MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Tips For Planning an Eid al Adha Party

planning an eid party

Eid is just around the corner! I am busy working on a guest post for My Halal Kitchen about what Eid preparations are like in Morocco.  The sheep have just started coming into the city and people are beginning to prepare. I’ve heard many butchers will close for the rest of the week and my kids have a holiday from school. Earlier this year, at the end of Ramadan my sister threw an Eid al Fitr party for us.  We were in the midst of packing and getting ready for our move and so between her and my mom they had a family party so we could still celebrate without the stress of hosting.  It was really wonderful. I know that there is a feeling of needing to go above and beyond for holidays but it is also very possible to create a wonderful day/evening without going over the top.

Lamb Kebabs

The star of the Eid al Adha table is of course the lamb. Instead of preparing it multiple ways (as is sometimes the case), stick with something easy.  Lamb kebabs marinate quickly and can be grilled outside or under the broiler. This recipe from Nom Nom Paleo was what Ashley used and there were no complaints – it was wonderful! You can certainly eat the lamb alone but she served it with both a pomegranate glaze (on the side) and a mint sauce (on the side).  I loved them both but the pomegranate glaze was exceptionally tasty!

Pomegranate Molasses

  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1 cup, approximately 70 minutes. It should be the consistency of thick syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Mint sauce

  • 1/2 seedless cucumber peeled, seeded, and chopped (1cup)
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Coarse Salt and Freshly ground white pepper to taste

Finely chop or grate the cucumber, mix into the yogurt and add lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in mint and chill, covered, until serving.

Salad Quad

For the salad course it was a bit Moroccan traditional with hummus thrown in for good measure!  The salads served were;

I make hummus fairly regularly but Ashley added in a few ingredients that I normally don’t.  I loved the flavor!

Ashley’s Hummus

  • 2 cans chickpeas, Drained And Rinsed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame Paste)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, Peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron thread, crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, For Garnish

Combine all ingredients except for cilantro or parsley in a food processor and process until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.  This recipe does great a sweeter tasting hummus but it’s flavorful and a wonderful change up from traditional hummus!

Couscous and Bread

For the main dishes there was also couscous and vegetables. Instead of preparing couscous the traditional way, Ashley opted to use Bob’s Red Mill Couscous Rice, cooked in chicken broth and add some saffron for color. The vegetables were lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin and then roasted in the oven. Because this meal was all gluten-free she also made this bread that is our favorite recipe.

Easy Eid Table

I’m not sure who gets the decorating credit, my mom or sister, but it was easy and beautiful – and child safe – we had 5 of them roaming around!  The table was set with a plain white tablecloth and then paper napkins were used to create a little pattern.  Votive candles and lanterns worked for fun lighting and appearance.  Along with a big bouquet of flowers, and a camel teapot just for added flair. It’s really easy and inexpensive!

gluten free ghriba cookies

Who can forget dessert?!  I’m busy in Morocco making cookies for next week and I know these gluten-free ghriba will be on our table.  Ashley took a swing at them using my recipe with great results.  Almond, Vanilla, Preserved Lemon Ghriba are a unique take on their traditional counterparts but kids and and adults love them! My niece here pulls the almond centers out and eats them first!

Strawberry Shortcake

One more super simple dessert idea is to make shortcakes with fruit.  Use of the last of summer’s bounty or opt for some cooked down apples or pears in cinnamon and cardamom.  Shortcake mix can be bought in a box mix or can be easily made at home too. A little whipped cream and everyone is happy.

What’s on your Eid menu this year? Consider inviting over a family or someone that may be alone or in a difficult time to celebrate. It really can mean a lot!

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One Pot Beef and Quince Tajine for #SundaySupper

I’ve been seeing a lot of fall pictures from my friends on Facebook. The changing leaves. Kids Halloween costumes. Pumpkin spice everything. I sniffle a little and feel a bit sad that I don’t think I’ll see much of fall this year. The olive trees don’t change colors, no trick or treating to prepare for, and pumpkin spice is only a memory.  When I talked to my mom yesterday I heard my niece say “grandma, I need my jacket.” Pfff jackets? My kids aren’t even in long sleeve t-shirts yet! I do keep reminding myself that when the snow starts falling back home, and I’m still in flip flops I’ll be the one smiling.

