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Happy and Safe Easter to All! By Johanna Hicks

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Happy and Safe Easter to All!

As families are gearing up for Easter, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension provides some timely information to keep your egg hunts safe and fun.  Eggs have been used to celebrate spring festivals for centuries.  Immigrant settlers brought symbolic Easter rabbits ad colored eggs to America, and since then, Easter egg hunts have been enjoyed by children of all ages!

You can make sure your Easter egg hunts are fun and safe for all by following these simple guidelines:

  • Before buying eggs, inspect them to make sure they are not dirty or cracked.  Dangerous bacteria can enter a cracked egg.
  • Store the eggs in their original carton on a refrigerator shelf until you are ready to cook them.  Keep the eggs away from foods with strong odors (such as fish or onions).  Be sure the eggs do not freeze.
  • Always wash your hands in hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling any food, including eggs.
  • For the best results with hard-cooked eggs, buy the eggs 1 week in advance and refrigerate them.  Eggs can be “too fresh” to peel easily.

When making hard-cooked eggs, follow these directions for perfect results:

  • Place the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough cool tap water to cover at least 1 inch above eggs.
  • Cover the pan and bring the water just to boiling.  Turn off the heat and let covered eggs stand in the hot water for 15 minutes for large eggs.  Adjust the time by about 3 minutes up or down for each size larger or smaller.
  • Immediately run cold water over the eggs or place them in ice water until they are cooled.
  • Dry and refrigerate the eggs, or you can decorate them at this point.
  • Do not decorate cracked eggs.  Instead, refrigerate and use them as ingredients in holiday recipes.

To decorate Easter eggs, use food coloring or follow the directions on Easter egg-dyeing kits.  For the dye bath, use water that is 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the eggs.  Write names or holiday messages on the eggs with a wax crayon before coloring them.  To create designs, mark out patterns during repeated coloring.

You can also make your own natural colors.  Simmer uncooked eggs in water for up to 20 minutes with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of water and one of the following materials, as suggested by the American Egg Board.  This is an art, so colors may vary:

–          Fresh beets or cranberries, or frozen raspberries provide a pinkish read

–          Yellow onion skins provide an orange color

–          Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin provide light yellow

–          Ground turmeric provides yellow

–          Spinach leaves provide a pale green

–          Yellow delicious apple peels provide a green-gold

–          Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves provide blue

–          Strong brewed coffee provides beige to brown

After decorating, returns the eggs to the refrigerator until it is time for the hunt.  Do not hide cracked eggs.  Also, avoid hiding eggs where they may come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, or lawn chemicals.  Gather the eggs as soon as possible after they are hidden.  Do not allow them to remain overnight.  Counting the eggs before you hide them will assure that you have collected them all in the hunt!

After the hunt, inspect the eggs, discarding the cracked ones.  Return them to the refrigerator within 2 hours.  You can store any uneaten eggs in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Avoid eating eggs that have been used for table decorations.  They have been out of the refrigerator for too long in the temperature danger zone – 40 to 140°F.

Athens Egg Salad

½ cup plain yogurt

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon crushed oregano

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

18 cherry tomatoes

½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup sliced drained pitted ripe olives

¼ cup chopped green onions with tops

4 pita bread halves

Lettuce leaves

To make, in a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, salt, and oregano until well-blended.  Stir in remaining ingredients, except for pita bread and lettuce.  Cover and chip to blend flavors.  To serve, line each pita half with lettuce leaves and fill with egg salad.

Enjoy!

4-H Plant Sale and Dessert Auction

If you want to spruce up you flower beds and have a ready-made delicious dessert for your Easter company, our Hopkins County 4-H Montana Exchange Trip group has the perfect solution!  On Friday, April 14, the exchange trip participants will hold a plant sale at the Extension Office and a Facebook Dessert Auction.  To get to the link, simply type in Dessert Auction in the search bar from your Facebook page and click on the link that has the rabbit cake.  Pictures of the desserts will be posted on this event page.  Bidding will start at 9:00a.m. and end at 3:00p.m. Bids can be made in the comment section below each dessert. Highest bidders will be able to pick up their desserts at the Hopkins County AgriLife Extension office between 3:00pm to 5:00pm.  We can deliver desserts locally.

The plant sale on the same day will include 1 gallon and 3 gallon plants, as well as baskets.  Drop by and see the beautiful plants that will be offered.  Twelve Hopkins County 4-H’ers and chaperones will travel to Montana in July for an Exchange trip with Sanders County (Thompson Falls).  Our former 4-H agent, Juli Hutchins-Thurston is employed with the Extension Service there, and they are planning host homes and activities for our group upon arrival.  Proceeds from the Plant sale and dessert auction will go toward expenses of the trip, so your participation is greatly appreciated!

Closing Thought

We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.  That’s confidence! – unknown

Easter

Johanna Hicks
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
P.O.Box 518
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone
903-439-4909 – Fax
[email protected]mu.edu

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Author: Staff Reporter

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