HAVE A BLESSED EASTER SUNDAY

Easter is late again this year! Do you ever wonder how the date is decided? Well, let me tell you what I found with a little research.

Unlike Christmas, the date of Easter Sunday changes every year and can fall anytime between March 22nd and April 25th.  Why is this you ask?

Because Easter Sunday is decided by complex calculations based on the moon.  Early on in Christianity different churches used different methods.  This led to disagreements that still exist today in some cultures.

Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus which according to the Bible happened around the same time as Jewish Passover.  Passover typically begins the night of the first FULL moon AFTER the spring equinox (usually March 20th or 21st) EXCEPT in months when it is the SECOND full moon.  This most recently occurred in 2016.  The FULL moon can vary in each time zone so the Church calculates Easter from the 14th day of the ecclesiastic lunar month which is known as the paschal full moon.  Easter is the Sunday that follows the paschal full moon that falls on or after the equinox so can be from 1-7 days later. This year Passover and Easter fall on the same weekend with Passover coinciding with Good Friday.

In 1818 the full moon fell on the equinox, Saturday March 21, so Easter was the next day, March 22. Easter will not be this early again until the year 2285.  The earliest recent Easter was March 23 in 2008.  In 1943 a full moon fell on March 20, just before the equinox, so the paschal full moon was the next one on April 18 which was a Sunday so Easter was seven days later on April 25. It will not be this late again until 2038. The latest recent Easter was April 23 in the year 2000.

This year Good Friday was April 15th and today is Easter Sunday.  You can find a table for upcoming Easter Sundays here.

Here is a fun Easter egg recipe.

Using ordinary materials (vinegar, food coloring and whipping cream) you probably already have on hand to decorate gorgeous Easter eggs is so easy and fun too! You will want to wear gloves so as not to dye your fingers.

TIE-DYE EASTER EGGS
INGREDIENTS
Bowl of Vinegar
Whipped cream
Food coloring
Hard-boiled eggs

  • Boils eggs and cool to room temperature.
  • In a bowl large enough to hold all the eggs (or work in batches) place the eggs in the bowl and cover with vinegar for 20 minutes. The vinegar allows the dye to adhere to the egg shell better.
  • Dry the eggs and set aside.
  • In a large baking dish fill it with a thick layer (about 1 inch deep) of the whipping cream.
  • Generously dot the cream with various colors of food dye coating most of the surface fairly close together.
  • Drag a skewer or chopstick through the cream to create a tie-dye design, kind of like you’re making a marbled cake.
  • Place a layer of paper towels on a cookie sheet and set aside.
  • Put on gloves to protect your hands from the dye.
  • Gently place an egg on the surface of the whipped cream.
  • Slowly roll the egg over the surface to coat the shell.
  • Place the egg on the cookie sheet and repeat with remaining eggs. DO NOT WIPE ANYTHING OFF!
  • Let dry 20 minutes.
  • Fill a large bowl with water. The water will remove the excess cream leaving the design on the egg.
  • Gently submerge the egg and then GENTLY dry with paper toweling. DO NOT RUB HARD as you might rub off the design.
  • Store eggs in refrigerator.

NOTE: This can be done substituting shaving cream for whipped cream, but then they are for decoration only and NOT edible!!

And just for your information here is a great little color chart for other methods.

PASTEL DEVILED EGGS

PASTEL DEVILED EGGS

This recipe is making the rounds these days and is absolutely perfect for the late Easter this year. These colored deviled eggs will make a beautiful addition to any Easter table! Also fun to do for baby or wedding showers as well.

EGGS
12 LARGE eggs

  • Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  • Set pan over medium-high heat and bring water to a boil.
  • Turn off heat, cover pan with a lid and let sit for 12 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse eggs under cold water.

FILLING
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons pickle juice
2 teaspoons QUALITY mustard
4 tablespoons FINELY chopped dill pickles
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper (to taste)

  • Peel shells off of the eggs.
  • Cut eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out yolks into a bowl.
  • Add mayonnaise, pickle juice, and mustard to bowl, then mash the yolks and stir until mixture is smooth.
  • Stir in minced pickles and then season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the mixture in a large ziplock bag.
  • Cut the tip off of the ziplock bag and pipe the egg mixture back into the colored eggs.

