Thursday, November 22, 2012

More recipes!

More time spent with Luciano and Geneci meant more delicious food and family time! Here are a few more of my favorites:

Brazilian Chicken Fried Steak

Slice beef into thin steaks Add salt, lots of crushed garlic, and a few splashes of vinegar. Lets it for a few minutes. Prepare two plates, one with a few eggs, beaten, and one with farinha (flour). Dip the steaks into the flour, then the egg, then flour again. Fry in hot oil on the stove. Yummmmmmm! We ate our with lots of beans, rice, and ketchup.

Fresh Beet Salad

Geneci makes this colorful side dish that is delicious and healthy too. Just grate one beet, and add salt and vinegar. I was surprised at how much I liked this. You could probably add some sugar too, if desired.

side note: brazilians don't eat a lot of fresh veggies, just pickled in vinegar

German Cuca Bread
I was really excited for this recipe! I want to make it for Zacky when he gets home. This recipe is for pineapple cuca, but you can substitute whatever you want for the topping (pineapple, orange, apple, guava and cheese, and chocolate are some popular varieties)

2 eggs
100g margarine
2 c sugar
1.5 c milk, warm
Spoonful of yeast
1 spoonful lime zest
4-5 cups flour

1 med. pineapple, chopped
2 c sugar
1 c water
Tb amido de milho

Farofa (sugar crystal topping)
6 spoons sugar
6 spoons flour
3 spoons margarine

Beat eggs with the sugar and margarine. Add a little milk, a little flour, a little milk, a little flour until its all mixed. Pour in yeast and zest, mix. Put dough in big casserole type dish. Put on the topping (instructions below) and farofa. Bake in the oven for 40 min at 180 Celsius.

To make the topping: add pineapple, sugar, water to a saucepan and cook on med heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the amido de milho and cook for 2 more minutes. Let it cool before adding it to the dough so as not to kill the yeast.

Hope this turns out!
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Visiting Teaching

I went on my first Brazilian visiting teaching outing on Sunday. Geneci invited me along as she visited a sister that lived nearby. I have to be honest, I was terrified. I was going alone with someone who spoke no English to visit someone who spoke no English. It ended up being a fun experience and reminded me again of how worldwide our church is.

Here we are:

On our way home, we both tried desperately to have a conversation.... I discovered that if I keep the topics to colors, food, or animals, I can kinda make sense in Portuguese. Kind of.

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It's not all fun and games...

You know you married the right person when you can get through crazy days and not want to kill each other... We have had some funny hiccups in our trip that have reminded us that patience is a virtue. Here are some things that we have learned:

- Bank of America does not have an agreement with the banks in Brazil. Even though I double checked over the phone with a customer service person and found out all the details, we had some MAJOR problems with our cards while we were there. Only certain ATMs would accept our card, and even then we would just have to hope and pray that it would dispense the money :) we finally got it all worked out, but it was a frustrating 2 days. It's so weird to feel so poor even though you have money in the bank!

-getting directions from someone in a different language is hard.

-sleeping on a plane is impossible and makes one grumpy.

-missing a bus is one of the most frustrating things!

-traveling makes my stomach go crazy. Between the long plane ride, the walking, and the different foods here I got really sick! Glad that only lasted one day!

- my feet blister easily. Boo.

I read a card once that said "I would rather be nowhere with you than anywhere with someone else".

Through all of our ups and downs this trip, I realized over and over how much I love Grant and wouldn't want to have experienced this with anyone else.

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City Day

On Monday (19th) we took the Metro all the way from Esteio to downtown Porto Alegre. There is a HUGE mercado there that I had been dying to visit. We had some souvenir shopping left to do, and it seemed like the perfect place to get that done.

What a bustling city! I definitely felt like I was in a different country, as fashions were a bit different, there were different smells and people all around yelling in Portuguese to advertise their product(most of these were advertising places where you could buy gold as well as get a tattoo, all in one shop. Classy.)

We saw a cute pet shop:

We stumbled upon a beautiful cathedral, with a hand painted ceiling that was unreal:

We saw cool buildings:

And lots of pigeons:

On our way back, we stopped in Canoas, another one of Grants mission areas. I loved this city! There were lots of shops and tall buildings , but it was cleaner and quieter than Porto Alegre. I could totally see myself living there!

