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Monday, February 20, 2012

Persian New Year ~ Happy Norooz ~ سال نو مبارک


March 20, Annually 

 

Having its foundation in Zoroastrianism, Nowruz, Norooz, Norouz, Newroz, Nevruz or Persian New Year is a thirteen day celebration held annually by Iranians around the globe, marking the first day of spring (the Vernal Equinox) and the beginning of the New Year."O Majesty, on this feast of the Equinox, first day of the first month of the year, seeing that thou hast freely chosen God and the Faith of the Ancient ones; may Surush the Angel-messenger, grant thee wisdom and insight and sagacity in thy affairs. Live long in praise, be happy and fortunate upon thy golden throne, drink immortality from the Cup of Jamshid; and keep in solemn trust the customs of our ancestors, their noble aspirations, fair gestures and the exercise of justice and righteousness." ---Omar Khayyam, Nowruznama



    

 

The Haft Sin, or the Seven S's. is an important Persian New Year tradition. Families create a ceremonial table bearing specific items that symbolically represent spiritual values.

• Sabzeh: Rebirth - A dish of sprouted wheat, barley or lentils
• Serkeh: Patience Gained with Age - Vinegar
• Samanu - Affluence - A sweet, wheat germ porridge or pudding
• Somaq - Sunrise - Sumac berries
• Senjed - Love - Fruit of the lotus tree, dried
• Sib - Beauty and Health - Apples
• Sir - Health - Garlic
• Other elements may include a mirror (ayne), two candelabras (sha'am), gold coins (sekeh), sweets (shirini), hyacinth (sonbol), flatbread (sangak), goldfish (mahi), an incense made of wild rue (esfand), decorated eggs (tokhme morgh), nuts (ajil), an heirloom embroidered cloth, and Scriptures.


Persian New Year traditions include spring cleaning the house, paying off debts, wearing new clothes, buying flowers like tulips and hyacinths, visiting family, friends and neighbors and/or throwing large parties, and enjoying outdoor picnics on the thirteen day. Customary dishes are also served during this time, although they vary according to region.

 

Norooz Foods

All kinds of sweets, pastries, nuts and sherbets are eaten in large amounts during Norooz. Some of the more popular Norooz dishes include:
  • Sabzi Polo ba Mahi -- rice tinted vivid green with herbs and served with fried fish. Served on New Year's day;
  • Kookoo Sabzi -- an herbed omelet;
  • Reshteh Polo -- chunks of lamb with rice and noodles;
  • Dolmeh Barg -- grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice and ground lamb; and
  • Shekar Polo -- a sweet rice pilaf.


The final day of Norooz is a time for families to drive to the countryside for day-long picnics. People revel in the fresh and warming air. Because the next day, it's back to work.

 

 

    

 

Chaharshanbe Suri, the Festival of Fire, is held on the night before the last Wednesday of the year as a celebration of the triumph of light (good) over darkness (evil). Celebrants go into the street and jump over fires, and eat traditional pastries and nuts to give thanks for the previous year's happiness and health. Other traditions may also be observed, including a symbolic cleansing of misfortune by breaking earthenware jars, or attempting to divine one's future by hiding and listening to the conversations of passers-by (if the conversations are positive, it means good fortune). 

 

Hajji Firuz, a figure heralding Persian New Year by singing, dancing and playing tambourine and trumpet, has a black painted face and wears red clothing. His presence is said to make families happy, thus ensuring blessings and abundance in the coming year. He is the sidekick of Amoo Norooz, a Santa Claus-like figure who gives gifts to children. 

  Themes of Persian New Year include fire, goldfish, a pot of sprouted wheat, a Haft Sin table or groups of Haft Sin elements, tulips and hyacinths, Hajji Firuz, beautifully decorated eggs, and the colors red, green and white.

 

Persian Recipes for you to try

Traditional Norooz recipes

 

Kookoo Sabzi

(Persian herbed omelet)

A kookoo - also spelled kookoo-ye, kuku, or kou-kou - is a Persian-style egg dish that is similar to an Italian frittata or an open-faced omelet. Iranians make many, many different types with a variety of flavorings. The kookoo sabzi, flavored with a variety of herbs and tinted a deep green, is probably the most popular.

4 to 6 servings
Ingredients

Butter or oil -- 2 tablespoons
Scallions, chopped -- 1 bunch
Parsley, chopped -- 1 bunch
Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
Dill, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
Eggs -- 8
Turmeric -- 1 teaspoon
Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
Pepper -- 1/4 teaspoon

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the butter or oil in an ovenproof sauté pan or skillet over medium flame. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro and dill and sauté until the herbs are cooked down somewhat, around 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
Add the eggs, turmeric, salt and pepper to a large bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in the cooled herbs.
Pour the eggs back into the sauté pan and place the pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the eggs are fully set.
Run a knife around the edges of the kookoo and invert onto a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve hot or cold with a garnish of plain yogurt.

Variations

Substitute chopped lettuce leaves or spinach for some of the herbs.
For a fancier kookoo sabzi, add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1 tablespoon currants to the beaten eggs. Or simply garnish the finished kookoo with roasted whole walnuts. In Iran, barberries, which are similar to dried cranberries, are often added.
The kookoo can also be finished on the stovetop. Just cook it over medium-low flame until the bottom is set, then carefully flip it to cook the other side.

Sabzi Polo

(Persian herbed rice)

Sabzi polo is a brilliant green version of the famous Persian "polo," or pilaf, rice dishes. The green comes from a variety of herbs that give an otherwise plain dish a sublime flavor. Pair sabzi polo with fried fish, and you have sabzi polo va mahi, the traditional Nowruz Persian New Year meal.

4 to 6 servings
Ingredients

Basmati rice -- 3 cups
Scallions, minced -- 2 bunches
Dill weed, finely chopped -- 1 cup
Parsley, finely chopped -- 1 cup
Cilantro, finely chopped -- 1 cup
Oil or melted butter -- 1/3 cup
Stock or water -- 2 cups

Method

In a large bowl, wash and drain the rice in 2 or 3 changes of water. Add more water to cover and set the rice aside to soak for 1 to 2 hours.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and stir it into the boiling water. Return to a boil and cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes. Then drain the rice, discarding the water.
Mix the scallions, dill, parsley and cilantro together. Spread the oil or melted butter over the bottom of the pot you used to boil the rice. Spread one-third of the rice over the bottom of the pot. Next spread 1/2 of the mixed herbs in a second layer over the rice. Spread another 1/3 of the rice in a layer over the herbs and the rest of the herbs over this second layer of rice. Finally, top with the remaining rice and smooth out the surface. Pour the stock or water over the rice and stick 4-5 holes into the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon.
Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and then with a lid and set over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and simmer slowly for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest another 15 minutes.
Gently stir the rice and herbs together with a large fork. Mound in serving dish and serve the crusty bottom (called the tadig) in a dish on the side.

Variations

Sabzi Polo va Mahi: This is a traditional dish served on Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Simply serve sabzi polo with fried whole fish or fish fillets.
Other herbs that can be used include fenugreek leaves and garlic chives. For an extra special dish, sprinkle a big pinch of saffron into the stock or water.

*recipes provided from http://www.whats4eats.com/holidays/nowruz-recipes-traditions

*** Here is a blog that I found that has many interesting and varied repices ... go check it out! :-)

Copy and paste link into your browser

http://turmericsaffron.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/preparing-for-nowruz-1390-persian-new.html

Reshteh Polow ~ Persian Rice with Noodles

You wonder what "Reshteh" means in Farsi? It means thin flat Persian noodles.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

1/4 cup slivered orange peel, bitterness removed

5 dates

1/4 cup raisins

1 onion, fine diced

4oz of reshteh (you can substitute with capellini)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp saffron

1/8 tsp turmeric

Advieh

handful of slivered pistachios and almonds, toasted just prior to use

3-4 tbsp butter*

2 tbsp canola oil

Sauté onion until nice and golden.

In the mean time remove pit from dates. Cut them in quarters and dice them.

Sauté Reshteh in butter until golden. Stay close as they burn easily.

Prepare rice as you would for **Chelow (see below). However, add more salt than you would normally as the noodles and rice will be cooked together for this dish. As soon as your throw in the rice add the reshteh as well.

When the onion is nice and golden add 1 tbsp of butter.

Add turmeric and cinnamon. Give them all a nice stir.

Add dates and raisins. Give them a nice stir.

Add orange peel. Also season to taste with salt. Please don't skip on the salt. You can totally taste the difference when you don't add salt. I learned that lesson the first time!!!! Also if the mixture seems a bit too dry to you, add 1 more tablespoon of butter.

Once you have strained your rice, place 2 tbsp of canola oil with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.

Add one layer of rice.

Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of **advieh. (see below)

Place half of the date, raisin, orange peel, and onion mixture on top. Repeat with one more layer of rice and the remainder of the mixture. End the layers with rice.

With the back of the spatula make 5 holes around the rice.

Cook covered on high for 10 minutes.

Ground the saffron. Dissolve ground saffron in 1/4 cup of hot water. Add 1 tbsp of melted butter and mix well. Pour all over rice.

Cover the lid with a towel. Steam rice on low for one hour.

Once the polow is done place the rice in a dish and sprinkle the almonds and pistachios on top.

* Vegans, use either vegan butter or canola oil

Copy and paste link into your browser

**Chelow http://mypersiankitchen.com/persian-rice-cooking-method/
**advieh http://mypersiankitchen.com/advieh-%E2%80%93-a-blend-of-spices-for-persian-cooking/

*Recipe courtesy of http://mypersiankitchen.com/new-years-eve-day-menu-suggestions/

Sabzi polo va mahi

White fish with herbs and rice

Serves 6-7

3 cups basmati rice

½ cup Chinese (garlic) chives

2 cups dill

A bunch of wild garlic (leaves)

2½ cups flat-leaf parsley

2 cups chopped coriander

¾ cup ghee or butter

1tsp ground saffron dissolved

in 4 tbsps of hot water

For the fish

1 large white fish (around 2½ lbs), cleaned and scaled

6 tbsps butter

1½ tsps salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp turmeric

Rinse the rice several times in warm water then soak it. Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil. Drain the rice, add to the pan and boil it - stirring occasionally to stop it sticking - for 5-10 minutes so the kernels are still firm. Drain the rice and mix one cup of it with the saffron water. Finely chop the herbs. Sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper and turmeric then brown it on both sides in the butter on a skillet.

In a big pot with a tightly fitting lid put a spoon of ghee. Then add a layer of plain rice and a layer of herbs and repeat until you have four layers of each, finishing with the saffron rice and the remaining ghee. Cover and steam on a very low flame for 10 minutes. For the last few minutes lay the fish on the rice to warm it up. The rice on the bottom will become deliciously crispy.

Baklava

Makes 20 -24 squares

1 packet filo pastry (about 16 sheets)

200g unsalted butter, melted

4 cups blanched, ground almonds

3 cups icing sugar

2 tsp ground cardamom (plus 2 pinches)

1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter and use a brush to grease the bottom of a two or three inch deep baking tin. Put a layer of filo pastry over the bottom and brush this with butter. Repeat until there are four layers of buttered pastry. Mix the almonds, cardamom and icing sugar and spread the mixture over the pastry, pressing it down with the back of a spoon. Add another four sheets of buttered pastry. Cut into squares or diamonds. Pour the remaining butter over the pastry. Bake for 25-30 minutes before increasing the temperature to 450F for 10-15 minutes until the top crust is golden brown. Mix the pinches of cardamom with the sugar syrup and let it cool. Remove from the oven and pour the syrup over the top of the baklava. Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts and allow to cool.

*Recipes courtesy of http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/18/recipes-baklava-iran-new-year

Greeting Card Universe offers one-of-a-kind Nowruz cards in beautiful traditional and contemporary designs. Staying in touch with your family and friends is central to the celebration of Persian New Year. Wish your loved ones a prosperous and blessed New Year with a greeting card, and send them your love no matter where they are.

When is Persian New Year?


2012 - Wednesday, March 20
2013 - Wednesday, March 20
2014 - Thursday, March 20
2015 - Friday, March 20
2016 - Sunday, March 20
2017 - Monday, March 20
2018 - Tuesday, March 20
2019 - Wednesday, March 20
2020 - Friday, March 20
2021 - Saturday, March 20
 

 

 

"May sadness go and happiness come,
May suffering go and blessing come,
Ay, night before Wednesday,
Ay, Key with four teeth,
Grant me my desires!
My yellow to you,
Your red to me." 

 

     

Some information provided from GCU Greetings Card Universe http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holidays/persiannewyear.asp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nurses Day

May 6th, Annually

 

     

The celebration of National Nurses Week is held yearly and opens on May 6, which is the official National Nurses Day, and continues through May 12, which coincides with Florence Nightingale's birthday.

Nurses Day starts off a week of many celebrated events to honor the dedication and commitment of RN's and their contribution to the health care profession across the nation.

Events include honorary dinners, banquets, professional workshops and seminars, and local city and state participation in events to honor nurses. Nurses Week is a time when doctors, patients, co-workers, family, friends, and others let the nurses in their lives know how much they appreciate them with gifts, cards, flowers, candy, and dinners. 

 

 

Dorothy Sutherland, of the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare, proposed to Eisenhower in 1953 to proclaim a Nurses Day starting in 1954, but the proclamation never took place.
National Nurses Week was observed just the same in 1954 from October 11 through October 16, to mark the centennial anniversary of Florence's Nightingale's Crimean War mission, which came about based on the reports making their way back to Britain regarding the condition and care of the wounded. 

 

In the fall of 1854, Nightingale and 38 other female volunteer nurses were dispatched to the Ottoman Empire to the location of the British encampment. There was a shortage of medicine, a disregard for hygiene, and infections were rampant and often fatal.
It was here that the dedicated Nightingale earned her famous nickname, "The Lady With the Lamp," because even after the rest of the medical staff had retired for the day, she still persisted in making her solitary rounds in the dark. 


It was not until 1974 that Nixon finally proclaimed an official National Nurses Week, and in 1982 May 6th was designated National Nurses Day by President Ronald Reagan.
Not to be confused with National Nurses Day, another celebrated day falls within Nurses Week designated solely to school nurses, and is referred to as National Student Nurses Day. It falls on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week each year.



   

 

It is on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday, when International Nurses Day is celebrated each year. The International Council of Nurses creates and distributes to nurses kits that contain useful information and materials for nurses around the world.

The International Nurses Day (IND) 2012 theme is "Closing the Gap: From Evidence to Action."
The kit materials can be downloaded at the ICN (International Council of Nurses) website at www.icn.ch. 

If you know a nurse, be sure and remember them with even the smallest token of appreciation on Nurses Day, May 6.

They deserve it! 

Information provided from http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holidays/nursesday.asp

 

Happy Nurse's Day with computer character as nurse necklace
Happy Nurse's Day with computer character as nurse by GOLDENJACKAL



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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chai Tea ~ it tastes so great and is good for you!

One sip of Chai tea and I was hooked.




Chai Tea blend....looks delicious doesn't it!






What is Chai tea made from?
Traditional chai tea is made from a base of black tea mixed with spices like pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves.

The use of honey instead of sugar in this spiced tea can also be a good nutritional choice. Honey has antioxidants, can ease sore throats, and can fight bacterial infection in some cases.


Health benefits of Chai tea

The fact is - every ingredient in Chai tea is good for you. Put them all together they pack a powerful punch for your immune system.

The spices in Chai Tea have various health benefits, and have been used for thousands of years. There is a growing body of evidence showing that the tea in Chai has numerous health benefits. Tea polyphenols have been linked in research to increased attention and focus (Theanine), cardiovascular health, protection against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and even may have the potential to alter cancer genetics.

For centuries various spices in Chai have been used in traditional Asian medicine. High value is placed in both Ayurveda and Chinese Traditional Medicine on spices in the treatment of a range of conditions. 

Black tea, the base ingredient in Chai tea, contains antioxidants which can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Antioxidants are also believed to beneficial to heart health, and some researchers suggest that they may help prevent cancer as well.

Ginger helps to ease sore throats, along with cold and flu symptoms, and it can also calm an upset stomach. 

Cloves have traditionally been used as an invigorating spice, and they may promote circulation as well. 

Cinnamon is a common stimulant. 

Cardamom eases indigestion and helps to calm. 

Pepper also promotes healthy digestion.

For people who experience indigestion after Indian food, a cup of chai might be a great help.

Chai is mentally clarifying and energizing yet calming at the same time. Giving a  great "pick me up" without nervousness or jitters.



Morning Tea Invitation




Why making your own Chai blend is better

Many spice shops sell blends of Chai tea or sell the ingredients separately for you to make up your own blend. Experiment with different proportions of spice to get the taste that you are after.

The combination of spices in the tea can promote general health and ease specific complaints, and people who make their own Chai tea can control the ingredients for the best health effect.

Rather than mixing it fresh on a daily basis, coffee shops tend to order Chai mix in large batches leaving the spices not as potent.



My favourite spice shop where I buy my Chai blend





Cane sugar, honey and citric acid are three of the primary ingredients in the syrupy concentrate that is used to make the Chai tea lattes, with a whopping 220-300 calories per drink.  You can see why making your own blend is much better for you!


The beginnings of Chai tea, it's popularity

Chai is the Indian word for "tea".


In India "Chai" simply means tea. In the Western world it refers specifically to spiced Indian-style tea. That is, tea with traditional Indian spices and milk. Referred to also as Masala Chai, which is more popular in India than coffee.

The popularity of Chai tea is spreading rapidly through the rest of the world, taking on some changes. In some countries, a sweeter, creamier variation known as a "Chai latte" is often served as Chai. Processed Chai drinks like Chai lattes may not be as beneficial as traditional Chai tea. Often containing minimal Chai and very high amounts of white sugar.


How much caffeine is in Chai, and comparing it to coffee?

A cup of Chai tea contains approximately 40mg of caffeine (4 oz of black tea) compared to roughly 120mg in a cup of coffee. However, the caffeine in tea seems to work differently. Due to the interaction of tannin, which is a component of tea. It has a calming effect on the nervous system. Causing the caffeine to be absorbed much more slowly, avoiding a caffeine "shock" giving a calm, relaxed yet focused state characteristic of alpha brain wave patterns.

Without the caffeine "shock" of coffee, you can enjoy a few extra cups. Even having it in the evening without disturbing sleep.


Recipes

Serves: 5 cups

Caffeine free, so kids can drink it too.

Ingredients and method
4 cups water - Boiled
Bring to simmer and add all the ingredients.

10 whole cloves
12 whole cardamom pods
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
4 slices fresh ginger (chopped root)
1 cup light coconut milk, rice milk or almond milk
1 tablespoons raw honey or 1 teaspoon *stevia
The longer it sits, eg 30 minutes, the better it tastes. 

*Stevia is a natural sweetener substitute for sugar and is popular with diabetics



Masala Chai Tea

(serves 4)

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 packets of black tea 
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 2 cardamon pods
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp honey - or to your liking
1. In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon
2. Add mixture to a saucepan with water, ginger, and pepper, bring to boil
3. Remove pan from heat, cover, let steep for 5 minutes
4. Add milk and honey to pan, bring to boil
5. Remove saucepan from heat and add black tea. Cover, let steep for 3 minutes
6. Stir Chai, strain into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups


You can add a twist to these recipes by adding some orange peel, nutmeg, star anise or trying different teas leaves.

There are many recipes on the internet, just do a search for "Chai tea recipes" or "creamy Chai tea recipes".

 Links - Please visit and have a look around




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