March 11, 2016
Bare branches bud.
Yards ooze with mud.
Worms crawl, bugs creep.
Clocks steal an hour of sleep.
Pastel baskets with sugary heaps
Of bunnies, eggs and marshmallow peeps.
Just when you’re sure winter won’t end, spring roars in on a gusty breeze, with promises of warmer days ahead. Easter dreams and decorations tantalize most kids and make skeptics of a few others.
Some time during my childhood, I began to question the whole egg/bunny/baby chick connection, but no one one seemed to have answers. I wanted to know: What did a rabbit have to do with Easter and why did he carry eggs around in a basket? Why was the Easter Bunny allowed to hop unimpeded into people’s homes at night? Why did he hide pretty eggs in secret places? Why were kids expected to get up early in the morning to find them? And why weren’t police trying to track down this wild hare after all these years and charge him with home invasion?
These questions remained unanswered until the day of The Great Enlightenment. On that afternoon many years ago, while snooping around in a hall closet, I found some Christmas gifts from Santa meant for my sister and me. This discovery led to a rapid implosion of all those characters that heretofore had inhabited my innocent world: basket-toting rabbits; Santa and his elves and flying reindeer; good fairies, bad fairies, tooth fairies; witches, ghosts and leprechauns—all gone in one mind-blowing afternoon. Even the birds and the bees flew into the fray that day. As I sat on a stool in the kitchen grilling my mom about what was real and what wasn’t, I was surprised how quickly she caved to the pressure. She admitted it all was make-believe. Everything I had suspected was now confirmed. And I think she was relieved she could finally tell me. The questions then meandered into other unexplored territories; you know, the ones where you want to put a sack over your head while you listen. I told my mom that I didn’t want specifics, but I wanted to know one thing, “Do ministers have sex?” “Yes,” she replied straight-faced, “ministers do have sex … with their wives, of course.” (I had to close down the question-and-answer session fast. I was pretty sure my mom was had gotten some bad information on the whole minister/sex thing. Our geriatric minister and his osteoporotic little wife probably had never even shaken hands before they said goodnight. (Yes, they did have three children, but I felt certain they had been found living among wolves in the forest.) Surprisingly, I emerged unscathed by The Great Enlightenment. In fact, everything made so much more sense to me. I was happy to be an informed kid.
In later years when Bob and I had our own children (yes, we also found them in a forest), we indoctrinated them with the same imaginary stories that our parents told us. I could sense fairly early on that they weren’t buying it either. And so goes the circle of lies—I mean—the circle of life.
Now, on to my two favorite food groups of spring—eggs and carrots. This post features eggs. (The other spring food group—carrots—will be covered in my next post.) One of my very favorite appetizers is … Egg Ball! What a marvelous name for an appetizer! My friend, Jill Bassman, served it to the bridge group one time way back when I was still playing duplicate bridge. (For a time, I mistakenly believed I was a decent player. Then I realized that my friends were starting to rack up Master points. Me? I only had three-quarters of a point. One day someone asked if I did Jacoby Transfers. I replied that I wasn’t much of a ballroom dancer. I play Mah Jongg now.)
The Egg Ball is a most delicious and delightful curiosity. When Jill made this treat for the bridge group, we didn’t know what to make of it at first. It sat quietly on the plate, a little rounded mound of chopped boiled eggs, covered in sour cream, ready to be spread on crispy crackers and pita chips. Soon, we were going back for more and more, and before we knew it, it was gone! Even though the Egg Ball was perfection, I thought it could be easily elevated to the next level. So when I made it, I added plumes of green-onion tops shooting out of the center, like a fountain, and then I sprinkled thin-sliced green-onion confetti over all. It had been transformed into a showstopper! Jill’s recipe didn’t change; I simply added the wow factor. Egg Ball! Spring it on your guests. It will round out your portfolio of quirky, spherical food favorites!
Jill Bassman’s Egg Ball
Jill Bassman's Egg Ball
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup minced green onion (save the tops)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Green onion tops for garnish
Line a small rounded bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. Combine the first 7 ingredients in another medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly. Transfer to prepared bowl, packing tightly. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Unmold onto platter or plate. Frost entire ball with sour cream. Thinly slice a couple of the green onion tops into lots of very small little circles and sprinkle them all over the egg ball and plate. Cut several (6 or 7) of the remaining green onion tops into varying lengths and push them into the top of the egg ball so it looks like a fountain. Serve with crackers or pita chips.
Recipe from messycookblog.com
Elegant Scrambled Eggs with Built-In Toast
I created Elegant Scrambled Eggs with Built-In Toast a few years ago at Easter time. Wanting to go the extra mile for my overnight guests, I considered their early-morning energy levels, and then reimagined the mundane eggs-and-toast breakfast into a whole new format. “How so?” you may ask. By tossing buttery oven-browned croutons on top of a savory egg custard and baking it in petite, individual casserole dishes. Now, when bed-tousled guests come to the table, barely awake enough to lift eggs and toast to their mouths, they find the perfect dish. The eggs and toast are baked together, and therefore, they can be loaded onto the fork and into the mouth in just one fluid motion! Ingenious, huh? Perhaps bridge was not my game, but this idea could be worth a lot of Master points in egg competitions, don’t you think? I might rename it, The Transfer.
Elegant Scrambled Eggs with Built-In Toast
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 or 3 tablespoons finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- Homemade croutons
- Crumbled strip of fried bacon, if desired
Beat egg gently with fork. Put Boursin cheese in little bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds. Add cream to bowl. Microwave 10 more seconds. Add salt and pepper. Pour cream mixture into beaten egg and add shredded cheese. Mix well. Butter a mini casserole (or quiche) dish or ramekin (that will hold about 6 fluid ounces). Pour in egg mixture. Tuck 8 to 10 homemade croutons into egg mixture. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top, if desired. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes. Recipe serves only one, so adjust recipe to make as many as needed.
To make croutons:
- 1-pound loaf French or Italian bread, cubed
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Garlic salt
Toss bread cubes in mixture of butter and olive oil. Spread on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes, until cubes are golden. Lightly sprinkle with garlic salt. Allow to cool completely before storing in airtight container. (Leftover croutons are great in soups or salads, or as a snack.)
Recipe from http://www.messycookblog.com
In my refrigerator there’s often a dozen gorgeous farm-fresh eggs, colored by nature in shades of blue, green, pink and brown. (The picture does not do justice to the colors.) Joni, a woman of boundless energy who has helped to keep the Messy Cook’s house from the brink of chaos for many years, has her own laying hens. She brings her “Easter” eggs to me usually every two weeks. You have to love eggs that have come from chickens who all have names! Joni calls them “The Ladies”.
Eggs have been very useful to me over the years. One of the ways I have found them to be most valuable is when I have forgotten to plan dinner or I just don’t want to cook. Then I will say to Bob, “I’m making eggs and toast for dinner.” And then he always says, “Why don’t we just go out for dinner tonight?” BINGO!
Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you will drop by when I post again on March 25.—Tracy Mullen