It rained yesterday and more rain is expected tomorrow but today the sun is out for Easter. People mill at the grocery store where the long table full of forced tulips and hyacinths now just holds debris. A few plastic trays remain on another long table that appeared last Friday, laden with iced cakes, cookies and other desserts.
Spring festivals mean lamb and ham. In the Philippines the undisputed queen of fiesta foods is the caldereta, a tomato-rich stew of goat meat with chunks of chorizo Bilbao. Throughout the islands various recipes for caldereta are touted. I think my mother’s family’s recipe is the best. No potatoes here, no hot chili peppers, just the unmistakable flavor of goat tempered with long marination in palm-juice vinegar and spices. In America, goat meat only available at some out-of-the-way farm in the country, lamb substitutes for that wonderful flavor and aroma many people who don’t know what they’re missing loathe. Few Hoosiers have acquired a taste for lamb one does not see a lot of it. Easter is the one holiday when lamb prices come down. The rest of the year, if lamb is available, prices are astronomical. Maybe this is why I love Greece. There lamb is more common than beef because of the rocky, mountainous terrain. I feasted on lamb night every day when we toured the mainland some years ago.
This year, with no one expected to join me, I decided to treat myself to lamb. I love stews but browning the meat before simmering it in wine, broth and tomato paste casts grease over every surface facing up. After stewing I have to get the jars down from above the kitchen cabinets and wash them down with soap and water. Still that’s a small price to pay for the rare treat. The last remaining leg of lamb at the store yesterday was five pounds. I had the butcher cut it into stew-size chunks and back home divided the loot in two. I froze half in a vacuum pack for the other lamb dish I fix at springtime: navarin printanier, lamb with early spring vegetables.
While gathering daffodils for the dining room this morning I met my neighbors, Carrie and Chuck. Carrie’s lived in the condo next to John’s but I’d never really talked to her except maybe when she came in 2002. Her sisters lived with her and they were all busy during the week. Her boyfriend, Chuck, recently moved in. Now they’re thinking of planting a garden and redoing the kitchen. We chatted for a good while until I remembered the bread baking in the oven. I hurried to take the loaf out. It seemed okay although the timer had gone off while I was outside.
The first batch of tulips are withered and gone. The middle batch is near dying, the third batch poised to bloom. The parade of blooms has been fast this year. I can’t believe how quickly the season is speeding by. I plan a quick trip to the gym before they close at four and then have dinner when I come home. Everything except for the salad and veggies (more asparagus, $1 a pound at Wal-Mart!) is done. After dinner I might drive to the art museum grounds if the sunshine holds out. What a gorgeous long-awaited Easter Day!