Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Feaster

It’s interesting that, the older I get, the more I have come to appreciate the ministry of hospitality.

I’ve always been a Mary to someone’s Martha; much more interested in talk and thought than in the logistics of entertaining. And I grew up in a household with socially anxious parents who really didn’t care to have guests over very often; one of my more unfortunate memories is of my high school graduation party, when my mother, unnerved by the thought of her in-laws descending upon our house, spent most of the day being sick in the bathroom. So I’ve had to spend the past two or so decades unlearning that awful twisty feeling in my insides at the thought of opening my household to others or organizing a group outing.

In the last year Fellow Traveler and I have tried to organize get-togethers, either at her house or at some midway point in the state, because we think it’s a good thing, and because the people who show up really seem to appreciate it. And we’ve been beneficiaries of similar hospitality by others, and appreciate that; being able to be ourselves and relax in good company.

All of which is the scenic-drive way of getting to my tale of Easter dinner, which this year consisted of Fellow Traveler, her empty-nest sister and myself. After considering our thematic possibilities, including the $40 premade giganto-mart spiral ham dinner special, we decided to do something completely different, because we could: roast leg of lamb. And because my own fussily equivocal enjoyment of lamb makes me lean toward seasoning it Mediterranean style – lots of garlic and herbs -- my suggestion was to serve it with Greek/Middle Eastern side dishes. This plan violated one of my mother’s major culinary rules, namely, don’t experiment with untried recipes on guests. (When FT asked me the last time I made a whole leg of lamb, I said, “Never.” She responded, “Oh…okay…” in the sort of tentative way you might respond to a friend informing you, as she whipped around a banked section of unfamiliar urban multilane, that she’d never actually driven on a freeway before. I didn’t tell FT that, except for tabbouli, I’d never made any of the proposed side dishes either.) But sometimes you have to set your sights toward the unknown, even if it’s just down the hall in the kitchen.

So yesterday, after church, I cooked. The lamb, pre-rubbed with lemon, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and studded with garlic slivers and rosemary sprigs from my little overwintering rosemary shrub, was placed in a 450 degree oven, then the temperature immediately turned down to 325 degrees. I then prepared roasted baby red potatoes Greek style – peeled mid-tater, rolled in kosher salt, pepper and oregano, then placed in a pan with olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of chicken broth, Greek oregano and peeled garlic cloves and cooked uncovered next to the meat (the potatoes absorb much of the oil and liquid, and get nice and roasty on the outside, soft on the inside). I made a simple beet salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, onion and garlic. And, just before dinner, I steamed a big batch of spinach, mixed it with green onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil and added fresh dillweed and feta cheese – sort of like spanakopita innards without the phyllo dough around them. And then there was the homemade tabbouli, made the evening before, and some mixed marinated olives.

The experiment worked very well. We ate lots – lots – supplemented by some very nice bakery rolls (great for sopping up the residual Greek potato marinade) and an Amish raspberry pie. Greek-Amish fusion; whoddathunkit.

Of course, I suspect this means that I have now inherited the responsibility for future Easter dinners. I wonder what world cuisine will show up on the table next year.


cheesehead said...

Oh. My. This sounds divne. And I am lamentably lamb-ambivalent.

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

Oh yum ... very yummy ...

P.S. an after-thought said...

I can't tell if the comments are getting lost or if the comment moderation is goofing me up. Sorry if this posts twice.

Sounds yummy, maybe even the spinach if there was enough garlic.

I don't get that ambitious with cooking, especially after being gone to church from 6:30 am till 11:00 am. I'd eat that if someone served me.

I can relate to both sides of the social anxiety situation. My parents didn't really "entertain" and I got neither social cooking experience or cooking genes, although until I got bored with cooking a couple of years ago, I was definetly the most experimental cook in the extended family.

But my DH worked such long hours for years, and we were schlepping all over the county for sports for years, that when we were home, we wanted peace and quiet. Two of our kids turned out extremely extroverted, so they don't understand us and we can't relate to their social needs.

So nowadays, I find it hard to get in the groove of having company for food, unless we're talking about one close friend at a time. Maybe I should try to teach this old dog some new tricks. But right now I have the technology problem I'm mentioned on my blog. Another excuse.

zorra said...

It sounds fabulous. We usually find ourselves in Easter dinner situations where we need to go the usual ham-n-turkey route for various reasons, but a couple of Easters ago we butterflied a leg of lamb, marinated it like yours (plus oregano), and cooked it on the grill. Best Easter dinner EVER.

Quotidian Grace said...

That sounds wonderful! I much prefer lamb to ham--at Easter or any other time.

Sheryl said...

It does sound tasty - and I don't particularly like ham.

I made beef stew for Easter this year. I had to work, and I wanted something that could cook all night and while I was at church, and that I could pick up on the way to work.

And, except for the carrots, it was mighty tasty.

Tradition is overrated sometimes.

St. Inuksuk said...

The price of success is costly!!!!
Sounds wonderfully delicious and I love the Greek-Amish fusion thing!!!!!!! Happy Easter, schoene Ostern, I'll leave the Greek for the professionals.

Charlotte said...

Le Yum.

Med is always good for Easter, although the classic yankee doodle Ham and Scalloped Potatoes (for me, With Asparagus) is good too.

I've got a coupla grilled lamb recipes on my recipe blog if you want to branch out next year.

Since I've become a worker bee at St Spike's, I have taken a pass on Easter dinner in favor of Easter Breakfast, followed by Easter Nap after services. Honeybaked Ham, cheese grits, and strawberries ... yum.

(I generally prefer lamb to ham, but I'll make exceptions for good ham, or breakfast.)

Bag Lady said...

Mm-mm-mm. Awesome!

LutheranChik said...

Hey, Charlotte! Long time no read! So glad you're back!