I received my last Easter basket when I was 15. It was the last Easter I spent at home with my mother, and the basket began and ended with See's Candies. After that, the Easter bunny forsook me.
Easters since have been occupied by travel, or work, or boozy brunches. When we lived on the island, Easter was often over-shadowed by a collective anxiety for the Annual Town Meeting (for more on that shitshow, pick up your copy of Desserted, and read the chapter on tempering chocolate. Remarkably, wrangling chocolate and getting through a 70-article town warrant have a lot of similarities).
I don't subscribe to a particular religion. It's not my fault. I just wasn't raised that way. My mom taught us about Jesus--that he was a groovy philosopher who had some pretty awesome ideas about being nice to people, but that things didn't really end all that well for him (nice guys, and all that. Although, if you think about it, being posthumously worshipped as a god for 2000 years might be considered a good ending after all). In the spring we were invited to friends' Passover seders, where I was introduced to delicacies like gefilte fish, and unleavened cake. I attended Easter mass with my Catholic neighbors, where there was a lot of incense and ritual and people drinking out of the same cup. And when I lived in Turkey as an exchange student, Ramadan occurred in the spring and I day-fasted with my host family. A month later we celebrated by eating freshly-slaughtered goat, and the most delicious pastries on the planet (if only religious allegiances were based on the food choices).
Through it all, I've never not missed my Easter basket, Jesus and See's Candies notwithstanding.
So last year, I decided to break my 30-year Easter basket fast by classing up a few bedraggled baskets I found in our basement. The cats loved the catnip mice they found encased in pink and orange plastic eggs. And each got a fuzzy bunny toy to torture. Steve's basket was filled with beer, an NCAA bracket, and pistachios. Mine contained brightly colored origami paper and coloring books. And, of course, chocolate.
This year, I'm expanding my circle, and gifting a baskets to a few friends. Each, will of course have Ragged Coast Chocolates (that's all they really want, anyway), but also contain small, inexpensive gifts geared specifically to my friends interests. Below are a few of my faves.
For the friend who loves to bake, I've put together a small basket with a copy of my cookbook, a package of our Classic Dark Drinking Chocolate (which, if ya didn't know, also serves an adaptable chocolate mix for baking projects! The 12-ounce packets of our Classic Dark feature a recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies), a pound of El Rey 70% bittersweet chocolate discos, and a couple of pretty dish towels.
For the friend who is always sprouting pea shoots for their salads, or whose garden is over 50% lettuce, I've gathered up a few green treats. For this basket I've included some frogs for her garden: our Frogs on a Log and our Peanut Butter Peepers, the spring issue of Edible Maine, and a copy of my current meal-planning fave Salads: Beyond the Bowl by Maine-based cookbook author Mindy Fox.
And for my friend who is always hosting the dinner parties: A basket filled to the brim with our entire Critter Collection, as well as our Woodland Collection, a pretty, pink wine, a selection of beer in colorful cans, pastel-colored tulips for the table, and cold brew coffee (for energy!).
What will you put in your Easter baskets this year? Will they be traditional vehicles for chocolate bunnies and jelly beans? Or will you fill them with other goodies, too?
Whatever you're celebrating this spring, I hope it's full of love and laughter and great chocolate.