This is a little awkward, the last recipe I posted was in February. I almost feel like a stranger on my own blog. Long time no see blog! The reason why I haven’t been posting lately is that I have been pretty overwhelmed with work. In fact I was traveling last week for a study on small-farmer Peruvian coffee cooperatives that produce and export organic and fair trade coffee to the US. Hey, maybe you’re sipping on a cup of freshly brewed Green Mountain coffee right now? Well I met some of your suppliers! Our objective was to study how connecting coffee smallholder farmers to international markets produced positive socio-economic impacts in the region and for the farmers of the cooperatives. Amazing experience in an absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking region (San Ignacio, Peru) named one of the best in the world for coffee; and for the first time in my life, I participated in a coffee-tasting. It’s kind of like wine-tasting, and believe me it’s serious business. They do it in a lab and test everything from aroma to flavor, uniformity, body. And you got to love the vocabulary of any specialty product-tasting profession when they discuss the results of each sample. Me: “slurp. Hmmm, wow, that’s some tasty coffee, batch number two seems stronger than batch number one, wouldn’t you say?”. The lab tester: “you’re right, batch number two was a little syrupy, with notes of aromatic cinnamon in cup, along with hints of mandarine acidity and quite lively on the palate”. Me: “…………yes, totally what I meant”.
I had an interesting experience today. My yoga instructor and his wife invited me to spend the day with them and their kids. We went on a lovely hike in Otuzco, about twenty minutes outside of Cajamarca where there are beautiful ruins, a river and a couple of farms, and then back to their house for lunch. They are vegetarians. While I have nothing but profound respect for anyone’s dietary preferences and choices, vegetarianism is always problematic given my own diet choices. Case in point: on the menu – whole wheat soup, peppers stuffed with rice, sweet potatoes, corn cobs and fruit, homemade mango ice-cream and quinoa-oatmeal cookies for dessert. A seemingly perfectly healthy lunch, but the total absence of fat or protein and the abundance of carb-dense vegetables and grains took me aback. In fact, 100% of the food on the plate was carbs, and what’s more, I completely forgot that this is what almost all of my meals used to look like before. Aside from the wheat soup and cookies, I ate everything else. I steer clear of gluten as a non-negotiable principle because even very small amounts can prevent your gut lining from repairing and keep your symptoms going. But on the other hand, I’m at a place where I feel that my digestive health is good and I have a pretty squeaky clean paleo lifestyle the rest of the time that I don’t need to freak out about the occasional small portion of grains, sugar or dairy as much as I used to. There are moments when it just seems senseless to reject delicious food that people have prepared for you because you follow a grain-free diet, and one carb-dense vegetarian meal with whole grains will not kill you or “screw up” everything you’ve been following. I can completely feel the effects of eating a bit of rice and milk ice-cream on my body though, which confirms that this can only be on an exceptional basis. My stomach has not been in a happy place all afternoon, rumbling, struggling and grumbling and trying to recognize how the hell all this rice got here. It’s ok, it was a delightful day, and I realized I’m almost never around children so this was a pleasant change of routine. Continue reading
It’s the end of the year, so I thought I’d provide a recipe that’s a little more festive-looking: a delicious pork tenderloin prepared on the stovetop and in the oven served with juicy balsamic roasted figs and a generous sprinkle of thyme. Sounds scrumptious and fancy right? Well let me just say it right now, it’s easy as pie and requires very little effort, it could even easily be prepared as a weeknight meal. But it’s impressive and so tasty that you can also put it on a New Year’s Eve menu if you’re looking for a recipe that’s effortless and will surprise your guests. This time of year always makes me pause a little to reflect on past events and future endeavors. So before I get to the recipe, I figured I’d share some of my thoughts with you (and a small announcement of where I’m headed in 2014). Continue reading
It’s already the end of the year and I can’t frickin believe it! One year ago, though it seems like yesterday, I was starting research for my thesis here with gleaming eyes and high aspirations as I took my first steps in the unknown yet exciting world of academic research. I wanted to write a paper that would change the world and uncover some kind of shattering truth (as it so often happens when you study smallholder agriculture right?), go on the field and bring back ground-breaking data, roll up my sleeves and argue with top researchers, basically do all those crazy things that hot, glamorous academic scholars do. Twelve strenuous months later, the only ground-breaking truth I discovered is that probably no-one will have the slightest interest in reading 200 pages on how to create commitment in buyer-supplier relationships linking private multinationals to smallholder farmers in Brazil (I know, crazy!) and the only arguing I saw was a tepid discussion on the premises of game theory between a Danish scholar and an Argentinean economist. I also discovered the less than glamorous reality of “no-that-person-that-you-emailed-three-weeks-ago-and-who-is-a-key-informant-for-your-topic-does-not-give-a-rat’s-ass-about-your-research” and “it’s-been-a-month-since-you’ve-submitted-it-and-your-advisor-still-hasn’t-opened-your-thesis”. After all of that, and loving almost every second of it regardless, I am proud to say that I have finished my thesis, submitted it, defended it and been approved. Yay! I’m officially done with my master’s and it’s as much a relief as it is scary. There are so many things happening and changes coming, and I can’t wait to tell you about them, but I need to leave some suspense for future posts. Continue reading
Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t posted in forever… well, it’s *only* been 10 days. This is how I know I’m completely hooked on blogging. Life is just not as sweet without it. But I’ve been crazy busy with some very exciting work projects lately, and as a result I have completely and utterly abandoned the kitchen. I barely even know what’s in the fridge these days and have been eating sardines and almond butter for dinner since Sunday. Gasp. It’s completely disorienting. I feel bad, I haven’t even had time to make Freddy a breakfast bread like I usually do every week and he’s one day away from falling back into the comforting arms of gluten.
