Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Will Smith and My World View (The Wednesday Files)

There are a lot of fun things about marrying somebody from a different country -- the travel (because having to spend a few weeks in Brazil isn't all that bad!), the sexy accent (as it can make even the most boring word sound exotic and fun), and the many festas and futebol games that brought into your life.  But by far, one of my favorites is being able to share important cultural gems with my man.

Things like why I said, "We were gettin' jiggy wit it out there!"

"Gettig' jiggy wit it?  They never taught me that in my language school..."

Nope, they did not.  And it is a shame.  Because you missed an important part of the American heritage.

This is where YouTube has come in really handy. I just share this and instantly he understands...

Imagine the days before YouTube.  I mean, obviously I remember them.  In fact, I remember them quite well.  The first time I ever saw something on YouTube must have been around 2006 when a friend wanted to show us all the Ikea commercials that were banned in the USA.  But not in Europe!  And so we had sat and we watched and we laughed, and then we watched some more and laughed some more until our sides hurt. What an incredible waste of time, right? But -- oh! -- it was so funny!  Today it is just a part of our lives, and one that I am grateful for.  I mean, how else could I have explained to my husband tonight why I started singing, "Well, this is the story // all about how // my life got flipped // turned upside down..." when he put his hat on sideways and started dancing around?

If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video clip must speak well over a million.

Noticing a theme?

Yeah. Will Smith and I apparently go way back, and he has shaped the way I see the world.

I am not so sure that is a good thing, but it sure isn't a bad thing.  And now, thanks to the technology we have today, he can help shape the world of a Brazilian boy trying to understand this American way of life, one catch phrase or quick jingle at a time.

** Yes, I recognize that these are actually Vimeo videos, not YouTube.  They just embed nicer into the post.  But YouTube is my standard, go-to for important things like this ;)

// other posts on dual-cultural life //

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Sometimes you need something fancy.  Risotto.  Yes, sometimes I need risotto.

Or bows on your clothes.  Or sexy shoes.  Maybe a night out on the town.

But sometimes you just need something cozy... jeans, warm socks, a comfy blanket.  Or sweet potatoes with bacon.  This is a cozy dish.  Like chicken noodle soup or mashed potatoes.  Cozy and easy.  Two adjectives that are perfect for these days that are getting shorter and energy levels that fall away as the sun goes down...

Pair it with chicken, eggs, or anything really.  It's one of those side dishes that might as well be the main dish. And honestly now, can you ever go wrong with bacon?  That's what I thought.

**Speaking of bacon, use any kind of bacon you want in this dish.  We are a turkey and beef bacon kind of family most of the time.  When using a lower-fat bacon, though, you will need to add some olive oil to the mix as there won't be as much fat to cook the potatoes.  Trader Joe's, as always, has a great selection of bacon.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, October 2011


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 4 sliced bacon (see note above) + olive oil, if using non-pork bacon
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped sage
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a rimmed baking sheet, combine sweet potatoes, bacon, and sage; season with salt and pepper. Roast until sweet potatoes are browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife and bacon is crisp, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

COST: $4.99        COST PER SERVING (4): $2.25

Unprocessed    //    Gluten Free    //   Dairy Free

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad + Speaking Honestly

I am going to be completely honest with you.

There are very few things I like about Fall.

I know, know.  Your shock and dismay are not lost on me.  I know I am supposed to be a lover of the seasons changing, of the leaves going from green to reds and golds, of the thought of scarves being tied around my neck.

And in a way, I do like those things. Honestly.  I mean, I have never seen the Northeast during this time of the year, but I bet it is fantastic.  And yes, I do appreciate getting to pull a pair of boots out of the closet. The smells, oh... even I must admit the smells are great.  Cinnamon and apples baking, pumpkin soup cooking.

So I guess it is not that I dislike Fall, it is just that I like Spring and Summer better.

And Winter?  Except for Christmas, I could totally do without it.  (Now before you get all "but-you-live-in-california-so-you-don't-know-what-winter-really-is..." -- and you are totally right -- let me share what Winter means to me: rain and shortened days. That pretty much is the sum total of Winter after Christmas has passed. So no, I do not like Winter.  I really, truly don't.)

But despite all that, there is something that Fall totally takes the cake on: the produce.

I adore Fall produce.

Pumpkins.  Apples.  Brussels sprouts (yes, even brussels sprouts).

Pears, cranberries, sweet potatoes... my list can go on and on.  I love 'em.  They are full of flavor and full of color.