Grant found the chapel building:

And the cereal shop (see previous post) which made me sooooo happy:

Another fun day here... Can't believe it's almost over!

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Gramanda Gremistas

What's a Gremista, you ask?

A Gremista is a tried and true fan of Gremio, the futebol team based here in Porto Alegre. You all know that futebol is no joke here- it's more like a religion that a sports team :) they take it very seriously:

here we are in our jerseys

There is a crazy rivalry between Gremio and Internacional, another futebol team based in Porto Alegre. Their fans are called Colorados, sporting their team color, red.

Luciano, a gremista himself, explained that the rivalry is so fierce that some gremistas won't have red Christmas decorations, as to not defile their home with the Colorado spirit!

With the choice of blue or red before us, I was reminded I another similar rivalry, and it was a clear choice:

Go Cougars! And go Gremio!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Remember how I was sad that we couldn't find the cereal shop in Novo Hamburgo? Well Grant saved the day and remembered where one was in Canoas... It's a just tiny store with several different cereals all in bulk. You get to choose which kind and how much you want. I love cereal so much so this is basically my dream come true. Why don't they have these in America? I am SO HAPPY!

Tchau for now!
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Churrasco, Brazilian barbecue, is a big thing here, especially in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. We had the privilege of having it two times while here in Brazil, each time homemade by friends.
Best. Food. Ever.
Marcos made it for us the first time while we were in Canela. He made calebresa, chicken, and beef ribs. He put all the meat in this huge wooden bowl:

We ate it with homemade potato salad, lettuce, picked veggies, fresh pineapple, and of course chimarrao. We all sat outside in the family's barn. I was super sick that day, so I didn't get as many pics as I had hoped, but it was a great experience.
Our other experience was with Luciano. He made a churrasco pit on his front porch with bricks. I took a lot more pictures this time so you could see what a true churrasco experience is like.
First, you light the coals and let them sit for a while while you skewer the meat onto big swords.
Grant being awesome

the swords

putting on the coraçao de frango (chicken hearts), and the cats watching intensely

Next, you put the meat in the fire. Once one side starts to brown, you flip it and rub coarse salt all over it.

thankfully Luciano was in charge of this part

Little Jar Jar waiting so patiently

Then you enjoy!

The meat is especially good with farofa, a mix of flour, oil, herbs, salt, and other goodness. We also had potato salad, rice, and roasted onions with salt and vinegar. Oh, and chimarrao :)
Muito bom!

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Canela Fun

From Gramado we took a bus to the neighboring town of Canela...

As soon as we got off, Grant started remembering all these places he used to go when he was serving here. I loved it when he would walk into a store and say "I have stood in this very spot". So cool!

There is a beautiful cathedral in the middle of town. We sag there for a while, then relaxed a little on the grass outside of the building. We ate some chocolate Cuca bread, a yummy German treat that I MUST find a recipe for.

By then we were getting pretty exhausted. I don't know how far we had walked that day, but the 3 blisters on my feet told me it was far. I shouldn't have worn the black shoes. But they were so cute and pain is beauty :)

Luciano helped us get in contact with Marcos, a member of the Canela ward that Grant knew when he was here. They offered to let us stay the night so we didn't have to make the bus ride home that night. What a sweet family!

If Novo Hamburgo is like San Francisco, then Canela is like Bastrop Texas! There are Brazilian pine trees, dirt roads, and Gauchos , or Brazilian cowboys. We woke up to a rooster crowing. I seriously felt like I was visiting mom and dad :)

Marcos and his wife, Sayonara, were SO nice! They have five kids: Indiana (16), Larissa(11), Natalie (9), Lorenzo (5), and Spencer (3). The girls are learning some English at school, so we had fun trying to communicate with each other. Grant taught the boys how to "chop off their arm" by putting it in their shirt and they played that game all night!

For dinner, Marcos ordered pizza from Toco da Bruxa, a famous pizzeria in town that translates to "touch of the witch". I told him I didn't want any variety of pizza that I could get on America :)

We had the "Portuguese" pizza (green olives, egg, calebresa, green peppers), stroganoff pizza, pizza with potato sticks, and pesto pizza. The crust tasted like pretzel bread, and was stuffed with cheese whiz. They don't use tomato sauce on pizza here, but they do eat it with ketchup and sometimes mayonnaise. It was a lot of fun.

