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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S

Monday, September 29, 2014

BAKED PUMPKIN DONUTS!

   This recipe was found at www.culinarycory.com .   A little something to start off the fall season.



Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Baked Pumpkin Cake Donuts
I can’t help it. There are days when I’m just drawn to it. Those four big letters glistening in the yellow glow and sparkle of retail extravaganza. I don’t care if I have to wade through the text messaging hoards of 12 year olds just to find it. I see it there, hidden in the back corner of the store covered with red tags and crossed out retail pricing. Oh, glorious SALE.
While partaking in some retail therapy, I couldn’t resist exploring a kitchen store for yet another gadget to purchase. I thumbed through shelves of “miracle devices” guaranteed to perfectly cook anything in the microwave. I even glanced through the mountains of magic spices Paula Deen decided to slap her face on this week. Finally, I came across a set of mini donut pans for a cool 5 bucks in the clearance section. A crisp Lincoln was tossed at the cashier as I headed home to create these flavorful pumpkin donuts.




Baked Pumpkin Cake Donuts
Baked Pumpkin Donuts
Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
2 Tbl. milk
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside. Cream together the brown sugar, canned pumpkin, eggs, milk, butter and vanilla extract until the butter is well incorporated. With your mixer on medium low speed, slowly add the dry sifted ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until just barely combined. Be careful of over mixing.
Spray the donut pan with cooking spray and fill each donut mold halfway with the pumpkin batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 – 8 minutes or until the exterior springs back when touched. Allow to cool completely and top each donut with cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze

½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl. milk
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Mix until smooth and creamy. The glaze should pour easily from a spoon. You may need to add additional milk or powder sugar to get the right consistency.
Authors Note:
  There is no need to fret if you do not own donut pans. This recipe can be easy converted into pumpkin muffins. You may need to adjust the baking time accordingly. When using paper liners, lightly spray the liners with cooking spray just before filling them with batter. It makes a world of difference.

KRAMPUS, SANTA'S EVIL HELPER (AT LEAST IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD)!



    Krampus is not a muscle contraction that causes unpleasant pain, but Krampus does apparently inflict painful experiences or death to children who do not behave. This mythical creature has been a tool people have used to promote scare tactics in children.  Krampus is in cahoots with Santa Claus. In some parts of the world, Santa has plural helpers called Krampi.





   Krampus is depicted as an evil demon that has a long tail, horns, a long tongue, hooves, and carries a black bag or basket.  As a child, I never heard of Krampus. Not until I picked up a random National Geographic magazine at the doctor's office had I ever heard of Krampus. This creature originated in Austria and is still very popular in Germany.  Krampus is also related to fertility.






   The Americanized Santa Claus does not have these helpers. In other parts of the world, Santa's group of Krampi would be considered similar to American Santa's elves, except for the obvious differences that elves are merry, very small, and gleefully make toys, while Krampi are large and terrifying. Usually, the Americanized helper elves will secretly watch children throughout the year and report good and bad behavior back to Santa. These behavior reports help Santa decide whether or not to give children gifts or not. Spying elves seem creepy.








   Compared to what Krampi do, however, elves don't score as high on the creep-o-meter. Krampi warn and punish bad children (Wikipedia, 2010). They have the authority, per St. Nicolas, to take presents away from naughty children or, if they have misbehaved badly enough, Krampus will hurt them physically, lock them in chains, and stuff them in his black sack or basket and take them away. The children the Krampi determine are very bad will be whisked off for a not-so-special holiday in a dark, scary forest where they will live forever, tortured by the Krampi of the dark forest or possibly, be killed.






   Krampus pre-dates Christianity. He is still feared by some Austrians today and is believed to be an ancient god (Seven Trees, 2008). Other pagan things have been incorporated into Christian holidays, and so has Krampus in his correlation with St. Nicholas. Remember all the while we thought those hooves were from Santa's cute, flying reindeer? It seems we were wrong! Those hooves are from the feet of the Krampi who travel with Santa.






   So parents, from now on if the threat of receiving coal on Christmas no longer holds any fear, you may want to consider sharing the story of the demonic Krampus with your disobedient child. For extra effect, don't forget the furry costume complete with horns, long tongue, chains, black sack, and scary demon mask while you lurk outside the window some night to prove to your child that Krampi do, in fact, exist. Or you might try not being sadistic. Besides, in places where Krampus is still "celebrated", children have taken to dressing in black rags and chains, running through streets and terrorizing people. Some of them seem to have overcome their fear of the creature and have taken back the Yuletide and the night. The true origins of Christmas are pagan; this is one example of that fact.

