Armenian Easter Eggs – dying eggs naturally using onion skins

yellowMy daughter made a funny observation:  “All year long you buy brown eggs, and then at Easter, you buy white eggs and dye them brown.”  I never thought of it that way, but it’s true.  My family enjoys eating eggs, and once a year at Eastertime, I LOVE dying them naturally.

In my tradition, you save your onion skins throughout the period lent.  Our orthodox religion asks that we observe Lenten tradition by following a vegan diet.  The use of onions to flavor and complement meals is escalated, so by the end of the 40 day period, you have quite a few onion skins.  But if you would like to try this and don’t have a stockpile of skins, you can ask your local produce person if they will save the skins for you when they clean onions…or just go buy an onion and fill the rest of your bag with skins.

I used red and brown onion skins.  Although the result is still a warm brown color, the red skins produce a more coffee brown color, and the brown onions a deep brick red/brown.  Both are beautiful.

I’ve experimented with other natural dyes , but the beautiful and rich color of the onion skins is my favorite.   Unlike dying colorful eggs, you do not dye these eggs one by one but in a batch.  The eggs are prepped and then boiled in the skins….so once your prep work is done, but rest is just cooking and sitting time.

Here’s what you’ll need:  IMG_20170411_195317_260

Red or Brown onion skins (or both), enough to fill a soup pot loosely

Eggs (2-3 dozen…it’s up to you)

Leaves for imprints – I used parsley (flat and curly leaf), and mint.  Rose leave look really beautiful too.  I’ve also used small daisies.

Nylon stockings!  – I buy cheap nylons from the dollar store in my area.  If you have old clean stocking you want to cut up, that works too.  and of course, water and large soup pot or two.

The way my grandmother would dye the eggs is to just boil the eggs in the onion skins and beautiful solid reddish brown eggs would emerge.  She would then use a q-tip and some cleanser and rub off the dye in cross patterns over the surface of the egg.  I always remember my grandmother at this time of year because I would go help her dye the eggs.  She took a lot of pride in her beautiful creations as do I.  Through the years though, I’leafve started imprinting my eggs with leaf patterns, experimenting with different leaves and flowers, but I always make some of my grandma’s traditional eggs with cross patterns as well.

Let’s start:  Cut the nylon stockings into about 4″ tubes.  This can be done by cutting off the toe of the stocking and then just cutting up toward the waist.  Place a sprig of parsley or leaf of your choice on your egg and stretch the nylon over the leaf pressing it tight against the egg.  Pull it toward the back of the egg, stretch so it’s as tight as possible, and then knot the back.  Do this with all your eggs.  If you’d like to leave some just plain, then don’t wrap them.

redPlace the eggs in your soup pot with the onion skins.  You don’t want to stack your eggs on top of each other.  That will create a more mottled appearance when the dye doesn’t get into contact with the egg.  So allow room in your pot, but you can have them close to one another.  Add water to cover the eggs.  Boil over medium heat turning the flame down once it starts to boil.  wrapped

 

You want to make sure that the eggs are submerged in the water, so use a wooden spoon from time to time to gently push them under and to cover more onion skins over the top of them.  Boil your eggs for 15-20 minutes and then turn off the heat and allow them to sit in the water for about an hour.  You can check on the color and see how deep they’ve gotten before removing them.  If it’s the color of your choice, they’re read.  Note:  If you’re using brown onions, they can range from pale yellow (very little time in water) to orange to reddish brown.  Just make sure your eggs have cooked before removing your eggs from the water.

soak2

This is how they look once the onion skins have released their color.  In this picture on the left, the egg is a light orangey tan color.

Traditionally, we go for the darker version of color, so let my eggs soak for about an hour.  Once done, gently take your eggs out of the water and pull off the nylon and leaf and gently rinse with cool water.  Place on a paper towel to dry.  One dry, I use a little coconut oil (or you can use olive oil) on a paper towel and just polish them to give a little shine.

They’re now readybrown to enjoy!  The eggs on the left were dyed using the red onion skins, flat leaf parsley and mint leaves.

The eggs below were died with brown onion skins using flat and curly leave parsley.

yellow

Have fun with it!  Please let me know if you try this recipe and how it turned out for you.  : )

Happy Easter everyone!  Kristos Haryav ee Merelotz!  Ortnyal eh Harootiunuh Kristosi!

