Last week we baked our first batch of Easter loaves. I rolled dough into mini loaves and I braided them. We made about 8 of these lovely little sweet loaves. Then I turned on the oven while they were still rising.
I didn’t realize that my mother-in-law placed them in the cold oven with towels on them to rise. The towels stuck to the tops of our pretty braids. The flavor was incredible, but I ruined the aesthetic appeal of our hard baking work in a quick error.
I may never be forgiven.
So we baked some more Easter bread yesterday. Two bigger braided loaves. One for us and one for our neighbors. Teresa was praying. She is usually always praying when she isn’t baking. But it was Good Friday. So she prayed and baked simultaneously. After she whipped up the two loaves, she went outside to pray the Rosary.
Teresa came back to check on her pretty bread. Her lips were quietly saying saying the prayers. In one hand she had her light blue Rosary clutched tightly between her fingers. In her right hand she deftly removed the bread from the oven. I told her she should be careful and put down her Rosary as she may burn herself. She responded, “Devo finire il mio preghiere o no?” Don’t I have to finish my prayer? She finished her prayer.
This time the baking was a success.
I got to know my mother-in-law a little better this time. I've known her for 11 years, but this visit with her was different. Maybe it was because she was here at my house. She told me more stories and shared a little bit more of her life. I found out today she had a Panificio (a bread shop)in Italy for 4 years when my husband was a little boy. No wonder she is a bread making genius. A humble genius.
Before she baked, she made gnocchi with Gabriella. Teresa couldn’t believe how fast Gabriella was in cutting the gnocchi. Gabriella told her, “Nonna, I’ve made gnocchi before.”
They were light as a feather and delicious with her fresh tomato/basil sauce.
The simplest meals are sometimes the most memorable.
I took them to The Breakers last week. It is one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. My sister-in-law works there. We went there before I had my surgery, but they didn’t charge their camera battery and as soon as we entered The Breakers parking lot, the camera died. I promised I would bring them back before they left. Here we are in the Circle Dining Room that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. A stunning room where the guests eat breakfast every morning. My in-laws are very simple people. This was luxury like they hadn’t seen before.
That’s me with Teresa and Domenico in the Circle Dining Room.
Today we went to the zoo with Luca! I couldn’t wait to show her the incredible flamingos and Scarlett Ibis. Birds with the most magnificent colors. Birds I see every time I go to the zoo. Birds that they have never seen in Italy.
I decided to not post Teresa’s Easter bread recipe. She told me if she knew how to use a computer, she would have already been working on her book.
I would like to share with you some gorgeous breads I came across this week. Enjoy! (if you have a link to an Easter bread and would like to share it here, go ahead on your comment!!)
Jennifer Perillo’s Italian Easter Bread
Reeni’s Italian Easter Bread
Nana's Mamu Saia (Estonian raisin bread)
Just a Pinch Italian Easter Bread
Kathy’s Italian Easter Bread
My time with my in-laws is coming to an end. Five weeks of oodles of pleasure and some pain are coming to a conclusion.
I will miss the smell of peperonata cooking at 9 AM.
I will miss cleaning up jalapeno seeds from my kitchen counter.
I will miss going by the vegetable market to buy more tomatoes and eggplant.
I will miss her starter yeast on the top shelf of my fridge.
I will miss the heavenly smell of her bread baking every afternoon.
I will miss her telling me how to wash my husband’s chef jackets.
I will miss her giving Luca 10 more bites of pasta when he said he was full already.
I will miss watching the cooking shows with her and hearing her funny observations about how big every thing is here in America (big washing machines and dryers, big cars, big apple pies).
If you celebrate Easter, I wish you a blessed and Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua! See you here next week.