Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Learning about Mexico through Food

The girls have been doing a multi-year study about different countries around the world (from A to Z).  Currently, they are on "X."  Since no countries in the world begin with an "X," I chose Mexico for them to study. 

They have already studied about Mexico at a couple different times in the past few years, once when we did a unit study using the Josephina series of books (part of the American Girl series).  They also learned about Mexican holidays and celebratations through a Home Ec class I taught a few years ago.  We focused on Las Posadas and some of the food that would be made for that holiday.

Currently, we have focused on learning more about the Aztec and Mayan cultures. In addition, we have done some cooking recipes from the book Fun with Mexican Cooking by Karen Ward.

The girls took a look at the book and chose some recipes from it to try.  There are a few more recipes that we want to try (including one for salsa and one for a type of bread). 

One of the recipes the girls tried was for churritos.  It was an easy recipe because the only ingredients needed were tortillas, cinnamon, sugar, and cooking spray.  You could either fry them or do a healthier version of baking them (we chose the latter method of cooking/baking).

Olivia cutting the whole-wheat tortillas into triangles.

The baked churritos that were simple to make and
ones that both the girls enjoyed.

Another recipe we tried was for guacamole.  There are plenty of recipes out there for guacamole, but the one in Fun with Mexican Cooking is delicious.  Again, it's a very easy recipe since the cookbook is written for children. 

Sophia made the guacamole by herself...though she always checks with me to make sure that she's using the right measuring spoon.  The last thing we want is a half tablespoon of salt when, perhaps, only a half teaspoon is suggested.

Sophia adding salt to the guacamole.

The guacamole that Sophia made.

The girls had the churritos and guacamole with chips with lunch.  They also made Resurrection Buns since it was a few days before Easter.  These are the ones where you take crescent roll dough and roll it around a marshmallow that has been coated in (dairy-free) butter, cinnamon, and sugar. 

When you bake the Resurrection Buns, the marshamallow disappears.  They are incredibly unhealthy with no nutritional value whatsoever, but they are good...especially right out of the oven.

They also made "Dainty Basque Egg and Ham Sandwiches" - a recipe from the cookbook The New Spanish Table.  This was a recipe that we never got around to making when we were studying about Spain.  We finally had all the ingredients needed to make the recipe, so the girls got to make and try it.  Sophia liked it, but Olivia didn't.   

Having lunch with food made from recipes Mexico and Spain
as well as a special Easter dessert.

For another meal, the girls made flan from the recipe in the book Fun with Mexican Cooking.  I remember making flan when I was in high school during Spanish class.  It was horrible. So, needless to say, I wasn't particularly excited about making flan with the girls. 

Despite my hesitation about flan, this batch turned out amazingly well!  The girls were able to make it on their own. The only part they needed help with was putting the baking dish with the unbaked flan in a 9"x13" pan and then filling the 9"x13" pan with water so it covered the sides of the baking dish. 

You need to be careful in placing the pan in the oven so no water spilled into the baking dish...otherwise the recipe won't turn out.

After the flan bakes for an hour, it turns into a custard-like dessert.  To finish it off, a layer of brown sugar is added to the top and then placed under the broiler for a bit. 
Flan with a piece taken out so the inside can be seen.

The girls also wanted to try a Mexican breakfast.  So, they made hot chocolate which was very rich and thick.  It makes the hot chocolate that we drink look like chocolate water.  The recipe called for a bit of cinnamon which was an interesting taste that we all liked.

Sophia measuring dairy-free milk while
Olivia stirs the ingredients in the saucepan.
They have the cookbook propped up in front of them
so they can follow the recipe.

Mexican hot chocolate.

The main course for breakfast was scrambled eggs with tortillas.  Olivia worked on cutting the tortillas while Sophia concentrated on chopping the vegetables.  The eggs were spicy and had a lot of flavor (there was quite a bit of black pepper in the recipe).  Since Olivia can't eat spicy food, I made some plain eggs for her.  Sophia and I both liked the scrambled eggs with tortillas and would make it again.

Scrambled eggs with tortillas.

The girls having a breakfast of Mexican scrambled eggs and
Mexican hot chocolate that they made.

This was a fun unit study, and one that involved the most cooking.  Learning about Mexico throughout the past few years has been interesting because each time we've looked at different time periods; learned about different holidays and customs; and tried new recipes. 

Only two more countries left to learn about before the end of the ABC Tour of the World:  Yemen and Zambia.  Then we move onto learning about each state in the United States which we're all looking forward to doing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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