Tag Archives: Belgium

Donut Days: Smoutebollen from Belgium

smoutebollenSmoutebollen are a traditional Christmas – or winter – treat in Belgium.

Don’t be turned off by the name, which in Flemish means “lard balls.” I can assure that no lard made its way into these delicious, beer-inflected donuts.

They can range in size from golf balls to tennis balls and are typically served dusted with powdered sugar.

You can fancy-up your smoutebollen by filling them with delicious ingredients such as chocolate or apple but plain is just perfect, too.

Check out Chef Danielle’s take on smoutebollen with apple at CookingClarified.com.

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It’s Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras KidThere’s a lot going on today. In addition to Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday, today is also the 100th International Women’s Day, which I’ll be posting on later today.

But Mardi Gras deserves attention all on its own.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day before the Christian season of Lent begins. In Lent, Christians make sacrifices, fast, pray, and try to prepare for Easter, the holiest time in their religious calendar.

So Mardi Gras is the last hurrah before the solemnity of the Lenten season. And some people really do make the most of it.

In Brazil, Carnivale has a world-famous reputation as an all-out extravaganza.

In the United States, New Orleans pretty much holds the title for most festive Mardi Gras destination.

The celebrations can get wild – but there are some family-friendly traditions that anyone can adopt.

King CakeOne of the most fun is King Cake. King Cake is not only eaten during Mardi Gras, but it is also a popular food during the Christmas holidays in places such as France, Belgium, Portugal, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and Spain.

Inside the cake is a tiny figure of a baby, meant to be the baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figure in his or her piece of cake earns the right to buy next year’s King Cake (I like this tradition!).

In addition to King Cake, parades are a common activity at Mardi Gras festivities. You can organize a mini-parade with your family either inside or outside (depending on how frigid it is where you live). Dress up in masks and pile on every piece of funny clothing, jewelry, or decoration you can find.

Mardi Gras beadsIf you’ve got beads, flaunt them! Mardi Gras beads are traditionally distributed during parades. These plastic beads, usually found in purple, green, and gold, are fun treasures for kids to collect. You can give out beads according to your own idea of a good time. Encourage your children to compliment each other or do nice things for other friends or family members in order to earn the beads. You can keep the fun going long after Mardi Gras.

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New Year’s the Write Way

One of my favorite ideas for celebrating New Year’s is from Belgium where children are encouraged to decorate cards and write notes to their parents and godparents.

In Belgium, as in many other parts of the world, the new year also has religious significance.

It’s a wonderful time to reflect on the past and consider the future (while improving kids’ spelling, handwriting, and other skills!).

And if it’s good enough for the kids, it should be good enough for the parents.

If you’re still fortunate enough to have your parents and godparents living, parents should also consider joining in the fun.

It’s a relaxing, creative activity that may just put you in the right frame of mind for the new year while reminding some very important people of the wonderful role they may have played in your life.

No parents or godparents? Consider writing to a teacher or other mentor who had a positive impact on you.

 

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Cookies 21: Belgian Christmas Cookie

Belgium’s Christmas cookie is a bar that resembles a sugar cookie but includes almonds.

A lot of care and attention is put into the decorations which almost always include green and red sugar.

This Belgian Christmas cookie recipe is from MomsWhoThink.com.

Belgian Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped unblanched whole almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons red sugar crystals
2 teaspoons green sugar crystals
Directions:

Cream butter with almond extract. Add brown sugar gradually, creaming until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; add in thirds to creamed mixture, mixing until blended after each addition.

Turn into a greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges.

Sprinkle a mixture of almonds and cinnamon over batter, then sprinkle with a mixture of red and green sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees F 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into bars while still warm.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

 

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