An Easter Tradition

Posted by in Food and Recipes

Easter traditionThis past Easter, I prepared a meal that I grew up with. Like many families, we had an Easter tradition. It centered around my mother. Everything about is her. Even though she’s been gone for 10 years now, a day doesn’t pass without a thought of her.

The Traditional Easter Dinner

Our Easter dinner did not vary year to year. The same elements always were present. It included a ham, typically, one out of a can and heated. There was cold Kielbasa, hardboiled eggs, and her special Slovak cheese called cirak.

My mom often made foods from scratch, but that was usually of a baked good variety. The cirak was the only cheese she made that I know of. I found a recipe in the church cookbook she gave me years ago.

Making Cirak

The instructions are simple. Heat eggs, salt, and milk gently until it looked like scrambled eggs. There was no mention of temperature or curdling, but you get the idea.

The magic begins around 165 degrees F. By 180 degrees, it is well underway. At that point, you drain it for a hour—according to the recipe. Then, you weight it down to compress the curds and drain more of the whey off for about two hours.

It’s not fancy, just plain rustic cooking. She probably learned the recipe from her mom. I made it as the cookbook instructed, albeit, halving the amount for just my husband and me.

The Spread

I threw in some modernist touches that my mom may have approved of. Instead of hard boiled eggs, we had deviled eggs. The Kielbasa and ham were there, along with some cucumber bites and cream cheese filled celery sticks. I even used her revolving serving platter, inherited from when she passed. In the center was Mom’s cheese.

Maybe it’s because the 10-year anniversary of her passing is approaching. I had to wipe away a tear or two, thinking of Easter dinners from the past. Mom’s spread included her homemade nut rolls and roshki.

The star of the show was her lamb cake. It was a yellow cake made in an aluminum mold. She made a frosting that took 10 minutes of whipping to get its light-as-air consistency. With jelly beans for eyes, and the setup was complete.

The Tradition Lives On

Every year, I make the same Easter meal, albeit, without the sweets. (The baking gene, alas, did not make it into my DNA.) And every year, I’ll think of her and the tradition that lives on in our home.

Happy Easter, Mom. I love you. Chris DR

Image by Chris DR. All rights reserved. cc