Sunday, April 08, 2012

(Western) Easter and a roast lunch

Most years, there are two different dates for Easter. One is celebrated by Protestant Churches in the West, and the other is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox, and those in the East. In Cyprus, where East and West meet, we usually take note of them both. For the last couple of years, they have coincided. This year, Western Easter is today, and Eastern Easter will be next Sunday.

Last year we were in the UK for Easter. I loved going to a church service there, in the congregation where we used to belong, and where our younger son Tim is now happily involved. The year before, I went to an Anglican service in the morning, and then we went on to the local house church, which was good - but where Easter was not actually celebrated as such.

This year, with none of the family here, and with Greek Easter not being for another week, we hadn't really thought much about it, other than a general feeling that we wanted to go to a church service somewhere. We also realised that we were having two couples for lunch - two sets of friends, who didn't actually know each other, but whom we've become quite close to in the past few years. Both the husbands travel extensively, and have other commitments, and we'd wanted to have both couples to a meal... it turned out that today was good for them all.

On Friday we did our monthly supermarket shop, and Richard chose a large chicken for roasting. I don't often make a roast lunch; I know it's not difficult, but there are so many different things to think about that I get a bit overwhelmed. Still, I thought, we'd keep it simple - fruit salad and yogurt for dessert, and perhaps something else cold. Knowing that we were having guests for lunch meant that there was only really one option amongst the local church congregations - the Anglican church starts at 9.30 and has usually finished by 10.45 at the latest. None of the others finishes before about noon (or later).

At 7.00 this morning I peeled and par-boiled potatoes, cut up pineapple and other fruit, made stuffing, and also melted some chocolate in preparation for another cold dessert. Then I made our juice and some coffee for Richard, took my shower, and ate breakfast while he stuffed the chicken and we turned on the oven (low).

So far so good.

The service was traditional, not my favourite songs (other than one), and all using a digital organ, which isn't particularly easy to sing to.  It was good to see a few people I haven't seen for a while.

We were home by 11.00. I didn't think there was much to do then (other than unloading the dishwasher, which went on after breakfast). Oh, and I mixed the coconut topping for the dessert and put that in the oven. Then I sat down to read email for half an hour.

After that, I prepared vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower), made cranberry sauce (with frozen cranberries left over from Christmas), put the potatoes in the oven to roast, and tried to keep on top of the washing up. Richard cooked sausages and poked the chicken a few times.

Typing it out, it all sounds fairly straightforward, but I very much missed Tim, who can easily make a roast meal for twice as many people, without any stress at all.  Keeping everything hot seemed tricky, but I solved that by decanting everything into warmed serving dishes and sticking them in the oven for the last few minutes while the chicken was 'sitting', ready to carve.  I cooked peas and sweetcorn in the microwave, and Richard made gravy.

All was ready for just after one o'clock. I didn't think to take photos until we'd sat down and started serving - that's my plateful at the front of the picture:

There was too much light for this picture of everyone, but I quite like the effect:

It wasn't until we reached the end of the first course that we remembered that we had forgotten to serve the stuffing!  Oops. 

During the course of the meal someone pointed out how much we all have in common. We are all foreigners living in Cyprus (two Brits, two South Africans, two Americans). Each couple has two grown-up children between the ages of 23 and 26. None of them are living in Cyprus.  And (although we forgot to mention this) all of them were, at some point, home educated. 

Four years ago after Tim left home, we felt quite lonely at times, and longed to have friends around our age, at the same stage of life.  Now, with these two couples and our other, slightly younger friends with six children, we feel very blessed indeed. 

Happy Easter! 

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