So I’m here to make amends, with a post I’ve been meaning to write up for a long time now on the quintessential ingredients and foods of Brazil – the Must-tries if you will -, and depending on my inspiration, I might make it a monthly series. So let’s talk about Brazilian gastronomy a little. After a year and a half or so of living here, I have got a pretty good vibe of what the customs around food are here and what the typical ingredients are. Here’s the top 5 of foods and ingredients you just cannot miss on if you are in Brazil or just want to have some fun trying out Brazilian gastronomy. Continue reading
Yummers. Crusty on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth tender meat on the inside, you can’t go more right with this cooking technique for pork chops. Pair them with this delightful Sweet Apple Cabbage Salad and braise it all in the oven, and you have yourself a very satisfying, healthy and beautiful (don’t forget beautiful!) dinner.
Before I start rambling, don’t forget to go like my Facebook page and stay connected with me on Pinterest if you like the content of this blog and want to receive updates on what’s cooking around here! I have a couple Latino and South American cuisine recipes in the works for the month of November that I think you’ll like! Stay tuned for that. Continue reading
This recipe confirms the theory that the simpler the recipe, the more delicious. I threw this casserole together with what I had on hand the other night without imagining I could make a blog post out of this recipe, but it hit such a big home run and was so I-can’t-believe-my-tastebuds amazing that I photographed what was leftover to publish the recipe. Continue reading
Sometimes, food is like art, and cooking like painting it. Beautiful, colorful, meditative. You assemble your material, take out your cutting board and knife, chop your vegetables one by one in a repeated, patient, practiced gesture, select the spices, herbs and condiments that will allow for the flavors to burst and intertwine. And with perfect synchronicity, you then turn up the heat, drizzle the olive oil, stir in the onions, then the vegetables one by one, let it smoke, sprinkle some salt, crack in some pepper, bring it back to a slow simmer, take a few risks, contemplate with satisfaction as your ingredients sizzle in the hot oil, release their wonderful flavors and come together in the most beautiful of meals. Every time I cook something, I look at it and think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve made. Until the next meal comes around of course. Continue reading
One of my favorite restaurants to eat here is a little family Chinese joint, a sort of tiny hole in a wall with no name in the middle of São Paulo’s Asian neighborhood, where almost none of the owners speak Portuguese and they barely understand us when we order something. We happened to stumble upon it one evening with my roommate while shopping in the neighborhood and we were drawn in by the familial and chattery atmosphere we saw inside with large families of ten or more people sharing food around big round tables. I love the concept of ordering plates for the entire table to share rather than individual dishes, it reminds me of when I went to India and Singapore and I always find that those types of meals are so much friendlier. The tables have a big revolving plate in the center where you put all the food and you can just turn it to help yourself to whatever food you want instead of sprawling yourself across the table to reach for a dish. So clever. You make the food come to you. Plus it feels all fancy, just turn the plate and you have a big bowl of food that humbly presents itself under your eyes. I’m thinking of getting one of those for my house. Continue reading
Have I mentioned how cheap meat is in Brazil? Like, ridiculously, and even almost suspiciously cheap. Suspiciously in the sense of, “am I sure I’m not buying a piece of meat that’s one week old and has been dropped on the floor a couple of times at this price?”. Did I mention it’s also grass-fed, because all cows in Brazil graze happily about in big open pastures? I know, I am living in the dream country of every paleo follower on a budget. To give you an idea, 1 kg of ground beef costs around…wait for it… less than 3€, with this wonderful exchange rate that we’ve been having lately. That’s about 3.8 USD. I know! Protein for everybody! It’s funny how chicken and turkey have almost become pricey sources of protein next to all this super affordable red carne. Or maybe it’s just because I am tempted to leap more often for the super-duper prime steak and have left the everyday old chicken for more boring meals. I take that back, chicken is never old or boring, we love our chicken too. Continue reading