When we're with the inlaws, we rarely do things that are kid-friendly. Which is hard on my high-energy kids. For instance, the only thing planned for the Yosemite trip was a grueling 14 mile hike, that my family certainly wasn't going to be joining in on.
So I started looking into things that we could sneak in during our trip that would entertain my youngsters. The first thing I saw was a special Ranger-led campfire session.
A shuttle and short hike later and we were there!
The theme of the session was "campfires" and Thatkid learned all about the three elements that you need for a fire - fuel, heat, oxygen.
The kids learned about how fires can not only be harmful, but also helpful. How they help to clear brush and debris so forests can grow. As we wrapped up, the ranger asked if anyone had their Jr. Ranger sheets for her to sign. I saw a bunch of the other kids bring up a sheet from the Yosemite guide, a guide I just happened to have with me. I located the page and sent Thatkid up with the others.
It was the first step on his road to becoming a Jr. Ranger. The sheet included a list of questions and activities for him to do, such as pick up trash on a hike, and ask a ranger who signed the Grant Act. We spent the rest of the trip fulfilling his obligations. When the sheet was complete, we made our way to the visitor center to turn in the form and get his Jr. Ranger badge.
What made it even more special was that he was sworn in by the very ranger who led the campfire session.
One of the things I said to Thatboy during the trip is that I don't think trips should cater exclusively to the children. We don't always do what they want to do. Often they get dragged along, and that's okay. But it's about balance. The reason it's okay to drag them to things we want to do is because I also try to include things they want to do. Which is not something I just do with kids. When I plan vacations, I try to make sure there's something for every member of the trip.
And I look for the same balance when I cook. I don't cater to the kids. Sometimes I serve meals that they are not interested in. But I just as often make things I know they'll love. Soup often falls in that boat. Both the boys love soup. And a carrot soup, with its creamy sweetness makes them very happy. I added some chermoula to the top for the grownups. Chermoula is a blend of herbs, spices, oil, and lemon juice. Similar to a pesto, chimichurri, or gremolata, It makes the soup a little less sweet, but I like the counterbalance.
Carrot Soup with Chermoula
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
8 carrots, chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/4 lemon
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the ginger, tumeric, and 1/4 tsp cumin and sweat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the onion, leek, and carrots and sweat for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the paprika and then pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool and then puree with a blender until smooth. Reheat and season to taste.
- Put the cilantro, garlic, coriander, remaining cumin, olive oil, and lemon juice in a blender and blend into a smooth paste.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls, spooning a tablespoon of chermoula over each portion.