Monday, December 9, 2013

Lucia Nights - Festival of Lights in Bishop Hill - Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14

On Friday, December 13, the Lucia Nights celebration begins at 6 p.m. with the Lighting of the Park Christmas tree Then, the Peoria Cooperative Academy Chorale will be performing in VagnHall Galleri at 6 p.m., with the Kewanee Community Chorus following at 7 p.m.  In the Welcome Center, Vanessa League will be performing from 6 to 9 p.m.
On Saturday, December 14, the Peoria Cooperative Academy Chorale will again be performing in VagnHall Galleri at 6 p.m., followed by the Mountain Men at 7 p.m Barry Cloyd will be performing at the Welcome Center from 6 to 9 p.m.  Also, there will be an Old Fashioned Barn Dance at the Colony School beginning at 7 p.m. The Rusty Pickup Band will be performing.  All dances taught and called by Gail Hintze and Jim Hicks.  Admission is $5 per person, and beginners are welcome. No partner is necessary.

Both Friday and Saturday night, the Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church will host the annual Soup and Chili Supper beginning at 4:30 p.m. until they run out. A free-will donation is appreciated to cover the cost of the meal.  On both nights, Hammer and Pick will be playing at the Steeple Building from 6 to 9 p.m.
Ghosts of Lucia's Day Past
St. Lucia's Day is celebrated in Sweden on December 13 during the darkest days of winter. Martyred St Lucia portrays the “bringer of light” at festivals throughout Europe – and Bishop Hill too! It is the tradition that a small girl dress as St. (Santa) Lucia during town celebrations. In Bishop Hill she serves shop visitors sweet treats and coffee. She is the key figure in this celebration that begins the Christmas season. Lucia dresses in a white gown and wears a crown of candles on her head symbolizing the promise of the sun's return to the cold and dark world.In Swedish homes on Lucia's Day, the youngest girl in the family dresses as St. Lucia and presents her parents with breakfast in bed. That breakfast usually includes a pot of tea, milk, and St. Lucia Buns or Lussekatter (Lucia Cats). The yeasted saffron buns get their names from the whimsical shapes they take while being made: figure-eight shaped "cats," "S" shapes, for saffron. 

Recipe for Swedish Lucia Buns 


2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 deg F)
2/3 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated orange peel
5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
Softened butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, the cardamom, salt, orange peel and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The dough is ready if you poke your finger in to the first knuckle and the indentation remains.
If your raisins are not plump and soft, place them in a bowl and cover them with very hot water. Soak for about 10 minutes; drain them on a towel. This will prevent them from scorching in the oven.
Punch dough down; divide into 4 equal parts. Cut each part into 6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth rope, 10 to 12 inches long. Shape each rope into a "S"; curve both ends into a coil. Place a raisin in the center of each coil. Place on greased baking sheets. Brush tops lightly with softened butter; let rise until doubled, 35 to 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 egg and 1 Tbsp water; brush buns lightly with egg mixture. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Sweet & Simple Holiday Style in Bishop Hill

Christmas is coming to Bishop Hill. Area bakers are whipping up their best confections to tempt the taste buds of visitors attending the annual Chocolate Walk. This year, the public is invited to purchase chocolates in the recently renovated and newly opened Visitors Center, located next door to the Blacksmith Shop, on the east side of the Village Park. Chocolates and other baked goods will be available to buy by the pound on  Sat. Dec. 7 & Sun. Dec. 8 from 10 am to 5 pm. Proceeds from the Chocolate Walk support such Bishop Hill  activities as  Julmarknad, Lucia Nights, Midsommar, and other events. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harvest Time in Bishop Hill means Pumpkins from Nature's Creations!

If you missed Ryan Werkheiser, grower and owner of Nature's Creations, at Bishop Hill's Jordbruksdagarna, there remains opportunities to purchase some of his specialty pumpkins at these events:

Spoon River Scenic Drive
October 12 and 13
Knoxville Fairgrounds, Knoxville Illinois

Galva Craft Show
October 19

Galva High School, Galva, Illinois

Ryan's fields are still yielding a dazzling array of gourds, squash, and pumpkins. I found him hard at work arranging a rack of just-washed carving pumpkins when I caught up to him yesterday.

Ryan maintains a large retail display on
the Werkheiser family farm and is
open to the public on these upcoming Wednesdays:
 10/9/13, 10/16/13, 10/23/23
10am to 6pm
Other hours are by appointment

Nature's Creations
21229 North 500th Avenue
Kewanee, IL 61443

PS: Though I spend a ton o' time and money on products guaranteed to erase the wrinkles and bumps that time has added to my aging skin, I always seem to select the most twisted, lumpy gourds I can find! When it comes to these ornaments, bumpy is beautiful. I am pleased to report that Ryan has grown the most delightfully wild, weird shapes and sizes I've ever seen.
You won't want to miss 'em!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Marvels of yesteryear and tomorrow

Bishop Hill Steeple Clock
I often intimate that understanding the past, with all its incredible secrets, is key to a bright and fruitful future. I like to think what goes around, comes around. It appears the most successful among us are those who learn from history. Great wonders of yesterday abound in Bishop Hill. The Steeple Clock is a fine example. I am as humbled by this past technology as I am by the current wave cresting now!

Recently my brother, Stephen, introduced me to some bits of technology - both new and old.  Stephen has worked for Honeywell International, a leader in manufacturing and the aerospace industry, for most of his adult life. His insights into how engineering advancements filter down into consumer goods are simply stunning. He sent this photo with the message below. I found it chilling.
"We are putting these in a bunch of new products.  
Don’t worry if you can’t see it.  It can see you. 
Yes, it's a camera."

The brave settlers of Bishop Hill risked everything to escape governmental intrusion in their spiritual lives. I celebrate that courage. One of the reasons my husband and I live here is because Bishop Hill is a haven for autonomy, a place where one can live without excessive restrictions. This may be the last bastion
in Illinois where the luxury of such liberty exists.
It is almost off the grid so it's no surprise that Google Earth images of Bishop Hill are often outdated. In this, I take some comfort.
As I adjust to the ever-growing presence of technology in my world, I can’t help but wonder what the original settlers would have thought of omnipresent cameras recording their lives.

Stephen’s most recent email contained more food for thought: This first video is a compilation of clips from  SIGGRAPH's 2013 Computer Animation Festival and features some of the world's most innovative computer graphics. The video blurs any discernible distinction between fantasy and reality. I've included the link to contrast with this second video shown below. It features an amazing eighteenth century automaton. 

We humans have always endeavored to make visual magic, but seldom have we achieved this level of perfection - in vintage or in modern works. 
Enjoy this blast from the past: