Sunday, 13 November 2011

Morning Coffee

photo by me

My most favourite beginning is, probably, the beginning of a new day. I love mornings and there is no better way of waking up than with the smell of freshly made coffee. Snuggle in the sofa with a warm cup of coffee between my hands and look out of the window to the new day that is about to start... to me that is perfection.
Taking small sips and getting all warm inside while slowly slipping out of that drowsy state and becoming aware of what surrounds me,  the faint noises from outside, the colours in the trees, remembering what day it is. The world forming itself around me again, like if it had ceased to exist for the night. 

There is certainly no awakening without my morning coffee.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mayonnaise

So... 3 days ago I had my first disastrous experience with mayonnaise. I have heard about it failing before, but it was the first time it happened to me. 4 times I tried, 4 times it failed and then I run out of oil and couldn´t try it any more. I ended up using the sad, sad, almost liquid, result of my last attempt but the fact is that I haven´t gotten over it yet. 

Home-made mayonnaise has always fascinated me because of the "religiousness" involved in making it. I mean, anyone that has ever tried to make it must have, at some point, be convinced that it is only by a matter of faith that oil and eggs get transformed into a creamy mayonnaise. The transformation is so amazing that I just can´t get tired of looking at it and it surprises me every time. But this last time I was annoyed before I went to the kitchen (can´t even remember about what). And started making my mayonnaise without the proper attitude of awe and wonder that it deserves. And the result was indeed an utter failure.

In any case mayonnaise is definitely one of the most important basics of cooking so eventually it would find its place in this blog. I just didn´t think it would be for having failed miserably. 

cooking oil (vegetable) 
egg yolks  (1 yolk per cup of oil)
White Vinegar or lemon juice (1 tablespoon per cup of oil)

Put the ingredients in a high plastic cup (like in the picture) and place the electric mixer touching the bottom. Turn it on at a medium speed and don´t move the mixer. When the mayonnaise gets the right consistency on the bottom, start moving the mixer up very, very, slowly until everything is mixed and creamy.

And that´s it. That´s all it takes to make mayonnaise (and the faith, don´t forget the faith). Of course what you get with that is just a flavourless thing. So after, and only after, the "miracle" happens, you should season it with salt, pepper and a few more drops of lemon juice. For some extra warmth you can add a bit of mustard. I like to add chives and garlic too. But mayonnaise is just a starting point for many sauces and you just have to use your imagination and start trying other ingredients. Pieces of fruit, for example, just passion fruit and a bit of cream, or mango, bananas and dried figs, can complement the mayonnaise nicely to serve as a fondue sauce. Be creative and bon appetite...




Saturday, 5 November 2011

Areias

all photos by me

Here is the recipe for some traditional portuguese (from Madeira island) Christmas biscuits. They are called areias which means sands, because of their sandy texture in your mouth.
Basic, simple easy and delicious...

300g  flour (without yeast)
250g butter
100g powdered sugar
(a bit more of powdered sugar to sprinkle on top)

Mix all the ingredients and let it rest for 1h. 
Make small balls with the dough (1,5 cm diameter). 
Put the balls on a tray to go to the oven, pre greased and floured or with anti adherent paper. Remember to leave some space between them. 
With your finger make a little "dimple" on every ball. 
Go to the oven at 180ยบ C until they get slightly brown. 
Let them cool down a bit and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

keep them in a closed jar or a box and, like most of our Christmas treats, they will last the entire season... that is if you don´t eat them to fast. In Madeira we have this lovely tradition of making Christmas biscuits and then distribute little boxes of them between the family and friends. Every house has their own variation of the recipe, adapted over generations, and there is a funny and healthy (most of the times) competition to see which one is better. My grandmother used to do them every Christmas. My mother does them now. But this year I may just try it myself even because I want a picture to post here.



Thursday, 3 November 2011

A New Language

photo by me

Moving to a new country means having to learn a new language. A whole bunch of new sounds (9 vowels! really!...couldn´t you make it simpler?), silent and soft ds and gs, different sentence structures...I swear I have dreams where I am a verb or adverb or a subject...
Its a constant struggle, at home, to try and speak danish as much as possible. We are so used to speaking english with each other that its hard to now change to another language.
And my mind has to constantly go from portuguese to english to danish...then back...danish, english, portuguese... Ufff!
But I have to admit that the first time I went to a shop and asked something in danish I felt very proud of myself.
It´s hard but very exciting. A whole new language, a whole new speech, just waiting to be explored...



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pretty Orange

all photos by me

I saw this on a shop catalogue with Christmas decorations. It´s too early yet for Santas and angels but the smell of oranges and tangerines always reminds me of Christmas. 
An orange with lots of cloves stuck all around it. For an extra good look you can put a ribbon around it, or have several oranges with different patterns of cloves... I kept it simple. 
It gives a nice and not at all strong smell...if you like the smell of oranges and cloves that is. 
I keep it in the kitchen next to my little vases with cooking herbs. I Love this simple ideas that you can do in 5 minutes, it´s a perfect project for a lazy weekend.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Never Ending Shawl


all photos by me

One of my unfinished projects. But one I haven´t given up on yet. I started this shawl almost 5 years ago... it was supposed to be a Christmas present for my mother. I still work on it every so often... normally when I need some mechanical work to entertain my hands while my mind drifts away.

Sorry mom, it´s not going to be this Christmas yet...


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