Saturday, February 26, 2011

Skype Saturday: Cooking Edition

I'm on a very healthy bent at the moment. I am frequently using my Bar Method DVD (which I adore, by the way), doing some combination of walking/jogging a 5km almost every day, and swimming twice a week. Moreover, I'm eating well. Part damage control from my utter whim-indulgence in Chicago, part summery weather, part just getting older I guess; I feel like taking care of myself.

The last three Saturday mornings I've walked to the Vila Madalena fruit and vegetable market. It's the same one I brought Flat Lizzie to.

Saturday's Score:
  • 2 bunches of arugula
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 6 farm fresh eggs
  • 1 kg black beans
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 3 eggplants
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 4 mangos
  • 8 oranges
  • 8 plums
Total: R$40 (about $25)

My take prompted two questions.
What am I going to do with the eggplant (which I've never purchased in my life)?
What can I make with lots of mmmmm coentro (cilantro)?

I started glancing through my Betty Crocker cookbook and found a recipe for Ratatouille. Feito.

I called cousin Beth on Skype to share the new Aventura na Cozinha with her. As she had to bake a coffee cake for Sunday Brunch, our video chat turned into a virtual cooking show (with the entertaining twist of being hosted by at least one inept chef)!

The second item on my menu was the feijoada in the slow cooker. I was delighted to find a recipe online: throw black beans, garlic, bay leaves, a few smoked ribs on the bone in, and, much later, a sauté mixture of spicy sausage, parsley and onion. It took way longer to cook than the recipe indicated, but it was tasty.

One nice thing about cooking is that the "rules" are malleable. Of course, as in life itself, when you fudge a little, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The third dish was Uncle Greg's Salsa--for which I had to improvise a bit. I subbed a can of italian cherry tomatoes and a teaspoon of crushed red pepper paste for the Rotel tomato and green chilies but it left much to be desired.

I have an extremely adverse eye reaction to onion-chopping. After the tearful salsa prep, I decided to grate the onion for the ratatouille. Much easier, much less tearful, and my ratatouille was divine.

I have accumulated a nice little selection of spices from the street market too. I need some spice jars. I almost bought this set...

...because...well, I like the kinda-crooked text "beau tiful home" at the top. But what really got me was the jar for "gheen pepper." Ha! Unfortunately I don't keep many of these, particularly powdered ginger or gheen pepper, around the house. I resisted temptation, as my practical side overruled my entertainment side.

Enfim. Bom apetit!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Keep Walking

I'm a big fan of walking. More specifically, of wandering, as you might have noticed. I am also a big fan of maps. I rarely take one with me, but I try to get my bearings before I head out. Or not.

Anyway, in my last apartment I had this huge map of São Paulo on the wall.

Yes, those are concentric circles drawn in pencil to show 1/2km, 1km, and 1 1/2km distances from my apartment, to give me an idea of walking time. So???

Unfortunately, because that was two paper maps taped together and extra-taped to the wall, it wasn't possible to move it to the new place. I have another map up now, but I confess it's not nearly as big/good/exciting as the last.

Back to walking.

Johnnie Walker is a hot brand here. It's a status symbol. And their simple slogan, "Keep Walking" is easy enough for almost any non-English speaker to understand. (As we've covered, peppering English--into speech, advertisements, music, etc.--creates something of it's own status.)

In my meandering, I spotted this clever defacement of property. Go ahead, click to embiggen.

Here's another one I liked.

Fun! I hope to find more, out and about.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meanwhile, back in Sampa...

After landing on the 6th, if you can believe it, more overpacked days awaited.

The next morning, delightfully sunny, I looked at an apartment. I had been in e-mail negotiations for this specific place since mid-December, but it was just one of three I was supposed to see. Frankly, it was the favored option. A one bedroom in the same neighborhood as I had been living, it would afforded me the luxury of living alone again. (Me affording it is the tricky part! Cough!) The other options, while well-located, came with new friends. I love new friends, but I have a lot of goals to achieve in the coming months. What's more, there are lots of perks: a garage space, and extra 1/2 bath, and a nice teaching space to increase my at-home business options; free laundry downstairs, with a dryer--an exceptional selling point!; a small pool and sun deck out back; a sauna; and a BBQ/party room.

So I went for a "welcome back to the sunshine" açai smoothie and to sit for yet another pro/con debate with myself.

I might have been swayed by that delicious açai, in my favorite little supermarket that happens to be just down the block from said apartment. Oh, Quitanda, you temptress.

Dona Vitamina, the cute café on the first floor of Quitanda, serving fresh fruit juices, smoothies, veggie wraps, salads, and sandwiches--and a nice, strong cup of Lavazza.

Ridiculously, I am enamored with a supermarket.

You can likely guess that I didn't ponder long. That evening, without ever seeing Options B and C, I began moving my things--suitcase by suitcase. For the next several days I was very busy with moving, arranging, cleaning, changing accounts, installations, minor repairs, and the like. It's been one week and everything is almost 100% in its place.

Last Tuesday's açai. This time "na tigela," that is, a more ice-cream-like version, served in a bowl with granola and banana.

This week, I had lunch in the mezzanine restaurant with a friend: a healthy, produce-filled buffet for a great price (by Sampa standards). Uma delícia!

Oh, my new apartment has one more feature that was on my wishlist: I have a nice little balcony where I sit nightly and enjoy the evening breeze.

For all the uncertainty, I feel very pleased with the end result. Happiness. Pure happiness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hotchee Doggees and Milkee-Shakees

Heading out of São Paulo's bus terminal en route to Rio at New Years, I spotted this:

1. Mmm, I don't think so.

2. I'm sorry! We only had one bit and we didn't expect such a rush!
[You earn 10 bonus points if you got that.]

I also saw this hot dog stand:

As a matter of pronunciation, Brazilians like to add long E's to the end of English words that end in consonants. So hot dog becomes hotchee doggee, iPod becomes iPawdgee, Pink Floyd is Pinkee Floydgee, and Rock & Roll, with the added conundrum of the letter R at the beginning, becomes Hockey Holey.

I never heard a Brazilian referring to a hotchee doggee as a "frank," so I was impressed by the superior colloquial English knowledge of this vendor. Or perhaps it's common usage and I just never connected the word frahnkees to the food.

Hot Dogs seemed to be a Transit Theme though, because I snapped these signs at O'Hare.

Right on, Ike.

? I think they forgot the rest of the quote. Whatever.

Normally, playing by the same rules, a milk shake is actually a milkee shakee--which my friend Thiera got miles of laughter from when she was here.

Unless, of course, it's a milkee froozen.

Try it! It's new!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bus Stop Entertainment

I saw this advertisement on a bus stop in Chicago and, naturally, had to go back to snap a photo.

At first, I didn't get it.
When I did, I busted out laughing and promptly reported the sighting to my friends.

Go ahead, click on it to zoom and take a better look.

If you're not from Chicago, here's a hint.

And here's another. Ahhh, still makes me laugh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jimmy vs. Thundersnow

Catching up on my delinquent posting seems a rather daunting task at the moment but, Vamo lá! (Let's go!)

From my last post until February 5, I was, simply, really freaking busy--so there's not much to tell. Except, there was that wicked, weird "Thundersnowstorm" on the 1st! It started off entertainingly enough...


At the office, Jimmy and I were having a good laugh about it. Apparently, a few people lost their traction on the ice and were, quite literally, blown down the sidewalk!

I never heard of thundersnow. I'm not sure the term existed before. It made news around the world, and I'm not surprised. A half-meter of snow, 100 kpm winds, with thunder and lightning? Certainly it was the craziest storm I've seen in my lifetime. My (noteably long) taxi ride from the office to the apartment, right in the thick of the madness was nothing less than surreal. As my driver aptly put it: "It's like The Day After Tomorrow!"

Though it was hard to capture with my poor-quality camera and the almost white-out conditions, here's a shot of a few of the 900-some-odd cars that were stuck on Lake Shore Drive all night long.

Madness, I tell you.

Then there was the vehicle stuck in the middle of Winthrop, the one-way street I was living on. Yeah, that giant white snow mound in the middle is a car.

Defeated by the accumulating inches, the driver obviously jumped ship at some point and it was two days before someone got a backhoe in there to dig it out so it could be towed and the street, plowed.
There was a lot of snow.

Everybody stayed home on the 2nd and the snow stopped falling in the afternoon. I took this picture of the sky the next morning to make one point: when the sky is this clear and colors are sharp in a Chicago winter it can only mean one thing--it's really bleeping cold outside.

The airports all over the country were a mess for days. Lucky for me, though, I left as scheduled on Saturday. Not a moment too soon.

Now I'm back in sunny Sampa, enjoying the summer. Sadly, it officially ends here next weekend, and the clocks go back an hour. Bummer.