MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Around the World in 12 Dishes: New Zealand Fig and Lime Glazed Meatloaf

I’ve got a new blogging theme carnival that I’m participating in. Around the World in 12 Dishes, “visits” s a different country every month and participants make food and/or crafts from that culture. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the world and try new things. We’re pretty adventurous in our home, and my kids have a lot of experience with all kinds of food so I’m excited to get them involved in this project every month.

Fig and Lime Glazed Meatloaf

 

I didn’t have a lot of time to get this together and so I wasn’t able to do much with my kids ahead of time to learn about New Zealand. We’ve been looking to get a giant wall map for their room so that they can get some perspective of where they are in the world (here in Northwest Africa), where the different cities of Morocco are, and where in relation to the rest of the world we are. I think this is something taken for granted when you’re born and live in one place most of your life. They understand US geography and world geography based on a US location – but now they’re a little skewed.

So, instead of doing a craft, because let’s face it I’m really not very crafty, we had a lunch conversation about the South Pacific. They of course know where Australia is, but New Zealand was new. I made their lunch before they came home from school and so as we sat and ate we talked about the country. I think what they related to the most was the melting pot culture that exists.  As I researched what I would make I found it was hard to find things that were uniquely Kiwi (the affectionate term for someone from New Zealand). The second issue was finding something that didn’t need to bake. I really want to make meat (or another savory) pie as they’re quite common, but without an oven baking them would be impossible.

So I opted for this meatloaf.  Hear me out.

I found a recipe for Kiwi and Lime Jam on AustralianFood.About.Com – and it was super easy. There are kiwis here but I thought using fig jam would be faster and give a similar flavor. Figs also happen to be native to West Asia (not the Mediterranean!)- even though not many are grown in New Zealand  Like the US, New Zealand also has a history of meatloaf as a staple comfort food. I think we can thank the British for this. There’s a lot of ways to make it and I knew my kids love it. Authentic meatloaf would have mashed potatoes but I was out so we went with rice instead.  These are really easy to make, and the result is amazing.  I only wish I would have made more.

Around the World in 12 Dishes: New Zealand Fig and Lime Glazed Meatloaf

Ingredients

    Meatloaf
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp spicy ketchup
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (you can use gluten free)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Fig and Lime Glaze
  • 3 Tbsp fig jam or preserves
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 cup water

Instructions

    To Make Meatloaf
  • Mix together beef, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs.
  • Use your hands to combine everything well.
  • Form meat into small egg shaped loaves.
  • Cook on the stovetop in a large skillet until meat is cooked all the way through.
  • To Make the Glaze
  • Heat a small pan with fig preserves, lime juice, ketchup, sugar and water.
  • Keep the temperature on low and stir continuously until liquid reduces to a thick syrup.
  • Serve mini meatloaves on top of mashed potatoes, rice, or alone, Top with glaze or serve on the side as a dipping sauce.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/09/around-the-world-in-12-dishes-new-zealand-fig-and-lime-glazed-meatloaf.html

Check out the other bloggers this month who shared their New Zealand adventures.

AroundWorld12Dishes
Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschooling for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share,Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Here Come The Girls, Kid World Citizen, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Maroc Mama, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It

        Next month we’re off to Korea and I’m already trying to decide what to make – so many great choices!

        Also check out Around the World in 12 Dishes on Pinterest. Be sure to follow so you will not miss a thing!

Please share any dishes you have tried from New Zealand or crafts, activities, etc. to teach your child(ren) about New Zealand.



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A #SundaySupper Mini Meatball and Goat Cheese Risotto

Even though today is the first day of fall, the weather barely feels like it. Our daily temperatures are still topping 90F, while evenings cool down to the mid-60’s. I am seeing so many friends posting pictures of the leaves changing colors, apple orchards, jeans and sweaters, and all of the other signs of fall. I don’t know when fall will really arrive here, but I’m still going to embrace the season!  If you haven’t guessed, the theme for this week’s #SundaySupper is fall. I haven’t participated in several weeks, I’ll admit the move has me a bit off but I’m finally getting into a good rhythm so I am looking forward to getting back to normal.

Mini Meatball Risotto with Goat Cheese

 

The nights have cooled down and that’s prompted me to start making warm foods for dinner time. This risotto is the first “comfort food” item I made. I wanted to make something creamy, that sticks to your ribs and fills you up.  This did it.  I worried my boys would turn up their noses at the carrots but their reaction was completely the opposite.

Mini Meatball Love

One thing about eating in Morocco is that hands are used way more than silverware.  Instead of eating this with a spoon, my boys grabbed bread and started scooping it up. Yes, double the starch! I’ll admit it, once I ate some, I used bread to soak up the sauce that was left. This dish is so easy, and you can prepare it in under 30 minutes. If you’ve got leftovers (just in case – you probably won’t!) mix in an egg and some bread crumbs.  Form the rice into balls and coat with bread crumbs then fry.  You’ll have a tasty appetizer for the next day.

Risotto with Meatballs

A #SundaySupper Mini Meatball and Goat Cheese Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup arborio or long grain rice
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp goat cheese
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Instructions

  • Mix together ground beef, salt, pepper, and cumin. Roll into small meatballs the size of marbles.
  • Mince 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Peel 2 carrots and dice as small as possible.
  • Add 1 tsp vegetable oil, and 1 tsp butter to a large saute pan, and cook onions, garlic, and carrots until onions are translucent.
  • Once onions have softened, add meatballs and cook 5-7 minutes.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half and use a box grater to grate the insides of the tomato into the pan with the meatballs. Discard skin of tomatoes.
  • Add 1 cup of rice to pan, stirring well to combine with the tomato.
  • As the liquid reduces, add the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time. Adding more as the liquid boils down.
  • When the rice is cooked through, stir in the goat cheese to thicken the dish.
  • Serve hot.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/09/a-sundaysupper-mini-meatball-and-goat-cheese-risotto.html

My fellow #SundaySupper bloggers are making some really delicious dishes that just scream fall.

Take a peek – which recipe are you most looking forward to trying?

Amazing Breakfasts, Brunches, and Breads

Outstanding Soups, Starters and Sides:

Comforting Main Dishes:

Decadent Desserts:

Tasty Drinks:

Don’t forget to 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 EDT. 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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Thai Red Curry Turkey Legs

I don’t always shop in what we in the US would consider a grocery store, but when I do I can’t help but be surprised at how much turkey is for sale. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan, it just surprises me.  Oddly, I’ve never seen my in-laws cooking with turkey so either it hasn’t really caught on, or they’re just not big fans.

I have seen many really creative cuts that I’ve not encountered in the US.  I think the most ingenious is the “osso bucco” cut (yes, they really call it that). Turkey legs are really big, and I don’t know too many people outside of the county fair that eat an entire leg – ever.

But, Moroccan butchers have found a way to use this inexpensive cut.

Turkey Leg Cutlets

Ta da – the osso bucco cut.   Instead of leaving the leg whole, they cut it into 1 – 1 1/2″ pieces.  This cut might be used to make a tajine, letting the fat and skin melt off and the meat become tender. That’s essentially what I did with this. Any cut of turkey will work but for a cost saving measure, ask your butcher to cut up a few turkey legs this way next time you’re at the market.

Red Curry Simmer Sauce

The star of this dish?  Saffron Road’s Thai Red Curry Simmer Sauce.  I know I’ve said this before but MarocBaba LOVES this simmer sauce.  He always asks for more sauce with whatever I make, using bread to sop up anything that’s left. It does have a bit of heat but it’s not overpowering.

Thai Red Curry Turkey

Thai Red Curry Turkey Legs

Ingredients

  • 1 package Saffron Road Thai Red Curry Simmer Sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey legs cut into pieces
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • prepared rice
  • creme fraiche (greek yogurt or sour cream could also be used)
  • water

Instructions

  • In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Brown turkey legs on both sides.
  • In a large pot or a pressure cooker (better yet!) add 1 package of Thai red curry simmer sauce, and then refill the package 2x with water and add to the pot.
  • If using a pressure cooker, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, release the pressure and check the meat. It should be tender and falling off with sauce remaining. If not replace lid and cook in 15 minute increments, checking the liquid levels.
  • If using a pot, simmer on low to medium heat until the meat is cooked through and falling apart.
  • Serve the meat over rice, drizzling liquid over the top. Add a dallop (or two) of creme fraiche, greek yogurt or sour cream to temper heat.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/09/thai-red-curry-turkey-legs.html
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What Traveling with Kids for 10 Years Has Taught Me

Ten weeks after my oldest son was born, I planned a trip to Lower Michigan, 10 hours away (are you seeing a theme here?), with my best friend. I will concede I was young and perhaps today I might have thought twice (maybe not), but my son was perfectly healthy, I had recovered completely and so why not? She might regret saying this now but I candidly remember my mom saying,

Amanda, he’s a baby not an accessory.  You can’t just pack him up and waltz around the world with him! 

Huh? I knew having a baby would change my life in a LOT of ways but I knew the one thing I loved was to travel.  To see new places, meet new people, eat new foods. There was no way I was going to give that up. I couldn’t wait to share that with him – and any future babies that might come my way. When the day came, we packed up little mister and drove 10 hours to lower Michigan and Canada. Guess what.  He did just great and so did I!

Traveling with Kids 10 Years

 

Just recently, on our way to the airport for our relocation to Morocco, my mom made another insightful comment.  As we passed the Wisconsin state capitol on the way to our hotel she said, “a few years ago you would have tried to squeeze in a tour of the capitol tonight.” It got me thinking about how my sense of travel and planning has evolved over the years. She was right, of course, there was a time I would have done that. But an older, wiser me knew that swimming at the hotel, eating dinner, and an early bedtime were going to be enough to lead up to the major travel day following.

Travel is a gift that is priceless. I firmly believe every family should make travel, whether it’s close to home or around the world, a priority in life. In 10 years, I’ve learned a lot.

Lesson 1 Flying

Is there any mode of transportation that strikes more fear in parents than the thought of taking a baby/toddler/child on an airplane? Will they behave? What if they won’t eat? What if they won’t sleep? What if the people around me get angry? Been there. We started flying when our kids were only a few months old and have flown at all stages of their “growing up”. They each have in excess of 35,000 frequent flyer miles on both short flights and long, international flights. There are a few lessons this has taught me.

  • Be prepared but don’t over prepare.  Have you seen the moms at the airport wrestling a stroller, giant diaper bag, wheelie suitcase, purse and toddler? That’s over prepared. If you’ve got a long flight and/or long layovers plan accordingly plus a little extra, 2 changes of clothes, diapers and wipes (if needed) snacks, and a few favorite toys and books.
  • Be prepared to spend the entire traveling time entertaining your child – so forget about carry-on activities for you.
  • Even though airlines now charge for luggage, do yourself a favor and check as much of your luggage as you can. It’s one less thing to think about.
  • If you are seated somewhere that you know will be problematic (think middle of a row) ask the stewardess if he/she can help you find someone who might be willing to switch with you.
  • Crying baby? I know it’s so stressful for mom and dad. Do your best to calm the baby, take a walk up and down the aisle. Sometimes you’ll be allowed to stand in the back galley area. But, please don’t ignore the crying in hopes that it stops (I know you wouldn’t do that right…but some people do).  Even though you shouldn’t have to apologizing to your neighbors is a small gesture that goes a long way. Likewise if you’re seated near a crying baby, give mom and dad a smile and words of encouragement, or even offer to help them in some way. It goes such a long way. On a flight to Morocco with our boys at age 2 1/2 and 5, a mom on the plane held K so that MarocBaba could take M to the bathroom and get him some food. We’ll never forget this small kind gesture on her part.
  • It gets better.  Having just taken a long flight with a 6 and 9 year old, was amazingly easy. They slept on every plane we were on, meaning mom and dad were rested too.  They are also able to entertain themselves – this being said, they also are VERY used to traveling so they do have a bit of patience built-up.

Schedule and Travel

 

Remember where I said above I used to be a serial planner? Vacations were planned to the “t”.  We knew what and where we were going at every day, every hour. It was a little neurotic but I think it’s just a part of my personality. I didn’t want to waste a single second of the time we had. I’m not sure when exactly this changed, maybe I got burned out so bad the only vacation I wanted was one that involved me staring at the back of my eyelids. Planning now takes on a different feel. We aim for one or two things a day, the things that are most important to us. I do a lot of reading and research ahead of time to find out if something is really worth the hassle or not.  I also try to use local contacts (or make some!) before we go so that we’re able to get the best value and have the most authentic experience.  For example, when we went to Disney World a few years ago, my husband had a friend who worked for the park. He was able to get together with another friend and gift us their “guest pass” access – so we got in for free! It took some planning and connections but the cost savings were well worth it.  Best advice: Don’t over schedule yourself (and your kids), so that everyone ends up tired and crabby. Be open to seeing what happens and remain flexible.

Picnic

I don’t think it’s a big surprise that eating is important when traveling.  I love to find new restaurants that are serving fantastic meals however, traveling with a family those bills add up fast and there’s always the issue of picky eaters.  A few of the eating lessons I’ve learned on the road;

  • kids choice – we let our kids choose one meal every day.  It could be a choice of a restaurant if we’re going out, or something we’re making in.  We’ve found this helps with the other meals that they’re not going to really get a say over.
  • Eating New Foods – We have a rule at all times, that is you must try at least one bite. By instilling this young (and always) we don’t often fight in new places.  Our kids will try a variety of things, with very little resistance.  They might not like it but most of the time we can get them to at least try it.
  • Picnics – Having a kitchen isn’t always an option on the road, but there’s always some type of market nearby. Pick up the items for sandwiches, yogurts, cheeses, vegetables you name it.  Not only does this help with cost but it’s always fun to explore what’s for sale in new places.

Snorkeling

I have a confession to make – I don’t do kid travel.  When we go somewhere I don’t seek out zoos and aquariums, or waterparks.  Unless that’s what we, as a family are looking for. Recently we went to Essaouaira Morocco for the weekend and we spent the morning walking around the port, seeing how the fishermen bring in their catch, tie their lines, and explore the different seafood that was caught. It was 100% hands on and our kids were totally engaged. Likewise when we were in Mexico earlier this year, we went to the beach and the kids wanted to snorkel – sure!  We go out of our way to find interesting, engaging, activities for everyone in the family – not just the kids.  We travel to show our kids the world, and not just the “kids-only” version.

Start Young Go Often

The final and possibly most important lesson we’ve learned is that by starting young and traveling often we are able to do more and have more meaningful experiences with our kids. They think nothing of jumping in the car and driving 4-5 hours at the drop of a hat.  We can pack our backpacks for a weekend trip in under 30 minutes.  They have learned to occupy themselves without a lot of stimulation.  They know how to measure distance and they pay attention to what’s going on around them. They can go through an airport security line as fast as any adult. They know what a passport is, and can identify different languages when they year them. They are also comfortable around all types of people in any setting. I have to believe that this is because they have developed skills through years of traveling.

What has traveling with kids taught you?

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No Oven? No Problem! 40+ Stovetop and Raw Recipes

I took a few pictures of our apartment when we first moved here. It was not at all similar to an apartment in the US – especially in the kitchen. Homes here are unfurnished – completely unfurnished – no stoves, no refrigerator, no light bulbs in some cases. It took us a little while but we’ve now got a working kitchen!

Moroccan Kitchen

It’s not quite done yet  – my boxes are still en route via container and I’ve got appliances, some dishes, cookbooks, a few other items that are on their way. At first I thought, “oh well that’s ok I don’t really miss those things, maybe I shouldn’t have even sent them,” but now as time goes on I keep remembering what is coming and get filled with a little bit of excitement knowing it’s almost here!

In the bottom (after) picture you can see the corner of my stove.  It’s a gas range that sits on the countert op. This is really my only cooking apparatus.  We do have an oven but it’s downstairs – 3 stories – and during the day is usually in use baking bread. I don’t have a slow cooker, microwave, or really any very good cookware – I am so regretting not packing my Le Creuset pots. I’ve started to get more creative with what I can make but am always in need of ideas for meals and desserts that either don’t require cooking or can be made on the stove top.

I didn’t realize how much I really used my oven to cook or just heat things up but not having one sure brings things into perspective!  I decided to ask other food bloggers to share some of their stove top and raw recipes to give me some new ideas.  Whether you’re gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, or a “normal (haha)” eater there’s something here for everyone!

40 Stovetop and Raw Recipes

Salads, Soups, and Side Dishes

Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves – The Lemon Bowl

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad – Alida’s Kitchen

Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans – Alida’s Kitchen

Fattoush Dip with Kale Hummus – Farm Fresh Feasts

Vegetarian Quinoa Fajitas from Cook the Story

Fresh Corn Salad from Farmer’s Wife Rambles

Main Dishes

Paleo Pesto Meatballs – Everyday Maven

Salsa Egg Tacos from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

BBQ Shrimp, Broccoli, and Cheesy Quinoa Bowls from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Paleo Salmon Cakes – Everyday Maven

Chickpea Stew with Bulgur and Za’atar - Everyday Maven

Szechuan Green Beans and Ground Turkey – The Lemon Bowl

Beef Goulash – Masala Herb

Raw “Egg” Sandwich from Ricki Heller

Beef Liver with Pulao - Masala Herb

Fried Prawns with Lemon Rice – Masala Herb

Make these Greek Chicken Tacos  for dinner one night then use up the leftovers for Five Layer Mediterranean Chicken Dip as an appetizer the next day! – Farm Fresh Feasts

Huevos Rancheros with Smoky Spicy Guacamole and Grain Free Tortillas from The Tomato Tart

Smoked Goat Cheddar Quesadillas with Green Garlic Crema from The Tomato Tart

Green Chile Cheeseburgers from Modern Christian Homemaker

One Pot Pasta from Modern Christian Homemaker

Desserts

Vegan No Bake Cookies – Everyday Maven

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles – Alida’s Kitchen

Funfetti Cake Batter Bites – Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites – Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Frozen Yogurt – Keep it Sweet Desserts

Salted Chocolate – Covered Roasted Cashews – Savory Simple

Raw Apricot Swirl Cheesecake Mini Pies from Ricki Heller

Raw Gingersnap Cookie Bon Bons from Ricki Heller

Raw Chocolate Fudge – Topped Brownies from Ricki Heller

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Pie from Cook the Story

Pots de Chocolat with Green Yogurt from Cook the Story

Strawberry Tiramisu Cheesecake Cups from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Dark Chocolate, Orange & Pistachio Greek Yogurt Cups from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Peanut Butter Mousse from Keeping Busy in Brooklyn

Chocolate Avocado Mousse from Modern Christian Homemaker

Smore’s Dip from Cravings of a Lunatic

Coconut Cream Cookie Stacks from Cravings of a Lunatic

No Bake Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Shots from Cravings of a Lunatic

No Bake Granola Bar Bites from Like Mother Like Daughter

No Bake Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce from Like Mother Like Daughter

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Schools Around the World: Morocco

Today’s post is written for inclusion in the Multicultural Blogging Carnival “Schools Around The World,” hosted by The Educators’ Spin On It. Next week stop by and find out about schools all over the world.  I’m focusing on schools in Morocco.  We’ve just begun education our children under this system so while I can’t offer a long-term view, you can get a first hand account of our experience so far.

Outside Moroccan School

My kids have been in school in Morocco for two weeks now. A lot of people have asked me what school is like here and it is very different in comparison to the US education system.  First, some background. Our children do not speak, read, or write Arabic or French – the primary languages that are taught here.  We decided on a small private school a little way from our house. After talking with the administrators we felt confident that our boys would be taken care of and that they understood the situation. For now both boys are in a 1st grade classroom.  While we were worried how this would affect M (who would be entering 4th grade in the US) we see that it is vital he understand the basics before he is put in at his grade level.  The school will continually move him up grade levels throughout the year until he is with his peers.

