Today I am making my final preparations for Easter dinner.
Most of our family, plus a lot of our extended family, is coming for dinner and I think it is going to be a beautiful day. Because we have a big crowd coming, everyone pitches in. I provide some of the main dishes, and all the guests bring their favorite dish as well. We always have lots of fun things to eat, and always some new surprise dishes.
Today’s job is to make one last stop at the grocery store to get those last minute items, and to color my Easter eggs. Some of my older grandkids are coming to help me do that. I am hoping to find some nice strawberries for my grandson Grady’s birthday cake — a strawberry shortcake “with lots of whipped cream.” His birthday on Monday is also Earth Day so he and Mike have a tree already picked out to plant at the Governor’s Residence — a Wright Brothers Sugar Maple tree, developed by natural selection by Siebenthaler Nursery in Dayton. That will be fun for all the kids!
This year I bought a big bone-in whole ham. Even though they are a little harder to carve, I like them because they are very juicy. (And my brother John always carves it for me so I don’t have to worry about that!) To bake it I trim some of the fat off, score it in a diamond pattern, and cover it with a paste of mustard, brown sugar and a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves. Since the ham is pre-cooked, you don’t have to worry about getting it done. I generally cook it for about 12 to 15 minutes a pound — to an internal temperature of 130 degrees. And I am also roasting a small turkey as a back-up for those who don’t want ham.
Since I am trying to keep our meal simple and not have the hassle of making mashed potatoes after church, I am making my easy potato casserole using frozen hash brown potatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper, covered with cream, and then baked. They are always a favorite — plus I don’t have to make gravy. I’ve already made 8 dozen honey dinner rolls, safely in the freezer now. I will take them out 3 hours early to let them rise and bake them right before we eat.
The beautiful fresh asparagus in the grocery inspired me to make some roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese. And my rhubarb patch here at the residence is really full, calling me to make some of my mother’s rhubarb pies! I’m even going to cook up a small bowl of it today with sugar and water. (2 cups rhubarb, 3 cups water, ¼ cup sugar). Then I’ll strain the juice and add some to one of my pitchers of lemonade — just for a fresh spring taste!
Later in the day, after dinner, more friends and relatives will come. Then we will have an Easter egg roll, Easter egg relay and Easter egg hunt on the lawn. After all that work outside, surely everyone will be hungry enough to eat up all the leftovers, and I’ll have a big pot of turkey and noodles ready just in case anyone is still hungry!
Oven-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place in bowl:
1 bunch fresh thin asparagus (break off ends)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Toss to coat. Arrange on cookie sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with:
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Bake 12-15 minutes, depending on thickness. Just before serving, sprinkle with:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
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Mom’s Rhubarb Pie
1 prepared pie crust (plus extra for lattice top if you like)
Mix together in bowl:
4 cups cut-up rhubarb
1 ¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup flour
In small bowl whisk together:
¼ cup light cream or milk
Pour over fruit. Toss to mix. Pour into prepared unbaked pie shell. At this point you can add a lattice top, or pastry cut-outs, or just sprinkle with a little additional sugar. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until top is set. Cool on wire rack. Makes 8 servings.
Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native, guest columnist and First Lady of Ohio.