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This week…

I have been meaning to blog, but every night, I go to bed thinking… oh darn…. didn’t blog today. Somehow, the days have just filled themselves up.
At the start of the week, I was having a discussion with a friend on English and vocabulary. I showed her a recipe for a simply divine lemon sorbet I had found – I will post the recipe. She said, "Oh, sherbet." To me, sherbet is a tangy powder kids love to lick out of packets, which fizzes and tingles in your mouth. Sorbet is a frozen fruit juice. I wandered off to my bookshelf and hauled down the rather hefty Google. Apparently, a sorbet is what I think it is, while a sherbet may contain egg or dairy. Frankly, every site I land on seems to argue the toss. Apparently, my concept of sherbet is more of a British thing.
I found this:

Sherbet is a surprisingly easy sweet to make, with only three ingredients and no cooking involved. To make your own sherbet, you will need:
Sugar, usually caster or icing sugar
Bicarbonate of soda (aka sodium hydrogen carbonate, aka ‘bicarb’ or baking soda)
Powdered or crystalline citric acid (Note 1)

The manufacturing process is quite simple: mix the ingredients together. Just make sure your equipment and ingredients are dry (this is really important). The citric acid usually comes as dry crystals or powder. If they offer you a liquid form (a solution), just say no! The sherbet begins to dissolve and fizz as soon as it comes in contact with liquid, so it must stay dry until it touches the tongue.

The hard part is getting the taste right. You change the taste by changing the proportions of the three ingredients. A good place to start is with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of citric acid, and half a teaspoon of bicarb.

One source suggested using jelly powder (jello) for flavour. I suggested that my friend makes some to keep her kids amused during the long summer holidays. I think she may have fainted, having visions of sherbet-coated sofas. (Another Englishism… to me, it is a ‘couch’, but everyone else seems to insist on calling it a ‘sofa’). I then suggested playdough….

kids-playdough

The idea of playdough on her couches got me a similar reaction, so I suggested that she shut her kids in the bathroom with a tub of playdough. More horror ensued. Do I know how boys and faucets (‘taps’ to me) mix?? I gave up at that point. Boys are as much of a mystery to me as speaking Portuguese. Basic communication is possible, but let’s not get too deep ; )

Tat was raised on playdough. In the photo above, she is the grubby urchin in the middle clutching her Tupperware containing playdough. There was always playdough on hand in various colours to keep the kids amused. Here is the recipe I used (for those who have little horrors to keep entertained):

    *  1 cup flour
    *  1 cup warm water
    *  2 teaspoons cream of tartar
    *  1 teaspoon oil
    *  1/4 cup salt
    *   food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead until blended smooth. Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled. Will last for a long time.

Speaking of keeping entertained, here is the latest project I am busy on. It is a challenge, but I’m enjoying it. Sadly, the original wasn’t very big. This comes from a photo album that got wet. The pages stuck together and ink from the opposite side transferred to the photo.

restore-granny

On Wednesday, Tat went for her endoscopy. Somehow, this must have gotten to me, as I dreamt the night before that she never woke up from the anesthetic. I’ve been having many disturbing dreams. The night before, I had a dream that could rival the horror movies I refuse to watch, complete with butcher’s knives and gore. Thankfully, I don’t remember much of that dream, but I remember the dream of Tatiana very clearly. Anyhow, the endoscopy went well enough. All the other patients wobbled out, supported by the nursing staff, while Tat did her Tigger thing coming out, chatting brightly to the nurse. That kid is weird. We will get the results in 20 days. It is a timing thing here. I’m not terribly surprised, as we had to wait over 6 months for the actual exam appointment.

My next task is to get my sewing machine repaired. It has never worked since our move. I don’t relish hand sewing. I commented to Tat that there was a time when I was so very proud of my hand sewing, but now I’ll avoid it at all costs. I hold my pc responsible for that, along with the downfall of my handwriting, which was never stellar.

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2 Comments

Posted by on June 6, 2008 in kids, language, recipe, tat, tatiana

 

A gem of a plant

Its dull, grey and wet here today. Coolish too. We just saw a news report and photos of snow a few feet deep in Columbia. What’s that about? They’re right on the equator!

Remember a while ago I blogged about planting my gem squash seeds? I was worried that they wouldn’t come up, as the seeds expired in July this year. A few came up. Then the dogs decided they’d love a taste of this strange new herb. They regularly eat my herbs :( They uprooted a few of the young seedlings and munched at others. I ‘transplanted’ a couple back into the pot and hoped. The third time they uprooted them, I found some mesh and tied it over the pot. They’re doing well now, as you can see in the photo. My lavender died. I have a feeling the squash will climb the lavender stem in this pot. Jorge stuck two of the squash seedlings in there, as the lavender was already long gone. I’m going against all the rules of squash growing as it is by planting them in a pot and hoping for a harvest, but even if I just get a few squash, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll send seeds to all my needy squash-deprived friends out of this harvest… promise! Never mind customs. I’m becoming a customs pro lol

For those who don’t know what gem squash is, its a squash that, to my knowledge, is exclusively South African, though, at the rate the expats are going, it’s fast becoming international. Here is a pic I found of some squash. This lot was grown in Australia. The average size of a gem is about that of a large apple. The outer skin is hard, though often cooks soft and I love to eat it with my squash. Back home, we serve our squash with salt and a dollop of butter or, as my gran raised me to, with sugar and butter!! Then there’s the ever-popular gem squash served with creamed sweetcorn and butter, often topped with cheese. I’m drooling as I’m typing this. If you want more info and a delicious-looking recipe, here is another expat blogging on gem squash: cooksister (I believe her name comes from koeksister, which has me drooling for yet another South African institution *sigh*)

Let me get a move on now and off to the kitchen. I’m going to start a batch of aniseed rusks ;) Want some? We’ve not had any since moving to Brazil. I finally found a recipe that doesn’t involve buttermilk, which we don’t have here.

