(photo Southern Living.com)
did the easter bunny fill your basket full of sweet treats this year? did the sun shine upon y0u and your family? did you feast on ham or lamb? did you find yourself in a sugar coma by sunday evening like i did?
i'm still recovering -- mainly because i am still finishing off the chrusciki leftovers that still haunt me from down in the kitchen. i'm a polish girl, and i am very fortunate to have had a wonderful polish grandma who taught me how to cook and bake and entertain and create. so every year for easter, i pull out the big kitchen aid mixer, my apron, and grandma's recipe for polish angel wing cookies, or chrusciki.
the dough is a basic noodle-type, consisting mainly of egg yolks and flour. it is rolled out, cut into strips with a pastry wheel, and then 'twisted' into the inside-out angel wing knot for which they are most notable. eaten alone and plain, it is a rather bland experience. but give them a heavy dusting with confectioner's sugar, and you have a delectable little treat that you will devour. my grandmother was legendary for hers, and could crank them out by the dozens in no time. she and her sisters owned and operated a catering company, and giant mountains of chrusciki were often on the menu for the hundreds of polish weddings they delivered to the community. i'm the only one left in the family that still knows how to make them, and so i try to make as many as i can so we can indulge in their yumminess and the memory of my grandma.
i was ambitious this year, and decided i would make not one, but two, batches. not so bad, right? well, one batch of dough alone can produce up to 200 (!!) chrusciki! so i knew that i was in for a long saturday. but you know, once i get started cracking those eggs and twisting those wings, i begin to remember...its like she is here with me, standing at the counter with me in my own kitchen, guiding me as i roll the dough or drop them into the oil to cook. i can see her hands in my memory, her long fingers shaping the dough until it was just right. the best part was always sitting down with a cup of coffee and enjoying some when they were all done...
my grandmother was, and continues to be, a shining star for me. a wonderful woman who taught me about more than just eggs and flour or setting tables. she taught me to approach all tasks with integrity, to treat everyone like an honored guest, to make the most of what i have at hand. my morals, my values, and my ethics didn't come from going to catholic school and church on sundays. it came from the time i spent in my grandmother's kitchen, learning the lessons that have done me well thus far in my life.
i guess the moral of my story, my own personal point of view, is that holidays are not necessarily about going to church and worshipping faith myths for me. they are about honoring the love and the memories of the people who have enriched my life. this is what i celebrate, especially this time of year.