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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 05/21/12

Monday, May 21, 2012

VANILLA BEAN BUNDT CAKE WITH VANILLA GLAZE AND STRAWBERRIES!

   Using a vanilla bean infuses the cake with a round, sweet flavor


Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Vanilla  Glaze and Strawberries



Ingredients

cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

glaze

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons (or more) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

strawberries

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

special equipment

  • Standard Bundt pan (10-inch-diameter Bundt pan with 33/4-inch-high sides)

Preparation

cake

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour standard Bundt pan, then spray pan with nonstick spray. Pour bourbon into small bowl. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into bourbon; stir to blend well (reserve scraped vanilla bean for another use).
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg yolk 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in bourbon-vanilla mixture. Add flour mixture in 2 additions alternately with buttermilk in 1 addition, beating just until blended after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top evenly (batter will come only halfway up sides of pan).
  • Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

glaze

  • Whisk powdered sugar, 4 teaspoons milk, and vanilla in small bowl to blend, adding more milk by 1/4 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle.
  • Place sheet of foil on work surface. Place cake (still on rack) atop foil. Using spoon, drizzle glaze over cake in zigzag pattern. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze sets, about 15 minutes. DO AHEAD Cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.

strawberries

  • Toss strawberries and sugar in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature until juices form, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  • Cut cake into wedges and divide among plates. Spoon strawberries with juices alongside and serve.




HALLOWEEN COSTUMES THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, A LITTLE HISTORY ON EARLY COSTUMES!

Masked Halloween Mystery



    Decked out for Halloween, a masked woman on roller skates—most likely a random addition to her costume—poses in 1910.



    Masquerade parties in the United States were much more common a hundred years ago, when people dressed up not just for Halloween but also for several other holidays, including Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve, according to Lesley Bannatyne, author of the forthcoming book Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night.
    Private social clubs often threw Halloween parties for their members, as it was the first major holiday after most people had returned from their summer homes.
That said, it's "not like Halloween [in the early 1900s] was an East Coast phenomenon or a high-society phenomenon"—people of all classes donned costumes across the country, even in small Western mining towns, she said.
    The "early 20th century also was the beginning of a real democratic movement, a push toward a popular culture," Bannatyne said, so Halloween was "very egalitarian—everyone celebrated it in their own way."





Schoolhouse Ghost



    A person in a ghost costume stands with a table full of Halloween decorations in a rural U.S. schoolhouse in 1905.



    Nature often inspired Halloween costumes and decorations a century ago, with cornstalks (as seen above), vegetables, tree branches, and leaves showing up as common elements, according to Bannatyne.
    Halloween was originally perceived as a "rustic, country holiday," especially during the U.S. Victorian period, about 1840 to 1900, she noted. (Also see "Candy Facts: Halloween Treats From Ancient Recipes.")
    "Overwhelmed by the fallout of industrialization, [Victorians and early Halloween revelers] sought out a simpler time where people were more connected to the land and the natural world.
    "The quaint, old-world, country nature of Halloween appealed to them."




Halloween Child's Play



    Part of an old U.S. Halloween tradition, blindfolded children attempt to put out a candle in a photograph dated to the 1900s. The game, probably called "blow out the candle," is often mentioned in early Halloween party books.



    Halloween in the U.S. was mainly a celebration for children until the premiere of the 1978 slasher flick Halloween, when the holiday "became paired with contemporary horror," she added.
    This new association with bloody violence—and the attendant gory costumes and decorations—"opened up the holiday for adults and older children to celebrate, and made it more popular."



Magic Moment



    Possibly conjuring a witch, sorcerer, or clown, one woman's 1910 Halloween costume (pictured) has several possible meanings, according to Bannatyne.