From Wiki, on rusks:”In South Africa, ‘rusk’ normally means the biscuit, which is considered a traditional food (called beskuit in Afrikaans) and is eaten after having been dipped in coffee or (less often) tea. Historically, rusks evolved (along with biltong) during the country’s early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate. It was traditionally baked at home, but there are now several mass-market versions available, the most famous probably being Ouma Rusks. Many bakeries, dellis and home industries also sell them, often using more exotic ingredients than their mass-market counterparts. In addition to the traditional “plain” and buttermilk flavours, flavours available, such as wholewheat, condensed milk, muesli, and lemon poppyseed are available.”

Oh, I just found an interesting article on Ouma Rusks at Wikipedia. While you go off to read that, let me share the recipe I’m going to use today. For those who don’t know rusks, do try it for a taste of South Africa. They’re delicious dunked in coffee, the bigger the mug, the better. Some folk even dunk them in tea ;)

Aniseed rusks
Ingredients:
1 kg (2lb) cake flour + 2 cups
7 g (half a teaspoon) salt
250 g (8oz – about a cup) butter
30 ml (2 tablespoons) whole anise seeds
20 g (0.6oz – a tablespoon… just measured the package) instant yeast
300 g (9oz) sugar
1 egg
300 ml (0.6 pints) water

Method:
1. Sift flour and salt together. Rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the anise seeds, yeast and sugar.
2. Make a hollow in the flour. Break the egg into the center. Add the water slowly, stirring and checking consistancy. You may need a little more flour. Knead until elastic.
3. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until double in size. Don’t knock back.
4. Shape into balls and place in a deep bread tin sprayed with nonstick baking spray. Leave to rise until even with the edge of the tin.
5. Place rusks in the oven, preheated to 200 °C (390°F), immediately reduce temperature to 180 °C (350°F), and bake for 45 minutes.
6. Remove from tin. Leave rusks to cool completely before breaking them apart (do not cut with a knife).
7. Dry out in the oven at 100 °C (200°F).

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 6, 2007 in gem squash, recipe, rusks

 

Caipirinha tales

Let me introduce you to Brazil’s national drink… Caipirinha! My first taste of caipirinha was in 1996 when we visited Brazil. We had just been for lunch at a kilo grill on Avenida Paulista, where Jorge ordered caipirinha for me. It was June, but very, very hot – at least, by my mild South African standards. The caipirinha was soooo refreshing and considering my love of anything lemony… well… I enjoyed it so much that I had a second one. Stepping back out into the heat of the day definitely made my cheeks rosy and inspired a fondness for my husband (judging by the way I clung to him as I walked).Yes, caipirinha is to be had in small doses and not for the weak or innocent. I have seen Brazilians knock neat cachaça back like water. How they do it is quite beyond me. The word ‘Caipirinha’ means ‘little hillbilly’.

To make caipirinha:

2 tsp granulated sugar (to taste. I often use sweetener, as I can’t tolerate sugar)
8 lime wedges
2 1/2 oz cachaça (Brazilian cane spirit)

Crush the sugar into the lime wedges in a whisky glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes. Pour the cachaça into the glass. Stir well. Serve.

There are other versions of caipirinha. Some make it with other fruit juices, replacing the lime. Then there are those who can’t take or don’t like cachaça and use vodka. The caipirinha is then called a caipiroska.

The photo above was taken at Paraty. It was my friend’s son’s birthday, so the four of us, Anne, Gerhard, Tat and myself went to this lovely restaurant in Paraty. The service was out of this world. In fairness, we gave the waiters their night’s entertainment though. We sat outside because Anne had her two dogs with her, Lucy and Magnum. The streets were made up of huge cobblestones, which lent a decidedly unstable setup for our tables. Whenever we went out as a group, we laughed, literally, all the way through dinner and when we laughed, we laughed hard and it had absolutely nothing to do with what we did or didn’t have to drink. I think the staff were just tickled at our antics. Towards the end of the meal, Anne was talking animatedly and flailing her arms. In mid-flail, she knocked my glass of caipirinha over… over me! So there I was, smelling like a distillery, soaked, laughing so hard, the tears were running and the glass, shattered on the table. The waiter was a star. He replaced the table cloth, gave me something to attempt a clean-up (thank goodness we were outside) and Anne bought me another drink, which I felt the need to protect; thus the photo above. Ah…. we had some good times. I know that the weekend was special and each of us remembers it with smiles.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2007 in brazil, friends, fun, memories, recipe

 

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