dyed eggs, naturally

dyed eggs, naturally

This time last year I was in the manic, list making and losing, insanely detail-oriented home stretch. I was surrounded by semi-organized-but-mostly-completely-unorganized chaos trying to make a hundred decisions a day. Had we decided on a final menu? What shade of yellow shoes should my sister wear with a still-to-be-determined shade of grey? Wait… did I buy shoes? Hey! Let’s completely change the colors, ok? The novelty of bridal magazines and planners and boards had worn thin and admittedly all I wanted to do was have a quiet meal at home with some trash T.V. and not have to think, period.

Mr. Husband and I are coming up on our first wedding anniversary – eee! I sort of can’t believe it. My dress is still hanging in our guest closet and we still haven’t dealt with some boxes of decorations. But who cares?! We’ve been enjoying the last year traveling, improving our little nest, celebrating unions and new life with friends and family. It’s all been really wonderful and I’m thankful to know the incredible people in my life.

For some reason the Easter season is always very exciting to me. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that newness that comes with the season: the grass waves it’s tiny blades just a little taller to let us know it really didn’t give up and birds are warbling again in the early morning hours (riiiiight outside our bedroom window, yay!).

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I am always the first one to get excited to dye eggs. Sometimes, I’m the only one. I’m quite the traditionalist when it comes to certain things that ‘make’ a holiday and Easter eggs are hands down one of my favorite holiday messes to make. As we’ve gotten older, it’s become less of a big deal to my parents and sister and Mr. Husband never really cared one way or another. This is most likely because they are functional adults and I will most likely never really grow up. My mother can attest to my penchant for acting nonchalant about it all, and then caving for eleventh hour dye marathons the night before. I mean… EASTER EGGS ARE SO FUN! It’s tradition, yo.

dyed eggs, naturally.

So, because we are doing our best to live on the more natural side of things, I went with the natural dye route this year. The bold, beautiful colors from natural dye sources are quite fun. After a little research and a survey of what we already had on hand, I was THRILLED to make use of some back-of-the fridge purple cabbage, red tea bags, turmeric, and beets to create four very lovely and non-toxic egg dyes.

Now, I’ll be straight with you on this: this is a teensy bit more extra work than your typical PAAS-fest in that you have to prep and boil your source material first to make the dye and then let that liquid cool. But after that investment and some overnight soakage, you’ve got some real beauties on your hands. Almost a shame to smash them up for round two of eggy goodness…

Dyed Eggs, Naturally

Recipe for Dyed Eggs, Naturally
Notes: This recipe is the result of lots of reading and advice gathering on the internets. I think it’s really important to note that the final color of the eggs is dependent on how long you keep them submerged in the dye and how saturated that dye color is. I recommend below to leave your eggs in for at least overnight, if not 24 hours for very saturated color.

You should definitely play around with adding extra source material to the lighter colors, like turmeric. Play around with red and yellow onion skins and red tea bags, too!

You should also be VERY CAREFUL with turmeric. That stuff will stain the heck out of anything it touches.

Let the eggs dry very well before handling. Some articles online recommend that you rub the eggs with vegetable oil for shine after they are dry – but I found the dye job to be a little too fragile for that.

Goods:
1 dozen white eggs, hardboiled. (you can use brown, but the resulting colors will be a little different…)
1 cup purple cabbage, chopped [blue] 1 cup beets, coarsely chopped or shredded [dark pink] 3-4 tablespoons turmeric [makes yellow] 4 bags of red tea [supposedly makes lavender, but I’d bet this depends on type of tea] 1 ¼ cups water for every source material you decide to use
4 tablespoons white vinegar or cider vinegar, divided
Old dish towels for clean up.

Stuff:
A pin
A large pot to boil the eggs
As many small sauce pots as number of different dyes you are making
As many glass pint jars or other deep, sealable containers soak eggs in overnight
Reserved egg carton for drying & storing dried eggs

Make:
Boil the eggs using your favorite method. Mark Bittman has a really great, foolproof method in How To Cook Everything and I more or less use this method every time. Bring a large pot of water to just a boil. Add two tablespoons white or cider vinegar. Use a pin to poke a hole in the broad side of each egg. Carefully lower into the boiling water and cook for 11-13 minutes, depending on your yolk preference. Run the eggs under cold water until room temp. You can do this the day before, but make sure the eggs come up to room temp before you dye them.

Make the dye:
Combine one 1 ¼ cup of water with each source material in a sauce pan.
Boil for about 15-20 minutes, until the water has become saturated with color. Your goal here is to get this dye to be a few shades darker than you’d like your final color to be. This is why I think playing with proportions is half the fun.

Strain the source material from the dye, and let cool to room temp. Save yourself a step and cool the dye in the containers you intend to use to dye the eggs.

After dye has cooled, add one tablespoon of vinegar to each liquid.

Dye the eggs:

Add room temp eggs gently to each bowl of dye.

Seal and store in the refrigerator overnight. Gently jossle each container a few times over this period of time, to make sure any pressure points (eggs touching glass) are released to make sure dye covers the entire surface of the eggs.

To remove eggs from the dye, you may find it easiest to slowly and gently drain the eggs over the sink into a strainer. I used tongs, and ended up scratching the dye. Remember, it’s a little more fragile than your typical PAAS noise.

Let the eggs dry at room temp or in the fridge, depending on how quickly you’re going to stuff them into little easter baskets and show all your friends how awesome you really are.

purple sweet potato + corned beef hash


Its no secret that I am a girl who loves projects. I have a list a mile or so long full of things to do that – surprise! – have little to do with cooking, baking, and eating (and nibbling on leftovers before they are actually left over…the term is a technicality, anyway). The big projects – finishing a bathroom reno and remodel, and building a small deck on the back of our little house – will come with time and as our sometimes limited sanity allows. The little, scaled-down projects, like: get rid of my magazine hoard (… begrudgingly, because as my dear friend Betty pointed out, “If you wait long enough, they are brand new again!”) and ordering prints of our wedding (happy almost first anniversary, Mister Husband!) are also bouncing around like tiny, aimless asteroids in our universe, knocking into my brain every once in a while.

I DO actually have a list of food projects that I’d like to tackle some day – here and there I like to throw in a little challenge, something a bit unfamiliar. For St. Patty’s day, I proclaimed to the universe – most defiantly, may I add – that “This Will Be The Year I Make Corned Beef From Scratch!”

Well, guess what? You take a big ol’ piece of meat and brine it. For four whole days. You stare at it in the refrigerator and by Day Four you’re wondering why the heck this bowl is so big and so in your way right now. And then you boil it. That’s basically it… really. True. Story.

bay leaf, juniper berries + coriander seeds

This entire “project” was underwhelming to say the least. Then again, if I had thought about it a little longer than the surge of motivation I had while at the market, I might have gone in another direction and crossed another project off the list instead of this. Fortunately, somewhere around the middle of day two – in between wondering why this bowl of raw meat stew was taking up our entire refrigerator and trying to remind myself not to forget about said raw meat stew… I remembered that the only real reason to ever make your own corned beef at home is so that you can have hash for brunch!! I mean corned beef hash is really the best part, isn’t it? It’s the entire point. (I mean, unless you have some rye, good mustard and a meat slicer…but even then…)

This little hash I threw together differs from the standard diner fare by subbing regular spuds for purple sweet potatoes roasted first with thyme, salt + pepper. The roasted purple sweet potatoes are pretty great on their own, and you could completely skip the corned beef for a vegetarian option, or use the potatoes as a side dish to accompany countless other things. Would it be overselling if I said you could totally just eat them on their own and that you could absolutely roast these the day before to cut hash time by a half an hour? Maybe. But probably not.

thyme-roasted purple sweet potatoes

Top the hash with a gorgeous, runny poached egg and remember that the cramped fridge and nightmares of submerged meat pieces spilling into your vegetable drawers were all worth it.

Recipe for Purple Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs
Note: For the homemade corned beef, I used Michael Symon’s recipe for Nitrate-Free Corned Beef from his book, Carnivore. The recipe for the hash is loosely based on his recipe from the same book, mostly for measurements and proportions of ingredients.

Serves 3-4

Roasted Purple Sweet Potatoes
Goods:
3 cups purple sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces. About three small or two larger.
1 tsp fresh thyme, rough chopped
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp good, fruity olive oil
1 tsp each salt and black pepper

Make:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the sweet potato pieces, olive oil, chopped thyme, salt + pepper in a large bowl until well coated.

Pour into a 9×13 roasting dish, with the thyme sprigs on top for about 40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Check about halfway through and toss if needed. Sweet potatoes are done when a knife slides through easily.

Hash:
Goods:
1 tbsp olive oil, butter, or ghee
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
3 c roasted purple sweet potatoes from recipe above
small bunch kale, any kind, cut in 1 inch pieces
8-10 oz nitrate-free corned beef, shredded, homemade optional
2 tbsp fresh parsley
3-4 large, organic eggs, depending how many you’re feeding.
water
splash of white or cider vinegar

Make:
Fill a small sauce pot with a few cups of water and a splash of the vinegar. Heat over medium heat until the point of barely boiling. You want bubbles and movement, but not a rolling boil. Keep at this point but out of the way until the very end.

Heat oil, butter or ghee in a deep-sided skillet over medium heat.
If using the red pepper flakes, add to the oil or butter and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add onions. Cook until slightly clear – about 5 minutes.
Season lightly with bit of salt and black pepper. Go light on the salt, since the meat will add some at the end.
Toss in the minced garlic and cook for a minute or so more, until fragrant.
Next, toss in the roasted sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly with the onions and garlic. Cook for about five minutes and then toss in the kale.
Cook the whole mess until the kale is tender but still has a bite left. Don’t let it mush!
Throw in the beef, mix well, turn to medium low and cover until the meat is warmed through.

Poach the eggs:
Note: This is my most favorite, and foolproof method to poach eggs. Don’t overcrowd the pot, give the eggs room to breathe. You may need to do this in two batches. Cook a little longer for firmer yolks, although breaking the egg and swirling the yolk around the hash underneath is basically the best thing ever.

Carefully crack an egg into a small bowl. Repeat.
Gently lower the egg into the barely boiling water & vinegar one at a time.
Poach for four minutes.
Rescue your eggs with a slotted spoon and add let rest on a clean kitchen towel until ready to plate.

Top your hash with an egg and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Gently break the egg, grab some coffee, and the newspaper and enjoy!