The daffodils are a sunshine-y yellow in the gardens at the Governor’s Residence and the red buds that frame the front door are opening up.
This morning, as I walked around the yard with Dolly, the cherry blossoms were falling on the grass like snowflakes. The Yoshino cherry tree is a direct descendant of the Japanese cherry trees that First Lady Helen Taft planted in 1912 at the Washington D.C. Tidal Basin.
As I sit here and write this column, I feel so excited about this season — the flowers, the singing birds, the spring showers, and Easter! Mike and I are so happy to have our family here this Easter weekend.
Some of our children and grandchildren are coming for a sleepover Saturday night — which is always fun in this old house. After Easter Mass on Sunday morning, we’ll have brunch, and then an Easter egg hunt. There is nothing more fun than watching the little ones run around the lawn with their Easter baskets looking for eggs! I like traditional decorated hard-boiled eggs, but I do also like to fill some plastic eggs with candy, and some with nickels and dimes and quarters (to keep it interesting!).
It will be the first time the little kids get to see my Peter Rabbit Story Book Trail that I’ve been writing about. I hope they love the giant willow oak tree, and use their imagination to envision Peter and his family living there. They can linger at the Bunny Bakery and find the tiny bowl and wooden spoon, and bread pan and muffin tins. I’ll leave a basket of tiny currant buns for them to try. Then they can head over to the blackberry plants (that are now getting their leaves!) where Flopsy Mopsy and Cottontail will later pick berries, then off to Mr. McGregor’s garden to see the radishes and lettuce that are coming up. They’ll see Peter’s tiny blue coat hanging like a scarecrow there. The story ends in the herb garden: Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail are sitting around a wooden table with their tiny cups and a bowl of berries. Peter is in a little bed (one my dad made for Barbies), all covered up because he doesn’t feel well, with a tiny cup of chamomile tea by his bed. I’ll have some small tables set with little tin tea sets, currant buns and tea so the real kids — Calvin and Meg and Tadhg —can join them for a party!
When we rest up from all of that, it will be time for our traditional Easter dinner. We’re having baked ham, a turkey breast, and all the fixings, including my rolls. I’m lucky that my kids are helping me make the food. All of them are great cooks.
I want to make this day extra special because it’s Anna’s 30th birthday. For brunch, she asked for Monte Cristo sandwiches, a favorite of hers from a little tea restaurant close to her college in Alabama. I’ll make the ham, turkey and cheese sandwiches ahead, then just dip them in egg batter and grill them at the last minute. For dessert, she picked a traditional chocolate cake (my mix-in-the-pan recipe) frosted with the simplest icing: 1 cup milk plus a small packet of instant pudding, mixed with a small tub of Cool Whip.
I’m also making our favorite Easter cake which is made of angel food cake torn in pieces and folded into hot lemon pudding. I put it into a 9×13 pan to chill. Then I cut it in the shape of a cross, piecing pieces together, and frost it with whipped cream. It is simple and the cross beautifully represents Easter.
Have a joyous Easter!
Granny Liddle’s Lemon- Angel Cross Cake
1 ready-made angel food cake – Tear into bite-sized pieces.
2- 3 oz. packages lemon pudding mix – Cook according
to directions, reducing water to 2 cups for each mix, and
adding an extra egg yolk for each mix. Cool.
Toss the cake pieces and the lemon pudding very lightly, and put into a slightly oiled 9×13 cake pan. Chill. About an hour or so before serving, cut into cross shape and turn out into serving platter. You can piece together the pieces to form a cross. Then ice with lightly-sweetened whipped cream. Keep refrigerated.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.