Easter was always one of Mom’s favorite holidays. When we were little she made us new (and matching) outfits. We were allowed to eat store-bought sweets. We got presents (our first-ever CD boombox—hooray!), instead of Easter baskets. If we didn’t drive the country road for dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, Mom would go all-out at our house; we’d wake up to the smell of baking ham, or baking bread, or baking pie and rush out to the kitchen. It was surprising then, the year that Mom decided to non-ironically make rabbit. We’d had it before. Family friends lived on a commune and raised/butchered their own. It was good—juicy, tender, not-gamey—so long as you could forget about the hoppity-hop and the cotton-tail. On Easter, however, the chocolate bunny at the center of the table made it impossible to forget. Mom is, sometimes, oblivious to things such as this; she’s also got an impish streak that defies interpretation. I’m not sure which compelled her to make rabbit but I do remember her being surprised at the amount leftover.
Because I am away from home and stricken with my own adolescent sense of humor, Penny and I are having a maple-glazed bone-in pork butt (ham) for dinner. It’s cheaper than other hams (yay!) and permits me to yell “bone-in pork butt” and “haunch” while preparing it. This makes me very happy. The menu consisted of a Lutheran's food dreams come true: ham, mashed/whipped potatoes, roasted vegetables, and lemon bars. Follow me, for fellowship, to the church basement: mmmmm, coffee and bars.
Preparations began the night before, when we first glazed the ham with maple syrup, from a flask.
The next day, I slathered more maple syrup on all surfaces, then loaded it into a 325 degree oven where it baked, covered with foil, for 25-30 minutes for each pound.
With about 30 minutes of baking time remaining, I rubbed dark brown sugar onto the bone-in pork butt and removed the foil, so the sugar would get all crinkly on top. When I pulled it out (after 3 hours of baking time) it looked like this:
For the mashed potatoes, I peeled and boiled 3 huge potatoes til they split with a fork. After draining the water, I dumped them into the Kitchen Aid, added the whisk attachment and enough butter and milk to equal Wisco's annual GDP. Just kidding: probably 3 Tbles butter and 2 Tbles milk before whipping furiously at nearly top speed. The result was potatoes that, as Penny said, looked like meringue or whipped cream.
The co-op has been selling ginormous brussel sprouts, which have recently become a favorite food. I like to roast them with other veggies: acorn squash, sweet potato, onion, garlic, broccoli, carrots. If your sprouts are this big, cut into quarters. For this batch, I started them in the oven with the ham (at 325). Normally, I bake them (drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper) at 400 or so, for 30-45 minutes.
Dad likes lemon. He says "snisket" a lot. I like the color yellow and my lemon bars tart.
For this recipe, I followed closely Smitten Kitchen's (borrowing of Ina Garten's) with the exception that I added more lemon. Like more cowbell, it just makes everything better.
Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9 x 13 x 2 pan.
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c white sugar
2 c flour
pinch of salt
Cream the butter and sugar. In separate combine flour and salt. Add butter/sugar to flour and mix til just combined. The texture will resemble buttery pebbles. Press into pan; flatten into crusty-ness. The recipe advises you to "chill it," but I forgot and it turned out just fine. Bake for 15-20 minutes til lightly browned.
6 XL eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 c white sugar
2 Tbls grated lemon zest (4-6 lemons)--I used 3 Tbls
1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 c flour
Whisk eggs and sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. It'll be a little frothy. Pour over crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, just after filling is set. Cool to room temperature and dust with powdered sugar.
The bone-in pork-butt spread looked a little something like this: