I know it's been a while. Is there anybody still out there? The truth is, we just haven't been inspired to post anything, and who wants to read words and see photos that are uninspiring? That's what i thought. October came and went. Brazil elected a new president; a woman. How about that. Brazil is moving forward, the U.S. seems to be moving backward. I timed my exit fairly well eh? It is now officially hot, officially spring weather. Warm rain and lightning are guaranteed nearly every day. Months don't mean anything to me anymore, i look outside and the word November is the last thing that comes to mind. I am finally after nine months at an intermediate level of Portuguese, as in i can actually hold a conversation without staring at a wall. This is attribute to surprising rise of dinner parties. Yes. Now i am no master cook, and i know we always talk about baked sweet goods, but i am probably a more creative chef than i am baker. While in the US i may simply be an average cook, here i am a chef. I never make rice and beans since i am certain that my husband eats them everyday at lunch and i know that any family meal i attend on the weekend there will be plenty. So we stick to a more international menu. As such i have gotten myself into trouble since every time we invite people over or we are invited over, i am asked to make risotto. Yes, in someone's kitchen. I am the take home chef without the accent. Well, i suppose i do have an accent don't i. Either way, i have become an entertainer and i love the control. wait, what?
On most weekends we visit family members, which is particularly easy since they all live within five minutes walking distance. Either way, this is a big family. My mother in law has nine siblings, and five of them live in the same house that their father built each with their wives and children. In the same house. Crowded and uncomfortable? The truth is they are happy though, it's like have a bunch of live-in moms and dads and about twenty siblings rather than one or two. The amount of people ensures that there is a party even without inviting guests, all you need is meet on the grill and motorcycle-delivered beer. Despite their poverty, this family contains some of the most genuine people i know. They are happy with what they have, and they've accepted me since the first day i showed up with my blond hair and oh-look-at-me-im-american-isn't-that- great? Some of my favorite peeps to talk to are the children. They seem to understand my Portuguese better than the adults. I'm a favorite among the five to seven year old girls, why i am not sure, as well as all of the thirteen and fourteen year olds who take a few days of English in public school. Unfortunately the only lessons they want from me are swear words. please don't say these things in class, ok? The sad part is that their teacher probably wouldn't even understand if they did cus in class. Public schools have the worst of everything, primarily because the individuals who actually are qualified to give lessons in English or any other subject aren't up to the idea of living in abject poverty, which is what one earns on a public school teacher's salary. Think teachers in America have it bad? As seen in the last election, public education is one of the main things that keeps Brazil in the third world. I mean, there aren't even school buses for christ's sake. Who wants to put their six year old all alone on a public city bus to school? Brazil is coming far, but it still has a lot of work ahead of it.
Moving on to these cookies. Surprise! A baby! Not my baby, but yet another cousin who is most likely going to be the last cousin born because the oldest of the cousins are already starting to have their own babies. He is the sixth child of one of the uncle families and is joining three brothers and two sisters. Being the sixth child born generally isn't anything special in a family that has so many kids and babies that there still are a few who's names i don't know. But regardless of number, a sixth baby is as fun as a first baby. I have five siblings as well, and when the sixth baby was born in my family, it was just as exciting as the fifth and fourth. Can't really remember the others...So to welcome the new baby we made teeny tiny baby blue cookies as well as green turtles. Why? Mainly because royal icing sugar cookies don't exist in Brazil so they are "new" and "exciting," i prefer homemade gifts, and i am certain that when the baby comes the "party" will be the usual meat and beer. So cookies are absolutely necessary.
I am not a big cookie decorator, i never have been. As i piped each one of these i realized that the reason was most likely because you have to be an artist to decorate cookies. If you can't paint, if you can't draw, then you can't decorate cookies to look anything better than a gingerbread man. It is difficult, it's painting with a piping bag. So my advice to new cookie decorators is to start out very simple and use a #2 tip. My sister is an artist, and after making these i realized that she needs to make more decorated cookies. Hear that R? Cookie decorating isn't really baking, it's painting. One last tip; only use egg white royal icing otherwise you are wasting your time. I will not post a recipe as the web is exploding with far too many sugar cookie recipes, tutorials and royal icing recipes. So google away.
Life is starting to become more normal in Brazil, at most times i forget that i am even "somewhere else," this normaling out, we hope, is exactly what we need in order to rehydrate Salty. Until then,