The Chocolate Fantasy

by: Kadence Buchanan (reading – 7.9. - 13.9.)

Chocolate is produced from the beans of the cacao tree, which originated in South America, and now grows in Africa, the West Indies, the tropical parts of America, and the Far West. Used as the main ingredient in numerous recipes, chocolate constitutes one of the most loved materials known in today's food world. Children and adults both appreciate chocolate's unique aroma, taste, color and texture and prefer it in comparison to other foods.

The cocoa beans, from which chocolate is produced, are large pods. Once harvested, both the pulp from the pods and the bean are allowed to ferment in the sun. The pulp evaporates and the bean develops its chocolaty flavor. Later, the outer skin is removed and the beans are left in the sun for a little longer or they are roasted. Finally they are shelled and the kernels are used for making cocoa and chocolate.

Chocolate once purchased has to be stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat or direct sunlight. Most chocolate can be stored for about a year. When it is stored in the refrigerator or freezer, chocolate can last even longer, but one should be careful with its wrapping as it might pick up flavors from other foods if not properly handled.

If you enjoy using chocolate in your meals, you have to be aware that it should not be melted over direct heat, except when melted with other ingredients, and even then heat should be very low. For easily melting chocolate, begin by breaking it into smaller equal-sized pieces (chunks) of chocolate and placing them into a heat-proof bowl or pot. Then you should place the bowl or pot over a pan of hot water, making sure the base of the bowl is not in direct contact with the boiling water. Once the chocolate starts to melt, stir gently and if necessary leave over the water a little longer. No drops of water or steam should come into contact with the melted chocolate at any time as it will solidify.

After your chocolate is melted, you can use it to create anything, from chocolate cookies and treats to cakes and beautiful decorations. Keep in mind that chocolate sets best at 65° F although it will set, more slowly, in a slightly hotter room. Finally, be careful when you place chocolate into the refrigerator especially after the melting process, as it might develop a white bloom.

About The Author

Kadence Buchanan writes articles for www.inutritioncentral.com/ - In addition, Kadence also writes articles for www.foodandourlives.com/ and www.universeofbeauty.net/ .

What It Takes To Be A Fashion Designer

by: James Mitchell (reading – 14.9. - 20.9.)

Let's get one thing straight - to be a fashion designer you'll need to possess a formidable range of skills and personal qualities. Be honest with yourself, evaluate the extent to which you possess these skills and qualities otherwise you'll eventually run into obstacles in your attempts to be a fashion designer.

First and foremost you need talent. This encompasses a wide range of skills including drawing, sewing, research, vision and creativity. Without a high level of natural talent you can never be a fashion designer.

The fashion industry is tough and competitive - you need to be prepared to use your abilities to give yourself an edge over your rivals. This only comes through having the confidence to truly believe in what you're doing and the assertiveness to deliver.

Without a high level of ambition and the necessary commitment to achieve that ambition you may struggle. You have to be prepared to work hard yet remain open to learning. Displaying high levels of flexibility and using criticism from others in a positive way will allow you to adapt in what is an ever-changing environment.

Effective communication skills are a must. If you can't explain, listen, negotiate or delegate you'll struggle. Likewise organisational skills - if you can't plan and co-ordinate you simply won't finish jobs on time. Part of this comes from being able to make quick decisions and accepting responsibility for those decisions.

If you want to be a fashion designer then you need to accept the fact that you'll also be running a business. That means being able to spot opportunities as well as carrying out the more mundane tasks that are part and parcel of running a business. You'll need to be able to show leadership and be prepared to take a few risks if you want to achieve real success.

On a more artistic level you'll need to be imaginative and creative to generate new ideas. Without a genuine ability to visualize, draw and paint in two dimensions you won't be able to deliver innovation which is the energizing force of fashion design. The same can be said for color sense and the many practical skills that go into making a fashion designer.

To be a fashion designer means being prepared to work as part of a team. You'll need to enjoy group activities and recognize you're only part of a bigger picture that draws from the input of many players. This calls for a friendly, calm temperament, patience, humour and at times a little bit of humility.

The one personal quality that pulls all of this together is having a real passion for fashion - without this the other skills and personal qualities become undermined and you'll find it difficult to be a fashion designer.

If you feel you possess these qualities then don't give up until you cover all the steps you need to take to become a fashion designer.

About The Author

James Mitchell owns and operates www.fashiondesignerbasics.com Fashion Designer

The Mystery of the Ninja

by: Steven Gregoire (reading – 21.9. - 27.9.)

The history of the ninja remains largely a mystery to this day. The ninja were very secretive, and almost never spoke or wrote of their accomplishments, so the majority of what we now know of them is hard to document.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune is one of the most well known historical examples of a ninja. Legend said this ninja was educated by a tengu, and used surprise as the most important weapon in his arsenal. The real story is that he received his training from Chinese books including The Art of War at the hands of Buddhist monks.

Togakure Ryu, which is the origin of the ninja is said to have begun in the late Heian Period. Fiction books often show two of the most famous ninja styles, Iga and Koga, as opponents. Both of these styles are said to have originated in the Heian period and in reality worked closely together to execute mutual defense pacts.