The next day, we went to the Parque de Caracol, a beautiful waterfall in Canela. For this hike, you have to take 600+ step hike down a staircase on the side of a mountain. A little crazy, but totally worth it.
the view from the top of the hike

the staircase

at the bottom

after we hiked back up

There was a smaller hike that took you to a view of another small falls

There were more hydrangeas here, and I couldn't help but get some pics

Beautiful day with the one I love :)

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Cookies (Bolachas)

Cookies are a big deal here. There are so many different kinds at the grocery store and usually have almost a whole row desicated to them . They come In little tube packages and cost about 1 American dollar. Grant admitted that on his P-days during the mission, he would eat 2 whole tubes in one sitting!
My favorites so far are the Key lime and the vanilla cookies with chocolate filling. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
Definitely bringing some home!

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I realized that i never posted anything about our hotel in Novo Hamburgo. It is in a great part of town, and there is a grocery store right across the street. Our room is on the 15th floor and we have a great view of the city. There is free wifi, as well as a free breakfast buffet each morning.
The Swan Tower Hotel

looking up in the main foyer

the view from the glass elevator

our room

view from the hall window

Ok, so you all know what a total foodie I am, so you know I have to describe what a Brazilian breakfast buffet is like.
- there is ALWAYS rice. Usually there was a tomato/hotdog sauce that you could put on it.
-cereal here is NOT the same. I have yet to taste one that is like ours at home. But it's not bad. My favorite were the honey cornflakes. They tasted like real honey and turned your milk into a delicious cinnamony sweet treat. My least favorite has been the rice flakes. They literally taste like dried rice with milk. Not horrible but not what I would want for breakfast
-lots of savory items, like breads, meats, cheeses, pastels, and sometimes mini pizzas.
-A whole row of jams, which are thicker and sweeter than what we have in the USA, sort of like the consistency of honey.
- funny English translations.
My favorites have been "sweat pumpkin jam" and "salted homemade" (whatever that is supposed to be)

While there have been days where we have stayed at friends houses, it has been nice to know that we have a "home base". It's kinda like our "mini America" with all if the amenities we are used to at home. With so many new experiences it has been a great comfort to me!

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Gramanda in Gramado

On Friday morning (16th) we left Novo Hamburgo for a 2 day adventure in Gramado and Canela. It was about a 2 hour bus ride though the mountains, again reminding me a lot of Northern California, just more lush.

The bus ride itself was an experience. The drivers go super fast and act like they are the size of sedans instead of the size of semi trucks. Our bus actually knocked another cars side mirror off... And didn't even stop. I just prayed hard and tried not to think about it. I'm sure it was NOTHING like a bus in Guatemala, so I am counting my blessings :)

The views from the ride were spectacular.

Once we got to Gramado, we explored a little bit. Gramado is another city that has a heavy German influence. EVERY building looks European, and the prices match! Our friends told is that one of the main streets in Gramado was in the top 3 most expensive streets in all of Brazil. It kinda reminded me of a mix between the millennia mall and I Drive.
For the holidays, Gramado is totally decked out. They call it Natal Luz, and just like at any of the Disney attractions, there are tons of trees, lights, and decor around- pretty neat.
For lunch, I ate my first Brazilian hamburger, or xis. Here in brazil they are very different- the bin is huge, and flatter than American buns. The meat is thin, and the toppings are much different: peas, corn, ham, sometimes small potato strings. Delicious! We also drank some chocolate quenche (hot chocolate) which was more like warm, dark chocolate pudding- also delicious!

One thing I love about this area- blue hydrangeas grow EVERYWHERE here! It's like walking around in a florist shop. I was in heaven:

We decided to be tourists and head to Mini Mundo, a little attraction a few roads from the main streets. We weren't really sure what it was, but saw tons of tour buses there so we figured it couldn't be that bad.

I think Disney World has jaded us.

It wasn't horrible, but I couldn't believe that people paid so much money to go. It was a bunch of mini models of towns, with trains, figurines, mini plants. Interesting, but after about 15 minutes we had seen the whole exhibit. It just reinforced our desire to stag away from things that are too touristy.

The last thing we did before leaving this little fun town was watch funny little Christmas parade where Papai Noel made his appearance. Again, experiencing Disney parades gave us big expectations... But it was just a quaint parade with creepy puppet like Santas and a marching band playing Silent Night.

