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Home and Garden

Deviled or dyed, Easter's all about eggs

By Elizabeth Bettendorf
Published April 6, 2007


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Decorating the Easter table brings with it traditions that mingle childhood memory with the spare beauty of the spring.

Nothing looks more lovely than a sweet scattering of dyed eggs across a simply set Easter dinner table.

As a child, I remember sitting around a patio table swaddled in days-old Miami Herald pages, coffee cups of jewel-colored vinegar water awaiting the dip of a cooled hard-boiled egg.

There wasn't much in the way of choices then, it was pretty much PAAS, the inexpensive food-coloring tablets that came in a flat cardboard box with special cut-outs in the bottom for drying the eggs.

Once, my grandmother sent me a kit for dying marbleized eggs that at the time proved so complicated the eggs came out looking more like botched Jackson Pollack abstractions than the promised marbled treasures.

Somewhere after college and in my 20s, I either lost interest or forgot about dying eggs until a few years ago, when I picked up a newly designed marbleized egg kit and thought I'd give it a try.

The process was simple and the finished product so amazing, I completely abandoned any other method. This year, I decided to make one batch to decorate the table, a second for the fridge and deviled eggs.

In my kitchen cupboard nestles a 1940s hen-shaped egg platter designed specifically for serving deviled eggs, truly a product of its time.

Deviled eggs, in my opinion, are a forgotten delicacy, cheap and supremely delicious hors d'oeuvres that are eaten as fast as you can load them on a plate. They don't need to be fancy or even look pretty; you don't need a pastry bag to scoop the filling into the egg halves. Just a spoon, a sprinkling of paprika and a little parsley will do.

There are plenty of good reasons to dye eggs, especially for a grown woman without kids who needs an excuse to sit around like a Girl Scout working on a badge.

It's always great fun, and a terrific way to visit with family and entertain little kids - whether they're visiting or your own. And the rewards - visually and culinary - make the whole effort vastly rewarding.

When decorating the Easter table, I think eggs look best arranged in an elegant silver bowl or, if you already have a centerpiece, placed casually around the table for color and interest.

If you're entertaining guests you can nestle them around the house to add interest and color to a cocktail table or buffet. Just remember to throw them out after everyone leaves.

There's a great story that goes around every Easter holiday about a family member, who as a small child, fell so in love with the looks of an exquisitely beautiful egg she had dyed, that she hid it in her toy box. The once lovely egg wasn't discovered for days until it started to reek.

Perhaps that's part of their charm, like fresh flowers: The beauty of Easter eggs is transient, meant to be savored briefly and then forgotten until next year.

So, promise that you'll pull down the coffee cups and dye up a batch, maybe two check out ideas like stenciled and glittery eggs on the Martha Stewart Web site www.marthastewart.com .

I haven't yet decided this year whether I'll devote my energies to the marbleized variety or dye a dozen in the plain-Jane PAAS pastels. All I know is that I'm serving up a platter of really delicious deviled eggs before dinner.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at ebettendorf@hotmail.com.

[Last modified April 5, 2007, 07:29:59]


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