Saturday, January 02, 2010

candy planned

The candy spotted by my friend Keith made no sense for late December. He emailed me on the Second Day of Christmas to report that the Kroger on S. Northshore Drive was selling Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. When I saw him at church the next morning, I asked if he thought they were left over from last Easter. No, a clerk told Keith that the eggs had just arrived.

My family and I stopped at a Sheetz convenience store on New Year's Day. In addition to the Reese's eggs, they had a whole assortment of Easter candy including Almond Joy Eggs, Easter Dots, Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans, Cadbury Creme Eggs and Cadbury Caramel Eggs.

The item that caught my eye and pried 99¢ plus tax from my wallet will be obvious to most readers of this blog. In fact, I had recently mentioned that I was anxious to try a chocolate-covered Marshmallow Peep. In my excitement, I hastily purchase a Peep covered with milk chocolate, momentarily forgetting that I had intended to hold out for the dark chocolate variety.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

one for you, one for me

One of the items on Rich and Lissa's wedding gift registry appealed to my wife and one appealed to me. We gave them a set of four little trifle dishes and an ice cream scoop. We threw in a jar of Mrs. Richardson's hot fudge and a package of Oreo crumbles.

My wife made a chocolate trifle for Father's Day last year. This year she wanted to make two fruit trifles for Easter, one for the choir at All Saints Church and one to have at home. That meant she needed another large trifle dish. We looked up Rich & Lissa's registry again so she could get the same style at Bed Bath & Beyond. She got both the large dish and a set of four smaller ones.

The recipe is simple. She layered angel food cake with thawed-out frozen berries and topped it with a mix of cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. It sat in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cake to soak up the juice. She's talking about making it again when we have to bring a dish to a reception with the Bishop after the Rite of Missioning at Sacred Heart Cathedral. It's part of my responsibility as an RCIA sponsor.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

eight days a week

The eggs that my wife and I colored on Saturday will last us for the entire Octave of Easter, assuming that we each eat one a day. I picked out a dozen and arranged them on the egg plate that I gave her as a birthday gift a few years ago. Before you ask, I bought it at Cracker Barrel. Since our son is away at college, my wife took it upon herself to replicate his annual Earth egg.

There was an Easter surprise in our basket this morning. My wife found some of the elusive Peeps Chocolate Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Bunnies that I wanted. She also got me some Sunsweet Chocolate Plum Sweets. I guess they're like Raisinets, except these would be Prunettes.

The same friends who gave me homemade marshmallows for Christmas have done it again. In addition to the marshmallows, Kathy made some chocolate peanut butter eggs and peanut brittle. She has a true gift for candy making. Maybe she could turn it into a business someday.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

alleluia time

This year's Lenten season was especially meaningful to me. In January, I was asked by a friend to be his sponsor in the RCIA program at Sacred Heart Cathedral. As a child he had been baptized into a Protestant denomination. The Catholic Church recognizes that as a valid Christian baptism. After completing the necessary classes, he was ready to be received into the Church and to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.

Even though my wife was singing at All Saints on Thursday and Friday, I chose to attend all three parts of the Triduum at Sacred Heart. Bishop Richard F. Stika was the main celebrant each night. My wife joined me at the Cathedral on Saturday evening. She even walked through the rehearsal as my proxy on Saturday morning because I had to work.

The Easter Vigil starts outside the church with the blessing of the new fire and the lighting of the paschal candle. Bishop Stika and the other priests and deacons waited under the dogwoods by the rectory while Fr. Al Humbrecht lit the fire. Unfortunately it didn't take right away. One of the parishioners stuffed a couple of newspaper pages into the woodpile and the second attempt worked fine.

One eager sponsor, who reminded me of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean character, tried to light his handheld candle from the bonfire. He was told to stop. The Bishop used a brass candle lighter to transfer a flame from the fire to the paschal candle. Once the candle was carried into the cathedral, the flame was passed to each of us.

The bilingual service reminded me of trilingual masses I would attend at St. Finbar Church. As I stood with my hand on my friend's shoulder and the Bishop anointed him with chrism, I was also reminded of the two times I served as an RCIA sponsor in Burbank. The Easter Vigil usually runs about three hours. We had already passed the three-and-a-half-hour mark when I thought that the Bishop saw me check my watch. I must not have been the only one. As he ended the Mass, Bishop Stika said that he had seen people checking their watches to see not what time it was but what day it was.

