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Friday, April 2, 2021

National Autism Awareness

April 2nd of each year is also the day to observe World Autism Awareness. This health crisis is growing not only in the United States but world wide. The Autism Association suggests that an average of one in every 59 are affected. Autism is  a bio-neurological developmental disability that normally presents itself with in the first 3 years of life. Boys are more affected than girls are as well. Perhaps one does not realize how hard children with autism face in life.

Many obstacles occur because autistic children do not speak or use social cues as their peers do. This often leads to others bullying autistic children Due to individuals with autism not being able to communicate they are also unable to tell someone their name or where they live so they may also become lost and wander into areas they should not be. Thus this issue does not change with adults leading to problems of unemployment and other issues as adults. 

The National Autism Association website offers resources, guides and tips for families and schools.

Ways to help children with autism:

  • include children in autism with the activities that are on going. If other children are invited invite the autistic child as well
  • if in the position to offer an autistic child a job and they qualify do so do not let the disorder stand in the way
  • Allow individuals with autism to be involved no matter the activity if they have the capabilities and you have the time then allow them to learn from you, being involved helps all 

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Good Friday and Hot Cross Buns

 Today, the Friday before Easter, is a special day known as Good Friday. To many it is a dark day , the day that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and died on the cross. All Christians know that while this is Friday and the day of the crucifixion Sunday is coming. Other names for this special day include Holy Friday, Black Friday, and Great Friday. However, while Easter has become a traditional celebration that all including the secular world observe Good Friday has remained primarily a holy and spiritual observance.

Many churches across the country will hold Good Friday church services. Each religion seems to have their own traditions when it comes to the Good Friday and Easter celebration. Some church members will fast and many sects will sing specific hymns for the services. Perhaps one tradition that is sweet is the making of Easter bread 

There are many stories behind the reasoning of baking and eating hot cross buns and other sweet breads. One story is about a monk in the 12th century who at the end of lent season prepared and baked yeast sweet buns and marked them with a cross on Good Friday. In addition, this type of sweet buns and rolls could not have been prepared before the end of lent as they contain dairy products that were / are traditionally forbidden during the Christian lent season of fasting

1/2 cup raisins, currants, or craisins + 1 cup boiling hot water
3/4 cup very warm milk, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup (I used whole milk, 2% is fine)
1/2 cup white sugar + 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened 15 seconds in microwave
1/2 tsp salt
1 envelope active dry yeast (about 3/4 Tbsp or 2 1/4 tsp) – I used Red Star Yeast
2 large eggs, well beaten
3 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp (a large pinch) ground nutmeg

For the Egg Wash:

1 egg, well beaten with 1 tsp water

For the Glaze:

1/2 cup Powdered sugar mixed with 2 1/2 tsp Milk

 In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup raisins/craisins with 1 cup boiling hot water. Let sit 10 min then drain well and set aside.

In a large measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup warm milk with 1/2 tsp sugar and sprinkle 3/4 Tbsp yeast over the top. Stir and let sit at room temp until bubbly and doubled in volume (10 min).

In a large mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup very warm milk with 1/2 cup sugar, 4 Tbsp softened butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir until butter is melted. Add 2 well beaten eggs and proofed yeast mixture. Stir in 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and pinch of ground nutmeg.

Using the dough hook attachment mix in 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time until soft dough forms. Knead 8-12 min on speed 2 or until smooth and elastic. Dough will still stick a little to the bowl but not to your fingers.

If kneading by hand, use a wooden spoon to stir, then turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead 8-12 min using just enough flour to prevent sticking to your hands.

Add drained raisins/craisins (pat them dry with paper towels if they still seem too wet) and transfer dough to a large buttered bowl, turning it to bring the buttered side-up. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free room 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume (you can also proof in a warm 100˚F oven).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half then continue cutting dough until you have 12 equal sized pieces. Roll dough into balls and transfer to a buttered 9×13″ baking pan. Cover with a tea towel and let them sit in a warm, draft-free room 30 min until puffed

 Now you should preheat your oven to 375˚F. Generously brush the tops with egg wash and bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.

Once buns are just warm (not hot), stir together the 1/2 cup powdered sugar and about 2 1/2 tsp milk. You can add more powdered sugar to thicken it up if needed. Transfer glaze to a ziploc bag, cut off the tip of the bag and pipe a cross shape over each of the buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Tater Day and a Potato Recipe

Are you a fan of potatoes?? Well, then today is for you. Tater day occurs each year on the last day of March. There is good reason to love potatoes with so many great ways to prepare and cook the potato. In addition to the grand variety of ways to prepare them there are a great variety of taters as well. 

The potato is the number one consumed vegetable in the United States. One of the main reasons once again is because of the great variety that is available. Whether you bake them and who does not like a baked potato with once again so many ways to make them different than the last. Another way to prepare them is to Boil the potato. Boiled potatoes can end up in soups, salads, or any number of delicious ways. Perhaps one of the most loved ways to fix potatoes is to mash them. 

Twice Baked Potato Casserole 

8 potatoes about 4 lbs

8 oz cream cheese softened

1/2 c butter (1 stick)

2 c sharp cheddar cheese shredded

1 pint sour cream

2 cloves garlic minced

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 c chives fresh

6 slices bacon cooked crisp, drained and crumbled for top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash, oil, salt and pierce the potatoes and place on a baking pan (or straight on oven rack). Bake the potatoes for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until very soft. Peel and mash the potatoes in a large bowl with a potato masher. Add the cream cheese, butter, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and the sour cream. Stir well. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir again. Spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place the mashed potatoes in the dish.

Note: The casserole can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to bake.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the casserole for 30-35 minutes, until hot. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts.

Garnish with the chopped chives and crumbled bacon before serving.

recipe resource

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