With great joy we welcome Judy Wright as a new contributor to MDK. Judy has been our friend and co-conspirator in crafty and culinary pursuits for many years. You may know her from her absolutely delicious cooking and gardening blog, Judy’s Chickens. (Be sure to subscribe if you’d like your in box to become a wonderland of sweet things, gazpacho, and the perfect frittata.) Judy is currently at work creating a delicious new feature for MDK. Until it launches, we invite you into Judy’s kitchen for a typical day in her fantastical world where you never know what might be cooking.
—Ann and Kay
On a recent trip to India, I toured a block-printing factory in Jaipur. I learned from a young man named Ali that their factory printed with natural dyes made from plants like tomatoes, pomegranates, turmeric, sugar cane, and indigo.
My takeaway was that you could pretty much make fabric dyes from anything that ever stained your clothes, aprons, or dish towels while you cooked.
When I got home, I went a little cuckoo. I poked through my kitchen spices, vegetable bins, backyard garden, and the grocery store, looking for foods and flowers I could potentially use to make dyes. In the end, I chose pomegranates, dark grapes, blueberries, tomatoes, cranberry juice, red cabbage, spinach, turmeric, yellow and red onion skins, paprika, apple skins, used coffee grounds, daffodils, forsythia, and tulips.
I was all in.
Crazy as this all seems, I got into the zone on this project. I laid down a long sheet of brown paper and filled fifteen bowls with food and flower samples, some of which I had pre-cooked. I couldn’t cook them all because I didn’t have enough pots or time.
I filled each bowl with boiling water and let the materials meld for a few hours. Afterward, I mashed the plant materials in each bowl, heated them in the microwave, and strained out the pulp.
I added hot, medium-sized, hard-boiled, white eggs into the strained warm liquid and let them sit for a while longer.
The results were mixed. Some of the dyes produced rich dark colors, some were pale, some were lightfast, some were not. My favorite new colors were a lovely chartreuse from the pomegranate, a golden yellow-brown from the daffodils and forsythia, a pretty mocha-brown from the coffee grounds, and a light orange from the paprika.
While I used the dyes for eggs, in my head I was thinking about how they might dye fabric. I could see how some of the colors in the swatch below could be created from the colorful dyes I had made over the years.
Meanwhile, I have a small crop of indigo growing in my garden here in Nashville.
I know! It’s incredible. What will happen with this magical stuff? I can hardly wait to find out.