Proud Mama

As promised, we have finally returned to an international cooking post. Many of you know we first founded this blog as a way to try new foods and “to open our children up to other cultures around the world.” Well, it appears as though our efforts are paying off. A few weeks into the new school year, Miss A came home very excited that they had another new student in their 1st grade class. eggs and butter

Now anytime a new student arrives there is much excitement, but this particular student had a very unique story. He didn’t just relocate from another area school or even another state. He came all the way from another country! Miss A was beside herself with excitement, “He had to move here on a plane! And he came from really, really far away and he doesn’t know English!” creaming butter

Miss A couldn’t remember where he came from, but she had an idea, “Maybe we could make a recipe from where he lives for the blog!” I was thrilled. Not only did we have our next country from which to cook, but we had a personal reason to learn about another country. Then her eyes got big and you could see the little wheels just spinning top speed and she said, “Maybe we could even make something for my whole class!” Genius. creaming butter two

With approval from her teacher we set about to find a recipe that would feed 24 while still leaving a few on-hand for us. The first task was to learn the new student’s home country. Miss A set about her duty and discovered he flew all the way to our little neck of the woods from Yemen. We then did a little research on the country and consulted the globe. Miss A and Mr. N were very impressed to learn that Yemen is more than 7,500 miles from our home. Talk about a major move! stand mixing

Miss A gathered a few facts to share with her class and wrote them in her journal. We then found the website, Queen of Sheba Yemeni Recipes. I emailed the author and she graciously pointed me to a recipe that would be both easy to make and easy to serve individually wrapped – the Yemeni Ka’ak. Ka’ak is an Arabic word for cake and the Yemeni version of ka’ak is like a cross between a biscuit and a cookie. Some versions feature different flours or the addition of dates, but we went for the basic recipe. yeast bread

Ka’ak is leavened by yeast – one of my worst fears, but fortunately Miss A is much more skilled with yeast than I. We opted to make the recipe using the stand mixer, best not to take chances, I figured. It’s a very basic dough recipe. Easy to follow and relatively quick to make. We made two batches to accommodate the quantity we needed for school. ka'ak dough

All four of us spent the afternoon in the kitchen making these, each having our own role to play in the process. It reminded me of another reason we started this blog, to spend time together in the kitchen learning about new foods, and about each other. We haven’t cooked like this in quite a while, so I’m grateful the day shaped up as it did. The kids are growing too fast! shaping ka'ak

As for the recipe, well, the dough didn’t rise like I expected, but it was not dense either. We were also not quite as skilled at shaping the ka’ak as the Queen, but should you want to try, her video tutorial is an excellent resource: Overall, I was pleased with how these baked up. rolling dough

They weren’t as pretty as I’d hoped, but I imagine with a little practice that’s a solvable problem. As for cooking with yeast, well, it seemed to do just fine for us this go-round. I completely credit Miss A of course. While I was nervous about the dough’s lack of rising, the ka’ak fluffed up quite nicely in the baking process and had a light, fluffy texture with fabulous looking crumb.egg wash and seeds

Best of all, the ka’ak tasted wonderful! My research suggested that the ka’ak are served on special occasions or with afternoon tea, so I decided to enjoy mine with a cup of lemon grass green tea. It was a lovely complement to the tea and truly special straight from the oven. The ka’ak are light to eat but very filling, and a combination of subtle sweet and savory flavors. sesame seeds

Mike and the kids loved their ka’ak as well; although they skipped the tea. But, do you know what this means? 4 spoons all around! Success! And with a yeast leavened recipe nonetheless. We haven’t had an all-around winner in a while, so this was quite exciting. No one wanted to stop with just one, but we restrained ourselves and packaged them up for Miss A’s classroom. ka'ak

We wrapped 23 ka’ak for the students and teacher, and we packaged five for Miss A’s new Yemeni friend. She thought we should send one for his whole family. I can’t tell you how proud she made me with her thoughtfulness and generosity. While I hate to see them grow so quickly, I do love to see how they are developing into caring, thoughtful people. Again, it’s that bittersweet feeling that comes with being a parent. Yemeni ka'ak

