Cookies are nice, but I want the full meal deal! Day 4 of Eating Around the World

Join us as I share how we travel the world, passport-free, right from our kitchen.  Recipes will be shared each day as well as some of the why’s and how-to’s.

Often, we want to share what we are learning and studying with Daddy – who is away at work and missing all the fun.  Frequently this happens over dinner.  It is even more fun if what we are eating is what we are learning.  There are times, you want to have a full meal.  The meal can focus on one country or you can have a sampling of foods from a region or continent.  There are no rules.

When the country you are studying has a culture very different from your own, just the act of serving and eating the meal (correctly) is a learning experience.  When we studied about China, a lot of studying and preparation went into our meal.  And that was before we even attempted to use chopsticks!

The task of preparing a complete meal from a foreign country may seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be.  I usually try to find recipes that are similar to what I am used to preparing.  One dish meals or a slightly complex main dish with simple sides are most commonly served.  

After selecting the recipe and obtaining the necessary ingredients, pick the time to prepare and serve the meal.  I usually like to do this on Fridays.  Our school schedule (ha!) is very relaxed.  Without many commitments on Saturday mornings, if we are up later on Friday nights it is no big deal.  I allow a more time than usual for preparing dinner — I usually need it.  This also gives us plenty of time to allow the children to make any decorations or menus to suit the meal.  We have recently tried finding music to play that adds to the ambience.

I also will prepare in advance what I can.  For our most recent “world-traveller” meal, I made the cookies on a completely different day to not be rushed.  For many sauces, etc. this can be done easily and saves a lot of the stress of trying to do it all at once.

After thoroughly reading through the recipe, you’re ready to jump in and get started.  Sometimes, if I am new to a particular technique, I’ll find something for the children to do in another room.  I don’t need the audience!  If I feel comfortable with what I am doing, then I try to involve the children as much as I can.  We try to at least use the language of our country when speaking numbers.  If we have learned any other words, we use them as we can.

Once everything is prepared, sit down and enjoy the feast!  Encourage everyone to at least sample some of everything.  We have not had anything yet be a complete flop.  What part one child didn’t like, another child loved.  Between them all, the whole meal was eaten – and liked.  If you have picky eaters, be sure to have an easy alternative ready.  This type of meal is not the kind to enforce the “clean plate club” rules on.  I have been pleasantly surprised by some who loved the meal that I thought for sure would take 2 bites and ask for PB&J.

If they are important to you, take lots of pictures (Yeah, I know, that’s most of us).  Take photos of any decor the children made or special utensils used.  We like to photograph as we prepare the food and show the meal plated.  The fun pictures of everyone enjoying themselves are a must, too!

Germany is our most recent entry in our passport.  With both my husband and myself having German heritage, we knew having a meal rather than a snack was a must.  When I saw this recipe in the Passport on a Plate book, I knew it was the one – what is more German than sauerkraut?  The Thumbprint Cookies are a family favorite that I was thrilled to see in the cookbook as well.  The recipe in the cookbook called for either strawberry or raspberry jam.  It also said to add the jam after baking.  Small modifications, but still the same cookie!

Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Apples

1 pound bratwurst sausages (we don’t eat pork, so we just used our favorite all beef sausage)
1 T vegetable oil
1 16 oz package sauerkraut – drained and rinsed (this is keeps the “kraut” flavor from being too strong)
1 red skinned apple cored and thinly sliced but not peeled (Red Delicious, Rome Beauty or Empire)
1/2 C apple juice
1 T firmly packed light brown sugar
1 T fresh chopped parsley

Cut sausages into 1/2″ slices.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook sausage slices until well-browned; stir occasionally.

Add sauerkraut, apple, apple juice and brown sugar.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes; stir occasionally.  Stir in parsley just before serving.

I served this over mashed potatoes.  I only had one child who didn’t like it.  It wasn’t the taste of the sauerkraut they didn’t like, but the shredded texture.  I’d love to try making my own sauerkraut (it’s supposed to be fairly easy) and use it in this recipe.

I must confess.  We did not have this meal with Daddy.  We made this on a night he was not joining us for dinner.  He doesn’t like even the smell of sauerkraut.  Rather than have him look like a picky eater in front of the children, we chose to make it when he wouldn’t even be here.  I really do think he would have liked this.  The rinsing of the sauerkraut and the addition of the apples and apple juice made this a very non-kraut tasting dish.  

Thumbprint Cookies

1 C butter, softened
2/3 C white sugar
1/2 t almond extract
2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350º.  In a medium bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until smooth.  Mix in almond extract.  Mix in flour until dough comes together.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (I use a cookie scoop), and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Make a small hole in the center of each ball using your thumb.  Fill the hole with jam.

Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until barely brown.  Let cool 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

The recipe I first received from my aunt has a simple powdered sugar/almond extract/milk drizzle.  The recipes found in the German cookbook and the Passport on a Plate don’t have this addition.  They are super delicious either way.

Be sure to follow the “hop” and check out some of the other posts from my fellow Crew mates.  We will all be posting something new each day in keeping with our own themes.  Two of my favorite ones that I read yesterday were about Living out of my Pantry (Prepping!!) and Kids in the Kitchen.  You can find our main post, the starting point, right here.

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