Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bring on ANZAC day!

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour members of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. ANZAC day is a public holiday in my homeland, and there are usually parades in every city to commemorate the day. The dawn (meaning you have to be there before dawn) service in Melbourne is always amazing! After the march, everyone then settles in at their favourite pub to drink the day away and share stories.

Long before the wars, the flower that symbolized death, renewal and life was the poppy. Following the Great War, it has become synonymous with remembrance. In Australia, single poppies are not usually worn on ANZAC Day (this is reserved for Remembrance Day, 11 November). However, wreaths of poppies are traditionally placed at memorials and honour boards on ANZAC Day. I am including this DIY for making paper poppies, you can make a bunch of them and create your own wreath.

Paper Poppies

1. Cut 8 circles from red card/paper
2. Draw some veins on these circles to look like petals
3. Layer 4 petals like the picture below

4. Layer 4 more petals behind the first ones. All with glue or tape

5. Now cut 4 small circles from black card. This will be the centre of the poppy.
6. Cut lines into the center of 3 of the circles

7. Cut out a Mulberry leaf from the green card

8. Cut curved triangles into the leaf edges
9. Score veins into the leaf leaning on a spongy surface
10. Put three shredded circles in a triangle formation. Then put the plain circle on top of that. Put the leaf underneath the complete flower. All put together with glue or tape

One popular treat on Anzac day are Anzac biscuits (originally called Soldiers' biscuits). They came into being around 1915 when soldiers' wives and/or mothers would bake and send the biscuits to the troops stationed overseas. The biscuits were ideal because they were cheap to make (remember that it was the Great Depression), non-perishable (Anzac biscuits contain no eggs or milk) and so didn't need refrigeration, and gave the men some added nutrition and sustenance. They are super quick and Easy to make!

Anzac Biscuit Ingredients

1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
4 oz butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)

Anzac Biscuit Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (or approx 375 degrees F).
Grease a biscuit tray or line with baking paper.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
In a small saucepan over a medium heat (or in a microwave proof jug or bowl in the microwave), combine the butter and golden syrup until the butter has melted.
In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the bicarb and water mixture with the melted butter and golden syrup.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix thoroughly.
Dollop teaspoonfuls of the biscuit mixture onto the greased baking tray.
Don't forget that the biscuits WILL spread during baking, so make sure you leave room for them to spread!
Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven.
Allow the Anzac biscuits to cool on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Enjoy ANZAC day, for those of you in Jacksonville, join us at the pub for a beer if you can!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bring on Patriot's Day!

Some people know little or nothing about Patriot's Day, which is on the 19th of April. To New Englander's however, it is a big, big day. In the states in New England, it's a holiday with a day off of work where banks, schools, post offices, and businesses have the day off. Among the better-known commemorative events on Patriots Day is the Boston Marathon, which has been run now for over a century.

Ok, so Patriot's Day commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. This battle began the American Revolutionary War. It also honors the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", that evening when Paul Revere rode through town warning the colonists that "The Red Coats are coming!"

You can take a trip to Concord and, at dawn, stand by the crude bridge that still arches the flood, and watch the Concord Minutemen re-enact the skirmish that started the American Revolution. Alternatively, go to Boston the night before, on April 18th, and join the audience in the Old North Church as descendants of Paul Revere and Robert Newman reenact the procedure that set the business at Concord into motion.

If you are planning a celebration at home then perhaps you would like to serve food popular in Colonial New England, such as fish chowder, baked beans and delicious baked Indian pudding:

Baked Indian Pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk

Scald 1-3/4 cups milk, saving 1/4 cup to moisten cornmeal. Stir cornmeal and reserved 1/4 cup milk into scalded milk. Stir until thickened and cook 5 minutes. Add beaten egg, sugar, syrup, and spices mixed together. Cook a few minutes. Add 1 cup cold milk and beat well. Pour into well-greased 2-quart casserole dish, set in pan of hot water, and bake slowly (275 to 300 degrees F), stirring several times, for 2 hours.

And no party is complete without decorations, so thanks to Martha, here a couple of excellent ideas for your decorations including my childhood favourite, pinwheels, and cute little lanterns!

Martha uses clothespins to attach these to items on your table, but of course you can use popsicle sticks!
  • Cut two 5-inch squares in different colors from patterned paper
  • Glue back-to-back; let dry
  • Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner
  • Make a 3-inch cut along each line
  • Fold every other point toward center; glue
  • Affix to clothespin with map tack

  • Cut construction paper to 6 by 9 inches; fold in half lengthwise
  • Fold edges back 1/2 inch for rims, and crease; unfold
  • Glue a 1/2-by-9-inch strip of decorative paper on each rim
  • Cut slits from middle fold to rims, spacing 3/4 inch apart
  • Shape into lantern: Open paper; bring the ends together to overlap slightly; staple
  • Staple 3/4-by-8-inch paper handle inside lantern.
Happy Patriot's Day!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Winston Churchil Day is April 9th!

Winston Churchill Day celebrates the day he was made an honorary US citizen. On this day in 1963, Winston Churchill became the very first person to become an honorary citizen. He was given this honor posthumously.

Winston Churchill was a British politician known chiefly for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II. He was the British Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He is the only British Prime Minister to have received the Nobel prize in Literature.

Of course, you can either celebrate Winston Churchill day by reading and learning about Winston Churchill, or you can have fun coloring in this image and showing it off at work by posting it in your office :)

Or have a fun night coloring in whilst sipping on Churchill's favourite drink, the "Highball". Churchill's "highball" was just whiskey and water, sounds good to me!

Have a great week!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bless my Easter Basket (and my sausage)!

For as long as I can remember my dad and I would take an Easter basket to church on Saturday before Easter and the priest would bless the contents of the basket. This lovely Polish tradition still makes me smile so I am looking for a Polish church in the Miami area where we can go to bless our basket on Saturday morning!

So, what goes into a traditional Polish Easter basket?
Colored eggs. In Poland they can be painted and carved wooden eggs, but most times it is the Pisanki eggs. These are the ones dipped in a succession of color and then the color covered in wax, then the next color, then more wax until the egg is completely covered in wax. Then the wax is removed to reveal the designs. The designs also have various symbolic meanings. There are also Skrobanki eggs where a design was scratched on to them. Oklejanki eggs are ones with a succession of papers glued and sealed.

You would have sausage, ham, bread, butter, salt and horseradish. Flowers from your garden, perhaps a bottle of wine if your basket is large enough.

Eggs: symbolize life, spring and the Resurrection.
Bread: Christ, who is the bread of Life
Sausage: the abundance and God's generosity
Horseradish: the passion of Christ
Salt: prosperity
Butter: good will. It usually pressed into a mold to make a lamb. As Jesus is the Lamb of God
Flowers: Joy (whatever you have blooming, pussy willows are good too)

You line your basket with fine small linens (large napkin size), stitched with flowers or religious symbols. Keep covered until they are ready to be blessed.

At home after your basket has been blessed, boiled eggs in the shells are cut into wedges. The head of the family carries a plate to each member of the family to take a piece of the egg and wish a Happy Easter.

Easter Monday is known as Smigus Dyngus or Wet Monday where people will sprinkle or completely douse each other with water. Why? Because Prince Mieszko was married and baptized on Easter Monday in 966 and the whole nation was baptized along with him.

In Poland Easter is celebrated all week long. Not just on Sunday, what a great idea!!

Happy Easter!! Bless my sausage!