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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cooking in the Kitchen

I don't know what I will use for a photo in this entry but maybe I'll be inspired by the time I get to the end.   Coming up in April 2010 I will have been in Brazil for 7 years.  Can you believe it?   In a movie we were watching a couple nights ago the main character, a prisoner in prison for a crime he didn't commit ( of course) said, 'each day seems to drag by then you realized 15 years have passed.' I understood exactly what he was saying. Time in the moment moves slow, time over time zaps by leaving me flabbergasted at what I haven't done, about how did my body get so old.
Boy did I get off topic....   So I have been here 7 years. It is hard for a person who has always lived in the same town, the same State, or even the same Country to know how different just the day to day things are when you live in a new Country. Just an example - here powdered cinnamon is 'Canela oa China em ' and basil is manjericão, and those are the easy things.
I have been striving (finally) to expand the type of meal I cook here. Tired of chicken and, well, chicken and fish. I had Camillo take me to a butcher shop and we decided on several different meat types. Meat here is very lean, and the names of the cuts not recognizable. First I did leg of lamb. Camillo thought it great but hated the mess I made in the kitchen. No pan with rack so I cooked it on the oven's rack with a drip pan underneath.....(when I cook he cleans up, when he cooks I clean up). Even with the mess it was so good we went back for more. (meats)
I came away with what they called (translated) an American roast. Not all stories can be a success. This ended up being a very thin piece of dry meat wrapped around a SAUSAGE! Camillo great and supportive husband that he is, ate it with gusto.... but was pretty bad.
Lesson learned:  never buy what they call TIPO (type) Americano or Italiano.….anything. is not what you expect.  It is something someone imagines to be American or Italian but I suspect they have never been further than their mother's back door.
I have done Salmon with honey mustard marinade - Salmon is good here, and this was delicious and now am trying pork chops, which tend to be dry, very dry with no marbling of fat, using the same marinate. In just a few minutes I will put it in the oven and bake them. Am going to add a side of risotto with fresh mushrooms......
I am willing to listen to any and all suggestions. Remember that recipes that call for specifics, like cream by your local Farmer or like sour cream which I have never found here, might be difficult for me to find equivalents and I do not have fancy pans and can not get them without waiting for a trip to the USA. But give me your ideas or what you have learned - and we will see.


  1. I have had luck with recipes from Jamie Oliver's website (if you google it, he'll come up). He cooks with fresh ingredients, not much packaged stuff.

    For meats, I do my pork chops much the same way. I did bring over my crock pot and use it for most beef besides ground. Did you bring one with you? Or do you use a pressure cooker?

    If I think of specific recipes/ideas, I'll come back or email you. I know too well the challenges you face! One trick -- ask the butcher. I make them my friends, and ask them for recipes: 'How do I cook this meat?" (same for the veggies and fruits, ask the vendors).

  2. I just love your stories. Keep them coming!

  3. Ginger, I didn't realize there were so many challenges facing you. I guess we take something as simple as cooking with certain types of pots and pans for granted. It must be quite frustrating.

    I hope you can get all the things you need soon. does that country not have the pots/pans you need or is there some other reason you don't have them?

    If I think of any recipes that are simple I will send them along to you.

  4. Heather I will check out that web site. thanks. of course you ask the butcher, and in my case the wife is also there. never even considered it! I've been cooking for nearly 50 years don't like to think I have to ask.

    Jarie Lynn, I have bought some pan here just that if of any quality they are so expensive and for some reason have never had a pan with rack, now that I think of it have never cook a leg of lamb, just lamb chops on the grill. Next time in Houston (in the spring) will buy one and bring it back. Being in a foreign country is a constant challeng - read my culture shock labels.

  5. Dear Ginger,

    Sour Cream is very popular in Sao Paulo, in Brazil you have to ask for "Qualhada Seca", I am sure you will be able to find it in your town.

    Take care


  6. Ray - I have ask this before and never got an answer. THANK YOU!

  7. Ginger -- I Soooooo get the dilemma of going to the butcher and not recognizing anything. The fish monger as well!

    I mostly let Luiz cook the meats - but it is generally too fatty for me (all the added oil). And when his mother cooks -- you could swim in the oil/grease! urgh!

    The stone pots are great for slow cooking. My mother used to cross a few forks on the bottom of the pot to keep the meat up a bit.

    I thought I had a good "Comida Minas" blog in my favorites but I can't find it. They know their meats!

    The morning TV shows (Mais Vocé and Hoje em Dia) sometimes reveal a secret. And all their recipes are on their websites.

    But there's no taste like home...

  8. Ginger, I found that food blog. The author lives in São Paulo, so you can read it in English or Portuguese.

    While São Paulo certainly has more cooking ingredients than either Nova Friburgo or Rio, these recipies will at least hover around available ingredients. AND they will more likely appeal to a Brazilian palate (folks here can sometimes be so persnickety this way).

    Check it out: http://www.technicolorkitcheninenglish.blogspot.com/

    Click on the "Savory Days" link at the top to cut through all the (delicious) sweets.

    Also - I have a friend visiting for the holidays. Would you like me to have him bring a roasting rack? For example: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=11340245&RN=788

    Let me know. It will give us an excuse to get together. =8^)