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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 08/15/13

Thursday, August 15, 2013

THE CORN PALACE FESTIVAL FROM MITCHELL, SOUTH DAKOTA!







   The Corn Palace serves as a multi-use center for the community and region. The facility hosts stage shows, as well as sports events in its arena. The World's Only Corn Palace is an outstanding structure which stands as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of South Dakota.
    The original Corn Palace, called "The Corn Belt Exposition" was established in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil. The third and present building was completed for it first festival at the present location in 1921.
   The exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created each year. The theme is selected by the Corn Palace Festival Committee and murals are designed by a local artist.











Corn Palace History

   The World's Only Corn Palace is Mitchell's premier tourist attraction. Some 500,000 tourists come from around the nation each year to see the uniquely designed corn murals. The city's first Corn Palace was build as a way to prove to the world that South Dakota had a healthy agricultural climate.
   Eight years before the turn of the 20th century -1892- when Mitchell, South Dakota was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants - the WORLD’S ONLY CORN PALACE was established on the city’s Main Street. During its over 100 years of existence, it has become known worldwide and now attracts more than a half a million visitors annually. The palace was conceived as a gathering place where city residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival with extraordinary stage entertainment – a celebration to climax a crop-growing season and harvest. This tradition continues today with the annual Corn Palace Festival, August 26th – August 30th, 2009.





The starting of one of the conr murals






   By 1905 the success of the Corn Palace had been assured and a new Palace was to be built, but this building soon became too small. In 1919, the decision to build a third Corn Palace was made. This one was to be permanent and more purposeful than its predecessors. The present building was completed in 1921, just in time for the Corn Palace Festivities. That winter Mitchell hosted its first boys state basketball tournament. The building was considered to have the finest basketball arena in the upper Midwest area.












   In the 1930’s, steps were taken to recapture the artistic decorative features of the building and minarets and kiosks of Moorish design were added restoring the appearance of early day Corn Palace.
   Today, the Corn Palace is more than the home of the festival or a point of interest of tourists. It is a practical structure adaptable to many purposes. Included among its many uses are industrial exhibits, dances,  stage shows, meetings, banquets, proms, graduations arena for Mitchell High School and Dakota Wesleyan University as well as district, regional and state basketball tournaments. USA Today named the Corn Palace one of the top 10 places in America for high school basketball.






Early picture of the inside





   The Palace is redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”. We currently use 13 different colors or shades of corn to decorate the Corn Palace: red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and now we have green corn! A different theme is chosen each year, and murals are designed to reflect that theme. Ear by ear the corn is nailed to the Corn Palace to create a scene. The decorating process usually starts in late May with the removal of the rye and dock. The corn murals are stripped at the end of August and the new ones are completed by the first of October.
   Cherie Ramsdell is the current panel designer. Our current theme is entitled "America's Destinations". The Corn Palace is known around the world as a folk-art wonder on the prairie of South Dakota.






Inside as it looks today






Corn Palace Murals and Panels

   This annual redecorating process began on Monday, June 8 as 16 decorators started removing the dock and rye and began replacing those items. The Corn Mural will remain intact until the annual Corn Palace Festival at which time the new mural drawings will be placed on the Corn Palace. The process should be completed about mid-October.












   "Through the Ages" has been selected as the theme for this year's decorating process by the Corn Palace Festival Committee. "As people travel across this country to see these murals on Mitchell's Corn Palace, the Festival Committee felt this theme depicting various modes of transportation would be interesting to all ages as we think about how travel has changed "Through the Ages", said Corn Palace Director Mark A. Schilling.












   One unique insignia is the Boy Scout 100-Year Anniversary Logo found in the picture of the canoe. The Boy Scouts will be celebrating 100 years in 2010 when the corn mural will appear on the Corn Palace.
   The Corn Palace Festival Committee has chosen the following objects to be shown on the panels depicting various modes of transportation such as an airplane, a segway, a sailboat, a bike, a motorcycle, a canoe with Boy Scout logo, a hot air balloon, a snowmobile, a stagecoach, a four-wheeler, a car, and a train.

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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is inside the Corn Palace?
   Inside the Corn Palace are pictures from almost all of the prior years the Corn Palace has been decorated. A new Corn Palace Video explains the story of the Corn Palace. So come and Experience It!




Mural in the works




2. How often do they change the pictures on the outside of the building?
   Each year we redecorate the Corn Palace selecting a new theme and new designs.
3. How much corn is used?
   Over 275,000 ears of corn are used in redecoating the Corn Palace









4. How do they color the corn?
   All the colors of corn are naturally grown with special seed raised just for the Corn Palace. Each color must be planted in separate fields to maintain its pure color.


5. How do they pick the theme each year?
   The Corn Palace Festival Committee selects the theme each year. If you have an idea, share it with them by e-mailing mschilling@cornpalace.com




BLACK CATS-MYTHS AND FACTS!!







    Black cats have been the subject of much fear and superstition for centuries.     Depending on the part of the world you lived in, and the time in history in which you lived, they could be associated with evil, demons, illness, prosperity, luck....even a storm at sea. Superstitions about these cats still remain, and unfortunately they sometimes become the objects of fear.
    The color black was ( and still is, to an extent) associated with mystery, darkness and evil. Cats that were totally or mainly black were therefore often associated with witches. As a result, many a poor woman was burnt at the stake or drowned in the local river in the Middle Ages in Britain, and her pet cat was often burned or drowned along with her.