That evening, we printed off 24 copies of the recipe and attached them to each bag. Miss A loaded them into a bag and got her journal ready for sharing with the class. Had you been in her class that day, she would have told you that Yemen is next to Saudi Arabia and two seas. It has mountains and its flag is red, white and black. It is in the Middle East which is part of Asia. Asia is a continent. She was very proud of all that she learned. Arabic cake

The students weren’t allowed to try the treats until they got home and their parents could make that decision. The next day half the class said they tried them and everyone seemed to like them. At least according to Miss A. As for the new Yemeni student, well, Miss A delivered his with a special note attached (which she did on her own). yemen recipe

“I made ka’ak for you and your family. I am giving these to you since you had to leave your home behind and your friends. It would be scary to do that. We made these since the recipe is from Yemen. From your friend, Miss A.” yeast biscuits

I asked Miss A if her Yemeni friend liked the ka’ak. She said, “He doesn’t talk English yet, but he knew what they were. He didn’t say much, but he smiled the whole time.”

To print the recipe click here: Yemeni Ka’ak

Needless to say, I’m a proud Mama. Believe me, my kids aren’t angels and we have our fair share of emotions and challenges around here (daily when it comes to Miss A’s clothing), but that’s what makes these moments all the more precious. Parenthood is bittersweet. It’s exhausting, it’s challenging, it’s tedious, it’s joyous, it’s amazing and it’s enriching. It makes my heart sing and my heart ache. But I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for anything in the world. And while I expected parenthood, much like this blog, to be about teaching my children, I am continually amazed at how both teach me. afternoon tea

52 thoughts on “Proud Mama

  1. Pingback: Eat, Play, Love
  2. Samantha Jonas-Rongo says:

    Im impressed not only by your ability to transform recipes into multiple learning opportunities for your child, I am more amazed by her interest to learn and the empathy she had for her classmate. Your idea wils help bridge the gap between cultures and food is something everyone from anywhere enjoys so its a perfect combination. I just began my blog today and your site and story is very inspiring. The ka’ak look amazing, I never had or even heard of them before but they sound and look great. Good job and keep inspiring.


  3. Charles says:

    Hi Kristy, it’s been so long and I finally decided it was high time I start visiting some other blogs again and you, as my favourite blogger, get the honour of being first! 😀

    I love the idea of Miss A running back so excitedly about the new kid at school! It’s so cool that you tried this recipe too. I never had them (or heard of them for that matter) – they really look like they’re filled with something… I was expecting them to be when I saw the photo. They sound super nice though – simple and fun to make too. I’m so short on time these days these sound like the kind of thing which would be right up my alley too!

    I smiled when I saw your Kitchenaid. My old colleagues in France bought me one as a leaving present and it was shipped to Sweden, where it’s been sitting in a box for a year. Now we’ve moved to our own place I’ve finally got a chance to get using it so now I want to “Kitchenaid all the things”! 🙂


  4. Karen says:

    What a sweet blog. I can’t wait until Miss A will be able to talk to her new school friend…I’m sure that they will be good friends because of her thoughtfulness. A wonderful job by your whole family.


  5. Three Well Beings says:

    Kristy, Miss A’s thoughtfulness, interest and sensitivity to her new classmate impresses me and that sweet personal note brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful learning opportunity on so many fronts! The recipe is really unique to me, too, and for some reason yeast doesn’t deter me too often, whereas something like making a basic pie crust is hardly ever completely satisfying! I would love to make these little cakes…and yes, you absolutely should beam with pride! ox


  6. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I’m moved by your family’s warm heart and kind gesture. And I said it before but I truly admire you as another mom to the same/similar age kids. You continue to inspire me to be a better parent. Miss A’s new friend and family must have felt at home in a new country welcomed by such a wonderful family. Your family always warm my heart!


  7. Bam's Kitchen says:

    I am so proud of Miss A for opening up her heart and your kitchen to the new kid on the block. An A* for mom for joining in on the fun too! It takes a brave person to be the first one in her class to acknowledge the new student in her class.. I bet the new student was just elated to be showered with such a warm hello and these delicious ka’ak. I have never tried one before but by your photos they look just absolutely delicious and perfectly golden brown.


