Last winter, missing Christchurch and in need of a city fix, Harry and I drove to Dunedin. We marvelled at brightly lit city streets, hotels with guests and churches with spires. We went to a movie, we ate in restaurants and we played tourists. We visited the Cadbury factory, where we learned that the factory makes 45 million Easter eggs a year –10 eggs for every person in New Zealand. The visit left me vowing to do my duty at Easter and buy 10 eggs to keep the Easter egg machines turning over.
My favourite eggs are the chocolate marshmallow ones with yolky centres and last week, despite my good intention to purchase 10 Cadbury eggs, I decided to have a go at making them myself. I googled “marshmallow eggs” because you can find recipes for absolutely everything on Google.
I found a folksy American recipe from someone called Kzim’s Mom and decided that, even though the recipe didn’t have yolky centres, it would do. The recipe said that it would take four and a half hours to make 35 eggs and that I would need 8lbs of cornflour. “Don’t let the amount of flour scare you,” the recipe said.
I didn’t. I went out and bought 4kg of cornflour from the bulk bins. I spread the flour 8cm thick in roasting dishes and pressed into it 36 hollows shaped like half an egg. I made fluffy marshmallow and piped it into the hollows. When the marshmallow eggs had set, I took them out and dipped them in chocolate. And when the chocolate had set I stuck the two halves together.
Forget four and a half hours; it took me almost all day to make 16 lopsided chocolate marshmallow eggs with no yolks.I know what you are going to say, Janice. You are going to say, “I buy all my Easter eggs. That is what Cadbury is for.”
You are probably right.
I am right. And I also don’t like marshmallow eggs. I only like the hollow chocolate ones. My sister-in-law and I debate the benefits of eating the egg all at once or eating it bit by bit over several days. Which way puts on more weight? No one knows.
What I do know is that, this Easter, son Robert and Mia, the working parents, are both sleep-deprived because they’ve had to move from their apartment and 11-month-old Tane has reacted by deciding that night is a better time to play than day. So my aim is to make a very filling Easter dinner, guaranteeing that everyone, including Tane, feels sleepy and staggers off to bed and stays there for at least eight hours.
This is my first Easter in this house and the long lawn and big trees and bluestone walls are ideal for hiding eggs. So there will be lots of running around before dinner. At Easter we usually have a slow-roasted lamb shoulder that just falls apart and requires no carving. But this year we are going to have turkey and great dollops of Mia’s favourite food, mashed potato. If you add lots of butter it becomes nature’s most delicious tranquilliser. After the Christmas turkey last year, when my brother was snoring in his chair, a med student nephew of mine told me that butter contains tryptophan, an amino acid that makes you sleepy when absorbed by the brain. To get it to the brain you just need starch. What better starch than potato?
There’s tryptophan in turkey, too, and in bananas, so we’ll have banana cake for dessert. Not a traditional Easter, but when your children and grandchild have had to move out of their leaky apartment for nine months while the place is rebuilt you do resort to rich comfort food to keep everything calm. Here’s hoping for a sleepy Easter with no alarm set for the morning!