DYE
6-8 ounces water in a cup
1 teaspoon white vinegar
GEL Food coloring

  • Stir desired color of food coloring into cups of water.
  • Add the vinegar to the colored water.
  • Gently place boiled and peeled eggs into the cups.
  • Let the eggs soak in the colored water for at least 10 minutes until desired shade is achieved.
  • While the eggs are soaking in food colored water prepare the deviled eggs from the recipe above.
  • Gently remove the colored eggs with a large slotted spoon and place them on a stack of paper towels to dry.
  • Pat dry with additional paper towels.
  • Fill with prepared egg mixture.

CHARCUTERIE BOARDS

The greatest meal on a busy holiday eve is a charcuterie board to graze on while you work. 😃

This time of year can be stressful and super busy (normally pre-pandemic) so to make things easier we have gone to making charcuterie boards on the “eve” nights of holidays. The word charcuterie sounds a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Charcuterie Boards are suddenly all the rage, but the culinary art of preparing charcuterie boards dates back to the 15th century. The person who prepares the charcuterie board is a charcutier which literally means “Pork Butcher” in French. The original process/meaning was intended as a way to preserve meat before the invention of refrigeration, especially pork products.

The revived comeback of the charcuterie board brings it front and center to our tables and has been born out of the necessity of our busy lives as well as our love for farm to table and deli style meals that are also quick and easy.

Since the original meaning dealt with preserved meats, adding fermented, farm to table, home canned and prepared foods just falls into place along side the meats.

One of the best things about serving a charcuterie board at your own party is that there are NO RULES! It’s yours for the making – make it as simple or as sophisticated as YOU like. One of the greatest aspects of a charcuterie board is that you can mix it all up to fit EVERYONE’S taste.

You can make these as simple or as sophisticated as YOU like. For us it is ALL about favorites and yummy satisfying and filling “bites” of food. Below is a list of some suggestions for building your own charcuterie board for your next party.

Next year I’m going to do a “DESSERT” charcuterie board for a girlfriends party instead of a cookie exchange.

  • Breads & Crackers – Crostini with toppings, Artisan Breads, Crackers, Fruitcake
  • Spreads – Jams, Chutneys, Dips, Flavored Mustards, Sauces, Dressings, Flavored Honeys, Flavored Horseradishes
  • Fermented/Pickled – Stuffed Olives, Pickles, Green Olives, Giardiniera, Peperoncinis, Pickled Carrots, Baby Corn
  • Cheeses – Cheddar, Havarti, Brie, Baby Swiss, Gouda, Pimiento Cheese, Manchego, Bleu Cheese
  • Meats – Salami, Roast Beef, Pancetta, Prosciutto, Pepperoni, Ham
  • Nuts & Seeds – Pistachios, Walnuts, Pecans, Macadamias, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Chocolate covered raisins
  • Dried fruits – Dates, Prunes, Apricots, Golden Raisins
  • Fresh fruits – Grapes, Oranges, Berries, Apple slices, Pears, Grape tomatoes, Kiwi, Starfruit
  • Decorations – sprigs of Rosemary, Thyme or Basil

 

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 29 ~ NORAD, TRACKING SANTA & THE MEANING of the 12 DAYS of CHRISTMAS

We’re on winter storm watch here just like so many other places this Christmas, but there is no need to worry ~ NORAD will be watching to track Santa’s progress.

Every day of the year, Cheyenne’s Mountain (AKA Stargate to many SYFY fans 😀 ) NORAD defends North America using an all-domain and globally integrated approach to track everything that flies in and around Canada and the United States. But, on Dec. 24, NORAD adds a VERY special mission ~ tracking Santa Claus. 

Like so many origin stories, NORAD’s mission to track Santa truly began by accident when in 1955 a young child, trying to reach Santa, dialed the misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper. Instead of calling Santa, the child called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.  

Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born, that continued when NORAD was formed in 1958.  

Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the world. Because of the support, services and resources generously provided by volunteers and our government and corporate contributors, NORAD Tracks Santa has persevered for more than 65 years.  

In fact, what started because of a typo has flourished and is recognized as one of the Department of Defense’s largest community outreach programs. 

Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives several million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers typically answer more than 130,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children across the globe. 

In addition to the phone line and website, children and the young-at-heart can track Santa through our mobile apps and our social media platforms:  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noradsanta 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NoradSanta 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/NORADTracksSanta  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/noradtrackssanta_official 

NORAD Tracks Santa Website: https://www.noradsanta.org 

NORAD Tracks Santa Newsroom: https://noradsantanews.com/newsroom

Several contributors such as OnStar and Amazon Alexa also provide convenient ways to keep tabs of Santa’s location. 

