A Spectacular Egg-stravaganza

What started as a crazy idea – coloring 90 eggs for Easter – has turned into a beloved tradition for one Minnesota family.

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I know exactly the day that I first decided to color 90 eggs for Easter.

I was having both sides of the family over for Easter brunch, I had just started painting my kitchen cabinets and my son was 2 months old. Was it a defiant Cool Hand Luke moment, “No one can color 90 eggs,” or was it a sleep-deprived domestic goddess moment in which I envisioned my brunch guests agog with admiration? Maybe a little bit of both. Nonetheless, 90 we did and 90 we’ve done ever since.

Once you go that nuts, it’s hard to turn back. Indeed, that brunch was decked out with egg-scapes and swegg bags, and it included a massive hunt. Since then, every year—even if we don’t host—we dive into an afternoon of boiling and coloring. Somehow, it seems that if we only decorated a dozen eggs, we’d feel cheated.

Those eggs have become an event unto themselves, a once-a-year canvas with unique possibilities. We use the traditional supermarket kits, mix up some of our own natural dyes and generally explore all options. The year my teenage daughter discovered modern art and thought she might work in a museum, we had a whole carton of Rothkos and Mondrians. The science boy likes to time his eggs in the dye cup, making incremental increases and comparing the colors. Sure that leaves us with 15 slightly different versions of blue (or “data”), but when you do 90, it’s okay.

Lessons Learned

There are some things I’ve learned over the years:

  • To amp up the color in supermarket kit, add a bit of food coloring paste (found in the cake decorator’s aisle). The dye is strong, so you might want to use tongs to dip your eggs in those.
  • Adding olive oil to any kind of dye will deliver a swirly effect.
  • If you’re planning an egg hunt inside, use a white crayon to number the eggs on the bottom during coloring. At the end, you can check off the finds and avoid the forgotten #6 that’s hiding under your couch, waiting to become a stink bomb.
  • There’s nothing like a Spanish cascarone, a confetti-filled egg that you seal up and decorate with tissue paper. The fun is in cracking the egg over the head of unsuspecting Uncle Mike.

Inspired Leftovers

Naturally, we’ve mastered the art of what to do with leftover eggs. I do like to let guests pick their favorites as parting gifts, but that still leaves us with a lot of protein around, and egg salad is only compelling for about a week.

If you remember that deviled eggs are a vehicle, top them with smoked salmon or bacon; they can cover a lot of ground. Hiding boiled eggs in salad dressings is easy, but whipping up Scotch eggs, wrapped in sausage and fried, makes them special again.

Usually when I get down to the last 10, I make a big pasta dish called timpano, which has meatballs, eggs and all sorts of stuff baked in. It’s sort of a celebration of moving on, a sign that we’re about to be egg-free ... for at least a month.

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