I’m feeling rather sorry for myself today. Not in a poor pitiful me kind of way…I am not bringing out the violins and expecting people to actually have pity on me. I’m feeling sorry for myself in a nostalgic kind of way, missing my kids and remembering the excitement of Easter and hiding the baskets and having huge egg hunts with lots of friends and children. I know that I am not done with with all these things so I am not actually sad, I’m just feeling a bit melancholy. I woke up this morning, went for a hike and decided to write about my Easter Lamb. I write with the thoughts that in future years I will be too busy hiding eggs to write about Lamb.
Easter Lamb came about because I am always interested in trying something new. Is it because I lived in five different houses across the United States before I had lived ten years? Did I get it from my mother who also loved to experiment, presenting every new craft project of the 1960s and 70s at our kitchen table, expanding my creative breadth of knowledge to making things like bread dough ornaments and driftwood sculpture? Who knows?
For many years I attributed my desire for new projects or new areas of study or new places to live to my upbringing, but then I realized that at least two of my siblings are averse to change so it wasn’t nurtured into them. Maybe we are born either loving change or hating it. All I know is that in my life, when given an opportunity to do something new, something outside my realm of experience, I usually squash the inherent fear creeping into my consciousness and jump in with both feet. While I can’t say every experience turned out great, or that I didn’t have times when I was depressed and lonely and wondering whether I made the right decision, I have no regrets. That is the thing about jumping in with both feet…then you are there. And what you do from there is a new decision. There is no going back.
I don’t remember what turn the conversation took when Hubby-to-be and I stopped at the corner of Alta Vista and Micheltorena streets on Easter Sunday in 1983. All I know is that he said, “Maybe we should get married.” And I said “Okay.” We jumped in with both feet, not thinking too much about what was ahead for us or taking any time to sort it out. We just decided it would work.
When I called my parents to share the news, I got my mom on the phone. I said “We have some exciting news.” She responded with enthusiasm, “He got into UT Business School?” I think she was a tad disappointed when I said he, Hubby-to-be, hadn’t heard from UT yet but we were getting married. That was not the exciting news she was prepared to hear. Mom was eventually excited, and Dad too, especially when they found out that the newlyweds would indeed be living near them in Austin, Texas for at least a couple of years. But that is a different story.
On that Sunday in 1983, the proposal Sunday, I cooked lamb for the first time. I’m not sure my mother had ever served me lamb and I am not entirely sure I had ever tasted lamb. I must have read that lamb was what you should serve on Easter, even though I always had ham for Easter growing up. For some reason I decided that lamb was what I would cook.
Hubby-to-be and I had invited over another couple for dinner and I looked up a recipe for lamb. I remember it had rosemary. I remember that because I didn’t know what rosemary looked like or where to get it. But the grocer knew and I got the rosemary and I cooked the lamb and we toasted our engagement and the beginning of our life together.
It turned out that Hubby and I love lamb and I have since cooked lamb hundreds of times over the thirty-plus years of our life together, but no longer with rosemary. Easter Lamb became everyday lamb and I started improvising with ingredients and made rack of lamb into a simple go-to dish for a few or a dozen.
Over the years, and with the addition of three children, Easter became more about the egg hunt than the engagement or the lamb, but we always had rack of lamb for dinner because everyone loved it and it was easy to make after all the excitement of the day.
When the children got older and understood what it meant to get engaged, we made them visit our street corner where it took place (more than once) and told them the story, perhaps too many times. They thought it was silly and that the engagement was totally unromantic but they endured the street corner visits nonetheless and laughed at our story.
Why I took them there, and what I really wanted them to know, is that significant moments in your life don’t always have to be perfect to be special. Our family loves celebrations and we love to plan them. But sometimes, you have to let go of the plans. The birthday gathering that ended up with everyone dancing on the table wasn’t planned that way. The last-minute Christmas day potluck at the beach that turned into sunset, dinner and a bonfire was memorable in it’s unlikeliness. And the proposal at the stop sign just felt like the right moment. And so it was. We will have lamb tonight, just Hubby and I.
“Melancholy is the happiness of being sad.” – Victor Hugo
Rack of Lamb
2 racks of lamb, about 1 lb each
1 T mint jelly
1 T stoneground mustard
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
serve with: horseradish sauce
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Put lamb racks into a small baking dish.
Score (cut into but not through) fat side of racks diagonally in both directions with a sharp knife. Only cut as deep as the fat.
Mix together mint, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth.
Using your hands, rub the mixture into and all over the lamb well.
Position the racks semi-standing by threading the bones together like holding hands.
Roast in oven uncovered for 15 minutes.
If bones start to burn, cover with foil. Roast another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes.
Cut directly down between the bones and serve 2-3 chops per person.
Horseradish Sauce for Lamb or Beef
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 T sour cream
1 T horseradish
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.