Thursday, January 17, 2013

What is Weds World Wonder night?

As I mentioned my son is a very picky eater. If he could live on Subway ham and cheese sandwiches he probably would. If I even mention mash potatoes he makes gagging noises and pretends to be dead. I grew up in a very culinary adventurous family. My parents loved to cook. My holidays were filled with unusual dishes from around the world. I also grew up in a family where you ate what you were given or you didn't eat at all. Even with a severe food allergy I was forced to dine on hot dogs and red gravy even though they gave me headaches. My son has also grown up around 2 parents that love to eat exotic foods however we made the biggest mistake made by parents. We allowed him to be picky. I became a short order cook making 3 different  meals instead of one family meal to be enjoyed and shared. He is fascinated with Food network primarily because that's one of the only channels I watch. He is obsessed with the show 'Chopped' to the point he has created his own version. He loves to cook but he won't eat what he makes. This is incredibly frustrating. One day my mother came to me and brought up the idea of a culturally themed night. My son loves to learn and is fascinated by other cultures especially languages. So we thought why not introduce new foods in a fun way? Well to me this is fun. I embrace my inner geek.

How to plan for Weds World Wonder night:
1) Sit down with your kiddo and pick a country.
2) Research the cuisine. Start simple and easy so you don't scare yourself or the kiddos for example we did China since Chinese food is very common.
3) Pick a main dish, appetizer and dessert as well as a beverage. **Please remember this is very important to make the food yourself this is what starts the evening together. Your kiddo can wash veggies or help stir. If they feel part of the cooking process they are more likely to try the food.
4)On that evening have the kiddos find the country on the map and research some information on the country. Do this together. For example while you are cooking they could be telling you the things they find and writing them down to share at the table. I have YouTubed "how to" videos on languages and music. Be creative! If you have more than one kiddo you could suggest they put on a skit for after dinner or even research what a traditional game for that country is. The skies the limit!
5) Make sure to set the table. It is very important to sit down for dinner as a family. Turn the TV off. Why invest all the time and research into this if you are not going to embrace family time? Decorate the table try and eat with the utensils used in that country. Have the kiddos make napkin rings or place mats that are the country flag. This is the time to not use paper plates. Make the family feel the importance of this.
6) If you do not have a globe or a world atlas go get one! Sure you can pull it up one a computer but having the ability to touch and turn the globe or atlas is priceless. They get even more curious and pretty soon the see just how big the world is!

So here a few warnings avoid cramming too much information down the kids throats. We may find that the lower grasslands of Indonesia are covered in indigenous micro beetles that help to pollinate the wheat fields (I totally made that up by the way) but kids seem to glaze over with boredom and your fun filled family night will be over. Next try not to get crazy on the different spices. New and different flavors can sometimes be shocking to the kids taste buds. Gradually introduce them to the flavors. If they have never had goat cheese do not use a whole round in the meal and expect them to eat it. Thats my next warning as excited as we are to do this we do experience some failures. There will be occasions that the kids will just not be into the thought of lamb stew so I give you my permission to substitute in "safety items". By this I mean alternative ingredients. Example: whole fish with the head attached< fish fillet I think you get the jist of it!

This past Wednesday we chose Africa which is a huge continent not a country obviously. So we decided to start at the top of  Africa and chose a main dish from Morocco. I am including recipes and pictures of our "trip to Africa" below so you can get some ideas of how to approach this. We chose a simple but flavorful chicken dish simply called "Moroccan Chicken" served over rice and had Baked Banana Coconut dessert called "Akwadu" and for our drink I served milk (since they don't have yak milk/goat milk we resorted to cow milk) as well as Papaya nectar. My son YouTubed some videos on Morocco and I also showed him some of the diverse tribes found in Africa. We set the table and luckily for us my dad is a world traveler and had brought back some African art we could display. If you have wooden bowls or baskets that works just as well. Even decorating with safari animals can set the ambiance! We ate only with spoons and served the food family style like they would in a tribal community. I admit I had way more fun than he did.
The family discussing where Africa is primarily Morocco. Actually this is Grampa over explaining Morocco

Table Setting and my boy praying "African style"

My boy researching Africa on his own.
Akwadu dessert

Akwadu aka Banana Coconut Bake from Ghana

5 large bananas
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
2/3 cup coconut flakes

Cut bananas in half and place in one layer in a shallow greased baking dish. Dot with butter and pour orange juice and lemon or lime over top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and top with coconut. Bake for 8-10 mins at 375 degrees until coconut is golden brown.

So this dessert is awesome. However it does have a unique flavor which can be a little strange at first. It encompasses sweet and sour flavors with the caramelizing of the coconut and banana. I love it but I definitely won't be offended if you hate it.

