I will always miss family most as a holiday weekend encroaches upon us. I loved gathering together, planning the big meal or going to share it with who ever was in charge of it that year. (I did prefer doing it myself since I would start on the wine as I cooked and by the time the meal started I was happy, happy, happy!) The memories of Len, the girls and I, contemplating who would do what this year, various reactions from family members, who would say or do the most memorable thing and praying that the meal would turn out. Those were the things that made an impact or the event one we would discuss, mourn or laugh about for years to come.
Several years ago, a cousin I hadn't seen for aeons, was on Vancouver Island from High Level, Alberta and she and her husband were joining us for Thanksgiving dinner. I invited any and all family from the area who might want to join us, including my parents of course. Everyone gathered, enjoyed our visit, had a fabulous meal if I do say so myself and then I served dessert. I had baked pumpkin pies, apple pies and apple crisp. I was excited to offer an array of choices and several people had a little bit of each on their plates. I cut and served and was still slicing up while my guests were starting in on their pie.
It seemed the table was a bit quiet and my first thought was, "always a good sign when the table is quiet and people enjoy their food." I then bit into my pie, mmm the pumpkin was amazing! Then I bit the pastry, I literally gagged and spit my food back into my dish. I looked at everyone and said "This is disgusting! How can you people eat it?" Being kind, they said, in a variety of ways, "oh, it's just a bit salty", "I thought the pudding part was wonderful", "Well..." I know everyone was relieved when I told them I would NOT let them finish the pies and removed their plates. We then split the one apple crisp into pieces and had coffee to attempt to wash away the horrendous flavour of my pie crust that somehow contained way too much baking soda! EW!
No holiday or pie can ever be eaten again without my family commenting on that memorable meal or complimenting me on my immense improvement of my culinary and pastry skills! Family meals at holiday times, yes I miss them, salty pie? Not so much!
I am working hard in my "new" life to do things in a way that are more eco friendly and put less stress on my environment. Hence our Easter egg decorating fiasco. I continue to read blogs about how to dye eggs the natural way and see Facebook posts that explain how to make your natural dyes from things like onion skins, blackberry or beet juice and spices such as Tumeric. So, I set off to show my girls how to be more environmental while continuing on with a long standing egg decorating tradition.
I decided that since we had to boil eggs, (I had saved some so they would peel better and weren't too fresh - the gases around slightly older eggs allow for easier peeling.) I had found a recipe on a blog, 2 cups water, 1 Tbsp vinegar, 1 cup of the fruit or vegetable juice, cook for 45 minutes, cool, put your boiled eggs in the water for a half hour. So I proceeded to boil up some mango dye and some blackberry dye. The kids couldn't quite get where I was going with this thought. I boiled a dozen green Araucana eggs.
I put everything on the table and started peeling eggs. My girls, 10 and 17, asked me what on Earth was I doing? I said, dying the eggs, the natural way. I then plopped 2 peeled eggs into the mango dye and 2 peeled eggs into the blackberry dye. The girls said, "now what?" I said, "Every few minutes roll them over and in a half hour they are done, cool, eh?" They asked, "How do we decorate them?" Me, "Well, you ... don't...?" Them, "Ya, mom, THAT's fun!" Me, "What???"
|Stock Photo, Can't take credit!|
OK so apparently, like chemical dyes, when dying Easter eggs the environmentally friendly way, you DON'T peel them! You DON'T use green shells when you want the dye to stick! You do leave them in the shell and dye then decorate, duh? OK so apparently (I did re-read the blog) they did NOT explain this... I don't know! Dumb and Dumber: Dye Easter Eggs in Fosterville... Starring "Sarah Sherman!" Quite the laugh! I boiled MORE eggs and we went to Len's shop to get some real paint so they could at least TRY to create the traditionally dyed Easter egg! (Not one of my brainier moments... Yes, this will be up there with my salt pie and discussed and teased about for YEARS to come!)
Since Good Friday was a holiday the local Woodstock Farm Market was open so I had to bake for Thursday market instead of Friday. This year, I must say, (patting myself on the back) that I believe I perfected the Hot Cross Bun! I made a triple batch and sold out! Now I have to make some for our Easter dinner! Market was good for a Thursday and the weather has been quite nice albeit a bit cold at night. Today however, they are calling for snow over night so I am not too sure how tomorrow will fare.
|Can you say YUMMY?|
The plan for Easter Sunday? Church breakfast at 8:30am (we will see, it's a bit early), Easter service at 10am and then home for Easter egg hunt and treats followed by a traditional Easter Chicken (passed on frozen turkey and bought a fresh chicken) with all the trimmings including gingerbread cake, hot cross buns and our creepy decorated eggs (those may be passed on as well!)
Yes our little family, continuing on with new traditions. Rachel only has one more Easter before she officially moves out and may or may not come home for every holiday. It is too strange to think about not having my children with me for every holiday meal.... So, as Scarlett O'Hara says "I will think about that tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day."
Happy Easter everyone! AND special thoughts and Easter wishes go out to my family in Coalhurst, Alberta, who lost their father, my uncle, yesterday morning after a brief battle with illness. I am thinking of my Aunt Agnes, Cousins Barb, Donna, Doug and Leah and their families and wishing you all beloved memories during this difficult time.
Thinking about their loss makes me wonder, when will I see my parents again? Will I be with them when it is their time? Will I have many more years to tell them I love them? Even though every family event held a little bit of crazy, a pinch of bizarre and a dollop of drama... It was a recipe that created an armful of love and beautiful memories.
We spent many summer holidays, with our camper parked in my uncle's yard, as we made the obligatory family visits across the city and province. I always felt welcomed by my Aunt Agnes and Uncle Curt and their kids. My older cousin Doug would tease me mercilessly, but I always liked it. Cousin Leah who was older and more worldly would show me the ropes as I looked on in awe. Donna and Barbra were often busy with boyfriends and then husbands and children but I always felt close to them and found them to be so much older and wiser than me.
Many an extended family gathering with all of my aunts and uncles was held in their home and it is where we all gathered to commiserate after our beloved Grandma Giesbrecht passed away. Dad, Uncle Bill, Uncle Dave, Uncle Abe, Uncle Peter, Aunt Annie, Aunt Eva and of course, Aunt Agnes and their husbands and children - we all knew we could go to Aunt Agnes .
Those were my formative years and although our families grew older, drifted our own ways and had less contact, they were my wonder years. Aunt Agnes, my cousins, your family home holds warm memories in my heart. God Bless You All and I wish Uncle Curt peace and no pain as he moves along his journey.