Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Weekend in Rio (part 1)

This last weekend we had so much fun in the City of Rio that I thought you might enjoy remembering it with us. When we were staying in the city more often, we tended to do just what we do here in the mountains on a weekend, go to the gym, eat, and watch TV. Now that we are trying to go into the city every other weekend or so, to see family and friends, and by making plans in advance we ended up with a very good time.
Friday we drove the car in - this in itself is a change, we usually take the bus. Camillo likes the bus and I like to drive. Our 'difference' in age showing I suspect. Friday night we had dinner with Paulo and Lenira at D'Amici's in Copacabana (Leme). It was raining, we had to take a taxi (dry law) because we all planned on enjoying wine with dinner and the restaurant is somewhat overpriced (pretentious) [we have a little mental formula for value vs. price that includes quality of food (good not excellent), price of wine (way out of line), service (below good) and general ambiance (very nice - a little crowed for the prices)]. Despite other factors, we had a great time because, 1) we went to have a great time and 2) we love this couple - they are well read and Paulo especially has many OPINIONS! so discussions are HOT! (guess what, I also have opinions!) Lenira and Camillo generally just sit back and watch the fireworks show. This week's debate - education in Brazil - I have a more ground roots outlook and Paulo has a more top down approach. I think teacher education and classroom resources should be improved, and he thinks that the suggested program to give teachers a laptop so they can communicate with other teachers in Brazil is a good idea. This debate was from polar opposites you would have enjoyed it. I still wonder how a laptop in the outer areas helps when often there is no electricity (being changed rapidly) often no telephones (more cell phones than land lines available) and definitely limited areas of Internet connection. See I am still arguing.

Protecting the birds

In my prior blog, I talked about the birds flying into our large upper window. Tracy posted a comment which I felt important enough to put into the main body of the blog for those of you who may not read comments. Please take the time to read the referenced article. Thank you Tracy! - GingerV

Anonymous said...
Hi Ginger, Sorry to hear about the birds mistaking your windows for a thoroughfare. One thing that I've seen a lot here in California is to place reflectors on the windows. These reflectors are in the shape of birds. Here's a wonderful article by
Partners In Flight on the topic:
Boa Sorte! Tracy

Monday, July 21, 2008

Unintended Consequences

This phrase can be applied to many circumstances. For example, laws drawn by politicians with good intentions (or not) attempting to solve a social problem only to create havoc of untold proportion in another area or to another group. We find ourselves innocent of the intention to do harm and still have unintended consequences.
Over 20 years ago Camillo designed and built our house near Nova Friburgo in a Swiss/Italian style. He designed in a large window that was to bring in sunlight, sky and create some heat inside the house. It lights the loft area during the day and brings us unmeasurable pleasure when the moon rises above the house and when the clouds turn pink or yellow with the sunset.
But now that we basically live up here year round we have found that while we enjoy the light and the view, small birds see our reflected view as part of their domain and when doing their evening insect hunts, crash into the window going supersonic speeds. Generally they fall to the veranda, sit in stunned silence for 30 - 45 minutes, shake their heads in confusion, then fly off with a huge headache (I am sure) to find their families. And occasionally, usually the hummingbirds, don't make it - we have to scoop them up with deep regret.
We've thought about it but can find no solutions to this problem (aside from removing the window and putting in wood which would be costly and possibly ruin the structural integrity of the house), we have to just live with the unintended consequences of the damage we do to our bird-friends from the local forest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Brazilian Cooking

Rosemary found this video on the internet - maybe it will be out next experiment.
Fish Muqueca - Click here for the most popular videos

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New friends

Meet Sisi and Antonio. (testing their
Caipirinhas, and Sisi with Camillo) They are newly arrived in Brazil and to Rio. He is Italian and she is Chinese. They met while he was on assignment in China and have now been to many countries to live. She puts me to shame. They have been here less than 2 months and she can already talk with the taxi drivers, in the restaurants and to anyone else who will listen to her. They like to eat good food and drink fine wines so they will fit in our wide circle of Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, and American friends. And being younger and full of excitement about being in Rio, we look forward to having them generate plenty of energy to make us get up and out. We will re-see Rio through their new eager eyes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bobô de Camerão - one year later

