I am stopping in now for what just might be my last post before Easter…I’m about to START smocking Easter dresses/a bubble for my chicken wings/buddy man. Why yes, I should have started smocking approximately the day after Christmas, but Easter dresses didn’t cross my mind with baby and life filling my days–until about a week and a half ago when a cool Spring morning reminded me of the fresh newness that always seems to accompany Easter mornings.
I was sitting in the parking lot of the girls’ school when it happened: My windows were rolled down, the dogwoods were just beginning to reveal their blooms and our proud azaleas had already burst forth with reckless abandon…Easter…my heart stopped for just one beat. We’re back in the “High South” where Easter (at least for children) is the most formal event of the year, and I haven’t even begun to think about what everybody is going to wear!
It’s silly. I 100 percent admit that it is silly to go to all the trouble to make “Easter dresses” that God cares not one bit about. I said to a friend on the phone just yesterday, “Jesus is going to rise from the grave whether I finish these Easter dresses or not, but for some reason I feel like the day will not be complete unless I get them done.”
I’ve laughed with my grandma about the Easter mornings of my childhood. My Mom would do the handwork for all FOUR! of our dresses and then my grandma would put them together. The problem was that my Mom, while she may start smocking after Christmas, never seemed to finish her part until the day before the big event. I don’t know that Grandma got to sleep on Easter Eve once between the years of 1983 and 1995. While my hair was being pulled back and fastened with a bow (that my grandmother also made) that was the size of my head, my squeaky new white shoes were being buckled on my feet, and my Dad was flying to my grandma’s house on two wheels to retrieve all four dresses straight off grandma’s ironing board.
I cherish the memories though, of slipping all that lace, and starch, and handmade love over my head for the first time–twirling in front of my Dad as he admired how beautiful he found us–each one. And then there was that hurried push out the front door to stand in front of the blooming azaleas and capture a shot with a camera of our brief moment of garment perfection–a miracle in itself for four clumsy little girls who were sure to stain and wrinkle and even occasionally rip our masterpieces.
And after celebrating the greatest news on earth with friends who were also sporting their Sunday best, singing of the hope and joy that the resurrection brings, it was back to family home and food. Our dresses were carefully removed and laid in a pile on the bed, the stiff shoes were taken off and our bare feet took to the grass–with only little white slips left on our bodies we would hide and hunt Easter Eggs with our cousins, and sit down to a meal of baked ham, macaroni and cheese, butter beans, deviled eggs, sweet tea…
And I haven’t even started smocking yet.
Mini Strawberry Tarts (from the last post)
Adapted from Stephanie Kling and the Food Network
Crust: 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces, 1/3 cup sugar
Filling: 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese (softened), 1/4 cup sugar, strawberries (tops cut off and halved–longways), 1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350. Combine ingredients in food processor until moist crumbs form (takes about a minute). Using your fingers, press dough firmly into mini-muffin cups SPRAYED with non-stick spray (makes about 2 dozen). Put muffin tin in oven for 10 minutes, or until crust is firm.
Remove and perforate each mini crust with a fork. Bake for 20 or 25 minutes, removing from oven halfway through and pressing down gently on crusts with a spoon if they are puffing up (and they probably will do this). Cook until golden brown and cool completely in pan.
Mix filling ingredients together in a mixer. Remove cooled crusts from pan by spinning them out with your finger individually (I wouldn’t try to beat and dump the whole pan if I were you). Put a dollop of filling in each crust and top with a strawberry half. (You can make these crusts ahead of time, but I wouldn’t assemble them until four or five hours ahead. The tartlett will stay together fine, but that shortbread starts to get soggy dog if it sits for too long.)
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt jelly until it turns into liquid. Gently brush strawberries with jelly, or spread a little on top of the strawberries with the back of a spoon if you don’t have a brush–like me. Chill in the fridge until you serve them.
Serve them at your family Easter picnic, but be sure you take those dresses off before you offer one to your child. Strawberries STAIN 🙂