The recipe below I found on The contributor wrote it so simply for you to follow I just copied and pasted it below:

Easy Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings: 6
About This Recipe
"This is one of my family's favourite recipes; I am constantly asked all the time to make it. I was taught it by a Moroccan friend who also lives in France - it is an old family recipe passed down for many years. It is great all year around - served with flat breads or pitta breads & assorted salads in spring & summer or served with hot fluffy & fruity couscous, assorted chutneys or pickles in the depths of winter. I make mine in a fantastic "Electric Tagine" made by Tefal; it of course works in a more traditional clay tagine - BUT the real secret works like a dream in a Slow cooker/Crock Pot. Try it out! If you cannot get Ras-el-Hanout, which is an exotic Moroccan spice mixture, including rose petals - don't worry, use the other spices I have listed instead; or I have a Ras-el-Hanout recipe posted on Recipezaar: North African Ras El Hanout Spice Mix N.B. I notice in a review that it has been suggested that Chemical Heat is needed!! The great thing about sharing recipes is that they can be adapted to personal taste. BUT, this is not supposed to be a "Hot" recipe, but a "Fragrant & Fruity" recipe!! A Tagine by definition is SLOW cooked over a LOW heat & is very fruity with subtle undertones of heat! However, life would be boring if you couldn't add a bit of "heat", but it's just not traditional. What is traditional, is to allow your guests to add their own heat, so have a bowl of "Harissa" on the table. Preserved lemons are also a wonderful and traditional addition - I have a recipe posted on Recipezaar: Preserved Fresh Lemons PLEASE NOTE: This recipe lists canned chickpeas in the ingredients, NOT dried! If you use dried chickpeas, you MUST soak them and cook them first!"
    • 6 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into large chunks ( or assorted chicken pieces, about 3 lbs)
    • 1 tablespoon flour or 2 tablespoons cornflour
    • 2 large onions, chopped
    • 3 -4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
    • 1 -2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 inch fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
    • 6 ounces dried apricots
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 2 (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
Page 2 of 3Easy Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine (cont.)
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 pint chicken stock
  • 1 pinch saffron or 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons ras el hanout spice mix ( or make up spice mix below)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt and black pepper
  • chopped fresh coriander, to serve ( Cilantro)
    • 2 carrots, peeled & diced (optional)
    • 1 preserved lemons, chopped into small wedges (optional)
    • harissa
1.     PLEASE NOTE: This recipe lists canned chickpeas in the ingredients, NOT dried! If you use dried chickpeas, you MUST soak them and cook them first!
2.     Heat up olive oil in a frying pan/skillet & saute chopped onions & garlic for 5-10 minutes.
3.     Add chicken stock & gradually mix in flour or cornflour until well mixed & not lumpy.Add honey & tomato paste & mix well.
4.     Add herbs,spices & finely chopped ginger with salt & pepper to taste.
5.     Finally add tinned tomatoes & mix well.
6.     Pour the above tomato,onion & spice mix into slow cooker or tagine.
7.     Add chicken & chickpeas & mix well.
8.     Add dried apricots making sure they are covered by juice. (Add the carrots if using.).
9.     Give it a gentle but good stir to mix everything together well.
10.   Crock Pot or Slow Cooker - Cook on high for about 3 to 4 hours OR automatic with keep warm facility for up to 8 hours. (Please note that the cooking times depend on your crockpot, the cooking times I have suggested work fine with mine which is a Morphy Richards Slow Cooker.).
11.   If cooking in a Traditional Tagine, do as above & cook SLOWLY over gas or barbeque for about 2-3 hours.
Page 3 of 3Easy Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine (cont.)
12.   Electric Tagine cooking - same as the slowcooker. If you need to thicken it up towards the end of the cooking time, add cornflour which has been mixed with a little water & add to the tagine - mix well.
13.   Serve with freshly chopped Coriander/Cilantro sprinked on top & either with couscous, rice, fresh flat bread, pitta bread or salads. It is also good (if not traditional) served with fluffy pureed or mashed potatoes & pasta.
14.   Note: You can use chicken pieces or whole chicken which has been cut up into portions, but you will then need to brown them in a frying pan or skillet beforehand. Preserved lemons make a great addition, add them when you add the apricots and carrots.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 (546 g)
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Calories 488.7
Calories from Fat 71
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.9g
Saturated Fat 1.3g
Cholesterol 76.7mg
Sugars 31.5 g
Sodium 645.0mg
Total Carbohydrate 71.7g
Dietary Fiber 11.1g
Sugars 31.5 g
Protein 35.9g
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Moroccan Chicken

Well this concludes the basics of World Wonder night. Please add my page on Facebook and share your pics and ideas! Stay tuned for next week January 23rd is RUSSIA!! Woo hoo!

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