Enjoy the first day of Spring: March 20th, 2017!
Category Archives: Spring
Honoring Memorial Day – May 30, 2016
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the ground,” the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
Celebrate Memorial Day
Oven-Roasted Spring Vegetable Medley Recipe
Yield: 10 Servings
- 9 small red potatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 small yellow summer squash, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 6 radishes, quartered
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a shallow roasting pan. Bake 15 minutes.
- In same bowl, combine remaining ingredients; add to pan. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.
3/4 cup equals 90 calories, 3 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 131 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fat.
Originally published as Oven-Roasted Spring Vegetable Medley in Taste of Home’s Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2011, p167
Directions: Unscramble these words related to Spring and gardening.
- TOPTNIG LISO
- Potting Soil
This puzzle was by Creative Forecasting Inc.
Spring has Sprung! The Vernal Equinox
By Cameron Macphail and Rozina Sabur for The Telegraph
When does spring start in 2016?
The astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere begins today, Sunday, March 20.
The Spring (vernal) equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is also known as the March equinox. It’s called the “autumnal (fall) equinox” in the Southern Hemisphere.
The March equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north.
This happens on March 19, 20 or 21 every year.
Why is it Called “Equinox”?
Since night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world the event is called the equinox, which in Latin, literally means ‘equal night’ (equi – equal and nox – night).
In reality though, equinoxes do not have exactly 12 hours of daylight.
Solstices and equinoxes mark key stages in the astronomical cycle of the earth. In a year there are two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter).
The dates of the equinoxes and solstices aren’t fixed due to the Earth’s elliptical orbit of the sun. The Earth’s orbit around the sun means that in early January, the sun is closest (known as perihelion) and in early July it is most distant (aphelion).
What happens on an equinox?
The Earth’s axis always tilts at an angle of about 23.5° in relation to the ecliptic, i.e the imaginary plane created by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
On any other day of the year, either the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere tilts a litte towards the Sun but on the two equinoxes, the tilt of the Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the Sun’s rays.
The equinox happens at exactly the same time around the world.
The equinox occurs at the exact moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s Equator – from south to north. At this moment, the Earth’s axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the Sun.
In 2016, this happens at 4:30 am UTC (GMT).
The March equinox has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth in the Northern Hemisphere. Many cultures celebrate spring festivals and holidays around the March equinox, like Easter and Passover.
The Easter Bunny
Rabbits and hares have been associated with spring since ancient times. It is thought that the Ango-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre, had a hare as her companion, which symbolised fertility and rebirth.
It’s hardly surprising that rabbits and hares have become associated with fertility as they are both prolific breeders and give birth to large litters in early spring.
The legend of the Easter Bunny is thought to have originated among German Lutherans, where the ‘Easter Hare’ judged whether children had been good or bad in the run-up to Easter.
Over time it has become incorporated into Christian celebrations and became popular in Britain during the 19th century.
Many children believe that the Easter Bunny lays and hides baskets of colored eggs, sweets and sometimes toys in their homes or around the garden the night before Easter Sunday – much like Father Christmas delivering gifts on Christmas Eve.
This has given rise to the tradition of the Easter egg hunt which is still popular among children today.
Easy Shepherd’s Pie from Real Simple©
Yield: 4 Servings
By Diana Hyle , October, 2007
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 8 ounces frozen mixed vegetables (such as carrots, peas, and corn), thawed
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Cheddar (optional)
- 1 16-ounce package mashed potatoes, refrigerated or frozen and thawed
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- Place the beef in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until no trace of pink remains, about 5 minutes.
- Spoon off and discard any fat. Stir in the ketchup and Worcestershire. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Spoon into a baking dish.
- Mix the cheese (if desired) with the potatoes in a bowl. Spread over the beef and bake until heated through, 10 minutes. Divide among plates.
Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe
Serving a King Cake during Mardi Gras celebrations is a tradition that honors the Magi who visited the Christ child on the twelfth night or Epiphany (January 6).
The cake is shaped in a ring with a pecan, bean or plastic baby placed inside the dough, before baking, to represent the baby Jesus.
The cake is then decorated with the purple, green and gold colors of Mardi Gras, and divided among guests. Whoever finds the baby doll will host the next King Cake celebration.
4 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (110-115 degrees F)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup cold milk
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 stick butter or margarine
5-6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 dried bean, shelled pecans, or naked plastic babies
3 tablespoons soft butter or margarine
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
4-6 tablespoons milk
Click for a video demonstration: Click Here!
Combine the yeast, 1/2 of the sugar, and the lukewarm water in a very large bowl, stir well and set aside for a few minutes until the mixture swells slightly and small bubbles appear on the surface. Stir in the remaining sugar, milk, yogurt, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Add egg yolks and mix again.
In another bowl, work the butter/margarine into 5 cups of the flour.
Add the flour-butter/margarine mixture to the yeast mixture a cup at a time, mixing well after each cup is added. Begin to knead in the bowl, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, elastic dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes, adding more flour if the dough is still sticky.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a bowl which has been buttered or sprayed with a no-stick spray. Cover and let stand in a warm place until dough doubles in size.
Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 8 x 14 inches. Brush each rectangle with 1/2 stick of melted butter or margarine. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture over each rectangle. Roll up from the wide end, as you would a jelly roll, inserting one of the dried beans, pecans, or naked babies along the way. Press the ends of the dough together and stretch the roll into an oval about 14 inches long. Place on a greased/sprayed cookie sheet and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 35-45 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped with the fingers. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes.
Beat the butter or margarine until softened. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and continue to beat, gradually adding milk until a glaze consistency is achieved. Use half of the icing on each cake.
Spread the icing evenly over each cake and decorate immediately with granulated sugar that has been rendered purple, green and gold with food coloring, making alternating bands of color.
Other decorating options:
Divide the icing into three portions and use food coloring to make purple, green and gold icing. Spread in alternating bands along the length of the cakes.
Use purple, green and gold gumdrops, jelly beans, or other candy to decorate the white icing.
Recipe courtesy of New Orleans Public Library.
Bonus Trivia Question:
And, why are those three colors chosen for the King cake?
Purple Represents Justice.
Green Represents Faith.
Gold Represents Power.
Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad
Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 1 red sweet pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
- 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups cooked whole grain rotini pasta
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Lightly brush vegetables with 1 tablespoon of the oil. For a charcoal grill, place vegetables on the rack of the grill over medium-hot coals. Cover and grill for 3 to 5 minutes for asparagus, turning once, and about 10 minutes for the zucchini, sweet pepper, and onion, turning once, or until vegetables are tender. Remove and cool slightly. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add vegetables to grill rack and grill as above.)
- Cut vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces and toss with pasta in a large bowl. Add remaining oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper to pasta mixture; toss to coat. Top with fresh oregano and, if desired, Parmesan.
Nutrition Facts (Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad)
Per serving: 333 kcal cal., 12 g fat (1 g sat. fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 7 g monounsatured fat), 0 mg chol., 152 mg sodium, 49 g carb., 5 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 9 g pro.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet