As a child, Easter was a big event. Not as big as Christmas, but similar to a birthday. There was anticipation, excitement, and a sense of importance attached to the day.
The Easters of my childhood usually followed a similar structure. There was an Easter egg hunt in the morning, to find small eggs left by the Easter bunny. There was a bigger egg or chocolate rabbit from my parents. We would see my Australian grandparents for lunch, and that meeting would generate more chocolate. The lunch itself was appropriately eventful too: a hot lunch, perhaps a roast, which was not common in my family. After lunch we might go for a walk, or visit a park. In later years we sometimes had picnics.
These days, Easter is still an occasion for time with family, but it is not a big occasion. The magic of those childhood Easters has necessarily gone. I can now buy chocolate any day of the year, for a start. I still scatter eggs around the house for Mr Bite to collect, but the exhilaration of an Easter bunny visit is lacking.
I don't mind this change. I am not reflecting on past Easters out of a sense of nostalgia, other than the twang that comes with realising that grandparents we once celebrated with are gone. My reflection is more on how things change, how childhood Easters can morph into something equally enjoyable but more casual, less eventful. More adult, I suppose.
|Don't focus too much on the icing...|
Yesterday, our family celebrations fell in the evening as my sister was working during the day. To facilitate the merging of families and one much loved dog, Mr Bite and I hosted. It was a fun night. We quadrupled the normal number of people around our dining room table. I made more food than needed, and we have a fridge full of leftovers to balance out chocolates. It is a good position to be in.
Honouring my preference to roast or bake dishes when I'm hosting people, so as to avoid standing over a stove top when guests arrive, most of the savoury dishes were oven cooked. I made a variation of stuffed peppers that I have made many a time, and a variation of the maple and balsamic roast vegetables and tofu I have posted previously. The variation on the maple and balsamic dish was simply in the vegetables: pumpkin, potato and cauliflower instead of carrot, sweet potato and potato. The pepper recipe is below. When paired with a green salad, some Turkish bread and hummus, we had plenty of food.
I also made rum and raisin cupcakes. To be honest, I am not entirely sure about these. I liked them, but my taste buds didn't quite know how to categorise them. My previous rum and raisin experiences have been with chocolate, and these are not chocolate. I have never drunk rum of the alcoholic variety or cooked with it. I thus found these a little odd, but nonetheless delicious. Others seemed to enjoy them, and if you are more familiar with rum, perhaps it would be easier to slot their flavour into a mental taste map. Alternatively, Mr Bite has just informed me that he couldn't taste rum at all (!). He has never drunk it either, so perhaps neither of us are the right people to be proffering opinions on rum-related flavours. I can attest that, as with all vegan cupcakes, these are light and fluffy and sweet.
Easter these days may not be the Easter of my childhood memories, but I am very grateful to have it just as it is.
Roast peppers with currants and pine nuts
Makes 8 to 10 pepper halves
4 to 5 green and red peppers, cut in half length-ways and seeds removed
Oil, for cooking
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (either pre-prepared or made using a stock cube)
1 bunch basil, chopped
Black pepper, a few cracks
Preheat your oven to 200'C and place the halved peppers in a baking tray. Spray or brush with oil and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until softened.
Meanwhile, saute the onion in a large saucepan until soft. Add the carrot and zucchini, reduce heat to low, and stir regularly until the vegetables are just starting to soften. Set aside when ready.
While the vegetables are cooking, place the rice and vegetable stock in a separate saucepan, cover, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 - 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
When Steps 1 through 3 are complete, combine the rice and vegetables and add the currants and pine nuts. Add the chopped basil and black pepper and stir through.
Spoon the rice mixture into the pepper halves. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, covering with foil after 15 - 20 minutes.
Rum and raisin cupcakes with vanilla frosting
Adapted from the rum and raisin cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
Set one -
2/3 cup raisins
2 tsp rum extract
1 tbsp water
Set two -
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup minus 1 tsp soy milk
Set three -
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Set four -
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
For the icing
2 tbsp non-dairy spread (I used Nuttelex)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp soy milk
Ingredient set one: Soak the raisins in the rum extract and water, for approximately 30 minutes.
While the raisins are soaking, pre-heat your oven to 170'C and line a 12-pan muffin tray with cupcake liners.
Ingredient set two: Place the apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup and top up with soy milk. Set aside to curdle.
Ingredient set three: Combine the oil, sugar, molasses and extracts in a large measuring bowl and stir to combine. Add the curdled vinegar / soy milk.
Ingredient set four: Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Stir to just combine.
Transfer batter to the prepared baking tray and bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until just golden and the tops spring back when touched. Allow to cool in the pan for 2 - 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
When completely cool, make the icing by beating together the non-dairy spread and icing sugar, then adding the vanilla and soy milk and beating until light and fluffy. Pipe over the cupcakes.
I am sending the stuffed peppers to Ricki's Wellness Weekend 4th to 8th April 2013.
Do you do much cooking with (or drinking of!) rum?
And what did you get up to for Easter Sunday?