OWLS-THE MAGICAL BIRD!!






    The owl has attracted the fascination and awe of many cults and cultures, down through the ages and many different and contradictory beliefs have survived to the present day. Many associations link the owl with witchcraft, medicine, the weather, birth and even death; thus, many superstitions and fears about the owl remain. In the past it was thought to have been wise yet foolish, feared but venerated and despised whilst being admired.
    The owl is a nocturnal, predatory bird distinguished by a large flat face, eyes surrounded by stiff, feathered disks, a short, hooked beak, feathered legs with sharp talons, and soft plumage which facilitates soundless flight. Its large eyes are encased in a capsule of bone called the "sclerotic ring" which directs the eyes forward allowing restricted movement. To enable a sideways look, the owl must turn its entire head. Its neck, being relatively long and flexible, allows the head to rotate through 270 degrees. As few owls hunt their prey in full daylight, their hearing is particularly important. Many owls have asymmetrical skulls with the ear openings at different levels, enabling them to pin-point the slightest sound made by the prey they are hunting.
    Owl nesting habits are highly variable. Some nest in holes in trees or rock croppings and their are even some that make burrows and next underground. Owls feed entirely on live prey or animals, such as insects, rodents, snakes, rabbits and even fish. Indigestible parts of their food such as bones, hair and feathers are compressed and regurgitated as compact pellets. Owls lay pure white eggs.
    In Greek Mythology, the owl was the preferred bird of the Goddess Athena, the daughter of Zeus. Her preferred species was the Little Owl, which often accompanied her perched on her shoulder. The owl had the ability to light up Athena's blind side revealing to her unseen truths and thus expanding her natural wisdom. Due to its association with Athena, the owl gained protected status in Athens. The owl became thought of as a protector, its symbol adopted by Greek armies as inspiration for their daily lives. Before a battle, if an owl flew over, it was taken as a sign that victory was immanent. It was also depicted on different Greek coins.

SOME OF THE WORLD'S OWL MYTHS

  • Abyssinia-The Hamites held the Owl sacred.

  • Afghanistan-The Owl gave Man flint and iron to make fire, and in exchange, Man gave the Owl his feathers.

  • Africa, Central-The Owl is the familiar of wizards to the Bantu.

  • Africa, East-The Swahili believe the Owl brings illness to children.

  • Africa, South-Zulus recognise the Owl as the Sorcerers' Bird.

  • Africa, West-Messenger of Wizards and Witches, the Owl's cry presages evil.

  • Algeria-Place the right eye of an Eagle Owl in the hand of a sleeping woman and she will tell all.

  • Arabia-The Owl is a bird of ill omen; the embodiment of evil spirits that carries off children at night. According to an ancient Arabic treatise, from each female Owl supposedly came two eggs, one held the power to cause hair to fall out; the other, the power to restore it.(the early men's hair club)

  • Arctic Circle-A little girl having been turned into a bird with a long beak by magick, but was so frightened she flapped about madly and flew into a wall, flattening her face and beak, thus creating the owl.

  • Australia-Aborigines believe bats represent the soul of men and Owls the souls of women. Owls are therefore sacred, because your sister is an Owl-and the Owl is your sister.

  • Aztecs-One of their evil gods wore a Screech Owl on his head.

  • Babylon-Owl amulets protected women during childbirth.

  • Belgium-Legend has it that a priest offered the Owl his church tower to live i if the bird would get rid of the rats and mice that plagued his church.

  • Bordeaux-Throw salt in the fire to avoid the Owl's curse.

Friday, September 26, 2014

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY BISCOTTI!

   This recipe comes from www.confessionsoftart.blogspot.com .   Biscotti is one of my all time favorite things to make, especially during the holiday seasons.   It's easy to make and most people love it.




Pumpkin-Cranberry Biscotti

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Books are kind of like people, don't you think? You can tell right away if you're going to be friends with one or if you'll have a brief conversation and go your separate ways. So it was with this book - as soon as I picked it up,* I could tell that it was going to be one of my favorites. By the end, I felt like I had met Frank and Jerome and had sat with them in the kitchen of their New York cafe as they took out trays upon trays of  delicious tarts, biscotti and Madeleines. I've made many recipes from this book, always with great ease and great success, encouraged by the warm tone and the friendly, quick humor on every page.


Pumpkin Biscotti

The recipes in this book are thoughtful, inventive and yet inviting and unpretentious. In fact, you get the feeling that the authors put together a list of their very favorite things to make at home and opened it to the rest of us. These pumpkin biscotti are no exception - they are simply wonderful - wonderful! If you like pumpkin desserts (and oh, I do), you will LOVE these, I promise. Crunchy, spicy, packed with golden raisins, cranberries and toasted pecans, oh goodness, I can't even really express how happy these made me. And the generous proportions of this recipe ensure that your family and friends will be very happy as well, should you choose to share (which, by the way, you totally should - these biscotti will make you many, many new friends!). Happy fall, everyone!

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IMG_3697

*Disclaimer because some people might misunderstand: I bought this book at a bookstore, just like everyone else. I was not asked nor paid to do a review of this book, but I wanted to share it with you because it has become one of my favorite books to reach for lately.



Pumpkin Cranberry Biscotti Recipe
Note: I used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Note 2: This recipe requires a little more effort than the traditional biscotti, but I'm telling you, it's so totally worth it.
(Makes about 25 biscotti - I got a bit more)



Ingredients

4 1/2 cups flour (495g)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature (120g)
3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (230g)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, packed tightly (183g)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped (150g)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries (75g)
1/3 cup golden raisins (50g)
4 tbsp of turbinado sugar (my addition, optional)



Directions

Position one of your oven racks in the center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks. With the mixer still on high, beat in about half the sugar until the egg whites are glossy. Transfer them to another bowl.

In the same bowl of the stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and the remaining half of the sugar on high speed until the eggs are pale and frothy and the sugar dissolves. Stir in pumpkin puree and vanilla to blend.

Gently fold in the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Also gently, stir in the melted (and cooled) butter, nuts, cranberries and raisins.

Gradually stir in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dough comes together into a sticky ball. For into two logs (flour your hands because the dough will be sticky) about 3" x 10". If you wet your fingers a little, you'll be able to smooth out the surface of the dough should you so wish to. Sprinkle each log with about two tablespoons of turbinado sugar, if using.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch. Cool on wire racks for at least 30 minutes (this is important - if you don't cool the biscotti, they will crumble like crazy). Place the logs on a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch slices with a long and sharp serrated knife. Do not use a sawing motion, but make decisive downward strokes.

Line the slices on the baking sheet and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until they are crisp and golden brown throughout. Allow to cool completely before eating (this is kind of hard to do, with the amazing smell and all, but believe me, they do taste better that way).

SOME MOOORRRE FRIGHTFULL HALLOWEEN FACTS!! OOOOOHHHHHH!! THE HORROR!!

Halloween Ornaments, Costumes & Candy: An Infographic of Fun Facts

SINCE ITS ALMOST FALL, HERE'S A DIY ON MAKING SOME MUSICAL THEMES LEAVES!

   This diy comes from www.thevintagedresser.blogspot.com .   When ordinary leaves just won't do.





Musical Leaves Tutorial


When we were in one of our favorite shops in Snohomish a couple of weeks ago, Joyworks, I spotted some leaves they had hanging above their check-out area. They had been cut from music sheets from a song book. For some reason they struck me as a fun project to do, so here we go:

On a trip to town a few days ago, I cruised some streets, looking for trees with pretty leaves. I was in a residential area and felt a LITTLE conspicuous parking in the street, jumping out and ripping leaves off of trees, but sometimes one has to sacrifice dignity in the name of "art"! LOL!







Now, FYI, It would have been easier to use these leaves if I'd come right home and jumped on this project! But no---I waited a couple of days before I got to it, and the leaves were curling and getting kind of crispy! So, I smoothed them out the best I could and used a fine point marker to draw an outline around them. If you're really creative you could just draw your own leaves and leave out the hunt, but I enjoy looking at fall leaves, so it was kind of enjoyable cruising around checking them out.







This one was especially challenging!







This huge one is a Sycamore leaf. That's the kind of tree that has the big green prickly looking balls on it that fall all over the yard in the fall, along with the leaves!







So, I've now got a tracing of all the leaves I collected. I'm not much of a leaf expert, but I do know that I have a Sycamore and an Oak---not that it matters!





Now the fun begins---I cut around each of the tracings so I would have a nice flat pattern for tracing onto the music sheets. Then I did just that--traced around the leaves onto the music.






I used my flash in this picture because for some reason, even tho I have every light in the kitchen on, including the under counter lights, the pictures seemed a little dark.






I like the darker pictures better!






Next I got busy with my scissors and did some more paper cutting. Kind of takes you back to grade school, huh? Aren't they pretty?






