Each week we will “travel” the globe to learn how different countries and families celebrate Christmas and the winter season.  As we visit each country we will experience their traditions through  music, arts, stories, and food. Whether you're cravin' a steak as big as a wagon wheel, smoky and mouth-waterin' bar-b-que, belly warmin' down-home cookin', blazin' hot chili and Tex-Mex that il' bring a tear to yer eye, fresh-caught gulf seafood, or just a big 'ole juicy burger, we gotcha covered. Week 1 We are learning about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and kicking off the start of Christmas in EuropeDecember 2 Countdown to Christmas Advent Sticker TreesDecember 3-4 Hanukkah Menorah, Hanukkah pasta shapes and cookies. Austin also has some of the best chefs in the country, and is home to some of the trendiest, new restaurants, whether you are vegetarian ("Get a rope"), or just crave a healthier menu with an upscale atmosphere, you'll find it here. See below for information on some the best places for all types of food in the Central Texas area. That means an abundance of top quality beef in various cuts of thickness, tenderness, and marbling.
The finest and most consistent quality beef on the market is certified Angus beef, which is the upper third of USDA Choice and Prime. In Texas, restaurants know that customers crave beef and only those that serve quality charbroiled ribeyes, porterhouses, T-bones, strips, filet mignon, and even chateau briand remain at the top of everyone's list as the best. Week 3 France, Italy, and the North PoleDecember 16 New Toy Day and French Yule Log snackDecember 19 Bucky the Reindeer Day.
We will put all the different fruits the children bring together for a yummy Kwanzaa fruit salad.    December 2-6, 2013It is Christmas around the world.
This week we learned about the Jewish Hanukkah and on Friday we celebrated the European tradition of St. The children made their own menorahs and rubbed them with oil to make them “glow” in the windows. We sang the My Dreidel song at Music Time and pretended to spin around like tops.  A dreidel is a Jewish top that you spin and play a game with. At lunch the children ate pasta noodles shaped like little dreidels and stars and Hanukkah cookies too. It is so much fun to learn about the different traditions through singing songs, eating new foods, learning new words, and doing hands on activities.  If you have a family tradition or a special food you would like to share with the children let us know. We opened the door to see who it could be.  The children shuffled out the door looking around. While Texas que is best known for slow-smoked beef brisket in a pit area separated from and set further away from the hot flames of Mesquite, Oak, or Pecan wood fires, we also use pork ribs, pork shoulder, chicken, venison and various German style sausages smoked in the same manner.
Old timers learned to make the most of the "brisket" in the early days, which is the cheapest cut, and the toughest, front part of the steer.
By slow-smoking it at low temp (200 degrees) with the fat layer on top, the fat drips into the leaner meat section while cooking, which in turn makes it all tender and juicy, with beautiful pink rings around the edges of the meat below the crust (outer charred fat layer) after approx.
Nick only comes when good little children are fast asleep so before nap we placed all the little shoes in a row to wait for St. But some of the best places learned that a thin, juicy, spicy vinegar and tabasco type sauce goes well with the smoky flavor of Texas que when served along with plain saltine crackers or white bread, topped with dill pickle slices and raw onion.
Most traditional places serve it all up on butcher paperwithout silverware because you can eat it best with your hands and if its good enough, you pretty much need a bath when you get done eatin'. Andit should all be washed down with an iced cold bottle of Big Red soda water for the ultimate Texas Que experience.
The origin of many of our favorite Christmas traditions like decorating Christmas trees and making ginger bread cookies began in Germany.  The children were busy this week making ornaments to take home to put on their trees.
They learned how to make a pattern as they counted and strung red beads and a strip of green foam onto a pipe cleaner.


We have been reading the classic story of the Gingerbread Man and the Gingerbread Baby at Story Time.  The children used glue and glitter to decorate a very big Gingerbread Man ornament that they just love to run with and sing, “Run, run as fast as you can.
You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man!” In Germany there is a legend about the Christmas Pickle. The legend goes that whoever finds the Christmas Pickle ornament on the tree first gets to open the first present and gets good luck for the next year. We hid our shiny pickle ornament in the tree through out the day and the children searched high and low for it till they spotted it hiding among the branches. It is such a fun tradition and we are happy to send home pickle ornaments with the children so you can share this fun tradition with your family. On Monday the children made their wish lists and sat down at our special Santa Mail writing center to write a letter to Santa.
They carefully wrote, traced, or colored their Santa letters with what they wanted for Christmas and we will mail them out at Macy’s Santa Mailbox. For each letter Macy’s receives in their Santa Mailbox they will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation that helps make ill children’s wishes come true. The children had so much fun taking a long strip of dough with cinnamon sugar  and rolling it up into a bun. We baked the cinnamon buns and ate them for snack with hot chocolate and mini marshmallows. Then Everyone gathered around in their pajamas for Story Time to hear the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  It was a pajama dance party too and all the children danced to Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman.
Thanks to Gideon’s Mom for the fruit tray  and Ralphie’s Mom for the poinsettia and Jell-O Jigglers.
Many of the children even carried their gifts in all by themselves and placed them under the tree. They had so much fun unwrapping all the gifts and still more fun spending the day playing with their new toys. East Texas is probably closer in tradition to most of the southern recipes that many folks are accustomed. Yep, we love our fried chicken, and bisquits and gravy, and grits, but we also love fried farm-raised catfish with hushpuppies and fried okra. The children put on their reindeer antlers and they were ready to play some reindeer games.
We may crave chicken livers and gizzards from time to time, but we live on chicken-fried steak with piping-hot white cream gravy, mash potatoes, green beans, and Texas toast.
Other favorites around here include smothered round steak (pressure cooked) with pea salad, and garden-fresh squash, or liver and onions with a side of white rice, or chitlins and ham hocks with purple hull peas and turnip greens. They watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and made a Reindeer with their handprints at Art. Cornbread and pinto beans with onion always hits the spot, as does meat loaf with tomato gravy and yeast rolls alongside lima beans and sweet iced tea. Then they mixed and mixed up a batch of Magic Reindeer Food using oats, sprinkles, and spices to feed Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve.
Today we learned about the Story of The First Christmas and how Christmas is Celebrated in Mexico with Los Posadas.  In Mexico they celebrate Christmas with parades. The children  used a soft tortilla and topped it with their favorite toppings of refried beans, cheese, and rice.  Trinity’s family shared one of their Los Posadas traditions by bringing in a special Posada dessert called bunuelos. Asher’s Mom brought her special Mexican hot chocolate and sweet breads for snack which the children loved to eat.