It was a great day, but not over yet... Next we headed to Canela, an area where Grant served for several months... Stay tuned!
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Dia do Templo

What could be cooler than attending the temple with people that your husband helped convert on his mission? Not much :)

We had a wonderful time with Luciano and Geneci at the Porto Alegre temple last Thursday. Giuliana even came along for the ride. It was a gorgeous day, and the temple was SUPER busy. The temple here is a mini one, with the same floor plan as the San Antonio Temple. I have been trying to notice artwork in temples more, so the first thing I noticed as I walked in was a beautiful painting of waterfalls. In the first part of the endowment room, there was a gorgeous mural of a Brazilian jungle landscape, with some macaws and even a few monkeys :) it was awesome!

I used headphones during the session, but had it turned off most of the time so that I could hear it in Portuguese. What a great experience! It all seemed foreign and yet so the same. A few times I even forgot I was halfway across the world. I love that about the gospel. The saints are so strong here. Every time i encounter church members here, I feel humbled and honored to meet such faithful people.

Funny note: you know how there are always problems with headsets at the Orlando temple? Well I got to experience that firsthand! The head set I was wearing kept going out, and sounded really crackly. Sometimes, during parts where you have to say things during the session, the English translation would end before the Portuguese. So if I wasn't listening carefully I would talk at the wrong parts! Haha, I guess it will just help me be more understanding when things like that happen at home.

What a beautiful and memorable day at the house of the Lord with people we love so much.

More pictures to come! They are on our camera...

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Cooking in Brazil

On Thursday (15th) we took a taxi to the metro station and headed back to Esteio to spend some more time with The Pierrucis.
Side note: the metro here is SUPER cheap (80 cents a ride).
To help repay them for all of their hospitality, we decided to take charge of the lunch meal and make them a Texas breakfast in honor of my family. We make breakfast burritos, with eggs cheese and sausage. Grant made his famous garlic fried potatoes and I made homemade tortillas and fresh fruit salad. The most expensive thing we bought? Great Value brand salsa. It was almost 5 American dollars! But worth it since they don't really eat salsa here.

Cooking on their small stove was a little bit of a challenge, but it turned out great. The meal was a hit! Geneci asked for my tortilla recipe so I think that's a good sign. It felt good to be able to take some of the burden off of their family and share some of our traditions.
Sorry I don't have more pictures of the meal... Some of our pictures are on our regular camera instead of our phone and we can't post them yet...
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Novo Hamburgo

What are your thoughts when you think about Brazil? Do you think of beaches? Hot summer days? Do you imagine jungly forests with wild creatures?

Most of Rio Grande do Sul is nothing like that.

Our day in Novo Hamburgo felt like a day in San Francisco, California... Cool, windy weather, steep streets, bustling city life.
Here is a view from our hotel room:

Crazy streets

There is a lot of German influence here, if you couldn't tell from the name "New Hamburg" which makes the buildings, food, and culture very unique.

We had a great day exploring this fun city. My artsy side came out as we explored:

I told myself I wanted to get lots of exercise this trip, and we definitely have. I think the day we explored Novo Hamburgo we walked almost 6 miles! We found the bus station (which proved useful many times), we explored markets, and even found a cute little park in the city where we swung on the swings and relaxed for a little bit.

We tried really hard to find a cereal shop, like the ones Grant would go to on his mission, but when we got to the address, it looked a little shady. Ok it looked a LOT shady and we left pretty quick. On our way back, we found a hole on the wall place for lunch. There was no menu, and the worker just asked us how many lunches we wanted to order. A little confused, we ordered 2, along with some pastels. Out came some AMAZING food: fried chicken, fried greens, massa( homemade noodles with butter sauce,), a ravioli with some kind of sweet squash inside, and of course, beans and rice. With the pastels and a side of pickled vegetables, it was one of the best lunches I have ever had. And at 16 reais, (not quite 8 American dollars) for both of us it was one of the cheapest meals we have had on the trip.

Later, we found another church and got to go inside. It was really beautiful:

Then we walked around a little more...

...and drank our favorite Brazilian soda, Guaraná. This stuff is a mix between ginger ale and apple soda- SO good. And in America it's really expensive so I am trying to drink as much of it as I can :) I even found a zero cal version here:

If there's one thing we have learned here, it's that sometimes the best experiences are the ones that cost the least.


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