Monday Matches: Asian Students

Jin, 15, Japan

• Baseball
• Cooking together
• Board games
• Fishing

Jin started to have an interest in studying in the United States when he went to New York to to participate in a ballet convention. He couldn’t communicate with people in English at that time, so he has a strong will to improve his English skills by talking with many people during his exchange
year. Also, he used to travel to other countries such as France, Belgium, Singapore, and so on.  His father is a pastry chef, so Jin went to European countries many times with his father. His family is international, so he has much support from the family.

Yubin, 15, Korea, South

• Baseball/Softball
• Choir/Singing
• Board games
• Volunteering

Yubin has a great personality.  He encourages and helps his classmates who don’t do well during the class. He is a well disciplined student. He knows how to apologize and gratitude to people. He is always saying that expression. He likes baseball. So He will enjoy it during a High School Year with his friends and host family.

Chaitawat, 15, Thailand

• Drums
• Soccer

Chiatawat is one of kind student, polite and open-minded.  He would like to be exchange student because of gain new experience and improve language.

Hsiang-Wei, 16, Taiwan

• Baseball/Softball
• Excursion or Trips
• Martial arts
• Camping
• Hiking
• Volleyball

Hsiang-Wei (Henry) has a pleasant and outgoing personality and is able to carry on a conversation in English without any problems even in a high pressure situation. His sense of humor always makes everyone around him happy. Henry has a variety of interest, but his loves are playing baseball and assemble machine. He is an all-around student and I am sure he will be a successful exchange student.


Things I Have Learned in Myajima, Japan (
A Taste of Inchon (
National Peace Day = 3 Day Weekend (
The beautiful, bizarre Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens (
Norwegian exchange student thanks US family for hosting (


Tasty Tuesday: Fastnacht Day!

Today is known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday in the Christian tradition.  There are lots of celebrations around the world today – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carneval in Brazil, Pancake Day in the UK and Fasching in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  The point of these celebrations is to get rid of anything that is forbidden during the time of Lent, which is meant for abstention and penitence.  Lent begins tomorrow, on Ash Wednesday.

Within my own Pennsylvania Dutch background, we celebrate Fastnacht Day.  Traditionally, it was custom to use up all the lard, sugar, butter, eggs, etc. before the fasting time of Lent.  This was done through the making of Fastnachts, which are a type of doughnut.  There are many different recipes for Fastnachts; some with baking powder, some with yeast, some with potatoes.  For anyone wanting to try their hand at homemade Fastnachts, here’s a recipe from Teri’s Kitchen.

Fastnachts (Pennsylvania Dutch/German Yeast Doughnuts)

Makes 4 to 5 dozen

Fastnacht Day is a special Pennsylvania Dutch celebration that falls on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The word translates to “Fast Night”. The tradition is to eat the very best, and lots of it, before the Lenten fast. Fastnachts (pronounced fost-nokts) are doughnuts. There are three types of Fastnachts, one made with yeast, one made with baking powder, and one made with potatoes and yeast. All are slightly crispy on the outside and not as sweet as standard doughnuts. My family usually had crullers, spelled cruellers in PA Dutch country, which do not use yeast. I have recipes for both the yeast Fastnachts, as in this posting, and crullers, a less time-consuming doughnut and my personal favorite. A cousin shared her family’s recipe for potato Fastnachts, but I have not tried it as yet. Both of those recipes are on the full page view linked above. Traditionally, all Fastnachts were made with, and fried in, lard. I have altered that in the recipes since it is so difficult to find nowadays but, if you can find it, lard would be my first choice.



  • 2 cups milk, room temperature
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (preferably non-hydrogenated)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying, about 2 quarts

For the sponge: Scald the milk and cool. (This can be done in a pan on the stovetop, or in a bowl in the microwave on High for about 3 minutes, depending on wattage. Heat but do not boil.) Dissolve the yeast in the water and let rest until it starts to bubble to make certain it is alive. Place the milk, 1 teaspoon sugar, 3 cups flour and yeast mixture in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Stir on low just until combined. Cover and let rise in a draft-free area until doubled, about 30 minutes.

