April 3, 2010
Happy Easter, Naturally
Popping over to Philomena's this morning, she presented me with five patterned eggs, one for each member of our family. She told me these were the easter eggs of her childhood. Full of wonder I listened to how they were made. Then I was entranced with the traditions that followed. These eggs were always eaten on Easter Monday. Everyone had a turn at cracking the top of their egg with another person and the person whose egg did not crack, then they scored the cracked egg. So basically if I understood her correctly, the winner received two eggs and the loser received zilch.
I treasure Philomena and her stories of the old ways. They need to be preserved. This is her recipe that is at least one hundred years old. Who knows how old. I feel privileged that she is more than eager to share her valuable knowledge and pass it onto me.
One thing to note. She has free range chickens and their eggs shells are rather brown coloured. It was for this reason she sent her adorable husband, Romano, off to the shops to buy the whitest eggs he could find. He returned with eggs that were more browned skinned than those of her own chickens!!! Sooooo funny. She used them just the same. She tells me, unfortunately the contrast was not very striking because a better result is always achieved with a really white egg.
Natural Easter Eggs
Eggs, preferably with really white shells
Heaps of brown onion skins
Nylon stockings (don't throw out those laddered ones any longer, keep them)
Small green or any coloured leaves (of flowers, shrubs, ferns, whatever as long as they are safe)
Take a leaf; brush with some eggwhite; carefully arrange and press onto an egg. Brush more eggwhite over the leaf; press gently; it really needs to be completely touching the egg shell. No bumpy or raised bits please. Secure the leaf as best as you can.
Put this inside enough nylon to enclose the egg. Pull tight; use some twine to tie a knot. Make enough eggs to cover the bottom of a large pot. Generously place lots of brown onion skin on the bottom of the pot. Carefully place your nylon tied eggs over the skins. Scatter more onion skins over the eggs; fill with just enough tap water to cover.
Bring to the boil; reduce heat; simmer for two or three minutes. Take off heat. Leave eggs to cool in the water. It is at this time the colour will begin to set into the egg. Remove when cold; carefully snip away the nylon and then peel off the leaf to reveal the imprinted pattern on the egg. Dry well; rub a little oil into each one. Done.
As with all things natural, some imprints will be stronger and more coloured; others will be subtle and dainty. I feel compelled to record this recipe for my kids and for me because it is so rare to find such "natural" gems. These days, paints and artificial dyes are so commonplace we don't blink an eye at using them. I for one, am over it. Bring back the old ways.
To our endearingly priceless neighbours, we thank you.
PS: more on Philomena in my next post.