Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter, naturally

Every year for Easter we go to Houston to visit Shinerman's family. It's a weekend of fun and eating way too much. Usually it means we bring a ton of 'stuff' back, too. But I guess my and my sister-in-laws frustration with the overflowing Easter baskets got through. There were no Easter baskets, just some crafts. Which is even better, because then they are creating something themselves. I think we actually came back with less than we took. This was because we took some naturally dyed Easter eggs that we, obviously, didn't bring back.

This was our first year to dye the eggs using natural dyes, and I think our last using conventional eggs. In the past it just hadn't made sense to me to pay so much for eggs we weren't going to eat. But this year, I felt really guilty buying the conventional ones. I don't just buy the farm raised eggs because they are better for you, but also because they are better for the chicken. I'm really just so done with factory food. Of course this means that we'll be eating the eggs next year, deviled eggs anyone?

I was really impressed with the outcome of the natural dyes. I didn't take pictures, sorry. Just a few days before I made some black beans from scratch and used the left over water from their soaking. This made an absolutely beautiful purple-blue color. I also saved the brown skins from a dinner's onion. This made the eggs orange-yellow. They also ended up splotchy from air bubbles - not sure why that happened. I also used some turmeric that made the eggs a really bright yellow - those were great and I wish we did more of those. The only disappointment was the chili powder; I had some leftover from a chili packet. But it just left the eggs a light, light beige - unimpressive. The littlest man was full of wonder at figuring out what color things would turn out. So much more fun than the chemical dye pellets!!

So, how did we do it? Just bring the items you are using to create the dye to a boil. Boil until you get the color you think you want. I did these all for about 15 minutes, except the bean soaking water since that was already really deep purple. Drain any solids from the liquid, unless you want to see what sort of patterns they'll give. Stir in a teaspoon or so of vinegar. Put in your hard-boiled eggs. Leave in the liquid until they reach the color you like. We left ours in overnight, mostly for simplicity sake. If you're eating these, be sure you do any overnight soaking in the fridge. I liked the matte look of the eggs, but you can shine 'em up with some vegetable oil if you wish. You can also boil the eggs in the liquid themselves, but I always have a hard time boiling eggs so I decided to do it separately. Yes, I can cook really well but can't boil an egg - crazy, I know.

We also replaced the plastic green grass this year. I have always hated that stuff! It seems like you're still finding it on the floor and in crevises in July. I had some leftover green felt from the littlest man's strawberry Halloween costume. So we just cut that up into strips - perfect!!
We did have to do plastic eggs for the daycare party, though. I made sure that instead of going into his playthings, they went went into a baggie with the felt grass to be used again next year. I may have to find another option for his basket next year, though. He used his 'baby' one again this year and I don't know if a hippopotamus basket will fly for a four-almost-five year old.

How was your Easter? Do anything fun and/or eco-friendly?

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