Change

3 Jul

I love when unexpected people come back into my life. I’ve started spending more time with people I went to college with who now live in the same area as me. It feels good to rebuild connections and build stronger relationships. I still sometimes marvel at the fact that I went to a college where I literally knew everyone but didn’t really necessarily know them. So now, I’m getting to know people that I didn’t really know. I like that. I mean, you can stalk people as much as you want on Facebook, but you still can’t say you know them. When opportunities pop up and people pop back into your life, take advantage of it because you never know when they’ll pop out again. So this summer is to spending as much time as possible with people who make me happy… that and celebrating this 4th of July weekend since it’s a holiday I haven’t celebrated in about 6 years. Fireworks, good company, music and of course, food.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (modified from the recipe that comes with Crisco shortening sticks)

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 tbsps. milk

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups of any combination of chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup dark chocolate M&Ms)

Cream the butter, shortening and sugars in a large bowl. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the egg next. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Once combined, add the chocolate. Drop onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 8 minutes (10 if you like your cookies a little crispier). You can make them any size you want, just be consistent or you’ll end up with some overdone and some underdone cookies. I make standard tablespoon sized cookies, spaced about an inch apart.

Condensed milk makes everything better

1 Jul

When I lived in Brazil, I discovered that sweetened condensed milk is like peanut butter; it tastes good on just about everything. They sell it everywhere, it’s super cheap and you can bake with it, cook with it and just eat it straight from the can. We’d pour it over strawberries and mangoes, ice cream and cakes. I have a sweet tooth and it’s just the right amount of sweet.

When I got back from Brazil the second time, I invested in a pressure cooker. I’ve never used it to cook anything except cans of condensed milk. Why would you cook a can of condensed milk? To make doce de leite/dulce de leche, of course! You just pop a can of condensed milk (completely unopened) in the pressure cooker filled with water and a little vinegar (so the inside of the cooker doesn’t stain black). Put it over the burner and let it cook for 20 minutes to an hour depending on how you want the consistency of your doce de leite to be.  20 minutes would get you a thin, syrupy doce de leite, which is perfect for ice creams and cake drizzles. 45 – 60 minutes gets you a nice chewy caramel like product. You can cut it into pieces and eat it by itself. Delicious. And trust me, it’s so much more than just caramel.

This leads me to the other two most amazing things to do with condensed milk. Brigadeiros and beijinhos. I’m a little partial to the brigadeiros because I love chocolate. They’re a small Brazilian candy best described as a chocolate caramel. Beijinhos are coconut based with no chocolate but still have a chewy caramel consistency.

Minha mãe brasileira taught me how to make both and I make the brigadeiros basically every chance I get. They’re a little time consuming by the result is completely worth it.

Brigadeiros

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

sprinkles (chocolate or colored), chopped nuts or additional cocoa powder; you just need something to roll the brigadeiros in once they’re cooled

In a medium sized pot, combine the first three ingredients over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the ingredients thoroughly. You’ll have to continue stirring throughout the cooking process or you’ll scorch the condensed milk. Once the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to a medium-low and continue stirring. You want the mixture to be slightly bubbly but not really boiling. As the condensed milk cooks, it will start to thicken. If it starts to boil, reduce the heat slightly (and make sure to keep stirring!). The time is always different depending on the heat used. It usually takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when you tilt the pot slightly and the mixture completely sticks together. It’ll be one giant blob (that’s the scientific term) of thick condensed milk. As you tilt the pan, there shouldn’t be anything left on the bottom; it should all have run to one corner. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool.  You can place the pot in the refrigerator to speed up the process or just leave it on a counter. When it’s cool enough to handle comes the fun part. Pour the sprinkles or nuts or whatever you’ve decided to use as coating onto a plate. Butter (or cooking spray) your hands. If you skip that step, you’ll be licking brigadeiro off your fingers and palms forever (which may not be such a bad thing). Pick up pieces of the brigadeiro and roll between your palms to create balls. You can really make them any size you want. I prefer smaller ones because I can eat more. Once you’ve rolled a ball, drop it onto your sprinkles and coat completely. Repeat the balling process. You’ll have to re-butter your hands periodically as you notice the brigadeiros becoming sticker and more difficult to roll.

And that’s it. The hardest part for me is the waiting for the brigadeiros to cool. Mostly because I’m so anxious that I just want to eat the stuff right off the spoon.

I’ve seen places in Brazil that put strawberries and cherries in the center as they roll the brigadeiros. Maybe not so traditional but delicious nevertheless.

Lar doce lar

1 Jul

I realized the other day that this is the first summer I’ve been in the United States since before I graduated from high school. I missed high school graduation to go to Brazil in 2004 and since then I haven’t been able to sit still long enough to spend an entire summer in this country. This is the first summer I’m not going back to Brazil… I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions about that. I’m excited to actually be here for the 4th of July. I’m happy to be here where a great deal of my friends are. I can’t wait for all the road trips and tiny adventures I have planned with my friends. The bigger part of me is a little heartbroken. I haven’t met my new baby brother back in Piracicaba. He’s about 9 months old now and I’m a terrible sister for not going back. I miss my family there and my old students. I miss the friends that I made over the years. Then I say all those things aloud and I think “poor, deprived Kimberly. Boo-hoo. You didn’t get to go out of the country this year.” I know, I know. Most people my age never even dream of all the traveling I’ve been lucky enough to do. But I’m selfish. I want to go back to Brazil. I want to go back right now.

Every time I leave Brazil, I leave with the belief that I will go back. It isn’t a goodbye, it’s just a see ya later. I know I’ll go back; it’s the not knowing when that bothers me. Goodbyes never get easier either. I cry harder every time I watch Marcia and Paulo and Ian leave me at Guarulhos. I think a little part of me gets left there each time. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It’s my home sweet home.

Columbus is getting to be my home. I realize more and more that I do like it here. I’m always discovering new places that I’ve never seen before. New restaurants to try and new places to shop. New benches to lounge on and new spots to people watch. And now that it’s getting to feel like home, I’m still being forced to say goodbyes. As I get older I realize that people come and go from our lives so frequently. I don’t talk to the majority of the people I knew in high school. Most of my friends from college could be living in Timbuktu and I wouldn’t know the difference. Of course I’ve met new people and made new friends. Some of them have already left my life even though I wasn’t ready for them to. Some of them stick around even though they’re not really welcome. Others will leave soon and then new people will enter. I hate that cycle. It’s tiring. I hope that the fall brings good people to our department at OSU. It will make that cycle and the transition a little easier though no one could ever replace the people that are missing.

It also hit me today that I’m no longer a student. That’s a scary concept to me. I’ve been a student forever. I don’t know how to not be a student. I’m not sure I’m going to like teaching 3 classes in the fall. Can I be a teacher and nothing else? Do I want to teach? What do I want to do? I’ve been weighing my options so much over the past few weeks and today I did something unexpected. I requested information and applications to culinary schools. I love to bake, which is absolutely no secret to anyone who really knows me. I think I could bake everyday and not tire of it. Two very intelligent friends of mine have told me in the last few days that everyone deserves to do something they want to do for at least a portion of their life. Applying to something never really hurt anyone, right?

In the meantime, I’ll just keep baking because it makes me happy. And hopefully it’ll make other people happy at the same time…