What makes an American American? Is it the color of your passport, the way you were raised or to be a true American do you have to grow up in the United States? Can an immigrant arriving in the US become as American as someone who grew up there? Or can an American living overseas lose their essential American-ness? When you are raising third-culture kids, these are the questions you ask yourself. You want to take advantage of learning about foreign cultures and countries and expand your worldview – and we certainly did that – but you also want your child to have a feeling of belonging somewhere. From the very minute our first daughter was born, we knew that in all likelihood, she would go off to university in the United States. After all, we were living in a place where English was not even spoken. So we started to save for out-of-state tuition – way out of state. But I began to prepare her in other ways. I didn’t want her, or her sister when she came along, to be a complete outsider to US customs and culture. I wanted them to know what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was so I hauled jars of Jif in my suitcase, along with Nestle Quik and Aunt Jemima syrup, and chocolate chips and marshmallows and many other “essentials” of an American childhood. Barney and Sesame Street videos, every Disney movie every made, cassette tapes of Raffi’s wonderfully silly songs and Tom Chapin singing This Pretty Planet.
I loved that one – This whole planet is our home, a holy place.
Our ever-increasing home library of children’s books introduced them to my favorite classics and we made some new favorites together. When they got old enough, I organized Trick-or-Treat in our little Brazilian neighborhood, culminating in a party with apple-bobbing and cupcakes and sweet punch at our decorated house. I’ve been known to bring frozen turkey and yams and Karo and pecans on an airplane, to make sure Thanksgiving was right. We had a potted Norfolk pine as a Christmas tree in a couple of different places, because that was as close as I could get to a real tree, and we hung our stockings from a bookcase (Indonesia) or the staircase (Brazil) or the radiator (Paris) or the piano (KL and Singapore.) And when it came time for the rite of passage called drivers’ ed, I made sure they were able to take the classes and get their licenses during the summers in the States. Because I didn’t want them to be the only ones who couldn’t drive when they went off to college.
They are both living in the US now and while I know they feel “outsider” sometimes, because that can’t be helped, it is part and parcel of being a third culture kid. Despite my best efforts, I know that other third culture kids and expats will always be their true tribe, but I like to think that I eased the transition at least a little bit by passing on some of the traditions I grew up with. Like baking with peanut butter and chocolate chips.
What traditions are you passing on to your children? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear.
2 cups or 250g flour
1/4 cup or 60g sugar
1/4 cup or 50g dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup or 200g creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/2 cup or 75g roasted peanuts
1/2 cup or 100g semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your muffin pan by greasing it or lining it paper muffin cups.
Chop your peanuts roughly and mix them together with your semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Separate about one quarter of the mixture to sprinkle on the muffins before baking.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, two sugars and baking powder. Make sure to break up the brown sugar.
In another bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, butter, eggs and milk.
Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.
Fold in the bigger pile of chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Top each muffin cup with a sprinkle of nuts and chips.
Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins from the pan to cool completely.
Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street, a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop her a quick line to join her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.
Plus learn all you ever need to know about muffins at Muffin 101.