Happy Halloween!!

BOO!

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BOO!

Did you know that in some parts of England, Halloween was called ‘Mischief Night’? And it really just meant that. People would cause a ruckus, like taking doors off their hinges and throwing them into ponds, or would hide them for no one to find? Hilarious!
I found some very funny, spooky, and interesting traditions for Halloween all around the world. Listen to some of these from Halloween Around the World.

IRELAND

Thousands of years ago there was a tribe of farmers called the Celts. They knew that the sun helped make their crops grow, so when autumn came the sun began to fade and they believed that the sun would be winter’s prisoner for six months.

They were worried that the sun would not return so to make sure it did they held a festival on October 31. During which, they asked the sun to return safely in the summer. All the cooking fires were put out and a huge bonfire was lit on the hillside. Here they prayed the sun would shine brightly after winter was over.

The next morning they would return to the hillside take a piece of the burning wood from the remains of the bonfire and light new fires so as to bring good luck. Feasts were held over the new fires and people would dress up in costumes made out of animal skins. It was believed these costumes would protect people from bad luck.

CHINA

The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts: In China the souls of the dead, particularly during the seventh lunar month, wander the earth in search of affection. They are known as the hungry ghosts because of their hunger for recognition and care.

CZECH REPUBLIC

In Czechoslovakia chairs are placed by the fireside. There is a chair for each family member and one for each family member’s spirit.

GERMANY

Here, people put their knives away. This is done as they do not want to risk hurting the returning spirits.

HONG KONG

During the Hungry Ghosts Festival or Yue Lan, ghosts and spirits roam the world for 24 hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money. This was believed to reach the spirit world and comfort the ghosts on this day.

ITALY

In Southern Italy families prepare a special feast for the souls of the departed on All Souls’ Day. The families would set the table with a bountiful meal. Then they would all go to church to pray for the souls of the deceased. They stayed there all day, leaving their home open so that the spirits could enter and enjoy the feast.

When the family came home to find that their offerings hadn’t been consumed it meant that the spirits disapproved of their home and would work evil against them during the coming year.

POLAND

In Poland doors and windows are left open to welcome the spirits or the visiting souls.

PORTUGAL

In Portugal they have feasts of wine and chestnuts at the cemetery.

RUSSIA

In Russia the blue cat is said to bring good luck. Blue cats such as Russian Blue, British Blue and Burmese.

Photo: I’m taller than you!

What?! Who’s there?

Curious grizzly bear in Kananaskis, Alberta.

Read about my wildlife photography practices.

Quote: Bolivia’s Politics

Bolivia is a majority indigenous nation, but that majority has always been excluded.
Evo Morales

Bolivian Dessert: Passionfruit Cheesecake

Umm..so I was looking up a tasty Bolivian meal to cook this evening and was a little turned off by the recipes for ‘roasted armadillo’ and ‘beef head stew’, so instead of turning myself off even more, I decided to look up desserts.

I’m not a huge sweets fan, but this cheesecake sounds delicious, and unique. I’ll give it a try!

Maracuya Cheesecake (Passionfruit)

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter a 10 inch pan

Ingredients:

170g (small packet) of suitable biscuits (cookies) for the base

One tablespoon of butter, melted

175ml of maracuyá juice (plus a tablespoon of reserved pulp). 5 large maracuyá should be sufficient for this

4 eggs

3 + 2 rounded teaspoons of cornstarch

500g of pressed ricotta (diet is fine)

1 cup of thick (greek-style) yogurt. If you can?t get greek-style yogurt then you can strain normal yogurt to remove additional whey

3/4 cup plus 1 desertspoon of sugar

1 large orange

Method

Put the biscuits in a food processor and reduce to crumbs. Add to melted butter and stir to mix thoroughly. Press this mixture into a thin, even, layer on the base of your springform pan. Put in the fridge whilst you make the topping.

Put the maracuyá pulp in a sieve and extract all the juice you can. Put 175ml of this juice into a food processor/ blender. To this add your pressed ricotta cheese, broken into small pieces, cup of yogurt, 3 rounded teaspoons of cornstarch, 3/4 cup of sugar and the whites and yolks of 4 eggs. Blend until smooth.

Pour into the springform ban and bake until the top of the cheesecake is firm (your finger will still make a mark on the top at this point). My oven takes an hour to do this but it may be on Bolivian time and I would recommend you check after about 40mins. Turn off the oven, leave the door open slightly and leave the cheesecake to cool inside.

Don’t worry if the top cracks! The topping will cover this. Remove the cheesecake from the pan when completely cool.

When the cheesecake is fully cooled and removed from the pan, you can make the topping. Add 1 tablespoon of pulp (loose seeds rather than a lump) into a measuring jug. Add any left-over maracuyá juice, and make this up to 100ml with juice from your orange. Add sugar to taste, and stir in 2 teaspoons of cornflour. Put in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the mixture becomes thick (this will happen very quickly and suddenly).

With a spatula, smooth this mixture over the top of the cheesecake, making sure not to disturb the cooked cheesecake below.

Buen provecho!

Fantasy Friday: Beautiful Bolivia

Lonely Planet knows how to do it right in Bolivia, of course.

Let’s close our eyes (wait…read this though) and picture ourselves being transported to one of the wildest parts of South America:

Simply superlative – this is Bolivia. It’s the hemisphere’s highest, most isolated and most rugged nation. It’s among the earth’s coldest, warmest, windiest and steamiest spots. It boasts among the driest, saltiest and swampiest natural landscapes in the world.

Top 5 things to do and see in Bolivia:

1. Salar de Uyuni – An eerie, otherworldly sea of salt that will haunt your daydreams for years to come.

2. Potosí – A wealth of colonial churches with fabulous paintings, and miners looking to strike it lucky in hell.

3. Sorata – Alluring spot for action or inaction, for exhilarating treks or swinging in a hammock.

4. Parque Nacional Torotoro – Thousands of dinosaur tracks criss-cross this rough and rugged beauty of a national park.

5. Samaipata – This picturesque, laid-back town is the gateway to the pre-Inca site, El Fuerte, and stunning Parque Nacional & Área de Uso Múltiple Amboró.

Just stunning. What a unique and interesting landscape/history this place has. Count me in!

Top 5: Tours of Volcanoes

I am at the point in my Geography course where I am introducing my students to volcanism and I’ve been thinking back to few volcanoes I have seen in my lifetime. They were absolutely awe inspiring, just thinking of how they formed, and the power the have on our planet. I am looking forward to adding more volcano trips to my list of adventures.

This might be a bit of a biased list, since I have been to the top 3. My apologies, but I would love to say I have been to all of them!

5. Mount Yasir, Vanuatu

To get to the most accessible and one of the most active volcanoes would be such a great adventure! The island is so isolated and untouched, it would be a great place to hike, too!

4. Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland

I would love to go to Iceland to see the volcanoes, glaciers and mid-Atlantic Ridge ripping up the landscape of this hostile environment, with the nicest people around. It would especially be neat to see the result of that hyped Eyjafjallajokull eruption a few years ago.

3. Mount Vesuvius, Italy

Visiting Pompeii, then hiking up Mount Vesuvius (in flip flops…oops) was one of the highlights of my trip to Italy a few summers ago.

Pompeii was so eerie and fascinating, but I went rather quickly from destroyed house to destroyed monument. That summer was one of the hottest in recent years in Italy, and walking around in an open area like that in 50 degree celsius temperatures was not going so well.

At least it was a tad bit cooler, with a breeze when I arrived at the top of Mount Vesuvius and enjoyed the view of Naples below.

2. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

I took a geoscience course on the Big Island of Hawaii a few summers ago and had a rare chance to climb to the top of the tallest mountain in the world. I love telling my students this when I introduce the topic. YES – that’s right, if you measure the elevation from the base of the mountain well below sea level – it then IS the tallest mountain in the world.

My professor drove part way up the mountain and we were able to then hike to a series of obsevatories, take a tour of one, then proceed to the summit of Mauna Kea.

yes, that’s in Hawaii…looks like beach weather, doesn’t it?

1. Kilauea, Hawaii

On the same course that took me to the summit of Mauna Kea, our professor drove us to the most active volcano in the world – Kilauea. We hiked to the shore along old lava flows and sat in a circle discussing the history of this fascinating volcano.

As the sun began to set, the red glowing lava was easy to see, as it exited from lava tubes under the surface, and into the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the most awe inspiring things I have seen.

I didn’t include Yellowstone on this list. I’m not sure if it’s fair to include a supervolcano – it would blow all the others out of the competition (literally?).