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Holly and the Ivy
Illuminations at Botanica, Wichita, KS - Illuminations transforms each garden area inside Botanica into a different themed holiday display or uniquely lit botanical setting. It will be different this year, as it is every year, but the display is a mile long with many lights, pop-up train display, the funky tree, candy cane lane, and more.
Julekake (is a Norwegian Christmas cake. It is a yeast cake made with butter and sugar, spiced with cardamom, and containing candied fruits, raisins, and almonds. It is also sometimes called a "Christmas bread" instead of a cake. It can be eaten warm, or toasted and served with butter)
For the dough:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast * see notes
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
50gm unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar * see notes
1/4 tsp salt * see notes
4 to 5 pods of cardamom, powdered
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1/2 cup mixed candied fruit or peel (tutti frutti)
1/4 cup golden or dark raisins
For the glaze:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
sugar candy/pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes and/ or slivered almonds
For the icing:
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon cream or milk
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds (optional)
1. First, activate the yeast by placing it in a small bowl. To it, add the lukewarm water, lukewarm milk and 1 teaspoon sugar (from the 1/4 cup sugar) and mix everything together and keep aside for 10-15 mins or until the mixture turns frothy. * see notes
2. In a large mixing bowl add the egg, butter, sugar, salt and the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the flour and the cardamom powder to it and knead until you get a soft, pliable and elastic dough. If the dough is too sticky add a little extra flour or if it feels too hard dab your fingers in water and continue kneading till you get a soft dough.
3. Take the dough out and flatten it into a largish round. Sprinkle the candied fruit and raisins evenly and then roll it up, swiss roll style, knead the dough lightly and roll it up into a ball.
4. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel. Keep in a warm place to rise until double in volume, about an hour or so.
5. When done, lightly knead the dough and shape it again into a ball. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment (or you can also use a cake or loaf tin). Keep it to rise for another 45 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and lightly brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash (beaten egg) or with milk if you want to skip the egg. If you are not going to use the icing sprinkle crushed sugar cubes or slivered almonds on top and bake for about 30 minutes till the bread is golden brown on top. Cover the bread with foil after 15 minutes into the baking time if you feel that it is browning too fast on the surface.
7. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
8. For the icing, mix the ingredients together until you get a thick pouring consistency and pour in the centre of the bread – the mixture will dribble along the sides forming a pretty design. Place a tray under the rack to collect the excess icing mixture. Sprinkle chopped almonds or candied peel over it. Let the icing set before serving
1. If the yeast does not turn frothy discard the mixture and try again with a new package of yeast. If the yeast is old or beyond expiry it is pointless using it as the bread won’t rise very well or rise at all.
2. If you plan to use the icing, use just about 1/4 cup sugar (as per recipe above). If you won’t be using icing then you can increase the sugar to up to 1/2 cup (in total)
3. I used Amul salted butter so skipped the salt. Use the salt if you are using unsalted butter
Kwanzaa - is an annual celebration of African-American culture from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day. It was created by activist Maulana Karenga, based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of Africa, including West and Southeast Africa. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966.
The Lost Gift (This Christmas-themed picture book about four animals delivering a lost package for Santa already feels like a classic, and makes the perfect gift this holiday season! It’s Christmas Eve, and Bird, Rabbit, Deer, and Squirrel are eagerly waiting for Santa to fly overhead. When he does, a gift tumbles out of his sleigh, landing in the woods. The friends find the gift and read the tag: “For the new baby at the farm. Love, Santa.” And so, in spite of Squirrel’s grumbling—“It’s not our baby”—they set off on a long journey to deliver it. Sweet, poignant, and starring a cast of truly adorable characters, this is a story sure to be shared year after year at Christmastime)
Mary, Did You Know? - is a Christmas song addressing Mary, mother of Jesus, with lyrics written by Mark Lowry in 1984, and music written by Buddy Greene in 1991. It was originally recorded by Christian recording artist Michael English on his self-titled debut solo album in 1991. At the time, English and Lowry were members of the Gaither Vocal Band, and Greene was touring with them. The song reached Number 6 on CCM Magazine's Adult Contemporary Chart. The song has since gone on to become a modern Christmas classic, recorded by hundreds of artists over the years, across multiple genres. Several recordings have reached the top ten in the Billboard R&B and Holiday charts. The song encourages contemplation of the relationship between Mary and her son, although some religious commentators have criticized the lyrics for downplaying Mary's own grace and understanding.
The Nutcracker Christmas Shop (now with multiple locations across Scotland and England – has been spreading Christmas cheer for nearly two decades. And the small chain's Crieff outpost is tipped as the biggest year-round Christmas shop in the whole of the UK. Shoppers can swing by for Christmas trees, crackers, carved decorations and more)
Calling it a night...........................
O Come all ye Faithful
I could not but upload this great version of this popular carol. I especially enjoyed the organ interlude.This is part of the Christmas Eve Service of Euchar...
Peppermint Bark (is a chocolate confection. Generally it consists of peppermint candy pieces, such as candy canes, in white chocolate on top of dark chocolate, but peppermint bark can refer to any chocolate with peppermint candy pieces in it)
Peppermint Bark with its layers of dark and white chocolate and a sprinkling of candy cane pieces is one of the most popular candies to make for Christmas because it’s easy and oh, so tasty!
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
8 candy canes, crushed
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill the bottom of a large pot with 3” water and bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, then place a large heatproof bowl on top. Add semi-sweet chocolate and stir occasionally until chocolate has melted. Stir in extract. Pour into prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
Over the same pot of barely simmering water, place another large heatproof bowl. Add white chocolate and stir until melted. Pour over set semi-sweet chocolate then top immediately with candy canes. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
or you can just buy it......................
The Queen's Christmas Message (also known as The King's Christmas Message in the reign of a male monarch, formally as Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech, and informally as the Royal Christmas Message) is a broadcast made by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms to the Commonwealth of Nations each Christmas. The tradition began in 1932 with a radio broadcast by King George V on the British Broadcasting Corporation's Empire Service. Since 1952, the message has been read by Elizabeth II; today, it is broadcast on television, radio, and the Internet via various providers. It is usually broadcast at 15:00 GMT.
Queen Elizabeth II - 2021. She looks very good for someone 95 years old.
Queen Elizabeth II - first televised Christmas message in 1957