The Sunday before Easter our church would honor Palm Sunday by passing along palm branches to the children and faithful adult volunteers and walk down the church aisle waving the branches high. I remember one Palm Sunday a member of the church dressed as Jesus and lead the choir to their loft. The children were directed to wave our branches as they passed by. I was personally directed by a woman to exclaim "Look Mom! It's Jesus"-however I did no such thing, I remember being uncomfortable saying that to a woman who was not my mom.
In later years, we would celebrate Maundy Thursday to commemorate The Last Supper. It was usually a Pot Luck held at the church. On Good Friday, as a child, I was thankful to not be in school. As I got older, I had a greater appreciation for this observance.
Saturday night we decorated, dyed, and embellished our eggs in as many ways as we could invent. We would write on them in white crayon and then dye them, tie rubberbands on them to create random stripes, marbleize them, cover them in stickers and Dad always made his very own egg creation. I remember Rebekah (maybe two at the time) sitting in her highchair crying as we dyed the eggs, she didn't like it that much. All the sisters have an egg creature we made when we were younger, they still sit on the mantel after all these years, each seeing their better Easter days.
Shannon and I had our very own, very fancy handmade Easter basket given to us by our Godmother. One was red and one was purple and they seemed huge. Mom had several other pastel Easter baskets carefully placed as decoration.
Easter morning we woke up early for our private Easter egg hunt. Poor Shannon never had a chance. From the moment I stepped foot into the hallway, my eyes were darting and scanning in every direction. Even as we were looking at the goodies the Easter Bunny left us, I was focused on the hidden eggs. Shannon, I think focused on the candy that laid before her. Rebekah, fourteen years my junior, would have been major competition during my prime.
After Sunday School we would walk down the covered walkway that led to the Sanctuary, luckily for me, it was next to the play yard where the Easter eggs were awaiting to be found. Eventhough I was told not to look, once again I was scanning the playscape and field in every direction. Little did I know and soon to forget until next year-there was an egg "cap," ten eggs per basket.
After all this you would think we were done, but Easter Lunch, enjoyed by our family, relatives, friends, still had to be served. Our rituals would continue year after year, altered slightly by the passing of time, and by our growing up and leaving home. But I still look forward every spring to the coloring of eggs and the filling of baskets.Stuffed Tomatoes
Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis
Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis
- 1 cup short grained brown rice
- 6 ripe but firm large tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Cook the rice in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse the rice under cold running water. Set the rice aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut a 1/2-inch thick slice off the top of each tomato; reserve the tops. Cut and scoop the seeds, pulp, and juice from each tomato into a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the tomato juice and pulp.
Coat the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the hollowed tomatoes in the prepared dish.
- Toss the rice with the reserved tomato juice and pulp. Add garlic, basil, parsley, Parmesan, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Combine well.
- Spoon the rice mixture into the hollowed tomatoes, mounding slightly. Sprinkle leftover stuffing on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle entire dish with olive oil. Place the reserved tomato slices atop the tomatoes. Bake until the rice is heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.