I had lots of laughs once again when I got together with my family to celebrate Palm Sunday. As the youngest of ten children in a 100 percent Italian family I can always count on an exciting get together. It was a day to enjoy family; brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and the blessing of still having my mom and dad with us (currently 88 and 87). It's amazing how quickly the time goes by when you're having fun.
Many people ask why I have my family over on Palm Sunday instead of Easter and it's quite simple. Twenty-two years ago when I got married, my wife and I agreed we would have Easter with her family, Thanksgiving with mine, and we split Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That model has worked wonderfully for the last 22 years but more importantly, has allowed my children to grow up with both sides of our family and get to appreciate the rich traditions from each. As we celebrated Palm Sunday it gave us time to reflect on the many blessings we have in our life and on the sacrifices that others have made for us along the way.
The biggest conversation was centered on the “Casatelle” (Italian Easter bread) I made for us to enjoy. I followed the recipe and my siblings were raving about how good it was because it was so moist. My mother on the other hand was clear to point out, “This is a little too moist, you didn’t make it quite right.” The joy of growing up Italian! Below is the recipe. Make it yourself and let me know what you think:
1 1/2 cup sugar
9 oz lard (or unsalted shortening)
4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk
1 wet yeast cake 2 oz
2 tsp vanilla
10 medium eggs
Add everything into a large bowl and mix until hands are somewhat cleaned of dough mix. Set aside. Cover with dish and blanket and put in a warm place (no drafts) until doubled in size (be sure to use large bowl to begin).
Roll when ready into greased pie plates (about 5-9 inch pans). Roll into log type pieces so as to be able to put around inside of individual pans. Cover the individual pans and let rise again (maybe 1/2 hour or so). When raised put in oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If needed lower to 325 degrees and cook 5-10 minutes or until highly browned.
Be careful not to open oven first 15 minutes (could sink).
Too many eggs will make dough too soft. Also, don't double recipe since this raises too much. May insert pre-cooked hard-boiled egg before baking for "Easter" look.
Having family is a blessing and appreciating sacrifices others have made is absolutely essential in us having the necessary gratitude for true success. So as we approach this Easter weekend I encourage you to enjoy your family and reflect on your faith, if appropriate, or others that have made sacrifices for you along the way and celebrate the greatest thing of all the love of family whatever family is to you.
David J. Zumpano, founder of Lawyers With Purpose