Afterwards they had cake! I gave myself a little bit of a sugar buzz from the icing, which made me feel like I needed some protein. We took my friend and his wife out to IHOP at midnight for a very early Easter breakfast. My wife and I almost ordered omelettes until we remembered that we have 16 hard boiled Easter eggs waiting for us at home. I'll show you some of those tomorrow.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the emptiness inside

One of my wife's friends gave her an unusual gift at church on Sunday. The friend's husband makes Easter Bunnies out of balloons, yarn and starch. It looks like there's some glitter thrown in for good measure. I tried looking on the Internet to see how he does it but only found instructions for simpler items like eggs or nests.

The starch-soaked yarn solidifies around the balloons, creating a hollow center. The same basic idea is used when making Resurrection Rolls. A listener e-mailed me the recipe, which I had never heard of before. Instead of a balloon, a melted marshmallow leaves the empty space, which represents the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. I wonder if it would work with a Marshmallow Peep instead of a standard marshmallow.

While we're on the topic of putting candy inside things, Chef Walter made a leftover Easter candy cake on Tuesday. He mixed two cups of chopped up chocolate candies into a standard cake batter. I enjoyed watching it even though he said that he hates Peeps. Sacrilege!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

with two you get eggroll

The White House may have had the Jonas Brothers perform today but we have our own Easter Monday tradition here on the blog. Last year and the year before, I showed off our family's decorated eggs. This year we take a look at how my son makes his annual Earth Egg. Using regular Paas dyes, he soaks one in blue until it reaches the desired hue. Then he uses a Q-tips cotton swab and a glass of water to erase the dye from the land masses. He dips another swab in green dye and paints on the continents. Obviously the North and South Poles are left white.

My son was happy with the way his Asia turned out. Below, he's displaying India for the camera. The finished product takes its place among the rest of our 2008 Spring collection, with Europe and Africa visible. Last year we showed you the Western Hemisphere before it got peeled and eaten.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

for peeps' sake

The amount of publicity that Marshmallow Peeps receive every Easter is mind boggling. Most of it seems to be fan-generated rather than coming from the company's press releases. As a lifelong Peeps lover myself, I can honestly say that I was a big fan before it was cool. For example, I once brought a package of purple Peeps to a glacier near Mt. McKinley in Alaska.

The Peeps will be featured tomorrow on CBS News Sunday Morning. Rita Braver's report will include a film I told you about in April 2007 and an artist that I told you about in March of last year.

Mary Constantine of the Knoxville News Sentinel posted a video showing how to use Peeps and chocolate chips to decorate a Peeps Sunflower Cake.

Meanwhile in Washington, the WMATA is using Peeps to get baseball fans to ride the Metro to the new Nationals Park.

Speaking of DC, the Washington Post got some tremendous entries in their second annual diorama contest. Out in Washington State, the readers of the Seattle Times created some great Peeps art.

When I showed my wife a cute picture of a Peeps costume for toddlers, she honestly asked if it came in my size.

When my daughter celebrates Easter tomorrow, she'll have a care package that my wife mailed to her. It contain some of the brand new Peeps Tulips.

A New Jersey columnist writes that he can't eat just one Peep. Can't say that I blame him.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

unflattering imitation

Like Jimmy Durante used to say, "everybody wants to get into the act." Since Marshmallow Peeps are the top selling non-chocolate Easter candy, it makes sense that other companies want to compete. I'll cover the copycats today and save the real deal for tomorrow.

A while back I wrote about a similar Christmas candy called Marshmallow Pals. They are also made in an Easter version. I saw more sugar coated marshmallow things at Wal-Mart this week. Palmer now makes a Marshmallow Baby Binks in addition to their chocolate bunny with the same name.

Nestled among the Peeps, I spotted some animal-shaped marshmallows made by Barton's Candy. Their Barn Yard Buddies looked more like Barn Yard Blobbies to me.The creatures pictured below are supposed to be cows, pigs and frogs.

The odd shapes reminded me of an old Bob & Ray bit about a warehouse that stored its chocolate Easter rabbits too close to some steam pipes. My radio idols did a fake commercial for Chocolate Wobblies. Each one was guaranteed to have a ribbon hidden somewhere inside it.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

yuck boo yum

Supermarket shelves are currently stocked with a variety of Easter candy, including a couple of items that I hadn't seen before. Sam's Club had a big stack of Edible Easter Grass made by Galerie au Chocolat. If you've ever ended up with plastic grass stuck to your jelly bean, edible grass seems like a fine idea. However if it's made of white chocolate, it could end up as a melted mess in the bottom of your basket. Yuck.

