Notes From Swan's Nest

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Panorama Easter Eggs

 

I’m dreaming of chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, baskets decked in ribbons and filled with pastel Easter grass, egg hunts in the yard (there’s always an egg in the downspout and another hiding behind one of the fence posts), celebrating around the table with Randy, our son Timothy, and his girlfriend Tamera, AND panorama sugar Easter eggs.
 
I love Easter. The pansies, pink dianthus, white azaleas, and trees in our Dallas garden are blooming, the bridal’s wreath spirea appear like large fountains of white blossoms cascading nearly to the ground, and as a testament to this season of rebirth, two little wrens have built their nest inside a wall planter on our back patio. I’ve loved standing at the window in our living room, watching them flit back and forth with tiny twigs, bits of leaves, and long grasses clutched in their tiny beaks, before they disappear into the planter’s well. Soon, a new family will emerge from the planter and we’ll have the pleasure of watching the little ones learn to fly.
 
Years ago when I hosted my own Texas television cooking and lifestyle show, I showed viewers how to create panorama Easter eggs – wondrous, 3-dimensional, hollow sugar eggs decorated with royal icing and a precious Easter scene within. It was one of my most popular shows, and each year, thousands of folks still visit my website in search of the recipe. It’s the perfect holiday craft to do with children, or to create as a surprise gift for loved ones.
 
I still remember my first panorama Easter egg. I lived with my parents and three sisters in Upper St. Clair, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I was about 5 years old. I had seen panorama eggs in the windows of a local shop, but never expected to receive one of my own. In my young eyes, the glistening sugar egg nestled in my basket that morning was as precious as a priceless Fabergé egg, so I can well understand the continued fascination with these exquisite, magical symbols of the Easter season.
 
With a little patience, a day or two of drying time, and basic skill with a frosting piping bag, panorama sugar Easter eggs are surprisingly easy to make at home, so gather your supplies, check out my recipe at http://www.christyrost.com/recipes/panorama-easter-eggs, and give it a try. They’ll keep beautifully for many years of enjoyment.
 
Happy Easter!
 
-Christy

Winter and Spring

It was warm enough in the mountains this afternoon to work outside without a jacket, but the welcome respite from the cold will be brief as another snowstorm moves into Colorado tomorrow.
 
Across the country, folks are getting slammed by a succession of winter storms that shut down schools and offices, knock out power to many, and cause havoc on the roads. At the same time, television news segments this week have offered up winter’s lighter side – scores of children, young adults, and those whose usual maturity has been set aside in the interest of good old fashion fun, sliding down hills on anything that will take flight through fresh powder.
 
And yet, in our Dallas, Texas gardens the daffodils are blooming and azalea buds are beginning to swell in anticipation of their annual breathtaking display of pink, salmon, red, and white blossoms.
 
While last weekend’s snowstorm took hold, I was caught between the winter weather outside and the springtime I longed for as I made preparations for a dinner party.  I purchased several bunches of cheerful, yellow daffodils and placed them into a vase, which I set in front of the built-in gas hearth in our new kitchen, and tucked a gorgeous, pink and white amaryllis into a formal white stoneware pot for the center of the dining table. I nestled small electric candles into a series of miniature glass compotes filled with clear glass stones to provide a touch of stylish ‘chic’ to the table, and paired white dinner plates with gold chargers.
 
The casual menu started with individual chopped, iceberg lettuce salads garnished with arugula, julienned basil, red endive, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, a garlic-laced buttermilk dressing I created for my newest cookbook Celebrating Home, crumbled applewood smoked bacon, and a “rose-like” garnish of red endive cut crosswise. Following the salads, we feasted on smoked pulled pork – a gift from Dallas neighbors; slow-cooked, northern Mexico pinto beans flavored with jalapeños, garlic, onion, and bacon; cornbread muffins; and apple tart topped with a lattice crust and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. Tantalizing aromas filled our home, but the best part was the animated conversation as guests relaxed and enjoyed the simple meal.
 
It won’t be long before spring arrives in full force, but while we’re waiting, try blending a winter menu with spring décor for a very fun gathering with friends.
 
- Christy