Easter kind of snuck up on me this year!
My husband and I took a quick trip to North Carolina to his family’s cabin in Waynesville. It’s not normally my favorite place to stay since “rustic” is a generous way to describe the accomodations. The ancient dishwasher from the forties needs to be hauled across the kitchen floor and hooked up to the sink; this no longer operates at all, so all dishes have to be hand washed. Since it was just the two of us, this wasn’t much of a problem.
The bed in the “Master bedroom” (and I use this term loosely) takes up almost all of the available floor space and, even at that, isn’t very big so, when sleeping (or attempting to) we’re right on top of each other. Every wiggle results in an adjacent wag and neither one of us gets a good night’s sleep. After the first night of this mayhem, I took to sleeping in the guest bedroom in a cozy twin-size bed. I missed my two-ton weighted blanket!
The pre-fab bathroom, with vintage linoleum, a rusty metal storage cabinet and dusty duck decor from the 80’s, is now equipped with a rain forest showerhead, which proceeds to cover every square inch of the shower stall. I don’t know whose brilliant idea this was, but obviously not a person who cared about keeping their blow-dried hair dry intact. I was forced to go purchase a hideous pink shower cap.
We arrived in the middle of a violent rain storm and were greeted with dirty towels, left by the previous visitors, dirty sheets on the dryer AND a forecast of rain all week. I can take rain and I can take cold, but rain and cold is not Muy Bueno!
Yet still… There’s a little stream that runs by the cabin and it’s a very relaxing way to go to sleep. Kind of like a meditation app, turned to “mountain stream” and there is something to be said about “fresh mountain air” and waking up with a view of the Great Smoky mountains. It was also refreshing to be in a location where they actually experience seasons; Spring had just started emerging in North Carolina and luckily the rain forecasted did not turn out to be true.
I enjoyed using my plant app to investigate different plants and trees around the neighborhood. The yellow Forsythia were brilliant on my many walks up and down the hilly streets, the sour cherry were blooming in delicate white and pink flowers that showered down on the ground, and a sweet little Lily of the Valley bush adorned the corner of our street. Robins, something I rarely see in Miami, were abundant in North Carolina, with their red breasts crowding on front lawns and in trees. If there was ever a harbinger of Spring, it is the robin.
Also, in North Carolina, ramps (also known as wild leek) emerge from the soil in the Spring. They are something of a delicacy since they’re only available for three months in the Spring and have to be foraged in the forest. Chefs go crazy for them. When we visited the Farmer’s Market in Asheville, however, the ramps that were left were puny, little green stumps.
“They’ve only just come out this week,” the hefty man at the Farmer’s Market explained. “They’ll probably be bigger next week. Have a Blessed Day!”
We’d come to get ramps and some kind of meat to Bar-B-Que, but the meat person wasn’t at the Farmer’s Market so we left, empty handed. We were taunted by signs saying “Don’t forget the meat!” and when we went back to the car, there was something in a plastic bag in the trunk of the car. I opened it up. It was pork chops we’d purchased at Ingles grocery store the day before.
“Looks like you forgot your meat,” I said to Zeke.
We’d arrived Thursday night in the middle of a violent rain storm, so, as we unpacked the car, the pork chops got left behind. We went to a Butcher Shop in Asheville (The Chop Shop Butchery) and got a pork chop and steak to take home and grill. The steak was HUGE- like a Fred Flinstone Brontosaurus Steak, but my favorite was the Pork Chop. I whipped up a quick rub and Zeke grilled it. Served with boiled corn on the cob from the Farmer’s Market (ironically from Florida), grilled asparagus, sliced cherry tomatoes and garlic bread, it may have been the best pork chop I’ve ever had in my life.
My thoughts while in North Carolina, however, were on my grandchildren, my future grandson Phoenix, and my daughter A.J.’s family baby shower on Saturday after we got back. I was making Spaghetti sauce, Meatballs and Sausage for that and already had my Cotsco list ready, when it dawned on me, Easter was Sunday. I’m not a particularly religious person, so this could be the reason it escaped me, but more likely than not, I just have a lot going on in my life. All good, so no complaints, but busy!
Luckily A.J. had a Honeybaked Ham from Christmas she’d frozen. I’m rounding out the menu with Buttermilk Biscuits, Mustard Sauce, Broccoli Salad, Potatoes Gratin and a Carrot Salad. The Carrot Salad (Gajjara Kosambabi) was one of a whole series of Indian recipes from the New York Times Food Section that I was planning on making, but they called for so many ingredients I didn’t have, I just gave up and made the carrot salad. I’m not sure I’m crazy about it, but carrots remind me of bunnies, and bunnies remind me of Easter, hence why I made it. I did try a fun technique for lemon juice which I saw on the internet. If you only need a little amount of lemon juice, poke a skewer in one end and squeeze out the amount you need. This eliminates the seeds and helps the cut lemon from going bad quickly. Kind of like when you would stick one of those plastic thingamagigs into a fresh orange to suck the juice out. The video is below.
While I’m still on the carrot kick, I might make a colorful and fragrant Carrot Ginger Soup to go with the meal if I get a chance, although with a toddler, a five year old and a newborn baby eating with us, any kind of an attempt at a civilized meal with more than one course is dicey, at best. Emma’s bringing Corn Dip, Courtney a Fruit Salad and Chris a Coconut Flan he’s had his eye on but couldn’t justify buying. We will have an Easter Egg Hunt at some point in the day.
I have just hard boiled thirty eggs. My first attempt was in the Insta Pot, which resulted in two cracked shells. The Insta Pot is great for hard boiled eggs if you’re going to just eat them, as it makes the shells easy to peel, but I went back to my original method for hard boiling eggs to dye, which left me with no broken shells.
Fool-proof Hard Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in a heavy duty saucepan. Fill with cold water that comes 1″ over the eggs and put heat on high. Once the water boils, cover the pot, remove from heat and let sit 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, put in a cold water bath with ice and water.
I usually have asparagus at Easter, so I will give you my favorite asparagus recipe. It’s easy, quick and I think the addition of fresh lemon juice pairs perfectly with the Spring-forward asparagus spears.
Roasted Asparagus from Joy of Cooking
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Snap off the bottoms of 1 pound of asparagus. Arrange the spears in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and drizzle over them very lightly Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Toss the spears to coat lightly. Roast until tender but still slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with: salt and pepper to taste, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, tarragon or chives.
Serve garnished with lemon wedges to squeeze over.
Have a Blessed Easter, Happy Passover or just Celebrate Spring!