sunny days

>> April 18, 2009

going home on a non-break weekend always throws off my schedule. while i'm on vacation, i forget that the rest of psu isn't. i abandon all responsibility, and it's extremely difficult to get back into the swing of routine. it's taken me all week to refocus after going home for easter, especially because i drove back on monday morning and didn't have a day to catch up. it was also doubly-hard because i had such a lovely time at home.

i left early on thursday and spent the whole weekend hanging out with my family. val, adam, and dan came up on friday, so we had a full house (well, i suppose we could have fit 2 more people on the pull-out in the living room...). we're a family of holiday traditions; val and i will never be too old to dye eggs or get easter "baskets" with that annoying plastic grass (this year they were big gift bags, but still full of goodies). i always get sweet tart chicks and bunnies, and val always gets gummy bears. we're creatures of habit.

it's also important to note that i have beaten destroyed val in the easter egg hunt every year since i could walk (roughly age 3 -- i was crafty and figured out that if i didn't learn to walk, people would just carry me everywhere. this approach to life failed). i'm not sure when the competitive traditions emerged (the christmas jesus-people war is highly intense), but i live for the glory. i remember one year when we lived in chicago and no one took the eggs out of the fridge on saturday night before bed. when the easter bunny came in the morning he couldn't find them. we didn't have a hunt. i was devastated. since i went to college, my mom has tried to insist that we don't need to hide the eggs anymore. sadly, this year she finally won. she also totally dropped the ball and didn't buy ANY PEEPS. in her defense, we did try to get some on friday and saturday, and everywhere was completely out. i'm totally jealous of all those kids who are enjoying their week-old stale peeps (the only way to eat one, duh). 

i guess the hot cross buns from the april issue of martha stewart living (with currants subbed in for the cherries and raisins) made up for it, though. they were a great centerpiece for our light breakfast of smoked salmon on pumpernickel toast and fruit. obviously we needed to save room for the feast:

it wasn't particularly fancy, but it's the meal we've had every easter i can remember. we've vamped up a few of the oldies for better dishes, but the flavors and components are still there. spiral-sliced honey baked ham, a green vegetable (it was probably peas or spinach when my grandma cooked), potatoes (recently au gratin with gruyere; i remember little boiled red ones), and pepperidge farms dinner rolls (always. forever.), and my mom's magical carrots. i finally learned the secret to these magic carrots: there is no secret. these carrots are val and my most-requested dish. i always thought she sprinkled them with magic fairy dust, but this year i learned that there's not even butter or salt! they're just carrots, peeled and cut into little coins and cooked in a little bit of water until they're soft but not mushy. if you doubt, try it tonight. i made them last night for me and allyson -- she's now a believer.

no ham dinner is ever complete without pineapple. when my great grandmother was alive, she served a tiny little juice glass (apparently we can only drink juice from shot-sized glasses in my family) of pineapple juice as the appetizer to the meal. we have bagged this tradition in favor of the most fantastic dish i can explain: pineapple stuffing.

the recipe could be featured easily on paula deen's show, meaning that just reading it is likely to clog your arteries and reduce your life expectancy by at least 5%. however, you'll be so much happier that you've eaten this that dying early won't matter. heaven will undoubtedly be full of pineapple stuffing. it's the easiest thing to make, and it involves cubing bread, which is one of my favorite kitchen activities (this is something i can't explain and makes me weird). 

pineapple stuffing

(we doubled this, to give you a sense of how much it makes from the picture)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 20-oz can of crushed pineapple
5 slices of white bread, crustless and cut into 1/2" cubes

preheat the oven to 350* and butter a small casserole or glass baking dish.
drain the pineapple in a mesh strainer. you want to get out all of the liquid, so repeating this might be necessary. you won't use the juice, so save it for dessert! cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. beat in the eggs, one at a time. add in the bread cubes, and mix a few more times until everything is incorporated. pour the batter into the pan and cook for 1 hour, until the top is lightly browned and bubbly, and the edges are crispy. allow to rest for a bit before serving.

my additional tip: always be the person to package up the leftovers; the crispy bits will get stuck to the edges of the dish, and you get to pick them out and indulge. 

we finished off the meal with ina's lemon yogurt cake with fresh berries in framboise, which my mom has been meaning to make for like 5 years. it was excellent, even as a leftover from the fridge 3 days later.

you can see the rest of my easter pictures (some taken by adam, some taken by me) here. i've also updated my food album with some pictures of what i've been munching on this week. nothing super interesting, but still good.

the weather is gorgeous this weekend, and i'm going to take advantage of it by going for a run outside instead of at the gym before talking up the SHC at an offer session this afternoon.

happy spring!



Sara April 20, 2009 at 3:22 AM  

That lemon yogurt cake looks to-die-for!!

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