cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Biscotti to Bahia & a Muffin on the Table

Hang the Spoons up to Dry

I dug myself a hole with the whole biscotti thing. Over the past two weeks i have made about four dozen pieces of biscotti. That's a lot of scotti. When requested to make more, i think to myself, ahhh there are so many better treats i could come up with than dry old biscotti. But it was a hit, and i suppose it travels well. So when H's mom bought a plane ticket home, to Bahia in the north where she hasn't set foot in over thirty-five years, not since she left to start a new life in Sao Paulo, she requested i make a bit of biscotti for her to take to share with her relatives. You want to take my baked goods? I was very flattered. Of course! As much as you can carry i'll make! She smiled her, i don't know what you are saying but you sound and look happy, so ta bom! smile.

Biscotti is like any old cookie; a blank canvas for any and all flavor combinations. I chose almond, apricot, and orange with dark chocolate tips for one; and chocolate cookie, white chocolate, and brasil nut with zebra tips for the other. Are we baking this the night before she leaves? why yes we are. alright. let's pump this out. It's already nine in the evening. to make the story short; only one scotti made it to Bahia. The first--a bit heavy, perhaps too many fruits, knick knacks, yadda inside its crust, so when i asked H to grab one side of the parchment that thinly supported the mammoth's weight, to carry it across the kitchen to find an open space to dry, the natural thing to happen would be for the paper to tear and send the fatty loaf tumbling to its doom. and we're all about natural here. we both looked at the steaming pile of...well now it's just break. and then i burst out laughing. well, i began, now we'll have bread pudding. huh? You've never heard of bread pudding? Excellent. When life gives you lemons. Well at least i was planning a second biscotti anyways. So the next morning D boarded the plane in her jet-setting stripes and heals, and a little paper gift bag full of chocolate biscotti and tied off with a ribbon. Biscotti to Bahia, my how Salty Cod confections have traveled thus far. who would have thought.

As happy as i am for D to finally make a visit home after all these years, i must confess my selfish disdain--i have lost my day partner. She seems to be the only one my--though extremely limited--Portuguese will flow freely with. And now i must pass the days without her. You know most keenly a good friend when you first must absent them a bit. But before she left, i had two lessons: this is how you cook the rice and beans. ah brasil.

Would you, could you, should you imagine a stuffy nose head cold in brasil; is that possible? unfortunately yes. and i have one. how? apparently it is because i refuse to wear shoes...or rather it is because i left the window open the other night which caused the brasilian to fall ill, which in turn caused the window-loving arctic northerner to catch it. damn it. so in my solitude in illness stuck to the house, i thought to make bread. booh. only one cup of flour. just my luck. now i will pout and do nothing. a few hours later H called to check on the status of my sante, and in doing so somehow propelled me to crawl through the pantry in search of another rout. I'll make something, flour isn't the end of the world. There were bananas, pineapple, coconut, cornmeal, and tapioca flour...but no eggs. so. hmmm. they love basic biscotti like it's caviar, perhaps they've never had a muffin before either...can i do it without eggs? and with alternative flours? well. we'll see won't we. to the bat cave! or rather isn't it, on y va.

With one cup of of D's favorite words in the kitchen is experimento--hey what do we do with these leftovers? She ponders only briefly, then tosses the choux, mandioca, and gritty bits of leftover sausage into a tupperware and throws it in the fridge. She looks at me--experimento. excellent. let's just hope it doesn't grow legs and walk out of the fridge. To return to the litterary path i was trying to weave here; i grabbed the chocolate chips, browning bananas, and tapioca flour. chocolate banana muffins with a coconut cream cheese on top because i can't handle naked muffins. did you know snob is the same word in portuguese. now you do. wait; perhaps i should have a backup if these go a bit south of their intent (remember the other night's biscotti...) there's a pineapple. Pineapple and coconut corn muffins. wooo. that's sounds pretty damn brasilian if you ask me.