    The star and moon icons, for instance, may reflect a fascination with mysticism and magic, which have been connected to the "spooky aura" of Halloween for centuries, Bannatyne said.
    "Many of the first Halloween costumes reflected people's interest in the exotic, such as other cultures," she said. "You often find Egyptian-inspired costumes, for example, because of the mystic association with ancient Egypt."
    Likewise, she added, this costume's celestial symbols could represent night—"the domain of Halloween."


Bewitched on Halloween



    Women wearing improvised witch costumes line up for a photograph in the U.S. in 1910.



    "Witches and Halloween have been tied together in the public's imagination since at least 16th-century Scotland," Bannatyne said. At that time, "you begin to find poems such as Alexander Montgomerie's 'The Flighting of Polwart,' where witches ride through the night on All Hallow's Eve."
    "Also, costumes were always homemade at first," she noted. "People only began to buy manufactured costumes in the second and third decades of the 20th century, when a few savvy companies—Dennison and Beistle were the first—became aware that money could be made from Halloween decorations."


Halloween Dance



    Costumed girls—including one swathed in swastikas—smile for the camera on October 25, 1918, on the way to a Halloween dance pageant. The swastika had different meanings before the rise of the Nazi party in the mid-20th century—for one, it's an ancient symbol for life in some Indian religions, according to Columbia University.



    "Most [U.S.] civic and private organizations in the first half of the 20th century"—such as dancing schools, churches, women's groups, and military groups—"all hosted Halloween parties for children," Bannatyne said.
    "It was partly an attempt to keep children busy on Halloween, so as to cut down on some of the mischief that happened at night."


Bobbing for Apples



           A U.S. girl bobs for Halloween apples sometime in the early 1900s.



    Due to Halloween's rural origins—its precursor, Samhain, was marked 2,000 years ago in Celtic Europe—the harvest-time holiday has often been associated with apples, nuts, and cabbages, Bannatyne said.
    Today Halloween is a "rogue holiday," not attached to any person, ethnicity, or event, according to Bannatyne. Because of that, it's often a "cultural bellwether" for what happens in U.S. society.
    For instance, on Halloween 2001, right after the September 11 terrorist attacks, more families than usual went trick-or-treating—for example as firemen—to show their "lack of intimidation," she said.

LAG BAOMER!!




    Lag BaOmer (Hebrew: ל"ג בעומר‎), also known as Lag LaOmer amongst Sephardi Jews, is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the thirty-third day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of Iyar.
    Lag BaOmer is Hebrew for "33rd [day] in the Omer". The Hebrew letter ל (lamed) or "L" represents "30" and ג (gimmel) or "G" represents "3". A vowel sound is conventionally added for pronunciation purposes.
    Some Jews call this holiday Lag LaOmer, which means "33rd [day] of the Omer", as opposed to Lag BaOmer, "33rd [day] in the Omer." Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson writes in his Likkutei Sichos that the reason why the day should be called Lag BaOmer and not Lag LaOmer is because the Hebrew words Lag BaOmer (ל"ג בעמר), spelled without the "vav", have the same gematria as Moshe (משה), and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was mystically a spark of the soul of Moses.





   The biblical mandate to count the Omer appears in Leviticus 23:15-16, which states that it is a mitzvah to count seven complete weeks from the day after Passover night ending with the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day. The 49 days of the Omer correspond both to the time between physical emancipation from Egypt and the spiritual liberation of the giving of the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai on Shavuot, as well as the time between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest in ancient Israel.
    During the time of Rabbi Akiva, 24,000 of his students died from a divine-sent plague during the counting of the Omer. that this was because they did not show proper respect to one another, befitting their level; they begrudged each other the spiritual levels attained by their comrades. Jews celebrate Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the count, as the traditional day that this plague ended.





    After the death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students, he taught just five students, among them Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The latter went on to become the greatest teacher of Torah in his generation.According to tradition, on the day of bar Yochai's death, he revealed the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. Indeed this day is seen as a celebration of the giving of the hidden, mystical Torah through Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as a parallel to Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the revealed Torah through Moses.
    During the Middle Ages, Lag BaOmer became a special holiday for rabbinical students and was called the "scholar's festival." It was customary to rejoice on this day through various kinds of merrymaking.


The grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai


Customs and Practices


The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron on Lag BaOmer

    As restrictions of mourning are lifted on this 33rd day of the Omer, weddings, parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly scheduled to coincide with this day. Families go on picnics and outings. Children go out to the fields with their teachers with bows and (rubber-tipped) arrows. Tachanun, the prayer for special Divine mercy on one's behalf is not said, because when God is showing one a "smiling face," so to speak, as He does especially on the holidays, there is no need to ask for special mercy.
In Meron, the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, hundreds of thousands of Jews gather to celebrate with bonfires, torches, song and feasting. This was a specific request by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of his students.





    In Israel, Lag BaOmer is a school holiday. Youngsters and their parents light bonfires in open spaces in cities and towns throughout the country. Students' Day is celebrated on the campuses of the various universities. Lag BaOmer is also a favorite day for weddings.
    Israeli boys collect wood for a Lag BaOmer bonfire.In Israel, one knows that Lag BaOmer is drawing near when children begin collecting wood boards, old doors, and anything made from wood that can burn. This happens from 1 to 2 weeks before Lag BaOmer; the bonfires are erected by the children the day before Lag BaOmer and the adults light them at night.






Bonfires

    The most well-known custom of Lag BaOmer is the lighting of bonfires. Some say that as bar Yochai gave spiritual light to the world with the revelation of the Zohar, bonfires are lit to symbolize the impact of his teachings. As his passing left such a "light" behind, many candles and/or bonfires are lit.
    The Bnei Yissaschar cites another reason for the lighting of bonfires. On the day of his death Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, "Now it is my desire to reveal secrets...The day will not go to its place like any other, for this entire day stands within my domain..." Daylight was miraculously extended until Rabbi Shimon had completed his final teaching and died. This symbolized that all light is subservient to spiritual light, and particularly to the primeval light contained within the mystical teachings of the Torah. As such, the custom of lighting fires symbolizes this revelation of powerful light.





    At the tomb of Rabbi Shimon, the honor of lighting the main bonfire traditionally goes to the Rebbes of the Boyaner dynasty. This fire is lit on the roof of the tomb at 2:00 a.m.

Parades

    A Lag BaOmer parade in front of Chabad headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, in 1987.The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, encouraged Lag BaOmer parades to be held in Jewish communities around the world as a demonstration of Jewish unity & pride. Chabad sponsors parades as well as rallies, bonfires and barbecues for thousands of participants around the world.






Chai Rotel

    Another custom is the giving of chai rotel (Hebrew: ח"י רוטל‎) at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The Hebrew letters chet and yod are the gematria (numerical equivalent) of 18. Rotel is a liquid measure of about 3 liters. Thus, 18 rotels equals 54 liters or about 13 gallons. It is popularly believed that if one donates or offers 18 rotels of liquid refreshment (grape juice, wine, soda or even water) to those attending the celebrations at Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's tomb on Lag BaOmer, then the giver will be granted miraculous salvation.





    According to Taamei Minhagim, many childless couples found success with this segulah (propitious practice). This practice was also endorsed by Rabbi Ovadia miBartenura. Several local organizations solicit donations of chai rotel and hand out the drinks on the donor's behalf in Meron on Lag BaOmer. Nine months after Lag BaOmer, the Ohel Rashbi organization even invites couples who prayed at the tomb and had a child to come back to Meron to celebrate the births.





First Haircut for Children

    It is a custom at the Meron celebrations, dating from the time of Rabbi Isaac Luria, that three-year-old boys are given their first haircuts (upsherin), while their parents distribute wine and sweets. Similar upsherin celebrations are simultaneously held in Jerusalem at the grave of Shimon Hatzaddik for Jerusalemites who cannot travel to Meron.

