Natural Easter Eggs Dyed with Onion Skins – Traditionally Armenian

I grew up in Los Angeles, the granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors.  My grandmother lived on the corner of our block and we were very close.  She often called me to come over to help her cook.  One of the things I remember the most is her beautiful Armenian Easter eggs.  Always this rich brown color, dyed naturally with onion skins.  Her traditional eggs were not imprinted with leaves or flower like mine are.  Instead she would make them a solid brown and then use a cloth and some cleanser to rub crosses on the surface.  I loved the care and attention she put into these eggs.  And on Easter morning, we would have an egg challenge.  We would all pick the egg that we thought had the strongest shell.  We would take turns tapping our eggs against each other’s.  The winning egg would be the egg left untracked.

When my grandmother passed away, I started carrying on her family traditions.  I’m the one in my family that makes her delicious stuffed grape leaves.  And I’m the one that dyes my eggs the traditional way, with onion skins.

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We start collecting onion skins when Lent begins.  In the Armenian Orthodox tradition, we take on a vegan diet during these forty days.   The recipe has simple ingredients:  Eggs, onion skins, and if you want to imprint designs on them, you will need some small leaves or flowers, and some nylon stockings (I buy a couple from the dollar store).

So let’s start:  Take your eggs and DO NOT boil them ahead of time.  Put the onion skins in a large soup pot.   You will need a good amount of onion skins.  The more skins you have the deeper the color.  You can mix red onion skins and brown onion skins for a deeper brown, but the traditional color is achieved with brown onion.

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If you want the traditional solid egg with crosses rubbed on them, place your raw eggs on the onion skins, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes with a medium flame.  Turn the flame off, and then let the eggs sit for several hours.  The longer they sit, the deeper the color.  So keeping them in the onion mixture for a short time will give you a light orange color….progressing to a deeper orange, to brick red, to a deep brown.  Remove from the onion bath and allow to cool.  Then use a Q-tip dipped in a little cleanser to rub crosses on the surface.  Rinse, dry, and rub with a little bit of vegetable oil for a glossy egg.

If you’d like to imprint your eggs with designs, you’ll need some small leaves or flowers.  I generally use parsley or cilantro, but this year I forgot to buy them.  So I opened the fridge to see what I could find and decided to use strawberry tops for my design this year.

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Open the packs for nylon stockings and cut off the toe.  Then cut each leg into five or six 4” tubes.  (Does that make sense?)  Place the flower or leaf on the surface of the egg and stretch the nylon over the egg, securing the leaf to the surface.  Knot the excess in back of the egg.  Place the egg on the onion skins in the pot.  Continue wrapping your eggs until you’ve done them all.  I dyed 24 eggs with 2 pairs of nylons but I used all parts of the nylons.

Once you’ve got them all done, fill your pot with water to cover the eggs.

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At this point, I invert a small luncheon plate over the surface of the eggs just to keep them all submerged while I bring the eggs to a boil and while they steep.  As outlined above, boil them for about 15-20 minutes, turn off the flame and just allow them to sit there submerged until the desired color is achieved.  Once you like the color, drain the eggs and remove the nylon (discard).  You can then rub the surface with a little vegetable oil if you like a glossy egg, or leave them matte.

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Here is a photo of eggs I dyed last year using flat leaf and curly leaf parsley.  This also shows the result of rubbing oil on the eggs for a glossy finish.

Wishing you all a very blessed Easter!  Crisdos Haryav E Merelotz!  Ornyal eh Harootiunun Crisdosee!

Christ has Resurrected from the dead.  Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ.

Easter Eggs Dyed with Brown Onion Skins

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There’s No Place Like Home

I work from home.  I am an artist, a jewelry designer, and I teach people how to manage their health and wellness naturally with essential oils.  But I am also caregiver to my almost 85-year-old mom who lives with us.  When I quit my desk job last May to follow my passions, I thought I’d have a lot more free time, or not even free time, but quiet time for sure.  This is hardly the truth as our home is small, and my mom is hard of hearing, and the TV is on all day tuned in to some type of shock- or reality-TV show.

I have this romantic idea in my head.  This is how it plays out:  Maybe once a week or so, I take some time out for myself to go to a local coffeehouse with my iPad, enjoy a cup of something and an hour of quiet time to sit and blog, or catch up on my emails, or whatever and just enjoy the quiet.  Just some downtime.   I think of this often, but there are always appointments, or meals to plan, or stuff that needs getting done.

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But today of all days, I decided to make it happen.  I just finished a busy weekend of painting a utility box in Glendale that took two-and-a-half days in the cold and sun.  And as I painted the sealant on the box this morning,  I decided to treat myself in celebration.  I packed it all up and headed to Montrose Village with the plan that if the Starbucks was busy, there was always Coffee Bean across the street.  I got there and both looked really busy which doesn’t really bother me, but there was absolutely no parking.  So I decided to keep driving and head up to La Crescenta.  Surely, the Starbucks there would be peaceful.

I pulled into the parking lot, found parking without a problem.  I went in and scoped it out.  A padded bench seat with 4 round tables – each a table for two.  Three tables were open with just the one by the window occupied by two young women.  I ordered an iced coffee, gave my name, and sat down at the table furthest from the women with two tables open between us.  I was finally doing it!  I thought of Elmer Fudd always teased by Bugs Bunny… “A westful weetweet and no dweaded wabbit!”  IPad out, I decided to blog about the weekend with the utility box project, all the while listening for my name.  I mean how long does an iced coffee take, right?

Five minutes go by and I decide to go see if maybe I missed my name.  There was a group of five kids in their young twenties talking loudly.  My drink wasn’t there.  I went back to my table.  And right after I sat down, they came over and occupied the two empty tables next to me.  They were nice enough, but loud.  Talking about drunk St. Patrick’s day weekends, hangovers, calling out sick, etc.  I couldn’t concentrate.  And where was my iced coffeee anyways?

Another 10 minutes went by so I got up to check again.  Still nothing.  I sat down again this time deciding to check email and social media.  One of the kids decided they should move to the table outside!  Yay! Thank you.  I went up for my drink and the barista mumbled something to me about a cart.  I’m new to this, remember.  turns out my drink was sitting not at the pick up window, but at the cart.  No one called my name.  Okay, doesn’t matter.  I have my drink….and relative quiet.  And it’s gonna be good.  Back to the blog.

The door opens.  In walks a mom and two kids (around 5 and 9).  The mom is holding a pizza box.  The little girl sits at the table next to me with the pizza.  Big Brother is begging mom for $16 to buy some type of toy while is eyes are glued to an electronic device.   Mom gets in line.  I’m not paying attention now and trying to work.  Next thing I hear something fall on the floor and the little girl is crying, “It’s hot! It’s hot!”  Apparently she tried to get a piece of pizza without mom there, the cheese was hot, she dropped it on the bench and the floor.  Mom came back, so did brother. Mom was cleaning up the child, the bench, the pizza.  Her son was still nagging her for the $16.  I decided to move outside.

It was quieter there….except for two women gossiping about their “friends” and how terrible they looked at some function they had gone to.  Reviews about hair and makeup.  I had enough.  It wasn’t meant to be.  I packed it up.

I got home, said hi to mom.  The TV was on.  The show “My 600-pound-life” was blaring loud.  But peace at last!  I could sit down, collect my thoughts, and write.  There’s no place like home.