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.  Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.

It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

  • The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  • Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  • Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
  • The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  • The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  • Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  • The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  • Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  • The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  • The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  • The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol… so pass it on if you wish.’

Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone – and, remember, the Twelve Days of Christmas are the 12 days following December 25th.  The Christmas Season runs until Epiphany, January 6.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 28 ~ CHRISTMAS MENUS

While there are family and even cultural traditions for Christmas menus, we try and vary it to OUR own tastes each year. Sometimes that is also dependent on regional availability of the specialty items needed to create those menus.

This year with it just being the 2 of us, we’re really making a super simple “trimmed” down menu. I found a turkey breast instead of the WHOLE turkey and the butcher is even cutting me an extra small prime rib 😀

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 27 ~ FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

WOW I’m truly blessed with so many to choose from!

Some of my favorites are my very first personal desk when I was 9, my aunt coming to visit from Texas around that same time and sitting on the floor in a leather dress playing  A Barrel of Monkeys with the younger kids or maybe the year I got my first bike, whoops wait that was the birthday before Christmas.

But I think my all time favorite was when my grandfather worked for General Electric as an X-ray technician of sorts (he oversaw the installation and calibration of X-ray equipment) and the year he brought home a GE Snow tree and the beautiful ornate ornaments (I still don’t know the correlation between between being an X-ray technician and Christmas trees).

Anyway this tree had a HUGE decorated cardboard base and once the tree was up and decorated you filled this base with thousands of tiny Styrofoam balls and when you turned the switch on the tree would make it’s own snow.  As a kid I thought it was pretty cool, but as an adult I look back and realize what a MESS it made!! Especially when the Santa Ana winds were blowing and the static electricity was high – those damn balls stuck to EVERYTHING! We lived in the high desert of southern California and the winds were ever present during December, often morphing into their severe form of Devil Winds and the snow was nowhere to be found so the tree was a novelty we all enjoyed.

But wait, that is not my favorite memory.  It turns out that my favorite memory is of trying to stump my dad each AND EVERY year with his gift – it became a mission of sorts to be the first to stump him.  I swear the man was Carnac when it came to knowing what was inside a box. We tried EVERY year to stump him and I don’t remember ever being able to do it.  We tried adding bricks, taping a silver dollar with duct tape to the bottom so it would flip back and forth to make noise when you shook it, the box insides a box trick, adding a pair of old shoes… but he ALWAYS guessed!  I still don’t know how he did it.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 26 ~ GIFTS ~ LAST MINUTE / HOMEMADE

I’m a Virgo and as such tend to make lists and be over-prepared as the general rule.  So, the only last minute gifts I tend to need are a couple extras for those unexpected visits that come up like a surprise gift from a neighbor.

A few of the “things” I keep on hand (with a festive ribbon already tied to them) for those occasions are:

  • Coffee gift cards
  • Homemade JARS such as the Harvest Soup or Brownie mixes I did this year
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Homemade jam
  • And closer to the actual day a plate full of homemade goodies

Here are a couple of recipes I make most years that are great to have around and NEVER EVER go to waste whether they are given as gifts or eaten in house LOL 😀

CARAMEL BUTTERSCOTCH FUDGE
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits
14 ounces Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans
  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips, caramel bits and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with pecans using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
14 ounces Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Crushed Honey Roasted Peanuts or walnuts

  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with peanut pieces using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 25 ~ WHEN DO YOU OPEN PRESENTS?

When does your family open their presents?

This category has changed a lot over the years for me as I have gotten older and had my own family. Being a military family on a tight budget I’ve always started shopping early (like in January) to work everything we want to do into our tight budget. So I anticipate watching as my friends and family open their gifts that I have tried to select perfectly just for them.

My family traditions as a kid were of a BIG Christmas eve open and that carried on through college, but as we (cousins) all got older and began getting married with families of our own, our grandparents passed on, some of us moved away, blended families (with their own traditions) were formed, etc… getting together for both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day became harder and harder to do. 

Eventually Christmas eve became a MUCH smaller event for mainly immediate family for a small dinner and to open our gifts to each other.  Christmas morning was for being at our respective homes with our kids opening presents and then the larger family get together much later on Christmas day for dinner at just one place, usually my mom and dad’s house which became our house after my dad passed away.

These days with everyone all over the country and now with the pandemic, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are mainly just hubby and I with LOTS of phone calls to family and friends and we open our gifts on Christmas morning.

We did attend our Eagles Christmas party yesterday though and opening gifts for the secret gift exchange was part of the activities. It was as if they knew me. I love my new Starbucks coffee cup and hot cocoa! 😀

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 24 ~ CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

I know this category sounds a bit like Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. That was intentional on my part. I believe there are truly lessons to be learned from that story! I don’t believe that we have to be the mean spirited, unkind Ebeneezer Scrooge with a life gone wrong though LOL 😀 in order to benefit from the lessons. We can CHOOSE to live a better life and be PRESENT in order to make a better FUTURE. There is ALWAYS room to BE BETTER and MORE loving and MORE giving!

Christmas Past is a COMPLETELY subjective category. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the traditions and the memories that weave our holidays together. It’s little things like the who puts the lights on the tree or the angel on top of it. It’s the favorite recipes that you only make at Christmas time. It’s the laughter of the munchkins each morning as they discover what mischief AnnaBelle has gotten into. It’s a baking day with the munchkins making your favorite traditional recipes to share on Giving plates to the neighbors…

Last year was an unusual Christmas for us with my surgery and it’s life altering outcome, but we did follow many of our normal traditions like putting up the tree, Christmas Eve service with our neighbor who attended the same church and Christmas Eve dinner at a friends (even if I couldn’t eat anything 😀 ).

This category for me is also subjective based on where we were living at the time. This year being back in the cold of the Pacific Northwest is actually making me remember Snowy Christmases for some reason.  A couple of my favorite Christmases were when we were in Upper Peninsula Michigan.  Maybe it was the trees, water and snow, but for me it was also the old churches.  There was so much history there.  These are 2 of my favorite country churches from Michigan.  I took these pictures in 2011 at Christmas time ON THE SAME DAY. That’s how fast weather changes with lake effect snow!

I JUST LOVE OLD CHURCHES! The bottom 3 pictures are from a REALLY neat stone church in the middle of town.
But, my favorite country church is from a teeny tiny little town called Mansfield. It was once a growing little town until there was a mine disaster.  Now all that exists is the monument to the disaster, the church and a few random homes.
And then while cleaning out some old files I found these OLD Christmas pictures from a million years ago, well maybe not a million, but a really LONG time ago!  Just goes to show you how subjective your memories of the past can be. The little boy with his back to you is my brother who in the next picture though much younger is much bigger than I am. I have NO idea what that look is all about, but it doesn’t look like I was very happy 😀 And it seems like there are a bunch of pictures with us sitting on that step 😀

FUTURE
None of us actually know what the future holds. I pray that it holds an end to this crazy pandemic and a return to a more traditional friends and family centered holiday and everyday life for us all!

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 23 ~ THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas is the most important holiday to me and not because Santa comes, though that is pretty important to the kiddos, but more importantly, it’s a caring spirit, a sharing feeling, an attitude that I try to practice all year long.  I truly feel good about giving – whether it’s the Angel trees I select gifts for or the smile from the Salvation Army bell ringer as you put your money in their red bucket and wish them Merry Christmas. 

For 10 years I chaired an Angel Tree Program for FISH and I loved doing it! I prepared for it every year and I truly believe each year got better and better.  The night before we distributed the gifts I would go shopping for the teenage girls.  We were ALWAYS lacking in gifts for the teen girls no matter what we tried to boost things up for them.  So now when I choose the angels from the trees in the community I seek out the teenage girls specifically.

Christmas means lots and lots of memories of family, some no longer with us, but ALWAYS in my heart when I hang an ornament that reminds me of that person or a recipe that they always prepared like my dad’s, Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing or Gram’s Christmas box full of goodies picked out just for each one of us or…

One of the things I try to practice is to make at least one homemade gift each year – nothing extravagant, but just something that says “I MADE THIS with LOVE JUST FOR YOU“.

The years that we host the Christmas holidays we include a lot of family recipes.  But,  more importantly, Christmas is the spirit of Love and Giving and it must be felt and shared. Christmas is a gift from above and each year as I grow older I realize more and more that Christmas is about Love, Peace, Sharing, Caring and just being together.

I can only answer for myself, but I assume for those that are not religious, the meaning of Christmas is still a celebration, but one of celebrating friendships and family by gathering to eat together, share their time and share tokens of appreciation in the form of gifts with others.


May we ALL carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all throughout the year by remembering the REAL reason for the season.