Saturday, April 23, 2011

coloring and cooking

I'm a sucker for traditions, and so it should come as no surprise that this time of year finds us coloring eggs, baking treats and awaiting the hide-and-seek of an Easter morning egg hunt.

This year, we used natural dyes that were easy to make and gave such lovely spring colors. With a head of red cabbage, a handful of beets and a few heaps of turmeric, we were able to blend and create a lovely variety of colors.

There are so many natural elements that can be used to create these colors, such as onion skins, spinach, teas and blueberries. Here's what we used this year:

(also pictured here is the coffee we soon abandoned; it did color the eggs, but they turned out the same hue as the brown eggs already in the fridge!)

For blues - 1 chopped head of cabbage
For pinks - 4 large beets, diced
For yellows - 3 Tbs. turmeric powder
White vinegar

Each of the first three ingredients went into its own pot with 1 qt. of water, 2 Tbs. white vinegar and 2 Tbs. salt. Bring the pots to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. We then filtered the dyes so that only the liquid remained.

You can use these dyes cold or hot, which is appealing when working with little hands in the pots. When cold dipping, the longer the eggs soak, the deeper their color. We double dipped a few eggs, taking the yellows over to the blue pot to make green, blues into the pink to make purples, etc.

Another Easter tradition we love comes from the Sicilian side of my family. Using a thick dough similar to biscotti, we shape cookies, using a colored egg as part of the creation. The cookies are traditionally shaped as baskets, but we let our creativity come through for these annual masterpieces. This year, three generations of family gathered around our table to share in the tradition.

Grandma's Sicilian Easter Cookie Recipe

1 stick butter
1 c. sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 t. vanilla
4 c. flour
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1/4 c. warm milk

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients a little at a time, adding milk when the mixture becomes hard to stir (this dough is very thick). Let rest before shaping. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden. Baking time varies based on the shape and thickness of the cookie.

We used the cold dip method to dye raw eggs that were used in the cookie shapes (the eggs will cook as the cookie bakes in the oven).

cold dipped colors

When the cookies are cool, decorate them with colored icings.

Icing Recipe

1 lb. powdered sugar
1/3 stick of melted butter
1/4 c. warm milk
1 t. vanilla extract
splash of lemon juice
food coloring

Mix the first five ingredients until smooth, then separate into different bowls for coloring.

a few finished cookies, some awaiting icing

We used the hot dye method to color the eggs the children will search for tomorrow morning, boiling the eggs directly in the pots of dye.

Using a white crayon, we drew designs on some of the eggs before dying, creating swirls and patterns in the color.

I'm excited for tomorrow morning, when the kids will seek out the hidden eggs, dig into their baskets, bite into their cookies, share meals with family and continue to carry on the traditions of family and festivity.


PinkCatJo said...

I like the idea of using natural colourings. The eggs look really lovely.

Have a great Easter! x

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

It was really so easy, and we were surprised at the colors -- who knew cabbage would yield such a lovely blue?!

Happy Easter to your family, too!

denise said...

One year we wrapped onion skins around the eggs and held it on with rubber bands. Those had a really interesting look to them.

Anita Vaughan said...

The colors are beautiful! I'm definitely stealing your method for next year.

Also love the cookies - the "POW" is my favorite!

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Matt is so pleased to know that you like his cookie best, Anita. He's doing a victory dance (we can get a bit competitive about the cookies).

Denise - I have heard about using onion skins that way but haven't tried them yet. I wonder how dark the colors would be...

quercusalba said...

Onion skins give lovely results too - red or yellow. If you wrap the egg in the skins and secure with a rubber band, you get beautiful designs.

I am making a batch of Chinese tea eggs right now. They have nothing to do with Easter but the eggs get a beautiful marble effect and they are delicious.

Happy Easter, Love!

Tracy H said...

New to your blog. Love all the ideas --Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to see how your chicks are doing.

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Hello Tracy and welcome! So glad you are liking the blog...