 

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

broccoli soupI read a recipe online for a non-dairy creamy broccoli soup that got me thinking of creating this recipe vegan.  I tried it for the first time today and it was great, super easy, and filling.  Here’s the recipe:

You’ll need either a blender or a hand blender to puree.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large broccoli stalks/crowns
  • 2 small or 1 large brown onion, sliced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can of white beans
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Use a big soup pot.  Start off by heating your olive oil in the pan.  Add in sliced onion and garlic.  Put a lid on it and let it cook/steam for a while.  In the meantime, wash and prep the broccoli.  Slice the thick stalks in half lengthwise, and rough chop into pieces along with the florets.  Add to the onions and garlic with about 3 cups of vegetable broth.  Cover.  Cook on stovetop fo about 20-30 minutes until the broccoli is super soft and well cooked.

When adding hot food to the blender, be careful to start it off on a low setting and build up to high.  Add broccoli, onions and garlic to your blender, or use your hand blender and puree.  Add one full can of white beans with liquid.  Puree.  When the texture is smooth, transfer it back into the pot to heat and mix in the seasoning.  The addition of the beans gives the soup more body and adds protein.

 

I seasoned with salt, pepper, no-salt seasoning (from Costco), and some cayenne pepper just to give it a little punch. Serve with a sprinkling of sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Served 5 good-sized portions.

I would love to hear how you liked it so please feel free to leave comments.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Soy Milk Yogurt (Vegan)

I grew up in an Armenian household.  Although we are Armenian Americans, my parents raised us to keep our language and our culture alive.  Along with that were the music, arts, and cooking of our people.  One of the things I remember distinctly about my childhood was that my mother would make yogurt nearly every Saturday.  We always had yogurt in the house, plain, custardy.  I used to love eating mine for breakfast with piece of toast in it along with sugar and cinnamon.

There were no fancy yogurt makers back then.  Nor were there all the varieties and flavors of yogurt that there are today.  The Armenian way was to keep a little bit of the old batch of yogurt.  Heat a quart of milk in a corningware covered dish.  Scald the milk but don’t let it boil.  And when you could dip your pinky into it and have it feel like it was luke warm, you would add your starter, stir, cover, wrap in a towel and put the whole thing on my stove top, preferable over the pilot light for the good 8 hours and you had yogurt.

We also held the religious traditions of our Armenian Orthodoxy.  During the lenten season we give up all meat and animal products for 40 days.  This allows us to live simply and focus on the goodness life has to offer.  My past lenten experiences were what paved the way to my vegetarianism…and later veganism today.  I never found the 40 days to be all that difficult.  And as I grew up and started trying to live a more peaceful existence, I decided to go plant based.

Giving up meat was not a big deal.  But one thing that I truly missed was yogurt.  Creamy, tart, plain.  So I started experimenting.   I’ve tried using almond and coconut milks, but the most successful yogurt I have made to date is using Organic Soy Milk.  Whereas the other plant-based yogurt results were hit-or-miss, I continue to get successful results usng soy milk, so I thought I’d share the recipe.

Anush’s Essential Soy Milk Yogurt

What you’ll need:

  • 1 carton Organic Soy Milk – one quart.  I use Westsoy because the only ingredients are soybeans and water.  No fillers or additives.
  • A food or candy thermometer
  • Vegan Yogurt Culture.  I buy this online from Cultures For Health, a great site for learning how to make cultured and fermented foods.
  • Either a 1 quart mason/ball jar or 4 eight-ounce jam jars with lids
  • Just a small amount of sugar (like a 1/2 tsp to feed the culture)
  • A crock pot or something to keep the yogurt warm in.  Even a heating pad will do.

Start off by making sure that your jars are clean.  Wash in warm, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.  Turn on your crockpot on to high.   Pour your soy milk into a clean saucepan.  Put your thermometer on the side of the pan and heat the milk to 160 degrees.  Once it’s at the right temperature, turn off the flame and allow it to cool.

Once the temp reads 110 degrees it’s time to add your starter.  Do this by putting some of the warm milk in a small bowl (about a 1/2 cup) and then adding in the contents of one of the culture packets.  Stir it in, and then add that 1/2 cup plus the 1/2 tsp of sugar into your warm milk, and stir.

