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Stories and Stovies
Snacks and Appetizers

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Charlotte's Devilled Eggs

When we have holiday celebrations or visitors over, you can pretty well be sure that devilled eggs will be gone pretty quickly. (This is also how Easter Eggs often end up at our place!)

Boil about a dozen eggs then run - the egg, silly, not you - under cold water, and let cool. (Never boil your eggs over 10 minutes, though - if you do the yolks will discolor to the point of becoming a greenish color. This is a chemical change that I can't remember the explanation for, but, believe me, it's true.)

Peel and cut in half.
Remove the yolks.
Mash yolks with a potato masher until they are smooth and creamy.
Add some mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and your other favorite seasonings to taste.
Spoon fillings into the whites' shells.
Garnish with olives, paprika, etc.
Eat the leftover filling.

Serve the ones you manage to save or rescue from the hungry hordes supposedly helping you in the kitchen onto a nice platter.

Clean up the mess once your helpers leave. Enjoy.


Egg recipes make me think of the Easters we have celebrated in our families. Scotland is a 'cold, cold country' as my Mother would say. Easter, to my remembrance, always seemed to come in the early Spring which, although cold, was also very colorful. I remember a favorite place to go for a picnic was to Balmerino, over in Fife.

We would take the train over the Tay, and I was always nervous going over that long bridge, even as an adult. You see, around the beginning of the century on a very wild, stormy night, the worst in history as a matter of fact. the event occurred which became known as 'The Tay Bridge Disaster. ' Apparently, the bridge then was not as sturdy as needed to withstand what must have been almost hurricane force winds. The bridge shook and waved over the wide river, the rain beat down, and the wind howled as the train to Dundee left Tayport to cross the bridge.

Just as the train with its full complement of passengers, (men, women, children, the train driver, the porter - everybody coming home to Dundee or perhaps going on to Aberdeen, Perth or other points north and west – and possibly looking forward to meeting their loved ones, enjoying shortbread and biscuits and hot tea as a little supper in front of their cheerful and warm firesides before going on to bed), was approaching the middle of their crossing, the bridge totally collapsed. The bridge crumbled, the train went down into the wild river, and all souls were lost.

The alarm was raised when the train did not arrive at Tay Bridge Station and a futile search and rescue was attempted. There was great mourning the next day, I think it was a Sunday, and the River Tay was never again considered simply a peaceful river flowing at its firth (or bay) there in Dundee into the North Sea.

I think this story meant so much to me because, besides my Granny imprinting the stories of Scotland deep into my heart and character, there was a sweet, little, old lady (named Miss Laurie) who lived in the close (or entryway) into our tenement who was a little girl, I think aged about 9, when The Disaster took place. Miss Laurie must have been in her 80's and 90's as I was growing up there at 7 Hill Street. She, too, told me this story in all its bleak reality and sadness. So, even though a new, stronger bridge was built very shortly after (which still stands today) the foundations of the Old Tay Bridge remained alongside the New Bridge as a stark reminder of that night's dark events. I couldn't help but be reminded (and, believe me, I was nervous) that the Tay could be treacherous. I was always happy to get to the other side.

Anyhow, back to Balmerino. Balmerino was a little town outside of Wormit with a wonderful woodland full of snowdrops, crocuses and ferns. We would go there, picnic probably on cold pies, bridies, biscuits and fruit and orangeade and I would roll my eggs. (I don't remember the Easter Bunny coming to Scotland and hiding eggs or presents - this must be an American thing - or a German thing which came to America because I remember the 'Oster Hasse' being really big when we lived there when your Daddy was in the Navy, along with branches decorated with painted egg shells.)

But I do remember my grandmother making a special pot of tea just to color my boiled eggs in. I remember, year after year, thinking that those were the most beautiful brown eggs I ever saw. And I knew, thanks to what I had been taught primarily by my mother and grandmother because we didn't go to Church much, that I was rolling these eggs in remembrance of the stone that was rolled away from Jesus' tomb that first Easter morning.

Actually, we went on our picnics on Saturdays because my grandmother (remember she was raised by her very Protestant grandmother, Jessie Halkett Beat) insisted that the Catholic Easter was on Sunday and forbid that we have anything to do with Catholic practices!

Anyhow, after the picnic my Granny would get out her trowel and her old newspapers and big bag she had brought especially for this purpose, and start to dig up a nice collection of the flowers and the ferns - she really loved these green, wavy ferns - the bigger the better. Carefully loaded into her bag in the damp newspaper to protect their tender roots and bulbs, my Granny would transport these back to our tenement where she (amazingly to me) would successfully transplant them into the little flower plot she had at the foot of our tenement stairs.

My Granny certainly had a green thumb. She could make anything bloom. I don't remember anything growing inside the house but geraniums. We had two bedroom windows and she really kept those full of geraniums. They are a beautiful plant but they always seemed a little dusty in our home. My poor mother had allergies and I remember her sneezing all over the place when those flowers were in their blooming phase. Geraniums are pretty much an outdoor plant here in Phoenix. Everytime l see them I'm reminded of life at 7 Hill Street.

As far as Easter in this country is concerned, we've always celebrated it on a Sunday. But I'm afraid it's become too easy to focus on that imaginary rabbit. I remember one year driving home from Church and I guess I was a little annoyed about the emphasis on candy and gifts and hop, hop, hop. There was a dead rabbit on 39th Avenue, close to the police station. For one thing, that was a surprise because around 1989 the cotton fields in our neighborhood were being concreted over into homes and ASU West (and I am glad the university is close by) and thus destroying the habitat of the coyotes and rabbits which were still here when we came in 1987. Anyhow, I saw the dead rabbit and said to my car load of children, "Oh, too bad. I think I just killed the Easter Bunny." I think it was Adriana who was tremendously upset (correct me, Xochitl, if it was you) that the Easter Bunny in particular was the poor dead creature. Alys, Elisabeth, Stephanie and I had to work really hard that Sunday to convince the little ones that the Easter Bunny was resurrected that very Sunday and would be back in full force with eggs and baskets and bunny trails by next year!

 A Wish

Every year, City Angus (my elocution and speech and drama teacher) would put on a big recital by all her students. I always had a solo performance and was also one of her principal voices in her verse speaking choir. This was one of the early pieces we performed. I must have been around nine or ten, and remember how excited I was to be wearing "stage makeup" – ah, the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd! I especially loved the red dots the makeup lady put on the inside of our eyes to make them look bigger, performing under the lights, and having to use Pond’s cold cream to remove the makeup before going to bed – I remember I insisted on wearing the makeup all the way home on the bus both nights of the recital!

I wish I was a little egg,
‘Way up in a tree;
A-sittin’ in my little nest,
As rotten as could be.

I wish that you would come along
And stand beneath that tree;
And I would up and bust myself
And cover thee with me.

Xochitl and Adriana
Two little Easter celebrants, Xochitl and Adriana, Phoenix, Arizona about 1989

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