Friday, April 22, 2011


I began the egg dyeing process with such optimism.  I decided I was going to do it the hard way--the natural way--and use onion skins instead of food coloring.

My mom found awesome instructions from the kitchn  for  dyeing eggs with onion skins.  Traditionally, Russian people save all their onion skins all Lent long for this express purpose.  I, however, had neither the forsight, nor the appetite for onions to do that.  Also, I am not Russian.  So I devised a plot.  When my mother and I went to Wegmans, I hung around the onions, as an unsuspecting employee of that fine, overpriced establishment culled the loose skins from the shelf.  I sidled up and began begging him to take pity on my skinless state and bestow upon me all the unwanted onion skins he was about to throw out.  He consulted with his manager, which seemed a bit unnecessary to me, and finally granted me a huge bag of the coveted red and yellow skins.

I slaved over the vat of dye, carefully following the directions.  And when they came out, my eggs were not rich shades of mahogany and russet.  They were poopy, boring brown.

Enter the barefoot kitchen witch's instructions for colorful cracked eggs, or Chinese Tea Eggs, which are sold in China the way we sell hotdogs and pretzels on the street here.  In a nutshell, you crack your hardboiled eggs a bunch, then let them sit in a glassful of food coloring and water in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, you peel them and--behold!  They are covered in gorgeous color fissures.

 I also kept some of them whole and marinated them in various shades of food dye overnight.

Crisis averted.  The end.

Prayer of Saint Basil the Great

O God and Lord of Hosts, and Maker of all Creation, Who by the tender compassion of Thy mercy which transcendeth comprehension, didst send down Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our race, and by His precious Cross didst tear asunder the handwriting of our sins, and thereby didst triumph over the principalities and powers of darkness: Do Thou Thyself, O Master, Lover of mankind, accept also from us sinners these prayers of thanksgiving and entreaty, and deliver us from every destructive and dark transgression, and from all enemies, both visible and invisible, that seek to do us evil. Nail down our flesh with the fear of Thee, and incline not our hearts unto words or thoughts of evil, but pierce our souls with longing for Thee, so that ever looking to Thee, and being guided by Thy Light as we behold Thee, the unapproachable and everlasting Light, we may send up unceasing praise and thanksgiving unto Thee, the Unoriginate Father, with Thine Only-begotten Son, and Thine All-holy and good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wheat, Wine, and Oil

The Wheat, Wine, and Oil podcast has been my constant companion in the kitchen over the past few days as I've dyed eggs and generally tried to prepare for Pascha (Easter).

Instead of trying to describe it, I'll let Ancient Faith Radio introduce you.

"Ancient Faith Radio now brings you the Wheat, Wine, and Oil podcast with Martha Condra.  This helpful series of programs follows faith through the market to the kitchen and the family table.  Martha is a freelance recipe developer and food writer for such magazines as Cooking Light and Heath Magazine.  Here's Martha..."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keep Calm...

In the tumult that was working full time, going to school at night, and planning a wedding, I stumbled upon the "Keep Calm and Carry On" mantra. 

It was originally meant to be used on British WWII motivational posters, but was abandoned before being distributed.  Now you can find it gracing mugs, journals, postcards, posters, desktop wallpaper, etc. 
I typed up my own poster and hung it on my classroom door, and would glance at it whenever my students tried my patience and I needed to be reminded to take a breath. 
Passing teachers remarked on it, and requested one of their own, so I printed them up and distributed them.
It became a bit of a joke in our school, and I kept discovering funny knitting-related spoofs of the poster, like:
"Keep Calm and Cast On" originated on, where you can download it for free in a multitude of colors. 

I first discovered Keep Calm and Carry Yarn at Knitty City, a yarn store Pete and I visited after going to the Museum of Natural History in NYC.  They sell brightly colored hand-dyed and screenprinted project bags with the slogan made by JennieGee.  You can also buy them at her etsy store.

When I come across something like that, I usually talk myself out of buying it because I know I could make it myself.  This was the first time I decided to give credit where credit is due and purchase an idea, rather than an object.  The craftsmanship is impecable, and I'm glad I chose to support the artist who came up with this clever twist.  It makes me smile every time I break out my knitting.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Now that I have a Russian last name, I feel it is my bounden duty to attempt the most daunting of all Russian cuisine-- kulich, or the cylindrical bread baked for Pascha (Easter) which takes two days to prepare.

Once it occurred to me that I would be faced with this momentous task, I began my research.

The library provided several different versions of kulich, some extremely complicated, while others seemed more doable.  I poured over all the recipes I could get my hands on, trying to make sense of the process, which was more elaborate than any I had attempted.  

The recipe from A Gift to Young Housewives (yes, it is really called that), by Elena Molokhovets, required 70 (count 'em) egg yolks.

I even found a recipe that would make use of my languishing bread machine, thus sparing me 45 minutes to an hour of kneading.  Tempting, but I decided against it.  And as it turns out, kneading the dough was the best part.

Kulich is baked in a coffee can so that it resembles the onion domes on Russian Orthodox churches.  I found the perfect one at Cosco--and it even came with 6 pounds of tomato sauce, which will probably wind up sustaining us through Holy Week.  

My friend Claudia provided all sorts of invaluable advice.  She told me to coat the inside of the can with melted butter, then line it with buttery parchment paper.

That made popping the kulich out of the can absolutely easy.

It slid right out onto the towel-covered pillow.  Yep, you read that right.  They call it "putting the kulich to bed."  We rolled the kulich around on the pillow for 20 minutes to prevent it from getting flat on one side.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I finally brought pictures from the wedding to show my class...and instantly regretted it.  Observe--

Girl: Do you have any of you two kissing? I really would like to see that.

So, just in case you're as curious (but not as brazen) as a first grader, I'll give you a peek.  But this is as voyeuristic as it's going to get around here.  

Thank you, Nick Kita, for this postcard-perfect photo!