Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Dinner

My son was confused the other day. He wasn’t sure what word to use to describe the meal I was preparing. And, for once, it wasn’t because of a language acquisition issue (he’s adopted from another country). You see, I was making Easter Dinner. I began working on it days before Easter. He knew that we were having Easter Dinner at 1 p.m. This is what confused him, because, you see, we had just finished lunch – at 1 p.m. and we were making plans for supper – which is sometimes called dinner -- for that night.

I laughed (because this happens all of the time when I make friends with Yankees) and began to explain to him the language of Southern meals.

Breakfast is what you have in the morning – first thing (not counting the coffee you have before you actually wake up). Sometimes your first meal is Brunch – and that’s if it’s a little late for breakfast and your meal includes some non-breakfast-y types of things. Really, it’s just a fancy word for breakfast and lunch combined, although, most folks will still eat either breakfast or lunch before or after brunch. Anyway, Dinner is the big meal of the day. Since Daddy has to work and we, as a rule, eat dinner together as a family, it has to be the last meal of the day. Lunch is the meal you have in the middle of the day, unless you’re having Dinner in the middle of the day, like on Sundays or holidays. Supper is the last meal of the day, (which can also be dinner, if you didn’t eat dinner for lunch) or, the meal you have at around 6-ish. Sometimes you have a snack later, and that’s just called as snack.

I think somewhere around, “brunch is…” he tuned me out.

So, I continued to prepare Easter Dinner – it turned out really YUMMY! Our extended family gathers for major holidays – rotating homes. We get Easter, Daddy gets Thanksgiving, Grandma gets Christmas and Mom gets Memorial Day (mostly because she has a pool). Each family brings some food to share and we all swap left-overs, what are the best part!

This year’s menu included:
Spiral Ham, Roast Shoulder of Lamb with a side of gravy, Chicken Salad, Bunny Buns, Wheat Bread, Pumpkin Muffins, Banana Nut Muffins, Potato Salad, Fruit Salad, Seven Layer Salad, Cranberry Jell-O Salad, Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary, Squash Casserole, Fancy Rice, Coconut Cake, Brownies, Sever Layer Bars, Banana Pudding.

I believe there was more, but it actually hurts my belly to think about. Now, don’t you wish you’d accepted my invitation to dinner? My table’s always open.

So, I know you’re wondering, Rain, where are the recipes? Patience, a fruit of the spirit and a true southern virtue, my dear.

Lamb Shoulder
This is delicious. I watched Jamie Oliver make this on his show and tried to remember the recipe and then altered it to suit my tastes, and forgot a few things. So, as usual, I started with a recipe and by the end, it was a whole ‘nother monkey! We couldn’t find a bone-in shoulder, so we used a boneless one. By the time it was done, it was falling apart and delicious. I served it with a basic gravy made from the drippings, thickened with flour and thinned with red wine – Yummy!

  • 4 – 5 pounds of lamb shoulder
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 - 2 head garlic, broken up
  • fresh rosemary
  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • Several carrots, peeled and cut in two
  • Several sticks celery, cut into big bits
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Bottle of red wine (I forgot to add this when I was cooking, but used it to make gravy)


  • Preheat your oven to 400.
  • Rub the lamb with oil, salt and pepper.
  • Put carrots, most of the garlic and rosemary into the bottom of a roasting pan. Put the lamb on top.
  • Using a sharp knife make small cuts across the top of the lamb and stick in rosemary leaves and garlic cloves.
  • This is where you should, according to the original recipe, pour in some red wine (and also tomatoes, but that didn’t sound good to me). I liked it all fine without the wine or tomatoes, and saved the wine to have with dinner.
  • Cover pan tightly with two pieces of foil.
  • Put into oven, immediately turning down temperature to 325.
  • Cook 3.5 to 4 hours or so.
  • Take it out and let it rest a while before serving.

Rain’s Original Chicken Salad

This is the BEST chicken salad – at least to me. But, I suppose I make it the way I like it – so feel free to change it up to suit your tastes. This is one of those recipes that doesn’t so much have measurements. You know what chicken salad is supposed to look and taste like – so go by that!

Yellow Mustard
Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper
Apples (crisp ones)
Red Grapes

Start with some cooked chicken. If you have time, roast, rotisserie or boil a whole bird, cool it and pick it, saving the carcass for making soup. If not, simply grilling or boiling a few boneless breasts is fast and just as good. Make sure to leave the chicken moist – dry chicken just can’t be helped! No matter how much mayo you add it’ll still just be dry.

Once you have your chicken, cut it into pieces.
Add some Mayo, enough to make it look like chicken salad. Then add a squirt or two of yellow mustard AND Dijon mustard. Then add a teaspoon – a tablespoon of horseradish and a dash of Tabasco. Mix that up read good.

Chop some apples into little pieces (I used 3 lbs chicken and two apples). Cut some red grapes in half (yes, each grape). Green grapes will do, but red tend to be sweeter. Coarsely chop some pecans. Add all of this to the salad and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

Don't overwork your biscuit or they'll come out tough as hardtack!

No comments: