Tag Archives: global

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup – America

American Flag

This week we are exploring typical winter dishes from around the world. Tonight we visit America and the most common plate you will find in the winter here is tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. There are many recipes for tomato soup, however most people here buy canned which requires that you add milk and warm it up until at a desired temperature. Americans will recognize this iconic image:

tomato soup

Grilled cheese is generally made by putting butter on one side of sliced bread of any kind and placing the buttered side on a griddle before adding cheese of your choice (usually American) and closing it off with the other slice of bread butter side up. You then flip to grill on both sides and melt the cheese.


The soup makes a great dip for the sandwich and together they make a terrific warm, filling meal.

How do you make your grilled cheese and tomato soup?

Until next time,

Traveling Sam xo

Traditional Christmas Farm Visit

Hello Everyone!

Today I’m writing to you from Mike’s Farm in Back Swamp, North Carolina. It is a very popular local spot despite being pretty far away from the main roads. It is open year round and my host usually goes several times a year, however Christmas time is when most folks around here and even some from far away come to eat the food and take a hayride into a colorful winter wonderland but first things first!

We arrived early so we could spend some time visiting the animals before dinner. Here I am with the goats and a llama:

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I got to feed them, they were quite friendly!

We then moved on to see the rabbits. They often like to hide. Do you see them in this photo with me?


There are also chickens, turkeys, pheasants, and a pretty majestic rooster to feed:







My favorite guy to visit was the donkey though. Much larger than I expected and *quite* adorable.



My friend is feeding him, he was very friendly!

My friend is feeding him, he was very friendly!

Schools take field trips here in the fall and they visit the pumpkin patch. They also grow strawberries and Christmas Trees. Here I am with their Christmas Trees:

So many Christmas trees!

So many Christmas trees!

Time to eat! Wait…

They aren't even open yet!

They aren’t even open yet!

As you can see, it is a VERY popular place. This is the line and they aren’t even open yet! By the time we we went in the line was three times as long behind us as well. Crazy!

I took a few minutes to explore the little bakery/Christmas shoppe they have while my friends were kind enough to save the spot in line:



You can come here at any time of year to feel the holiday spirit. It’s a lovely store with lots of great Christmas and non-holiday items for sale as well as a bakery with some mouth watering fudge in all kinds of flavors!

The food is served family style and the price gets you all you can eat. Here is the menu:



Everything is brought to the table and they bring you seconds as you request them. No one leaves here hungry, that’s for sure! Check out this spread!


I decided I should try a bit of everything since I might not ever make it back here:


Then of course you HAVE to have dessert! Should I have cheesecake with a chocolate drizzle or banana pudding? Hmm…



banana pudding

banana pudding

All done!

my belly is so full!

my belly is so full!


Now for the main event! Oh my… and I thought the line for the food was long!

They all want a hay ride!

They all want a hay ride!

Here I go!

Finally, it's our turn!

Finally, it’s our turn!

This is the Christmas hayride because I am here in December, however, there are several throughout the year. At Easter time kids ride to get to an Easter Egg Hunt, in the summer they ride to the strawberry fields to pick their own strawberries and in the fall they ride to pick their own pumpkins. The fall also brings another night time hayride, for those brave enough to try it out! It is the Haunted Hay Ride! I am not that brave so I will stick to the Christmas themed ride. I tried to take a little video, but it is really no comparison to seeing these lights in person. Unfortunately the video saved sideways to the computer but posted just fine to Instagram so please find your way over to my IG page to see a little video!


Here are a couple of pictures as well:

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I hope you enjoyed the visit to Mike’s Farm as much as I did! Here is a link to their website, I highly recommend checking them out if you find yourself nearby!


I may not have a chance to post on the blog tomorrow because I will be, well, traveling! Look for a picture from the trip, however, on my Instagram page!

Until next time,

~Traveling Sam

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Hello Friends!

Tonight I come to you from Hamburg, Germany. My host family has a couple of items on display in celebration of the season that I had some questions about and I would like to share what I learned with you now.

First up is something I’ve seen before, however I didn’t know too much about them until tonight. In German it is called adventskalender and in English it is known as an Advent Calendar.

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I’m sure that you have seen them around here and there, but did you know the idea for the Advent Calendar has it’s origins in Germany? It is a very common way to celebrate the season here! Let me share how it works:

Advent is the four-week period of time leading up to Christmas. It begins each year on the first Sunday after November 26th, however the calendar generally begins on December 1st and goes until the 24th to help children count down the days until Christmas. As you see in the above picture, there are 24 little doors on a Santa designed adventskalender. There are many different designs, but the concept of opening doors is a part of all of them. Each day the next door is opened and inside you will find a little treat in the form of a small toy or chocolate candy. Behind the “prize” is usually a picture or sometimes a bible verse all leading up to Christmas Eve. The picture or Bible verse could also be found on the door once it’s opened, or they may be blank. There are many different kinds of Adventskalenders!

What started out in the 19th century as making a chalk line for every day in advent leading up to Christmas evolved into what you can find in stores at this time of year pre-made with a heavy paper and chocolates already inside. In Germany, however, where most homes have an Advent Calendar, you will find more permanent structures such as the adorable Santa above that are refilled each year with small chocolates or trinkets. Here is a couple of links if you would like to learn more:



If you would also like to learn more about Advent you can find some information here:


Onto the second item. This is Adventskranz:


Here I am with an Adventskranz or, in English, an Advent Wreath,  sometimes referred to as an Advent crown. It is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time, and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until all the candles are lit on the last Sunday before Christmas.

The concept of the Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the 16th Century, however it was a Protestant pastor named Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808 – 1881) who was the inventor of the modern Advent wreath. Children at Rauhes Haus, the school he founded in Hamburg, Germany, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. So in 1839, he built a large wooden ring with 20 small red and 4 large white candles. The small candles were lit successively during Advent and on Sundays one of the large white candles were lit. It eventually evolved into the smaller wreath with the 4 candles known today. Some have five candles, the fifth being lit on Christmas Day.

I thought it was pretty amazing that both of these items that are now found around the world originated in Germany. One of them right here in Hamburg! I know it is a bit difficult to see because all of the candles are lit, but the wreath is made with Christmas tree branches. Here is a photo I found online so you can better see the branches:


Speaking of Christmas Trees… did you know that they ALSO origninated in Germany? Maybe I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow, right now I should get some rest. Thanks for joining me!


Traveling Sam