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What's Cooking in Bryan County: Some Easter eats for the whole family to enjoy
libby hires
Libby Hires

Easter is here! I love all holidays, but Christmas and Easter tend to be my favorites. It isn’t because of Santa Claus or even the Easter Bunny. One celebrates birth while the other one celebrates re-birth. Christmas is a reminder that we should be generous and thoughtful to others not necessarily when it comes to expensive or extravagant gifts. It is more so the gift of ourselves, human kindness, and love. Easter reminds me that we should forgive; it’s time to renew our spirits and minds. We spring clean our houses. Spring cleaning of the mind and heart are necessary, too.

All holidays mean family to me. We made so many wonderful memories when I was a child, so I tried to do the same with my kids. You know, the dying of the eggs and the egg hunts. I lived in Winston-Salem, NC while growing up. My father would take those willing to go to the sunrise service to Old Salem, where the Moravians settled. Since I was a daddy’s girl, I always woke up at 5:00 to go with him. I would stand there and listen to the brass band and hold my daddy’s hand. Even at a young age, I knew the solemness of the moment, but I soaked in the historical spot as if the settlers were still standing there amongst us. We would walk to God’s Acre (the Moravian cemetery) as the band played for the final part of the service…and the sun would rise….to remind us that the tomb was empty. I still get chills remembering the moment. My daddy passed away in 2017. This year his birthday falls on Easter Sunday. It’s a reminder that he’s still with us…the tomb is empty, but our hearts and minds are still full with memories of him.

I loved holidays with my mom and grandmother in the kitchen making special things, too. Easter would not be Easter without extra treats and Holiday Ham. The Holiday Ham has an ingredient that was never allowed in our household except for making Holiday Ham: wine. Actually, alcoholic beverages of any sort were not allowed~ at all~ except for the making of Holiday Ham. I’ve always thought it funny that their ham recipe called for Jewish wine. I mean, isn’t that a bit of a sacrilege there…pork and Jewish wine? However, this recipe has been handed down for so many generations that I think that the Manischewitz wine have posted a similar recipe on their website.

Here are a few of my family’s Easter favorites. Enjoy!

Holiday Ham

1 (3 -7 pound) ham ( Rind is up to you.)** 1 pound light brown sugar (dark is fine, too, but I prefer light) 1 (12 ounce) can Coca-Cola* 1 (14 ounce) can pineapple rings 1 cup Manischewitz Concord Grape wine 10 -12 maraschino cherries (optional) 1/2 ounce whole cloves (1 small container) Directions: Preheat oven to 325 F. Score the ham crosswise and lengthwise, forming a crosshatch/square-cut patter about 1/4 inches deep and 1 inch apart. Place a clove in the intersection of each square. Place ham in an aluminum roasting pan that you have placed on a baking/cookie sheet (for stability). Load the ham with sugar. Use the whole pack and just pack it on. Some sugar will fall off, but keep on packing. Bake until sugar just begins to melt (20-30 minutes). Remove ham, pour Coca-Cola all over the ham, and baste the ham with the sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan. Bake for another 20 minutes. Combine 1 cup of pineapple juice and wine. Baste the ham with mixture. Bake the ham for about 15 minutes per pound, basting every 20 minutes with the juices. During the last 20 minutes, decorate ham with pineapple rings. Use toothpicks to hold the rings in place, and put a cherry in the center of each ring with a toothpick. Prior to serving, remove all toothpicks. *I have used Cherry Coke or Dr. Pepper instead of Coke. Both of these works well! ** A spiral ham is not recommended since it tends to dry out faster. However, you can use it, but you will have to baste often with the marinade/juices.

Bird’s Nest

For each bird nest you will need: Individual short cake or angel food cake shells Cool Whip, thawed Green food coloring Sweetened coconut Jelly Beans or pastel color malt balls Directions: Place cakes on a baking sheet. Whip Cool Whip and “frost” the shell. Add a few drops green food coloring to coconut to make it look like grass. Sprinkle over Cool Whip. Place candy in the indention in the middle to look like bird eggs.

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