We finished the day off by making a Nativity art project with hay.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. IH-35)The Green Mesquite - South Austin (South Park Meadows Shopping Center)The Black-Eyed Pea - North Austin (Burnet Rd. Texas has a large hispanic population, and a lot of traditionalists have opened restaurants in the Central Texas area over the last couple of decades, but the most popular places feature a Tex-Mex style menu, with dishes that include enchiladas with chili con carne (chili gravy), crispy or puffy style corn and beef tacos, tamales with pork, carne asada, carne guisada, menudo, chalupas, carnitas, fajitas (skirt steak) all with familiar sides such as refried beans, mexican rice, and sometimes a salad with guacamole.
Hwy 183)Trudy's South Star - South Austin (Little Texas Ln.)Tres Amigos Northeast - Northeast Austin (S. But the Gulf of Mexico is also home to some of the freshest, best tasting seafood, including red snapper, swordfish, grouper, amberjack, mahi-mahi, talapia, as well as shrimp, crawfish, crab, oysters, and bay scallop. Some of the best restaurants offering fresh seafood are closest to the Gulf region of South Texas, so in order to get it fresh, you have to go where it is caught.
These early families farmed the vast areas of Central Texas throughout the late 19th century, and early 20th century, contributing heavily to the agriculture of Texas up until current times.
They brought with them advanced farming techniques from the old country, as well asfood preparation techniques that became popular later in Texas, such as sausage casing, and smoking meats for use in popular bar-b-que methods used today. Many Germans remained true to the tradition of dishes from their homeland, such as schnitzel, knockwurst, sauerkraut, warm bread and potato salad, while Czechs were known for popular pastries in Europe, such as kolaches, which are still prevalent at many bakeries in Central Texas. Swedes contributed to the popularity of kebabs and falafels, which can be found at many establishments, but other than the traditional swedish meatballs served at the IKEA food market and cafe in Round Rock, it is quite difficult to find any Swedish restaurants (even though Round Rock was originally a Swedish settlement). The first Polish settlement in Texas was Panna Maria, led by Father Leopold Moczygemba in 1864.
And many of these Poles fought and died in the earlier fight against the Mexican army for Texas Independence, but the population never flourished in Texas as did other cultures, so it is just as difficult to find Polish restaurants as well.There used to be many more authentic places for good German food, but as the population of Central Texas continues to change, old-style European-influenced restaurants are now losing out to new, more modern establishments. If you still crave some authentic German, or European-style cooking, then try these establishments in the area. Texas boasts a large new population of transplanted citizens from other areas of the United States, as well as immigrants from all over the world, including India, Japan, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Iran, Nigeria, Haiti, Greece, Turkey, Great Britain, and many other parts of the world.
New restaurants have opened to meet the tastes of so many different cultures, and some have emerged as the most popular, and most trendy places to eat. 183)Drakula Romanian Cuisine - North Austin (Research Blvd.)Charivari Romanian Cuisine - Houston (Bagby St. Those were created in the early 1980's when yankee's moved to the area to work for IBM or 3M, but even us old native Texans have learned to accept newcomers from many different places nowdays.
Great food has been one of the wonderful advantages to having new cultures introduced to the area. We may be proud of our recipes here in Texas, but these transplants from New York, Chicago, and other parts of the Northeast U.S.
And Jewish deli-style sandwiches like corned-beef, pastrami, or roast beef are some of the most satisfying foods anywhere. When it comes to the best breakfast places, most are not concerned with counting calories, but you still have healthy options at some of the most popular places in the Austin area. This is Texas, however, and the most requested breakfast dishes nowdays are Tex-Mex staples like huevos rancheros, or migas, and breakfast tacos with ingredients like chorizo and egg, bean and cheese, or sausage and potato, can be found on practically every corner.
In Texas, restaurants know that customers crave beef and only those that serve quality charbroiled ribeyes, porterhouses, T-bones, strips, filet mignon, and even chateau briand remain at the top of everyone's list as the best.



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