Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Fun

As someone who believes in God without religion, Easter has never been a spiritually important time for me. Instead, I prefer the pagan ritual of celebrating the Spring Equinox. Did you know, the word Easter is actually derived from the name of the Goddess Eostre who represented the renewal of life - sunrise, spring-time and fertility?

Spring has always been my favourite time of the year. To me Spring is happiness and new life, flowers and butterflies, warm weather and cool breezes, colour, fun, sunshine, dandelions, fluffy clouds, trickling streams, green grass and baby birds.

With a constant state of little boy wonderment toddling along by my side I felt inspired this year more than any other time to put a bit of effort into celebrating Easter.

First, a rabbit ... I saw a cute little sock rabbit on Elsie Marley's blog and thought it looked simple enough to make even with Kaya "helping" me. All I needed was one of Kaya's mismatched socks, some matching thread and some cotton (picked from the cotton field next door):

The cute bunny tail was the first step:

Next, I shaped the body and tied it off at the neck:

Stuffing the head was next:

Although the next step was just as easy as all the previous steps, it did take a bit of time.  First I cut the top of the sock right down the middle to the top of the bunny's head to make the two ears and then closed each ear with a some simple stitching:

And here's the completed bunny with another bunny friend:

How's that for a simple and very cute little Easter decoration?  Even better, each bunny meant one less mismatched sock lying around!

Since this craft was so easy and so much fun to do, I got into Martha Stewart mode and started searching the internet for something else to make. Eventually I decided to make some easter bread to take to Easter supper at Angeline and Wolf's place. The recipe from Simple Bites looked simple enough (for me, "simple" is a prerequisite for making every cooking decision) even though it was still bread.

My bread-making record is pretty dismal. My 1/2 dozen attempts over the past couple of months have all been less than .... bread-like .... and I'd told Murat a couple of days before I tried this recipe that if I wasn't able to deliver the goods on my seventh try then I'd buy a bread maker. I don't know what I do wrong. But the bread always ends up wet and doughy in the middle or it doesn't rise or it just tastes really bad! I've tried everything like pre-testing the yeast, kneading the dough for hours (not really that long), using different flours, trying different temperatures of water or milk and even meditating beforehand. Nothing has worked. Until now that is!

I followed this recipe almost exactly but ended up having to keep it in the oven MUCH longer than specified. Did I mention that my oven is a piece of crap? Oh and I did modify the ingredients very slightly. Instead of all-purpose white flour I used wholewheat flour. I also used raw goat milk from our local village pasture fed goats, fresh eggs from the free range chooks in the village, fresh yellow butter, and olive oil instead of vegetable oil for shining up the eggs. And if I'd had more time I would have made natural dyes for the eggs instead of the not-so-good-for-eating artificial food colouring that I did use (I just made sure no one ate the pieces of bread stained by the dye).

This is what the dough looked like after I'd kneaded it for ages:

And this is what it looked like after I'd lovingly plated it and gently placed it in the baking tin:

And this is what it looked like right before it was eaten - a little more black than golden but no one complained.

Although not exactly breakfast bread, it's bread none-the-less. And it rose perfectly! And it wasn't wet and doughy in the middle! And it tasted lovely! Perhaps the secret is in the added sugar. Or the eggs. Or maybe it's the plating of the dough. Who knows? But this recipe is definitely a keeper. I made it again last night with some mashed banana thrown in and half the giant loaf has been gobbled up already! Next time I'm going to try it without the sugar since sugar's not a favourite ingredient in this household. Wish me luck!