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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S

Friday, May 1, 2015

SAPPORO SNOW FESTIVAL FROM JAPAN!!!








   The Sapporo Snow Festival is a famous festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan, over 7 days in February.  Currently, Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival.  The 2011 Yuki-matsuri dates are February 7th to the 13th.
   The festival is one of Japan's largest and most distinctive winter events.  In 2007, about 2 million people visited Sapporo to see the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures at the Odori Park and Suskino sites, in central Sapporo, and the Satoland site.  The festival is thought to be an opportunity for promoting international relations. The International Snow Sculpture Contest has been held at the Odori Park sit since 1974, and teams from various regions of the world participate.












   The subject of the statues varies and often features as event, famous building or person from the previous yer.  For example, in 2004, there were statues of Hideki Matsui, the famous baseball player who at that time played for the New York Yankees.  A number of stages made out of snow are also constructed and made out of snow are also constructed and some events including musical performance are held.  At the Satoland site, visitors can enjoy long snow and ice slides as well as a huge maze made of snow.  Visitors can also enjoy a variety of regional foods from all over Hokkaido at the Odori Park and Satoland sites, such as fresh seafood, potatoes and corn, and fresh dairy products.











   Every year the number of statues displayed is around 400.  In 2007, there were 307 statues created in the Odori Park site, 32 in the Satoland site and 100 i the Susino site.  The best place to view the creations is from the TV tower at Odori Park.  Most of the statues are illuminated in the evening.  The Sapporo Snow Festival Museum is located in the Hitsujigaoka observation hill in Toyhira-ku, and displays historical materials and media of the festival.











History

   The Snow Festival began in 1950, when 6 local high school students built 6 snow statues in Odori Par.  In 1955, the Japan Self-Defense Forces form the nearby Makomani base joined in and built the first massive snow sculptures, for which the Snow Festival has now become famous for.  Several snow festivals existed in Sapporo prior to the Sapporo Snow Festival, however, all of these were suspended during World War II.
   During the Energy crisis of 1974, snow statues were built using drums.  This was due to the shortage of gasoline which  caused  many of the trucks that were used to carry snow to the site,  were unavailable, due to the shortage and rationiong of fuel.  In that same year, the International Snow Statue Competition started and since that year many snow statues built by teams from other countries have been  featured; especially from some of the sister cities of Sapporo,  such as Munich Germany.












   In years when the accumulated snowfall is low, the Self-Defense Force, for whom participation is considered a training exercise, brings in snow from outside Sapporo.  The Makomanai base, one of three main sites from 1965, hosted the largest sculptures, with a emphasis on providing play space fro children.  Use of the Makomanai site was suspended in 2005 and moved to the Sapporo Satoland site located in Higashi-ku in 2006.  In 2009, the Satoland site was moved to the Tsudome (Sapporo Community Dome) site.  The Tsudome, located close to the Sapporo Satoland, is a dome for multiple sport events.
    Nakajima Park was established as one of the festival sites in 1990 however, it was removed as a site in 1992.  The thrid site, known as the Suskino Ice Festival, is situated in the night life district of Susukino and includes predominantly ice carvings.  The site was approved as one of the festival sites in 1983.  Every year, the IcSuskino Queen of Ice, a beauty contest, is held at this site.

TOP 10 BEST CHRISTMAS DUETS!!

 This is a nice light list of songs to increase your Christmas spirit on this wonderful holiday. It includes some songs that commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, and some that are more modern in concept – but regardless of the type, they are all great songs and perfect for the first prize of our competition. Merry Christmas!



10. Josh Groban and Brian McKnight/Angels We Have Heard on High













   This is quite a great Christmas carol that is sung beautifully by Josh Groban and Brian McKnight. “The words of the song are based on a traditional French carol known as Les Anges dans nos Campagnes (literally, The Angels in our Countryside). Its most common English version was translated in 1862 by James Chadwick.



9. Billy Porter and Vanessa Williams/Joy To The World











   “Joy to the World” is one of the best-known and best-loved of Christmas carols. It contains a message of joy and love replacing sin and sorrow. It may also be interpreted to be about life after the second coming of Christ. The hymn is significant for its widespread use throughout Christian denominations and for the musical stature of the people who created it.
   This is a great Christmas carol everyone can sing along to, and the duet by Billy Porter and Vanessa Williams is amazing.



8. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl/ Fairytale of New York











   This is a popular and lovely Christmas song by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl that was released in 1987.



7. Olivia Newton-John and Jon Secada/ Every Time It Snows










   Olivia Newton-John and Jon Secada duet to a beautiful and gorgeous song with lovely lyrics.



6. Christina Aguilera and Brian McKnight/ Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas









   “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a Christmas song written for the MGM Musical, Meet Me In St. Louis. This nice duet by Christina Aguilera and Brain McKnight is quite fabulous.




5. Alan Jackson and Alison Krauss /The Angels Cried









 This is a wonderful and touching duet that is simply magnificent.



4. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan/ Baby It’s Cold Outside










   I think “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a fantastic duet that can be sung by any male and female singer. It’s such a fun and awesome song and the duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan is great.



3. David Bowie and Bing Crosby /Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth









   “The Little Drummer Boy” is a popular Christmas song, with words and music by Katherine K. Davis. One of the most popular versions of this song is the “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” duet by the unusual paring of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. The duet was recorded in 1977 for a Bing Crosby Christmas special, and reappears annually in holiday music rotations.



2. Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion/ The Prayer














   The Prayer is an amazing duet by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. They are both fantastic singers and the song is so beautiful.



1. Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra /White Christmas











   This is a classic and terrific duet by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.




CALLE OCHO FESTIVAL FROM MIAMI, FLORIDA!!!






    The Calle Ocho Festival or "El Festival de la Calle Ocho", is a one day "rumba"-fiesta-that culminates the Miami Carnival. This festival takes place in March each year between 27th avenue and 4th avenue, along Southwest 8th street, that is 23 blocks along "Calle Ocho" in "Little Havana" with activities for everybody.
     Even thought this festival is not counted amongst the official Hispanic holidays, more than 1 million people attend this block party to participate, and to see top Hispanic artists perform at every street intersection at the designated stages.









    You can hear salsa, reggeaton, merengue, bachata, balada, hip hop and more. Personalities like El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Cellia Cruz, Oscar D'Leon, El Grupo Niche and many more have performed at the festival
    "El Festival de la Calle Ocho", is one incredible party that in 1998 was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest conga line in the world with 119,000 people participating in it.
Music is not the only attraction going on at this Hispanic festival, the super famous block party has a kid's area with clowns, magicians, food galore, and products geared to moms and children.











    Another area of the festival is the "party zone", which is filled with a "carnaval" atmosphere, with street dancers and musicians that interact with the public. It is a novelty for non-Hispanic people to see the salseros or salsa dancer on the street. They come from the major salsa schools. But you will also see many people dancing to the same rhythms.













Foods at "Festival de la Calle Ocho"

    One of the best attractions of the festival is the food, it has many typical Latin flavors, especially of Cuban origin. It included hundreds of kiosks or booths that offer international food along with a sampling of free products....all at the rhythm of lively Hispanic music.
    You can find ropa vieja con plantos (shredded skirt steak with plantains), carbrito (baby goat), other barbecued meats, arepas (which come form Colombia, Venezuela, etc.), and the delicious ceviche (seafood).
    The most popular drink is Cuba Libre. To make it...use rum and coke served with a wedge of lime. You can also find fresh fruit juices at restaurants and Mojito Cubano, a drink that is made with white rum, lemon, and mint.







Some History of the Festival

    In 1978, Cubans invited the neighborhood to know more about Cuban culture and Calle Ocho Festival was born.
    This festival happens in the heart of "Little Havana", a wonderful neighborhood where the festive air invades it all at any time of the day. In the morning you can smell the scent of coffee recently brewed and enjoy a "cafe' con leche", along with freshly bakes pastries. At lunchtime beans, rice, Cuban sandwiches, etc. are amongst the favorite and popular foods you can find.
    The "Little Havana" enclave started because in the 1960's, Cuban refugees began settling around Miami's "Calle Ocho" and another major influx of Cubans occurred during the Mariel boat lift of 1980, that ended up increasing the Cuban population in and around the Miami area.









