Friday, May 17, 2013


   Children's Day Festival (English: International April 23rd, Children's Day Festival; Turkish" Uluslarasi 23 Nisan Cocuk Senligi) is a festival which is celebrated on April 23rd each year in Turkey.  This festival is gathering the children from a ll over the world under the motto of "Love, Friendship and Peace".  The festival is organized by Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.


   The April 23rd Children's Festival , a children's festival which was gifted to Turkish children by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, to mark the opening of the Assembly.  The festival has been celebrated internationally since 1979.  The Children's Festival was first celebrated in Turkey on April 23rd, 1920, when the Turkish Grand National Assembly was opened.  The festival intend to contribute creation of a world where children can live peacefully by developing sentiments of fraternity, love and friendship.

   The greatest aspiration of Ataturk, who saved his country from occupations and introduced reforms in all fields hence changing the viewpoint of the nations it was modernization, in other words, an industrialized country that the industry of the Republic which it was founded on was out of date and poorly equipped, Ataturk endeavored to achieve modernization through educational reform, and thus entrusted Turkey to the children and the youth.  Ataturk knew that modernization could not be achieved in a rapid way; therefore, he presumed that the Turkish children educated at schools resting upon positive sciences could attain his goals.  He believed his nation and lived for what he believed.  This is the main philosophy of the April 23rd festival.  As can be seen, the educated children and youth have made great contributions to the creation of modern Turkey.  Present day Turkey has evolved over the years and has attained a level of a modern state.

   As UNESCO proclaimed 1979 as the International Year of the Child, director of children's programs of TRT Ankara Television Tekin Ozertem and his assistant Canan Arisoy, developed a project aimed at embracing all the children in the world.  Upon approval of the project by top executives of the TRT Corporation, preparation for the organization commenced. Thus, the first celebration of TRT International April 23rd Children's Festival took place on April 23rd, 1979 in Turkey, with participation of five countries, namely Russia, Iraq, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria.  Today, TRT International April 23rd Children's Festival is celebrated every year with participation of approximately fifty countries.  From 1979 to 2000, celebrations were performed in the capital city of Ankara.  In the following years, celebration took place in Turkey's various major cities such as Izmir, Istanbul and Antalya.  Nane Annan,  wife of the former U.N. Secretary, General Kofi Annan, became the honorary guest of celebration on April 23rd, 2000.  In her speech at the gala, Mrs. Annan expressed her pleasure at participating in the celebration and passed greeting form her spouse Kofi Annan.  Mrs. Annan also called on the entire world to say "Yes" to the aspiration of children.

After her speech, "the common declaration of the children from forty countries", which was approved by the children at the International Children's Congress on April 18th, and was read in English and Turkish.  The declaration was presented to Mrs. Annan to hand it over to Kofi Annan.  Children aged between eight and fourteen attend the festival.  The program covers from April 16th to the 26th.  The invited groups are made up of nearly twenty children and six executive leaders.  By April 15th, guests arrive in the city where the celebrations will take place.  TRT appoints a guide for each groups and the guide enable coordination with group leaders.  Through primary schools in the festival city, each group is entertained by families of their

Turkish peers in a warm and affectionate gathering.  In this way, children of the world recount positive traits of the Turkish nation to their own families and friends when they return to their home countries.  This makes the Turkish people gratified.  Festival Week begins with a Parade.  During the parade, guests wear their traditional outfits, perform their traditional music and dance on the largest street in the city.  In the days following, guest countries perform shows in large parts and embrace in the culture of the Turkish people.  Festival week continues with the children's visit to the mausoleum of Ataturk, the leader who gifted this festival to the Turkish children.  Then, the children are welcomed by the President of the Turkish Republic, the President of the Turkish Naitonal Grand Assembly, and the Director General of TRT.

   On the day before the festival, all the children gather to rehearse.  When the big day comes, the gala of the festival takes place.  In the gals, which lasts nearly four hours and it broadcat live, all the groups wear their national constume's and present three minute performances, accompanied with their traditional music.
   The gala continues with the children convey the greeting that they have brought from their home countries, and ends with a hand in hand dance of all the flowers of th world, in the name of peace and friendship.  Through picnics and excursions on the 24th and 25th.  On the last day of the festival, the children sense that it's coming to an end, some burst into tears, knowing that they have to leave behind new friendships they have made with their Turkish bothers and sisters.


Soft Almond Sugar Cookies

**UPDATE:  A few commenters noted that they had issues with the cookies spreading a bit more than what was depicted in the photos.  A few also mentioned that the cookies were a bit on the salty side.  I've revisited this recipe as of tonight, 11/12/2012, and have posted a new and improved version that gives you the soft, chewy cookies you're seeing in the photos.  A little more cake flour and corn starch, and a little less salt fixed the issue.  Thank you so, so much for your patience :)

This past weekend the hubby and I went to eat Sunday lunch with my family.  My mom and sister were in charge of the salad and lasagna (both were amazing by the way) so that left the dessert to me.  I always love whipping up anything with sugar, so this was fine with me :)

I had originally planned on taking Irish Car Bomb Brownies, but those were a HUGE flop (I'll share more about that later this week).  So I was back to square one.  I didn't want anything super heavy since we were already eating lasagna, and I thought about doing a cookie since I haven't blogged many such recipes.

I feel like the sugar cookie is something that, for the most part, everyone loves.  Some people have different aversions when it comes to things like oatmeal raisin (raisins?  ew!) or chocolate chip (some like thick and fluffy, others like thin and "greasy"), but no one can really complain when it comes to good 'ole plain sugar cookies.

I like my sugar cookies thick, fluffy, chewy and soft.  Cornstarch is an ingredient that keeps baked goods from spreading, so I knew I wanted to add some into this recipe to keep the cookies from getting too flat.  I played around with the proportions and ingredients (using both cake flour and all purpose) and settled on the recipe below.

I love me some almond flavoring, but you could definitely flavor these to your liking.  I love the twist that almond extract gives these cookies, but using another extract won't affect the texture of the cookie.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but these are the best sugar cookies I've ever had.  No lie.  I made them pretty small, but I'm sure you could make them larger if you were willing to adjust the baking time.


Soft and Chewy Almond Sugar Cookies CCK Original
(Printable Recipe)
1 1/2 C white sugar
2/3 C unsalted butter (cold)
2/3 C shortening (room temp)
2 eggs
2 tsp almond extract
2 3/4 C cake flour
1 C all purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
sugar in the raw (I like raw sugar for this, but any coarse sugar  or sprinkles would work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheet.

Cream sugar, butter and shortening.  Stir in eggs and almond extract.  Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt and add to butter/egg mixture.

Use electric mixture to ensure dough is thoroughly combined.

Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll 2 tsp of dough (I used a small cookie scoop to make things easier) into a ball and roll in raw sugar.  Place on prepared pan.

Bake cookies for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently press the tops of the cookies flat with the back of a spoon while they are still warm and pliable.  (The cornstarch keeps them from spreading so they will be mounded up).

Return bowl of dough to fridge in between baking batches.

Remove to cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely.

A tip:
~DO NOT bake longer than 7-8 minutes!!  They may seem under-baked, but when they cool they will firm up.