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.