In order to enroll in school families must register with the Education Ministry and provide paperwork that they are Moroccan residents. We are currently working to secure all of of our paperwork so we met with the local representative for the ministry who gave the green light for our kids. One thing we’ve learned is not all schools are the same.  We visited another, larger, private school and were told the kids would need to sit a placement test with the education ministry and then go to public school until their Arabic and French was “good enough” to attend that school. No thanks.

The outside of our children's Moroccan private school.

The outside of our children’s Moroccan private school.

There are three big differences we’ve noticed about attending school in Morocco.

1) Most people prefer private school to public schools.  Under Morocco’s Family Code children are required to attend school until age 16 (though many poor children don’t attend at all).  Public schools are available though the general consensus is that they are underfunded and overcrowded. In talking with some people they feel the public schools are improving however, in big cities (like Marrakech) there is still a problem with overcrowding.  Private schools require a registration fee that can range from about $50 upwards of a few thousand dollars.  Then there is a monthly fee for attendance.  We pay about $70 a month for each of our children to attend school.

Inside of our children's school in Morocco

Inside of our children’s school in Morocco

2) School Hours.  Our kids are still having a hard time with this.  School here begins around 8am – 12pm.  The kids then go home for lunch, returning to school from 2:30-5:30.  It’s a big change for everyone. It’s also meant I have to adjust my schedule and plan a lunch meal for them.  It also ends up to be a lot of running around – having to drop off and pick up kids 4x a day.  I can’t see a system like this ever working in the US where there are a majority of homes in which both parents work outside the home.

School supplies and books for 2 kids.

School supplies and books for 2 kids.

3) School Supplies. In the US schools provide a list of basic supplies children need; backpacks, notebooks, pens/pencils, etc. Here we received a 2 page list of everything our kids would need.  Not only do they have to bring supplies all books have to be purchased as well.  Because children are educated bilingually there are 2 of every book.  A French and Arabic Math book, French and Arabic science book, etc.  We also are asked to bring paper for the printers, notebooks (and colored covers), and a lot of other things.  For the first grade materials it cost us $150.  In a few months we’ll need to buy all the 2nd grade books/materials for M.  $150 is a big expenditure for us, and would be for most American parents – it’s really A LOT of money for many Moroccan families. Children who attend public school are also required to purchase their text books and supplies though I’m told it’s not quite as expensive. Oh, and one other difference. We provide the list to a “supply store” that carries each school’s books.  The shop owner then collects everything and packages them so there’s not nearly the same level of fun selecting materials as there is in the US.

For most subjects there are two textbooks; Arabic and French.

For most subjects there are two textbooks; Arabic and French.

The first day of school here is not a big deal. In fact most kids either show up late or sometimes don’t go the first day at all.  I have been trying to understand this but am still drawing a blank. It was really sad for me the first day w ear I’ve ever cried dropping them off to school.

Schools are very  recognizable by their bright colors. They are built into neighborhoods, just like a big house.  Our boys school sits next to a bakery. There’s no central air conditioning and I’m guessing there’s no central heat in the winter. Children have a “recess” in the mid-morning where they can play in the courtyard area and have a snack that they bring from home. There aren’t music classes or gym classes but I do think there are some art activities (guessing by the supplies we had to buy). Sometimes schools teach a third language (English is most popular, then Spanish).  This is taught as a second language is in US schools.  Children spend a few hours a week learning the basics.  The core studies however are done in tandem between French and Arabic.

While a few private schools provide transportation (small buses) the majority do not.  There are a lot of small neighborhood schools here in Marrakech, in fact there’s often several within a very small distance. In rural areas and small cities there are fewer options.  In many desert and mountain communities children may have to walk several miles to get to schools that are much more dire than those in the city.

So there’s a peek into a school in Morocco.  If you’ve got more specific questions feel free to ask! Don’t forget to stop by The Educators’ Spin On It next week to see all of the posts from bloggers around the world!