Milk chocolate fans usually want their bunny, whether hollow or solid. The package for Palmer's Too Tall Bunny amused me while I was at Food City the other day. You see, his ears are so big, they don't fit in the box. My enthusiasm quickly waned when I saw some guy with annoying sound effects prove on YouTube that the bunny is not too tall at all. The box has a false bottom. Boo!

I'm more of a dark chocolate and marshmallow fan. The folks at Candy Blog have described a Lindor Truffle Egg that sounds pretty good. I couldn't find any of them but I did see a different holiday treat at the Food City on Morrell Road. Until now, I had always thought that people who keep Kosher were denied the pleasure of eating marshmallows. That includes Marshmallow Peeps which are not Kosher
even if they are "always in season" nowadays. It's because marshmallows are made with gelatin and gelatin is made from animal bones and connective tissues, hence the non-Kosherness. Anyway, this store has a pretty big selection of Passover products. Wedged in among the Manischewitz were packages of Granny's Toasted Marshmallows by Rokeach. So how does a bag of marshmallows get a Pareve insignia on the label? Turns out that these coconut-covered treats are made from "kosher fish gelatine." Yum?

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Monday, April 09, 2007


The White House probably has the most famous Easter Monday festivities. Perhaps it could become an Easter Monday tradition for me to post a photo of the Easter Eggs we decorated over the weekend. I hid the eggs I decorated under the ones my wife and son did. In an attempt to be clever, I used the clear crayon to write "Blue Egg" on one and dropped it in a cup of what I thought was blue dye. It was actually purple. My son used the real blue dye and a Q-Tip for his annual "Earth Egg," which is positioned front and center. My wife's "Mosaic Egg" is hard to see toward the top of the photo.

Speaking of eggs, where's Vincent Price when we need him?

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Sunday, April 08, 2007


Happy Easter! Here in Knoxville, it's colder than it was this past Christmas. That's why I'm wearing the thermal "Chillin' With My Peeps" shirt made by Trau & Loevner that my wife gave me for Christmas. It's just like one that was sold on eBay.

Every year around this time I enjoy getting emails from friends who think of me when they come across a link about Marshmallow Peeps. My friend Bean wants to know why I'm not headed to Sacramento for next weekend's annual Peeps eating contest. He's seen the old photo of me stuffing my face with Peeps. The architect friend who invited me to join LinkedIn sent me a link to a page about Peeps in a college library.

Last month I told you about a Peeps art contest for readers of the Seattle Times. Today is the day for several newspapers around the country to reveal the winners of their Peeps contests. We'll go ahead and start with the Seattle Times. I don't know which is weirder, "Peep CSI" or "Borat Peep." My sister's husband tipped me off to the Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest. I liked the Batman & Robin scene, which is number 3 in their slide show.

Several other newspapers are on the Peeps bandwagon.
Of the artwork submitted to the Ocala Star-Banner, I like the Peep magician best. The St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Camden Courier Post both have many fine submissions. The Ann Arbor News set their slideshow to music. Don't forget the Binghampton Press & Sun-Bulletin or the Miami Herald or the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Columnist Lisa Ramirez of the Middletown Times Herald-Record spells out the differences betweens Peeps people and Cadbury Creme Egg people. Oh yeah, her paper had readers submit Peeps photos too. All of this Peep Culture will help us get ready for next year's Peeps documentary film, "Power of the Peep."

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

the vigil people

The Easter Vigil is the most important Mass of the year in the Catholic faith. I go to All Saints Church, the biggest parish in the country's most vibrant diocese. A major factor in our parish's success is the constant influx of new converts (not to mention the hot wax and holy water). Naturally, the Easter Vigil at All Saints is focused on the candidates and catechumens who are joining the church. In addition to receiving the sacraments, the new Catholics proclaim all the Old Testament readings and the Epistle.

For the past few years my wife has sung the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil. Hearing her sing it reminded me of our old parish in Burbank. Attending the Easter Vigil each year at St. Finbar got me more interested in my own Catholicism. My wife would often sing the Exsultet, my son would be one of the altar servers and I twice served as a sponsor for new Catholics. As I continue to think about St. Finbar Church, I miss the way all the ministries were included in the biggest Mass of the liturgical year. At St. Finbar, the readings were proclaimed by five of the best lectors in the parish.

The music during the Triduum at All Saints is excellent. Tonight I got to hear one of my all-time favorites, John D. Becker's "Litany of the Saints." My favorite piece at St. Finbar was a Taizé arrangement called "Stay With Me" that would be played on Holy Thursday. I wish they played it here too.

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