Archives for March 2012

Finding the Easter Bunny: Memories of my Father

Finding the Easter Bunny: Memories of my Father

I found the egg. Now where's the bunny?A long .

A long time ago…

See that child? Hard to believe that’s me at age one year. This picture sat on my father’s dresser for as long as I can remember.  I am wearing my Mother’s Easter dress which seems a bit ironic because we are Jewish.  Nevertheless, the non-secular celebration of Easter was a tradition in my family and, when I think about it now, leaves me with warm feelings.

My dad loved participating in Christian holiday traditions.  It must have given him great  pleasure to hide Easter eggs for my sister and me to find and store in our baskets.  My step-mother always made a point of buying Easter candy and ensuring that we had a basket to enjoy on Easter Sunday.  Somehow she knew what types of candy I really enjoy. (Hint: Jelly beans and Cadbury Easter Eggs.  No PEEPS!)  Year after year, my father and step-mother boiled eggs in preparation for my visits to their house. (I lived with my mother for most of the month.)  They bought the fake green grass and the candy.  Hid the eggs after I finished decorating them and ensured that I could not get my Easter basket until all of the eggs were located.  To perhaps put a spin on our Passover Seders, we always included those eggs in our celebration of the Jewish holiday.

Four years after my father passed away,  I participated in an Easter egg hunt with my husband and my daughter on my best friends’ condo roof.  Feeling gleeful as my daughter found her “treasures” (and we continued to take eggs out of her basket and re-hide them so the fun would last a long time) I finally understood why my father participated in the Easter egg hunt tradition.  There is something so “precious” about seeing the joy on one’s child’s face when she discovers her eggs, the candy and finally a chocolate bunny.

What's in the basket?

Now, where is the Easter Bunny?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father passed away twelve years ago on April 11, 2000.  It’s a bit ironic that he died around Easter.  While we weren’t necessarily close and he wasn’t the easiest person to get to know, when I think of Easter, it is with fondness for my father.  Easter was one of the few times that I truly felt close to him.  I like to think that he would be happy knowing that K and I set aside a few hours to boil, dye and decorate a dozen eggs in preparation for the Easter egg hunt in our backyard.

This year, like the ones in the past,  as I watch K search for her hidden candy and eggs, I know that I will also imagine my father standing next to me and perhaps smiling at the knowledge that I keep the tradition going for another generation.

Could I Be The New Dwight Schrute, Famous Beet Farmer?

Could I Be The New Dwight Schrute, Famous Beet Farmer?

Digging in the Dirt for Beets

 The gardening magazines are piling up on my desk.  Looking out my office window, I catch a glimpse of my sparse garden and romanticize what, in a few short months, could be growing: strawberries, arugula, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, various herbs, tomatoes, basil and yes, beets.  My garden will be divided in two sections: a cornucopia of veggies and fruits and beets.

Growing up in Baltimore, I clearly remember being “forced” to eat beets at my grandparent’s house.  As a child I reasoned that cold red beet soup and sour cream must have been good for old people and thus the reason that my grandparents consumed it almost daily.  I hated beets–all beets, no exception.  The mere mention of the word drove me into fits of mock hysteria complete with gagging sounds and fake vomiting.  (Hey Mom?  Remember the time I fake puked in front of your Danish friends?  That was a scene, wasn’t it?) 

Leave it to my husband to re-introduce beets into my diet.  (It helps to live with a semi-gourmet cook.)  But every now and then I flat out refuse to eat something that he has cooked.  Baked beets were one of those dishes.  Serve me up some Kohlrabi and I am your girl.  I’ll even try a bit of broccolini before condemning it.  But beets?  Forget it.  Eventually, when my (then) 2 year old daughter gobbled them up like they were candy, I decided to try beets again.  And I loved them!  The secret was in the baking with olive oil and not serving them as a cold soup.  Now I can’t get enough beets and cherish opportunities to find different varieties to cook and serve with various parings.

Thus the Dwight Schrute reference.

When we moved to the Chicago suburbs six years ago, my husband and I were jazzed to have our own “bit of earth” and converted part of our minuscule lawn into the organic garden of our dreams.  (That’s right, no pesticides, chemicals or sprays on our food. Just me fighting the bunnies, deer and bugs.)  At first he was really involved in charting the progression of tilled earth to seedling to plant and harvest.  But after a few years, my husband lost some interest in the whole gardening experience and concentrated his efforts solely on the seasonal tomato and basil production.  I was left to my own devices in the rest of the garden and we discovered that there was one less thing that we had in common. Left to my own devices, I have a BLACK thumb.   At first I planted and tried to grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables:

  • Cantaloupe: Horrible disaster and rather messy. Who knew that you were supposed to let them grow on the ground?
  • Carrots: Did not appear OR the rabbits ate them before I could protect them
  • Thyme and Lavender: Over-run by my husband’s chive (aka: garden grass) plants
  • Cucumbers: Usually get one monster cucumber that turns cannibal and eats the baby cukes. (Scary, I know.)
  • Strawberries: Yeah, uh….we prefer not to discuss the patch of strawberry “weeds” we cannot get rid of in the middle of the garden.  We never did finesse a “berry” out of that patch.
  • Sugar Snap Peas:  Well, I got them to grow but then forgot about them and they dried up on the vine.  Plus, the vines sort of attack you when you’re not looking.
Over the years, only one plant has remained faithful and low maintenance: The Beet.  Color is irrelevant; I grow ’em all.  The weeds are so scared of our industrial strength and uber-disease resistant beets that they don’t bother targeting that part of the garden.  And each year we have a bumper crop of beets which we are forced to distribute (free of charge) to our neighbors who bask in the miracle that is our tiny beet farm.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the photo we captured last summer of one of our prize vegetables:

We are set in beets for at least three or four months–assuming we don’t take a break from the daily beet consumption feasts.  I never thought that I would get sensitive whenever someone made jokes about beet farming until I realized that I AM A BEET FARMER!  And while hubbie checks out the awesome tomato variations and selections in the gardening catalogues and magazines, guess what?  I have dog eared all of the sections pertaining to beet growth. I may not be a great gardener but I am a darn good BEET Farmer!

Thanks Dwight Schrute for being the Beet Industry’s Spokesperson!  You make us Proud!

This post was graciously sponsored by Alan’s Factory Outlet  whose awesome Amish sheds have been used for storing gardening supplies, tools, and even beet seeds. Please check out the site!