Spring

The Origins Of Easter Symbols

March 31, 2013

Easter TraditionsThe Origins Of Easter Symbols

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, but is also associated with popular symbols such as eggs, candy, bunnies and food. Here is a look at the origins of these beloved symbols.

The Easter Lily

The white blossoms of the lily symbolizes the purity of Jesus. The trumpet-shaped flower that blooms in the spring also symbolizes new life and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People use the flower to celebrate and enjoy the very essence of the Easter season.

Hot Cross Buns

A favorite during spring and the Easter season. Hot cross buns are a sweet, yeast leavened, spiced roll made with currants or raisins. They have long been a symbol of Good Friday. Each bun has an icing cross on top to signify the crucifixion.

The Butterfly

The butterfly’s unique life cycle is meant to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ. The first stage, the caterpillar, stands for his life on Earth. The cocoon stage portrays the crucifixion and the burial of Jesus. The final stage, the colorful butterfly, represents Jesus rising from the dead and the resurrection.

Easter Baskets

In Germany, children made nests in which the “Osterhase” or Easter Bunny could lay his colored eggs. The nests were replaced with baskets once the tradition was brought to the United States and the Easter contents were expanded to include candy and other treats.

Easter Ham

In the United States ham has become a traditional Easter dish. In the early days, meat was slaughtered in the fall. There was no refrigeration so the fresh pork that wasn’t consumed during the winter was cured for spring. This made ham a natural choice for the celebratory Easter dinner.

Easter Egg Hunts & Rolls

The first official White House egg roll took place in 1878 under the presidency of Rutherford Hayes. Egg hunts and rolls have no religious connection, but some will point out that the roll is a symbolic act for the removal of the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb.

Easter Parade

The origin of Easter parades dates back to the mid-1800’s in New York City. The wealthy used Easter as an opportunity to show off their new spring wardrobe by walking up and down Fifth Avenue after church. Soon the less fortunate started showing up to watch the spectacle and a tradition was born.

Easter Candy

Second only to Halloween in candy sales, Easter is a holiday for children and adults with a serious sweet tooth. Chocolate eggs and candy shaped like bunnies or eggs are extremely popular. Also, jelly beans are often associated with the holiday due to their egg-like shape.

The Egg

Easter eggs are likely linked to pagan traditions, but eggs have long been used to celebrate spring and the idea of renewal. It’s not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures, eggs are held as a symbol of life. At the Passover Seder, a hardboiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes both new life and the Passover sacrifice offered at the Temple of Jerusalem.

The Easter Bunny

The cute furry creature is certainly not mentioned in the Bible, but has nonetheless become the most well-known symbol for the spring holiday. The Easter Bunny’s origins are not entirely known, but some stories date his arrival in the United States back to the 1700’s when German immigrants brought their tradition of an egg laying hare called “Osterhase” to the country. Much like children leave cookies for Santa, boys and girls leave carrots out for the Easter Bunny in case he got tired from hopping around all night.

Easter Menu Ideas

March 30, 2013

Easter 1Easter Menu Ideas

The greatest feast of the Christian Church takes its name from that of Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn.  The feast, however, has another name, the Pasch, the Greek word coming from the Hebrew pesakh, the Passover.  This is the term for the feast which is used in nearly every language except English and German, but even these two languages use the words Paschal candle and Paschaltide.  In the churches of the Eastern Orthodox the feast of Easter comes somewhat later than in the Western calendar, but the observance is as great, if not greater.  Here are some Easter feast ideas that may be useful in your home this Sunday.

Easter Breakfast Or Brunch

Mini Frittatas: Cheddar, Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomato, Swiss, Bacon or Mushroom

Spring Onion Quiches With Gruyere Cheese: Cooked Leeks & Onions With Cheese & A Savory Egg Custard Baked In A Tart Shell

Asparagus, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche:  Asparagus, Baby Arugula & Goat Cheese Mixed With Egg Custard Baked In a Flaky Crust

Fresh Fruit Platter:  Sliced Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon , Pineapple, Grapes & Berries

Easter Appetizers

Asparagus Rolled In Pancetta

Mini Spinach & Ricotta Calzone

Bruschetta

Crudites Platter:  Celery, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green & Yellow Squash, Sliced Cucumbers, Red/Yellow/Green Bell Peppers, Grape Tomatoes And Baby Carrots

Cheese Platter:  Classic American & European Cheeses Cubes & Wedges For Snacking.  Serve With Almonds & Crostini

Shrimp Cocktail:  Cook, Devein & De-shell Large Shrimp Serve with Lemons & Cocktail Sauce

Smoked Salmon Platter:  Sliced Salmon With Chopped Red Onions, Capers, Cornichons, Mustard Sauce & Horseradish Sauce

Whole Boneless Poached Salmon:  Poached In White Wine With A Light & Creamy Dill Sauce

Soups

Spring Pea & Onion Soup:  Pureed Spring Pea & Onion Soup Made With Celery, Leeks, Garlic & Thyme

Carrot & Fennel Soup:  Carrots, Fennel & Tomatoes Cooked In Vegetable Broth.  Pureed Smooth

Salads & Side Dishes

Shrimp, Spring Pea & Morel Salad:  Shrimp With Crispy Spring Peas, Morel Mushrooms & Tomatoes Lightly Tossed In A Lemon Vinaigrette

Golden Beet, Radish & Frisee Salad:  Golden Beets, Radishes, Frisee Served With Goat Cheese, Pecans & Champagne Vinaigrette.

Grilled Asparagus:  Marinate In Olive Oil & Kosher Salt.  Grill

Gnocchi, Peas & Pancetta:  Gnocchi, Peas, Panchetta, Ricotta Salata, Baby Arugula & Lemon Zest

Entrees

Honey Spiced Turkey Breast: Brine, Slow Roast Finished With Spices & Honey Glaze

Apricot Bourbon Glazed Ham:  Apricot Jam, Honey, Dijon Mustard & Bourbon Combined & Poured On Top Of Ham Then Baked

Victoria’s Apricot Pork Tenderloin

Rosemary Rubbed Leg Of Lamb:  Boneless Leg Of Lamb Marinated In Olive Oil & Herbs Then Roasted To Medium Rare

Grilled Salmon With Crispy Potato & Leek Fondue:  Grilled Salmon Topped With Melted Spring Leeks With A Touch Of Cream & Crispy Fingerling Potatoes

Rack Of Lamb: Roasted With A Variety Of Spices

Desserts

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cake

Yellow Cake With White Chocolate Ganache

Victoria’s Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Bars

Fruit Tarts

Hot Cross Buns

 

Why Buy Organic?

February 11, 2013

“Food, one assumes, provides nourishment; but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefaction.” – John Cage

There has been quite a bit of controversy these days about eating organic.  Recent studies state that it really doesn’t matter if you eat organic foods or not.  When something is labeled organic, it usually means that a farm has not used pesticides and has taken considerable care to avoid any cross-contamination.  Producing organic food undoubtedly costs more money which is passed on to the consumer.  Buying organic tends to be quite a bit more expensive than buying non-organic. 

Honestly, I don’t care what the studies are saying about eating organic versus eating non-organic.  I would rather not put pesticides into my body as well as wanting to support farmers and food companies that are not using pesticides. I love going to farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall and when I am shopping in the grocery store I am willing to pay a bit more for organic food.

If you have decided not to buy organic here is a list of foods that have found to be the most and least contaminated.

Most Contaminated

Apples

Bell Peppers

Celery

Cherries

Grapes

Lettuce

Nectarines

Peaches

Pears

Potatoes

Spinach

Strawberries

 

Least Contaminated

Asparagus

Avocados

Bananas

Broccoli

Cabbage

Corn

Kiwis

Mangos

Onions

Papayas

Peas

Pineapples

New Canaan Farmers’ Market

July 8, 2012

New Canaan Farmers’ Market

I love going to farmers' markets, especially good ones. It's the closest to "farm to table" that I can get without growing my own fruits and vegetables.  Yesterday was my first visit to the New Canaan farmer’s market.  It’s a good one!  I picked up beets, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peaches and plums.  Everything looked great and even though the vendors were busy they were very friendly and seemed happy to be there.

New Canaan Farmers’ Market

Saturday 10am to 2pm

May 12th Through October

Old Center School Parking Lot

South Avenue & Maple Street

www.newcanaanfarmersmarket.net

 

 

Building A Healthier Burger

June 19, 2012

Building A Healthier Burger

 

Nothing says grilling season like a hot & juicy burger.  You can enjoy an American favorite that is new and improved by giving your burger a healthy twist without skimping on flavor.  Here are some things that you can do to create a better burger. 

Choose Your Patty:  For a classic burger it is important to choose the leanest ground beef available.  Purists will tell you to use the fattiest ground beef, but if you are trying to cut down on fat and create a healthier burger try using lean meat.  I like to use ground sirloin.  You also might try: Ground Turkey Breast (usually 99% fat free); Ground Buffalo/Bison (naturally sweet & lean); Veggie Burgers (usually has one seventh the saturated fat of traditional burgers); Fish Burgers; Salmon Burgers (rich in omega-3); Mushroom Burgers (made from large grilled Portobello mushrooms). 

 

Jazz Up Your Burgers:  Spices and condiments are key here.  Mix in or season your burgers with salt free or low sodium spices.  You can get creative here to suit your tastes or mood.  I like to use Cajun spices, Italian spices and sometimes a touch of curry spices. You can get a fiber boost and add texture by adding chopped or grated vegetables or herbs. 

 

To Bun Or Not To Bun:  Who says a burger must be served on a traditional white bun?  Feel free to serve your burgers on 100% whole grain buns or pita pockets.  If you are going for a totally bunless burger you might want to try sturdy lettuce or cabbage leaves. 

Accessorize:  The tasty trimming options are endless, but here are a few ideas.  Choose condiments that are low in fat, sodium and sugar.  Read the labels on varieties of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish and salsa.  Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties of cheese.  The white cheeses tend to be lower in fat such as Swiss or provolone.  Top your burger with grilled onions and sliced tomatoes.  Instead of using iceberg lettuce try radicchio, arugula or romaine.  While you’re at it add cucumber slices, radish slices or red pepper rings for some extra crunch.

 

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