For the dough: Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Melt the shortening and let cool. Place 3 cups of the remaining flour in a medium bowl. Add the salt and mace; stir with a whisk to combine. When the sponge has doubled, add the eggs, melted shortening and the 3/4 cup sugar; stir just to combine. On the lowest setting of the mixer, add the flour mixture, about one-third at a time. Stir just to combine. Do not over mix. The dough should be very soft and just dry enough to roll. If it is very sticky, incorporate just a little more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Cover and let rise until doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

When doubled, place dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll to about 1/2-inch thickness, as close to a square or rectangle as possible. Cut into 2-inch squares. If desired, cut a slit down the center of each square, being careful not to go all the way through the dough. (This is traditional for Fastnachts. Supposedly, it makes them crispier all over the outside. But it is not necessary.) Place on large baking sheets lined with parchment or waxed paper. Cover and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

To fry doughnuts: Place the oil in a deep pan high enough to hold the oil half way up the sides. Heat to 360° over medium heat. Carefully fry the doughnuts, about 5 to 7 at a time, until well-browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip to other side and brown another 3 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Notes: I like to use my stand-up mixer, but these are relatively easy to make by hand. Doughnuts may be sprinkled with granulated or confectioner’s sugar while still warm. The PA Dutch tradition is to cut open the doughnut horizontally, and drizzle the cut sides with molasses or corn syrup. I prefer them plain. They are best served the same day because they are so good when crispy on the outside. However, they are still good, stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months (they will never last that long). Leftover Fastnachts are best placed in a preheated 350° oven for about 5 minutes to recrisp slightly. Watch them carefully to prevent burning.


Carnival in Germany! (
Carnevale di Venezia (
Mardi Gras is here!!! (
Happy Pancake Day! (
It’s Fat Tuesday!  Mardi Gras!  (

Monday Matches – President’s Day Edition

Due to President’s Day, Monday matches are a day late – but no less great!

The world flag 2006

Annabel, 16, Germany


• Piano
• Violin

Annabel is a very ambitious girl. Usually, she is very busy with her school work and after school activities. Annabel is a musical and artistic girl. She has been playing the violin since she was 6 years old and the piano for 1 year now, but also loves drawing. After having spent an exchange trip to England for 4 weeks, it has always been Annabel’s dream to spend a whole year in the USA.

Annabel would like to spend her exchange in Delaware!

Alice, 17, Italy


• Camping
• Excursion or Trips
• Swimming
• Cooking together
• Skiing
• Tennis

Alice is sociable and spontaneous girl. She loves spending time with her family and friends. Alice is very active and enjoys playing tennis, swimming and going on trips
and hikes. She also likes cooking, shopping and travelling. Alice is very excited to be an exchange student. She can’t wait to meet new people, to improve her English and to get in touch with new cultures and lifestyles.

Alice would like to spend her exchange year in Maryland or Delaware!

Carlotta, 17, Italy


• Excursion or Trips
• Horseback riding
• Hiking
• Kick-boxing

Carlotta is a really nice and sweet girl. She is shy at first and she needs time to open up. She is charming and sophisticated. She likes horseback riding and kickboxing. She also likes watching movies and cinema in general. She is family-oriented although her parents are divorced. She wants to do this experience to discover the American culture and improve her English.

Carlotta would like to spend her exchange year in Maryland!

Beatrice, 17, Italy


• Dance
• Excursion or Trips

Beatrice is an active and outgoing girl. Mature and polite, she loves to dance(she studies dance since she was 5 years old)she also likes photography, art and music. Her ambition for this year abroad is to grow up, to improve her English fluency and to know more about the host country. She hopes to visit her host country with her host family through trips and excursions. She hopes to study architecture at university one day. Talkative and funny she will easily have new friends.

Beatrice would like to spend her exchange year in Maryland or Delaware!

Daniëlle, 16, Switzerland

• Board games
• Excursion or Trips
• listening to music
• Cooking together
• Jogging
• Working with children / elderly

Daniëlle is a very positive, open minded and interested student. She is very motivated to make the most out of her year and she is eager to improve her English to the best she can and get to know the American culture. Daniëlle is also a very active girl and likes to be outside in the nature. She likes to do sports and is active in scouting during her free time.

Daniëlle would like to be in the Northeastern US.

