Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Estou Famosa (or "Dude! I think I saw an American!")

Written in during the summer of 2008 while I was living in Ribeirao Preto, the city where my in-laws live in Brazil -- I feel like it applies to my life these past two weeks while I am here, so why recreate the wheel when you can just copy and paste?  :)

In Ribeirao Preto, 2008.

Here in Ribeirao Preto, my current short-term city of residence, I am quite famous. Well, not in the everybody-knows-my-name sort of way, but more in the everybody-knows-I-am-different-and-therefore-must-stare kind of way. (Whew! It is quite difficult to type so many hyphens! Ok, back to my story...) Really. Everywhere I go, people stare. And it is funny to me because this city has a LOT of white people. Maybe not as white as me, for sure, and definitely not as blonde, but white, yes. I think it must be more than my skin color. I think everything about me screams, "YES!!! I AM NOT BRAZILIAN! IT IS TRUE!!! STARE SOME MORE!!!"

But really, it isn't that bad. I get treated in an almost celebrity fashion. I walk into the gym, and people who have never seen me instantly know, yes, this is Tiffany. I go to the store, and I have people who are more than willing to help me find exactly what I want, and continue smiling even when I found nothing that suits my fancy, they are just so thrilled to help me anyway. At some places, the grocery store for instance, people are pretty mild about it... "Eh, whatever. An American, not big deal." Oh yeah, but there was that one bagger who stared, pointed, and then got all his friends in on it. Hmm... ok, so it isn't AS bad at the grocery store.

Today at the park I had quite the treat. While playing frisbee I was apparently spotted by a fan who decided to sit down and watch me. I think it was my counting points aloud in English that caught this young man's attention (he was probably about 12). He just sat there on the grass, watched intently, laughed when I would call something out, and had a good time. Of course, it didn't bother me or anything, so I smiled at him and kept playing. When Paulo and I were done I was getting a drink at the drinking fountain and this kid had gathered his buddies. He would see one of them, gesture the new guy to come over, whisper something to him, and then they would stare when they didn't think I was looking. But I guess that wasn't enough so they decided to share their incredible English skills with me. You can guess how that went...

"Oh s*&%!"
Giggle, snicker, giggle.

"Mother *%^$@!"
"Hehehe, hahaha"

And so on and so forth.

Oh, the things we teach people through media.

The almost funny part is that, according to Paulo, and I totally believe it, they have no idea what they are saying. They are just trying to communicate in my language.

Well, we went to get some sugar cane juice (sounds weird but is pretty awesome) and my little fan followed me. And of course eventually called over another friend. "Dude," he must have whispered to his buddy, "I think this girl is an American!" But, eh, whatever. I am white, I practically glow in the dark, so there isn't anything about this that surprises me. And since I am no Jennifer Aniston or Sandra Bullock, I am ok with this for now. One of these days I will head back to America and be one of the many nameless people walking down the street and I will remember that, for at least a little while, I was a star.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Food Lover's Guide to Brazilian Beaches

Oi Amigos!

I am sitting here in an internet cafe' in Rio de Janeiro, writing to you on a keyboard with funny letters.  It is taking me quite some time to get this typed out, but the food I have to share with you is too good to be missed.  I am so happy Foodbuzz liked my idea of doing a progressive food party on the beach here in Brazil!

See that handsome man?  The sad news for you is that he is taken.  But the good news is that he is going to take us on a tour of his favorite foods to eat on the beach!  One of the many advantages of being married to a Brazilian man (and a hot one, I think)...

First stop:  Quejinho

This salty grilled cheese stick is my favorite.  Brazilians have a different kind of cheese they often use... one that doesn't melt easily, almost like a hunk of feta or something.  Put a stick through it, grill it, and enjoy.

Second stop: Agua de Coco

Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting on the beach in Copacabana.  You get thirsty so you reach out to get something refreshing to drink.  What is in your hand?  If you said a fresh coconut, you are right!

You have probably already read all about my love of coconut water and its many health attributes, but let me say it again: this stuff is wonderful.  The taste may take a little getting used to, but once you do, well... you will be hooked.  And nature can't be wrong, right?

Third stop: Churros (pronounced like shoe-hose)

I know that you know churros.  But do you know Brazilian Churros?

This nice man was not only kind enough to pose for me, but he gave us a discount.  I guess he knew we love his product.

Here is the thing that makes these churros so darn good: they are prepared right then, batter -- deep-fry -- roll in cinnamon, and then they are filled with yumminess.  In my case that yumminess is chocolate.  But you can get doce de leite or coconut, too.  All three are great.  Which would be why we had to go back for more...

Fourth Stop: Açai na Tigela

You saw this one earlier this week.  No wait, you saw the healthy version of this earlier this week.  But I found something slightly different on the beach... açai with something akin to cocoa pebbles and with sugar and powdered milk and all kinds of sweet stuff.

I am not going to lie.  It was pretty amazing.  Clearly my husband thought so, too :)

Fifth and Final Stop: Peixe Frita com Suco de Abacaxi

Doesn't that look good?!  It is, trust me.  Fresh from the ocean (as our table was right there in the sand, the waves crashing at our feet), battered and fried.  Squeeze some lime on top and you are in fish heaven.  The only thing that could make it better is a nice cold glass of pineapple juice...

Put them together, add the soundtrack that comes along with beach life, and you have the perfect meal.

And that, my friends, is what Brazilian beaches are really all about.  Some may say it is a place to see beautiful women or hunk-a-hunky men (which can be true, but not always); others might think it is about the sand and the surf.  But I am here to tell you that the food is where it is at.  Don't believe?  Go try it yourself.  Brazil is waiting for you!

Guest Post: Rolinhos de Mamão Verde (Papaya Rolls Compote)

Oi!  I must confess, I am stuffing myself silly here in Brazil.  Fresh mango, pineapple, coconut water, papaya... the food of Heaven, right? 

I have a very special treat for you today.  Another amiga from this blog world is sharing one of her family recipes from Brazil, perfect for those of you who love tropical fruit.  (Is there anyone who doesn't???)  Lulu is known for her sweet treats and lovely photography that accompanies it.  Her recipes and her pictures make my mouth water.  Visit her page at Lulu's Sweet Secrets to see that I speak the truth.  And make sure you have a napkin ready to catch all that drool... ;)

My home state in Brazil, Minas Gerais, is famous for their traditional culinary. One of the most popular are sweets made just with fruits and sugar syrup, called compote. Cooking fresh fruits with water and sugar is a tradition inherited from colonial times adapted for tropical fruits, such as cashews and green papayas. Today I have the pleasure to share with you Papaya Rolls Compote.

I grew up watching my mother, grandmother, and aunts making large amounts of sweets on a farm using huge copper pans. Most of those sweets still remain as the main dessert of my family gatherings. Papaya compote is one of my favorite. There are many ways to make it: grated with molasses, in cubes, or in rolls.  All of them are delicious, but the shaped rolls are the most beautiful.
Be sure the papaya that you are using is green and firm, otherwise it will be very hard to peel the strips. I had this experience with the first papaya that I bought for this post. It was so ripe that was impossible to obtain the strips. Then, roll the strips and connect them together with a needle and a piece of thread. It’s a little bit of work, but at the end your efforts are well worth it. To obtain the correct firmed consistency, keep the papaya rolls overnight in a bowl with some sugar (use the same weight of sugar as you used for the papaya). You will observe on the next day that a large quantity of water will be released from papaya. Place the entire content of the bowl in a pan and cook until boiling.

1 green papaya
The same weight of sugar as the papaya
 Cloves if you like

(from here)
1. With the aid of a knife make slits on the papaya peel. A whitish liquid will be released and this takes away the bitterness of green papaya. Rinse well after one hour.

2. Cut the papaya in half and remove the seeds (do not peel the papaya). Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin fitted with a flat blade, slice the papaya into paper-thin strips and place in a bowl.

3. Prepare a needle and a sewing line; secure the line with a knot, and roll each piece of papaya as tight as you can without breaking the fruit. Slide them close together on the sewing line, fitting as many as you can and tie a knot after the last piece of rolled fruit. You will have to prepare many strings to use the whole fruit.

4. Keep the papaya rolls overnight in a bowl with some sugar. You will observe on the next day that a large quantity of water will be released from papaya. Place the entire content of the bowl in a pan and cook until boiling.

5- While the fruit is cooking, sterilize the jars in the oven or in hot water bath.
6- Remove the pan from the heat. Remove each string from the syrup, cut the string, release each rolled papaya from the sewing line, and return them to the syrup. Repeat the process until all fruit are released.
7- Carefully ladle some syrup and papaya into the hot sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles by running a long wooden utensil such as a chopstick or wooden skewer between the jar and the syrup. Wipe the rims clean and seal according to the jar’s manufacturer. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 40 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes and then lift the jars using tongs or a lifter. Transfer the jars to a towel lined baking sheet and let them rest. Check the seals and wipe the jars.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guest Post: Espetinho de Camarao (Shrimp Skewers)

Today's special guest post comes from someone you have seen here before -- Amanda of Give Me Flour.  If you have been following me for awhile you have actually seen a lot of her work, because she is absolulely, positively one of my favorite food photographers.  Not only that, but she is someone I would consider a friend in this blog world.  I was so happy when Amanda agreed to do a post because the place I am at holds a special place in her heart as well as mine, although for different reasons.  I fell in love here and a year later got engaged in the same spot; she spent her summers as a child on this beach.  Both ways have left Ubatuba as a very memorable place in our lives, and she is here to share a bit of her memories of this this little spot on the globe with you. 
So, Ubatuba... Tiffany is in Ubatuba.  I guess I am not supposed to admit this but since she is away, here it goes: I am jealous, really jealous!
I can almost smell the salty breeze and picture small details of the landscape. I can see the curvy road in front of me and remember the sensation of touching the water after spending a couple months dreaming about our vacation. It proves that memories do stick in your mind from when you are a child, don’t they?
I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday but I do remember what I used to eat during the two sacred and endless weeks my family spent in Ubatuba each summer for almost ten years in a roll.
We used to go in early December, by the time the city was still empty. The beaches felt like ours; the view, water and mountains together promoted the freedom we were looking for, creating the perfect refuge for my family.
For two entire weeks everyone was happy; my parents for not having to worry about daily obligations and us kids for not having to worry about our parents' rules. There was no right time to eat, for instance. And I was pretty much free, or at least I thought I was, to choose my own food: corn in a cob, heart of palm empanadas, tropical fruit popsicles, coconut water and tons and tons of shrimp skewers.  
I hope Tiffany enjoys them as well!!
Meanwhile, we can try the skewers ourselves because this recipe can’t get any more simple: marinate, thread, and grill. I can’t promise you the beach experience, but I swear it is still crazy good if paired with a hot, sunny day and a bottle of beer.

No, the recipe is not wrong; the shrimp skewers found in Ubatuba beaches are pretty simple and don’t require more ingredients than that. They can be deep fried or grilled and always come in a shell, which gives an extra crunch to the dish.
 Just place all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours.
Thread four shrimps onto each skewer bending each shrimp almost in half, so that the large end nearly touches the small. Insert the skewer just above the tail, so that it passes through the body twice. Set aside.
This time I chose to grill instead of fry, so pre-heat a grill or skillet to medium hot. Brush the skewers with a little olive oil and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning one, or until shrimps are translucent and pink in color. Serve immediately.
As an option, you can top them with chopped fresh tomatoes, scallions and a bit of lemon zest to kick off the citrus flavor.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Post: Açai na Tigela (Brazilian Açai in the Bowl)

I would like to introduce you to Ana Helena, a fellow food blogger whose pictures are beautiful and full of life, much like the woman who makes them. 

She grew up in Brazil and brought her culture, food and all, to her marriage here in America.  I love seeing what she cooks up because I know there is a pretty good chance that if I attempt to make it in my kitchen my husband will fall in love with me 10,000 times the amount he already does.  Yes, her food really is amazing.  Stop by and see for yourself at her self titled blog, Ana Helena Campbell.   You and your bellies will be glad you did!  And enjoy this beautiful  treat -- one of my favorite Brazilian foods.  You know I am right now ;)

Hi everyone, my name is Ana Helena Campbell, and I so excited to share this very traditional Brazilian recipe here at Tiffany’s blog.
I discovered Tiffany and her blog last year while browsing at the Foodbuzz 24x24, and found her beautiful authentic Festa Brazileira. She did an amazing job displaying some of the most traditional foods that Brazil has to offer. I knew then, I had to introduce myself to Tiffany to let her know we both shared a few things in common: The privilege to enjoy two cultures every day and the love of food. We are definitely “experiencing the best of both worlds”.
Today, I will show you how Brazilians like to use the açai berry, using ingredients very easy to find here in America.
Brazilian Açai na Tigela or Açai in the Bowl is a very popular dish you can find it all over Brazil. Açai is a dark purple berry, very delicate, small like a blueberry, and considered by many the "miracle berry."

This little gem is very famous and has made many appearances on TV shows, the news, and TV adds. At grocery stores you can find açai sold as powder, pulp, or juice. Açai is big in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. No need to convince you how good this berry is for you. But if you are still skeptical about it, I forgot to mention that açai is considered a “super food."

We should have respect for this berry, with titles and TV appearances like that,  the least we can do is to pronounce it correctly. Açai has its emphasis in the end like “Ah-Sigh-EE”, not in the middle. Now, the next step is to try it at least once if you haven't yet done so.

Growing up in a coastal part of the country, Açai na Tigela was available in most kiosks along the boardwalk, as well as in corner snack bars throughout the city. This little berry has definitely conquered the hearts of many in the vast, diverse, and very creative country of Brazil.
Açai na Tigela or Brazilian Açai in the Bowl
Serves 2
·         2 individual packages of sambazon organic frozen açai pulp.
·         2 ripe bananas
·         2 tbsp vanilla coconut milk
·        1/2 cup of your favorite granola

Blend the organic frozen pulp with one ripe banana, making sure you have a creamy thick consistency in the end. Don’t forget to break up the frozen açai pulp into pieces before blending. Pour the acai blend in a bowl. Add some sliced bananas and top it with your favorite granola.

Açai na Tigela has a few rules that you may not break or it will no longer be called Açai in the Bowl but simply a smoothie. Brazilians take pride in how their food is prepared, and if you add a little more liquid or ice, you will have a smoothie in a cup not an Açai in a Bowl. Your final result cannot be soupy or liquidy-ish, it has to be thick enough for you to use a spoon and not a straw.

Brazilians are also crazy for a little berry called Guarana, and the traditional recipe calls for a Guarana extract that will keep you packed with energy for the rest of your day. My version of the traditional recipe was created to accommodate our family life style. I chose the coconut milk but you can choose any milk you want. I also decided to omit any sugars and used nice, ripe bananas. The natural sugars from the bananas gave this recipe a desired amount of sweetness and the toughest critics in the house, my two boys, were very satisfied.

My portion of granola was not as generous as what the Brazilian snack bars serve. It is up to you to add as much as you want in yours, and make sure to use your favorite granola.

Espero que gostes!  (I hope you like it!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Brazil Week 2012

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

Yup, this will be my scenery for the next week or so. 

But don't worry, I will not forget about you!  I have some great stuffed planned during this time so that you can get a sense of being on the warm, lush beaches of Brazil right along with me.  So check back this next week!  I have some posts coming up from some amazing Brazilian women who will share a bit of their food culture with us as well as a very special Foodbuzz 24x24 that I get to do... in Rio de Janeiro!  How's that for some tropical fun with posts, huh? 

Until I "see" you again, take care and eat something yummy! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Barefoot in the Kitchen -- Kale Quesadillas

Did you know that green is my favorite color?  Well, it is.  I like a lot of colors, but my absolute most favorite is green.  Which is one of the reasons I like Spring so much.  St. Patrick's Day is never a really big deal to me but I do appreciate the fact that everything gets to be green on that day. 

