I got to spend some quality time with my mom a few weeks ago. Dad took kiddo off to the park (or somewhere out of range) so it was just me and mom working on a task. The goal? Teaching me how to make Easter Bread. (Our background is Mennonite.)
I grew up with Easter Bread and the accompanying cheese spread. It smelled good, it tasted wonderful, and it just magically appeared every year at Easter time.
As I got older, I figured out that the rows of baking tins, massive quantities of eggs, and heaps of dough rising in towel-covered Tupperware tubs all over the house were indicators that some serious work was taking place.
At some point, my brothers and I were enlisted to help with one of the more grueling aspects of making Easter Bread Spread- pushing ingredients through a sieve. I guess the Easter Bread elves were not strong enough to use a tablespoon to mash egg yolks and cottage cheese through the screen. It was hard work- we had to take turns with the spoon, but we knew the prize at the end would be worth it.
The tradition never changed. Even as we grew up, left for college, moved back home, moved out for good, moved back home again, moved out for good for real this time, and had kids of our own, the Easter Bread and the Easter Bread Spread always showed up. I guess I sort of took it for granted every year.
This year was different. This year my mom had a broken shoulder. (The back story for that really deserves its own post, but let's just say I was indirectly to blame. After all, I gave them the treadmill...) Making Easter Bread and the spread is tough enough with two good arms- just thinking about it with one arm in a sling...? Not gonna happen.
This is the point where I said, "I think I'm old enough to learn how to do this on my own." and Mom agreed. Now, I'm sure my mom was in the kitchen helping her mom at a very early age, so I know that age isn't really the indicator of being able to make Easter Bread. What I really meant was, "I think I can set aside my selfish desire to be served Easter Bread, and actually venture into the kitchen and the unknown realm of yeast dough and help you do this (because I know I'm not getting any if I don't.)" Well, that, and because I really do think I should learn how to carry on the tradition. I mean, I'm 48 and a half. If not now, when?
We picked a date during Spring Break and set out to accomplish our task. I'm no domestic goddess, so I am sure Mom was wondering what she had gotten herself into. It's quite a production, this Easter Bread. But she was patient and explained everything (sometimes twice), and let me take pictures all along the way.
I think it tasted extra good this year. Maybe that's because I ate it with new appreciation for the past 47 years of Easter Bread and the Easter Bread baker.
I'll probably need a little coaching in my Easter Bread baking sometime in the next couple of years, but at least I have a good start to the tradition, and an excellent coach.
She's cool like that. She's my mom.