Tag Archives: Easter

Bank Holiday Weekend

In which the Wartime Housewife discusses, Easter, Good Friday, the amenity of Welland Park, food mixers, crucifixions, St George’s Day, Hallaton Bottle Kicking and Simnel Cakes.

The last two days have been fairly varied and marginally calmer than my life usually is.  We all had a bit of a lie in on Friday morning and then my former common-law sister-in-law, Eliza, came round for a coffee and to give the chaps their Easter Eggs.  We decided to go to a performance of Stainer’s ‘Crucifixion’ at Rothwell Church in the evening, which seemed particularly appropriate being Good Friday.

Not that anyone would have known it was Good Friday.  My electric food mixer decelerated to a halt on Thursday and I had to buy another one in order to make Simnel Cakes for Easter.  I know, I know, I have a wooden spoon and I’m not afraid to use it but time is precious, it is.  I naively rang Argos to see if they were open on Good Friday and the girl on the end of the ‘phone came as close as she dared to saying ‘Errr yeah, durr?’ (you can add the irritating teenage inflection yourself).

Welland Park

When I went into Market Harborough it was clearly just another shopping day with every shop packed to the gills with people loading up trolleys for the oncoming siege situation of a Bank Holiday.  I bought my mixer, taking care to take out the extra 3-year cover, as the last two mixers have only lasted me a year each.  Well, a year and three days actually so they were JUST out of warranty. (Insert your own choice of compound swearing here).

I dropped the boys in Welland Park for a couple of hours and went home to make Simnel Cakes.  The delicious smell of hot cinnamon, nutmeg and fruit cake wafted around the house in a tantalising way as I rolled out the marzipan for the top and made the 11 balls for the disciples (twelve minus one for Judas Iscariot).

I left the last two in the oven and went back into town to pick the chaps up.  Welland Park is a wonderful facility just on the outskirts of Market Harborough.  There are tennis courts and bowling greens, a cafe for tea and ice cream and a massive play area for the children, as well as open grassed areas for ball games or sitting quietly under the trees picnicking.

But the most glorious thing is the gardens.  As you walk in past the tennis courts, there are the most glorious flowerbeds in complementary colours ranging from soft pinks and mauves to vibrant reds and oranges.  My favourite was a bed full of swathes of forget-me-nots in pink, white and blue with deep mauve tulips standing guard over their smaller, fluffier cousins.

As I walked towards the playground, I passed through the rose garden which has the bell tower from Symington’s factory as the centrepiece, and which has just been planted with tiny, intricately patterned box hedges.  In the summer the smell from this garden is heavenly from roses, lavender and the honeysuckle which boldly scales the trellises and archways round the edge.  We are fortunate indeed.

In the evening, we collected Eliza and headed off to Rothwell to hear ‘Crucifixion’.  It’s not an easy piece of music and it was performed admirably by the choir and the two soloists, particularly as quite a proportion of the choir can’t read music.  There are some familiar hymns in it and the congregation joined in which was most enjoyable.  It’s a very moving piece and just the thing to round off Good Friday.

Today, I dropped the boys off with their father and headed into town, which was even more packed than it was yesterday.  I bought some wide ribbon to finish off my cakes then returned home and ate my lunch whilst watching a repeat of James May making his plasticene garden for The Chelsea Flower Show.  St George’s Day appears to have been completely forgotten in all the excitement of Easter and a Royal Wedding.  I shall have Mushrooms for supper (after Dr Who, of course – hurrah!).

Tomorrow morning, I am driving down to London to pick up The Aged Parent and take her to Sister the Second for Easter Day.  I am hoping for many Lindt Bunnies for I have been a good girl all year.  So far anyway…

On Monday it is The Hallaton Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble.  Hip Hip Hurrah!

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Filed under Indoor Activities, Life in general, Outdoor Activities, Slider

Fun Easter activities for all the family

Now that the school holidays are nearly upon us, it is a great time to get out those paints and glue, eggs and flour and get creative.  Or better still make your children get creative.

Easter baskets

Easter Baskets:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/what-ive-been-doing-instead-of-writing-articles-for-you

Hot Cross Buns

 

Hot Cross Buns:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-4

Egg decorations

 

Faberge Egg Decorations: https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-3

Simnel Cake

 

Simnel Cake:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-2

Egg cosies

 

Felt Egg Cosies:  https://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/things-to-make-and-do-at-easter-part-1

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Decorated Chocolate Easter Eggs – using real eggs

As Easter approaches, I have been trying to think of interesting ideas for eggs or gifts.  It occurred to me that one could decorate real eggs and fill them with chocolate.  If you saw one of these in John Lewis they would cost you a fortune and rightly so as they look so glamorous.