Bastian, 17, Germany

• Cooking together
• Golf
• Skiing
• Excursion or Trips
• Horseback riding

Bastian is great boy who dreams of going to an American High School. He is really keen on getting to know the American way of life. Bastian is very into sports. He loves to ski in winter time and plays golf in summer. His family is really important to him and he loves to spent time with them. He is very open minded and will be a great exchange student!

Bastian would like to spend his exchange year in the Northeastern US.

Marten, 16, Germany

• Chess
• Excursion or Trips

Marten lived in the US for 2 years and wants to experience the school system on his own. In his free time he likes to play computer games and reads books. He is very sociable and ambitious. His brother is doing a high school year at the moment so Marten is aware what to expect while he is abroad.

Marten would like to spend his exchange year in the Northeastern US.

Gara, 15, Spain

• Board games
• Cooking together
• Golf
• Piano
• Choir/Singing
• Excursion or Trips
• Guitar

She is a athletic girl. She is practising a lot of golf which is her favourite sport. She has got a special musical talent. She plays very well the guitar
and piano. Also she sings in a choir. Apart of that, she loves doing a lot of sports and she loves ice-skating, gymnastic, dance. When she has got free time, sometimes she plays board games and cooks. She is looking forward to have an active family to do a lot of activities. She really likes going on excursions.

Gara would like to spend her exchange year in the Northeastern US.

Ilaria, 17, Italy

• Cooking together

Ilaria is a polite, charming and well mannered girl. She results really natural in what she does and she likes the little things, like take a walk in the nature with her family and her friends or go to the cinema and watch a movie. She likes reading books, especially fantasy or lovestories, and cooking all kind of sweet like cakes and cookies. She wants to become more independent and learn more about how different cultures understand the same things. She is also really interested in languages.

Ilaria would like to spend her exchange year in the Northeastern US.

Eline, 17, Netherlands

• Dance
• Excursion or Trips

Eline is a wonderful easy and relaxed girl. Little shy at first. She is social, likes to meet new people and to try new things. Very creative. Likes to draw and read. Very polite. Loves ballet and dances a lot herself as well. Great addition to any family.

Eline would like to spend her exchange year in the Northeastern US.

If you’d be interested in hosting any of these students, please complete the form below and we will contact you!

Wordless Wednesday: Phuket, Thailand

Since many of us in the US are under a blanket of snow or polar vortex, here’s a picture of a much warmer place…



Our Itinerary for Thailand (
Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok (
Tiger Zoo in Thailand (
Thailand: Railay (
Wistful wanderings.  Good-bye for now, Thailand.  (


Tasty Tuesday: Bibbelsche Bohnesupp (German Potato & Bacon Soup)

A traditional bacon, onion, and potato soup from Saarland in Germany.

Bibbelsche Bohnesupp


6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion
1 lb. potatoes
2 lbs. trimmed fresh or frozen green beans
1/2 gallon broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 cup heavy cream or sour cream
2-3 carrots
1 leek
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh savory


Cut the bacon into small pieces and sauté in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until onions turn translucent. Wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Clean the beans and cut them at an angle into 1/2 inch pieces. Add the potatoes, beans, broth and the savory. Stir and heat until the broth starts to boil. Reduce to low heat and cook for about an hour. Remove the savory. Season to taste with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

Take the pot off the stove and purée about one third of it (in a blender or using a handheld mixer). Add the cream to the pureed soup and combine it with the soup in the stockpot. Return the soup to the stove and reheat it thoroughly, being careful not to let it come to a boil.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.


Recipe:  Crock Pot Potato Soup (
Potato Soup (
The wonderful and misunderstood world of German food (
The Most Clever German Word That Correctly Calls Something What It Is (
German Meatloaf with Roasted Tomato and Onion Gravy (Falscher Hase) (

Wordless Wednesday: Homesick for Germany

I spent a semester in college living in Bayreuth, Germany, a town in northern Bavaria famous for the annual Wagner Festspiel.  Sometimes, I come across pictures and want to go back…a feeling our exchange students will hopefully have at the end of their time abroad.  Enjoy!

Eremitage, Bayreuth

Eremitage, Bayreuth

Pavilion in the Hofgarten

Marktplatz (Maximilianstrasse)

The University


Wagner, Liszt and the guinea-fowl in Bayreuth (
Eremitage (
So, You Want to Study Abroad? 10 Tips For Studying Abroad (
Packing List for a Semester Abroad (
Labas! (

Tasty Tuesday: Tiramisu

Tiramisu means “pick me up” or “lift me up” and is a popular coffee flavored Italian dessert.  Here’s a recipe from Key Ingredient, so you can make your own right at home!



625 ml (2-2½ cups) strong espresso, cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs or 5 small/medium eggs, separated
4-5 tbsp sugar (one tablespoon per egg) I use a regular spoon to measure – if you use a measuring spoon it will taste sweeter (personal preference).
500 g (16 oz) marscarpone cheese, room temperature
1 200-250 g (7-9 oz) pkg Savoiardi or Pavesini (lady fingers) These are known as Löffelbiscuits in Germany.
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (or to taste) Again, I use a regular spoon but a measuring spoon will also work.


1. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixture till stiff peaks form but not dry; set aside.

2. In another medium bowl, Beat the egg yolks with sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. If not beaten well, then the filling will have an egg-y taste. Then add marscarpone cheese and mix until there are no more lumps.

3. Gently fold the egg whites into the marscapone mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon. 4. Dip the cookies in espresso (you can add a shot of your favorite liqueur to the espresso, like rum, amaretto, brandy, Frangelico, marsala, etc.) and lay them into a 9×14 rectangular glass pan (or you may use another container/pan). You can leave 3-4 mm (1/4 inch) or a finger’s width between each cookie for the filling, or you can place them close/next to each other so there is no filling between the lady fingers (personal preference).

4. Pour half the marscapone mixture onto the cookies and spread evenly across the top.

5. Repeat step 4 with the next layer but alternate the cookies perpendicular (or just follow the same pattern as in the first layer) to the ones in the first layer.

6. Refrigerate for over night for best results. If you really must, then refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours before serving but it might still be runny. Sprinkle with cocoa.

Makes 12 large pieces or 16 smaller pieces.



Tiramisu (
Peanut Butter Tiramisu (
Caramel Banana Cream Tiramisu (
Easy Tiramisu Cake!! (


Cultural Celebrations: St Lucia Day in Scandinavia

December 13th is a day of celebration in Sweden.  It’s St. Lucia (or St. Lucy’s) Day!

St Lucia Day stems from a pagan winter solstice celebration that was combined with remembrance of St Lucy.  She helped persecuted Christians in Rome by bringing them food.  In order to carry things in both hands, she would wear a ring of candles on her head to help her find her way through the dark tunnels to the prisoners.

Today, Swedish girls dress in white dresses with red sashes and crowns of candles for celebrations at schools and churches.  A national Lucia is even chosen.  Lucias usually go around and visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes, singing songs and handing out Pepparkakor.

St Lucia Day

St Lucia Day (Photo credit: m.gifford)

St Lucia Day is also celebrated in Norway, Denmark and Finland and has been since the 1700s.

Kids can make their own St. Lucia Day crowns!

St. Lucy crowns are ready.

St. Lucy crowns are ready. (Photo credit: Messiah Lutheran (Mechanicsville, VA))

Here’s a recipe for Lussekatter (St Lucia Buns):


Lussekatter (Photo credit: Mle-Mle)


St. Lucia buns may be made ahead of time, frozen, and quickly reheated in the microwave before serving.


Prep Time: 2 hours


Cook Time: 15 minutes


Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes




  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg white
  • raisins or currants to decorate


Crumble saffron threads into melted butter. Let sit 30 minutes to an hour (this intensifies the saffron flavor).

Heat milk to a light boil, turning off heat when it reaches the scalding point (with small bubbles across the top). Stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool until “finger-warm” (still quite warm, but just cool enough to touch). Stir in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into liquid. Stir in two well-beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You don’t want to add too much flour).

Transfer dough to a large greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down risen dough. Lightly knead two or three times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough (about the size of a racquetball) and roll into “snakes.” Shape snakes into “S”-shaped buns or other desired shapes (please see my photo gallery of Lucia buns for traditional examples). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise until doubled (about an hour).

Decorate buns with raisins, brush with egg white, and bake in preheated 375º oven about 15 minutes, just until brown. Yield: 20 St. Lucia Buns (“Lussekatter”)