I am the youngest of four girls. Being the youngest has disadvantages. My teachers never called me by the right name. My clothes never fit. I didn't learn to drive until I was 18 because mom's nerves needed a rest.
Being the youngest, however, has its advantages. I got my way with only a little bit of crying. My father thought I was "cute" even in my 40s, and on Easter morning, I was the first one allowed to hunt for Easter eggs.
Remember when Easter eggs were real eggs?
The Easter morning egg hunt was a tradition we never questioned. We never asked "why" a bunny brings eggs. I mean, rabbits don't eat eggs and they don't lay them. We never asked "why" the bunny hides the eggs from us. We just hunted for them under the credenza, on top of the corner cupboard and behind the radiator. And we loved it.
As a kid, my mother had eggs delivered by the egg man. Mr. Fred Kheim was a talker. Often, if mom was busy, she would send one of us to answer the door and pay the 43 cents a dozen eggs. I can still hear the dreaded doorbell as it interrupted the Saturday morning cartoons. As the youngest, I often got "pushed" to the door. A distant cousin of my dad's, Fred could talk to a tyke or chat to a child as well as he could gossip with a grown-up.
One Saturday, my mom gave me extra money. "Tell Mr. Kheim, we need more eggs for coloring". Oh boy, today was egg-coloring day. This was a big deal. That day, I didn't mind hearing the door bell; in fact I could hardly wait. We only bought two dozen extra eggs, but a little was a lot in those days.
Oh, the pain of waiting for Fred through "Lassie," then "Buster Brown," then "My Friend Flicka," a favorite. My sisters would be in the kitchen boiling the water and measuring the vinegar and putting the small Paas pills into coffee cups. A "Modern Mom," my mother wouldn't use the old fashioned natural colorings.
One Easter when the door bell rang, I ran to the door, handed Fred the money and shut the door without even speaking. When my mom commented that I was quick, I responded that Mr. Kheim was busy. I still feel guilty about that lie all these years later.
Remember when Easter Eggs were real eggs?
I loved my mom's hard-boiled eggs and they were "hard boiled." She put them in to the boiling pot and let 'em rip. She would walk away and turn them off when she got around to it, usually just before the water was totally evaporated. I think I was 25 before I realized that the green ring around the hard egg yolk was not there naturally. The eggs were rubbery and stinky but we loved them. Easter day we would peel the very pale colored shell. The green or blue or orange had seeped through the shell and created a crackle design on the white. The eggs tasted best sprinkled with a little salt, right out of the basket, fresh from the hunt.
My "Cool Hand" husband said he used to keep all the eggs he found for himself and would eat them all by day's end. We didn't worry about cholesterol then.
We didn't worry about salmonella. The eggs never got refrigerated but stayed in the baskets all day, maybe all week, and my mom would use them as needed.
Some eggs were made into deviled eggs for Dad. They were made with just mustard and Hellman's mayonnaise, no Miracle Whip at our house. Some got pickled. Some were made into egg and olive sandwiches we took to school for lunch. I remember opening the foil and, phew, how the egg smell filled the room.
Today, we continue the tradition of letting the youngest grandchild begin the hunt. We still hide real eggs but they have been supplemented with other new choices. When it was my Izzy's turn to go first, we all prompted the 2-year old to "Look at the couch" and "by the plant," but she passed by my colored eggs and the plastic dollar store eggs and quickly gathered all the little foil eggs she could find. How did she know? Like old times, we ate the eggs after the hunt. I helped Izzy peel the foil from the dark chocolate ovals.
Yum. Maybe a little change in tradition is OK. Happy Easter!
Recipe for leftover eggs - Old fashioned deviled eggs
6 hard-cooked eggs, halved lengthwise.
1/4 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise.
1 tsp. or more of mustard of your choice.
1/4 tsp. salt.
Pepper to taste.
Optional additions: 1/2 tsp. white vinegar, 4 dashes hot sauce, 2 T. pickle relish, 1 T. grated onion, 1 T. fresh dill.
Gently, remove egg yolks, reserving egg whites. In small bowl, mash egg yolks using a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into egg whites and smooth with a knife. Absolutely you must sprinkle with paprika. Chill.
Actually, no protein material, including eggs, should ever be "boiled." To keep eggs tender, simmer them just under the boiling point.