But now what?! The ones we saw at the shop were attached to a gnarly tree branch, but, having just moved to a new house with absolutely no landscaping and nothing remotely resembling a tree, I have to come up with some other plan. I'll go on another scavenging trip soon and find a tree branch, but in the meantime--------
I decided they'd look pretty on my kitchen cabinets! Now I just need to do several dozen more!




Thursday, September 25, 2014

EISA FESTIVAL FROM OKINAWA, JAPAN!




The throbbing beat of traditional drums will be heard across Okinawa beginning tomorrow, a dance celebration of Obon that fills the air with excitement and happiness amidst prayers for good health and a good harvest.
Okinawa City is hosting what many bill as the largest Eisa festival on the island, the 53rd Island-wide Eisa Festival on a three-day run beginning tomorrow. The festival takes place at Koza Athletic Park and Track and Field Stadium, starting with a parade Friday at 7 p.m. The parade winds its way through Mutsumiga Oka Park, Koza Music Town and along Gate 2 Street.





    Eisa, in Okinawan ceremonial dance using drums, was originally performed to welcome and console the souls of one’s ancestors during the Summer ‘Bon’ season, but has evolved into community celebrations. Eisa festivals are a photographer’s dream, with the steady beat of various drums leading dances to multiple dynamic moves, while the colorful and exotic costumes get spectators caught up in the excitement.







    Okinawa City, which has generated countless famous Eisa teams over the years, has been hosting the Island-wide Eisa Festival since 1956, inviting Eisa groups from across the prefecture to participate. The festival comes the weekend after Obon holidays themselves.
    Festival admission is free, except for entrance to the main grandstand. S-seat reserved tickets are ¥2,000 in advance and ¥2,500 at the door. A-seat reserved tickets are ¥1,200 in advance, or ¥1,500 at the gate. B-seat tickets, which are actually standing room spaces in the grandstand, are ¥500 at the door. They are not reserved.






Saturday entertainment at Koza Athletic Park begins at 7:15 p.m. with Okinawa City’s Noborikawa area young people, followed by Yamasato, Kubota and Goeku area teams. A Kachashii dance at 8:45 p.m. brings everyone together for the evening finale. Ceremonial presentations Sunday begin at 3 p.m., followed by a children’s performance.
    Eisa dance continues non-stop from 3:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., with performances by Okinawa City, Yomitan, Uruma City, Kadena Town, Ryukyukoku, Itoman, and Chatan groups. A Kachashii dance takes the evening toward a grand ending, with fireworks at 8:50 p.m.








    The Island-wide Eisa Festival is the granddaddy of festivals, events and exhibitions slated for this weekend, with a dozen other opportunities for people to get out and have fun. Anyone not finding recreation this weekend can only be labeled a ‘homebody’.
Yoetsu-no Mori Park, Ishikawa, Uruma City is the venue Saturday for the free Ihijya Youth Eisa Festival, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Okinawa Peace Memorial Park festival runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City. Admission is free. Kadena Town is active Saturday, hosting the free Kadena Shin-machi Eisa Festival on Shimachi Street. Start time is 6 p.m. Uragahama Park in Heshiki Fishing Port is the setting Saturday for the Heshiki-ya Youth Eisa Festival. The free fun begins at 6 p.m.










    Two-day events start with Eisa Night at Koza Music Town in Okinawa City Saturday and Sunday. Events are free. Kunigami Village’s annual Kunigami Festival starts its weekend run Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Kunigami Middle School Grounds. At Camp Kinser, a free Flea Market takes place Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. The Kumoji Summer Festival kicks off Saturday at 5 p.m. at Palette Kumoji Square in Naha City. Admission is free both Saturday and Sunday.








    An International Cat Exhibition kicks off Saturday at Ryubo Department Store’s 6th Floor Exhibition Hall, running until the 25th. Tickets are ¥700 for adults, while junior high school students and younger are ¥500. Entry is free to kids under three. Ryubo Department Store is located in Palette Kumoji, Naha City.








    Bullfighting takes center stage Sunday at Ishikawa Dome in Uruma City. Tickets for the 1 p.m. fights are ¥3,000. Motobu Handicraft Market runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Sunday at the Motobu Market Square. Entry is free. Tomigusuku City stages its Town in the Air Sunday noon to 8 p.m. The fun occurs on the roof of the Tomiton Building in Toyozaki district.
   For those who can’t get enough excitement across Okinawa, there’s always the following weekend. The big event ahead is the Eisa/Orion Beer Festival August 22nd ~ 24th.