hot cross buns.

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    1. Hey Arleen...I always have a stash of chocolate in my fridge...for those moments I feel like having some. I don't eat chocolate all the time...but I'm a "just in case" person and like to be prepared for those moments!

      Have a lovely Easter. Thanks for popping by. :)

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  3. Did you say chocolates??? Yep in my computer ignorance, I changed Kitty Justice to the real me. Must go back. Maybe my personal computer tech (son) will help me become my alter ego again. Happy Easter to you. Peace

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    1. I thought it might be you, Miss Kitty...but until I began reading your comment I decided to behave myself of the off chance it wasn't! :0

      A Happy Easter to you, too. 'Tis nice to see you! :)

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  4. I have made Hot Cross Buns in the past (the distant past) and they were wonderful.
    Himself has been gluttonizing on shop bought ones for weeks now. And cannot resist the weird ones. Raspberry hot cross buns. Choc-mint hot cross buns. Which haven't tempted me at all.
    I will have a traditional one on Sunday (not made by me). And probably some chocolate. Enjoy your weekend.

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    1. Hi EC....I just have the regular Hot Cross Buns...I enjoy them, but only have them on Easter...never any other time.

      I'm having a very quiet weekend...nothing out of the ordinary for me, really. I'll be doing some reading and catching up on a couple of TV shows and a couple of movies...just the way I like it. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. I hope your Easter is peaceful and you get to see the joy in the children's faces when you hand out chocolate. Enjoy the hot cross buns too. I don't celebrate any of the Easter days, don't even have any chocolate in the house this year.

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    1. Hey River. I,too, hope the weekend is peaceful...I've nothing planned. Just me and my two furry mates. My supply of chocolate is safe as far as they're concerned! In truth, my supply will probably last me quite a while. It's there for if and when I feel like having some chocolate. Weeks can go by before I indulge.

      Have yourself a nice weekend, too. :)

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  6. Easter Bird? That is new one for me. I received a lecture last night. Somebody forgot to buy hot cross buns for today. I said, no problem. Buy some Saturday. NO!!!! Hot cross buns are for Good Friday, Easter eggs are for Sunday. Plus, we had to have fish for dinner, salmon. At times it has been tuna mornay, smoked cod, fresh Blue Grenadier, crumbed fish from the supermarket and even fish fingers. It is a cultural thing for him, but of course it has a religious base.

    Great to hear you have chocolate to share with the calling kiddies. They will appreciate it. Of course later, they will appreciate $50 notes better.

    Didn't the Cook Islanders save the cost of employing a nutter? Employing someone, as happens in Queensland, to remove the coconuts from your trees so you don't receive a death causing blow to the head by a falling coconut amuses me.

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    1. If you ever had a coconut fall on your head you wouldn't think it very funny, Andrew! :) I welcomed the Cook Islanders to help themselves to as many coconuts as they wanted. I never paid for anyone to gather them, and I doubt the owners of the property ever did, either.

      Once, when I was working at Ramada Reef Resort at Palm Cove, north of Cairns, some of my co-workers and I saw an idiot (a tourist who knew no better!) throwing a brick or a large rock up at some coconuts trying to knock one or more down!! We went across to him and told him to wake up to himself...he was either going to kill himself by a falling brick or coconut, or both! His missile finally got stuck up in one of the bunches, and I think the fire brigade ended up coming out (the council had been rung) to remove the brick/rock and the coconuts!

      Nope...no $50 notes for the kids. They're my landlords' grandkids, not mine! My landlords' home is up the other end of this property upon which my cabin sits...this is a 3 acre block of land...my cabin is down the other end. Somewhere along the weekend I will, no doubt, see the little kids...so I'll be ready to share some of my chocolate stocks...but never $50 bills; I have none of those spare to share!!

      It was always the Easter Bird when I was a child (and for other of my era, too). My brother and I would build nests in hats and that's where the Easter Bird would deposit our Easter eggs. (I think it makes more sense, anyway! lol)

      I hope your Easter is an an enjoyable one. :)

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  7. I'm with you on the chocolate supply..however, most of mine will go home with the grandies...either in them or on them lol.

