Here it is Good Friday (aren't all Fridays good?) and that means Easter is only two days away ... As a child I had a love/hate relationship with Easter. Who doesn't love a day that includes a large basket filled with candy and toys, topped with a large chocolate bunny? The grudging approval from Mom that I could eat some of it before breakfast was only an added bonus.
The hate part of the holiday involved going to church. Well, not the going to church part, but rather the whole Easter outfit thing.
Back in the good old days -- the days before cell phones, X-Boxes and pantyhose -- women and little girls went to church literally dressed in their "Sunday best." For women, on a regular Sunday, this included a nice dress, a hat and white gloves. For young ladies it was the same, except we could usually forego the hat.
But, come Easter Sunday, everything was amped up.
Mom was an excellent seamstress who made most of my clothes, and Easter was no exception. For weeks, I would have to try on my Easter dress and stand perfectly still while she made alterations and pinned them in place with common pins. No matter which way I moved, a pin would stick into me. It was an endless battle of "Stand still!" on her part and "Ow, that hurts!' on mine. Her rejoinder? "If you'd stand still, you wouldn't get stuck."
Back then, little girls wore dresses with very full skirts, which were puffed out with frilly, lacy -- and very picky and prickly -- starched petticoats.
There also was the Easter bonnet. In the weeks preceding Easter, a trip to the millinery store was in order for both of us. And, yes, there really was a hat store on the south side of Main Street in those days -- and they packaged the purchased hats in lovely octagon-shaped pink boxes.
And let's not forget the shiny black patent leather Mary Jane shoes, guaranteed to pinch your feet no matter how well the shoe salesman fit them.
I put my foot down (no pun intended!) on shiny shoes at the age of 9, after a male classmate told me it was not a good idea to wear them because they acted like mirrors and people could see the wearer's underwear. (I suspect he's now doing 10 to 20 years in prison for looking up ladies' skirts with a camera attached to his shoe.)
Mom would have her hair permed the day before and I was dragged along to get my bangs and hair trimmed. The night before Easter, Mom would roll my hair on curlers so I would have curls for the big day. It's not easy to sleep with plastic tubes with little teeth biting into your scalp ... although it was a lot better than the dreaded home perm I was sometimes subjected to.
So on Easter Sunday, I had curly hair topped by a hat that pretty much resembled an upside-down flowerpot trimmed with a riot of fake flowers, accenting a dress with so many itchy, scratchy petticoats I couldn't fit through the doorway, all while trying not to limp too badly or fall because of the slippery soles on the new shoes. And to add insult to injury? Having to struggle to get into a pair of white linen gloves.
In honor of the Easter bunny and his love of carrots, and to take the sting out of my childhood memories, I present my aunt Marion Duprey's recipe for carrot cake -- which I last made while wearing my rattiest jeans and sweatshirt. Carrot Cake
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated raw carrots
4 eggs, unbeaten
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup raisins
Beat together for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased tube pan and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. (May also be baked in a 9x13-inch pan.)
Frost with your favorite vanilla or cream cheese frosting.
And for that last-minute Easter basket treat ... homemade peanut butter cups.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen
1/3 cup super chunk peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, soft
1 2/3 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
12-ounce package semi-sweet or milk chocolate pieces, melted
Place small paper baking cups (1 3/4 x 1-inch) on a tray or in muffin cups. In a medium bowl, stir together peanut butter and butter until well blended. Gradually stir in confectioner's sugar. Turn onto a board and knead until well mixed. Press with hands or roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 1-inch cutter. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate into each paper cup to generously cover bottom. At once, place a peanut butter round on top of chocolate in each cup; gently push down to coat sides. Spread additional chocolate over top, making sure sides are completely coated. Chill until firm. Store in refrigerator.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to mbutton@thetran