Friday, July 27, 2012

Cast Iron vs Clay Pots

I cut my teeth in cooking while living in a vegetarian hippy dippy housing cooperative during college. (GREAT time!)

There we had many, many cast iron pots and pans. Veggie stews were cooked in a cast iron pot with a lid. Pancakes were cooked off on a cast iron skillet. Our rice (brown, of course) was cooked in a smaller pot.

I learned to clean these pans, not with dish detergent, but with salt (to scrub) and sometimes some vinegar (there was very little [but some] oil in this style of cooking). The idea was that if you used dish detergent it would bond with the seasoned pot and appear again in your next dish - yuck.

Also, we NEVER put soap in our coffee pots. Just ice water, scrubbing, and a vinegar bath followed by a good rinse. Same reason.

Now I am cooking, here in Brazil, with seasoned clay and stone pots. It seems logical to me to carry forward the same thinking. Avoid the detergent.

But tell that to a Brazilian. At least in our area, people would not THINK of cleaning a pot without copious amounts of detergent.

I always cringe at the idea of putting dish detergent in a seasoned pot, but, you can't push the river. It will be, here, what it is. Jim does not have a say. (But I do protect my coffee pot!)

Furthermore - most of the things we cook in these pots are either rice or seafood - not that much oil to clean up after. No matter.

Oh well. Maybe I am just getting used to the slight soapy after taste...

All things considered - I prefer clay and stone pots.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Favela facination

Wow - just looking at my blog stats it is clear that anything with the word "favela" gets hundreds more page views.

Tip: if you want more traffic on your blog, use the word favela.

For me, I am just grateful that my friend Zezinho is experiencing success with his proudful neighborhood tours in Rocinhia. He is a master, adorable embassador - and the community always shines.

What is the facination with poor communities? The folks are the same. The restaurants are (practically) the same. The beauty shops are the same. The hardware stores are the same. The absense of police patrolling is the same. Mothers calling out to their children is the same. Dogs nuzzling around in trash is the same.

But somehow people have a curiosity about poor communities (favelas). Well, I suppose that is a good thing for Zé - who provides informative and heartfelt tours of his neighborhood (recommended).

If you go - be sure to spend some money in the community. Buy lunch, buy a beer or two, get your nails done, buy a shirt, eat a snack, pay a moto-boy to take you on a fast adventure -- just leave some of your money in the community.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Luiz in the outdoors

Tomorrow Luiz leaves for a three day hike from Teresopolis to Petropolis with his friends from school.

These are two beautiful mountain towns just outside of Rio. It is a very eco-centered area - water falls, hiking trails, clean air...

He has purchased a VERY COOL sleeping bag (arms and legs stitched separately - like a moon suit!) and he is prepared with nutritional bars to keep his energy up for the long walk (including my - made with love - chocolate chip cookies).

We are hoping for the best, weather-wise. But he is preparing for less favorable conditions.
Should be great!

I will stay home and try to fix some of the difficulties associated with home ownership. hahaha

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Frozen fish at the market

One of the best - bestest - features of Niterói is the fresh fish market. Plus there are fish markets set up in street markets - twice a week in our neighborhood.

The flip side of the coin is that frozen seafood in the grocery store is NEVER vaccum shrink-wrapped. It is all cristalized - freezer burned and tastless.

C'mon Brazil - you have fabulous seafood - why is it not packaged appropriatley?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brazilian view

My mother-in-law says she and her husband bought this apartment (now our apartment) specifically because there is a huge green space across the street from the front verandinha. It’s a giant rock with green growth – complete with lots of birds.

Works for me.

The view out our window is quite natural, and we do not have to suffer another urban apartment building.
(wishing I could provide a photo - but the camera continues to confound me…)

The ever-growing monster f*cking things up is the restaurant at the base of this beautiful green hill which is thriving and expanding. Can you say NOISE!? At least they seem to have retired their pizza delivery service – those motorcycle delivery boys were LOUD outside our window! – plus cigarette smoke!

But each morning the view is wonderful (and quiet) – with the cute pair of vulcher birds flying together. Mangoes drip from the trees – and there is a huge avocado tree. Green is so much better than another apartment building!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Making white clothes white

Today I am doing the laundry. We are pretty old school here - not fancy chic living. We have no hot water in our house - no hot water at the kitchen sink -- no hot water at the bathroom sink.  We DO have hot water from the shower b/c the showerhead is a water heater.

Anyway - this is all to say that washing clothes - especially whites - is less than effective. Even with bleach (lots of soaking - a load takes nearly 2 hours). I suppose I could boil water on the stove and add it to the washing maching -- but really -- how hard do you have to work!

Just trying to have clean clothes!