Jun 222015
 

South Africa: Mealie Bread Recipe and Favorite Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Being from the US South, I love cornbread!  We already enjoy a Costa Rican version, so when we studied South Africa recently, I thought it would be fun to try their version, too!  Popular in many parts of southern Africa, it is known as mealie bread.  I love that it incorporates fresh corn into the recipe!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

South Africa: Mealie Bread Recipe

I used this mealie bread recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Global Table Adventure.  (You may recall we used her recipe for the amazing Saudi Arabian “Magic” Cake).  The only change I made was to accommodate my texture-sensitive Monkey: rather than reserving some of the corn kernels to add into the batter whole, I blended all of them with the eggs and butter.

South Africa: Mealie Bread Recipe and Favorite Books | Alldonemonkey.com

The boys really got involved in cooking this recipe, which was nice, as lately they have been less interested in getting into the kitchen.

South Africa: Mealie Bread Recipe and Favorite Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Mixing the wet and dry ingredients

 

South Africa: Mealie Bread Recipe and Favorite Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Best of all, in the end we had a really delicious cornbread to share with our friends!

South Africa: Favorite Books

We also read some great children’s books about South Africa. One we read over and over was Next Stop–Zanzibar Road!, which I found out about thanks to this wonderful post on Africa for Kids from Mud Hut Mama.  It is a really fun book about a kind-hearted, resourceful elephant named Mama Jumbo and her animal friends.  It is a wonderful way to help kids get a feel for everyday life in a small town in southern Africa.

To be totally honest, I was skeptical about reading a book about a white, foreign child going on a safari in South Africa, as it just had so many colonialist and tourist-y echoes for me.  But we really enjoyed Adventures of Riley #1: Safari in South Africa, part of a series of books about a conservationist kid learning about wildlife around the world.  For my nature-loving kids, it was a really fun read, and it also lent itself very easily to extension activities.  For my older son, for example, we went through and did a tally of how many of the animals Riley encounters are carnivores, how many herbivores, and how many omnivores and then turned this data into a bar graph, a math concept we’ve been learning about.

And, of course, we spent a great deal of time learning about Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid. Mandela’s autobiography has been adapted for children as Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. This book is a great introduction to his life and the motivations behind his long struggle for freedom in his homeland. Mandela’s incredible attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation had unmistakable echoes of our study of Martin Luther King, Jr and so was a great way to bring that lesson home again.

Around the World in 30 Days | Cutting Tiny Bites

This post is part of the series Around the World in 30 Days, providing a wonderful collection of crafts, activities, and recipes to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to our amazing world.  I am also linking up to Around the World in 12 Dishes.

Apr 102015
 

Coconut Oatmeal Pudding: Learning about Senegal {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

For our next stop in “Around the World in 12 Dishes” we headed to Senegal!  In addition to learning about the endangered African manatee, we also decided to try Sombi (coconut rice pudding), a popular treat made with coconut milk and shredded coconut.  I love arroz con leche, so I was looking forward to trying this coconut-flavored version.  When we had all the ingredients laid out, however, Monkey casually reminded me that he does not like rice and so wouldn’t be having any.

Never mind that he picked out the recipe.  Never mind that he already knew that the recipe had rice in it (thus the name).

And so I had to make a decision – make authentic rice pudding with him, knowing he would refuse to even try it, or make a drastic substitution, altering the very essence of the recipe, in the hopes that perhaps he will grace it by trying a spoonful or two?

Well, given our track record of altering recipes, you can probably already guess the answer.  “What if we used oatmeal instead?” I suggested.

“Oh yeah!” he responded.  “We could do that, Mommy.”  And so we did.  And I must say, it was AMAZING!  Not authentic by any stretch, but nevertheless a positive (and delicious!) experience.

Coconut Oatmeal Pudding

adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups)

1 c unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1/4 t salt

1/2 t vanilla

1 c quick cooking oats*

1 T fresh lime juice (optional)

*If you don’t have quick cooking oats, pulse rolled oats in a food processor several times until you achieve the desired consistency

Coconut Oatmeal Pudding: Learning about Senegal {Around the World in  12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

Simmer coconut milk, coconut, sugar, salt, and vanilla over medium heat, stirring often, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add oatmeal and cook, stirring, until pudding thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in juice, if using; serve warm.

YUM!  In case you are wondering, yes, Monkey did try a few spoonfuls, though Little Monkey and I were the ones that really gobbled it up.

Coconut Oatmeal Pudding: Learning about Senegal {Around the World in  12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

What are you cooking up lately?

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up: Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks. If you try a dish from Senegal, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees

 activities, Around the World in 12 Dishes, Earth Day, Education, education3  Comments Off on Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees
Apr 072015
 

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees | Alldonemonkey.com

To continue our theme of learning about endangered animals, we turned our attention to Senegal (our next country in Around the World in 12 Dishes) and began to study the African manatee.  There are three species of manatees, but the African (or West African) manatee is perhaps the least known of the three and the most endangered.

Disclosure: This post contains a sponsored link for your convenience.

These animals are known locally as “Mamiwata”, an African name (unfortunately I wasn’t able to discover which African language) for the spirit believed to be embodied by the manatee.  The gentle manatees are marine mammals, which means they must surface periodically to breathe.  Most manatees are primarily herbivores, but now there is evidence that the African manatee actually eats fish, mollusks, and clams.

The African manatee can be found in the shallow coastal waters, rivers, and estuaries of West Africa and is under threat from poaching, fishing (because of getting caught in fishing nets), and habitat loss from construction of dams.  While firm numbers are difficult to come by, it is clear that the African manatee is under grave threat and its population is in danger of disappearing from several of the countries – including Senegal – where it has traditionally lived.

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees | Alldonemonkey.com

To learn more about the African manatee, I created a word search and word puzzle, which you can download and print here:

African Manatee Word Search

African Manatee Word Puzzle

 

Additional Resources on African Manatees:

From Save Our Species

From Save Our Seas

From Wildlife Conservation Society

From Sirenian International

From EDGE

From IUCN Red List

Title image via http://currencewiki.wikispaces.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Earth Day Books and Music Giveaway

To inspire earth-friendly practices with your family, I’m so excited to be taking part in an awesome Earth Day giveaway with several other kid bloggers. Several publishers have offered earth-themed books and music prizes for your Earth Day celebrations. Hopefully, these wonderful resources will inspire a love of nature in your children and motivate them to make a difference in the world. Amazon affiliate links are below for your convenience.

The Earth Day Giveaway co-hosts are:

Kids Yoga Stories, Mama Smiles, Spanish Playground, Creative World of Varya, Crafty Moms Share, the piri-piri lexicon, All Done Monkey, and Eva Varga

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #1

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY

PRIZE PACK #1

Water Rolls, Water Rises, by Pat Mora
Celebrate the wonders of the water on planet Earth with this poetic and illustrative bilingual book.

Call Me Tree, by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Act out this beautiful bilingual story following a young child mimicking the growth of a tree.

Kings & Queens of the Forest CD, by Kira Willey
Act out a journey to the forest with Kira Willey’s enchanting yoga-inspired music.

Imaginations 2, by Carolyn Clarke
Use guided imagery to explore nature while learning to calm the mind and body with these relaxation stories.

Sophia’s Jungle Adventure, by Giselle Shardlow
Join Sophia and her family on a jungle adventure while learning to appreciate jungle life and doing yoga along the way.

Every Day is Earth Day Kids Yoga Lesson Plan PDF, by Next Generation Yoga
Create an earth-themed yoga session with this kids yoga lesson plan.

Compost Stew, by Mary McKenna Siddals
Dig into composting with this engaging rhyming text.

Too Much Junk song, by Elska
Get inspired to enjoy nature and simplify your life with this new musical adventure.

Backyard Garden CD, by Earthworm Ensemble
Celebrate nature, green living, and gardening with this uplifting new music.

