Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our LIEP Mardi Gras Celebration

At the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP), we devoted the morning of Friday, March 4, to our Mardi Gras celebration. We played Mardi Gras games, baked a Mardi Gras King Cake, listened to Mardi Gras music, and crowned our own King and Queen!

LIEP Instructor Jess Haley organized three games that were fun and educational. First came MARDI GRAS TRIVIA, where interesting facts about Mardi Gras were unearthed. Did you know, for instance, that the word "carnival" comes from Latin words that mean "goodbye to meat" or "goodbye to the flesh," since abstinence from meat and denial of the flesh are common practices during the season of Lent, which follows Mardi Gras? Below, LIEP students record answers to Mardi Gras Trivia questions.

Next came a game of MARDI GRAS DOUBLOON TOSS. Cups of various sizes and at various distances were taped to a long table, and we had to toss Mardi Gras doubloons (colored coins thrown during carnival parades) into the cups. Each cup carried a number of points, depending on its size and its distance from the thrower. Below, you can see the Mardi Gras Doubloon Toss table in the background.

Finally, we played MARDI GRAS SCRAMBLE, where we had two minutes to form as many words as possible from a longer word or expression that is typical of Mardi Gras or of New Orleans. Below, we see LIEP Instructor Jess Haley writing the word LAGNIAPPE on the board for us to form smaller words with.

Lagniappe means "a little something extra," such as a piece of candy given by a shop-keeper when we make some other purchases. What words can you form from LAGNIAPPE in two minutes? Let's see: lap, pal, nap, pan, . . .

Besides our Mardi Gras games, our celebration featured the baking of a KING CAKE. King Cake is eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season. A King Cake is shaped like a ring, or a donut. A small plastic baby is baked into one of the slices. This represents the Baby Jesus, whom the Three Kings, or Three Wise Men, were searching for. Whoever gets the slice of King Cake containing the plastic baby becomes the King or the Queen of the day!

Below, you see two King Cakes. The one at the top, topped with colored sugar, comes from a bakery. The one at the bottom, topped with almonds, is the one we baked at our Mardi Gras celebration. Both were delicious!

Here is the recipe for our King Cake.

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4 cups flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
some cinnamon
16 almonds
1 small plastic baby


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in sugar.

Beat eggs. Heat butter and milk until butter is melted. Add beaten eggs and butter/milk mixture to the dry mixture, and mix thoroughly.

Knead gently for a few minutes.

Roll out on a floured surface to make a 1/2-inch rectangle.

Sprinkle the rectangle with cinnamon.

Roll up the rectangle so that it resembles a long rope (as you would roll a jelly roll). Join the ends of the rope together to form a ring, or a donut shape.

Place the unbaked cake carefully into a greased and floured 10-inch by 13-inch baking pan or onto a greased and floured cookie sheet.

Insert the plastic baby from beneath, making sure that it gets up into the center of the dough, and place 1 almond on top of that spot.

Place 15 more almonds around the top of the King Cake at regular intervals. When you serve the King Cake, you will cut the slices so that there is an almond in the center of each. This will help to insure that you don't slice through the plastic baby!

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes.

Serves 16 people. Enjoy!

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Below are pictures showing us baking our King Cake.

Meet our King Cake baking team, from left to right: Merve Babayigit from Turkey, LIEP Instructor Karen Greenstone from the United States, Coco Zhao from China, and Sister Kim Dung Bui from Vietnam.
Merve mixes our ingredients.

Merve prepares to knead the dough gently.

Kneading produces doughy hands!

Merve and Sister Dung roll out the dough.

The team begins to roll up the dough, which has been sprinkled with cinnamon.
We place the cake into the greased and floured pan, join the ends, and shape the cake.
Our King Cake has just emerged from the oven!
As we enjoyed all this activity - games and baking - we listened to the sounds of "Mardi Gras Mambo" and other Mardi Gras songs!

Finally, as we ate our delicious King Cake, we learned who had earned the most points at the Mardi Gras games. These two Mardi Gras game champions were crowned King and Queen!
Our Mardi Gras Royalty: King Sung-Uk Jung of Korea and Queen Merve Babayigit of Turkey!
Our next post will introduce you to a very special person in the Center for International Education at Loyola University New Orleans: our friendly and helpful office manager, Ms. Susan Dempsey.

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