I was keen to do something special to mark the first Easter in my very own house.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I have learned to appreciate the little luxuries and small staples of happiness more than ever. This has meant a stripping back of the extravagant and the bustling in my quest to pursue the deep-routed contentment that many of us battled to cling on to in the upheaval of lockdown. I reminded myself of the sheer bliss of a good page-turner, the pacifying effects of houseplants, the nourishment of tasty, home-made food, and the value of loved ones.
Like everybody else, I've had to adapt to lockdown life, and have had to be imaginative in the face of adversity. (Que home-crafted afternoon teas, make-shift cinemas in the living room, and virtual marathons!)
I didn’t want Easter to be an overly grand affair, but one that saw the day infused with the elements of the divine simplicity of the occasion and all its stands for. I wanted to delve into the warmth of nostalgia, while creating some new memories, perfectly grown out of the gratification of life's littlest and loveliest pleasures.
Growing up with a German grandmother, Easter was a hugely celebrated event in our family.
And so I thought what could be more special than taking inspiration from elements of the Grandma Barbara/ German Easters I so immensely relished as a child?
I have referenced the smell of hyacinths in many of my blogs. The flowers – kept in my Grandma’s porch year after year – were the ringing church bells of the onset of spring.
As mentioned in a recent article, I treated myself to a tray of hyacinths a few weeks ago, which have set my home office alight with a sensational mixture of nostalgia and rapture.
We have a large, rambling garden which has been shamefully deprived of TLC since we moved in, due to a combination of lockdowns and poor weather. Fortunately for us, the garden does suit its current rugged look, especially as a sweep of wildflower have popped up since the decline of winter. Our flowerbeds are absolutely peppered with daffodils!
Last week, I was thrilled to find some glorious snow-white hyacinths shyly peeping out from the depths of the ivy. The discovery felt like a sign from my Grandma, and left me feeling quite emotional.
(... The daffodils have also sprung up over Marzipan's grave, but I'm not allowing my emotions to buy in to that one. If that hamster had this way, a plant constructed purely of human flesh would have undoubtedly appeared. Flesh was, after all, his favourite delicacy.)
^ Our little surprise daffodils in the garden!
Easter Tree –
Ostereierbaum is the German Easter tradition of decorating trees.
A vase filled with an assortment of twigs dripping with intricately decorated wooden eggs took pride of place in my Grandma’s hallway every Easter.
I was lucky enough to inherit Grandma’s collection of stunning Easter decorations, which I used this year to create my own Easter tree!
The twigs were selected from our garden, and the vase actually also belonged to my Grandma.
I’ve removed my pesky Boston Ferns from the dining table centrepiece and have replaced them with this simple yet effective embellishment for the Easter period.
It’s both rustic and charming.
Easter Basket –
Every year, Grandma Barbara would raid Liddle as early as February, building an ‘Easter basket’ to rival all others! Grandma would hide all manner of Easter treats within the depths of a large wicker basket stuffed with shredded green tissue paper. From solid chocolate ladybirds and jelly rabbits, to painted wooden eggs and tiny pom-pom chicks no bigger than my fingernail; Grandma's annual Easter baskets were a fine example of her exceeding creativity.
I would spend hours rummaging through the basket on Easter Sunday, squealing with delight at the discovery of the chicks and chocolates. It was far, far more fun than being presented with one large egg.
I have been stocking up on goodies in my big shop for weeks now, gradually adding to my own version of Grandma’s basket.
I won't lie to you - it's been testing knowing that this absolute STASH and a half has been festering in my cupboard. There have been times when I've burst in from a run, utterly ravenous, and have had to stop myself guzzling every last morsel. Usually, I've managed to steer myself away with the promise of Marmite instead.
Today - Easter Sunday - we were finally let loose on this bad boy!
... I think I might be on the verge of a diabetic coma as I write.
^ Not as inventive as Grandma Barbara's! My Easter basket.
Easter Breakfast –
I have eaten preposterous amounts of Marmite hot cross buns over the past four weeks. In fact, if I were to have a blood test right now, I genuinely believe that the results would show 98% Marmite. (I even tried Marmite houmous the other day – I think it’s safe to say that my addiction has gone too far. What will I get myself hooked on next? Marmite infused jelly beans? Fried eggs with a Marmite yolk? It’s a downwards spiral from here.)
So with the fear that I may soon be carted off to some sort of Marmite-based rehab, I selected a slightly different hot cross bun flavour for Easter breakfast.
Aldi’s Bramley Apple & Cinnamon variants spoke to my soul. (They sounded somewhat healthier than the quadruple Belgian chocolate alternatives, anyway!)
They didn’t quite possess the sharp, yeasty taste of Marmite, but they were delicious all the same.
The night before Easter Sunday, I caved at the tills at Aldi and chucked another hot-cross bun hybrid into my basket: rhubarb and custard. I may be wrong, but I think my taste buds may have started singing 'Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel' as they devoured their first mouthful.
Easter Lunch –
Fish is a well renowned culinary Easter tradition across the globe. I’m very ‘vanilla’ when it comes to my taste in seafood; a tuna toastie is the extent of my fish-themed adventures.
This year, however, I wanted to try something a little more sophisticated.
So, what’s more fabulously fishy than the humble tuna toastie?
Ah-ha! How about a tuna PANINI?!
No, Cara! You’re a homeowner now, I scolded myself. You cannot serve up tuna paninis for Easter lunch!
I needed something classy, but at the same time, easy.
In the end, I found this alluring recipe on the Co-Op Food website: https://www.coop.co.uk/recipes/salmon-and-cucumber-summer-pasta-salad
And do you know what? Even I managed to execute it without any evident disasters!
Served with hunks of fresh crusty bread slathered in butter, this lunch was simply splendid.
The drizzle of lemon juice was a dreamy addition to the dish.
(Side note: I made the fatal error of watching Seaspiracy on Netflix a few nights ago, and now I feel as though that salmon supper may well have been my last.)
Mini Egg Blondies –
Don’t let the whole ‘I successfully made a healthy, hearty, lemon-drizzled salmon salad, so therefore I’m essentially a domesticated cross between Delia Smith and alllll the Disney Princesses rolled into one’ act fool you – I am a terrible cook!
Honestly, I’ve only just really managed to master toast in the last year or so!
Okay, so I might have been thrust into making some culinary changes since becoming a homeowner, but it doesn’t mean that I
A) Enjoy cooking
B) Am any good at it.
I loathe cooking, and I utterly detest baking. Even the sight of those basic Peppa Pig cake mixes for kids fill me with dread and anxiety. I can’t even manage to pull those off without causing a house fire or mass salmonella.
Being as horrific at maths as I am is also a contributing factor in my hatred of all things kitchen. Measurements and ounces and MLs and conversions make as much sense to me as Boris Johnson, which is basically migraine-inducing.
I’d rather just buy a cake from my local bakery than get down and dirty in the kitchen with overly complicated measurements of unsalted butter.
That being said, on Good Friday, I did step out of my baking comfort zone in the name of Mini Egg Blondies.
They were alright. The average taste of my poor skills wasn’t really worth the numerical stress I endured.
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©