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Gluten Free Blueberry Galettes

“When I was 17 my mom and dad took the train west to visit family.  They left me home with my baby brother who was maybe 2 years old. At that time I didn’t think anything of it, I had helped my mom from the time he was born. We lived on a farm and every morning I’d get up before my brother to take care of the chores around the house.  Then some days I would put him in the backseat of our car. There were no baby seats, and I was driving, so I just put him in the back and told him to stay put.

There was a big blueberry patch a few miles down the road and so every day when the chores were done we would make our way there.  I spread out a quilt for him and I picked blueberries until all the buckets were full. He sat on the blanket, playing with sticks, or whatever he found around him. I’m sure there were ants crawling on the blanket and who knows what else but back then no one fussed about that stuff. 

When we’d get home at night I would make the blueberries into preserves and can them. It had to be done right away or the berries would have gone bad. By time my parents got home I was able to have picked and saved 50 pounds of blueberries. If I would have waited until my mom came home they would have all been gone. You know I didn’t even think about doing this, it was just a part of life, the way things were. Every summer my husband, kids, and I would go pick berries – all kinds – to put up.  My husband still makes a couple hundred gallons of blueberry wine. We’re lucky to get a few bottles after we give it to family and friends. It’s a good thing they’ve made blueberry bushes now, I don’t know if my back could take bending over to pick off those little bushes on the ground.” 

 

Before we moved we had a garage sale to get rid of all of our extra “stuff”. In a way that I’ve come to discover is quintessentially Midwestern my mom struck up a conversation with an older couple.  The man was a World War II vet and wore his Navy pride on his VFW hat. Somehow the conversation turned to a discussion about the best place to pick blueberries, and the giant bucket my mom and step-dad picked a few days earlier. Then she told us the story that she always remembers when she thinks about blueberries. As she walked away I smiled and told my mom, those stories just capture a moment of someone’s life, a piece of the past. It’s too bad they aren’t shared often enough and just disappear.

Blueberry Almond Galette

As I was making these, I kept thinking back to the lady and her little brother. I wondered how time had changed them, if he admired his big sister and I would have the guts to leave my 17 year old in charge of a toddler for a few weeks (I wouldn’t!). I thought about the treats they made through the cold Wisconsin winter with the blueberries, bringing back a small taste of summer. I couldn’t save the blueberries and there’s none to be found here but if you happen upon some fresh berries, or even some frozen berries that have been thawed you’ll love this easy breakfast/dessert.

Gluten Free Blueberry Galettes

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 2 cups coconut flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 11/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 stick or 4oz of cold butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 c ice water
  • Filling
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp chilled butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • sliced almonds for decoration

Instructions

    To Make the Crust
  • Add the coconut flour, almond flour, xantham gum, sugar, and salt to a food processor. Begin to pulse and add the butter and vegetable shortening. Continue to pulse until there are no large pieces left and the dough looks like bread crumbs. Slowly add water just until the dough comes together. Warp the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours but up to 24 hours. (If you do not have a food processor the ingredients can be mixed by hand)
  • To Make the Filling
  • Add washed and rinsed blueberries to a large bowl. Use your fingers to break apart the butter in to small pieces and combine with the berries. Mix in sugar, lemon juice, and almond flour.
  • To assemble Galettes
  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Remove dough from the fridge and divide into four to five equal parts. Allow the dough to warm up a little. Lightly dust a cutting board with coconut flour or almond flour and press out the dough with your hands. You will want to create a round disc shape.
  • In the middle of the disc add a few teaspoons of the blueberry mixture. Fold up the edges of the galette. It WILL NOT cover the full top of the pastry, just a rough lip.. If the dough buckles or even crumbles a little bit it’s ok. This is a rustic pastry.
  • Slide each galette onto a baking sheet that it will not stick.. I like to use a silpat liner. A sheet lined with parchment paper will also work. Decorate the tops of the pastry with slivered almonds.
  • Once all galettes are ready to bake, place in the oven for 20 minutes and then check. The crust should be a toasted brown color and the fruit soft when you poke with a fork or knife. If they are not done at this point, continue checking every 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.
  • These are often served at room temperature but I think they taste best when warm.
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6 Tips to Talk to Your Muslim Kids about 9/11

