Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cockles and Mussels...What the heck is a Cockle?

I was asked last week, "What is a cockle?"

My answer was, "I don't really know.  Its probably some kind of shellfish seafood."   But my World Citizen Families deserve more of an answer than that so I did a little research.

Cockle is the name given to a group of small, edible salt water clams.  They live in sandy, sheltered beaches throughout the world and have heart shaped shells.  Technically to be a true cockle, the little buggers have to belong the the bivalve family Cardiidae, though bivalves from the 
Veneridae (Venus clams) and the Arcidae (ark clams) families are oftenly mistakingly called cockles.

Incidentally, there is also a Scottish candy called the Berwick Cockle, so named for its cockle like shape.  However, since she's a fishmonger from Dublin, I think its safe to assume that Molly Malone was selling mussels and small salt water crabs, not candy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Importance of Lullabies

Sometimes in our hectic LA lives, its hard to remember to slow down and connect with ourselves and with our children. The lullaby is the perfect time to take that moment and just be with your child. We have just gone through a very exciting class, finished drumming, which is always everyone's favorite part, and its time to take some deep breaths and just be present and connect.  Sometimes this is really hard to do.  Since its at the end of class, you might start thinking about where you're going next, what you are going to make for lunch, where you left your shoes, or maybe you just want to chat with another mom who you've been waiting all week to see in class again. I encourage you to stay present and take the opportunity to really enjoy the quiet, still time with your baby. 

Its not about me giving a little concert so everyone can pay attention to me and how nicely I play and sing the lullaby; its about you singing to your child and taking the time to nurse, cuddle or bond in whatever way is best for you and your child. I'm simply the guide on the journey. I've had people say to me countless times how nice my voice is or how much nicer it sounds when I sing than when they sing, and they are worried that their voice is in some way not good enough for their child, but believe me, to your child, your voice is golden. It is the sweetest, most soothing voice on the planet. So, if you don't know the words, just hum along or sing on "ooh" or "la" or another simple sound and let that sweet sound wash over your child.

If your child is at an age where he or she wants to crawl around or prefers bonding with movement, thats fine. You can let them crawl and explore while you are still quietly sitting and singing along or you can stand and gently sway with your baby if that is the kind of soothing that works best.

I encourage you to embrace this quiet time for what it is. It is a very intentional, very valuable part of the class, but too often it becomes a time to chat with neighbors, to start gathering stuff to go or any number of busy activities our lives in LA are full of. If you sing only one song in class (I hope you sing them all!), let this be the one.

Peace and blessings.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Guitar Chords: Dona Nobis Pacem

Dona Nobis Pacem
”Grant us peace”

C     G    C      G
Dona nobis pacem, pacem
F    C     G  C 
Dona nobis pa-cem.
C     G  C     G
Do----na nobis pacem
F    C     G  C 
Dona nobis pa-cem.
C     G  C     G
Do----na nobis pacem
F    C     G  C 
Dona nobis pa-cem.

**All three melody lines have the same chord progression, but the rhythm of the words is slightly different. You can pick up the variations by listening to the cd**

Friday, March 4, 2011

No Mercado Modelo, Tem Acarajé!

So what is this acarajé that we're singing about?  It is a very popular dish in Bahia made from black eyed peas in which we can see the deep African connections present in Bahian culture and  cuisine, in particular to a Nigerian bean cake called Akara. 

In Nigeria Akara are sold at road side stands, and the sellers call out "Akara je!", meaning "Come and eat Akara!" in Yoruba.  Overtime, these two words were likely merged into one, and Acarajé was born. Acarajé can be hard to find outside Bahia, but if you feel adventurous in the kitchen, you can bring flavor of Bahia to your home. Give it a try!

Here's a recipe from Cozihna Regional Brazileira by Abril Editora.

RECIPE - Acarajé

1 kg. of dried black-eyed peas
2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. salt
1 litre dendê oil (for frying)

In a very large bowl, cover the peas with water and let soak for at least 24 hours to soften the peas and to facilitate the removal of their skins.
Drain water, re-fill the basin several times, stirring the peas to remove as many skins as possible. Rubbing  handfuls of beans vigorously between the hands assists in this process. After several changes of water, drain, and individually remove the skins from any peas that still have them. (Allow plenty of time for this.)

In batches, blend the skinless peas, the onion, the garlic and the salt in a blender or food processor until you have a light batter. Pour the batter into a large, dry bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon, lifting the mass from bottom to top until you have a airy mass that has doubled in volume.

Heat the oil in a large pan, or deep-fryer. Meanwhile, soak two very large wooden spoons in water, then use them to form fist-sized balls of batter. Drop them one by one into the hot oil to fry until they are bright orange and crispy, turning them over halfway through the frying process.

Remove from the oil, and let cool for a few minutes. Serve the acarajé with vatapá, hot pepper sauce, fried dried shrimps, and finely chopped green tomatoes. 

I've seen another recipe that calls for adding dried shrimps to the dough before frying. Enjoy!

Welcome to the blog!

Welcome everyone!

I'm very excited to be getting this part of World Citizen Baby off the ground at long last. My vision for this blog is to go deeper into the cultural elements of WCB as well as have some language tips and information around early childhood development, specifically with music and language acquisition.

I hope to share some of my favorite bits of the world, discovered through travel and my beautiful, diverse community, and the cultures that have inspired WCB.  Historical and cultural notes on songs, recipes and photos from around the globe will find there way here.

Thank you for exploring our world's wonderful and diverse cultures with me.  I look forward to a long and interesting journey!