The Lorna Sundberg International Center, a division of the International Studies Office at the University of Virginia, is one of Charlottesville’s greatest treasures. The Center is located at 21 University Circle, in a grand old brick house built in 1914. When you enter you may be greeted by the cozy whistling of a silver samovar boiling up water for tea. The living room is filled with comfortable furniture and beautiful treasures from all over the world given as gifts by the many international guests who have stayed there over the years.
The International Center provides short-term lodgings for visiting scholars, meeting and reception space, and a variety of intercultural classes and workshops for the community that are almost always free. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter to find out what’s being offered and register in advance. Classes fill quickly!
Events coming up in April include: “Language Jumpstart: French,” a lecture on “Chinese Medicine and Culture,” “Step into Africa,” a Bluegrass Picnic and hoedown with live music, cooking classes on Brazilian, Singaporean, Chinese, Pakistani, and Southern cuisine, and a Zumba workshop. Ongoing, free English as a Second Language classes are offered throughout the year. Classes are led by volunteers, so if you have a special interest or area of expertise, it’s a wonderful way to get involved and to meet people from all over the world.
On Friday I took the kids to the International Center to make Panoramic Sugar Eggs. A tutorial and all the supplies were provided.
Here’s how you can make your own panoramic sugar eggs at home:
- Whisk 2 egg whites until frothy. You can add food coloring to the egg whites if you’d like a colored egg.
- Place 5 lbs. of white sugar in a large bowl. (Superfine sugar will give the eggs more sparkle).
- Create a well in the sugar and pour in whisked egg whites.
- Mix with hands 5 minutes until well blended.
- Pack sugar mixture firmly into a mold. You can buy special egg molds, or just use a plastic Easter egg like this one with a flattened base:
- Scrape tops of packed eggs with a knife to flatten, then remove from mold and place on a baking sheet flat side down.
- Bake in preheated oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Hollow out the center of the egg halves with a spoon until the shells are about 1/2″ thick. (You can reuse scooped out sugar to make more eggs, just place in bowl and cover with damp paper towel).
- Cut off the front of the narrower end of the egg and continue to hollow out the viewing window as necessary.
- Let air dry for 2-3 hours, or put eggs on their backs into a 200 degree oven for another 45 minutes to finish hardening.
- Gently rub two halves together to smooth edges.
- Create a scene inside the egg by arranging small figures, candy, and “grass” inside egg. Secure everything with royal icing. (Beat two egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Add 4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar and beat for another minute. Add more egg white or sugar as needed. Tint with food coloring).
- Pipe royal icing along an edge and press two halves of egg together. Run finger along edges to remove excess icing.
- Use pastry bags filled with tinted icing to pipe borders and other decorations on the egg. A decorative border will hide the seams where the egg halves come together. You can pipe your own flowers onto the egg, or buy frosting flowers and attach them with icing.
A vertical egg can be made by cutting through the flat egg half, using the flattened area as a cutting guide to create the window. Try creating a base by packing sugar into the rounded wider edge of a plastic egg that opens vertically. Fasten the egg to the rounded side of the base with royal icing.
Eggs can be displayed for Easter, then wrapped in plastic and kept in a dark, dry place. Sugar eggs will last indefinitely.
Here are the eggs we made: