My dear girls are laying their eggs! They had a wonderful rest in the dark of winter but with the light returning I found one egg one day, then two eggs, and then all of a sudden lots of eggs each morning. They are Buckeye chickens and several years old now, but still laying well. This spring I let my grand old rooster from Mr. Ulrich in Minnesota (he's kept this breed of chickens alive and well) in with the hens. I have one hen brooding and hope one morning to arrive in the barn to hear the chirping of chicks in the coop!
This time of year, it is such fun to show your little ones what eggs can do. With Easter approaching it's twice as much fun. For years I tried to figure out how to display the colored eggs during the season and fun ways to dress the Holiday table with them. Paper cups, and paper cut outs were cute. Cut up egg crates were fun, but this is just magic. Make egg cups out of Swiss Meringue, they just glow while holding the eggs, and your family learns about the full use and magic of eggs to honor those wonderful hens as they begin their work of the year before them. Plus they are just yummy to eat!
Meringues are also a really easy recipe to make with kids. Let them measure and mix the ingredients, and once the egg whites are whipped up, place small dollops of meringue on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Make the cup for the egg by taking a tablespoon and placing it in at the middle of the meringue round, then with a quick swirl clockwise the indentation is made. Off to the preheated oven at 225 degrees F. Bake the meringue for 45 minutes to a hour. A dry day, with no rain is the best time to do this.
Oh my this looks grand on a table cloth, and those eggs your little ones decorate can be admired before they turn into egg salad that day, or when the egg is hollow, a treasure to keep for a life time. I still have a few from when my own children were little.
Recipe for Swiss Meringue:
- 8 Egg Whites
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (you could use more it keeps the egg whites stiff)
- 2 cups sugar ( You can use less when whipping the eggs if you prefer, watch for a stiff eggs whites, with a wonderful glossy look to them add the sugar slowly. The gloss is the sugar working to create the meringue. The gloss lets you know if you have enough sugar in the mix.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla or other flavorings.
Pre heat the oven to 225 degrees F. Next mix the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites in a mixer, starting at a low speed, moving to high speed until the whites stiffen to medium peaks. If you don't have a mixer, a good whisk and a strong arm will do the trick.
Place tablespoon sized dollops of meringue on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Using a spoon, make an egg sized indentation in the meringue round.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. Do not let the meringues turn golden. They may be a bit soft when you take them out of the oven, but they will harden as they dry.