Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter eggs

I have a special place in my heart for Christmas and Easter. And its not because of the holy significance (I'm the heathen in my family...) BUT those occasions are all about family for me, and for that they're the best times of the year. Getting together with the crazy Benjamins and the more-subdued (but hilarious) Babas is what makes the holidays so wonderful. Food and family- what more could you want?!?

But Easter has an added bonus- EGGS!!! (Although Christmas does have gifts...) Maybe I love Easter so much because its in the spring-time (my favorite season) or because of the eggs. I really don't know. But I have clear memories as a kid decorating eggs every year (my mom used to get TOTALLY into it) and having our "egg wars." Basically you'll grab an egg and challenge someone by going up to them and saying "schmootla," or "break-it" in Assyrian. By the end of the day we'd broken through dozens and dozens of eggs, and consumed a fair amount of those as well.

I swear- I've never seen my grandma get more competitive in my entire life than Easter-time. I absolutely LOVE how into the competition everyone gets- even though its just pure chance if your egg will be weak or the champion. And apparently its not just an Assyrian thing. I know Greek, Armenian, and a bunch of different ethnic groups do the same.

So even though I couldn't be there with my family this year (tear), I made sure to do the one thing to remind me of the holiday: decorate eggs! I also brought them to a get-together with friends and we broke the eggs, tournament style. It turns out the the competitive nature of egg wars is not an Assyrian thing, but a natural human condition. :)

All in all it was a great Easter, even if I couldn't be there with my family. But I did have eggs and friends. And what made it even better was that Stacey decorated eggs with me, AND took her amazing photos to document the process!!

This year I decided to try something different. I read about this process online and just fell in love with the pictures. So it was time to experiment! Here's an example of our masterpieces

Want to see how we made these all-natural dyed eggs?? Warning: Stacey took TONS of pictures to document the process. So this is a fairly picture-heavy post.

First you need eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. I got 3 dozen!

We're going to use onion peel to color our eggs. I just went to Safeway and started picking out all the scrap yellow and red onion peels. I felt a little odd, but by the end I had about half a bags worth of peels (those plastic bags you put your fruits/veggies in). You could separate the peels and color some in yellow vs. red peels. But I was worried I didn't have enough so I just pooled them all together.

First thing you do is put the peels in a big pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil away for ~5-10 minutes (until the liquid is dark). When that's done remove the peels, add 1/2 cup white vinegar and keep the liquid simmering. (The vinegar helps the egg take the dye.)

While that is going prepare your eggs. Stacey and I had picked some wild flowers and I bought a bouquet to give us plenty of different options to chose from. Aren't they purty??

Lookie who decided to join the decorating party

Ok, get the flowers and (raw) eggs ready

Moisten the eggs and stick the flowers/leaves/petals to them

Now wrap everything in a piece of nylon (yes, pantyhose) and secure with a rubber band. (The best shape turned out to be a square piece of nylon that you gather once in the back.)

We're ready to start dying! Drop the eggs in your onion-colored liquid and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil for ~10-15 minutes (however you like to hard-boil your eggs). This will cook and dye the eggs at the same time.

After they're done remove the eggs, rinse in cold water, and remove the nylons (they can be re-used). And viola!!

You'll notice in the image above the middle egg (back row) has a starburst pattern on it. That's actually the BACK of the egg, where the rubber band tied together the nylon. That's why you wrap the egg in back, even though it also gives a really cool effect (haha, I had just typed "eggect" by accident. Freudian slip!)

Of course some eggs came out better than others. We found that the things that worked best were (a) smaller flowers and (b) flatter flowers. Small leaves and individual daisy petals also worked really well. Here are pictures of our favorites.

Daisies. You'll notice the egg on the left has a yellow-ish tone to it. Sometimes the color of the flower actually faintly dyed the egg as well. (You can see it as well in the first photo and the photo directly above, the blueish tones are actually from the petals.)

Random flowers (I don't know their name, but they smell amazing!)

Individual hydrangea flowers gave the most amazing pattern! Just look at the depth of the impression. I think this may have been my favorite egg.

Yea, we did this for a while. It took a good 4 or so batches to get through all the eggs.

All dressed up and ready to go!

So there you have it- our all natural Easter egg dying fun. If you want a few more pictures, check them out at Stacey's flickr:

(The original idea for this came from a blog post by this user. A bunch of her eggs came out even better than ours!)

And onion peels aren't the only things you can use to dye eggs. A quick Google search yielded these results:
Red/Pink: Fresh beets, canned cherries or frozen, crushed cranberries (not cranberry sauce or jelly)
Orange: yellow onion skins
Light Yellow: lemon peels, orange peels or ground cumin
Golden yellow: Ground Tumeric
Blue: Red cabbage leaves (pre-boiled for 30 min) or blueberries (crushed)
Purple: Grape juice (Welches)

I may have to just experiment with all different colors next year!

Happy decorating,


Jeanne said...

JQ- those are so absolutely beautiful! They make me want to return to my Christian roots and celebrate Easter again! Perhaps, you have saved my soul. And, they look really easy to do. I miss the days where we competed against each other to crack eggs. I MISS YOU! luv, jeanne

Atour said...

Jackie...these eggs are stunning. I hate eating hard boiled egss...but those look good enough to eat! By the way I love your blog...keep it up.

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