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #2

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY

PRIZE PACK #2

Change the World Before Bedtime, by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good
Find out how the simple things in life that can inspire huge differences that change the world.

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid
Discover new ways to experience trees in this book with stunning imagery.

This Tree Counts, by Alison Formento and Sarah Snow
Practice counting with animals that live in trees.

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green, by Eileen Spinelli and Anne Kennedy
Join Miss Fox as she teaches her forest animal students how to go green.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver, by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell
Step into the historical world of Dr. Carver as he teaches children about gardening.

What’s So Special About Planet Earth?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn how planet Earth is different from other planets.

Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn why and how the world is getting warmer and what we can do about it.

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #3EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY

PRIZE PACK #3

Earth Day CD and Recycled Musical Activities eBook, by Daria Marmaluk Hajioannou
Sing and dance to catchy folk music to celebrate our beautiful rainbow world.

Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman
Take a look at nature in a new way with this book that explains all about the nature with sketches.

Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun, by Michael J. Caduto
Learn about renewable energy with 22 activities on producing and using it.

Ecology eBook – Ecology Explorations, by Eva Varga
Explore your local ecosystems with this hands-on ten-week life science curriculum.

When the Animals Saved Earth, by Alexis York Lumbard
Read a tale about how animals teach humans to restore balance in nature.

Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree, by Durga Yael Bernhard
Explore trees all over the world and see what a child sees when climbing those trees

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Apr 032015
 

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

As part of our study of Bolivia and the “Around the World in 12 Dishes” series, we looked more closely at one of the great symbols of the Andes – the condor.  A really great online resource about the Andean condor (cousin to the also endangered California condor) is, of course, National Geographic.

Many Americans are familiar with the famous song “El Condor Pasa,” written by a Peruvian composer last century and based on Andean folk melodies.  It was later popularized by none other than Paul Simon, who added his own lyrics.  He can be seen here singing on Sesame Street:

The condor had been respected by the native Andeans as a mystical bird, but the newly arrived Spanish saw it as a nuisance.  Ironically, the Spanish hunted it to near extinction out of a mistaken belief that it was killing their cattle.  Yet this was not the case, as the condor is a scavenger, meaning it feeds off of carrion (dead meat), just like a vulture.

My Monkey was quite indignant over this devastating mistake: “They should have killed the eagles instead!” he told me many times.  Well, not quite the “living in harmony with the natural world” sentiment I was aiming for, but at least he does have an emotional attachment to the condor!

The Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds on the planet – in fact, it is the largest if you go by wingspan, as they measure an enormous 10 feet (3 meters) from tip to tip.  They need that wing power, as they are also some of the heaviest flying birds around!

To help Monkey get a sense of just how large these birds were, we did an activity based on a display I saw at our local zoo.  The idea is to have children measure their own “wingspan” and compare it to the wingspans of various birds, including the condor.

First we researched the wingspans of various birds, from the Andean and California condors to the hummingbird.  Then, of course, we measured his!

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

Here are the measurements we used:

 Hummingbird: 4 inches
Mandarin duck: 28 inches
My Monkey: 46 inches
Bald Eagle: 7 feet
California Condor: 9.5 feet
Andean Condor: 10 feet

Then we marked the measurements all on our floor with masking tape.  (We had planned to do more birds, but Little Monkey thought the game was to pull up all of the tape markings as soon as we had put them down, so we decided to keep our list relatively brief).

We first marked a spot that would serve as our center then marked each wingspan on either side of this, so that when you look down at the floor, the wingspans line up on top of each other and you can really see how they size up.

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

Beyond learning about the Andean condor and other birds, this is a great exercise in measuring and counting.  Older kids could also help halve the wingspan measurements, since half (one wing) is on either side of the middle mark.

