Natural Dye on the Fly

Sometimes I do lots of research and gather all the appropriate materials before starting a project. Sometimes I just wing it. This is the latter in action. While the little fellows were dyeing eggs with Paas, I boiled up a pot of red cabbage, and another of dried hibiscus flowers. The cabbage was pretty much a bust for dye, though fun for doing acid/alkaline color-changing magic(more on that in a moment). But the hibiscus was totally unexpected!

 It was a gorgeous bright pink in the pot.  
 

An egg soaked briefly(on the right) turned grey-green, and the one soaked over night turned marbled black!! 
   I decided to try it on a piece of silk pre-mordanted with vinegar. I accordion folded the scarf lengthwise, then width wise, then bound the corners with rubber bands and submerged it in a jar of hibiscus overnight.
 
  
The result was much more what I expected with the eggs! A lovely muted pinky-purple. It is dry, but I’m not sure if it will be color-fast, or oxidize over time, but that’s part of the fun!

 

And in case you want to try magical cabbage concoction: for dye, I think my concentration of cabbage to water was off, plus I think actually boiling the eggs with the cabbage makes for the best color. But we had fun with the cabbage water! Did you know that red cabbage changes color depending on whether it is exposed to acid or alkaline solutions? So cabbage water+vinegar+baking soda= fun. 

Blue/purple cabbage water 

Add a spoonful of vinegar 

Pink cabbage water! Add a spoonful of baking soda for some fizz and another color change back to purple. 

I love science.
  

Getting Eggy With It

Dyeing Easter eggs is one of my favorite spring traditions. This year is the first that I felt the children were big enough to try blowing out some of the eggs before dyeing. Following various internet tutorials, we used my older daughter’s Fiskar’s hand drill to make the holes. 

 We broke a few, but overall the drill worked much better than any method I’ve tried before. We poked a toothpick in the hole to scramble the yolk and then got blowing. I was surprised to see that all three big kids had the lung power to do it!  

 I saved all the egg innards and made a peculiar pancake/Dutch baby for breakfast.  

Peculiar Pancake

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 4 T butter 
  5. Powdered sugar and/or lemon juice for serving

Heat oven to 400. Melt butter in a cast iron pan. Beat the other ingredients until well-blended and foamy (except sugar/lemon juice). Pour into buttery pan. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, until huge, puffy and golden. Shake powdered sugar over and eat!

  

   

 
 It went fast!

As you can see from my daughter’s tray, we dyed some eggs before breakfast. I have a hankering to try natural dye methods sometime soon, but for this morning we went with the old faithful, Paas dye kits made with vinegar and water. I buy three basic kits, plus a set of color cups and use three dye tablets in each cup to make for vibrant colors 

    
 My kids don’t love eating eggs, but the oldest and youngest were inspired by the pretty colors to eat a hard boiled egg each. 

   

I call that a win! Fair warning this may not be the last egg-related post this week…

Smoky Beef Taco Salad

I recently adapted one of my favorite old Everyday Food recipes so I could make it in the slow cooker. Basically, put everything in the Smoky Beef Taco recipe in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours and you’re done! Check the beef for tenderness and shred-ability at 5 hours and you’ll know how much longer you have to go. I like tacos as much as the next person, but I also love taco salad on crisp shredded romaine with lots of chopped fresh vegetables and a flavorful sour-cream based dressing. After a taco dinner night, for lunch, I heat up some leftover beef and make myself a big plate of delicious. 

 Creamy Taco Salad Dressing

  1. 1/4 cup sour cream
  2. Juice of one lemon
  3. 1/2 tsp garlic salt(or one clove crushed garlic plus 1/2 tsp salt)
  4. 1 tsp dried cumin
  5. 1 tsp agave or honey 
  6. 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  7. 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Stir ingredients together until smooth. Taste to check flavor balance, adding additional lemon juice or agave if too sour or too sweet. Thin with lemon juice or cider vinegar if you like a more pourable dressing. I find the beef spices things up nicely, but if you like it really hot, add 1/4-1/2 tsp dried chipotle chile powder. Makes enough for two generously dressed main-course salads. 

 

Leprechaun Day

 We celebrate as often as possible. And while our heritage is mostly mutt, a good chunk of mine is Irish, so St Patrick’s Day is a personal favorite. The kids build traps to catch those tricky leprechauns, and get so close! 

   This year the children caught a shoe in one trap and a belt in the other.

   

 But they are good natured little fellows, who leave golden coins for the kids in the garden despite our attempts to trap them.     

I also attempt Irish brown bread or soda bread every year, and usually it is gross and no one wants to eat it(including me). This year’s recipe was a total winner, though!  I was going to bring a loaf to my son’s preschool, but my older daughters objected because they want it for breakfast tomorrow. I didn’t have wheat bran so I substituted rolled oats which worked just fine.

 Hope the leprechauns are good to you today!

  

Cocoa Nostalgique

   
 

I grew up in New York City, and my parents were very good to me. I have happy memories of very indulgent times I spent as a carefree young adult, and some of my favorite involved being at Payard, back when they had a beautiful cafe and bar. In the looooong summer(it stretched from June to January of the following year!) between graduating and getting a job, I went there almost daily to do “research” but mostly for a Croque Monsieur and pot of their insanely delicious hot chocolate. The waiters were all very distinguished and snooty. I knew I had become a regular when they maintained their snooty demeanor but just brought me “the usual” without being asked, sometimes with the addition of a complimentary macaron. I was waxing nostalgic to my dear friend Natalie about their cocoa being my version of Proust’s madeleine, and how I had heard they sold the mix now. Wouldn’t you know, not a week later a box of the mix arrived in the mail, with a lovely note from Natalie, who had surprised me with this special treat, just because. Of course I didn’t wait, but followed the directions on the box, using my beloved Breville induction milk heater and frother. I used to scoff at single use appliances, and when my husband bought this I may have sneered a little but I was SO wrong. I love this thing. I use it at least once a day and it is genius for hot chocolate. 
   

    
  Look at that! Gorgeous. And having a cup while the baby naps and the big kids are at school *almost* feels like being a carefree 20-something again.

Rocket Man!

My little fella is fascinated by space- astronauts and rocket ships in particular. He made a space ship out of cardboard boxes and wanted the baby and me to come in, but it was a little small. So I added a baby pod to his rocket

 But he still wanted me to come in, so I asked him if I could break down the boxes and try putting them together another way to make a biiiig space ship. He agreed, provided he could make himself a rocket man space costume. One roll of duct tape and every cardboard box in the house later and we have a deep space pod that fits the whole gang 

    
   

While I was breaking down and taping boxes together, he was making and testing his rocket man outfit. 

    
 When the big girls got home from school, they got in on the space fun too! 

  

  
 

Poached Salmon with Creamy Cucumber-Dill Salsa

  
This is another of my mom’s recipes that she claims I now make better than she does. I just think everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you. It is delicious when the salmon is warm, and also when chilled on top of a bed of greens with the salsa as dressing.

Poached Salmon 

 

  1. 2 filets salmon- I’m conflicted about fish and where it comes from. I don’t eat it often, and get overwhelmed by figuring out what options are the most healthful/sustainable. Buy fish that goes with your conscience on farmed/wild caught etc.
  2. Small sweet onion, roughly chopped.
  3. 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped(leafy bits are fine)
  4. 1/4 cup mirin or white wine
  5. Water to cover salmon in a large shallow pot.

Place all ingredients in a large, shallow pot. Being to a simmer and allow to simmer 15 minutes. Remove salmon to a plate, discard water and veggies.

Creamy Cucumber Dill Salsa 

 

  1. 2-3 Persian cucumbers, diced
  2. Juice of one small lemon (2T ish)
  3. 1/2 cup sour cream (you can use yogurt if you really want to, but sour cream is better)
  4. 1  1/2 tsp dried dill
  5. 1/2 tsp garlic salt (you can use a large clove of fresh garlic, crushed, but keep in mind the garlic taste will grow stronger and sharper with time so your salsa will not taste the same after a night in the fridge)
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. Several generous grinds of pepper

Mix sour cream with lemon juice and all following ingredients. When well mixed, stir in cucumber. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Stir again before serving.

    Stir-Fried Cabbage with Turmeric and Mustard Seeds

    In my experience, people either love cabbage/cruciferous vegetables or they don’t. I’m emphatically on the love end of the spectrum, and cabbage is one of my favorites. This preparation, another taught to me by my mom, is my favorite way to eat cooked cabbage.  

    Stir-fried Cabbage with Turmeric and Mustard Seeds

    1. 1/2 head cabbage, chopped in 3/4″ strips
    2. 2t mustard seeds
    3. 1T olive oil
    4. 2t turmeric 
    5. 1/2 tsp salt
    6. 1t sugar

    Place olive oil and mustard seeds in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.

     When the mustard seeds start to pop and bounce around, add the turmeric and stir for a minute. Lower heat to medium.

      

    Add your cabbage and stir until coated with oil and turmeric. Stir and fry until soft, adding a tablespoon of water if the spice mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. After 5-8 minutes, sprinkle salt and sugar over cabbage, stir, cover, and allow to cook for 5 minutes until golden and carmelized.

    Makes a lovely side dish, but honestly I could probably eat a skilletfull plain!  

    Cheater Posole Verde

      
    I had never had or even heard of posole until this year- I love being introduced to something new-to-me and delicious. A lovely mom at my son’s preschool brought me a big jar of homemade posole verde after I had my littlest daughter this fall. I ate the whole quart and savored every slurp! Then of course tried to find a recipe to replicate it. Much like chicken soup, it seems every family has a different way of making this dish, so I frankensteined a bunch of recipes with what I had on hand to make this. Not as authentic and amazing as my friend Jen’s post-partum offering, but warming and tasty nonetheless

    Cheater Posole Verde

    1. Leftover chicken, shredded(I used dark meat from a roasted chicken that was left after the white became chicken salad)
    2. 1 onion, diced 
    3. 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
    4. 1 T olive oil
    5. 1/2 tsp cumin
    6. 25 oz can hominy
    7. 1/2. Jar (3 ish T) mole verde
    8. 4 cups chicken broth
    9. Salt & Pepper
    10. Toppings- shredded cheese, shredded cabbage, lime wedges, sliced radishes, fresh cilantro, avocado… You get the idea.

    Heat olive oil in a large pot on the stove. Cook onion until softened, then add garlic and stir until you can smell the garlic. Add the mole paste and cumin and stir/fry until it is soft and fragrant. Pour in your broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, add hominy and chicken and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top as you like!

    My Sister’s Skillet Cornbread

      
    My eight-year-old hopped in the car at pick up and said, “I’m hungry for Aunt Katie’s cornbread! Can we make some when we get home?” And you know I’m always happy to answer yes to any question that involves baking, so we got home and got started!  

     My sister’s recipe is easy, delicious, and the number one reason I bought a cast iron skillet as a 20-something.  

     As I always do, I’ve tinkered a bit with her original recipe, but it will always be Katie’s Cornbread to me!

    Katie’s Skillet Cornbread

    1. 1 cup all purpose flour
    2. 1 cup corn flour (you can use corn meal, but finely ground corn flour makes for a more moist, cake-like bread)
    3. 1 T baking powder
    4. 1 tsp salt
    5. 3 T sugar
    6. 1/4 cup oil
    7. 2 eggs
    8. 1& 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1T lemon juice stirred in if you haven’t got buttermilk)
    9. 1/2 tsp baking soda
    10. 4T butter

    Pre-heat oven to 400. Stir baking soda into buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk together 2 flours, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil. Whisk in buttermilk mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. It will still be lumpy. Melt butter in a cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat until it foams. Swirl it around to coat the sides of the pan. Pour in batter and transfer pan to hot oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

    It is plenty buttery for me right out of the skillet, but the kids like an extra slab of pasture butter melted on top. 

     She said it hit the spot!