Chocolate Banana muffins:
ingredients: 1 cup flour ~ 1 cup tapioca flour ~ three small smashed bananas ~ 1.25 sticks butter ~ 0.5 cup sugar ~ vanilla ~ 1 cup chocolate chips ~ 1 tsp baking soda ~ 0.5 cups milk
method: mix dries. mix wets. combine. and pop in a muffin cup.
*frosting is a coconut cream cheese butter cream

GF Pineapple-Coco Corn muffins:
ingredients: 1 cup tapioca flour ~ 1 cup corn meal (flour? not exactly sure what it is. it was in the cupboard) ~ 1/2 cup coconut milk ~ 1 cup chopped pineapple ~ 1.25 sticks butter ~ 2 tsps baking soda ~ vanilla 0.5 cups sugar
method: same as above

It has been quite rainy. overcast skies and stormy winds; the power was out for a couple hours yesterday morning. christ. am i in seattle? Driving to a restaurant last night on a foggy lined avenue that looked more like London-town than Brasil, H jibed; doesn't look much like brasil eh? To which, after being here a month, i replied -yes, yes it looks like brasil to me now. it is funny how all things in life must come with preconceived notions; that is the nature of thought. but it is also the nature of thought to bend. thought propels experience; we are driven to nothing without first its pull. then, full circle, experience refines our thoughts. thought for experience, experience for real thought. one cannot exist without the other. an intrinsic need for the other. the chicken or the egg. there is no start. you wake up, and you breath.

In return to the statements on meteorological happenings; with the celestial tearing, the clothes line outside the house rests empty of our clothing, sheets, towels--naked wires spotted with wooden pins. Dryers do not exist in this country. It is not a matter of wealth, but rather, why a machine to dry when there is always warm air to do the job? true. so i have become used to seeing my clothing blowing amongst the others in the wind through the windows. On a rainy day the pins appear so melancholy perched like wanting crows perched against silent gray backdrops. no clothing to dry. what then can fill their jaws? i will tell you now a small insignificant thing that makes me happy without explanation: coffee spoons. i am thrilled to again be in a country that values coffee spoons. though now when i see coffee spoons i am reminded of TS. Elliot's piece on Alfred J Prufrock; i measure my life in coffee spoons. hmmm. intention to imply a meaningless life of routine? no one would accuse me of lack of spontenanity, but i view no evil created by small routines. The routine and the abstract; together they make a fine pudding. As for the coffee spoons. well, they are awfully cute. perhaps it is the routine spoon who needs to hang up to dry.

Unlike the biscotti, both muffins seemed to work out. And my stuffy nose i don't want to do anything attitude was magically transformed by the power of mock studio photography setup. How to deal with a moody mallory: force her to shoot food. and perhaps offer some eyedrops. it's Tomorrow, dear friends, after my visit to the English school, i will go to the store, get some flour, make my french baguettes, and turn that frown upside down. besides. the coffee spoons are probably dry by now.

the first photo above is my June entry to Click's theme of "stacks"

a bientot


Marta said...

Oh no, I'm sorry you've got a cold! Those sneaky buggers always coming in when least welcomed! I hope you get better soon :)
I once also made too many a biscotti. I scottied myself out, if you will! The muffins look very nice and I LOVE the picture of the clothes pins and the spoons!
How much longer are you staying in Brasil?

dessert girl said...

Chocolate, banana, and coconut muffins?? Yes, please!

Christy said...

So you caught the's here too, but I've gotten lucky so far and not gotten anything....yet. touchwood.

Anyway, I admire your improvisation. When I run out of flour (which is rare, because flour is at the top 5 of my grocery list, which I guess explains a lot about my diet), I simply don't bake. Or just settle with making flourless cookies instead.

Coffee spoons? So those are like teaspoons, no? A little more petite, perhaps. Muffins with frosting....aahhhh...heaven!!

Lori said...

I love the pineapple muffins! They sound wonderful and very Brazilian I might add.

I must reveal my spoiled American lifestyle. There are some dryers in the country and I happen to have one. It was provided for me though and I was not going to say no :). why risk hurting anyone's feelings, right? It is nothing like the dryers in the US, but I will never complain. 90 min to dry is better 2 days on the line.

Mallory Elise said...

hahaahahah! coincidence--i JUST got the email for your comment above Lori--and i just came in from hanging up a ton of laundry, and i was thinking jeeeeeeeessssssuuuuuussss this took a half hour just to hang it all up! haha! the other thing that i find wierd is that when i stick my hand in the washing machine i get an electric shock pulsing up my really hurts. so. i used to a broom to get everything out :P aiy yai...

Nani said...

Oh, I hope you feel better from you cold soon. Those muffins look sooo good!

So, wait, did you decide about the english school thing??? Let me know how things are going. I am sooo curious!

Elaine :)