Our conclusion: Andean condors are big!  But don’t worry – they’ll only eat you if you’re already dead 😉

Title image via http://indiracevallos.wikispaces.com/

 

natural-parenting-hop

Find more natural parenting resources by clicking on the image above! You can also find great posts on our Earth Day Is Every Day Pinterest board:



Be sure to enter our amazing giveaway! Most prizes are for US and Canada shipping only.

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Mar 212015
 

Bolivian Cooking: Empanadas | Alldonemonkey.com

Now that we are home schooling I have been trying to be more systematic about doing a world cultures curriculum.  Mostly recently we learned about Bolivia, a country very dear to my heart, as I lived there for almost a year when I was twenty.  Most people when they think of Bolivia picture the altiplano – the high steppe in the Andes Mountains – which conjures images of llamas, condors, and pan flutes.  While I was lucky enough to travel to this storied region of the country, I spent most of my time in the Oriente, the eastern lowlands centered around the city of Santa Cruz.

This is a region markedly different from places like La Paz and Cochabamba.  In fact, it has more similarities to neighboring Brazil and Paraguay, with its tropical climate and mestizo culture.  Though more and more people have emigrated from the altiplano to eastern Bolivia, it remains culturally distinct.  The “cambas” (those from Santa Cruz as well as neighboring Beni and Pando) also have a wonderfully distinct way of speaking, where the “s” is usually aspirated and turned into a heavily pronounced “h” (the Spanish “j”) and the “vos” form is used instead of “tú.”  So instead of “Vente pues y dime cómo estás”(so come and tell me how you are) you would say “Venite puej y decime como estás voj.”

To teach Monkey about this beautiful country, we began with some Bolivian cooking – after all, this is “Around the World in 12 Dishes“!  (Go here for a great overview and resource list on Bolivia).  I chose to make empanadas, a snack that I came to love during my time in Bolivia.  They are fun for kids to make, plus I knew Monkey would enjoy seeing how they are similar to the empanadas he is already familiar with from Costa Rica.  (Main difference: wheat vs corn flour!)

This dish brings back such fond memories for me.  Not only are empanadas and salteñas ubiquitous in the street stalls and little corner stores in Bolivia, I also spent a very happy afternoon with my host family trying (only somewhat successfully) to master the art of making empanadas – in particular, the beautiful curled edges used to seal them.  When two people are holding hands, people often tease them by asking if their hands are getting burnt (since the fingers of the joined hands look like the edge of the empanadas).

Bolivian Cooking: Empanadas

Ingredients

1/2 kilo (4 c) flour

250 g (1 c) shredded cheese*

1 t salt

5 t sugar

1.5 t baking powder

5 t vegetable oil

approx 3/4 c warm water

*The cheese commonly used in eastern Bolivia is hard and does not melt easily.  I substituted Monterey Jack instead.

Bolivian Cooking: Empanadas | Alldonemonkey.com

Mix all ingredients together and knead into a soft dough.  Form the dough into little balls then flatten each ball into a small circle.  The dough shouldn’t be too thick or it won’t cook through but not so thin that it comes apart when cooking.  Place some shredded cheese on one half of the circle then wet the edge with your finger using a few drops of water.  (You want it moist, not really wet).

Fold the other half of the circle on top to form a semi-circle and lightly pinch the sides together.  Then for my favorite part – making the picos or fluted edge.  Basically you just keep turning, turning the edge on itself to make the picos.  Here is a video demonstration for making salteñas (similar but not quite the same as empanadas), but at about 1:35 you can seem him doing the edging, which is the same.  Keep in mind that  for kids they can also just pinch the edges together or use a fork.  Guess who made which ones below!

Bolivian Cooking: Empanadas | Alldonemonkey.com

Heat approx an inch of oil in a frying pan.  Gently place the empanadas in the oil and fry until golden on each side.  Drain and cool on paper towels.  Enjoy while still warm!  (Traditional recipes also have you dust with powdered sugar).

Fire department be on alert! We’re making empanadas! #Bolivia #kidsinthekitchen #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram

A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on

For us this recipe made about 14 empanadas, but as you can see we made them of all different sizes, so don’t use that as a measure!  Monkey also got creative with his shapes, preferring in the end to make balls, which I had to discreetly flatten before frying so they would cook in the middle.  He also made the dough quite thick in his – I prefer it with thinner dough, but his still came out fine, so if your little one does the same don’t worry too much about it. Bolivian Cooking: Empanadas | Alldonemonkey.com We really enjoyed these as a snack and again for breakfast the next day!  It was so fun to share with my boys the experience of making this treat from my time in Bolivia. 

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up: Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks. If you try a dish from Bolivia, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:

Feb 092015
 

Cuban Mango Milkshake: Recipe and Book Review {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey. com

This post contains affiliate links; if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Looking for a refreshing drink that you can feel good about sharing with your little ones?  This mango milkshake is delicious, plus you can feel very “cultured” while you drink it, as the recipe is from Cuba!

We are catching up on our posts for “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” and this time we are off to Cuba!  (Go here for an overview and wonderful resource list about Cuba).  We found some wonderful picture books and so decided to pick a recipe to go with one of our favorites, A Mango in the Hand: A Story Told Through Proverbs.

This is a really cute book!  I was a bit wary because I was afraid their use of proverbs throughout the story would be a bit forced, but it is actually done very well, so the proverbs (given in Spanish and English) are woven easily into the story.

The story is all about a little boy who is collecting mangoes to serve at dinner on his saint’s day (great opportunity to talk about saints’ days in Catholicism!)  He goes to the mango tree (passing his grandmother’s house, then his uncle’s, and finally his crabby Tía Clara’s house), but it is swarming with bees!  As we follow his attempts to get the mangoes, we also see how he is gently guided by his father, who encourages him to persevere.  But the real lesson comes when he shows kindness to his crabby aunt (by giving her a mango, of course) and discovers how powerful one small act of kindness can be.

It is hard not to be in the mood for mangoes after reading this book, so we decided to make a mango milkshake, adapted from Cooking the Cuban Way.

This is a great, kid-friendly cookbook, with easy to follow recipes.  The original recipe is for a mango-papaya milkshake, but after sampling the papaya, both Monkeys agreed that they would rather leave it out.  (I have grown to like papaya over the years, but it is far from my favorite fruit – especially compared to mango!)  Instead we doubled the amount of mango.

We also added a bit more milk and sugar than in the original (and skipped the ice since I have an old blender that doesn’t do so well with this!), so adjust these amounts according to taste.  To me, this is one of the best parts of making it – getting to do the taste tests!  Monkey also added some honey, since, as he put it, “Honey makes everything gooder.”  (He later amended this to, “Honey gives everything a better taste.”)

Also, remember that if you can’t find fresh mango, frozen mango also works well!

Cuban Mango Milkshake: Recipe and Book Review {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey. com

Cuban Mango Milkshake

Ingredients

2 cups diced mango (approx. 2 mangoes)

1 1/2 cups milk

4 T sugar

Honey to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender and puree.  Taste and make any adjustments.  Enjoy!

Cuban Mango Milkshake: Recipe and Book Review {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey. com

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up: Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks. If you try a dish from Cuba, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:

Feb 022015
 

Children's Books About Mongolia {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

This post contains affiliate links; if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

It’s been so busy around here that I’ve been quite remiss in posting about our “Around the World in 12 Dishes” activities.  We have actually been having fun with Cuba already, but before we jump there I have one more Mongolia post to share.  You may recall the fun we had making a model of the traditional nomadic home, or ger.  We also made some salty Mongolian milk tea (rather than write a full post about this I will send you to the wonderful article from Global Table Adventure and say that it was a fun experience, but we’ll likely not keep it on our regular menu).

And, of course, we read books! As Monkey is making the transition from picture books to early readers, this list contains both.

The Khan’s Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale is a wonderful adventure story – with a twist!  I love the poor but courageous main character but also the surprising spirit of the princess whose hand he is trying to win.  This picture book was also very helpful in giving visuals (in context) of a ger!

