I began learning how to make butter lambs when I turned 2. The lamb, which signifies the goodness and richness of Christ, is traditionally found in Polish Easter baskets.
My sister and I had the best teacher in the world—our mother. Mom taught butter lamb classes at local churches and schools in our Polish-Catholic community, and we often tagged along.
As a child, I loved Easter. On Holy Saturday, my family carefully laid out our Easter spread, and our priest made a special visit to perform the blessing. This is called Swieconka, or blessing of the Easter food.
Only after the food was blessed, could we dig in! The feast included kielbasa sausage (God's favor and generosity), bread (the Bread of Life), horseradish (the passion of Christ), salt (the bitter tears of Christ) and decorated eggs (new life).
My daughter, Felicia, is involved in all of our Polish cooking traditions, and the butter lamb is one of her favorites. I'm proud to teach my daughter a special part of our heritage, just like my Mom and Grandma did!
PREP: 2 hours
2 sticks cold butter (1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 whole cloves
Fresh parsley sprigs and edible pansies, optional
Cut a third from the end of one stick of butter. Place larger piece on a serving dish for lamb's body. Spread some of the softened butter on cut side of smaller piece; position vertically on left side of larger piece for neck and head. Trim edges.
Cut a 1/4-in. slice from the second stick of butter; cut diagonally in half. Spread softened butter on cut edge of one triangle; secure to front of head/neck piece for nose. Set remaining triangle aside.
Cut a diagonal slice from each end of the second butter stick. Spread softened butter on cut long side; secure to back of head for ears.
Cut remaining butter and reserved triangle to fit into a garlic press. Squeeze butter through press in batches. Use toothpicks to curl pieces. Beginning at the top and working down, place curls on body. (If butter softens while assembling, place in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until firm.)
Insert cloves for eyes; add two dots of cinnamon on nose for nostrils. Refrigerate until serving. Garnish plate with parsley and pansies if desired. Yield: 1 butter lamb.