BLUEBERRY HILL CUPCAKES!

   Freezing the berries before adding them to the batter prevents them from sinking to the bottom and from discoloring the cupcakes.



Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 3 1/4 cupsall purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cupssugar
  • 1tablespoonbaking powder
  • 1/2teaspooncoarse kosher salt
  • 1/4teaspoonbaking soda
  • 6tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4cupcanola oil
  • 2large eggs
  • 1cupbuttermilk or low-fat yogurt
  • 1cupwhole milk
  • 1teaspoonvanilla extract
  • 1teaspoongrated lemon peel
  • 1 1/4cupsfresh blueberries, frozen for 4 hours

Frosting

  • 2 1/4cupspowdered sugar
  • 10tablespoons(1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2cupplus 2 tablespoons maple sugar
  • 1/2teaspooncoarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/4teaspoonsvanilla extract
  • 4teaspoons(or more) whole milk
  • 1cupchilled fresh blueberries
  • Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Sift flour and next 4 ingredients into large bowl. Whisk melted butter and oil in medium bowl. Add eggs; whisk to blend. Whisk in buttermilk, milk, vanilla extract, and peel. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Stir in frozen blueberries. Divide batter among liners.
  • Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.

For frosting:

  • Combine first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Add 4 teaspoons milk. Using electric mixer, beat until well blended and fluffy, adding more milk by teaspoonfuls if dry (small granules of maple sugar will still remain), about 4 minutes. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes.
  • Garnish cupcakes with chilled berries, and mint sprigs, if desired. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)


CANADIAN TULIP FESTIVAL!




    The Canadian Tulip Festival, now in its 59th year, has grown to become the largest Tulip Festival in the world. It preserves the local heritage of Canada’s role in freeing the Dutch during World War II, and the symbolic tulip; a gift in perpetuity to the Canadian people for providing a safe harbour to the Dutch Royal Family at that time.
The festival’s mandate is to preserve this heritage and celebrate the tulip as a symbol of international friendship by engaging local organizers, volunteers, artists, performers, tourists and festival-goers in what has become an annual ritual of spring and one of Canada’s best loved and well-known cultural events.



Princess Juliana of the Netherlands


    In the fall of 1945, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs. The gift was given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during the World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.
    The tulips have become an important symbol of international friendship and spring, with special meaning to the people of Canada and its Capital Region.


Princesses Margriet, Irene, Beatrix



   In early June 1940, Princess Juliana and her two small daughters secretly boarded a Dutch vessel bound for Halifax. After a long sea voyage, they moved into Ottawa’s Government House. Safe in the Ottawa region, Princess Juliana was able to take over the reins of government-in-exile if the need arose.






The History of the Canadian Tulip Festival
    The birth of Princess Margriet Francisca, the third daughter of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, was a symbol of hope and a source of inspiration for the Dutch who were fighting for their survival in Europe. The only royal baby ever born in North America, her birth created a living bond between the people of Canada and the Netherlands. To ensure the baby’s Dutch citizenship, the Canadian government temporarily ceded a room at the Ottawa Civic Hospital to the Netherlands. On January 19, 1943, the flag of the Netherlands flew on Parliament’s Peace Tower and Princess Margriet was born a Dutch citizen on Dutch soil in the safe haven of Canada. Once the war had ended, the people of the Netherlands and Princess Juliana sent the Canadian people many magnificent gifts, including 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada’s Capital in gratitude for the involvement of Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands. In 1946, Princess Juliana herself gave an additional 20,000 bulbs to the country that had given her refuge. A few years after the Dutch tulips arrived in 1945, they became a strong attraction in Canada’s Capital, and stunning pictures appeared in newspapers nationwide resulting in more and more events around the annual bloom of tulips.



Malak Karsh, found of the festival


The Birth of a Festival
    The first Canadian Tulip Festival was held in 1953 lead by the Ottawa Board of Trade, at the suggestion of world-renowned photographer Malak Karsh. Karsh is considered the founder of the Festival and his photographs have immortalized the tulip. Through his efforts, the Canadian Tulip Festival was formalized to coincide with the tulip’s annual bloom. In 2002, the Festival celebrated its 50th Anniversary dedicated to its founder, having expanded to an event of 18 days, showcasing over 3 million tulips throughout Canada’s Capital Region.




Tiptoe through the tulips with your clogs


    Over the years the Festival has been opened by Governor Generals, Prime Ministers and Royalty, including several return visits from Queen Juliana and Princess Margriet. Through the 1990s and into the new millennium, the Canadian Tulip Festival celebrated the Tulip as a symbol of Peace and Friendship creating an international bond by collaborating with Friendship countries, which include the Netherlands, Turkey, France, Japan, the United States, Great Britain and Australia.





The Festival Today
    To celebrate its roots of International Friendship, the Canadian Tulip Festival created the International Pavilion in Major’s Hill Park and became the “festival without fences” with all park events offering free admission. The International Pavilion provides a venue for over 20 partnering embassies and local cultural groups to showcase their wares and origins to tourists and festival-goers alike.
    Each spring hundreds of thousands of people from all over North America, Europe and Asia make over a million visits to the Canadian Tulip Festival. The event, which grew from the Dutch gift of friendship, has become the world’s largest Tulip Festival. The tulip has also become Ottawa’s official flower, making Ottawa the tulip capital of the North America.

AMERICA'S MOST HAUNTED CEMETERIES!!!

    Everyone gets the chills when they walk through a cemetery, especially at night but mostly it is all in our heads. How could walking through hundreds of deceased people that are buried six feet under, get you thinking that there's ghost in that thar graveyard? Come and take a walk through some of America's most haunted cemeteries and read about the ghosts that choose to hand around them.


Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

One of the Bachelor's Grove ghosts

    This secluded cemetery located in Chicago is said to be the most haunted graveyard in America. Bachelor's Grove has had numerous paranormal investigators that have investigated this cemetery and it has been reported that it has had over 160 cases of documented paranormal occurrences, which include everything from floating "orbs" to light and full body apparitions.

Lafayette Cemetery

Collage of graves at Lafayette Cemetery


    Located in New Orleans, La. Is said to be one of the most haunted. Hundreds of sightings are reported in this historic cemetery. Witnesses have experienced a woman dressed in white who flags down taxi cabs and always disappears before the ride is over. Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau is said to haunt the cemetery and the surrounding area. Her powers are known to be so strong when she was alive, and now that death has taken her, she holds even greater sway over her devoted, who decorate her grave with symbols, candles and flowers, in the hope she'll bless them.

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery

Grave markers at Camp Chase


    Camp Chase is a Confederate cemetery located in Ohio nestled in a Columbus Hilltop neighborhood. This cemetery marks the place where a POW camp stood over 140 years ago. It is said here a woman roams the cemetery in search of her soldier, lost in a POW camp during the American Civil War. On a grave of a confederate soldier, flowers will appear on it for no explainable reason.


Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Forever grave sites


    Hollywood Forever Cemetery located in Hollywood, Ca. was founded in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. The original site occupied 100 area but 40 acres were sold off to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920. The Hollywood Memorial Park cemetery is the final resting place for such starts as, Fatty Arbuckle, Valentino, Victor Fleming and Clifton Webb, whose ghost is said to haunt the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum where it is reported that guests hear voices, whispering, see strange lights, feel cold drafts and smell cologne.




El Campo Santo Cemetery

El Campo early grave sites

El Campo grave

    This cemetery located in San Diego, Ca. This cemetery is believed to be actively haunted with such sightings as what looks like a Hispanic or a Native American walking through out the grounds and a woman in a white Victorian dress will appear and disappear into the south wall of the cemetery.