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I enjoy making food for festivals. It is a chance to escape from everyday meals and eat something a bit different. Christmas and Easter are the biggies of course but I also like to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, something green for Saint Patrick’s day, Anzac biscuits for Anzac Day, Christmas pudding for the midwinter solstice (we have trifle for Christmas) and something creepy for Halloween. I still haven’t figured out what is appropriate for Waitangi Day – a hangi, perhaps?

With Easter and Christmas, where there are several days worth cooking to consume, I like to try and strike a balance between tradition and innovation. Some things (like trifle for Christmas) we ALWAYS have, but other items vary from year to year. This year for Easter I made the traditional Hot Cross Buns (an Alison Holst recipe) but also made Chocolate Hot Cross buns in deference to my daughter-in-law-to-be who doesn’t like raisins. I made the ‘traditional’ icecream eggs for dessert on Easter Sunday but also made Easter nests for the first time which we had for dessert on Good Friday. I used this recipe for the nests but instead of using noodles I used San Bran. It worked quite well and looked suitably ‘twiggy’. I put some peanut M&Ms in the nests.

Easter nests

 I don’t know how long I have been making the icecream eggs, or where the recipe originally came from, but my 21-yr-old son says we have had them for as long as he can remember and I have modified the recipe along the way. Last year I had a lot of trouble getting the shells out of the moulds so I bought a new set this year so we are set for the next 16 odd years!

                                      Chocolate Icecream Eggs

Serves: 6                

Ingredients

Shells
 210      g             Dark chocolate
Whites
 250      ml            Cream
 125      g             White chocolate
  Yolks
  60      g             Milk chocolate
   1      tsp           Butter
   1      tsp           Hazelnut liqueur (or Brandy)
   2      Tbs           Hazelnuts, chopped
   1      Tbs           Cream

Method

Shells

1. Melt the chocolate and use to coat egg moulds (8cm tall) to make 12 helf eggs. You may need to brush on several coats of chocolate to get a sturdy enough shell.

Whites

1. Melt the chocolate with 1/3c cream. Let cool. Beat remainder of cream 
and fold the chocolate in. Freeze till almost set.

Yolks

1. Melt the chocolate and butter. Stir in the nuts, brandy and cream. 
Refridgerate until set then roll tablespoon fulls into 6 small balls, using icing sugar to stop the mixture sticking to your hands.

Assembly

1. Fill 6 half egg shells with the white chocolate icecream and add a yolk. It should be halfway into the icecream with theother half sticking up past the edge of the shell. Freeze 1 hr. 
2. Almost fill the remaining shells with white chocolate icecream and place on top of an already filled half shells. Push the 2 halves gently together and wipe off any icecream that oozes out.
3. Freeze till half an hour before serving then place in the fridge so they aren’t too hard.

Chocolate icecream egg

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I belong to a recently formed storytellers group and did my first public storytelling last Thursday. It had been arranged several weeks before that I and 2 other members of the storytellers group would tell stories at a local old folk’s home.  Since our telling would be on the day before Good Friday I thought that stories with an Easter theme would be appropriate. The one that came immediately to mind was the story of how the donkey got his cross. Then I wondered about Faberge eggs and whether there was a story there that I could tell. I looked in the library catalogue and found a book – Faberge’s Eggs . It looked pretty interesting so I took it out.

The day before the telling, I was reasonable happy with the donkey story (which was a pared down version of this one) but still hadn’t even begun to think about a Faberge story. Although the book I was reading was very interesting, it was a bit short on the personal detail that makes for an interesting story. I almost decided to can the Faberge story but then it came to me out of the blue. I decided to tell the story of the first Faberge egg and present it as a traditional ‘fairytale’.

Although I had the rough outline in my head and the opening phrase worked out – “A long time ago in a country far away, there was a ruler who had a problem” – I didn’t actually tell the story before it was the real thing on the Thursday.  It went really well. I enjoyed telling the story and the residents seemed to enjoy it too. I stuck pretty much to the facts but imagined some personal details and tried not to give away the fact that I was talking about Faberge and the Russian royal family until right at the end.

That evening when I told my family what had been doing, my son asked, “what is a Faberge Egg?” I said I could tell him the story but he wasn’t interested.  A pity – I was dying to tell it again.

Two days later I finished reading Faberge’s Eggs.It was a great book.  As well as telling the story of the eggs, it also helped remind me of the Russian history I learnt at school and traced what had happened to the eggs since the Russian revolution. My only criticism is the scarcity of photos. It would have been great to have a photo of each of the eggs interleaved with the story of its creation. There are no photos of some of the eggs but by searching the Internet I found pictures of many of them including the one at the top which is of the first Faberge egg. I also found lots of extra information about some of the eggs.

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