Sunday, May 17, 2009

Non-traditional Easter Eggs

I love Easter. It's the beginning of spring, easter egg hunts, candy, and always means a new pair of pajamas for the warmer months (not sure how that tradition started in my family). However, the one tradition that I never understood was dying easter eggs. Open a box, put vitamin-C looking tablets into vinegar and dunk in a hard boiled egg. No matter how creative I tried to get with the stickers and the wax crayons, the eggs always turned out looking like a kindergarten art project gone wrong.

This year I happened to stumble upon someone's blog about chinese tea eggs and I was intrigued. So, then I started digging and read up on chinese tea eggs. In my search I also discovered "tie" dying eggs...literally, dying eggs using silk ties (or any silk fabric). So, come Easter Sunday, I saw the big pot of hard boiled eggs, the good old dye pellets soaking in cups of vinegar and knew that I wanted to dye eggs my way. I "stole" a few of the hard-boiled eggs and went to work. Here is a look at the two techniques.

Chinese Tea Eggs
Adapted from a culmination of recipes online

2 bags of black tea
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp cinnamon (cinnamon stick would be better)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 star anise (recommended, but I didn't use)

Most of the recipes for these eggs used hard-boiled eggs. However, for reasons that I will describe later, I would suggest taking out the eggs slightly before they are hard boiled. One recipe suggests bringing the pot with the eggs to a boil, let cook for 3 minutes and then stop. I would follow that plan if I were to do this again. Cool eggs until able to handle. Using a spoon or knive, tap the shell of the eggs until it pretty much looks like a shattered piece of glass all around.

On the stove, put all the above ingredients in a pot with enough water to just cover the eggs. Simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours. The longer the better. If the water gets too low, just add a little bit more in.

When you really can't stand waiting around anymore, take the eggs out of the pot and let cool until you can handle them. Gently peel off the shells and cross your fingers that the pattern transferred to the egg. As you can see, my eggs had a beautiful pattern on the shell, but it didn't transfer to the egg. I think not completely hard-boiling the eggs before steeping would help solve this. I've heard it also suggested that you could tap the eggs harder to break the membrane, but if you did that then I think you would get blobs of the stain and not the fine, intricate design that I've seen.

Supposedly, the eggs were to have a nice cinnamony tea flavor. But to be honest. It just tasted like an egg. Perhaps I needed to steep it longer. I only steeped for 2 1/2 hours.

Silk "Tie"-dyed Eggs

hard-boiled eggs
any material made of silk
plain white cotton (pillowcase, sheet, old shirt, etc)
rubber bands or strings for tying
water for boiling

I was fascinated by this next trick. I wasn't sure if it was going to work, but it worked like a charm!

Cut up enough of the silk material so that it will wrap around the hard-boiled egg. Same with the cotton sheet. Place the cotton cutout on the counter. Put the silk material on top. Place the egg on top of both of them. Wrap the materials up the egg and cinch at the top with a rubber band. Bring a pot of water to a boil and place a couple teaspoons of vinegar into the bot. Place the "egg packages" into a pot and boil for 20 minutes. Take out and cool. Unwrap the eggs and VOILA! The design on the silk transfers to the eggs. Beautiful. I'm all ready keeping our eye out for interesting silks for next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment