Easter is a celebration of life. For many, it is a celebration of Christ being resurrected and living once more. It’s also a time of new life and birth at the beginning of springtime. That’s why I choose to celebrate this day peacefully and compassionately. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: In less than a week, Easter will be here along with the month of April! Glenda Lehman Ervin, VP of Marketing, shares with Country Life fun, easy Easter crafts that she does with her children. It’s a great way to spend time with your family and create new traditions that your little ones will treasure for years to come.
The Egg Craft (also affectionately known as “Egg People”) Continue reading
If visions of Easter hams danced through your head all winter long, yet you can’t shake the idea of some succulent leg of lamb, we have the perfect menu for you. Let both the ham and the lamb be stars, served with fresh, colorful springtime side dishes. Continue reading
For almost 50 years, my wife’s mother made a lamb-shaped cake every Easter. A lamb was the perfect thing for our Easter dinner.
Or (since spring is lambing season), a simple spring celebration! It certainly became an important part of our family tradition. So important, in fact, that it has become a favorite birthday cake for the less-than-5-years-old set.
How to Decorate the Lamb Cake
Over the years, decorating that lamb cake became a huge highlight of the Holy Week events for my wife and her brothers and sisters. Last year, my mother-in-law, a very special woman I loved as much as my own mother and dearly miss, went ahead of me to a better place. But she left us all with many fond memories of her. And, the tradition of decorating the Lamb Cake has been passed from her kids to her grandchildren to her great-grandchildren.
Along the way, just exactly HOW the lamb cake is decorated has acquired a whole set of its own family traditions. Here is how we decorated the lamb cake.
- For example, everyone our family knows that the lamb’s nose must always be a
black jelly bean. The eyes of the lamb, however, are always chosen by the youngest child involved in the decoration.
- The lamb’s “wool” must be made of shredded coconut. The pan around the lamb becomes a bed of green died coconut “grass.” (Can you tell our family likes coconut?)
- The bed of “grass” is decorated with jelly bean “Easter eggs” for my in-laws and malted milk “robin’s egg” candy for me. It is acceptable for all the children to snack on the candy “eggs” during the meal. This rule has been specially modified to allow one adult in the room to pick at the malted milk eggs. (Since I am the only one that eats them, I love my in-laws for passing this rule!)
- Most importantly there must be a trail of black raisin “lamb droppings” scattered around by the tail of the lamb. The pile of black raisins, of course, brings uproarious laughter each time. Our family (both the one I grew up in and my wife’s) has lots of room for laughter. And, every Easter we laugh at that string of raisin “lamb droppings” as if we’d never seen it before.
That lamb cake was such a central part of my adopted family’s tradition that I spent years searching for the manufacturer of the pan it requires. Last year, we finally found a supplier, and I’m proud (now that I finally found the source) to share this spring/Easter/birthday tradition with you.
We think Mom got her lamb cake mold with S and H Green Stamps. Now you can own one, too! (We’ll take Visa, MasterCard, American Express, cash or check, but not S and H Green Stamps.) May it become as special a part of your life as it has been of ours!
Our Lamb Cake Recipe
If you have a “dense” cake recipe, it will probably work. (Cakes that bake light and fluffy may break when you remove them from the mold.) Instructions come with our lamb mold; most cake recipes and cake mixes will work. I thought I would also share the lamb cake recipe we’ve always used, copied from the one my mother-in-law lovingly wrote out for us:
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons for baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 beaten egg whites
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Sift all the dry ingredients together. Stir shortening in mixing bowl to soften. Mix in dry ingredients.
- Add milk and vanilla, mix for several minutes to blend. Fold in beaten egg whites and beat for one minute.
- Grease lamb mold well then sprinkle with flour.
- Fill the half of the mold with the lamb’s face. Insert a toothpick in the nose cavity for reinforcement.
- Put two toothpicks in lamb’s neck for strength.
- Cover with other half of mold being sure it is closed tightly.
- Place on cookie sheet.
- Preheat oven to 370 degrees F and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
- When cake is baked, let it cool a little before you take the top off.
- Frost with white icing and decorate.
At the bottom of the recipe, my mother-in-law wrote, “You can put a ribbon around the neck, but no raisins under the tail!”
When I think of Easter, I think of pastel colors, the gathering of extended family that I love but don’t get to see very often, good food, sweet treats, and of course, the resurrection of Jesus Christ,.
Classic Easter activities include going to church in the morning and then gathering with loved ones for a delicious meal and hunting for Easter eggs, but if you want this Easter to be a little different, there are lots of non-traditional things to do.
One activity we always enjoy is to make “egg people.” Take raw eggs and carefully chop the tops off (use the eggs to make breakfast). Rinse the empty egg shells and set aside to dry. Put potting soil and a scattering of seeds (rye seeds work well because they grow so quickly) into each egg. Draw a face on the egg, or use googly eyes. Once the grass grows, your egg person will have a full head of green hair. You can style it or cut it! These always turn out so cute and are super fun to make. Continue reading
This is our family’s all-time favorite dinner roll recipe. Whenever I make them for a potluck I get nothing but compliments. They are light and fluffy, and come out heavenly every time! For whole wheat rolls you can substitute whole wheat flour and 4 Tbsp vital wheat gluten for the bread flour. I like using freshly ground hard white wheat for a healthier alternative. You may even want to enjoy them as part of your Easter feast this year!
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup dry milk
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 cup warm water (not hot)
- *butter for tops of rolls
- Mix all ingredients together well; I put them in my bread machine and set it to 'dough' to mix and knead, this setting allows the dough to rise for about an hour.
- You can also knead the dough until smooth and elastic, then allow to rise for an hour in a large mixing bowl covered with a towel.
- When the dough is finished rising, knead a little more, then pull off 12 equally sized pieces to place in each section of a greased muffin pan. You can also just plop these pieces onto a greased cookie sheet.
- Allow the dough to rise for 30 more minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400. When ready, bake for 8 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned. Immediately after removing them from the oven, rub the top of each roll with butter to make them soft and even more delicious.
- *TIP: Flour your hands well before you knead and pull the dough. If it starts sticking to your fingers, don't wash them, just rub more flour onto your hands. Otherwise, it will be all too much like pulling taffy- a mess!
- *You can also use this bread recipe for cinnamon rolls or a soup bowl!