About ten years ago, I went to my parents hometown in Pennsylvania and visited my Grandma P. It was Good Friday when I arrived and I walked in just before lunch. My aunts and uncles and cousins were there and my Grandpa was perched in his usual chair near the TV.
I came in and the raucous sounds of too-long-forgotten hellos and welcomes and hugs and come-ins and conversation took over everything. But then, after it died down for a moment, my Grandpa beckoned, “P, hungry”
and then it happened.
Within seconds things just hit the table. Literally. Out of nowhere there was a spread before us that not only was delicious, but knowing those recipes, I’m still wondering “how” it all happened. The timing would have impressed the shortest-short-order cook.
Last weekend, Easter, I pulled out these recipes and split them up over Good Friday and Easter. We had made some and frozen it ahead of time, with the intent that family was coming. Now that it was just us three, I figured we could spare our stomachs some bloat by parsing all this amazing goodness out.
I used to plan “basic Easter” – nothing wrong with it by the way – Ham, potato, green salad. I don’t doubt that in the future I’ll do this again – bringing out my mom’s pineapple ham, seven layer salad, try to find an exciting version of scalloped potatoes (brie anyone?) perhaps. But some years, and this one in particular, I’m pretty sure God knew I needed my Gram around.
She was a spitfire. She wore a bikini to tan on the lawn – well past most people’s “bikini years”. She dyed her hair platinum blonde until she passed. She wanted (and got) red leather pants for her 70th birthday. She was not “grandma” in that sense, she knew what she wanted, and fashion was not an obstacle. Everything in her life she took on with gusto, and I’d like to think that I inherited some of that.
So this year, I brought out the pierogis on Good Friday. I made the halupkis and set them out in my slow cooker on Sunday. Their sweet pickled sauerkraut and tomato smell permeating the air when they are finally ready to eat. She made fried chicken with it. I don’t have her particular recipe for it, but the recipe below is the closest I can find. She used to pair this with pasta salad with cucumbers and tomato. A green salad (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes) with a red wine vinegar and salad oil salad. She was a baker as a young girl, and goodness knows the millions of different recipes she had for desserts.
I remember us all sitting around the table. Loud as ever, following about 12 different conversations at once. It was the only Easter I spent with extended family, but it was wonderful and different all the same. Just like embracing a little different Easter foods this year, I’m embracing all the different that this quarantine is bringing us. I’m grateful for this reminder as we continue to weather the storm.
Oven Fried Chicken
- 2 chickens (3 lbs. each), cut in 8 serving pieces
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 2 C flour
- 1 T salt
- 1 T pepper
Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.
Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don’t crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot
Photo Credit: Pinterest