  8. Audrey says:

    I think that’s my first comment on your blog but this time I couldn’t go away without saying something!
    My eyes filled with tears as I was reading you. Miss A. had a wonderful idea, well done to you all, I would have been thrilled to received such a present and they look delicious!


  9. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen says:

    Wow, your blog is such a powerful teaching tool and not just for learning about different countries. It’s become a way to connect cultures.. I’m so impressed that Miss A thought to do this for her new friend! And.. these little ka’ak’s look wonderful to me!


  10. Jessica Maher (@kbelleicious) says:

    oh my Kristy so much to say. first of all you should be a proud mama! You are raising the most amazing, kind and talented kids and who they are show just how wonderful of parents you and your husband have been. Secondly, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. I think the shape of them is spot on and i would love to try and make it with my 5 yr old. I just love seeing you all in the kitchen hovering over a bowl:)) it makes me smile!


    • Kristy says:

      Those moments make me smile too Jessica. They just fill me up with love when we’re all together in the kitchen. It just feels like home, you know. If your son is anything like my two, he will love these ka’ak!


  11. ChgoJohn says:

    What a wonderful post, Kristy, and you’ve every right to be a proud Mama. Miss A showed an awareness of others that’s far advanced for her age. That little boy may not yet be able to express his thoughts but I doubt he’ll ever forget her kindness — nor will his family. Way to go, Miss A!


  12. Norma Chang says:

    When I saw the title I knew one or both of the kids did something extraordinary I am so moved by Miss A’s thoughtfulness and how you all as a family work together. The little Yemeni boy may not yet speak English but his smile said it all.


  13. Raymund says:

    I really like where you get your inspiration and ideas on cooking your international dishes. I never had tried or even heard of any dish from Yemen so this is my first time. Love this post!


  14. spicegirlfla says:

    Kristy, you should be so very proud! You summed it all up at the end on raising children – no, they are never perfect, but they are very special and Miss A has a heart of gold. What a beautiful story and most wonderful experience for everyone.


  15. fati's recipes says:

    Kristy, that’s so touching. I wish I had a girl like Miss A in my prep class when I first came to Aus without any English, too! I would’ve loved a bag of ka’ak!!
    You have an angel in that class! What beautiful children, and what terrific parenting.
    My hat off to you all ♥ 🙂


  16. cecilia says:

    What a stunning post and what great kids they are. How kind Miss A is – what a treasure.. I look forward to hearing what this little chap says about it when he CAN speak English. It is an interesting development that children cannot eat something brought to school by a class member. I suppose there is the fear of nuts or something worse. I bet they enjoyed them even more after having to wait. Love to my two favourites and a wee kiss for Hobbs.. c


  17. healthifiedplate says:

    That was very touching post. Reading about your concept of introducing children to world cuisine, care and thoughtful idea by Miss A for her new classmate and that beautiful note written by her and everything has moved me. Great Post!!


  18. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    What a beautiful story and inspiring post. Having just moved school-aged children to a new country at a very delicate age, I understand how this kind of generosity of heart can transform a lonely experience into a joyful, communal one. These gestures truly make a difference so warm hugs all around to your family for not only thinking about it but making it happen out loud. I’m certain Miss A’s Yemeni friend is still feeling the love.


    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Kelly. Isn’t it an amazing feel when your kids surprise you with their inner thoughts and ideas. 🙂 I hope your boys have adjusted. You certainly had a big move too!


  19. Dawn says:

    That is so awesome!! I flew over Yemen the other week, looked very desert-like, and all the buildings looked very similar. I bet this is a big change for this boy, and so nice that Miss A really did something to make him smile!


  20. sallybr says:

    My gosh, I am so incredibly touched by this post! “He doesn’t even speak English” – how I wish there was someone so kind and thoughtful when I first arrived in the US.. well, I cannot really complain, and I was an adult already, more prepared to handle the difficulties of embracing a new reality

    you have all the right to be proud, and please give a big hug to your kids for me! and one for you too.. and the proud daddy…, I am in a hugging mood this morning….


  21. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise says:

    I was smiling all the way through Kristy! I really missed your international adventures
    Miss A is blooming into a wonderful young lady and you have every right to be proud of her
    Your Kaek looks great, I loved the video of the shaping technique, thank you for including it 🙂


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