Natural-Dye Easter Eggs

A very big part of living this self-sufficient lifestyle is using what you have on hand, rather than going to the store.

I wish I could say that I always make everything from scratch, handmade & homemade but in truth, this journey is one that must be taken a step at a time.  If you try to change every single thing you do at once, you will be completely overwhelmed in the first two days.  I make it my goal to take on 1-2 new things per month that work towards our goals of self-sufficiency.

This month, it was dyeing Easter eggs with natural dyes from food items that we already had in the kitchen.Easter Egg3.JPG

 

It was a very fun experiment to say the least.  There are many methods out there on Pinterest and believe me, most of your results will differ from theirs.  That’s the fun part, right?  In fact, I had one color that another blogger said she expected to be pink, but it turned out green.  But when I tried it… purple.  Super fun!

In our post today, I’ll break down the method rather than giving specific recipes.  The reason being that you should have the freedom to use what you have on hand, experiment and as I said before, results will vary.

The basic method is this:

1. Cover food (dye ingredient) in water, in a pan and place on the stove top.

2. Simmer for 1 hour(ish) until desired color is reached. ( Remember that the egg will end up a few shades lighter than the color of your dye, so you’ll need to account for that.)

3. Strain into containers and cool.

4. After dye has cooled, add 1 Tbl white vinegar per cup of dye.

5.  Add boiled eggs to dye and leave over night.  This was the hardest part for the tiny humans who are used to the instant gratification of store bought dye.  But the next morning, it was all worth the wait.  They were SO excited to see what came out of those jars!

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He’s such a good Daddy, isn’t he?

6.  The next morning, take the eggs out of the dye and drain on upside down egg cartons.

 

 

I made up 7 batches of dye.  I’ll show you what it looked like for us.

Easter Egg14

Purple Cabbage (Blue)

  1. Shred approximately 1/2 of a red or purple cabbage
  2. Cover with  1/2 inch of water.
  3. Simmer for 1-2 hours.
4. Strain into jar or container and cool.
5.  Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid.
Blueberries (mottled grey)
1.  Cover frozen blueberries with approximately 1/2 inch of water.
2.  Simmer until desired color is reached.

Easter Egg73. Strain into jar or container and cool.

4.  Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid.

Onion Skins & Ends (Orange)

  1. Peel onions.
  2. Dice onions and save for fixin’ Easter supper.
  3. Cover with approximately 1/2 inch of water.
  4. Simmer until desired color is reached.

5.  Strain into jar or container and cool.

6.  Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid.

Beets (Mauve/Pink)

  1. Peel & Chop (I think grating the beets might have resulted in a prettier pink)
  2. Cover with approximately 1/2 inch of water.
  3. Simmer until desired color is reached.

4.  Strain into jar or container and cool.

5.  Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid.

When using herbs & spices, the method changes a bit.

  1. Measure herb or spice into jar.
  2. Add Boiling Water.
  3. Let steep until desired color is reached.
  4. Strain into jar or container and cool.
  5. Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid
Turmeric (white eggs- bright yellow or brown eggs- gold)

Easter Egg5

Hibiscus (Theoretically pink, though mine resulted in a mottled purple (I left the herbs in the jar to get the cool mottled pattern.)  However this is also the one that resulted in green for another blogger.  I think it depends on the container you use perhaps?  I make a Hibiscus tea for my girls instead of giving them Kool-Aid and if I add their magnesium powder to the tea it will turn green.)

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Add your boiled eggs to the dye jars and refrigerate a few hours or over night.  The longer you let it sit, the darker your results will be.

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Notes:

  • Check out this fool proof method of NOT boiling your eggs.  Trust me, it works like a charm.
  • You can order bulk high quality Turmeric & Hibiscus from Bulk Herb Store HERE.

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How to NOT boil an egg and get beautiful results (for Instant Pot OR Stove Top)

There aren’t many things more awkward than buying an 18 pack of store bought eggs when you have 25 chickens at home and several dozen eggs sitting on your kitchen counter.

