Tuesday
Apr032012

Easter Holidays: The Countdown

Our family celebrates Easter the Eastern European way. My husband's family is Russian Orthodox and my dad's side is Polish. My mom, who has a French/Scottish slant, contributes with her own special style.

When planning a holiday with religious overtones, we try to stay faithful to traditions but I like to add new ideas to the mix. Our families celebrate the Christian "Easter" and the Orthodox "Pascha". As you may know, the Orthodox follow the Julian calendar. This year, Easter falls on April 8 and Pascha follows a week later. According to my husband, the Orthodox church celebrates Easter after Passover. Some years the calendars coincide while other times they can be six weeks apart.

Since both of our families trace their roots back to Eastern Europe, many of the traditional foods stay the same. A typical menu consists of babka or paska ( a sweet bread made from butter, eggs and sugar), kielbasa, ham or pork with fresh horseradish or beet horseradish sauce, hard boiled eggs and a pressed cheese. Our families deviate from the typical sweet cheese and go for a savory one with grated onion and an egg wash for color. I plan on calling my aunt to get the recipe she has used in the past for our cheese this year.

In our churches, we still follow the tradition of blessing the Easter basket. The service, which is presided over by a deacon or a priest, is held on Holy Saturday. The Orthodox bless their baskets following the midnight service on Saturday.

Right now, I am starting to plan our menu and gathering ideas for table and buffet settings. I like to take my inspiration from nature. We are fortunate to live in a large home with beautiful gardens.

Here is a photo of our lawn. I love the early spring colors of green, yellow, creamy white, pale pink and violet.

For our table this year, I am planning on two arrangements on our dining table with pastel eggs and tulips, roses, gerbera daisies and some twigs. I plan on using a large container for the eggs and inserting a small narrow vase inside for the flowers.  I saw a beautiful example on the Better Homes & Garden website.

Photo courtesy of BHG.com.

Isn't this a lovely representation of springtime? I also plan to use a similar look on our kitchen counter for the buffet. By using the colors of the season, you can easily adapt it to whatever flowers look good at the flower mart, garden center, supermarket or produce outlet. Instead of real eggs, I am using plastic ones. I like to keep my arrangements out for as long as the flowers last, and if I use real eggs, I would need to disassemble it so the eggs won't spoil. I also plan to add votive candles, and a few rabbits, both porcelain and woven grass, to the mix.

My first crack at the menu looks like this:

 

Warm Carrot & Ginger Infused Soup

Strawberry/Romaine Salad

Rack of Lamb crusted with Rosemary,Thyme and Pine Nuts

Smoked Kielbasa with Beet Horseradish

Mixed Rice Salad

Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Deviled Eggs

Pressed Savory Cheese

Babka 

 

 


 

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