American Holidays & Traditions: Halloween

Halloween is one of the holidays exchange students most look forward to experiencing during their year, as most of them don’t do much (if anything) in celebration of this at home.  Halloween didn’t actually originate in the U.S. though.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31st and stems from the Christian observance of All Hallows’ Eve.  It is also influenced by the ancient Celtic fall harvest celebration of Samhain.  The word Halloween means “hallowed evening (e’en).”  These observances brought about the modern day traditions of trick or treating, wearing costumes, lighting bonfires and making jack o’lanterns.  Halloween and All Saints Day celebrations do take place in other places around the world; some countries do have similar traditions to those held here.

Halloween costumes started out as more scary or supernatural beings, such as vampires, ghosts, witches, devils and skeletons.  Over the years, costumes have evolved quite a bit and can usually be whatever the wearer decides.  Some can be quite elaborate, while others more simple.  Adults and children alike can be found getting into the spirit of Halloween by dressing up in costume.

Tomorrow night, local communities will have trick or treating time, when the neighborhood children will go door-to-door for candy and goodies.  Perhaps exchange students can be the ones to answer doors and hand out candy!  Or maybe they want to really go all out and trick or treat themselves or with younger host siblings.  Either way, it’s a great way to experience something American!


Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Thai exchange student, Ra, went with us to choose our pumpkins for jack o’lantern making.

Our son and exchange student cleaning out the pumpkin guts 😛


Foreign Exchange Friday: Fall Fun in the Mid-Atlantic

Here are some fun fall and Halloween related events going on throughout Maryland, Delaware and the surrounding areas that families and students can check out!


Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve already picked out your pumpkins, learn how to carve it into a jack-o-lantern!

Want to more about why Americans celebrate Halloween?
If you know of some other Halloween or fall events going on around Delaware or Eastern Maryland, leave a comment!

Thoughtful Thursday: Belgian Proverbs

We love dogs!

We love dogs! (Photo credit: Camil Agapie)

Qui m’aime aime mon chien.

He who loves me, loves my dog.

Tasty Tuesday: Gaufres de Liege (Belgian Waffles)


Liège style waffle

Liège style waffle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gaufres de Liege
makes 12 waffles

6 tablespoons warm milk (no hotter than 110°F)
1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (230 grams) bread flour, sifted
1 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 medium egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, at slightly cooler than room temperature
140 grams turbinado sugar, or pearl sugar if you choose
Cooking spray

Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk; then add the yeast. Make sure that the milk is not too hot, lest it kill the yeast instead of promoting its growth. Place a plate or some kind of cover on top of the bowl with the milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside for about five minutes. When you check on it, the yeast should have bubbled up, looking light brown and spongy.

Meanwhile, mix the sifted bread flour with the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in the yeast mixture; then add the whole egg and egg yolk. Mix on medium speed until it is fully combined. The dough will be yellow and stiff, yielding only slightly to a poke.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place for about thirty minutes.


Beat in the butter piece by piece; you do not have to wait for the prior piece to be fully incorporated before adding the next. When the dough has incorporated about half of the butter, the mixture will be like a very thick, somewhat broken-up paste. If you keep engaging the mixer on medium-high speed, the dough will eventually become a cohesive whole, looking smoother and more feeling more elastic. Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed.

Kneading very gently, incorporate the sugar crystals just enough to get them evenly distributed. Work quickly so as not to soften the buttery dough too much.


Divide the dough into a dozen equal pieces, gently forming them into balls.

Place the balls of dough on a cutting board in a warmish place for fifteen minutes or so. During the last two minutes of this resting time, preheat your waffle iron until it is very warm, but not hot.

Spray the griddles with cooking oil. Place each ball of dough in a whole square or section of the waffle iron. Like regular waffle batter, the dough will start to puff up. Cook the waffles until the surface is golden to dark brown. Be sure that the waffle iron you are using is appropriately deep, or else the interior of the waffle will not be cooked through. If you are using a vintage stovetop waffle iron, flip the iron every thirty to forty seconds, lifting the iron to check the rate of browning. The browning should be gradual to allow the interior to fully develop.

Set the waffles on a cooling rack as they come out of the iron to promote a crispy exterior. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Any leftover waffles, if they are not dark brown, can be carefully re-cooked in a toaster for approximately thirty to sixty seconds. Leftover waffles may also be kept in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper, for up to three days.


Thank you for sharing, Chichi! We recently had Gaufres de Liege for the first time and now we’re obsessed with them too. They are in another class from regular old waffles; we can hardly wait to try making them!


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Get to Know…Belgium!

Belgian flag

Belgian flag (Photo credit: quinet)

  • Official Name:  Koninkrijk België; Royaume de Belgique; Königreich Belgien (Kingdom of Belgium)
  • Language(s):   Dutch, French, German
  • Capital:  Brussels
  • Currency:  Euro
  • Area:  11,787 sq mi
  • Population: 11,035,948
  • Government:  Constitutional Monarchy
  • Head(s) of State:  King Philippe; Prime Minister Elio di Rupo
  • National Anthem:  The Brabançonne
  • Location:  northwestern Europe, between the Netherlands and France

Learn more about Belgium here.

Here are some kid-friendly crafts and activities related to Belgium and its culture.


Foreign Exchange Friday: Celebrating Homecoming in Delaware!

Last week was a big weekend for some of our students as they celebrated Homecoming around the First State!

Lena is dressed and ready for Homecoming at Delmar HS!

Lena is dressed and ready for Homecoming at Delmar HS!

Lena and her Host Mom, Mia.

Lena and her Host Mom, Mia.

Ra attended his first football game at Homecoming at the University of Delaware.

Ra attended his first football game at Homecoming at the University of Delaware.

Ra is ready for Homecoming at Appoquinimink HS.

Ra is ready for Homecoming at Appoquinimink HS.

Thoughtful Thursday: Hungarian Proverbs

Akinek vaj van a a fején ne menjen a napra.

If you have butter on your head, don’t go out into the sun.


  • English equivalent: He that hath a head of wax must not walk in the sun.
  • Meaning: Know your limitations and weaknesses; Don’t do something that is sure to damage you.

MELTING THE SKY (Photo credit: CARLOS62)

Word of the Day Wednesday: Ügyeskedö



also sometimes translated as scheming, and many Hungarian people describe this as the ‘Hungarian way.’


Hardworking bee

Hardworking bee (Photo credit: Daviniodus)


Tasty Tuesday: Gulyasleves (Hungarian Goulash)

Hungarian Goulash

The recipe for this hearty, savory soup comes from Katalin Bánfalvi, author Carolyn Bánfalvi’s mother-in-law, who lives in the village of Bõny, in northwestern Hungary. Hungarian sweet paprika confers a singularly deep, rich color and flavor.

English: Hungarian Gulyás made in Osaka, Japan...

English: Hungarian Gulyás made in Osaka, Japan Magyar: Gulyásleves, Osaka, Japán (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • 4 tbsp. sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. beef chuck, trimmed
  • and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 2 medium parsnips, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. medium new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 1 tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1 Italian frying pepper, chopped

1. Heat oil in a 5-qt. dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add beef and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, uncovered, stirring only once or twice, until the meat is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in paprika, marjoram, caraway, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, parsnips, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, covered, until the beef is nearly tender, about 40 minutes.
2. Add potatoes and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and peppers; cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with rye bread, if you like.

SERVES 4 – 6