Farm to (Poker) Table

I haven't been home since Christmas and while I do miss it, I did feel connected with my family during Easter weekend. I wasn't home for the egg hunt or the traditional dinner, but I did create my mom's family's Easter recipes. My mom grew up on a farm in a tiny little town in Central Illinois and when I was a child we had dinner on the farm, served on Grandma's china plates with the white roses. Our traditional menu is below:

Baked Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Chicken and Egg Noodles
Green Bean Casserole
Seven Layer Salad
Jumer Rolls

After deciding to make this menu, I called my Grandma for the special noodle recipe and my Grandpa answered the phone. His response to my quest was "Don't forget the hard-boiled eggs; here's Grandma for the rest". It was quintessential Grandpa. He doesn't talk very much, but what he says is important. His grandma always put whole hard-boiled eggs in her chicken and egg noodles as a treat and that tradition is still a part of my family's Easter Sunday.

For our dinner, I followed Grandma's noodles instruction in detail, but forewent the china plates and planned a more casual event. With our guest list in mind, we decided not to play a family favorite - Bagg-O - and, instead, recruited for a Texas Hold 'Em tournament. Our guests, Nate's old roommates, little brother and his roommate, were on board. And, as a bonus, his brother's rommate brought a fantastic cake from Sweet Mandy B's in Lincoln Park.

While my grandma was not exactly thrilled with my choice to gamble on Easter, she was happy that I made our traditional Easter dinner. And when I told her that Nate won the tournament and I came in third, she didn't sound so dismayed by the gambling. She is a very competitive woman and appreciated our winnings. Overall the day was perfect. I felt connected to my family, ate a delicious dinner, and played in a fun and competitive game. I'd like to share a bit of this day with you and while I'm not ready to part with the noodle recipe, I've given you the traditional 7-layer salad recipe (I used romaine, fresh peas, homemade mayonnaise and extra-thick bacon).

7 Layer Salad

1 head lettuce, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 small box frozen peas
1 jar Hellman's mayo, plus 2 tbs sugar

Layer each layer into casserole dish and let sit overnight. Then add the 2 cups cheddar cheese and top with bacon.

ps - I know that this is not very gourmet, but it's delicious. Try it!

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