My favorite of all the Fall produce, though?  Squash.  I mean, I know it is technically "winter squash", but those butternut and acorn squashes that come out around this time of year?  I cannot get enough.

Summer is fantastic, but summer squash will never be able to compete with these guys.  Need proof?  It's right here:

Recipe adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen


  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • small acorn squash
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 5 oz. fresh greens, washed and dried
  • 2 oz. goat cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While it is preheating, cut squash in half and scrape out seeds.  Cut the squash into quarters, leaving the skin on.
  2. On a large baking sheet, place squash skin side down.  Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
  3. While squash is roasting, make reduced apple cider vinegar: pour the vinegar in to a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat.  Add honey and stir, allowing to come to a simmer.  Cook until the vinegar is reduced to about half of the original volume.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Once cool, toss greens with about 1 tablespoon of the reduced vinegar.  Store the rest of the vinegar in a sealed container. 
  5. When squash has finished roasting, remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Place on plate and top with greens, almonds, and goat cheese.  Drizzle more vinegar if desired.

COST: $3.49        COST PER SERVING (2): $1.75

Unprocessed    //    Gluten Free    //   Vegetarian

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blackberry Applesauce

I saw this great recipe for blackberry applesauce the other day -- which was perfect as I had some apples left over from apple picking.  But as I was reading through the recipe I realized it was a little more work than I wanted to do.  I mean, it was excellent if I wanted to can and store a lot, but I didn't.  I just wanted blackberry applesauce, and I wanted it now.

So I did what we all do when we need to figure out how to do something: I googled.  Because, believe it or not, I have never made applesauce.  Not once.  I only know the stuff that comes from the jar.  Oh, and those little plastic tubs that go in lunch boxes.  Yes, I know those, too...

But now I know how simple it is to make applesauce.  Which is unbelievably simple, actually.  And since I didn't really care if my blackberry seeds were in my apple sauce or not, I didn't worry about putting them through a food mill like I kept reading that I should to do remove the seeds.  I don't even know what a food mill is, so clearly I didn't have one on hand.  I just threw the berries in with the apples and moved on with my life  Simple.

I like simple.

And I also like bright pink food.  It is pretty.

So I guess this turned out perfectly for me.

What I came up with was enough applesauce for four servings.  However, if you make more, you can store it in the fridge for two weeks.

COST: $5.10           COST PER SERVING (4): $1.03

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Brazilian Invasion (Wednesday Files)

Beans are on the stove cooking right now.  The smell is good... very good.  And it always makes me feel a little more in touch with the Brazilian side of our life.  Because when beans come, so does the rice, the salada, the Portuguese.

I was just scrolling through some pictures from this summer... not the ones from my crazy 24 day whirlwind on the East Coast, but from the other whirlwind that came through: The Brazilian Invasion.

Not only did we have seven people live with us this summer for a whole month (people as in family and friends), but we embarked on a ten-day road trip with them all.  Two cars, fifteen hundred miles, plenty of pit stops.  Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles... with a visit to Mickey in there, of course.  Too bad I forgot my camera that day.

Venice Beach is always interesting, and this time proved to be no different.

Hollywood?  The stars are still there in the sidewalk, right where I left them last time I visited.  But San Diego?  San Diego always impresses me.

Of course, our favorite moments were not caught on film.  Unexpected street fairs.  Finding ice cream in unlikely places, like the Los Angeles Union Station.  A good game of soccer in the middle of a parking lot while we wait for traffic to subside...

But some great things were captured.  Like this shot.  I guess this shows how kids really feel about Las Vegas ;)

Apparently, though, it wasn't all bad, as we can see below.  And the car ride?  Not so bad either.  Lots of singing, plenty of jokes, some napping... not a single DVD or iPad in sight.  For hours upon hours.  Because when the Brazilians invade, they make the most of it.  And I am grateful to have been along for the ride.

(A 'Wednesday Files' post)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Edamame Hummus + Finding Balance

I have a life outside of food.  GASP!  I know.  I used to be better at showing it.  Sometimes I still am.  But most of the time I just share what I have been cooking, talk a little about the thoughts floating through my head, and then press "publish".

I think I am becoming compartmentalized.  School.  Home.  Blog.  Each fitting into their little boxes, only opened when it is the right time.

This is a good thing.  For example, nobody in my everyday life wants to hear about my students all day long (except my husband, who loves to hear all about them every single day and listens to me tirelessly... or maybe he is just a good pretender. Ha!) and so I am pretty sure you don't want to hear about them every day, either.

