Friday, March 03, 2006

Happy Girl's Day!

Today, Japanese and Okinawan families here in Hawai'i celebrate "Japanese Girl's Day" called Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival). Hinamatsuri is a festival which can be traced back to the Edo Era (1603-1876). On this day, families with young daughters celebrate this event at home by displaying their collections of elaborate hina-ningyo (dolls) dressed in Japanese ancient costumes; portraying the Japanese royal court and other props in the house, wishing girls' healthy growth and happiness. These ceremonial dolls have been handed down generations, and displayed for a few days in the best room of the house at festival time, after which they are carefully put away until the next year. It is believed that any hina doll display must be taken down soon after the festival day; otherwise girls in the family will not find husbands.

A set of Hina-dolls usually consists of at least 15 dolls, all in the ancient costumes. The display also includes miniature household articles which often are exquisite artistic productions. The dolls most highly valued are the Dairi-sama, which represent the Emperor and Empress in resplendent court costumes of silk. They are attended by two ministers, three kanjo (court ladies), and five court musicians. All are displayed on a tier of steps, usually five, long and covered with bright red cloth. The Imperial Couple occupy the top step, the Emperor at the left of the Empress. Court ladies and banquet trays and dishes occupy the second tier; the other dolls are arranged on the lower tiers.

Girl's Day Chi Chi Dango Mochi

What's gooey, sticky, sweet, and easy to make? Mochi! This Japanese candy has very few ingredients and is a breeze to cook up - and when you're done you have a treat that's almost as much fun to play with as it is to eat!

What You'll Need:

  • 16 oz Rice Flour (also called Mochiko or glutinous rice flour)

  • 2 1/2 cups Sugar

  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

  • 1 can Coconut Milk

  • 2 cups Water

  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

  • Red Food Coloring

  • Green Food Coloring

  • Combine rice flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix water, coconut milk, and vanilla in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until smooth. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.

    Note: If you want to skip the coloring, simply pour the mochi into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. You can also pour the mochi into a cup cake pan. If you want to be festive, though, continue with step 3.

    1. Remove 2 cups of Mochi mixture. Add 3 drops of green food coloring. Pour into pan, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

    2. Next, pour 2 cups of white Mochi mixture over the first layer. Cover with foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

    3. Add 2 drops of red food coloring to the remaining Mochi mixture (more if you want the layer to be more red than pink), pour over second layer, cover with foil, and bake one last time for 30 more minutes. Let cool then cut into squares with a plastic knife. Enjoy!

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