Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eggsquisite Eggs, Naturally!

Do you use the same old egg-dying kits with the tablets every year? Are you looking for a more natural alternative? This year, try dying your eggs with vegetable and herbal dyes. The most vibrant colors are obtained by boiling the dye right along with the eggs. Adding one teaspoon of vinegar before boiling helps to set the color, with one exception. If you are using onion skins they will react with the vinegar to make a brownish color. Bring to a boil, and then simmer about 15 minutes. Immersing the eggs overnight in the dye will result in the brightest color. If you don't want speckled eggs, you will have to strain all the organic matter out first, using a coffee filter. Read on for some ideas on how to get specific hues.

Pink - beets, cranberries or raspberries

Orange - onion skins, carrots, Paprika

Red - red onion skins, pomegranate juice.

Yellow - carrot tops, Turmeric, green tea

Blue - canned blueberries, red cabbage leaves, purple grape juice

Purple - Red zinger tea, violet blossoms + 2 tsp. lemon juice, red wine

Green - spinach leaves

Brown - strong coffee, black tea, Black Walnut shells

To create interesting patterns on the eggs, try putting rubber bands on the eggs, or tying with string or cheesecloth before boiling. You can also draw patterns on the egg with a crayon before dying.

I hope you have an eggceptionally fun Easter!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dress That Cress For Less!

About to serve salad with dinner and you've discovered you're out of dressing? No need to run to the store! You probably have everything you need in your kitchen to make your own dressing. Not only is your own homemade dressing healthier, because it's free of additives and preservatives, but it's a lot cheaper. You also avoid using all those bottles, and it helps to use up the odds and ends languishing in your fridge.

The first thing you'll need is a glass cruet, or a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Next you'll need an oil. Vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, any oil will work. After that you'll need something acidic. Any type of vinegar, pickle juice, the juice from a can of olives, lemon juice, orange juice, or grapefruit juice will work. The fruit juices are particularly nice when making dressing for a fruit salad. As long as you have three parts oil to one part acid, any combination will do. Add salt, pepper, and some spices if desired, and shake. Keep the ingredients of your salad in mind when deciding what combination will taste good. It's best to make small quantities. Since your dressing is not full of preservatives, it won't keep as long as store-bought.

Dress that Cress, bathe that Boston Bibb, splash that Black-Seeded Simpson. Experiment and have fun with it! Be sure you write down your most successful combinations so you can recreate them again. I'd love to hear about some of your tasty triumphs!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Make Haste, Avoid Waste!

Mr. Bargain just left on a long trip, leaving behind half a large container of yogurt. I don't care for this particular brand. Immediately, the gears in my thrifty brain started whirring, thinking about how I could use up this yogurt.

One way would be to bake it into some muffins or a quick bread. Martha Stewart once featured an article about how to age plant pots, encouraging moss to grow on the pots by brushing with yogurt. If you are interested in trying this, here's a link:


According to some information I found on the Internet, yogurt is good for septic tanks. I don't have a septic tank, but this may prove useful to someone. If the weather was warmer, I might be tempted to make a smoothie with the yogurt. This week's weather is putting me more in the mood for cocoa than smoothies, however!

It doesn't ultimately matter what I decide to do with the yogurt. The important thing is to cultivate this way of thinking in your daily life. The Internet can be a fantastic waste-not resource. Simply search "uses for _" for lots of great ideas.

I recently applied the same thinking process to some mediocre apples I had. I could have dried them to make dried apple slices, or apple doll heads, or I could have chopped them up in some chicken salad. I decided to give them to my sister to make fruit salad for her son.

What you don't want to do is wait until the item in question is covered in mold, or reduced to a pile of mush in the fridge. I have been guilty of procrastination in the past, but I try to avoid this costly habit.

I hope this post encourages you to make haste and avoid waste in your household. How about sharing your great "use it up" ideas?