Look at my smile.  There is no denying my love for this color of life that is surrounding me!  That's because good things come in green: grassy fields, palm trees, money... see? 

And kale.  Kale comes in green, too.

That makes it a perfect ingredient for St. Patrick's Day food. 

I know a lot people don't really like it, but in Brazil they looooove kale.  I have never met a Brazilian who doesn't like it.  In fact, I never even knew what it was until I was there and had lots of couve served to me.  For all I knew it was a vegetable native to that land of plenty.  It wasn't until my husband desperately needed some (or so he said) that I searched around and found out that it was sitting in my local grocery store all along.  Silly me.

Something else that is green that I am loving is this top.  I have had it for about a year now, but it is still one of my favorites.  And the belt... the best part is that the it came with the shirt.  For $17 at Love Culture I got not only a cute top but an incredibly useful and sassy belt, too.  Then I was able to save some green ;)

Belts have become all the rage lately.  Well, I guess not just lately, they come and go as all fashion does, but right now they are quite popular.  I don't own all that many, three actually, but these three have served me well. 

My first was this one:
Yes, I call it the Santa belt because, as you might be able to see, it looks like the belt Santa wears around his bowl-full-of-jelly-belly. 

Then I got the one you see in today's pictures.
My everything belt.  It has found a prominent place in my wardrobe.

And last, but definitely not least, is my favorite:
Yeah, I name my belts... but you must admit, this one is kind of Madonna-ish with it's little studs and all.  I got it at H&M, and Madonna is actually one of their designers, so who knows... it might actually be a "Madonna Belt".

The thing I like about belts is this: they are one simple thing you can do that make your outfit go "almost there" to "complete".  I must thank my friend and colleague Patricia for encouraging me to start using them in my attire.  She has a great eye for accessories, one that I am trying to develop.  But I am learning.  Like with this headband.  It is something that is so simple, yet makes a big difference.  And it was only $5 at Charlotte Russe.  What a steal!

So back to that other green... the kale.  I was flipping through the latest issue of Everyday Food and saw this little header:  "More ways to give kale kid appeal" and under it were some great ideas:
  1. Tear, toss with oil, and bake for crisp chips                (check!  Did that last October.  Yum.)
  2. Replace some basil with blanched kale when making pesto
  3. Add sauteed kale to grilled cheese or quesadilla
I didn't even need to go on.  Sure, the list had a few more, but I honed in on what I wanted: kale quesadillas.

We rarely have tortillas in the house, but I did have lavash bread.  Kale and cheese were already in the fridge, as well.  In fact, all of the ingredients were in that "now what do I do with them?" phase that food goes through when you have more than you need for a recipe but no good idea of how to get rid of them. 


I knew exactly how to get rid of them...

By Jove, we have a winner!  I just added a little Feta (also in that limbo stage that food lives in sometimes) and man oh man, it was good.  So good that we had it two days in a row.  And then right now as my husband asked what I was working on and I showed him he said, "Oh.... *drool*  that's GOOD!"

Kid appeal?  Shoot, this had adult appeal. 

There you have it folks, Kale Quesadillas.  An unexpected turn of events, but a highly welcomed one.  And green, perfect for this time of year.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pack lavash bread
  • 1/2 bunch fresh kale
  • Cheese -- your favorite
  • 1/2 cup of Feta
  • Spreadable butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Chop the kale in to small sections.  Over medium heat, put the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet.  When warm, add kale and a dash of salt.  Stir occasionally until sauteed, about 5 minutes.  When finished, set kale aside and clean out skillet. 
  2. Using lavash bread, kale, cheese, and feta, make quesadillas.  Put butter on the sides of the bread that will touch the pan to help grill.  At this point I am going to assume you know what to do... so go for it! :)

Cost: $5.68                   Cost Per Serving (4) $1.42

Add a salad on the side for a complete meal, and it is still under $2 per serving. 

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