We have very few extant records from the Kamakura period, one of which describes ninja tactics being used by Kusunoki Masashige against his enemies. We have even less historical evidence from the Muromachi period. During these peaceful times battles took on the form of tournaments, which left little room for the element of surprise. Bushido was beginning to form as the proper way of the samurai at this time. It was not until the Edo period was well established that bushido was finally formalized, however ninpo was not yet separated from bushido.

The collection of information became of vital importance during the Sengoku Period, also known as the Warring States period, a situation that led to an increase in ninja. Ninja, or ninja like groups, served as the eyes and ears of almost all famous daimyo. It is said that some daimyo were even ninja themselves. It is widely believed that the Sanada clan were ninja, a belief supported by the fact that approximately 3,000 soldiers were able to defeat a force of 50,000 led by Tokugawa Hidetada to defend their castle. Their tactics during this battle has made them a legend. They were later to be called Sanada Ju Yushi, which can be literally translated ten heroes under Sanada. There are legends which show them able to use their ninja skills to defeat everyone except their jealous wives. The wives, of course, were also ninjas.

Another famous ninja was Tokugawa Ieyasu, who ultimately rose to the rank of Shogun after controlling both Iga and Koga in unifying Japan. He was helped in his escape from the mountains by Iga ninja led by Hattori Hanzo after Oda's assassination. The Siege of Shimabara is thought to be the last battle in which ninja fought. As the Tokugawa shogunate began to stabilize, ninja were put out of a job. Some joined the ranks of Oniwabanshu, a semi-secret band of bodyguards who eavesdropped on daimyo while they worked tending gardens of the Edo castle. Many ninja believed that they would be needed again soon and continued to pass their secret knowledge down through oral teaching. There was one ninja master, Fujibayashi Sabuji, who wrote down collections of ninja teaching. The peace of the Edo period lasted for another 200 years.

Ninja moved from the battlefield to books and plays during the Edo period. These fictional accounts of ninja spoke of mystical powers such as casting spells, becoming invisible, and calling up a giant toad. There were no attempts by ninja to correct these misconceptions, perhaps in an attempt to bolster their value should their services be needed again. One of the least known accomplishments of the ninja is their development of pyrotechnic weaponry and the research of fireworks.

The historical records of the ninja end toward the close of the Edo period were ninja were called upon to join delegates that met ambassadors from abroad. It is thought that some of them may have been serving these ambassadors secretly.

About The Author

Steven Gregoire is a martial arts instructor who also manages stores selling top quality martial arts gear. Ninja costumes for adult or kids www.realninjacostumes.com/

10 Facts about Olive Oil

by: Sally Nightingale (reading – 28.9. - 4.10.)

Olive oil is a fabulous ingredient with many uses, from medicinal purposes such as preventing heart disease and cancer to beauty benefits such as providing anti-aging properties, amongst the most popular form which is used in cooking and baking.

1. History The olive tree is a crop native to Asia Minor that spread to Iran, Syria, Palestine and the rest of the Mediterranean basin around 6,000 years ago. It is among the oldest cultivated trees in the world and began growing long before the written language existed.

2. Family The olive family, also known as the Oleaceae family, comprises of 600 species that are situated on all continents.

3. The Olive Tree There are many variations of olive trees which have many similarities and equally a lot of differences. Growing characteristic and appearance vary, as well as the size, taste and quality olives that they produce.

4. Harvesting One of the most debated questions among growers is when to harvest. Harvesting can be done in many different ways, from hand-picking to completely mechanized harvesting.

5. Maturity Stages Immature olives are green and quite firm – they produce oil that is bitter. These oils are high in antioxidants. When the olive fruit matures, it turns yellowish and starts to soften and then the skin turns purple in colour. As the fruit completely matures, the skin turns from purple to black. Oils produced from these olives usually have a shorter lifespan and are often described as sweet oils.

6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade olive oil. It is made without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. High quality oil is ideal as a condiment - whether it’s drizzled over meat, fish, vegetables and as a dipping sauce for bread.

7. Flavours Flavours of olive oil depend on range of factors including the type of olive, ripeness at harvest, growing conditions, crop maintenance and the handling of the olives. When tasting olive oil, much of the oil characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. A trained taster can identify negative elements within the oil which can be a result of improper handling, poor storage, and wet weather conditions.

8. Beauty Benefits The polyphenols found in olive oil have also been found to slow the process of aging and help prevent degenerative diseases. When used on the hair or scalp, olive oil can be used as a deep conditioner and a dandruff controller.

9. Health Benefits Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while raising HDL (good) levels. No other naturally produced oil has a large amount of monounsaturated as olive oil. Olive oil has also the ability to reduce the effect of an oncogene - a gene that will turn a host cell into a cancer cell.

10. Storage Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place and not in the refrigerator as it will become cloudy and will eventually solidify. If it’s properly stored it can keep for at least two years, however, it is the most flavourful in the first two months.

About The Author

Olive oil comes in a variety of types and has a number of uses. It is perfect for drizzling over pasta, salads, meat, fish and vegetables and has many health benefits.

The author invites you to visit: www.getoily.com