Passport to Fun - Jamaica

Travel the world from the comfort of your living room with this Passport to Fun series!  Whether you use these ideas as a date night, family fun night, or homeschool study, you'll be sure to have some fun, mahn, and bring a bit of Jamaica's culture right into your own home!

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You'll remember that I came up with a pretty awesome idea for G's Christmas gift last year.

If you're new here and don't know what I'm talking about, then feel free to wander on over to this post to read all about it.

I'll wait.

Even though we spent all of 2016 traveling to new countries each month, we had so much fun I decided to extend this series indefinitely - so many cool places to learn about and we've even got a list of places we want to return to in the future!

This month, we headed to Jamaica. I was in the mood for some jerk meat and it seemed like a fun place to visit as we transitioned from winter (Ha! What winter?) to spring.

March - Jamaica

Set the Stage

I added this stamp to G's passport, then left it out where he'd find it the next morning before he went to work so he'd see where we were going:

What to Decorate With

The flag thing is our go-to wall art for each trip.  It's something fairly simple for Gv and I to do together, uses supplies we already have, and still lends an air of the locale.

We're running low on construction paper around here - don't you love the bazillion pieces of yellow we used to mosaic this thing?

What to Dress Like

Okay, I'm going to admit it. Our brains were just giant vacuums for this one.

I mean, I could come up with a few ideas, but we just don't have closets full of Rasta gear or tie dye and the only chunky dreadlock-looking yarn I could find was powder blue.

So we imagined actually traveling to Jamaica and dressed for a little island break:

G's hand motions look inspired by the Fonz, Gv's adding the "Heeeey" for the soundtrack, and black's the last color I would choose to wear for a day at the beach, but somehow when I grabbed the lace-covered tank dress off the hanger, I thought it looked "Jamaica-y."

What to Listen to

I created a playlist for this month based off of whatever related songs I already had on my ipod:

I can actually only stand about 13 seconds of Bob Marley and reggae before wanting to gouge my ears out with a spoon, but I gave it a good try and made it through at least half of this album before moving on to some UB40 and Harry Belafonte, Sean Kingston's hit and this groovy tune.

What to Eat

My main food goals for this trip were to cook up a slew of jerk meat and Jamaican beef patties. Gv's godmother grew up in Trinidad, so we've had her callaloo recipe before, but the Jamaican version I made here was quite a bit different (no okra!)

We snacked on peanuts and some plantain and cassava chips (along with Red Stripe beer - Hooray, beer!), then ate our beef patties and red peas soup.

I served the jerk chicken with some rice and the callaloo and for dessert, we ate bulla cake.

Jamaican Beef Patties

What You Need

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup cubed cold butter
3 Tablespoons ice water

1 pound ground meat
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 chopped onion
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 chopped bell pepper
2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or panko, or wheat germ, or whatever you use for crumbs)
1 egg yolk (I don't bother with this part)

What You Do

1.  Mix and knead all the pastry ingredients, then stick in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

2. Brown the meat with spices (through black pepper).

3. Add in the onions and pepper and cook until soft.

4. Drain the pan, then add in the rest of the ingredients (except for egg) and stir until mixed.

5. Roll out the dough and cut into squares (I used these, which made this dish so easy). Fill pouches with meat mixture and seal. If you want a fancy, shiny finish, brush pouches with beaten egg yolk, otherwise just stick them in the oven.

6. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Red Peas Soup

OhMyGoodness - I'm dying laughing here. Check out that spoon - somebody obviously snuck a taste of this soup while I was off getting the camera, and left the evidence behind!

What You Need

1 can kidney beans
2 chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 slices chopped, cooked bacon (we didn't have bacon and it was fine - although bacon always makes things better!)
1 finely chopped Scotch Bonnet pepper (I just used jalapeno)
2 cups stock (chicken, beef, veggie, etc.)

What You Do

1.  Dump everything in a pot, adjusting the amount of stock so it completely covers the beans.

2.  Puree everything really well with an immersion blender.

3.  Simmer the soup about 15 minutes, or until it's warm.


What You Need

2 pounds chopped callaloo (or some other greens, like the spinach I used
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 chopped onion
3 chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup water

What You Do

1.  Cook the onions in a skillet with the oil and butter until soft.

2. Add everything else but the water and mix it all up.

3. Add the water, cover your pot, and cook for about 8 minutes. If you use authentic callaloo, you'll want to cook it until the stems are tender. For my spinach version, I just wanted it all warm.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

What You Need

2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon allspice
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sage
3/4 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup coconut aminos
3/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 seeded and finely chopped scotch bonnet peppers (I just used jalapenos)
1 chopped onion
3 chopped green onions
5 pounds chicken pieces (I just used legs, on the bone)

What You Do

1.  Mix everything but chicken in a baking dish, then add the chicken and turn to coat.

2. Let this sit in the fridge for at least an hour (I let it sit overnight).

3. Drain most of the liquid off and then stick the dish in the oven and cook for an hour at 350 degrees.

Bulla Cake

Even though this is labeled a cake, I felt the dough seemed more like cookies, so we cut it all out into fun shapes!

What You Need

2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 pounds whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup to 2 cups milk

What You Do

1.  Melt butter and combine it with honey, vanilla, and 1/3 cup milk. Set this aside.

2.  Combine the rest of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour in the butter mixture. Mix it all up to form a dough. I had to add at least 2 additional cups of milk to mine before it came together as a dough, but I did it a 1/3 of a cup at a time.

3.  Divide the dough in half and roll it out onto a floured surface until it's 1/4-inch thick. You can just cut this into squares, but we added a little pizazz by using cookie cutters.

4.  Slide these cookies/cakes onto baking sheets lined with these and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

What to Do

My brain pretty much turned to mush when it came to activity ideas for this trip.

I mean, I'd thought about turning Gv's little red wagon into a cardboard bobsled, but then just the thought of that exhausted me and luckily, I remembered this:

One year, a student of mine went to Jamaica for spring break and brought me back this super-cool bracelet as a souvenir.

That made me think that it would be fun to make friendship bracelets in these colors (oh, the hours I spent making those things!), but then I realized that Gv would have to be able to tie knots first, so I came up with this instead:

We soaked a craft stick in water so we could bend it into a bracelet cuff, but that was taking too long (to bend it enough for Gv's tiny wrist), so I put one of those thick rubber bands you get off asparagus  around it to curve it a bit and make into a bracelet, then Gv wound my embroidery floss around it in the appropriate colors.

Side view of bracelet - if you soak the craft stick long enough, you can get it to almost bend into a full circle. Shove it inside a toilet paper roll to hold that shape while it dries!

What to Read

I found a whole slew of children's book ideas for this trip: 

Liar Liar Pants On Fire: A Jamaican Children's Story On ValuesWho Was Bob Marley?Anya Goes to JamaicaDoctor Bird: Three Lookin' Up Tales From JamaicaA Smart Kids Guide To JAUNTY JAMAICAJ Is for Jamaica, and Jamaica.

Since Anansi stories became quite popular after being brought to Jamaica from Africa, I chose a few of those to read to Gv. Anansi and Anansi the Spider Man are good choices if you don't have several Anansi tales sitting around from your classroom.

For the grownups, I came across one short novel that has me intrigued. I haven't read it yet, but definitely plan to check A High Wind in Jamaica out soon.

What to Watch

The choice for the whole family is an obvious one: Cool Runnings.

My Bond-obsessed self also wanted to watch Dr. No, but 

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

 or How Stella Got Her Groove Back would be other good choices.

And that wrapped up our "trip." It was another huge success and we can't wait to jet off to someplace new next month!

Travel all over the world, without leaving your living room!  Come back each month to see where we head next.  Can you think of any other ideas to add for a trip to Jamaica?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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Want more?  Check out some of our other trips:

Italy - India - France - Africa - Ireland - Switzerland - Canada - Greece - England - Germany - Thailand Russia - China - Spain - Egypt - Mexico - Japan - Brazil Cuba Scotland - Australia - Scandinavia

Love this idea, but want the easy, made-for-you-and-all-you-do-is-print-it version?  Click here to get your own pack and see what inspired me to create this series!

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