You could have a lot of fun with the designs, using applique, stippling, marbling, or just using a bit of ribbon and some stick-on gems as I have done.  I have a big bag of ribbons, sequins, sparkly things etc so I tend to use what I already have in stock.  This is what I did:-

DECORATED CHOCOLATE EASTER EGGS

Make a hole

Utensils:
1 x large needle
Kitchen roll (paper towel)
1 x heatproof bowl for melting the chocolate
1 x saucepan
Icing syringe
Acrylic paints – matt and/or metallic
Acrylic varnish for matt paints
Paint brushes – thick & thin
Ribbons – assorted
Decorative gems

Melt the chocolate

Scissors
PVA glue
Egg cups
4oz / 120g good quality chocolate per egg

Method:
Using the needle make a hole about ¼ “ / 0.75cm diameter in the bottom of the egg
Waggle the needle gently inside the egg to break up the yolk
Drain the egg into a bowl for use as omelettes or to make a cake

Fill the egg with chocolate

Rinse the inside of the egg thoroughly and leave to drain and dry on a towel
Bring some water almost to the boil in the saucepan and place the heatproof bowl on top
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in the bowl
Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally
Pour the chocolate into the syringe and fill the empty egg shell, leaving a little space for expansion
Wipe any excess chocolate off the shell and leave in a cool place to set
Paint the egg with several thin coats of acrylic paint, making sure not to get any paint on the chocolate
It’s best to do most of the top half first, leave it to dry and then do the remaining bottom bit
When the paint is dry, varnish if you need to and leave to dry

Paint the egg

Then decorate with ribbons and gems, fixing into place with a little PVA

When you come to eat the chocolate, hit the egg quite hard on the side and roll it a bit to crack the shell, a bit like you’d do with a hard-boiled egg.  Then peel the shell off and eat.

A box of eggs

The sadness and yet, the joy!

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Things to Make and Do at Easter: Part 4 – Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns were originally made from the leftover dough from sacramental loaves and baked on Good Friday.  Good Friday is a solemn day in the Christian calendar as it marks the day on which Jesus was crucified, hence the cross on the top.  But Christian or not, who wouldn’t delight in a hot cross bun with lashings of butter, and home made ones are best of all.

To quote from ‘Festive Food of England’:
”Numerous superstitions are associated with the day.  At one time Devonians broke pieces of pottery in the belief that the sharp, jagged edges could cut the flesh of Judas, the betrayer, whereas Liverpudlians burn his effigy.  In the Midlands it was the best day to plant crops; conversely in the North and Wales it was considered such a disaster to disturb the earth that people even walked barefoot to church.  No clothes were ever washed in case the owner’s life was washed away and for obvious reasons blacksmiths never made or hammered nails on Good Friday’

HOT CROSS BUNS

Utensils:
1 x measuring-type jug
1 x large mixing bowl
1 x sieve
2 x bun trays – greased and floured
1 x pastry brush
1 x wire rack
plates or trays for putting dough on to rise
Possibly a broad nozzled piping bag if you’re making crosses out of flour paste

Ingredients:
½ oz / 15g dried yeast
2oz / 60g soft light brown sugar
7floz / 200ml warm milk (about 28oC / 80oF)
1lb / 480g strong white flour
a pinch of salt
2 tspn mixed spice
2oz / 60g butter
2 eggs – beaten
4oz / 120g currants
shortcrust pastry trimmings if you have them, or a stiff paste of flour and water
Beaten egg to glaze

Method:
Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar onto ¼ pint / 150ml of the milk and whisk together
Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes until frothy
Sift the flour, salt and spice into a large bowl and stir in the remaining sugar
Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add the yeast mixture, the remaining milk and the eggs and mix together well
Knead into a soft dough
Scatter the currents onto the dough, kneading them in to make sure they are evenly distributed
Cover with a light cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size
Switch on the oven to 220 / 425 / 7
Put the dough back on the work surface, and knead for about 2 minutes to get rid of any large air pockets (this is called ‘knocking back’)
Using a spoon, fill each bun mould to about 2/3 full and shape into a nice round
Leave the trays in a warm place for about 15 minutes to rise
Brush the buns with beaten egg to glaze
Make the crosses for the top with either strips of pastry, or pipe on the flour and water paste. Alternatively, just make a deep cross in each bun with a knife
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden browned.
Place on a wire rack to cool

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Filed under Food, Recipes, Seasonal

Things to Make and Do at Easter: Part 3 – Egg Decorations

FABERGE STYLE EGG DECORATIONS

These eggs are so simple to make but look wonderful, particularly if you hang them on a small branch.  You can buy sheets of bead stickers and ribbon stickers at craft shops and good stationers, and haberdashers with have ribbons and beads and often have bags of off-cuts or assorted oddments which are perfect for this sort of thing.

Think through your design before you start and lay your materials out.  They take a little bit of time, but you can go off and do other things while they’re drying.  And of course you can use the egg to make Hot Cross Buns and Simnel Cake.