The theme for this week’s #SundaySupper is one pot meals and for me fall is the perfect season for warm soups, stews, and casseroles. Warm and comforting with minimal clean-up required. Most days, the last thing I want is something hot to eat but a good tajine is the perfect fit for any day. It’s quince season here and I’ll admit the first time I saw these for sale at the market I thought they were really deformed apples. Quince, like figs, are not something that often appear in the Midwest.

Quince

See just some ugly apples right? No, this is a quince. Don’t eat them raw – ask me how I know. Basically these make me think of a sweet potato and apple if they got married and had a baby. But they really have to be cooked to get the flavor to come out.  If you’ve never tackled cleaning one, here’s how.  I first cut around the edges, the same way I do with a mango.  There is a core and seeds in the center.

Inside of a Quince

If you have a really sharp knife you can probably cut right down the middle, but my good knives haven’t arrived yet so I’m working with sub par knives right now.  Next peel the skin off using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler.  The skin comes off just like the peel of an apple.  I like to keep the quince pieces a little bit bigger but you can cut them into whatever size you want. I make this in a tajine pot, but you could also make it in a large, dutch oven or pressure cooker (just cook the meat and quince separate).

Beef and Quince Tajine

One Pot Beef and Quince Tajine for #SundaySupper

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef (bone-in pieces if possible)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper (you can add more for a spicier dish)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pinch of saffron threads crumbled
  • 2 quinces, cut, peeled, and cored
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup of water

Instructions

  • This recipe is to be made in a tajine.
  • In the bottom of a tajine add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 1 Tbsp butter. Heat on low heat.
  • Add diced onion and grated garlic.
  • In a large bowl mix cinnamon, salt, red pepper, cumin, and crushed saffron threads. Mix with 1 cup of water.
  • Coat pieces of beef in the spice mixture.
  • Place beef in the bottom of the tajine. Reserve the marinade.
  • Cut, core and peel quince then add to the top of the beef.
  • Pour the remaining marinade mixture over the quince and beef.
  • Cover the tajine and cook for 45 minutes - 1 hour, occasionally checking the water to make sure there's enough liquid in the dish.
  • When the meat is cooked through and starting to fall apart. Drizzle the top of the quinces with honey. You may need to add more depending on how sweet your quinces are.
  • There should be liquid remaining in the tajine.
  • Eat using crusty bread to break apart the pieces and soak up the juices.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/10/beef-and-quince-tajine.html

Need more inspiration? The #SundaySupper team has come up with some really great one pot dishes to keep your stove busy all fall (and winter) long!

“Take the chill off” Chilis, Soups, and Starters

“Put meat on your bones” Stews

“Make room for seconds” Main Dishes

“Can’t say no” Desserts

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm

Sunday Supper

ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here ? Sunday Supper Movement.

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14 Ways to Help Kids Learn Vocabulary in a New Language

What happens when your child comes home with homework in a foreign language of which you’re not fluent? What if they’ve got a list of vocabulary words to learn over the weekend? I’m facing a lot of language acquisition issues with my children as we navigate a bilingual educational system – and they speak neither of the two instruction languages.  I asked those on my Facebook page and my personal Facebook account what some of their tricks and tips for learning and teaching new vocabulary were. I was overwhelmed by the response! I have trained as a TEFL teacher but somehow when it’s your own kids that you’re trying to teach it can be difficult to find something that works well. I decided to share some of their best advice here so that others can benefit from it too.

Learning Vocabulary in a New Language

Label Items

This won’t work for all words but for those that you can do it.  Label the mirror in the target language, cabinets, etc. etc. They will start connecting spoken and written words.

Everyday Vocabulary

In Morocco there are lots of small stores on every street corner.  Sending (old enough) kids on errands to pick up things forces interaction and use of language. Likewise in a grocery store vocabulary words for food products, questions, transactions can all be used when there is no “fall back” option in their native language.

Learn the Language With Them

… and try to use it. The more they hear the language the easier it will become. Some estimates are that a child needs to hear a word over 100 times before it “clicks”.

Be Dramatic

Have kids write/perform skits or musical performances using vocabulary words. This makes it fun, and puts them in the position to not only learn vocabulary words but build sentences and plot.

Games

Playing games with vocabulary is great for all kids but especially effective with younger kids. Don’t forget if you, as a language learner, are learning/playing along with them they are likely to be even more interested. You can always adapt a board game so that they have to use/make a sentence with words.

Idea 1: Storytime using that vocab is also fun– have the list of vocab out, and have all four of you play the game where someone writes a sentence, starting the story, then passes the paper to the next person. The goal is to use all the vocabulary by the end of the story. Bonus points for creativity/wackiness.

Idea 2: Go Fish – recently my youngest son and I played Go Fish. He chose to play in French. We were able to work on asking questions, number recognition, and had a great time! 

Flashcards and Other Tactile Learning Devices

Vocabulary drills aren’t always fun but they are effective. You can create your own flashcards online with flashcard programs for pure rote memorization. But I find it’s easier to learn when you use it than just memorizing it.  If you have puffy paint or glue, you can add coloring to them and make the words 3D on a card so he can feel them. That will help kinetically. I’ve also found several iPad apps that my younger son uses to practice writing Arabic script. There’s a strong connection between remembering a word and having written it. 

Cognates and Word Association

Try association games to see if it helps him such as …. x sounds like x in target language. For kids with advanced vocabulary in their native language, understanding how a word relates to what they already know can be very helpful.

Make a game: a traveling game where he can get from one place to another by saying the word out loud. Once the child starts putting them into sentences, you can adjust the game then (correct form, singular/plural). 

Reading

I can remember my English teacher telling us the only way we would become better writers was to read more. In my husband’s ESL classes the advice he was consistently given was that if he wanted to spell or write better he needed to read more. Teaching kids to read in the target language will help them expand their knowledge rapidly.

Research Bilingual Education and Methods

A friend, and bilingual educator recommended the book Teaching for Biliteracy: Strengthening Bridges Between Languages. It’s not long (under 200 pages) and has many ideas to help teachers and parents. There are many, many great books to help parent-teachers support their learners.

Total Physical Response

I first heard of this method in my TEFL training courses.  This method has educators using the same action to represent a word in both languages. Teachers and learners say the word while doing an action. This helps learners connect and transfer the two things. In the book mentioned above this process is referred to as “the bridge”.  Many bilingual schools in the US use TPR methodology because it’s very effective at that age. 

Visual Aids

Visuals are very important and helpful along with hearing the words used in context because it helps kids learn how to use the word correctly, and if they understand the rest of the sentence, it can help them to learn the meaning of the new word through context clues. The often used flash card would fall into this category. Just like writing a word, having something visual to connect to can help the brain hold onto and place the word.

Immersion, immersion, immersion

Visit places related to the vocabulary theme and practice, speaking only that language by having a conversation there. Watch only films/tv in the target language using subtitles if helpful.  Listen to music in target language(s).

Finding Connections

Thinking of connections between vocabulary words can help to exercise your brain, and it can help students to file the new information in their memory in meaningful ways. For example when working with vocabulary they can: sort them into animals and non-animals, or sort them into feminine and masculine, or sort by big, medium, and small. This requires students to think about each word and what it means, and not just memorize it out of context.

Patience

An ESL teacher I have a lot of respect for shared this bit of advice. “I’m constantly telling teachers that many ESL learners (this would be true for any language) go through a silent period of up to a year where they may not use the new language. Forcing students to use the language before they’re ready can be bad. It’s also important to remember that it takes hearing a new word in context multiple times, something like a dozen, before students remember it and can use it themselves, and that’s when they understand the language being used…”

 Final bit of advice….

Don’t learn the language, live the language.

Have more tips? Share them here for others!

 

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Quail Egg, Potato and Merguez Tortilla

I could watch cooking shows all day long – in any language. I am always intrigued by what a chef chooses to create with ingredients, especially unique ingredients. On an episode of Chopped one of the ingredients was quail eggs. I remember thinking how adorable the little eggs looked, but slightly queasy thinking of the little birds that could hatch out of them. (I know, no birds come out of unfertilized eggs!) I’ve had a lot of fun shopping in the markets and grocery stores here. On a recent trip to supermarket mega store Marjane I found quail eggs in the refrigerated section. Then I looked at the price and immediately put them in my cart.