Eggs

Why on earth would I be buying store bought eggs you ask?  Well if you have your own chickens, you already know; but if you don’t, let me clue you in.

Boiled fresh eggs DO NOT PEEL.  That stubborn egg white clings to its shell like we small town folk cling to our guns and religion.  😉

By the time you’re done clawing that egg out of the shell it is not a pretty sight.

peeled egg_ugly
Not exactly Easter brunch, deviled egg material is it?

Even store bought eggs can have this issue, around the holidays when egg suppliers have a harder time keeping up with demand and the eggs on store shelves are much fresher than normal.

The only way I’ve known to combat this issue is to keep an egg carton aside for 3 weeks or so.  The longer those eggs have had to sit, the more easily it will be to separate that pesky membrane between the shell and white.  The problem is… it’s no easy task to keep aside my precious “to be boiled” egg carton.  Inevitably the hubby will sell them, or they get mixed up with other cartons and used for breakfast… it just never seems to work out.  Plus, we go through a LOT of boiled eggs.  They are a healthy, inexpensive snack for our family and having to wait around for 3 weeks to get another batch ready just isn’t always feasible.

So there I find myself, sheepishly tucking the egg carton in my shopping cart and hoping that no one notices that I am shamefully PAYING for eggs at the store.

Enter Pinterest.

I love Pinterest, seriously, there are SO many great recipes and great ideas out there right at our finger tips.  ANYWAY, I came across a Pin one day about STEAMING eggs instead of boiling them.  Say what?

It works folks.  It works REALLY well.

Now the thing to remember, as with all cooking, there can always be variables.

Altitude, the temperature of your eggs, whether they are in a single layer or double layer in your pan, all of these things might vary your results.  It is okay if something doesn’t work out perfectly the first time.  Don’t throw the idea out all together, it just means that your method needs to be adjusted next time.

It can be done on the regular ole stove top OR in everyone’s new favorite Instant Pot type pressure cooker.

Here’s how it’s done on the stove top.

  1. Place eggs in the steamer basket above a pan of water.
  2. Turn your stove to medium high heat and wait until you see condensation form the steam begin to form on the lid.  Set your timer for 25 minutes.  (This is the time that I typically use with my eggs double stacked in the steamer basket, 22 minutes seems to be just right if there is only a single layer.)
  3. When your timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs to an cold water bath.  Cooling the eggs off quickly prevents your eggs from over cooking and causing that not so pretty green tint to the yolk.
And here’s the Instant Pot version:
  1. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of your pan.
  2. Place your trivet or steam rack in the bottom of the pan over the water.
  3. Add eggs on top of the trivet/steam rack and close lid.
  4. Turn your pressure relief valve to “sealing” & set manual timer for 6 minutes.
  5. When your timer goes off, use a quick release to relieve  the pressure and quickly transfer the eggs to an cold water bath.  Cooling the eggs off quickly prevents your eggs from over cooking and causing that not so pretty green tint to the yolk.
Now, when it comes to peeling the eggs, I have another fun trick that makes peeling them a breeze.  This handy little method is really the key to pulling this whole thing all together and get beautifully smooth, peeled eggs.
  1. Place boiled (or steamed in this case) eggs in a tumbler with approximately 1/2 inch of water.
  2. Seal the open end of the glass with your hand and shake vigorously back and forth for 10 seconds.
  3. Take the egg out and the skin will easily slip off.You can see how it’s done here:  The FASTEST way to peel a hard cooked egg!

 

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Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatloaf

Could that name BE more irresistible?

I think not.

This meatloaf came from my adventures in Redeeming Comfort Food.  Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods that are just down right satisfying.  I think at times it gets a bad rap as though it were something mundane; but if you’ve ever known a really GOOD meatloaf, you’ll know that it’s much more.

Growing up, my mom’s meatloaf was a standard around our house and loved by all.  It was her mom’s recipe and it was fabulous.  But I have long sought after a meatloaf recipe that was “real food” approved that had the same satisfaction power as Mom’s.  Even Mom herself had tried different recipes but alas, none could compare.  It just couldn’t be beat.

However, a change needed to be made because we have discovered that my 5 year old daughter has an allergy to dairy and I have… not quite an allergy… but a negative response (with my thyroid condition) to wheat.  Because of this, our style of eating (with the exception of special occasions–or when the hubby is craving something) is becoming not quite paleo… but largely dairy and wheat free.  Up this point, any attempt at a Paleo style meatloaf had been seriously disappointing in comparison to the old family recipe.  But after much experimentation and many failed attempts…

TA DA!  This recipe is fantastic.

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatloaf

Note: I typically double this recipe and put half in the freezer for another day, but for the sake of clarity and form, I will give amounts for a single recipe of this meatloaf.  (This recipe feeds our family of two adults and two young children with  plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches.)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Finely dice 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 small onion and 1 Tbl of minced garlic.  (The garlic was late to arrive and missed the photo op here.) 

Meatloaf_1

Saute in a cast iron skillet for 5-7 minutes; to the skillet, add 1 Tbl of dried thyme and 1 tsp of salt, cooking another 30 seconds until fragrant.

Note: if you have fresh thyme, make a well in your vegetable mixture and add your thyme and salt, directly to the pan.  When cooking with dried thyme (powder) I just stir it right in to the veggies.

Meatloaf_2

Meanwhile, back at the counter top, Mix 1 lb of ground red meat (beef, elk, venison etc.–we use elk in this recipe and it is fantastic) with 1 Tbl of Worchestershire sauce & 1/2 cup ground almonds (almond meal or almond flour is fine.)

When the veggies are done cooking, add them to your ground meat mixture and roll up your sleeves.

Meatloaf MUST be mixed by hand, if you are squeamish… (as my mother would say) “Oh well!” (translation, get over it, you will live.)  🙂

At this point, if I have doubled the batch, I separate my meat mixture in half and put half in a gallon sized zip top bag (with as much air expressed as possible) and press it flat (for easy stacking in the freezer.)

Meatloaf_3

Form the other half of your meat into a loaf, and put it into your choice of pan.

Criss-cross (lattice style) your bacon strips across the top of your meatloaf, and it’s ready to pop into the oven.

After baking for 45 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven.

Meatloaf_4

Now is the time for the crowning glory (as if bacon alone wasn’t enough.)  Baste with your choice of BBQ sauce.  For this meatloaf recipe I prefer my own Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce (something smoky, sweet & slightly fruity.)

Bake for approximately 15 minutes longer and it should look something like this.

Meatloaf_5

Serve with additional BBQ Sauce on the side if needed.

Meatloaf_6

 

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatloaf

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

  • 1 lb ground beef, elk or venison
  • 1 each, carrot, celery stalk & small onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbl Oil (for vegetable saute)
  • 2 Tbl minced garlic
  • 1 Tbl fresh Thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbl Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

Top with:

  • 6-8 strips of nitrate free bacon
    • Home cured bacon puts this recipe OVER THE TOP!
  • 1/2 cup (or so) BBQ Sauce (if you are going for a healthy version please use homemade or find a brand with NO High Fructose Corn Syrup.)
    • If you cannot, or choose not to use BBQ Sauce in this recipe you can brush the bacon with real maple syrup before baking instead.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Saute diced vegetables in oil for 5-7 minutes, add in thyme and salt and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove vegetable mixture from heat and cool slightly.  Mix vegetables, Worchestershire sauce and almond meal with ground meat (by hand) until well mixed.

Form meat into a loaf and criss-cross the bacon in a lattice pattern across the top of your meatloaf.

Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven and baste with BBQ sauce.

Bake an additional 15 minutes.

My family LOVES this recipe and I hope yours does to!

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Reset

It is never too late to hit the “reset” button.

Its 10:30 in the morning, and your happy home is beginning to crumble.  The house looks like a hurricane has hit, tensions are high, melt downs are multiplying and Mama is starting to consider heading for the hills.  It is a cycle that needs to stop and it’s up to YOU to stop it; you need to hit the reset button.

No judgement here about the messy house, in fact I once read the statement “trying to clean a house with children in it is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos” this is NO understatement.  Its life, and life with the tiny humans is messy.   But when it comes to the tension, raised voices and whining, YOU are the model of behavior that your children have been given.  You cannot expect them to “change their attitude” if you do not give them the correct example to follow.

I have found that the best defense is a good offence.  Starting the day off right is a great way to avoid the train to crazy town.  In a homeschooling mom’s group meeting I received a priceless gem of advice.

“Determine what the most important part of your school day is, and do that FIRST.”  By starting the day out with a quick family devotion, you are not only starting their day out with a good moral reminder for them to take with them in their daily adventures, but you are starting YOUR day out with the same reminder.  I find that taking the time to read a Bible story or a character building lesson to my kids, I am reminded what an important responsibility our Father in Heaven has imparted to us.  The responsibility of our children’s spiritual welfare is no small task and is the most important task by a long shot.

Disclaimer:  Starting your day with a devotion doesn’t mean you have to drag you kiddos out of bed at 6:00 and immediately commence a theology seminar.  We are not all at our best in the first 30 minutes of the day.  Some need to have time to truly wake up.  I have found that breakfast is the perfect time to engage the kids in a devotion.  You have them seated and occupied, now is your chance to gain their attention. 

But on those days when your day doesn’t start out in an ideal fashion (let’s face it, not every day is going to fall into the perfect routine), here is 4 quick ways to hit the RESET button for your day and regain some peace and serenity.

  1. Find you own calm. Take a moment to gain your composure.  Tell your kids “Mama just needs one minute,” step outside, and take a deep breath.  I recommend stepping outside for a moment because there really is nothing better than a breath of fresh air to clear your mind.  Locking yourself in the bathroom will only make matters worse, the tiny humans will find you, pound on the door, and want to know exactly what you are doing in there.  This will just add to your stress level.  Now that you are outside, remember your purpose, you are here to raise these little ones to know Christ and to help generate faith in this upcoming generation.  (Thank you Beth Moore & “Living Proof Live” this past April for that reminder.)  It is VITAL that you show them peace and calm.   They learn by example.
  2. Sit down. Have your children sit down with you, little ones on your lap, older children nearby.  Telling your child to “calm down” will have just about as much effect on them as someone telling you to “calm down” when you are angry.  It does NOT help.  Sitting down automatically lowers the level of tension in the room.  Take this time for a read aloud story or if you missed your morning devotion go ahead and do that now.
  3. TIGHT SQUEEZE.  It has been scientifically proven that hugging is a natural anti-depressant and can even lead to better health.  All the proof that I need is the results between my kiddos and myself.  When we are mid-melt down, all that I have to do to stop the downward cycle is say “STOP, I need a tight squeeze.”  We give the biggest tightest hug possible, injecting all the power of our frustration into that hug.  The results are miraculous, we both end up giggling doing it over and over until the stress is forgotten.  Don’t believe me?  Try it.
  4. Dance it out. This seems the best remedy for that “UGH” moment of the day.  When you’ve all hit your wall during school or when a chore like house/room cleaning has lost its “shine” (witty pun intended.) 😉  Drop what you’re doing and put on some fun, dance worthy music and dance out all those blah attitudes.  It is a REQUIREMENT that you dance with your kiddos; you are not allowed to sit on the sidelines.  Remind you kids that life is fun, and even Mama likes to have fun.

 

The most important lesson here, is that you cannot expect your kiddos to have happy hearts, if you do not example that for them.  They need to see your sweet smile, hear your laugh and feel your love.  Yes, there is a time when we have to get serious and strict when discipline is required, but they also need to know our joy.

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