Nobody in my everyday life wants to hear about food all day long, either.  In fact, out of all of my friends of Facebook (all of whom are truly friends on varying degrees), only about 5% of them follow this blog.  I know it's not because they don't support me (because they truly do!), but because, well, blog reading isn't for everyone.

It is a different issue on this end.  While sharing details about life, about dreams, and so on are such an important part of blogging, you have to find a healthy, safe balance.  Those of you who read regularly feel like you know me, and I feel like I know you.  And you know what?  I do believe you can know somebody and be friends long before you meet in person.  But I am also aware that anybody can follow along. Anybody.  And so you have to find that balance -- share enough to keep up a connection with your fellow blog friends, but don't share so much that stalkers and serial killers could find you.  You know how it goes...

This has led me to a place where I have been having a hard time of thinking of things to write.  Just being honest.  Writing purely about food seems so boring, and so I don't do it.  Sharing all the details of my life, well, that isn't going to happen.  It has to be a balance.  Food, life, love, observations...  Food blogging is one of those things that isn't an exact science.  What works for some doesn't work for others.  I don't know the secret formula.  But maybe you do... and that is one of the many beautiful things about blogging.  I can ask you, whether or not I have ever met you in person.  So please, tell me, how do you find that balance?

PS -- Edamame hummus.  It's good, really good.  And easy.  Try it!



  • 1 cup thawed edamame (not in the shell)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt, to taste
  • "Unprocessed" pita bread, for serving  **I got my pita from Trader Joe's -- meaning it really came from the local bakery.  No preservatives, no colorings, unbleached flour... "safe" for October Unprocessed

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients.  Blend until creamy.  Add more olive oil, tahini, or lemon juice if needed. 
  2. Serve with pita chips (pita bread cut into triangular eighths, brushed with olive oil and salt, baked for 12 minutes at 400 degrees).  
COST: $4.47        COST PER SERVING (6): $0.56

Unprocessed    //    30 Min or Less    //   Vegan

Friday, October 4, 2013

Apple-Cider Cheese Fondue

Everybody's into seasonal things these days.  It seems like every year there are more and more expectations about what we should do, wear, eat during each new season.  Or maybe this is nothing new.  Maybe I just missed the memo while I was busy playing at the beach year round.  And maybe I am just noticing it more today because, well, we are more share-y and connecty these days.  (I would like those words to be adjectives, so I made them so.  I am sorry to all of you language buffs out there!)

Either way, I have clearly been missing out.  I mean, besides Christmas and Easter, 4th of July and Thanksgiving, there have never been special foods around me, nor was I aware that you are supposed to change every pillow in your house each tilt of the earth.

Ok, for the food part I was missing out.  The whole super-decoration thing?  Yeah... I have Christmas pillows and I have every-other-time-of-the-year pillows.  I think I will stick with that.

But the other thing I have been missing out on?  Fall activities.

DUDE.  Apple picking is the bomb.  And corn mazes?  Well, I can't tell you much about them as I have never done one, but I imagine it is pretty cool, too.  I will let you know when I find out.  And I will find out this year.

I had two thoughts while I was picking our apples: "Why haven't we done this before???" (as the orchard is pretty close to our house) and "I am so grateful for those who do this for me everyday!" (as it is fun for an hour, but I cannot imagine being out there all day long, everyday.  My gratitude goes out to all the farmers and field workers who do this for us.)

When I came home I had some different thoughts: "What am I going to do with all of these apples?"

Well, I've figured out one thing... apple cider cheese fondue!

I would have never thought of mixing cheese and apple.  Chocolate?  Yes, most definitely.  Caramel?  Peanut butter?  Of course!  But cheese?

Yet it works.  And it is simple.

A cup of cider, a bunch of cheese, a little bit of corn starch, and a dash on nutmeg.  Five minutes from start to finish, and a perfect afternoon snack during this season that we are enjoying.  Or pretending to enjoy, as it is a nice 84 degrees outside, no humidity in the air.

Ok, so I may have missed out on some things living in California, but pleasant weather is not one of them...

From Rachael Ray Everyday, October 2013


  • 1 cup cider
  • 8 ounces yellow cheddar, shredded
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • sliced apples, for serving

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the cider to a simmer over medium heat. In a medium bowl, toss the cheeses with the cornstarch. Gradually stir the cheese mixture into the cider until melted and smooth. Add nutmeg to taste. Transfer to a fondue pot. Serve with sliced apples.

COST: $6.34        COST PER SERVING (6): $1.06

Gluten Free    //    30 Min or Less    //   Vegetarian
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