Between the ages of say 3 and 18, I probably would have picked Christmas as my favorite holiday of the year, had anyone asked me. No mystery there. People buy you things and for a kid that’s where it begins and ends. As I got older and began raising my own family, the act of giving became more important than receiving. Don’t know exactly when I came to that realization, it just happened.
It was probably along about that same time that I began to prefer Easter to Christmas. While I still love everything about Christmas; the decorations, the carols, the food . . . I started seeing Easter as a prelude to Spring – a rebirth after the long dark and cold Winter. Lent is the season that re-introduces me to the drama and beauty of Easter week, and it ends this week at 6pm on Holy Thursday.
As is always the case with any major holiday, there are ethnic and traditional dishes without which, the holiday would not seem the same. Our traditional Easter fare involves a ham (sometimes boneless, sometimes semi-boneless), at least a 5lb bag of mashed potatoes laced with butter and sour cream, asparagus spears, the ubiquitous green bean casserole, a token pasta dish to pay homage to our Mediterranean heritage and assorted sweets and breads. Other families enjoy a niece leg of lamb or even a turkey but Easter for us is all about the ham.
One of the most popular condiments making its appearance at any large family dinner is gravy! It’s simple to make (though not simple to make “well”) and relatively inexpensive. You merely save the drippings from whatever cut of meat you’re cooking, add a little flour or corn starch and liquid then continue stirring until it thickens, which it inevitably will.
In our household, gravy making usually falls to my mother-in-law. Apparently, she has more patience and expertise than my wife. It’s probably due more to the fact that my wife doesn’t like to do it, however. The end result is always delicious and well received as it smothers a mound of creamy mashed potatoes or even slices of meat. Gravy can go a long way to rescuing an overdone cut of turkey, ham or roast beef. To this day, one of my favorite diner entrees is a hot roast beef sandwich with fries, smothered with toothsome beef gravy!
I’d never tried ham gravy until my mother-in-law introduced me to it. It’s perhaps a little more “red” than chicken gravy but based on whatever kind of ham glaze or pineapple garnish you’re using, it’s absolutely dee-lish-us!
Just a friendly reminder . . . Costa’s Supermarket and Ace Hardware will both be closed the entire day Easter Sunday . . .as is always the case on this most solemn and holy holiday.