Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eco-egg dying.

After feeling a little worse for wear this week when my 4-year-old son busted out his front teeth following a downhill face-plant at the zoo, we (or rather me) decided we needed some cheering up. In lieu of babying him until his face hurt again, I decided we would color eggs, instead, using foods rather than chemical dyes. These Eco-egg dyes were a fun alternative to the store-bought ones and more interesting to prepare.

First, we gathered up all our special ingredients including red cabbage, canned beets, yellow onion skins, grape juice and vinegar. The beets (pink) and the grape juice (purple) required no cooking and were the easiest to put together - although they were the best things to eat and both Elias and I ate beets and drank grape juice after putting what we needed into our bowls.
Onion skins ready for water and vinegar.

Elias separating the cabbage leaves.
Next was to peel the skins off the onions and put into a saucepan. We added water and vinegar and let it cook for about 45 minutes. In another saucepan, we cut a purple cabbage in half and separated each piece. This was Elias' favorite part because it was like undoing a puzzle. We added all the cabbage, water and vinegar and cooked it for about 45 minutes.
Straining onion skins.

The eggs marinating in the beet juice.
After cooking, we strained the juice and cooled it down. Once cooled, we started adding eggs into our natural concoction to start the coloring of the pretty, white eggs. We dumped the eggs semi-equally into our mismatched bowls and kept them soaking for what only needed to be a half hour - but we decided to keep them in throughout the afternoon.

Right to left: cabbage, onion skin, grape juice, coffee grounds, misc and beets.
What we found was the purple cabbage and yellow onion skins produced the deepest colors. The beet produced the lightest and the grape juice was somewhere in between. We even messed around with coffee grounds, but they didn't turn brown. (We used recycled coffee grounds - we're thinking next time using fresh coffee grounds and maybe boil it.) Also, the longer we let them soak didn't necessarily make them sharper colors. In fact, the dyes seemed to dissipate and the eggs would barely color.

Eating the leftover beets.

Enjoying the "grape juice dye."
We've got some good ideas for next time: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and spinach. We'll keep you posted on our findings.

Here's the gist - we cooked and soaked them longer...
  • PINK: 1 cup beet juice, 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar; combine in bowl
  • PURPLE: 1 cup grape juice, 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar; combine
  • ORANGE: Onion skins peeled from two yellow onions, 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar; combine in sauce pan and boil for 1/2 hour. Strain and cool.
  • BLUE: Half red cabbage, leaves separated (my son's favorite part - taking apart a puzzle), 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar; combine in sauce pan and boil for 1/2 hour. Strain and cool.
  • BROWN: Coffee grounds (pre-steeped), 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar; boil and cool.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Garden of (Un)Eaten.

This boring yard needs a pick-me-up.
I'm looking out in my yard and wondering where the winter went. It's a drab mess and I'm lacking the motivation and inspiration to pull it together. Maybe it's the fast pace I've felt my axis spin on since Fall. Or, maybe it's the new baby in our lives and things just got away from us. At any rate, things aren't looking so good outside my house right now and I'm hoping one, sunny weekend will bring it all back around.

"Where do we begin?" is a question I ask myself every year. By now, we're typically weeks into our indoor seed gardening; we'd probably have an inch or two of darling, green seedlings of Heirloom tomatoes - maybe even a little lettuce. But, not this year. This year we have no excuses, except a bunch of excuses. It makes no sense - but here we sit.

It's not easy mustering up some motivation. Especially when it all seems unbearable and overwhelming. I know myself all too well - when the going gets tough, I go sit back down. But I, also, know what I need to do to get the ball rolling and jump start some ambition:

A whole lot of weeding needs to go on here.
First things first: sun. I need just one sunny weekend and my yard (and my attitude) will change its tune. Seriously, in Seattle, that's a major thing! I can't complain, though, we've had a pretty decent winter - even if I spent three weeks of it in sunny Tucson and it happened to be right smack in the middle of the big "Seattle Snowmageddon," so who am I kidding. But as of right now it's pouring down rain and the forecast says to expect it for days...

Next, it's bringing in some fresh, black compost to spread over the beds. Man, does this make a big difference to those lazy beds. It sharpens and brightens the vibe of the area and I like that. That color of black will, ironically, brighten the garden more than any one thing - plus, it will enhance the growth of the seeds and plants more than anything.

Finally - and perhaps most important of all, I need to gather some motivation. All it takes is one glimpse in my memory of last year's crop and a quick dig in the dirt and I'm sold. Sign me up! I'm ready to sing some Kumbaya My Lord. Give my hands a little run through some cold dirt and it's all over.

I know this state of affairs won't last all spring. I'm hopeful things will come around. Soon enough I know I'll be bragging about the abundance of our garden. But, until then, I need a little push: sun, fresh compost and motivation!