Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Africa


Christmas is celebrated throughout Africa.  There are 350 million christians in Africa.  The Coptic Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December on their calender, which is the 7th of January on the rest of the worlds.  Kwanzaa is not celebrated in Africa, it is an African-American holiday.

Christmas in Africa is not nearly as commercial as it is in the Americas and Europe.  More emphasis is put on the birth of christ and singing in church than gift giving. The most common thing purchased for Christmas is a set of new clothes to be worn to church. Other common gifts are; school books, cloth, candles, soap, and other practical items.

Christmas dinner is another big part of the holiday.  In east Africa, goats are bought on Christmas day to be roasted for dinner. In South Africa, the beaches are full and BBQ's or traditional christmas dinners are common. The traditional dinners include mince pies, plum pudding, and Turkey.  In ghana, fufu and okra soup is served along with Liberia rice, beef and biscuits.  In Zimbabwae, to go with there goat, bread, jam, and tea is served.

At churches in Africa, nativity scenes are placed out, and people sing carols, and sometimes dance.

Shop fronts, churches, mango trees, and homes are all decorated for the holiday. Fake snow can be found in store windows, palm trees are filled with candles, and oil palm trees are filled with bells.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Asia

Christmas is not widely celebrated in Asia.  It is more of a commercial holiday, and holds little or no religious value (sounds like some western countries, doesn't it?). 


Less than 1% of Japanese people are Christians.  They are predominately Buddhist, Shinto, or Atheist. Because of this, Christmas is not a nationally recognized holiday, and people go to work and school.  Even though most people aren't Christians, Christmas is celebrated in the spirit of commercialism. Corporations do most of the holiday decorating, though many Japanese people have Christmas trees and hold Christmas parties.

On Christmas Eve, it is very common to celebrate with a Christmas cake.  The cake is said to go bad if it is not consumed on Christmas Eve. It is a light sponge cake, with a small amount of frosting, and strawberries.


Christian children in China decorate trees with colorful ornaments in the shapes of flowers, chains, and lanterns. Muslin stockings are hung with for "Dun Che Lao Ren" or "Christmas Old Man" to place gifts and treats in.

Non-Christian children in China call this time the Spring Festival.  They celebrate with many festivities. They eat delicious meals, and pay respect to their ancestors.  Children are the main focus of these celebrations.  Children are given new clothes, new toys, good food, and watch firework displays.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Europe

I decided that I should learn about christmas around the world.  I wondered how closely it resembles American christmas.  Christmas in Europe is varies suprisingly from country to country.

I have chosen four countries in europe to write about right now and will write about more countries from other continents later.


On christmas eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts by Pere Noel.  If a family has a christmas tree; sweets, fruits, nuts, and small toys are hung on it.
Most homes have nativity scenes set up and they serve as the focus of the christmas celebration. 

A late supper called Le Reveillion is served after midnight mass on christmas eve.  Regional food is eaten at this feast, as well as a yule log shaped cake called Buche de Nol or Christmas cake.  After the feast, food and drink is left on the tables and the log is left burning in the fireplace in case the virgin Mary calls is.


The Christmas season goes for 3 weeks, starting 8 days before Novena (Christmas).  The week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed up as sheperds, playing pipes, singing, and receiting christmas poems.  The children are then given money to buy christmas presents.

A feast happens 24 hours before Christmas eve and is followed by a celebration meal in which Panneton and chocolate are featured.  On christmas day the pope gives blessings to the crowd gathered in vatican square.  Children wait until the Epiphany on January 6th to receive presents.  Their gifts are delivered by an ugly witch who was said to be to busy to visit baby Jesus on the day he was born.


During Christmas time, young children, particularly those in the country, remember a little gnome who guards their farm animals. This gnome will play tricks on the children if the forget to leave him a bowl of porridge.

They also have a gift bearing gnome, called Julebukk (meaning Christmas buck), he is called this because he appears as a goat like creature.

The Christmas season begins with the Saint Lucia ceremony on the 13th of December. The oldest daughter in the family puts on a white robe, a sash, and crown of evergreens with tall lighted candles in it.  The younger daughters carry one lit candle each. The boys in the family dress as star boys with long white shirts and pointed hats.  The children wake their parents at dawn and bring them coffee, and Lussekatter (saffron buns).  The ceremony is meant to represents thanksgiving for the return of the sun.

Christmas trees are usually decorated with apples, red harts, cornets, straw ornaments, balls of glass, and tinsel.

On Christmas day, families usually have a big brunch at noon or a dinner in the afternoon.


Advent is an important season in the Polish year.  There are special church services held every morning (called roraty), at six. The four Sundays of advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for christ.  

During this time, Christmas decorations are made, as in piernik, a honey cake. Christmas trees are placed in homes and public areas as well as outside churches.  They are decorated with shiny apples, gift walnuts, beautifully wrapped chocolate shapes, and homemade decorations and candles.  On top of the trees, there is usually a star.

Christmas eve (wigilia) is important in Poland.  The polish traditionally celebrate with at least 12 different vegetarian dishes.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies



I think I am going to put this post in both of my blogs, because it is educational and filled with yummy food.

I was wondering about how cookies originated, so I did some research.  

The first cookies were invented by accident - they were just cake batter used by bakers to test their oven temperature before baking the whole cake.

Tea cakes and English biscuits strongly resemble cookies as we know them today.

Chocolate chip cookies are the most popular kind in America and Canada. These were created by accident as well. In 1937, Ruth Wakefield invented them while working at the Toll House Inn.  She was baking for her guests, and she ran out of nuts.  She used a bar of semi-sweet chocolate given to her by Andrew Nestle.  She thought the chocolate would mix together with the dough and form an all chocolate cookie. It didn't, but they turned out good so she served them anyway.

Ruth made a deal with Nestle that they could print her recipe on the back of their bars of chocolate if she was given free bars to bake for her guests in her hotel.  They liked the idea so much that they even included a chocolate chopper in the package. 

The cookies became so popular, that in 1939, the chocolate chip was invented.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008


On saturday at the coop I volunteer at, I got two bunches of free overripe bananas.  So I came home, broke out the cookbooks, and made banana muffins.  I used Dino's recipe for omni-sub free vegan banana bread, and I put it into muffin tins instead.  I doubled the recipe, so now I have a freezer full of muffins!  I used whole wheat pastry flour, hazelnuts, and oats.  If I had some chocolate chips, I would have thrown those in, but I sadly didn't.  There is nothing like the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts.  Nothing.  

These were quite the treat on a snowy afternoon with a BIG mug of chai tea.  I don't know why I am putting this in my unschooling blog, and not my food blog, but it just felt unschool-y to me.

This is a bizarre product of some stuff I found at ax man, some stuff I found in my brothers electronic junk box, and a really bad painting.  The pictures are all of carcasses, the painting is of a road in a snow storm.  There is a fork about to pierce one of the carcasses.   The computer thing has doll hands coming out of it, and in-between them are the red and white wires.  The red connects to the doll head and the white connects to an on/off switch. The dolls head is covered in a netting of tulle.  There is tiny googley eyes staring down on the doll from the sky.  They almost look like snow flakes.   

Maybe I will think of an explanation of what compelled me to do this.  I think it may have something to do with control and exploitation/disregard for animals.  Actually I know that is what it is about.  I should take a better picture when it is brighter out and upload it larger.


Friday, November 7, 2008

First Post

It took a lot of creative thought for me to think of the witty title for this post, so appreciate it.  

So, I am a junior in high school who just decided to start unschooling. Basically unschooling is learning based on future goals, and learning naturally.

I am "deschooling" right now, so I am not doing things to seriously, though I do hope I will not get to stressed out.  That would be counterproductive.  I have been contacting people about internships, volunteering, and getting a job, for part of my learning.  My first project is going to be to write a cookbook.  It is going to be vegan versions of food from all around the world.  Just this one project will include geography, history, english, world studies, and Home Ec.  I am also going to be doing a lot of reading, and I am getting a math textbook because I cannot teach myself that.  

I go to school for 80 minutes a day for japanese class, because I can't teach myself that either.  I am going to also take photography at the school during the last term.  

As far as internships go, I am trying to get one at Cafe Agri or Ecopolitan in Minneapolis.  I am super excited to get started.  I want to open a vegan restaurant, cafe, or bakery someday, so I think it would be very good to have some experience. 

I am always asked if I am still going to go to college.  I am not really sure yet, but kind of leaning toward it.  I will go on to do some kind of schooling, whether it is a four year university or not I don't know yet.  Some schools I think I would like to go to are The Natural Gourmet Institute, Northern Arizona University, or maybe something in Vermont, California, or even abroad.  I may stay in state (or minnesota) too.  One thing I am set on is going to The Natural Gourmet Institute, as it is pretty much the only vegan cooking school.  The program is short (9 months or 4 months) and it is in New York City.  I think it would be a great experience to live in a big city like that, having spent my life in a small town in the midwest.  I want a little change!   

Well, hopefully this gets updated frequently.  I know my other blog doesn't.