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Blessed during Easter

POSTED: April 9, 2014 1:00 a.m.

For me, Easter is a time of reflection.

I find myself thinking about the years with my little ones coordinating matching outfits, filling Easter baskets and hunting eggs. I still have those matching outfits in a storage box and when I feel that rush of nostalgia taking root, I just go pull them out. It makes me smile to think we are still finding some of those plastic eggs in our yard many years later.

Then along came years of sitting on the pew of our home church surrounded by those same sweet faces home from college with their grandparents seated next to them.

And to be honest, Easter is a bittersweet time for me. I miss those little hands and feet and I miss my children’s granddaddies that have gone before us.

But everything has a season. Easter brings with it the season of hope and spring. And spring brings lots of wonderful things such as flowers blooming, warm sunshine and gardens lush with fruits and vegetables.

We’ve never been much on going out to eat on Easter, so we start planning our Easter meal weeks in advance. Most likely our menu will include the traditional ham, broccoli casserole, creamed corn, black-eyed peas, green beans, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, cornbread muffins, biscuits and, of course, sweet tea. And we can’t forget the plethora of desserts, including, but not limited, to coconut cake, pecan pie, tea cakes, sweet potato pie and carrot cake.

Oh, have mercy. There is just nothing better than a bunch of Southern cooks putting a holiday dinner on the table.

When preparing for such a big meal, it is a good idea to separate your menu into “make ahead” and “day of” recipes. Many recipes can be made a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerated. While it may be a challenge to coordinate the cooking and warming times so it all gets on the table hot, it can be done.

I’m a planner so I have a strategic plan of when a dish goes in the oven and comes out. I also know how to position my serving dishes in my one oven so all goes in and comes out at the appropriate time. I’m not sure a five-star general could achieve such a feat.

You’ll also want to be sure to serve foods of various colors, flavors and textures. I love to have fresh fruits on the table and that’s why this spring ambrosia is such a good one. The fruit in this recipe is like a breath of fresh air. And I think that’s what we all need this time of year. Happy spring and Easter!

Spring Ambrosia

4 cups fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cups fresh mango, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cups orange sections

1/2 cup cream of coconut

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Garnish: chopped toasted macadamia nuts, toasted coconut

In a large bowl, combine pineapple, mango and orange sections.

In a small bowl, whisk together cream of coconut and orange juice.

Add juice mixture to fruit mixture, tossing gently to coat. Garnish with macadamia nuts and toasted coconut.

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at crevolyn.wiley@jandjfoods.com.


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