If you haven’t tried a Geronimo Stilton book, you really should!  They are fun for early readers, since the text is written in a visually fun way (with words that pop out or have decorations), plus there are still plenty of pictures and maps.  Geronimo is funny and endearing, though I find it maddening that he is always falling in love with some blonde mouse (real pet peeve of mine in children’s books). Valley of the Giant Skeletonswas fun for Monkey because there is lots of adventure, slap stick humor, and dinosaur bones.  It was also great for me as his teacher, since not only do they visit a traditional ger (and drink milk tea!) as with all of the Geronimo books there is a general overview of local geography and culture.

I find it interesting that both of the early readers set in Mongolia deal with dinosaurs and play on the fact that Mongolia is considered to be the middle of nowhere.  Alien Expedition (Alien Agent) by Pamela Service does a great job of challenging Mongolia as a “boring” travel destination (alien invasions tend to liven things up), plus I love the way that it honors traditions but also shows the modern side of the nomadic kids the main character meets – definitely a lesson in blending old and new.  Now I’m really curious about the other books in this series, which focuses on a kid who learns he is actually an alien secret agent!  Monkey is still a bit young for this book, but I know he will be enjoying it soon.  I certainly did!  (And in case you’re wondering, yes, we get to visit a ger in this story, too!)

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up: Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks. If you try a dish from Mongolia, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:

Dec 192014
 

Mongolia Craft: Build a Model Ger {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for my monthly post for “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” the series in which each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it.

This time we travel to Mongolia, and while we do have a dish to share with you soon, I first wanted to write about our Mongolia craft, building a model ger.

A ger is the traditional dwelling of the mostly nomadic people of Mongolia.  They are common not just in Mongolia but throughout the region (my sister stayed in one in China), and so are more often known by their Russian name, yurt.  You can watch this video to watch an actual ger being built and see how they are used.

Talking about the ger with Monkey was a good way to get him thinking about nomadic life.  First we talked about why moving around frequently would be a good strategy for life on the harsh steppe, where families must move often to find food for their animals.  We then talked about why it would be good to have a house that you could pack and set up again easily.  I could really see the wheels turning in his brain as we talked – even if it did turn out he was applying these principle to space ships.  Hey, that is a great application, when you think about it!

Finally, I made our learning more hands on, so he would really remember the lesson and have fun with it.  First he drew a ger (though of course it had to be caught up in a natural disaster).

Then we made a model ger out of pipe cleaners and felt.  The lattice in a real ger is wooden, but on the scale we were making it, I wasn’t sure that popsicle sticks or toothpicks would work.  Plus they would take forever to glue! Instead I opted to make the lattice out of pipe cleaners. 

It was much easier to do, and it held together well, but it was harder to get the sizes to match – and of course it wasn’t nearly as strong.  Still, I was aiming more for speed and ease, so it was a good choice.

Mongolia Craft: Build a Model Ger {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

For the roof, I made a cone out of poster paper and let Monkey decorate.  We used red and blue, since those are the colors of the Mongolian flag. Finally, I wrapped the walls in yellow felt, which nicely showed just how uneven the walls were!  In any case, by this time I was losing my audience, so we skipped making a door.   (He was supposed to have made it while I was working on the lattice but inexplicably ended up cutting up straws instead).

Mongolia Craft: Build a Model Ger {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

Almost immediately after, Little Monkey grabbed hold of the ger, crying, “Hat! Hat!”  And so it has passed into their playthings not as a home, as I had envisioned, but as some sort of a helmet.  I will just pretend it is a Mongolian helmet and hope our dish fares better…

Mongolia Craft: Build a Model Ger {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up: Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks. If you try a dish from Mongolia, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:

Oct 282014
 

Pumpkin Rolls from Vietnam {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for my monthly post for “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” the series in which each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it.

This time we travel to Vietnam, and in celebration of the season we made these wonderful pumpkin rolls.  We took them to a play date, and the moms couldn’t stop talking about how soft and yummy they were!

I got the recipe from this fun Vietnamese cooking blog.   I had a hard time thinking of pumpkin rolls as being authentic Vietnamese food, but the recipe has a very authentic looking Vietnamese title (Bánh Bí Ngô Tí Hon), so I decided to go for it!  Below is the recipe, with converted measurements.  I did modify some of the proportions, which seemed off to me.  In particular, the ratio of wet to dry ingredients did not work for me, so I ended up added a great deal of extra flour in order to get the right consistency.  Also, I couldn’t find what “brown yeast” was, so I just used regular baking yeast with great results.

As you can see, because the consistency of the dough was still relatively wet (but I was worried that if I added any more flour the taste would be drastically altered), I wasn’t able to do the adorable design like she does, which makes the rolls look like actual pumpkins!  If you are able to make this work, please send the pictures, because it looks adorable!  But even if you aren’t able to achieve this (as I wasn’t), kids and parents will still love the pumpkin flavor of these delicious fall rolls.

Pumpkin Rolls Recipe from Vietnam {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

Makes 13-14 large or 17-18 medium rolls

Ingredients

200ml whole milk (between 3/4 c and 1 c – most measuring cups for liquids have markings for ml as well as cups)
1 can of pumpkin = approx 2 c of pumpkin puree
200g butter = slightly less than 1 c
2 – 7 oz packets of yeast
1 T sugar
1 T brown sugar
1 t salt
1 egg
2 c whole wheat flour
2 c white flour
Warm water, approx. 1/4 c

 

To Make

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a large baking sheet (you may need two).

Warm the milk then add melted butter and pumpkin puree.  Mix well.

2. Add yeast packets, sugars, salt, egg, plus 1/4 c of warm water.  Stir well but gently

3. Add flours then mix with wooden spoon until smooth and soft.  Add more water or flour as needed to make smooth dough.

4. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let rest for 5 minutes.

5. Knead by hand for approx 10 minutes then let rest for at least one hour, until dough has risen and is no longer sticky.

6. Divide into small balls of equal size. (See the tutorial if you would like to try making these into mini pumpkins).

Pumpkin Rolls Recipe from Vietnam {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

7. Arrange the balls on a greased baking sheet.  Allow room for them to rise more as they cook.

8. Brush tops with beaten egg yolk then bake for 10-15 minutes, until rolls begin to brown.

What have you been cooking up with your kids?

Pumpkin Rolls Recipe from Vietnam {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

 

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up:

Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks.

If you try a dish from Vietnam, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:


Oct 092014
 

Saudi Arabian Magic Cake {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for my monthly post for “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” the series in which each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it.

I posted earlier about our dress-up play to learn about Saudi Arabia.  Today I am sharing our experience making Magic Cake!  This is an absolutely delicious recipe for  semolina cake with lemon rosewater that I borrowed from my amazing friend Sasha of Global Table Adventure!

Monkey was fascinated with the idea of a “magic” cake!  I called it that because after you bake it, you pour on top a heavenly concoction of lemon juice, sugar, and rosewater.  This perfumed syrup forms a lake on top – which magically disappears by the next morning!

The real trick of this recipe is to get the right kind of semolina.  (You can get all the details and see a photo in Sasha’s post).  Otherwise the syrup won’t soak into the cake properly.

 Saudi Arabian Magic Cake {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.comBefore adding the syrup

Saudi Arabian Magic Cake {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

Covered in a glistening lake of lemon rosewater syrup

Saudi Arabian Magic Cake {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

Ready to eat!

Saudi Arabian Magic Cake {Around the World in 12 Dishes} | Alldonemonkey.com

We also learned about the geography of Saudi Arabia by tracing a map and filling it in.  This went much better than when I asked Monkey to make a flag during our last unit!

What magical adventures have you been having with your kids?

 

Around the World in 12 DishesCheck out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up:

Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks.

If you try a dish from Saudi Arabia, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:


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