Quail Eggs

For 18 eggs I spent not even $2! I think in the US quail eggs are probably about that much PER egg. For a few days they sat at home while I considered what I could make that would showcase these eggs.  Simple scrambled eggs just wouldn’t do. I wanted to keep the eggs whole so that their tiny size could be appreciated.  Last weekend as I made breakfast for the kids, I glanced at my little quail eggs and remembered the merguez sausages I needed to use up. I also happened to have some leftover potatoes from dinner the night before. Perfect!

Quail Egg and Merguez Tortilla

I often make a tortilla espanola for dinner along with a big salad but it makes an equally hearty, and easy breakfast dish. If you have leftovers to use up, better yet. What surprised me the most as I put this together was how the little eggs are a bit difficult to break. I used the back of a knife to cut off the top of each egg. If you didn’t care whether the yolks broke or not you could crack them as you would a chicken egg but trust me, the yolks will break too. MarocBaba shared this breakfast with his mom and I got a thumbs up.  You can make this tortilla with chicken eggs too – but quail eggs are a unique surprise.

Broken Quail Eggs

Quail Egg, Potato and Merguez Tortilla

Ingredients

  • 10 quail eggs
  • 1 lb pre-cooked, sliced potatoes
  • 1/4 lb merguez sausage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cumin

Instructions

  • Begin by preparing all of the items to assemble this dish. Remove merguez from casing and crumble. Slice or dice onions thinly. Slice pre-cooked potatoes as thin as possible. Carefully break all of the quail eggs into a bowl.
  • Heat a large skillet on the stove-top. Melt 1 tsp butter and vegetable oil into the pan.
  • Add onions and merguez to the skillet and cook until onions are translucent and merguez cooked through.
  • Remove onions and meat from the skillet onto a plate and set to the side.
  • Return the skillet to the heat, add 1 tsp of butter and spread the sliced potatoes in a single layer. Top with cooked onions and merguez.
  • Finally carefully add the quail eggs,spreading to cover the top of the potatoes.
  • Sprinkle salt and cumin on top.
  • As the eggs start to cook, cover the skillet with a lid to cook the top of the eggs.
  • When everything is set and cooked through, remove from the heat and serve.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/10/quail-egg-potato-and-merguez-tortilla.html
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Eating in Essaouira

The laid back, windy city of Essaouira is a family favorite. We love the coastal location and short distance from Marrakech. But, maybe most importantly we love the food! In big cities we’ve found great food, at higher prices but in Essaouira we consistently have found excellent food at low prices. Whether you’re dining alone or feeding a family here are some of our favorite recommendations and tips.

Eating with Kids in Essaouira

Essaouira has a large souq that is closed off to most vehicles (though you may have do dodge a motorbike or two). If you’re traveling with kids this can alleviate a lot of stress and sweaty palms. Doting these streets full of treasures are stands selling snacks. Sfinge (a yeast doughnut), crepes, and maakouda (fried potato patties) sandwiches are some choices. For only a few dirham you can satisfy the pleas of “but mom I’m still hungry!”

Breakfast

Cheap Breakfast in Essaouira

I’m going to share a little secret here.  Moroccan breakfast is pretty much the same no matter where you stay. Whether it’s an upscale hotel or budget riad it’s all fairly standard.  Some of the prices we’ve seen are upwards of $10 (per person) for breakfast! No, you can do much better than this! Every neighborhood has many hanuts – small shops that sell everything you can imagine. Stop by one, pick up some yogurt, bread, cheese, crepes, or other breakfast pastry.  You’ll get these things for a tiny fraction of the price of your hotel breakfast. Then take your bags and make your way to a coffee shop. Order a coffee, mint tea, or juice and enjoy! This is totally ok in Morocco and I promise more cost effective. We would have paid at least $30 for breakfast where we stayed, instead this breakfast cost us under $10 for 4 people.

Lunch

Seafood in Essaouira

You can’t visit Essaouira without eating fish and seafood – it’s what this city is known for. You will find seafood abundant on restaurant menus but you can also choose to “pick your own” and have it grilled on the spot. If you feel really confident venture to the port and make your selections fresh off the boat. If you’re not quite as comfortable you will find many open air restaurants lining the end of Plaza Moulay Hassan (the big square just to the edge of the old medina). Choose what you want and they will grill it fresh for you. Then there’s a third option I wrote about in 2011. Whatever choice you make you’ll walk away happy and full!

Lunch in Essaouira Kids

Now, you might be asking what about picky kids? While my boys are pretty adventurous eaters, they really aren’t big on fish and seafood. The good news is you can pick up something else for them, a shwarma, pizza, or other take away food and they can eat this while you’re enjoying the seafood. It’s no problem!

Snack

Crepe Snacks

If you asked MarocBaba why I go to Essaouira he would say for the crepes. You can find crepes in much of Morocco but they are usually only available at breakfast or late in the evenings at cafes. In Marrakech I find them to be pretty pricy, and always have orange blossom water added which I don’t really care for. But in Essaouira they are sold all over the place for at least 1/2 of what they are in Marrakech. A Nutella crepe with almonds is only around $2! Each location has plenty of sweet and savory options. It’s my go to snack and breakfast..and sometimes dinner! My kids also love them – and I’m sure yours will too.

Dinner

Chicken and Rice Tagine

It’s hard to find really great Moroccan food in restaurants when you’re used to eating home cooked Moroccan food. But, that doesn’t stop us from trying. We toyed with the idea of having dinner at a Thai restaurant we stumbled across but were swayed by the bright blue exterior, low seating, and cozy feel of Restaurant Laayone. The menu is traditional Moroccan (with some pasta mixed in) and is incredibly reasonably priced. We ordered two tajines, this chicken and rice dish (that I’ve never seen anywhere else), and a lamb and prune tajine. Our oldest son ordered spaghetti marinara. Our meal came with plenty of bread, but we brought in some gluten-free bread for MarocBaba – again no problem. We ended our meal with mint tea for everyone.  Our total bill was under $20.

Restaurant Laayoune ~ 4 Rue El Hajjali ~ Essaouira Morocco 

Coffee

Hot Cocoa at a Cafe

Having an afternoon or after dinner coffee/tea in Morocco is similar to having tea in England. It”s a daily standard. It’s also a great chance to take a break, grab something to sip, and people watch. During this trip, I happened to spot a man selling rugs out of the corner of my eye. We were able to get two really nice hand woven Berber rugs for $25! I would have totally missed this were we not enjoying our coffee. You can always get mint tea, and most places serve hot milk or hot cocoa a favorite of our kids. Moroccan coffee is called nouss nouss or kahwa hleb (you can make it at home too – here’s my recipe) and is at least 3/4 milk with a bit of espresso.  Most shops now also give you a small bottle of water with your purchase. I have to admit slowing down and enjoying this tradition hasn’t been easy for me, but it’s now one of my favorite parts of the day.

Cafe de France (a Souari institution since 1917!) ~ Place Moulay Hassan ~ Medina Essaouira

Watch for more posts about our favorite things to see and do in Essaouira and more Moroccan cities! Have questions about traveling in Morocco with kids? Leave me a comment or drop an email and I will do my best to answer!

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60+ Snack Ideas for Kids {and the young at heart}
Kids Snack Ideas
In Morocco, kids bring two snacks a day to school, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lots of kids bring cookies or some other type of sweet for their snacks.  While I’m not against this sometimes, it’s not an every day option. I asked my kids if anyone ever brought fruit or veggies in as a snack – and was answered with a resounding no. I’ve sent apple slices, carrot sticks, crackers and cheese, and some other more healthy options but am always on the look out for more great ideas. As usual some of my favorite food bloggers have come to the rescue with their great snack options.  There are plenty of gluten-free, and allergen free recipes here and easy recipes to make some of your favorite store-bought treats at home.
Muffins and Cookies
Molasses Date Oatmeal Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts
Orange Cherry Oatmeal Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts
Homemade Ginger Snaps from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Healthy Banana Cookies from Alida’s Kitchen
Chocolate Oat Bites from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
Granola Bars
Pumpkin Maple Spice Granola Bars from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
White Chocolate and Cranberry Granola Bars from Like Mother Like Daughter
Biscoff Granola Bars from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
S’mores Granola Bars from I Heart Eating
10 Homemade Healthy Snack Bars from Roxanna’s Home Baking
Raw Fig and Cherry Bars from Ricki Heller
Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars from Oh, Sweet Basil
Homemade Granola Bars from Home Cooking Memories
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola from The Kitchen is My Playground
Homemade Peanut Butter Granola from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More

 

Snack Mixes
Taco Chex Mix from Julie’s Eats and Treats
Brown Sugar Sticky Bun Popcorn from Simply Southern Baking
Parmesan Garlic Snack Mix from Julie’s Eats and Treats
Ranch Pretzels from Julie’s Eats and Treats
Sweet and Crunchy Fall Trail Mix from Simply Southern Baking
Chocolate Orange People Chow from Simply Southern Baking
Almond Joy Puppy Chow from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Taco Pretzels from Cravings of a Lunatic
Praline Pecan Snack Mix from Around My Family Table
Chili Lime Roasted Chickpeas from Willow Bird Baking
Crunchy Stalks and Branches from Ricky Heller
Peanut Butter Jelly Popcorn from Home Cooking Memories
Sweet and Savory Snacks
Vegan Cheez – Its from Everyday Maven
Brown Paper Bag Popcorn from Snappy Gourmet
Gluten Free Cheddar Crackers from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
How to Make Sunbutter from Everyday Maven 
Homemade Goldfish Crackers from The Culinary Life
Gluten Free Pizza Rolls from The Culinary Life
Popcorn in a Pot from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Baked Corn Tortilla Chips from The Lemon Bowl
Tandoori Spice Popcorn from MarocMama
Almond Date Bites from Everyday Maven
Apple Chips from Everyday Maven
Gluten Free Oatmeal Peach Bread from The Lemon Bowl
Gluten Free Fig Newtons from All Day I Dream About Food
Straw Raspberry Basil Fruit Leather from Willow Bird Baking
Spiced Apple Chips from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More
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Guest Post: Expat High School in Morocco

Today I am sharing a guest post from Catherine, a high school junior that is spending the year studying in Rabat. I am in awe of her bravery and excitement at such a young age to embrace this challenge! I am equally impressed by her parents who have allowed her to undertake this adventure. I have to say she reminds me a lot of myself at this age! You can find a link at the end of this post to follow her blog and learn more about her experiences this far. (My apologies for publishing this a bit late – by now she’s spent nearly 5 weeks in Morocco!)
TS Elliot

 

On August 31st, I will board a plane that will whisk me miles away from the familiarity of my hometown, to the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco—Rabat. For many months, I’ve looked forward to this day as a new beginning—the start of my junior year abroad. But as T.S. Elliot reminds me, it is also an ending. The way I view the world as of today will be left behind, and even when I return to the States after ten months, I will not approach my life here in the same way. One chapter closes, and thus, another opens, the pages of the books turned by time. However, this particular chapter in my life is not one that I would have anticipated to occur naturally. My year in Morocco is entirely unprecedented and unexpected. Without the generosity of the Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Scholarship (YES Abroad), this season of my life would have been like several before—a predictable return to the same school, the same friends, and same challenges and joys. Instead, August 31st marks the first day of a year-long exploration.

 

I’ve dreamed of living abroad since I knew there were countries to explore and airplanes that could take me there. When I discovered YES Abroad in the late months of my freshman year, I realized I had found a way to bring this dream to realization. “The YES Abroad program was initiated as a reciprocal extension of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program for international students from countries with significant Muslim populations.” (Source: yesprograms.org/yesabroad). The program took place for the first time during the 2009-2010 school year, sending high school students from the United States to predominantly Muslim countries to serve as youth ambassadors—living with host families, attending local schools, and integrating into the local community. The main goal of YES Abroad is to promote better understanding between communities in the host country and the United States through citizen diplomacy. Funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the YES Abroad program awards a full scholarship—covering all costs of a year abroad. This year, the YES Abroad program awarded 65 scholarships for study in Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Ghana, Bosnia, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. I am recipient of this scholarship, and my adventures in Morocco will be shared by seven other students.

 

What these adventures will entail remains largely unknown. What I do know is that I will attend a French high school, learn Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and French at the AMIDEAST office, and take trips around Morocco with AMIDEAST staff. AMIDEAST is the implementing organization for the YES Abroad program in Morocco, meaning that they will facilitate many aspects of my year there—from host family placement to on the ground support. I hope to become involved in volunteer work in Rabat community—possibly as an English teacher. In everything I do in during my year in Morocco, I will seek a synthesis of the two communities I belong to—my community in the States and my community in Rabat. In understanding the culture and religion of Morocco, I hope to build a balanced, multicultural identity, one that is grounded in awareness and appreciation of different religions and lifestyles. Misunderstandings of other cultures and religions exist both in the United States and in Morocco. I will work towards alleviating these tensions during and after my year in Morocco both through my volunteer work and my contribution to conversation.

 

When I step off the plane a year from now, I will experience another shift in the chapters of my life. I hope to embody the characteristics of a global citizen, and I hope I am prepared to share my experiences with my community back home. Again, it will be a beginning—a restart, if you will—of my life in the States, and an ending to my year in Morocco. As I read about Amanda’s experiences in Marrakesh, I am reminded that this year will be full of expected joys and challenges. It will be both difficult and beautiful in ways I cannot imagine right now.

 

Here’s to beginnings and endings and the moments in between. I’ll be reflecting on my moments in Morocco at Writings from Rabat, and I’d love to share them with you. Thanks for reading.

 

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Living in Morocco: Income

Living in Morocco: Income

Expat September 26, 2013 21

The number one comment/question people ask when they find out we’ve moved to Morocco is,

“I/We would love to do that but I’m not sure how we can afford it/find job(s).”

Of course, when considering moving this is a major stumbling block. A little while back I wrote a post about how people afford to have a global lifestyle. This post is going to give you a lot of different ideas of how you can make an international location possible.

living in morocco income

 

One of the hard realities is that most people want to leave Morocco because of it’s limited income opportunities. That being said I do think it’s more than possible to not only survive but to live a comfortable life. So how do we do it?

Before we moved to Morocco I had been working from home for a little over a year. This is one of the reasons we were able to make the decisions to move. I have a combination of freelance work that I do online which provides our means to live here. My best advice for someone considering the move is to figure out how to transfer and/or learn the skills that will allow you to work remotely. The second bit of advice is to learn at least one of the languages spoken in Morocco.  A conversational and written fluency in Arabic, French, and/or Spanish depending on where you live will help you find work here. If you have training as a language teacher (English, French, Spanish etc) there are many schools that hire. Some only want you to have an undergraduate degree and fluency in the language while others require a training certificate. Research the schools in the area you are considering moving to, to see what teaching jobs are available and their requirements. One thing is for sure, you will need to get creative and think outside of the box as more traditional jobs are hard to come by.

But, how much does it really cost?

Depending on where in the country you decide to live, the costs associated will vary. Keep in mind the average salary here is between 3000-4000 dirham a month, about $400-$500.  In a group I belong to online there was a recent discussion on monthly budgets.  It’s possible to live on a lot less than these figures  but it wouldn’t be comfortable at least not by western standards. Some of the figures given were;

- Small City – Taza – $600 month (2 people – no children)

Large City – Casablanca – $1500 month (4 people – 2 children)

Suburb of Casablanca – $1650 month (5 people – 3 children)

We have budgeted $1500 a month for living costs in Marrakech.  Broken down this is (please note I rounded up here to make things easier);

  • $250  for school/tutoring (2 kids in private French/Moroccan school) + language lessons for me
  • $100 internet/cell phones – this is higher than some may have because I need the highest speed internet for work
  • $100 student loan payments
  • $500 housing and utilities – our price may be lower than most for this as we “rent” from my mother in law
  • $250 food
  • $80 house cleaned 2x a week
  • $220 flex – medical/dental, clothing, gas, travel, etc.

There were many upfront costs that we did not budget for as we should have.  Some of these costs included (again rounded up);

  • Washing Machine – $350
  • Cooktop Stove – $200
  • Countertop Convection Oven – $60
  • Kitchen Tools/Dishes/Silverware – $150
  • Vehicle – $6000-$10,000 for a used, reliable vehicle
  • Paperwork/Translations/School Fees – $250
  • Living Room Furniture – $350
  • Beds and Matresses/Bedroom Furniture (2 twin beds, 1 Queen Bed, bedside tables) – $500
  • 32″ TV – $400

I hope this post gives you a little better idea of what things cost and how much is needed to live here. I hope to do another post on the cost of food which has increased a lot since I first came to Morocco but for the most part it’s still very affordable especially if you’re not purchasing many imported goods. If you’ve got specific questions let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them!

 

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