On June 17 & 29, 2007 I wrote about Bobô de Camerão, my experience eating it and RioRose and my experience trying to cook it. I explained how the recipe that we posted did not work well and promised that we would take a lesson on cooking this shrimp dish - and pass along the results. We had to wait a year but finally arranged to have a lesson. [I have to be honest - Rosemary and Abel were unable to get up here from Rio in time to stand in on the shopping and cooking lesson but did get here in time to taste all the goodies.] With this effort we served 8 people. The lesson was given by Terazinha, our neighbor in Stucky and a transplanted Carioca. Friday afternoon Terazinha took Camillo and me to a vegetable market in Friburgo that was the 'tops'. I have been shopping in Friburgo for 5 years, the town isn't that big and I didn't know this market existed. Then we went to a fish market - we ended up buying the shrimp, some Trilha (don't know what this is in English), octopus, red fish, and salmon. (For future meals to be cooked by Terazinha - she promised!)
Saturday morning we started the cooking at 11:00 for a 1:30 lunch. Terazinha says, "this is not a scientific experiment but something cooked from the heart." You have to remember that she speaks 99% Portuguese and I speak 95% English and this is what I understood - so no complaints! This was a pre-qualifier because she didn't measure anything.... Except for the shrimp, all the amounts are my estimates from seeing when she added them together
The ingredients she used was basically the same as the recipe posted on June 17, 2007. Shrimp, (500 gm per person w/Heads) manioc root (about 2 Kilo), red peppers (2 cups diced), onion (one cup finely diced, green onion (1/2 cup) ), tomatoes (=- 2 cups), garlic (2-3 cloves, finely diced), cilantro (1/2 cup), celery leaves (some), coconut milk (1 1/2 200ml bottles), dende oil (3-5 Tbls), salt to taste (2-3 teaspoons). It is useful to clean/chop/dice and otherwise prepare before starting to cook.
Peel and cut the Manioc and put in a pan with cold water ("no salt - do not add salt to anything until adding 'to taste' at the end") boil until tender (Just like you would for mashed potatoes), drain remove (stem) fiber from center of pieces - mash, set aside.
In the States I have never seen shrimp sold with heads, etc. but maybe can be found the Chinese or Vietnamese markets. In Brazil, you buy with heads, tails, skins - the whole shrimp. For this dish you buy 500 gr per person, then have them cleaned in the fish store - no need to be macho here, just let someone else clean your shrimp, and bag all the goodies to take home with you to cook the 'caldo de Camerão' 'shrimp soup' or 'broth', for use in the Bobô. The 'Shrimp soup' - in large pan put heads et al, cold water up to where you can see it around the shrimp parts, add cilantro , tops of green onion and celery stalk and tops. Bring to gentle boil, boil about 40 minutes, drain 'soup' into separate bowl, set aside and discard shrimp parts (I am trying to be sensitive here for any Expats that may be reading this - but get over it! - the results are really good). While the manioc root and shrimp soup are cooking, put a small amount of oil in a large, heavy skillet, use just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, turn heat down and add onion and garlic saute on low heat until clear, but not darkened. add peppers continue to stir, add tomato pieces - stir constantly until all are tender - then stir in about 2 tablespoons of Dende oil, [you'll love this] add 'mais or menos' 100 ml or 1/2 bottle of unsweetened coco milk. From here on you really need a helper because while this is being stirred constantly you need to puree the manioc root.
Put small amounts of root in the blender with several ladles of shrimp broth. Puree, then add more root and more broth as needed until all the manioc is pureed. (this should be the consistency of whipped potatoes but will be stickier)
Combine sauteed vegetable mixture and shrimp in a large pan and heat until shrimp becomes pink. "this is very important" About 8 minutes - DO NOT overcook or they become tough -
Put the pureed manioc root into ANOTHER large pan, add about 5 ladles of shrimp broth and the 2nd half (100 ml) of the bottle of coco milk - Salt to taste....(?)(+- 2 teaspoons) ... stir continually until well heated adding more shrimp broth as needed one ladle at a time. Add more salt to taste - again 1-2 teaspoons and another 1/2 bottle of coco milk and a touch of dende (another tablespoon?). This mixture should stay the consistency of cake mix - sheeting from spoon --- not clumpy (I know what this means I hope you do!)
When ready to serve, add shrimp mixture to manioc mixture and re-heat adding a bit of shrimp broth if needed to keep that 'cake mix' consistency. Serve in large heated bowls with rice - ADD a nice white wine AND GOOD FRIENDS! (a notation - I made a green apple crisp for desert and it went over quite well) I HOPE I DIDN'T miss anything important.