Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Country Bunny and Other Easter Delights

When I was a little girl in elementary school I loved Easter more than I loved Christmas. I remained true to the Easter Bunny even when I began to doubt Santa. I think it had something to do with the fact that one night I saw large rabbit tracks in the snow outside my bedroom window. And I even heard a noise like hopping. I knew it was the Easter Bunny, but not just any Easter Bunny. I knew it was The Country Bunny. I have Miss Lewis to thank for that.

I remember clearly the day that Miss Lewis, the librarian read us a story about a little mother bunny who wanted more than anything to be an Easter Bunny. The story captivated me. Maybe you've read it too. The book was called -- The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward . Not only did I love the story, I loved the illustrations. One in particular stands out -- the room in the Easter Bunny castle with all of the painted Easter eggs. I wanted to paint Easter eggs that looked just like that. My wish came true.

That same year, my grandmother made sugared panoramic Easter eggs with me -- the kind that have a peep hole with a little scene. They were magical. I remember molding sugar inside a plastic egg and decorating the edges with Royal frosting. It was so much fun. We only made these eggs once, but it is memory I treasure. I don't see Panoramic eggs much anymore -- unless I pay a visit to See's Candy. I think they sell a few. But .... I'm on a diet so I stay away from that place. Too dangerous and tempting for someone like me. I'm just too in love with lemon truffles. I know I would cave. I would.

I want to make sugared eggs with my own children. But not this year. Again with the diet thing. I just can't be around all that sugar. But next year..... next year I'm going big. Sugared eggs and other Easter delights -- like real grass Easter baskets and painting my mouth with a candy coated malt ball egg. Who doesn't love light blue lips! Maybe I will even post a picture.

I love Easter traditions as much as I love Valentine's Day. Most of all, I love what it represents. A loving Savior who died for us and who was resurrected so that we might live.

Just in case you would like to try making sugared eggs with your family, here's the recipe. I'm also including my instructions for real grass Easter Baskets. In case you've never made one, they are easy and they make a great table decoration. One of my friends puts these all over her house. It makes it look like Spring.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Panoramic Easter Eggs

1 egg white
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Into a separate bowl sift the sugars; stir to mix well. Pour the egg white into sugars. Keep stirring and kneading until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand.

SHAPE EGG: Fill the 2 halves of the mold or plastic egg, packing down firmly to eliminate any voids so the egg will be smooth. It is advisable to shape only one egg at a time. Meanwhile, cover the remaining mixture with a damp towel.

Using the edge of a spatula or the top edge of a knife scrape across the edge of the molds to remove excess sugar. Now they need to be hollowed out; holding the mold in the palm of your hand use a spoon to scoop out the moist sugar, leaving a shell 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick.Place a stiff piece of cardboard on top of the egg mold. Flip the cardboard upside down so that the half now rests on the cardboard. Remove mold. Repeat with other half using another piece of cardboard.Dry 10 minutes in a 250 degree oven.

Once the halves are almost dry, carefully carve away a semicircle in the narrow end of each so when the halves are glued together you have a round peephole (as pictured). Carefully scrape the bottom of one half to make a small flat spot for a base. Continue to dry at 250 degrees for an additional 10 minutes.

Royal Icing For decorating and gluing the halves together:
(Note: Sometimes you can find Royal Icing in the cake decorating section of craft stores. All you need to do is add water and food coloring. This is what I use instead of the recipe above. I included this recipe in case you can't get packaged Royal Icing.)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Food coloring
In a mixer bowl beat together eggs, sugar, and cream of tartar. Beat fort 7 to 10 minutes until very stiff and shiny. For a stiffer icing, add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.If different colors are required, add food coloring to small batches of the icing. It dries very quickly (rock hard in 30 minutes) so cover the portion you are not immediately using with a damp towel.

CREATE YOUR PANORAMA: Place a small amount of icing in the bottom half of the egg. Quickly press small objects into the icing. Add Easter grass, if desired, and press into icing.

GLUE HALVES TOGETHER: First check the two halves meet. Scrape away excess sugar. Pipe a thin line of icing around the edge of the bottom egg. Press the top in place. Rub around the edge to smooth excess icing. Let egg sit for 30 minutes to give glue a chance to dry.

DECORATE: Pipe icing on seam to conceal; pipe flowers, etc. on egg with royal icing, or use store bought decorations and attach with royal icing.

Do NOT refrigerate finished egg since the icing will become soft and sticky upon refrigeration. Rather, set aside in a dry place until Easter bunny is ready. These eggs will last many years if you keep them in a plastic container so bugs don't get to them. Although they look delicious, they are rather tasteless, so eating them is not recommended. Just enjoy their delicate beauty for many Easters to come.

Real Grass Easter Baskets

(Make these about 10 to 12 days before Easter so the grass is full and green.)

Plastic wrap or grocery store plastic bags that don't have any holes in them.
Whole wheat kernels (about 1/4 cup per basket)
Vermiculite (found at any garden center)
Basket to grow it in
Clean spray bottle
A sunny window

How to make it:

Cut your cellophane or large enough to line the basket plus stick out over the top edge by about one inch. Make sure you use one piece to prevent leaking. Or... you can use the grocery store plastic bags as a liner. Use two to prevent water leakage.

Fill the basket to within 1 inch of the top with vermiculite. Vermiculite is much lighter than soil, and stays moist easily.

Cover the top of the vermiculite with the seed, then sprinkle a 1/4 inch layer of vermiculite over the seed, and water it with the spray bottle. Lightly cover the seeds with plastic wrap and place near a sunny window.

Mist the seed every day.

Remove the plastic wrap when you see little sprouts of grass starting to grow.

In about 10 days you will have a good covering of grass. At this point you can trim away and plastic that hangs over the basket.

1 comment:

janna said...

I know I am a stranger but I had to comment. I love, love, love that book and my school library had it in the discard pile. I know she didn't realize the treasure she was giving away and I was more than happy to take it! I was so excited to share it with my own kids and my first graders. It was my favorite book as a child and I also had a sugar egg my mom made for me. I loved your post and I too am making sugar eggs next year, I may even to the basket too! Thanks for the memories! Oh, I also love you jewerly, they are all my favorite. I am hoping for a mother's day surprise!