I can’t remember how it started, but once upon a time Speedy either read about or dreamed up himself the idea of dying Easter eggs using flowers and leaves that we found outdoors. Now that we live in the desert the types of things we find has changed considerably; but it is spring and there are a lot of flowers blooming right now, on trees, bushes and cacti, so there was plenty to choose from.
This basket contains Speedy’s gleanings from our yard: some frondy leaves from a mesquite, some flowers from hedgehog cactus (ouch – I’m still pulling spines from my fingers today), bougainvillea flowers and flowers of sage and lavender. There are also a few odd stems in the mix, and I have no idea what they are. I should add that the dry skins of both red and yellow onions are always part of the process.
First we boil up a big pot of water with tea and vinegar added to it, take it off the stove when it’s good and murky colored and let it cool for a while.
While the cooking water is cooling we wrap the beautiful white eggs. The skins of the onions go on the outside, the various leaves and petals go on the inside, held in place by the onion skins. Then we tie each egg package securely with cotton twine. This is tricky because the twine wants to slip, and frequently does, either before or during the cooking.
Into the warm water the little packets go. We slowly bring the water back up to a boil and cook the eggs for 15 minutes to a half hour.
We take them out let them cool and then unwrap them. This year’s efforts were a bit underwhelming, but still lovely. For some reason our red flowers did not share any of their colors – we’ll have to search for others next year. (We’re not remotely expert on the flora of this area, and this is a good way to get to know some new plants.) We also did not have very tightly wrapped bundles this time, and I think too much tea water got underneath the petals, which blurs the shapes they are supposed to leave on the eggs.
Next year I want to try coloring eggs with Speedy’s old silk ties, the few that he still has. When we moved back to the States he gave most of them away, but there are a few left, and I’m sure more are readily available at thrift shops. Kate Jones and Sara Wells have a great tutorial over at Our Best Bites – it looks easy and fun. Come back next year to see how it goes. It is certainly a different look from our tea, leaf and flower eggs.
Meanwhile, Happy Spring to all!