I grew up with a Slavic Grandmother who held all our family traditions in her mind,but mostly in her heart.She was born into a poor family and the depression left her Mother with a very heartbreaking decision. She had to choose…did she keep my Grandmother(Margaret) or her bother (Basil),she kept Basil. My Grandmother was sent to live with her Grandparents. It was a blessing for her. Her Grandfather (Dedi) was a farmer and her Grandmother was a baker.
Margaret shined at Easter. Every year the events leading up to the day of Easter were all for a specific reason. Friday’s were meatless and although we weren’t Catholic we did give something up for Lent. I asked her once why she did this if she didn’t go to church and didn’t practice Catholic teachings. Her answer,”if GOD loved me enough to give his only Son for my sins surely I love GOD enough to give up something.Clearly this has stuck with me..it was humble and powerful.She did attend Palm Sunday until she got older and she wasn’t able to walk well.We would make crosses out of the palm and they were used in a few different ways.Palms were never to be thrown out,they were to be burned.
So jumping ahead to Maundy Thursday we would color eggs and again they had a purpose…not used in egg hunts.Good Friday we would have pizza. Saturday was filled with stuff that needed to be done.My Grandparents would take the colored eggs(she always made they were appropriate..lol Yeah sometimes someone would write a curse word or draw something inappropriate on them),kielbasa,butter,red beet horseradish and Paska bread to the church to be blessed. She also made the bunny cake on this day. A chocolate cake recipe that we all have been using for a very long time is the base of the bunny cake and it was cut to look like a bunny head with ears and a bow tie.Now….this cake was covered with a delightful meringue icing and topped with coconut.It was amazing! Of course she would use jelly beans for eyes and draw a mouth because she wanted to make it perfect for her family.
So now it is Easter Sunday morning we would go to her house and we had everything that was blessed for breakfast.She loved having everyone there. This particular Easter we had dinner at our house. Ham,scalloped potatoes,corn,broccoli, coleslaw,paska bread and butter.This year I will always remember because all of our family was there. She had 4 Daughters and their husbands and children and great Grandson were there. We had a wild game of wiffle ball.Yep that lovely cake was next and…she always had lemon meringue pie on Easter.
Margaret passed away almost 3 years ago. Holidays haven’t been the same.Easter is especially hard.See every Easter that bunny cake was my Birthday cake and when I lost Margaret ..well it hasn’t really felt like my birthday since.I did become a professional baker and cake decorator.I suspect she had something to do with that.
We still try to keep the Traditions going and now this year I can take over the role of that. It’s important to remember where we come from,especially in this day and age. Everything is convenience and not so much tradition. Little things like that bunny cake keep Margaret still in our hearts and that is important because without her..I wouldn’t be here.I love you Nan.
Please share your traditions with me,I’d love to hear about them..and maybe about your Nan…
Margaret’s Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of oil
- mix in a mixer til well combined
- in a separate bowl combine-
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 3/4 cups of cocoa
- slowly add to wet mix alternating with 1 cup of milk
- once incorporated it will be thick
- now boil 1 cup of water and then add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to the water..it will fizz a little
- now very slowly add this to the batter making sure it is all mixed well.
- oven 350 and pour into greased and floured 8 inch pans.
- bake for 30 minutes and when toothpick comes out clean it is done. Cool before icing and Enjoy!!!