The Pan-Asian Experiment: With teens! Without leaving home!
It was a rainy Saturday and we were stuck in Seattle. My teen says, let’s take one of those trips where we don’t go anywhere. Awesome! And she’s going to bring friends. I feel a bit of pressure to make this a fun adventure for her and for her friends so I decide against anything overtly educational, plus I was banned from saying “museum.” I dug into my research … hmmm, what country, what country?? But, as soon as I tried to focus on any one country, I got sucked into details that I was afraid wouldn’t appeal to teens. After all, I couldn’t exactly expect them to get excited about a coloring sheet or learning 10 words in another language. Finally I came on an idea. A pan-Asia tour!
Like most trips to Asia, we started with a layover in Taipei, home of bubble tea! Read more
We’d love to visit Cuba. Given the obstacles, it’s not in the cards for us at the moment but we’re working on experiencing Cuba anyway. We’ve made Cuban found, explored Cuban artists, and hosted a Cuban dinner for close friends who recently took their kids to Cuba. We followed it all up with a Cuban family movie. Cuba, Cuba, Cuba!
Experiencing Cuban food was a fabulous success. We found recipes at www.tasteofcuba.com and assembled three into a special dinner. The most essential element of the meal was Cuban Black Beans or Moros y Cristianos. Black beans sound boring but these are not; they are complex and delicious. They also sound vegetarian. They are not. The recipe calls for a pound of smoked ham hocks and a lot of chicken stock. The beans take a long time to cook and they smell delicious all along the way. They were too steamy to photograph well but perhaps the steam captures something of the essence of these delicious beans. While the beans were cooking, I prepared an avocado mousse. This recipe brought Read more
Happy National Archaeology Day! Last year, Congress designated October 22 as National Archaeology Day and we’re celebrating with a trip to Ancient Egypt.
We started preparing for the tip back in August at the King Tut exhibit (in Seattle until January 6th). The audio guide was well worth the extra few dollars. In addition to information about the artifacts, the audio guide offered information about Ancient Egypt and the archaeologists who uncovered the tombs. The kid’s favorite artifacts included a box etched with cat drawings and the golden mask. We demo’d the final versions of the museum scavenger hunts for our book and I was happy to discover that they worked well. At the gift shop, the kids had their names written in hieroglyphics for $1 – always a crowd pleaser.
We did find Africa in our own backyard!
Our journey began at Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. I expected that my kids had eaten Ethiopian food before but I was completely wrong. Zoey had spent a lot of time in the Enat Deli as a baby. We were regulars back when it had only 4 small tables and baby Zoey was often whisked into the kitchen by the fabulous Ethiopian owner so Bill and I could enjoy a peaceful meal. But, when we moved away from the Enat Deli, we hadn’t found any place as good and, without realizing it, we had stopped eating Ethiopian food at all. Our rainy day luncheon was turning out to be more of an adventure than I had expected. Read more
Unless you’re going someplace extremely remote, you can expose your kids to the language(s) they’ll hear on your trip. If they’re old enough, insist that they learn the few phrases below before entering each country. (It might take an adult 4 hours to learn 10 phrases but your kids can memorize these words in no time). It is so much more fun to greet people in their native language and the reception your kids recieve will likley be much more genuine. There is no need to try to become fluent, just a few words can make all the difference. Read more
Why have a Disney party or a shark party when you can have a party that travels? Get your kids excited about a trip you’re about to take, share a trip you’ve recently taken, or enjoy a virtual trip that’s not likely to be in your budget for awhile. Our last party was simply an “International Party” – gelato,
It turns out that wiener schnitzel is more often made with pork than with veal. This apparently isn’t because of any moral outrage over eating baby cows, but has to do with the iron curtain being erected between the producers of veal in Hungary and the consumers in Vienna. The local farmers in Austria couldn’t keep up with the demand, so they had to substitute with pork. Now that the curtain has been drawn, pork has become preferred because the higher fat content of the pig appeals more to Viennese palate. Anyway, I can now order schnitzel without concern for the poor baby cows, but with more concern for my cholesterol. Read more
I’ve seen a couple of them regularly in my neighborhood, emptying the litter bins at the local tram stop, sweeping up the gravel put on the sidewalks back when it was cold and icy, and picking up empty beer bottles in the park. They wear bright orange suits with reflective tape on the sleeves, legs, and chest. The younger one always seems to be leading the way and is quick to make a joke. The older one has darker skin, a lazy eye, and a more thorough custodial approach. They have a camaraderie that only comes from long days of shared manual labor. But lately there have been a small army of them, as if management has finally recognized that some threshold has been broken and has sent in the reinforcements. Maybe their inside intelligence has told them that the nice weather is going to hold on for awhile. The army is sweeping up debris from the previous several months of snow and wind storms and making piles on the curbs – leaves, branches, and hopefully some of the dog crap. I can’t believe that spring is nearly here and there’s still a week to go in February. I’ve even noticed buds forming on some of the hedges. Read more