Friday, March 29, 2013

A Lovely Shade of Spring

Can you believe that it's almost April?  We're just over a week into Spring, Passover began three nights ago, and now Easter is this coming Sunday.  Baskets full of fake grass overflowing with chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, and marshmallow Peeps in bright pink and purple will be in homes soon.

Then there are the eggs.  Despite the fact that I was not a fan of hard-boiled eggs (I would only eat the whites, and that's only if they were heavily coated in salt), dyeing and decorating Easter eggs was something I looked forward to every year when I was young.  There was the obligatory box of Paas tablets, along with the wax crayon, little hexagonal wire egg holder, and the rub-on transfers of rabbits, lambs, flowers, and other signs of Spring.  We used the same melamine coffee mugs year after year.  They were large enough to dunk and swirl an egg in.  (I'd bet money those mugs are still in my parents' basement.)

I loved building up the shades, dipping an egg into two different colours, carefully balancing it on the wire.  I would write my name on an egg, drawing a flower, or a band, or dots, dipping it back into the dye and watching the colour bloom, leaving smudgy, waxy designs in the dye's wake. 

Thirty-some years later, I decided to bypass the Paas tablets in lieu of colours little more natural, and found in the kitchen or pantry.  This is nothing new.  Martha  Stewart did this a few years ago, as I'm sure thousands of families have done before her.  You can watch Martha here.  I love hearing her East Coast inflection in 'water,' something you might catch me saying if I don't think about what I say before I open my mouth!

My measurements weren't quite as precise as Martha's, except for using 2 tablespoons of vinegar in each colour.  Whatever bowl or pot or measuring cup I was using is the amount of water I filled it with.  Not everything worked out well.  I originally started with a blood orange in a pot of water, and when I wasn't getting   the pale orange I envisioned in my head, I added a carrot...when that didn't work, I added paprika.  But even that didn't work out, so down the drain went that pot of water and it became a pot of coffee.  I also brewed a very dark and strong measuring cup of Earl Grey tea, which made two very pretty tea-stained eggs.  Tumeric does indeed become a beautiful warm gold and the liquid from a jar of pickled blueberries made a pale, pale violet that I darkened by actually mashing a tablespoon of the pickled blueberries into the bowl and rubbed onto the eggshell.

I only got fancy-schancy on two eggs...wrapping one in twine before dipping it into the tumeric water and putting smiley face stickers on another egg looking to get a polka dot effect.  I've got a couple more days of egg salad on the menu, but it was worth it.  

Happy Easter!

The non-cooperative orange dye

Tumeric and tea results with blueberries and coffee in the background


  1. Yes those cups are still in the basement!

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