You will need:
Eggs for blowing
A sharp, long, thick needle
Acrylic paints
Paint brushes – assorted sizes
Clear varnish to make them extra hard
Beads, ribbons, stickers etc for decorating
1/8” / 5mm ribbon to make hangers
PVA glue (because it dries clear)
Scissors

Method:
Make a very small hole at each end of the egg
Poke your needle into the egg to break it up
Position your egg over a bowl and blow through one end until all the egg is out
Leave to dry
Paint your egg carefully with acrylic paint.  You will need more than one coat to get a thick, dense colour, leaving to dry between each coat
When all the coats of paint are dry, apply the varnish to the whole of the egg and leave to dry
Decorate with beads, ribbon, stickers etc and leave to dry

To make the loops:
Cut a length of thin ribbon about 6 times the length of the egg and thread onto the needle so that the ribbon is exactly in half
Thread the ribbon through the bottom hole and out through the top hole, leaving the two ends hanging out of the bottom
Tie off the ribbon neatly at the bottom so it can’t slip through the hole
Put a tiny dab of PVA glue around the hole at the base of the ribbon to set it firm and leave to dry

Post Script 19.04.11:  You can thread the ribbon through a medium sized coloured button on the bottom and glue it on.  This completely covers the hole and makes a very neat finish.

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Filed under Children, Decorative, fashion, Indoor Activities, Leisure, Seasonal

Things to Make and Do at Easter: Part 2 – Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake was originally made by maid servants to take home to their mothers on Mothers’ Day.  It was a test of their cooking as to whether it was moist enough to last until Easter.  Traditionally, there are eleven marzipan balls placed around the top with a conspicuous gap left.  These represent the eleven loyal disciples of Jesus with the gap reminding us of the betrayal by Judas Iscariot.  Symbolic or not, it’s a gorgeous cake to eat at Easter.

SIMNEL CAKE

Utensils:
1 x 7” round cake tin with deep sides – ideally loose bottomed
greaseproof paper
1 x large mixing bowl
1 x electric mixer
1 x rolling pin
1 x pastry brush
1 x wire rack for cooling

Ingredients:
6oz / 180g butter
6oz / 180g white or Demerara sugar
3 eggs
8oz / 240g self raising flour
12 oz / 360g raisins
4oz / 120g sultanas
3oz / 90g currants
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
A little milk
1 ½ lb / 750g marzipan – cut into three equal pieces
Apricot jam
Extra beaten egg for glazing

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 160 / 325 / 3
Grease and line the cake tin with the greaseproof paper
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Gradually beat in the eggs
Fold in half the flour and fruit and all the salt and spices
Then beat in the remaining flour and fruit and a little milk if it’s very stiff mixture.
Put half the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth it flat
Take 1/3 of the marzipan and, using the cake tin as a template, roll out a circle to fit inside the tin
Place the circle of marzipan on top of the mixture in the tin
Put the remaining cake mixture on the top and make a small indentation in the middle (to keep it flat as it rises)
Put in the oven for about 2 hours or until cooked through
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
If the cake has risen in the middle, just slice the top off with a sharp knife to make it level
Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam
Roll out the second 1/3 of the marzipan and cut into a circle to exactly fit the top of the cake
Pinch round the edge to make an attractive finish
Form the final 1/3 of the marzipan into eleven balls and arrange around the top of the cake leaving one space
Brush the top of the cake with beaten egg and brown very slightly under a medium grill
Put a nice ribbon around the cake to finish it off.

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Filed under Food, Recipes, Seasonal

Things to Make and Do at Easter: Part 1 – Felt Egg Cosies

As it’s nearly Easter and also the school holidays I thought I’d give you a few creative ideas for adults and children alike.  We will have Felt Egg Cosies, Hot Cross Buns, Simnel Cake and Faberge Style Decorative Eggs.  I will do these in the early part of the week to give you time to buy anything you need.

EASTER EGG COSIES

I made this little felt egg cosy some years ago – I also made a chick but it has gone astray.  You can copy my colours or you can make your own; I would suggest making several and doing them in different colours for different people.
For non-sewers, the ‘right side’ means the side you will see and the ‘wrong side’ is the side you won’t see.
The list of things you need is based on my colour scheme.

You will need:
Felt squares in yellow, black and white
Cotton – yellow black and white
A needle for cotton
A needle with a slightly larger eye for wool
Some pins
Fine black wool for the whiskers
Coloured wool for the hair

Method:
Cut out the pattern pieces using the template provided (you should be able to print it off easily)
Pinch the ears at the bottom and sew them onto the back piece of felt for the body
Cut out the eye and nose shapes and pin them onto the front piece of felt for the body
Using white thread and small stitches, sew the eyes and nose to the body
Now cut some little circles in black felt for the irises
Stitch them onto the white eye pieces, using black cotton, to create a nice or funny expression
Thread some fine black wool and sew through the nose for whiskers, leaving about 1”/2.5cm at each end.
Use some black cotton to secure the whiskers on the wrong side, taking care not to sew through to the nose on the right side.
Now thread your needle with yellow cotton.
Place the body pieces wrong side together and overstitch right round the edge
Cut some coloured wool into short lengths and bundle them together
Lay the bundle front to back between the ears and sew into place.
Tip: If you keep one hand inside the cosy it will stop you stitching the two sides together too far down and spoiling the shape

Another Tip:  If you are a little short of time, you can glue the nose and eyes on using craft or fabric glue.  This might make them tricky to wash but then you might never need to.

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Filed under Children, Indoor Activities, Sewing