Friday, July 15, 2011

Travel the World Without Leaving Home!

Summer is all about relaxing, the beach, and the pool, but we all know that we need to infuse some knowledge into those brains to keep them working so they are prepared for school. 
Well, years ago and continuing today with my 10-year old (the teens are now beyond my reach), I figured out a fun way to incorporate learning into summer: 

We research a different country every week (well, every two weeks, sometimes). My kids have loved this throughout the years. We have visited Japan, Brazil, and Sweden to name a few.
Here are my suggestions:
Have your kids do some Internet research on the country and give you some quick facts. Ideas:
  • Play games representative of the country.
  • Read stories originating in that country.
  • Play music representing that country.
  • Have them draw a flag of the country.
  • Visit a museum, store, restaurant or place that represents that country.
  • Finish by preparing a meal representative of that country.
Things we have done:
  • Visited a Brazilian restaurant and had sugar cane drinks (yuck).
  • Visited the Polish Museum in Philadelphia
  • Watched a Brazilian soccer game
  • Went to Ikea and shopped the Swedish food market
  • Listened to a Jamaican steel drum band.
You get the idea! To culminate the experience, we select and cook a meal together. Last week, my son selected Poland (we are, after all, Polish). And here are some of the pictures of us making homemade pierogies for dinner (quite a process). Making the dough:
Filling the dough with potatoes and cheese.
The perfect pierogie!
Here's the Recipe from TIP: I use a pasta maker to roll out the dough...much easier!
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • butter and onions for sauteing
  • ingredients for filling of your choice (potato & cheese filling recipe below)


Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to overbeat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 12-15 pierogies, depending on size.
Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8" thick. Cut circles of dough (2" for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2" for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.
Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.
Saute chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream.



Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

I LOVE these ideas! What great ways to keep them noodles working. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to try these.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher so I LOVE this idea! I'm also Polish and feel guilty because I've never cooked a Polish meal. My father was an immigrant, but in order to assimilate, they left many of their traditions behind. Maybe I'll try the recipe :)

Jamie said...

I'm drooling just looking at the pictures! Had so much fun meeting you last night.

Andi @ Jane of all crafts said...

Yum!! Think I will definitely try this recipe. We do summer reading club here as well. And this years theme is around the world!

Alicia said...

We love pieroguis over here! (my husband is Canadian).

Great activity. Ive always wanted to do this but my kids are still to little. Someday!!!