    The stores along Calle Ocho sell typical Cuban and more recently South and Central American products, (especially Nicaraguan) as new immigrants make their way into the neighborhood.
    The Calle Ocho Festival is the perfect party for travelers to enjoy all of the different flavors of Cuba and other Latin American Countries. This part of Miami is ripe with the music, art and flavors or many different Hispanic cultures, all living in one place. Attending the Calle Ocho Festival will make you feel like your in another country without leaving the United States.

Friday, April 24, 2015

BLACKBERRY SWIRL POUND CAKE!

   This recipe was found at www.marthastewart.com .  Good luck!









Enjoy this cake on its own or with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
                         
  • Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Total Time 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield Serves 9

 

Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  3. Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.


Cook's Note

Change it up: Swap 6 ounces raspberries or blueberries for the blackberries.

THE IDITAROD, THE LAST GREAT RACE ON EARTH, PART 2!!!!







History of the Iditarod

    The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first ran to Nome in 1973, after two short races on part of the Iditarod Trail in 1967 and 1969. The idea of having a race over the Iditarod Trail was conceived by the late Dorothy Page. In 1964, Page was chairwoman of the Wasilla-Knik Centennial and was working on projects to celebrate Alaska's Centennial Year n 1967.
    She was intrigued that dog teams could travel over land that was not accessible by autos. In the early 1920's, settlers had come to Alaska following a gold strike. They traveled by boat to the coastal towns of Seward and Knik and from there, by land into the gold fields. The trail they used is today known as The Iditarod Trail, one of the National Historic Trails as so designated b the U.S. Congress. In the winter, their only means of travel was by dog team.










    The Iditarod Trail soon became the major thoroughfare through Alaska. Mail was carried across this trail, people used the trail to get from place to place and supplies were transported via the Iditarod Trail. Priests, minister, and judges traveled between villages via dog teams.
    All too soon the gold mining began to slack off. People began to go back to where they had come from and suddenly there was less travel on the Iditarod Trail. The use of the airplane in the late 1920's signaled the beginning of the end of the dog team as a standard mode of transportation, and of course with the airplane carrying the mail, there was less need for land travel. The final blow to the use of the dog teams came with the appearance of snowmobiles in Alaska.












    By the mid 60's, most people in Alaska didn't even know there was an Iditarod Trail or that dog teams had played a very important part in Alaska's early settlement. Dorothy Page, a resident of Wasilla and self made historian, recognized the importance of an awareness of the use of sled dogs as working animals and of the Iditarod Trail and the important part it played in Alaska's history.
    She presented the possibility of a race over the Iditarod Trail to Joe Redington, Sr., a musher from the Knik area. Soon the Pages and the Redingtons began promoting the idea of the Iditarod Race to the extent that Joe and Vi Redington moved to the Knik area from their homestead at Flat Horn Lake and they have never moved back.










    The Aurora Dog Musher Club, along with men from the Adult Camp in Sutton helped clear years of over growth from the first 9 miles of the Iditarod Trail in time to put on the first short Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1967. A $25,000 purse was offered in that race with Joe and Vi Redington donating one acre of their land at Flat Horn Lake adjacent to the Iditarod Trail to help raise the funds. ( the land was subdivided into one square foot lots and sold with a deed and special certificate of ownership, raising $10,000 toward the purse) Contestants from all over Alaska and even two contestants form Massachusetts entered that first Iditarod Race, but a newcomer, Issac Okleasik, from Teller, Alaska, won the race with his team of large working dogs. The short race of approximately 27 miles, was put on again in 1969.






Joe Redington Sr.








    The goal was to have the race go all the way to the ghost town of Iditarod in 1973. However in 1972, the U.S. Army reopened the trail as a winter exercise and in 1973, the decision was made to take the race the 1,000 plus miles to Nome. Redington and Page were instrumental in getting the first long Iditarod on its way to Nome in 1973, amidst comments that it couldn't be done. There were many who believed it was crazy to send a bunch of mushers out into the vast uninhabited Alaskan wilderness. But the race went on. 22 mushers finished that year and to date, there have been over 400 finishers. Mushers have come from Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Italy,Japan, Austria, Australia, Sweden and the Soviet Union as well as from about 20 different states in the United States.












