Did you ever think about why certain foods are tied into particular holidays? Usually, it’s either for purely practical reasons (a time limit on the freshness of meats, for example) or because mom and grandma did it that way, and it’s become a way of life.
Lamb as the entree for Easter dinner is easy to figure out. It’s symbolic because of the early tradition of sacrificing the youngest and most tender, unblemished animals — the best.
More recently ham has become a favorite at Easter. That’s a little harder to figure out. Maybe just because it tastes so good, but it probably has to do with more practical things, such as the amount of time it takes to cure pork.
When I was a child, mine was a ham family when it came to Easter dinner. For dinner, we always had baked ham, southern-style potato salad (with mustard and mayo, hard-boiled eggs and sweet pickle relish), peas, pineapple in one form or another, deviled eggs and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Back then, I never asked questions about the whys and wherefores I just ate and enjoyed.
Most of us are no longer eating the same kind of heavy, end-of-day meals that our ancestors ate to celebrate holidays (Thanksgiving being a notable exception). Especially for Easter, brunch has become a go-to meal. It’s nice to have family and friends over, have some of the traditional foods together, and still have time to enjoy the day and make some memories, working off a few calories before the end of the day.
Our family Easter feast this year will be at Jenny’s house. Brunch is the name of the game. The “be all and end all” will be, of course, dessert. Jenny’s Pavlova will be the piece de resistance. By special request, mom’s homemade lemon squares will also make an appearance. Happy Easter.
MOM’S SUMMIT LEMON SQUARES
For the pastry
2 sticks softened salted butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix butter, flour and confectioner’s sugar. Press into a 10 inch by 14 inch pan.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
For the filling
6 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups granulated sugar
9 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup pecan pieces, optional
In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar and lemon juice.
Mix flour and baking powder; combine. Pour on top of cooled pastry.
Bake in preheated 325 degree oven 45-50 minutes. When set but not browned, remove from oven and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
Cut into bars when cool.
Makes about 45 1 1/2 inch squares.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.