Friday, February 26, 2016

From the High School Lesson Book - Eastern Europe

From the High School Lesson Book - Eastern Europe on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - Our review of the cultural geography of Eastern Europe has me thinking of trying out some of these recipes!

We've had quite an up-and-down year so far with Kennady's Cultural Geography course. She did a decent amount of the coursework last year, along with another study, so she had a good head start on it. Unfortunately, the head start has largely disappeared because she didn't get much done in this course during the first semester. So instead of being able to finish the course this year at a relaxed pace, she's probably going to have to gun it a bit during this second semester. I think we're up to the challenge though, because it is a subject we find interesting!

Well, we've been reviewing again, because she studied Europe last year, so I asked her to just skim the chapters she'd already covered, and do any assignments that we'd bypassed last year. This week she's been refreshing her memory about Eastern Europe and doing a bit of related map work. 

Our textbook, Cultural Geography, tells us that most of Eastern Europe lacks the material prosperity of Western European nations because it was under the control of communism for most of the twentieth century. Some countries have made great political and economic advances, while others have struggled through civil wars and other adversities.

The Baltic region - Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia - have ports on the Baltic Sea and have a humid continental climate with mild summers and freezing temperatures throughout most of the winter. Poland was caught between three growing empires in the eighteenth century - Prussia, Austria, and Russia - and eventually was divided between the three emperors. Poland as an independent nation ceased to exist in 1795, but was restored after World War I. However, during World War II, the Nazis took control, and although the Soviet army "liberated" Poland, the situation was not much improved. In 1989, Poland legalized a labor union called Solidarity and held the first free elections in Eastern Europe in forty years. Today, Poland continues to transition to a free-market economy.


If all goes well, we are going to try our hand at the folk art of Polish paper-cutting - wycinanki - today or tomorrow. I hope to share that on the next Virtual Fridge! Pierogi is a traditional Polish dish, but I'm not sure I want to try making my own. I have a family recipe that is similar but uses different fillings, and I always have a tough time getting the dough just right. But maybe sometime I'll give it another shot!


The Baltic States were once part of the Soviet Union, but were the first of the fifteen republics to declare their independence when the Soviet Union began to break up. All three of these countries celebrate their rich cultural heritage with annual festivals displaying traditional dress and showcasing their history. The people of Lithuania, the largest of the three countries, are about 80% Roman Catholic, and the country has documented history going back to the time of the Roman Empire. Latvia is the 'middle' Baltic state. Estonia is the northernmost of the states and has much in common with Scandinavia. The Estonian language is closely related to Finnish.



I found out that gingerbread is very popular in Estonia - and I love gingerbread cake and cookies!


The Carpathian Mountains are the dominant mountain system of Eastern Europe, with three landlocked nations sharing parts of the mountains. The Czech Republic was formerly part of Czechoslovakia, a nation created by the Allies after World War I. The Communist Party in Czechoslovakia was overthrown in the Velvet Revolution of 1989, and in 1993 the nation split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Today, the Czech Republic has one of the strongest economies in Eastern Europe. Its main regions are Bohemia, the Sudetenland, and Moravia. Slovakia is rich in resources and has a growing economy. Hungary is also in the Carpathians, but its culture is different. The people are descended from the Magyar tribes and speak a language associated with the Ural Mountains which form the border between Europe and Asia.

Czech Republic

Kielbasa is really popular at our house, so when I saw these Spicy Kielbasa Buns, I thought they'd make a great lunch! I've been wanting to try making Kolache for awhile, and since both recipes use the same refrigerator dough, I've put it on the to-do list.

A Taste of Europe - Garlic Bread Slovakian Style on Homeschool Coffee Break @

A Taste of Europe - Garlic Bread Slovakian Style on Homeschool Coffee Break @

And as we were reviewing, I recalled this easy but oh-so-good garlic bread we made during our previous school year - A Taste of Europe - Garlic Bread Slovakian Style. And I wondered why I hadn't been making it every week. Shame on me, I'm putting this back in our menu!

A Taste of Europe - Hungary (Chicken Paprika) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Another delicious (though unattractive!) recipe we haven't had in a little while is Chicken Paprika - A Taste of Europe - Hungary (Chicken Paprika) And I was in need of menu ideas, so now I've got a couple!
A Taste of Europe - Hungary (Chicken Paprika) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

I'm also thinking about trying Lisa's Hungarian Butter Cookies, or this Hungarian Cinnamon Loaf

What are your high schoolers studying, and what are you learning as you guide them? Leave a comment and let me know, and link up your posts about homeschooling high school here. Visit your neighbors and leave some encouraging comments!

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