Fill your jar/jars with the soy milk mixture.  Your crock pot should be hot by now.  Turn it off.   Put a hot pad on the bottom of your crock and then line the inside of the pot with a dishtowel.  Put your jars into the crockput, cover with the towel, put the lid on and then leave it for 6-8 hours to incubate.  The longer you leave it, the more tart the taste.  I like it around 6 -7 hours.  Once the time is up, you carefully remove it from the crock and you’ll notice that it should be set…in other words, a small tip of the jar is going to show a thick, custardy yogurt that is no longer thin like milk.  Refrigerate andr use enjoy when cold.

Now let’s say you don’t have a crock pot.  You can put a heating pad into a shallow baking pan…turn it on, get it warm….turn it off.  Lay the jars on top of your heating pad and wrap the whole thing in a towel.  The reason to wrap is to keep it warm and insulated…keeping the warmth constant.  It’s important that your yogurt stays undisturbed during the incubation.

Serve with fruit and nuts/seeds or use as a milk substitute for cold cereal.  Makes 4 cups/1 quart.

Note:  I read that you cannot use plant-based yogurt starter from your previous batch as starter for your new batch.  I’ve tried it a couple times but was not successful…my yogurt just never set.  My results with the vegan yogurt starter have been consistent.  I’ve also read that some people have results using probiotic capsules (opened and the priobiotic sprinkled into the milk as culture too.)

As a 2x breast cancer survivor, I’m cautious on eating too much soy, so I’ll be experimenting with cashew milk next.  I’ll make sure to report my results.

I’d love to hear your your yogurt turned out and if you have any questions or comments just leave a comment below.

 

 

Essential

“How did I get here?”  It’s a question we all ask ourselves, and for me, it’s a question that I ponder a lot when I’m sitting at my desk at my “day job”.  I grew up encouraged by my parents to be creative.  My father was a smart man: a pharmacist, a violinist, a free-thinker and my daddy.  My mom a self-taught artist who loves to write who brought love and beauty to our lives.  Our home was always filled with family and friends (old and just met) who were welcome to come by to share a meal, stay if they didn’t have a place to stay.  There were students who needed study help, musicians, poets.  There was food and music, laughter and friendship, ideas and art.

I have always been interested in art.  As I child I would fill up books and papers with drawings.  Cut-away houses and castles with detailed rooms.  Princesses and fairies and eyes.  I always drew eyes.   And I remember whenever we would read about something new that looked interesting, my father would say, “Let’s try it!” and off we’d go to learn something new.  Bead shops, stained glass stores, oriental rug weaving shops.  He opened new avenues for me.  New endeavors.  Some succeeded…some didn’t.  But it instilled in me the desire to continue to learn and to not be afraid of failure.

And through the years and onto adulthood, I have continued with my desire to create.  It’s Essential.  Necessary.  If I am not creating, I am not happy or fulfilled.  And so this year, this 2017, I have decided that I am spreading my wings.  Taking that leap of faith in myself.  In my art.  In my creative desire to be who God intended me to be.  An artist.  A dreamer.  Impulsive.  A creater of beauty.  And fun.  It’s a declaration to myself.  I am who I am.  And creativity is essential to my existence.

And so here it is.  I’m throwing myself out there to the world. My blog will encompass all my creative endeavors:

  • Art – my illustrations and drawings
  • Jewelry -my line of jewelry – Pomegranate & Eye – where I create unique pieces of jewelry with metal clays and eye beads
  • Health & Wellness- through healthy living and natural solutions using DoTerra essential oils – I teach classes in using these amazing oils to
  • Cancer Awareness – I am a 3 x cancer survivor and an advocate for cancer issues
  • Food – I am a vegan and love to create in the kitchen – so I’ll have recipes to share
  • Love, Faith & Compassion – I am a woman of faith and I try my best to put my beliefs into action.
  • Family -I am a mom, a wife, a gramma (lovingly known as Menee to our grandsons and Noonoo to our granddaughter), a daughter, a sister, a crazy auntie …
  • Myself – I put this here because I am constantly creating and re-creating myself.  I am on a path to health through BrightLine eating, yoga, prayer, and more activity.

And so lately when I ponder, “How DID I get here?”  I also ask myself, “How long am I staying?”  It’s that answer that I’m working on!  I KNOW it lies ahead,  and I’m excited to dream that dream, put it into action, and make it real!

Welcome to me – Essentially Anush!