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    1. Hey Delores...I don't have any grandkids, nor will I be having any visitors (that I'm aware of)...and as my two furry rascals don't eat chocolate...it's all for me (she says rubbing her hands together)!!! As I wrote, I probably will see my landlords' grandkids somewhere along the way over the weekend, so if I do, I've got some to give to them. :)

      I hope you have a lovely Easter with your family. :)

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  8. Darn - wish I had seen your vegan recipes before getting all the stuff in to make other things!
    I think it's a bit of a shame getting hot cross buns all year. I suspect the ones from the bakery are nicer than the rather soggy offerings from supermarkets here. It must have been great to see the Cook islanders swarming up the tree - a real bonus for everyone!

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    1. G'day, Jenny. I agree with you re the Hot Cross buns. I only get them at Easter, as I wrote...and only from the bakery...freshly-made. It always amazes me when I see them appear in the supermarkets as soon as Christmas has passed. It seems pretty ridiculous to me.

      I hope you have a very enjoyable Easter with your loved ones. :)

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  9. Crikey Lee ...... You can keep your chocolate. It kills us blokes but did I hear mention of ICE-CREAM?? I know ice-cream is compulsory for birthdays ..... I always get some for my birthday but now I can tell Mum I've gotta have some for Easter too, aye?? Thanks Lee ..... I knew I liked you a lot!!!!! Mum's like you ..... she gets all sentimental about things like Easter and Christmas and all those other times that I know nothing about. She likes to go to church at Easter but always in a different church for some reason or other. This year WE (yes she took me) popped in to a service in a church in Newtown, Sydney which was situated in a cemetery. She just bowls in with me. Don't know if I'm allowed but so far I've never been kicked out. We do sit up the back. She's a bit like you with the forgetting thing though. We went out for Dinner on Good Friday to a nice little Indian restaurant and as Mum was downing her Lamb Rogan Josh she remembered she shouldn't be eating it. Didn't stop her finishing it off. Its always hot cross buns on Friday for her and Easter eggs on Sunday but she forgot the buns this friday so she'll probably catch up on those at some stage or another and only ever from a bakery and only ever at Easter. She LOVES them!! You should see the amount of butter she puts on them. It always runs down her chin. Not a pretty sight I might add. No jam and cream for her. Have a great Easter. I do hope you get to share it with the little ones. We are away this Easter so we are going to miss the Grandkids egg hunt. It's such a joy to watch the kids, aye??

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    1. Hey there, Charlie! I've just come back from seeing the littlies....as they drove up the lane past my cabin they blasted the horn to let me know they'd arrived! So up I went to give them their Easter eggs and Cherry Ripes - all of which they tackled immediately - no prompting required. They won't last the afternoon...the chocolates, that is! After a mug of coffee and a chat with the adults I'm now back home again.

      Yes! You heard correctly! Ice cream is on my menu, too! I always keep a good supply in my freezer.

      Lashings of butter is the only way to go...none of that margarine junk for me! But I do like raspberry jam on my buns, too! (Hot Cross buns, that is)!!! Yum! I am so looking forward to Sunday breakfast!

      Have a wonderful Easter, Charlie...and the same goes to your Mum! :)

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  10. Howdy Lee! In your chocolate inventory it was worrying to note that you didn't list Clint. I hope you didn't eat him in a moment of weakness. I'll send your vegan recipes to my son in London. He continues to work on the bosh vegan site - producing recipes nearly every day.

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    1. Howdy back to ya, stranger!

      If you'd read my previous post called "IF I CAN’T FIND MY COTTONTAILS, THEN I’M NO BUNNY!", Yorkie - the one I wrote and posted on 5th April you will indeed see that I wrote about my dear Cling.

      I hope you are enjoying your Easter... and that you have a good supply of chocolate on hand! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. Easter is certainly a time when people think about things - and some people dont think enough in my opinion.

    I like the cat and rabbit picture!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Hey there Stewart...I agree with you. If more folk thought more about others and cared more about others than concentrating solely on themselves...they might see the bigger picture; and realise the world is not just about them...that it doesn't revolve around them.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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