Category Archives: Holiday

Using Natural Easter Egg Dyes

With all the controversy over food dyes these days, I decided it was time to begin experimenting with natural food dyes.  My first experiment was so successful that I had to end my 6+ month haitus from blogging so I could share.

I participate in the Bountiful Baskets produce co-op.  This past week they offered an additional item for purchase, an egg dye kit.  The kit included: blueberries, chili peppers, beets, carrots, red onions, yellow onions, and strawberries.  The day prior to picking up my basket I recieved a short e-mail with a few hints, along with some links, as to how to turn these colorful fruits and vegetables into beautiful easter eggs.  I did a little additional research, then rolled up my sleeves and got to work. 

The basic idea was to dice, chop, grate, or crush the fruit/veggie then boil in 2-3 cups of water.

I boiled each one for about 20 minutes, then mashed the fruit with a potato masher to get as much color out as possible.  Then boiled a few more minutes adding more water if necessary.  When I was satisfied with the color I strained the juice into a mason jar and added one tablespoon distilled white vinegar for each cup of liquid.  (One suggestion I read said the eggs could be boiled directly in the juice, I tried this and thought that it added more work than it saved.)  I then covered the jars and placed them in the fridge to cool.

I then placed the boiled eggs into the jars for varying lengths of time.  Below are the formulas that worked best for me.

Red/Purple/Pink – Finely dice one large beet.  Boil in 2-3 cups water for 20 minutes.  Mash with a potato masher (the beets wont be soft enough to mash, but go ahead and give them a good stir anyway.  Boil for several more minutes adding more water if necessary. Strain into jar.  Add 2-3 Tbls. vinegar.  The length of time in the dye will make a large difference in the resulting color with this dye.  You can also dilute the dye with water for a softer pink color.  Add additional vinegar if you add a significant amount of water.  I never did get a good red egg.  The best luck I had was to soak an egg in the beet dye for several hours, than in the orange (onion) dye for several hours.  I tried strawberries for a pink dye and was dissapointed with the results, I would rather eat the strawberries.  I tried dried red chili peppers, but got an orange color.  Red onion skins resulted in a color similar to the beet dye.  If you want to try it you can follow the directions below, substituting a red onion. 

Orange –  Peel the skin from one large yellow onion, slice into strips and boil in 2-3 cups water.  Let boil for 20 -30 minutes.  Strain into jar.  Add 2-3 Tbls. vinegar.  It only takes about 20 minutes to get an orange egg, after that it will begin to turn a dark tan color, so check you eggs periodically.

Blue – Boil 1/2 cup of blueberries in 2-3 cups water for 20 minutes.  Mash blueberries with a potato masher.  Boil for several more minutes adding more water if necessary. Strain into jar.  Add 2-3 Tbls. vinegar.  It takes at least an hour to get a nice blue.  The egg will apear a dingy purple color when removed from the water, but will dry to a nice blue.  If it isn’t dark enough when dry, go ahead and put it back in.

Yellow – Grate one large carrot, bring to a boil in 2-3 cups water.  Add 1 tsp. tumeric or cumin, if wanted, to enhance color. Boil for twenty minutes.  Strain into jar.  Add 2-3 Tbls. vinegar.  To get a nice yellow egg it will need to soak for several hours, maybe even overnight.

Green – Soak egg in yellow dye for 2 hours, remove from dye and allow to dry completely.  Place in blue dye for about one hour.  Putting the egg into the blue first will result in a slightly different color.  Experiment with different lengths of time in each color for varying shades of green.  Allow the egg to dry completely.

If you are going to soak an egg in multiple colors allow the egg to dry completely between soakings for best results.  Have fun!

Happy Easter!

I posted this blog over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays and the Nourishing gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.  Head on over to these great blogs for more real food ideas!

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Easter Leg of Lamb

My husband is one quarter Greek.  The Greek in him all comes out at Easter when he takes over the kitchen and treats the whole family to his wonderful cooking.  He makes such good leg of lamb that this year I followed him around with a camera while he cooked so that I could post his recipe.  The amounts are approximate as he does not measure anything.

I hope everybody had a happy and blessed Easter!

Lamb

5 – 6 lbs bone-in leg of lamb

2 whole heads garlic

2 tablespoons dried oregano

4-5  sprigs fresh rosemary (or 3 Tbls. dry)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup red wine (opt. but he used it this year)

juice of two lemons

3 tsp sea salt

2 tsp pepper

Vegetables

4 Tbls olive oil

16 red potatoes

8-10 carrots

zest of 1 lemon plus juice

Directions

Wash lamb well and pat dry.


Make lengthwise cuts about 1 inch deep into lamb and stuff full of sliced garlic (my husband believes there is no such thing as too much garlic)

Stir together in a bowl oregano, rosemary, oil, wine, lemon juice, and pepper.  Pour marinade over lamb on all sides, salt generously rubbing into meat to incorporate;  cover and refrigerate overnight.

Place lamb in oven preheated to 500 degrees for 30 min.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees  and leave in oven for another hour.  Dice potatoes into large pieces, slice carrots toss in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, and lemon.  Place in roasting pan around lamb (we didn’t have a large enough roasting pan so a seperate pan will work fine.)  Return to oven for an additional hour.

Remove from oven.  Let sit 20 minutes before slicing.

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Filed under Holiday, Meat

Easter Eggs

Easter bring to mind two things for me.  First and foremost the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  For the Christian there is no occasion more joyous than this, the celebration of  our salvation and Him who saved us.  Second is Easter eggs.  I love Easter eggs.  I’m sure there are those that will claim the Easter egg is a pagan tradition, but as far as I am concerned God created eggs and I’m glad He did.  I love decorating the eggs and I love hiding them.  Last year was the first time that my son really understood the Easter egg hunt and I had such a wonderful time watching him discover each new egg.

Yesterday afternoon I bought some farm fresh eggs that are so beautiful it made me wonder if I should even bother decorating eggs.  Of course, I will just because it is fun, and we can eat these rainbow eggs for Easter breakfast.

Farm Fresh "Rainbow" Eggs

Farm fresh eggs beat anything you will ever get at the grocery store.  My husband and I have made a commitment to feed our family real food grown/raised responsibly, and whenever possible locally.  Farm fresh eggs are a great way to have some control over what your family is eating.  Knowing how the chickens who lay your eggs eat and live, allows you to feed your family with confidence.  If you don’t know where to find farm fresh eggs get out to your local farmer’s market.  And don’t be afraid to ask to visit the farm, most people will be proud to show you how they raise their chickens.  You might even consider raising your own chickens.  Even in suburban areas many cities have ordinances that allow you to keep 3-4 hens for eggs.  The owner of our local lumber yard told my husband that this year he has sold more materials to people building chicken coops than ever before.

I have wanted to raise my own chicken for quite some time.  This year my husband built me a chicken coop so Thursday I picked up my first chicks.

2 day old chicks

I bought eighteen cockerels and twelve pullets all dual purpose breeds.  In 8-10 weeks we will be enjoying our first homegrown chicken dinner.  It is kind of hard to believe that those cute, fluffy chicks are going to end up on the dinner table, but luckily by the time I have to butcher my first chicken they won’t be quite so cute.   Of the twelve pullets that I bought I am hoping to keep six to eight of them for egg laying.  It takes 20-24 weeks for pullets to begin laying so I will be looking for my first eggs some time in August.

I’ve read that eggs are the perfect food.  They contain every nutrient essential to life except vitamin C .  Over the next couple of months, as I am eagerly awaiting my first eggs,  I will share some of my favorite egg recipes with you.

Have a wonderful Easter!

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Easter Wheat Grass Centerpiece

I made this easy Easter centerpiece with the kids last week and I just had to share.  I only spent about six dollars and the kids had a great time watering their grass and watching it grow.  You will want to get this project started by Wednesday if want your grass to be ready for Easter Sunday.

Supplies

Bucket, Basket, Pot, or other Container

Plastic Plant Tray

Potting Soil

Wheat Berries

Ribbon, Decorative Eggs, Fake Flowers, etc

Choose your container for the centerpiece and determine if you will need a plastic plant tray.  If you are using a basket you will definitely need one, but if your container is water tight you can place the soil directly into the container.  I picked up a tray that fit the top of my bucket and then placed an upside down bowl into the bucket to support the weight of the tray.  Don’t worry if your tray fits down lower in your container as the grass will grow quite tall.  Fill the tray with 1-2 inches of soil ( I just used dirt from my garden).

Cover the soil completely  with wheat berries ( I didn’t use enough for my first batch and had to add more) and water thoroughly.    I bought my wheat berries in the bulk foods section of the supermarket, but if your supermarket doesn’t have that option try the health food store or even the feed and seed.  Cover the wheat berries directly with plastic wrap and place in a warm location.  I put mine next to the turkey brooder and the heat lamp kept them warm.  Make sure your soil is moist every morning and add water if needed.

after only 48 hour they are starting to sprout

Once your grass has begun to grow you can remove the plastic wrap and place your wheat grass in a sunny window.  I let the kids water the grass with a spray bottle so they didn’t drown the grass.

Water regularly and remember that warm grass will grow faster.  Mine has grown so quickly that every morning I trim the grass with scissors and let the kids feed the clipping to the turkeys.

grass clippings

The turkeys love their grass clippings

Tie a big bow on your container and add any decorations that you like.  Place your beautiful centerpiece in the middle of the table and enjoy!

Cost:

Bucket (I already had) – free (If you don’t have a container on hand try the thrift store)

Plant tray – $1.20

Soil (dirt from my garden) – free

Wheat berries – about $.75 worth

Wired Ribbon (on sale) $1.80

Decorative Eggs (on sale) $2.50

Total – $6.25

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Filed under Holiday, Kids