Friday, April 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Easter Party Ideas

How did they celebrate Easter in 1905? I have a small hardcover of Bright Ideas for Entertaining, written in 1905 by Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott. There is a small section on Easter Egg Hunts and other tidbits I'd like to share.

Easter Egg Hunt: Nests are made of paper moss. In them are placed eggs of different varieties, some genuine hard boiled eggs, some of china or wood and some of candy. The wooden eggs should contain tiny ducks or chickens. The nests are hidden in every nook and corner of the house. The guests are then bidden to go nest hunting, and a half hour is given for the hunt. Each guest is given a little fancy basket for the hunt in which to gather his eggs. The one securing the greatest number of eggs is given a prize of a large fancy egg. The baskets and eggs may be kept as souvenirs.

Children's Party Ideas: Give them small baskets to hunt for the eggs which the mother has a few days before blown and colored then hidden all over the house. (I assume this means the method of piercing the egg with a pin and blowing out the raw egg.) On the floor have little yellow chicks arranged as tenpins at one end and give the children each an egg and let them roll the eggs and see how many chicks they can knock down.

In the center of the table place a "nest" which on top is a large rabbit on his haunches, and in his front paws is an Easter Egg. From this to each plate run a different colored piece of ribbon, with a card attached. Upon the card have the child's name who sits at that place. At the end of the party each child will pull their ribbon which should have an egg filled with treats hidden under the rabbit.

Have all the refreshments upon the table--thin slices of bread and butter, sandwiches, nuts, tiny cups of chocolate, cake and ice cream.

Easter Salad: A delicious and most attractive salad for Easter may be made by building a nest of narrow strips of cold boiled potatoes upon a few very crisp lettuce leaves. Fill the nest with eggs made of cream cheese rolled in grated yellow cheese. Serve on individual plates with a well-made mayonnaise dressing and plain crackers, or thin slices of brown bread and butter.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend:)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Polish Food for Easter

My great grandparents were born in Poland, which is probably why I have a love of cabbage, kielbasa and sauerkraut in all their variations. Easter always brings to mind kielbasa and baked ham because I recall those two items always being on the menu when my grandmother cooked large meals. Today I wanted to share a few Polish recipes with you since they've been on my mind. My great grandparents and grandparents on that side of the family have passed away, but it's nice to know we can always cook up a batch of good Polish food when they come to mind.

The first recipe is for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, which have many, many variations. I made them once for my father who instantly told me "They aren't greasy enough." It's hard to get them just like grandma used to make so I stopped trying and added my own touches to the recipe.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls/Golabki

Large head of cabbage
1 pound ground beef (chuck or round)
1/2 pound sausage (medium or hot)
salt and pepper to season
1 cup cooked white rice
1 small onion, minced
1 egg
1/2 tsp. thyme
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. vinegar

Peel the leaves from the head of cabbage, carefully keeping them whole. I don't normally count the leaves. I use every whole leaf I can. Some will be larger than others; usually they will all fit in a 9x13 pan or a roaster.

Cook the cabbage leaves in the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until just pliable. Remove and run under cool water, laying them carefully on clean towels or paper towel. If some leaves have a large center vein, carefully cut out so they will be easier to roll up.

Combine the ground meat, rice, onion, egg and thyme in a bowl with a very sturdy wooden spoon or your hands. Mix it well until all is combined. Shape a small "log" of meat and place on a cabbage roll. Fold the sides over the meat, then roll up. Toothpicks can be used to fasten. Usually I lay each one seam down in the pan and they stay rolled up. Use all of your leaves and meat. Mix together the tomato sauce, sugar, water and vinegar. Pour this over the cabbage rolls. Cover loosely with foil, and bake at 325 degrees F. for about an hour and 1/2 until the meat is cooked through. Check every once in awhile to make sure it isn't drying out-- if so, add a little water to the pan.

Notes: You can use more tomato sauce if you wish. Some people use spaghetti sauce, although that is not the traditional type of flavor. The vinegar and sugar give the tomato sauce a little bit of a sweet/sour taste. Also, you can vary the meat however you wish-- more sausage or less. IF you use instant rice you don't have to cook it first.

Polish Easter Soup

2 quarts water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup of diced ham
1 cup smoked/cooked sliced kielbasa
2 hard cooked eggs
1 tbsp. horseradish
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. flour mixed in 1/2 cup water

Add all ingredients except the flour mixture and boil for 15 minutes or so. Add the flour mixture, straining any lumps that may have formed first. Cook a few more minutes until it thickens the soup slightly. Serve.

Notes: To me this is more of a leftover soup, made with the ham and and kielbasa served at Easter. I love adding sauteed cabbage to soup as well. This recipe is easy and it can be served as a side dish for Easter.

Sweet Sour Cabbage/Kapusta

1 medium head of cabbage
3 cups water
2 1/2 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. bacon grease
1 onion, sliced thin

Combine all but the cabbage and bring it to a boil. Shred or very thinly slice/chop the cabbage, and add to the mixture. Cook for 20-30 minutes.

Notes: You can cook up some bacon to get the grease and use the same pan. It doesn't have to be exactly 2 tbsp. Remove the bacon when cooked, cool, chop and put back in with the cabbage. Serve this on the side with kielbasa or any type of sausage.

On OFL we have a lovely article on Polish Easter Traditions: