Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Flower Preservation Tips: Learn From Professional Florists How to Get the Most Life From Your Flowers

Flowers are one of the most versatile tools that someone can use for communication. You can express love using them, show appreciation to friends or co-workers, or display your superior sense of aesthetics by placing them in your house...

The uses are varied. However the problem with flowers is that they tend to wither and die after a short time.

The good news is that there are methods by which you can slow the dying process, getting more enjoyment from your flowers.

Although many people are not aware of this fact, plants don't die the moment they are uprooted. They are alive for quite a long time after and may be replanted, as long as the roots are kept intact. Moreover, if they are kept moist, preferably their roots waterlogged, they may survive for quite a long time.

Flowers have the same tendencies. If they are kept moist or wet, they can remain fresh for 4-5 days - sometimes for even as long as a week or two. The length of time they will remain fresh depends on the species of flower, as well as way the flowers are cut.

If the flower has a long stem, it will likely remain fresh for almost as long as it would have, if it had not been removed form the plant in the first place. In fact, roses can survive for almost a week if its stem is kept waterlogged for the duration.

The reason for this is that the stem of the flower contains the Xylem, which is the plant tissue responsible for carrying water through the plant. When the flower is connected to the plant, the Xylem is continuous and draws water from the root. If the flower is cut and the Xylem is kept dipped in water, it will continue to draw water to the flower naturally, keeping the flower fresh as if the flower remained attached to the plant itself.

This is why professional florists mount the flowers and leaves on a sponge when making a bouquet. Many people don't even realize that many bouquets have the sponge inside the packaging.

In this manner, you can just water the sponge on which the flowers rest, ensuring that the base of the stem can continue to collect water for transport to the flowers.

At home, you could fill a vase with a little bit of water and place the flowers into it. But, it would be much better to place a small sponge at the bottom of the vase, and embed the base of the stems into the sponge just the way florists would do. This method though efficient, cannot be expected to keep the flowers fresh forever. There are limits...

Buying or plucking the flowers just before your special occasion will keep them fresh for the occasion. But, if you need the flowers to last a bit longer, the sponge and flower vase method will serve you best.

Without constant contact with water, the flowers will generally dry up and wither away in just one or two days.

You should always strive to pluck or purchase your flowers just before the main event or your special occasion, if at all possible. Fresh flowers are just always best.

But not everyone has the luxury of being able to buy flowers freshly cut. Sometimes the sheer scale of an event or a wedding will require flowers to be cut and delivered hours or days before the festivities begin.

If you have to bring the flowers in early, always use refrigeration to store them. It may be a bit more expensive to refrigerate the flowers, but it will extend the life and beauty of the flowers.

By utilizing these flower preservation tips, you will be able to get more life and more enjoyment from every set of flowers you grow or buy in the future.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

High End Florists

Flowers are gifted to individuals during wedding anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, baby showers, Christmas, Mother's Day, and many other events. Florists have seen a rise in trend of the flower markets and their value, which has created a huge demand in the industry. This necessitates florists to employ their talent, skill, knowledge, and expertise fully to stay ahead. There are two categories of florists, local and international. The sub-categories include florists who deal in the finest quality of flowers and are known as high-end florists. These florists provide additional services along with regular flower orders. They allow the customers to choose from gifts such as wine, Champaign, chocolates, and soft toys accompanying their regular order of bouquets and flowers.

High-end florists take the responsibility to serve the customers with the best of services. They have a well-coordinated network and are connected with numerous local florists around the town or city so that quick delivery is possible. High-end florists make sure that they maintain customer relations by delivering orders on time and allowing the customers to make their choice of flowers, gifts that they can personalize. They also provide the customers with a variety of flowers to choose from, which include exotic flowers, designer flowers, exclusive flower baskets, and exquisite roses. Due to their exceptional services, many individuals prefer to book orders with high-end florists.

High-end florists also assist their clients in the process of selecting the right type of flowers depending on the occasion. The designing and arrangement of the flowers display excellent skills of the florists and orders are handled in a professional manner. High-end florists are usually very expensive, but the customer must make sure that they offer their clients with the best services, which is worth the money.

High-end florists have launched websites to further enhance their customer base by allowing them to compare prices and services offered, place orders, and even make payments online.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Online Wholesale Florists

Online wholesale florists offer an efficient and cost effective place to find some of the world's best bulk floral purchases for small or large retail florist shops, grocery stores, gift shops, and community groups. Even individuals can purchase from wholesale florists for weddings in small or large bulk as well as for fund raising organizations. It is extraordinarily easy to browse, compare, purchase and receive bulk items through timely shipping by ordering online. Whether it is fresh cut flowers or potted plants, a huge selection of floral species can be found through many companies that specialize in shipping domestic and international flowers at cut rate prices to retail companies and organizations that can then turn a good profit.

Many companies that provide wholesale floristry products operate from different vantage points regarding sales targets and services. Some wholesale florists have developed a system that has business partnerships with international sources in places like South America. Some South American gardens grow large amounts of greenery and floristry that is sold to wholesalers who in turn market the products to US retailers. Other growers in America sell their products to wholesalers in bulk for the same benefits. This provides a good financial arrangement for producers, wholesalers and retailers because of the many advantages to these partnerships.

Some of the advantages to this arrangement include marketing, credit lines, transportation, customer contacts, bulk sales, and inventory convenience. Growers who are in the business of harvesting flowers and plants in large amounts are not so much in the marketing business and need a distribution channel for their products. Wholesale florists provide a perfect venue with marketing strategies designed to move products to the retail market through seamless transportation plans and optimum marketing strategies. This takes the pressure off overseas growers as well as growers based across the United States who would otherwise have to attempt to market their items to the thousands of retailers across the country.

Good marketing by online wholesale florists connects the producer with the retailer for a perfect financial marriage. Lines of credit are also provided for retailers that many producers cannot offer from overseas venues. Another plus is the fact that wholesale florists can break up bulk products and parcel them out into smaller amounts that are ordered by certain retail buyers. Large gardens in America and overseas are not equipped to handle this assignment and deal only in large shipping orders that generally go to wholesalers. Customer contact is also an important function that wholesalers are able to maintain as the middle man between growers and sellers.

The product convenience that is provided by the florist middle men offer a huge plus to overseas as well as distant US productions by transporting floristry closer to retail stores. This makes it easy for buyers to visit warehouses and marketing facilities in order to make first hand inspections of products before purchase. Another type of online wholesale florists are those that have devised business connections with a network of florist shops and other flower speciality shops around the country in order to be able to provide florist deliveries and quality arrangements to customers at cut rate prices. Many companies offer cheap pricing and free delivery on quality flowers through cost effective methods of marketing and delivery through their network of suppliers and shops.

Companies such as these can boast large inventories of products based on a compilation of network stores worldwide and provide consumers with unparalleled, guaranteed service. The floristry business can be pleasant as well as financially lucrative for many wholesale florists who deal with the beauty of nature that cheers many people on many occasions. The Scripture verse that states "...unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wonderous works declare." (Psalm 75:1) is especially obvious when dealing with garden beauty indoor or outside. Many online wholesale florists offer galleries to display their flowers and plants from many different markets both home and abroad. The beauty of international flowers can be spectacular from orchids to roses that are harvested from tropical gardens overseas.

There are many more services that online wholesale florists offer retail buyers including information on the hottest selling floral items, how to present certain floristry products and where the trends in the floral business is moving. It is also advantageous for many retail buyers to belong to wholesale associations as well as to attend conventions that feature other information relevant to the florist industry. Conventions offer the opportunity to visit with suppliers, to interact with other business owners about the best business practices, and to pick up other important tips. There are many Internet sources that offer further information regarding the whole sale flower business that may be of help to anyone who is interested in retail, wholesale or production opportunities.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jubilant Toast

Champagne is known for its bubbly and lively nature and with this, it is only most appropriate to pop a champagne to celebrate a joyous and happy occasion and savour fine gourmet chocolates to complete this whole experience and make it a moment to remember.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hopefully Yours

Send your best wishes and regards with this amazing hand bouquet. This handsome combination of red and white carnations and lilies is one of the best way to say: We hope all the best for you

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fruity Scent

The sweet scent of fresh fruits and fragrant flowers will fill the room as someone opens this delightful package. Combining a gorgeous arrangement of champagne roses with apples and grapes, this is a gift that will bring enjoyment for anyone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fruitful Journey

A sweet union of freshness and beauty in a gift basket. Send your Lunar Festival wishes with a basket of apples and flower arrangement.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rainbow Quartet

Add a rainbow into your wine tasting experience with this colorful wine tumblers by Riedel. A set contains 4 wine tumblers, each red, green, blue and yellow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dreamy Moments

Enter the cloak of translucent white and into a world of dreams. Eden comes alive in this radiant tunnel, where you are surrounded by a garden of pink ginger and red gerberas - heaven can indeed be experienced right here, right now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Mid-Autumn Festival

In Chinese dichotomy, the sun is yang (positive, active, or male) and the moon is yin (negative, passive, or female). According to the book Chou Li, the Chou emperors (1122-249 B.C.) had the custom of praying to the moon on the 15th night of the eighth lunar month. In the Ching dynasty, there were a sun altar in eastern Peking and a moon altar in western Peking; at the time of every autumnal equinox, the emperor offered sacrifices and prayed to the moon at the moon altar.

Before switching to the Gregorian calendar officially in 1911, the Chinese had used a lunar calendar since time immemorial; and even today, the Chinese still celebrate their traditional festival mooncake by the lunar calendar. In each lunar month, the first day (the new moon) and the 15th day (the full moon) are major events; and the 15th day of the first month (the Lantern Festival) and the 15th day of the eighth month (Mid-Autumn Festival, September 9th this year on the Gregorian calendar) are the largest celebrations besides the Lunar New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Chinese Cupid is called "the old man under the moon" ( ¤ë¤U¦Ñ¤H ) and uses a red thread to tie a man's and woman's feet together to make them man and wife--be they from hostile families or widely separated places.

The most lunatic mortal in Chinese history could have been the great poet Li Po (A.D. 701-762), who once invited the moon to have a drink with him and his shadow to form a band of three. Li finally drowned in a lake in an effort to catch the moon when he was drunk one night. Other Chinese legends about the moon abound.

Legends of the Moon

Hou Yi ( ¦Z¬ý ) was a great archer and architect, who shot down nine extra suns that had suddenly appeared in the sky and thus kept the earth from being scorched. He also built a palace of jade for the Goddess of the Western Heaven. For this, he was rewarded with a pill containing the elixir of immortality, but with strings attached--he must fast and pray for a year before taking it. His wife, Chang O ( ¹ß®Z ), whose beauty was surpassed only by her curiosity, discovered and swallowed the pill and in no time soared to the moon and became a permanent resident there. Upon reaching the moon, Chang O, in dismay, coughed up the pill, which turned into a jade rabbit that, day and night, pounds out a celestial elixir for the immortals.

Another permanent lunar resident of Chinese origin is Wu Kang ( §d­è ), a shiftless fellow who changed apprenticeships all the time before disappointing his last master, who was an immortal. From him Wu learned to be immortal himself, but he was punished by being required to chop down a cassia tree in the moon, an impossible mission. The cut in the tree heals completely the same day, so Wu Kang is still chopping away for eternity. Some Chinese crave to drink his cassia blossom wine.

The Chinese believe that the moon is at its largest and brightest, and Chang O at her most beautiful, on the 15th night of the eighth lunar month. They are at least half-right, for at that time most of China is in the dry season and the moon looms brightest. It's also cool then, a perfect time to celebrate the harvest which has just concluded; hence, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Harvest Festival. The festival is a time for family reunions to appreciate the moon ( ½à¤ë , shangyue) and eat moon cakes together. Bathed in bright moonshine and with the company of chrysanthemum and cassia blossoms, poets eat crab meat and moon cake, drink tea and wine, and versify the night away.

Moon Cakes

The Chinese custom of eating moon cake was first recorded in the reign of the emperor Hsi Tzung (A.D. 874-889) of the Tang dynasty and became popular in the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960-1279) The moon cake is traditionally made in the shape of a full moon, symbolizing union and perfection, is usually about the size of a doughnut, and is stuffed with a variety of fillings such as bean paste, egg yolk, lotus seeds, dates, pineapple, walnuts, almonds, and sesame. The crafty Chu Yuan-chang, founder of the Ming dynasty, instigated a rebellion against the Mongol rulers by concealing a call to revolt in moon cakes, leading to the downfall of the Yuan dynasty.

There are many styles of moon cake in China; the most popular in Taiwan are the Cantonese, Soochow, and Taiwanese styles. The Cantonese moon cake is thicker and heavier, while the Soochow and Taiwanese ones have a crispy skin. In the last couple of years a new breed of refrigerated, unbaked moon cake has been gaining popularity, especially among youngster; and durian, coconut meat, vanilla, tea, and coffer have added as ingredients.

Most Chinese consume moon cakes given to them by relatives, friend, employers, or public relations people.Hence, brands matter. Among the most famous are Kee Wah, Maria's and shin Tung Yang. Moon cakes go best with oolong or jasmine tea.

It takes the moon about 29 1/2 days to revolve around the earth, and the Chinese lunar month is either 29 or 30 days. An extra month(called a leap month) is necessary about every three years. There will be a second eight lunar month in 1995. The 15th of the first eight lunar month is celebrated as the Mid-Autumn Festival, which has been designed a public holiday by the Republic of China government. Have a nice holiday, and remember moon calkes taste best when shared by family members or lovers, or both.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Moon Cakes and Flying Lanterns: Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in New York City

This week we wrote about a lot of Harvest Festivals, but in New York City you can also celebrate the Harvest the traditional Chinese way. The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is the Chinese festival of the Autumnal equinox. Traditionally families go out to admire the big Autumn moon, eat elaborate moon cakes, and light lots of pretty paper lanterns. You can celebrate right along either at one of these events or create your own celebration.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Family Day
Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre St, Manhattan
Sunday, September 19, 2010 from 10am-5pm
Ages 3 and Up

Join the folks at the Museum of Chinese in America for a day long family festival. Children can listen to traditional Autumn moon stories and legends, make lanterns and shadow puppets. Children's book illustrator Grace Lin will present her book Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a story that familiarizes children with the foods and customs of the Autumn Festival mooncake by following the story of one family. And older kids can meet author Lenore Look and her book series about Alvin Ho, a second grader who is afraid of everything.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown
Sara D Roosevelt Park (Canal and Forsyth Streets)
Sunday, September 19, 1-4pm
All ages

Come to Chinatown to sample moon cakes, play games, see lion dancers and music. There might even be some free gifts. The children's lantern parade will be at 1:30.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to celebrate Mooncake Festival

This joyous occasion is celebrated by farmers at the end of the summer harvesting season. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid autumn moon, and eat mooncakes under the bright full moon together. If they gaze really hard at the moon, they may just see the beauty of Chang’e.

Nowadays, Festival Moon Cakes is also known as Lantern Festival. Visit Chinatown during this festival and you will find that the streets, shops and houses are decorated with lanterns. Children are especially delighted when they get to carry brightly lit lanterns of all shape and sizes.

Mooncakes are also known as "reunion cakes" as family members gather to enjoy this pastry. Usually there will be a family reunion dinner on this day. After dinner, children will be playing with lanterns while adults look on and enjoy the mooncake with casual talk. Some may go attend festival performances in parks or public places. Others may celebrate with colleagues, friends or even strangers. Always remember it's about unity and togetherness.

Mooncake flavours

Roughly the size of a human palm, mooncakes are quite filling. Mooncakes are meant to be cut diagonally in quarters and shared with family and friends. One mooncake can be shared by eight people. Normally one person will take more than a piece of mooncake… trying a few flavours too.

Mooncakes has a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling. The mooncake may contain one or two whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. Traditional mooncakes have the word “longevity” or “harmony” (in Chinese characters) printed on it. Traditional mooncakes flavours are lotus seed paste, red bean paste and five kernels (5 varieties of nuts and seeds mixed in maltose syrup). Nowadays mooncakes flavours are plentiful ranging from green tea, tiramisu, chocolate, durian, peanut, cream cheese to chicken floss just a to name a few. There is even mooncake ice cream from Häagen-Dazs and Baskin Robbins.

Mooncakes are eaten throughout the month before the actual festival day. They make meaningful gifts of unity for family and friends.

Share a mooncake with someone you love, family and friends.

This year Chinese Mid Autumn Festival falls on 22 September 2010.

Next year Chinese Mid Autumn Festival will be on 12 September 2011.

And the following years on these dates:

  • 30 September 2012
  • 19 September 2013
  • 8 September 2014
  • 27 September 2015
  • 15 September 2016
  • 4 October 2017
  • 24 September 2018
  • 13 September 2019
  • 1 October 2020

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, on the first full moon night of the 8th month on the lunar calendar, is celebrated by Chinese people all around the world. Chinese moon cake festival takes place at the time of the autumn equinox, when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest, and many of the traditional festivities center around admiration of the moon and eating foods that resemble the moon.

Traditional Chinese Mooncakes

Chinese mooncakes are small pastries about the size of a human palm that consist of a cookie-like crust and various fillings, ranging from lotus seed paste to red and green bean paste. Traditional mooncakes usually have a bright orange salted duck egg enclosed in the filling, which symbolizes the moon. Mooncakes are very rich and heavy, so each mooncake is usually cut into 4 wedges and shared. The traditional way to enjoy mooncakes is to sit with family and friends, and to eat the mooncake while admiring the moon.

Modern mooncakes have also made an appearance – many of these use fruit fillings instead of the traditional fillings, and others replace the traditional crust with glutinous rice crusts (known as mochi). There are also frozen mooncakes that are made with ice cream, as well as jelly mooncakes.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival Holiday

Tossing holiday while eat mooncake was anguish, but frustration is a series of work rest, disrupted and rest.

"when the hit of this year's Mid Autumn Festival National Day: 5 days to work, rest one day, then work three days, then rest 3 days, then go to work 6 days, 7 days and then rest, then work 2 days, then rest one day, then 5 days ... you do good work preparations? "Yesterday, this message became the network on a micro-Bo" reproduced King ", this year's Mid-Autumn National Day holiday is also known as users" in the history of the most frustrating holiday ".

9 月 17 日 work, 18 rest, 19 to 21 to work, rest 22 to 26, 27 and 30 to work on October 1 ~ 7, rest, work from 8 to 9, 10, has closed & hellip ; ... more than half of the summer, many people began to arrange Mid-Autumn Festival (Festival moon cakes), National Day holiday, but smart people realize that the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day became a holiday in the history of the most frustrating, and under "part of the State Council General Office on holiday arrangements for 2010 notice ", from September 18 to October 15, days and rest days were" divided "into 8 parts.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Mid Autumn Festival & Mooncake History

The most popular legend about the origin of the Mid Autumn Festival goes like this:- Once the earth was scorched by ten suns and the people suffered a lot due to this. The crops were parched and the people were plunged into penury. A strong and powerful young man called Hou Yi was quite worried about the entire situation. He ascended the summit of the Kunlun Mountain, exercised his superhuman powers and shot down nine suns one after the other, with his bow and arrow. He also ordered the last sun to rise and set according to a time set by him. Hou Yi was respected and loved by people for his great feat that rescued the lives of many. Lots of people of ideals and integrity came to him to learn martial arts from him. A person named Peng Meng lurked among them.

Hou Yi had a charming and beautiful wife named Chang E whom he loved immensely and with whom he never wanted to part. Once on his way to the Kunlun Mountain , Hou Yi stumbled upon the Empress Wangmu who was touched by his love for his wife, gave him a parcel of elixir, at the intake of which one would ascend immediately to heaven and become a celestial being. However the elixir was only good to make only one person immortal. Hou Yi however hated to part with his wife and asked Chang E to keep the elixir with her for the time being. Chang E kept it in a treasure box and hid it in secret place. But it could not escape the watchful eyes of Peng Meng.

A few days later, when Hou Yi went for hunting, Peng Meng grabbed the opportunity he has been waiting for. He rushed into Chang E's chamber, sword in hand and demanded the elixir. Aware of the fact that she was unable to measure up to the strength of Peng Meng, Change E made a prompt decision at a critical moment. She opened her treasure box, took up the elixir and swallowed it in one gulp. After a moment, she felt light and her body floated off the ground, rose higher and reached the sky. Chang E landed on the moon and became an immortal goddess. Peng meng escaped.

Hou Yi could not believe the misfortune that had befallen him. Overburdened with grief, he looked up at the sky and called out the name of his beloved wife. He noticed that the moon was unusually bright and clear that night and on it there was a swaying shadow that resembled his wife. He tried to chase the moon but the moon eluded him.

Huo Yi began to miss his wife terribly. He had an incense table arranged in the back garden and put fresh fruits and sweet meats on it, that Chang E loved and held a memorial ceremony for her.

When people heard that Chang E has transformed into a celestial being, they made arrangements for incense table in the moonlight and prayed to her for good fortune and peace. This is how the custom of worshipping the moon became popular among the people.

Today couples declare their undying love for each other under the full moon of this mid autumn day. Estranged lovers pray for their reunion.

Another legend concerns Wu Kang, a restless fellow who found it difficult to concentrate on a particular thing. One day he decided that he wanted to be immortal and went to live in the mountains where he met an immortal and asked him to teach him the secrets of immortality. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to cure sickness. But a few days later his characteristic restlessness surfaced and Wu Kang asked the immortal to teach him chess, but after a short while his enthusiasm again waned. Then Wu Kang was asked to go through books on immortality. As usual, Wu Kang became bored with it in a short while and asked whether they could travel to some new and exciting place. Fed up with Wu Kang's impatience, the master banished him to the Moon Palace commanding him to cut down a huge cassia tree before returning to the earth. Though Wu Kang continued to chop the tree day and night, yet the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and therefore he is there still chopping the tree.

China was ruled by the Mongolian people during the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1280-1368). Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D. 960 - 1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set to coordinate a secret rebellion. As the Festival moon cakes was drawing near, the leaders of the rebellion ordered the making of special cakes.

At the back of each was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.

According to the legend of the "Jade Rabbit", three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged to eat something from the fox, a rabbit and the monkey. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit who had nothing to offer, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they allowed him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."

There is an interesting story behind the popularity of the Mooncake. During the Yuan Dynasty (1280 A.D - 1368 A.D), China was ruled by the Mongols. They were very oppressive rulers and were overthrown by the Chinese. It might sound curious but the fact remains that the mooncakes played a significant role in the rebellion. The Mongols did not eat mooncakes and the Chinese were quick to take advantage of that. They found an innovative way of coordinating the revolt. Leaders of the revolt distributed the mooncakes among the common people under the pretext of celebrating the Emperor's long life. Each mooncake had an outline of the attack baked within its skin. The secret message informed the people to revolt on the 15th of the 8th moon (also the Autumn Moon festival). On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Since then the mooncakes became a national tradition of China.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Golden Jade Light

Golden Jade Light

Get together with friends and family on a bright Mid Autumn festival with this mouthwatering moon cake. The Golden Jade moon cake enhanced with aloe vera gel and bee honey. Item can only be deliver starting 6th September 2010
Moon Cake With Yolk, Aloe Vera Gel And Bee Honey

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Festive Feeling - Singapore’s Mid-Autumn Festival

It was certainly a cunning plan. With 14th century China ruled by the Mongol empire, rebels plotted an uprising but had no way to spread details of their plan. One of them came up with the idea of hiding a message in mooncakes, small thin-crusted pastries filled with lotus bean paste, which were then distributed as part of the annual Mid-Autumn harvest festival. The uprising succeeded and the Mongols were banished from the land.

As with many such folktales, it is quite possible that the Mooncake uprising never really happened. But to this day, Chinese communities around the world remember the story as they enjoy the pastries in the run up to the Mid- Autumn Festival. Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth moon, on October 3 this year, the celebration is even called the Moon Cake Festival in some countries.

Food for Thought
In Singapore, where the majority of the population is of Chinese ancestry, the festival is celebrated with gusto and helped to make my visit last year a memorable one. One of the high points was the free tour organized by the tourist board, which took participants through the lantern-strung streets of Chinatown (Singaporeans also call this the Lantern Festival).

As we walked through crowds buying festive treats in street markets, our informative and amiable guide Bernard filled us in on some of the tales associated with the festival. Most revolve around a woman called Chang’e who drinks an elixir of immortality and becomes the Goddess of the Moon.

The tour was, however, about much more than just the festival. Bernard talked about the changes in Chinatown over the decades and pointed out key features of the architecture, such as the distinctive “five foot way” verandahs that protect pedestrians from the weather.

We also got the chance to taste traditional delicacies. Some, such as pork jerky and egg tarts, are popular throughout the year but it was great to be taken to some of the places which locals consider truly special. The egg tarts, for example, were from a shop called Tong Heng that has been selling them for 90 years. Then, of course, we had the chance to try mooncakes, which I enjoyed along with a cup of green tea. In recent years, nontraditional fillings such as Häagen-Dazs ice cream have become very popular.

Marching On
The guided tours are just a small part of the festivities. One afternoon I stopped in a marquee to watch part of the classic story of the Journey to the West. Under ordinary circumstances, I might not watch an entire Chinese opera—the music could seem very dissonant to outsiders —but it was great to watch the very acrobatic display of martial arts for half an hour. t was certainly a cunning plan. With 14th century China ruled by the Mongol empire, rebels plotted an uprising but had no way to spread details of their plan. One of them came up with the idea of hiding a message in mooncakes, small thin-crusted pastries filled with lotus bean paste, which were then distributed as part of the annual Mid-Autumn harvest festival. The uprising succeeded and the Mongols were banished from the land. As with many such folktales, it is quite possible that the mooncake uprising never really happened. But to this day, Chinese communities around the world remember the story as they enjoy the pastries in the run up to the Mid autumn festival. Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth moon, on October 3 this year, the celebration is even called the Moon Cake Festival in some countries.

The highlight, though, was the lantern parade on the festival night itself. Arriving at Outram Park metro station and not knowing what to expect, I discovered that the event was very welcoming to tourists. For just S$3—which won’t usually buy you very much in Singapore—I received a bag containing a paper lantern kit, candle, mooncake and a few other bits and pieces. The staff at the stand even helped me to put the lantern together after I had fumbled with it for 10 minutes.

At the sound of an air horn, the drummers at the front of the procession began to play and dragon dancing started around them. I followed the crowd along roads closed to traffic and illuminated with images of Chang’e, drawn along by the beat of the drums and entertained by fire-breathers and other performers.

The parade ended at the Clarke Quay, a popular stretch of bars and restaurants. As I waited for fireworks display which would end the event, I reflected that this festival famous for helping to kick out foreign invaders from China now represents an excellent reason to visit Singapore.

Digging Deeper
The festival is a perfect time to explore the history of the city’s Chinese community. The Chinatown Heritage Centre is a great place to start, with lots of informative displays and a recreation of an old shop house showing just how cramped and difficult the conditions were for many Chinese immigrants.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Other Foods of the Moon Festival

Mid autumn festival always related with Mooncake, but the truth is it is not just the only food when celebrating this event. These are the other foods of the Moon Festival:

Salted Eggs

The humble duck egg becomes a prized commodity come Mid-Autumn. Duck eggs, which are salted, are one of the main ingredients for making moon cakes. Manufacturers of moon cakes will import them in bulk from places like China and Vietnam. However, only the yolk is used. Makes us wonder if anyone has come up with any idea to make use of the discarded egg whites. But nowadays, with the increase of housewives trying their hands at making moon cakes at home, market stalls have come up with the idea of selling just the yolks.

Lotus Seeds / Paste
The same goes for lotus seeds. The seeds are grinded and cooked with other ingredients to form a paste. Lotus paste is the binding element in a traditional moon cake. What differentiates a good piece of moon cake from a poorly made one is mainly the lotus paste. A good paste takes hours upon hours of work to cook to perfection. The finishing result should be a paste that's moist and not too sweet and of a thick consistence.

Piglet Biscuits
Known by the Cantonese as "Jue Zai Bang" (Piglet Biscuits), these are traditionally sold with moon cakes, mainly to attract the kids. Why the baked biscuits are shaped in the form of piglets is anyone's guess, but the colourful plastic baskets they come in sure reminds one of real pigs trapped in rattan baskets, ready for the slaughter. In any case, these piglet biscuits sure bring back the good old memories of childhood.

The word for pomelo in Chinese is homophonous with that for "blessing," and thus the fruit is considered auspicious. Since pomelo season coincides with Mid-Autumn Festival, this sweet fruit has naturally become a part of the festivities.

This prized fruit, resembling a giant grapefruit is distinguished by its pointed top, round bottom, thin skin and honey-sweet taste. Coincidentally, it is also the largest of all citrus fruits. In the olden days, after adults have peeled out the edible fruit, children used to stick candles in the middle of the skin (peeled to resemble an open flower). Mischievous ones may even use them as a hat over the head!

Water Caltrop (Bull's Horn)
The colloquial term for water caltrop in Chinese is "Ling Jiao" (Bull's Horn) for the simple reason because it truly resembles a bull's horn. The thick black shell of this nut has to be hammered to be broken open. Once cracked, it reveals a creamy white nut inside. This peculiar food is only available during the mid-autumn season.

Little Yams
Only sold during the Mid-Autumn Festival. These miniature yams are softer and fluffier than their bigger siblings. It's also one of those foods that families used to eat along with the Bull's Horns and moon cakes. Best eaten steaming hot - peel back the skin and dip the yam into granulated sugar with every mouthful.

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