Lessons Legacy and Lore Of Easter Pie and Picnics

As long as I can remember, our family gathered around the kitchen table to prepare our regional specialty, Easter Pie. Hand written by my Mom on a sheet of binder paper, we have her much used recipe. If this isn’t precious enough, even more so is her hand written message in the corner of this treasured original circa 1960, “Joan, Dad and I have gone to Merced, take care of things.”  

The recipe calls for ricotta, ham, jack or Toma cheese, hard boiled eggs, parsley and Italian sausage. Sounds simple but do not be deceived. Back in the old days, everything came from the farm.  Even our family made the sausage, another regional specialty. Mom, taught by her Mom, would direct my uncles with stern instructions to do the recipe exactly as their Mother had done it. I can see them haggling on the back porch of our cottage home and I can hear my Mom “not too much salt, not another pinch of pepperino”. Uncle Richard would answer, “Now Jess, don’t worry.”            

Generations later, we simplified the process by purchasing the products that were once made on the farm. One uncle became a butcher and had his own shop. All would buy Uncle’s sausage prepared from our family recipe. My cousin, David apprenticed with Uncle Richard and moved to another local grocery. When Uncle Richard moved to Merced, his partner Ray continued the tradition in Los Banos. All three sources had sprung from the original family recipe. The cheeses came from a local artisan source, P&M Cheese in Los Banos, famous for fresh ricotta, fresh and dried jack and teleme cheeses. We would order a good bone in cured ham from our family butchers.   

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