    Some people believed these cats were demons, or a form of the devil, in disguise, so the woman who owned the cat must therefore be a witch. Others believed that the cats aided witches in performing black magic. Some thought they were actually witches in disguise, and even believed they could fly on a broom.
   In addition to the witch association, the black cat is the subject of many more curious beliefs, which are sometimes completely different depending which part of the world you're in.
   In ancient times, Druids believed these cats were humans, reincarnated as cats as a punishment for evil deeds they'd committed in a past life. In the Middle Ages, in Germany, it was believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person, then the person would die. In Finland, they were believed to carry the souls of the dead to the












afterlife. In 18th and 19th century England, fishermen's wives kept these cats because they believed this helped to keep their husbands safe at sea. If one ran in front of a sailor as he walk up a pier, this would bring him good luck. However, if it crossed his path, it meant bad luck. At this time, cats were carried on ships to keep rats and mice at bay. If a black cat was thrown, or accidentally fell overboard, this was believed to bring bad luck in the form of a terrible storm. Interestingly, in England, Scotland and Australia today, a black cat crossing your path is supposed to be lucky. But if you live in Ireland, most of the rest of Europe, India or America it's meant to be bad luck!

S'MORES MACARONS!!


S’mores Macarons



Smores macarons – these little buggers are my latest obsession, or more accurately, macarons in general are my latest obsession. I’m particularly loving these because, call me a sucker, but I love cute food. Along with that, these smores macarons are pretty mighty in flavor. The macaron portion is made with crushed graham crackers, the filling is of course a toasted marshmallow and to finish things off true to form, I dipped the tops in chocolate.







I’m not sure how many of you guys will be making this anytime soon, since you have probably been turning out one cookie tray after another and baking burnout maybe quickly approaching.





Guess what?

It happens to me as well, but I have a baking blog so I keep trucking along, because truth is, I like my relationship with you guys. Hanging out over food-uh, yeah. Why else are we here, right?
So, bookmark this recipe when you’re back to baking-it’s totally worth it.




SMORES MACARONS


YIELD: 35 macarons

Ingredients:

MACARON COOKIE

  • 135g egg whites
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 30g graham cracker crust
  • 215g powdered sugar
  • 115g almond meal

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING



  • 5 large egg whites
  • 11/2 cup sugar

CHOCOLATE GLAZE


  • 2/3 cups dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4-5 tablespoons water, warm


Directions:

PREPARATION

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line bake sheet with parchment.

TO MAKE MACARON COOKIE

  1. Trace out 1 inch circles on parchment and set this aside as a “master copy”. Reserve two extra sheets of parchment and set aside.
  2. Place egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and fit mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low speed until egg whites start to form loose translucent bubbles. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until meringue turns foamy and white and starts to resemble well lathered shampoo, about 2 minutes. Increase mixer to high and beat until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks, about another 2-3 minutes. Turn off mixer.
  3. Place  graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until finely crumbed. Add in remaining dry ingredients and process for two minutes and then push it through a fine mesh sieve to sift.
  4. Add dry ingredients to meringue. Using a sturdy spatula fold and smash dry mixture into meringue against the bowl for about 20-25 folds. Don’t worry about being gentle the idea is to knock the air out of it. The batter should hold its shape when spooned on itself and start to slowly flatten out after about 15-20 seconds. Start checking the batter after 20 folds for readiness.
  5. Place master copy of drawn circles on a bake sheet and then place a sheet of parchment on top. Fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe until batter reaches edge of circle. Remove master copy from underneath piped layer and place on second bake sheet and pipe remaining batter (remove master copy and save for future use).Take hold of each pan and give it quick hard tap against the counter, turn the pan 90 degrees and give it another quick hard tap. This will deflate any bubbles and prevent cracked shells.
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave shells to cool completely in pan. Shells will cleanly peel away from parchment when ready.

TO MAKE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and place it over—not on, (think bain marie style) simmering water. Heat mixture to 160 degrees F while whisking constantly.
  2. Transfer mixer bowl to stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed (speed 8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) until mixture cools, doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes.

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE GLAZE

Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring. Then slowly stir mixture to combine. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until dipping consistency is reached.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Dip the top of one cookie and pipe filling on the middle of another cookie. Place chocolate dipped shell on top of another marshmallow filled cookie to create a sandwich effect.
  2. Place fully assembled macaron on a fire proof surface and quickly torch edge of filling for a toasted marshmallow finish.
A few notes:
  • If you don't have a food processor to crumb whole graham crackers, buy graham crackers crumbs. The graham cracker needs to be finely crumbed.
  • Save yourself some money and just buy a Bernzomatic propane torch instead  of one of these kitchen torches you usually see in William Sonoma and Sur la Table. They can be twice the price and aren't nearly as strong.
  • If you are particular, these are best in the day the tops are dipped in chocolate, since they tend to lose some of their crispness from the chocolate. Since I'm not so particular, I found these equally as good the next day, even with the slight lost of the crispy top exterior.
  • Pay no attention, nor should you be intimidated by the recipe length. I tried to be as detailed as possible with time and visual readiness queues, as a result I added a few extra sentences to do so.
  • For notes on basic macaroning and ingredient notes click here (go to the "A few notes" section).