    The late Dorothy Page, the "mother of the Iditarod" is quoted in the October 1979 issue of the Iditarod Runner on her intent for the Iditarod: "To keep the spirit of the Iditarod the same. I don't even want to see high pressure people getting in and changing the spirit of the race. We brought the sled dog back and increased the number of mushers. It is really an Alaskan event. I think the fact that it starts in Anchorage and then ends in Nome has opened up a whole new area for people in Alaska. I think they appreciate that it puts them in touch with the pioneer spirit".











Iditarod Today

    The race has started in downtown Anchorage since 1983. The teams leave the start line at the corner of 4th and D, at two minute intervals. Starting at 10 a.m. There are usually over 65 teams starting and some years even more.
    The mushers follow a multi use trail through Anchorage and out to Tudor Road. A telephone auction is held each year whereby fans can be a rider in a musher's sled from the start line for the first 8-9 miles. This auction opens on October 1st and closes at 5 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on January 31st. The money raised is used to offset expenses of the race and to provide each musher who finishes the race after the top 20 (who received cash prize winnings), with $1,049. This helps the mushers get their teams home. The mush along the Glenn Highway into the VFW Post 9785 in Eagle River. From there the dogs are loaded into dog trucks and taken home for the night. This is a ceremonial start and does not count in the overall time to Nome.












    On Sunday, March 8th, mushers will again line up at the old Wasilla Airport in Wasilla about 40 miles north of Anchorage. At 10 a.m. the first teams will depart on their way to Nome.
    From Wasilla, they travel to Knik Lake, the last checkpoint on the road system. Spectatros may drive the 17 miles from Anchorage to Eagle River and the approximately 30 miles from Eagle River to Wasilla. It's about 13 miles from Wasilla ti Knik. Once the mushers leave the Knik checkpoint, they are off the road system for the duration of the race.











      It is impossible to predict the exact day or time that the first musher will cross the finish line in Nome. However, it is expected to be between 9 and 12 days, making it on the second Tuesday or Wednesday. Doug Swingley, the 1995 Champion, completed the course in 9 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 19 seconds to become the first usher from outside Alaska to ever win the Iditarod.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

HERE'S SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT WHEN MAKING!! HOW ABOUT SOME ROADHOUSE CINNAMON ROLLS???



Harry's Roadhouse Cinnamon Rolls





Recipe from: Harry's Roadhouse Cookbook
by Harry Shapiro and Peyton Young
This is the recipe that makes me feel like a magician. It is not that difficult, but it takes planning: you need to make the dough a day ahead. But when these beauties come out of the oven, all worth it. We serve cinnamon rolls on Saturday and Sunday mornings only. It’s one of the rituals I love about the restaurant. Because they take a while to rise, the rolls usually don’t come out of the oven until close to 8:00 a.m. The counter at Harry’s is usually packed by this time, and all the customers "ooh" and "aah." That makes it worth getting out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on a weekend morning!

This recipe makes 6 large cinnamon rolls and can easily be doubled. 

PREP TLME: 10 minutes to make dough 

10 minutes to assemble rolls 

TURNOUT TIME: 8 hours plus 1 1/2 hours
FEEDS: 6 
  • DOUGH

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  • FILLING

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans













  1. In a large bowl, mix yeast in water. The water should be lukewarm (about 100 degrees F), not hot, or it could kill the yeast. Mix in 1/2 tablespoon sugar and set bowl in a warm place. If your yeast is good, the mixture will foam up in a few minutes. If not, get some fresh yeast and start over.
  2. To make the Dough: Put flour, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn on low until ingredients are just combined. Cut butter into little pieces and add to dry ingredients. Turn the mixer motor on low and let butter incorporate until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolks, then the risen yeast mixture, and finally the milk. These additions should happen quickly so the dough does not become too wet for the milk to be incorporated well. Put dough in a large plastic container with room to grow, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight
  3. To assemble rolls: On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle about 20- by 30-inches (if dough is too sticky, knead in a little additional flour into it before rolling). Brush with a thin layer of melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans. Roll up the dough starting on the short side to create a log. With your hands, shape the log into an evenly thick roll and cut into 6 equal pieces. Grease the muffin tin cups and place each slice into a cup. Put in a warm place to rise. This usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how warm the spot is. The dough will be soft and a little spongy when ready to bake.
  4. Cover the rolls with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more, until the rolls are golden brown au over. Flip the tin upside down and the cinnamon rolls will come right out. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then invert the rolls and serve warm with butter. Ahhhh!