Every year around this time it’s impossible to escape the media reports, specials, and news focused on September 11, 2001. Having children who were not alive when the events happened but are now coming of an age where they begin to understand what is being seen and heard puts Muslim parents in a hard spot.  How much do you share about what happened and how do you do it? Last year my oldest son (3rd grade at the time) came home from school on that day and began asking questions – I knew we had missed the boat in talking to him, to prepare him, before others did.  It’s important for all parents to talk about events like this with their children but it’s especially important for Muslim parents.  Every conversation will of course be altered for the child’s age and level of understanding.  Here are some tips if you decide to talk with your children on this subject.

Talking about 9/11 with Muslim Kids

1) In plain language explain what happened. Something like, “In 2001, before you were born, there were two very big towers in New York. Some men took over airplanes and flew the planes into the buildings.  The buildings collapsed and a lot of people were killed. There were two other planes, one that was crashed into the Pentagon and one that went into a field. The men who took over the plane were bad people and they were also Muslim.  We know that Allah {God} has told us it is very bad to kill people. There are a lot of people who are not Muslim who don’t understand why this happened and they are sometimes angry with all Muslims for what happened. I’m telling you this because I want you to know if you meet someone who is angry or sad about this, why they feel that way.”

2) Tell them your 9/11 story. I think showing your children your connection to the event is really important because it makes it less abstract. I have told my children that I was in school when it happened and that even though it was far away from us in New York it was very scary because no one knew what was happening and it was the first time something so big had happened in the United States. I told them that everyone was very sad, many people cried and struggled to understand. I also tell them that some people got even more angry with Muslim people, or people they thought were Muslim and verbally and sometimes physically attacked them. If you have a story about something that happened to you then share it with them.

3) We’re American too.  Affirm to your children their identity.  Yes we are Muslim but I don’t want my kids to feel like they have to choose one side or the other.  It’s ok to be sad about what happened. There are and will be people who want to segregate us as Muslims, to take our rights as citizens away but children need to know they have just as many rights as anyone else and the acts of these people does not somehow erase their identity.

4) They don’t speak for us. By they I mean the people who perpetrated this crime and the people who blame Islam for the actions. There are many people and powers trying to write the narrative that is 9/11. I want to reinforce in my children the strength to stand up to either side and say, “No, that is not who I am.” I pray that raising them in a multicultural, mutli-religious environment will help them to create the identity of who they are and in turn give them the strength to stand proud in that.

5) There are bad people everywhere. This is a little touchy because on one hand you don’t want to scare your children, but on the other hand it’s important they understand reality. There are bad people who steal kids, there are bad people that steal things from other people, and there are bad people who kill other people. They all have different reasons for doing it, and many of them feel justified in their actions through their faith convictions (whether right or wrong), their life circumstances, or some other contributing factor.  This is a good time to bring up some analogies. For example, if your friend said “we can steal this candy from the store because Sammy did, and now he has candy and we don’t,” would that make it ok? No it would not because you know that taking something that isn’t yours is always wrong.

6) Be proud of who you are.  I don’t want my children to ever feel ashamed that they are Muslim. But, in an atmosphere of fear and Islamophobia they may want to hide their identity.  To some degree this may be a coping tactic, especially with young adolescents. There are so many good and amazing things Muslims have done, it’s important to reinforce this in our children. When a child is confronted by someone who may want to blame them for what happened on 9/11 they can provide something to counter it. “What happened makes me sad too, but did you know Muslims invented algebra?” Please note this is not meant to discredit the enormity of the event but to show one terrible thing does not negate the positive contributions that have been made.

There are many other topics that can be brought up in this conversation and should be targeted at your child’s age and experiences. Children who live in a big multicultural may not face the same kind of issues as a Muslim child in rural America might. No matter where you live, it’s important to have this conversation with your kids before someone else does.  It can provide them the information and tools they need to understand this difficult situation.

 What other tips would you share for Muslim parents having this conversation with their children?

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