Últimas compras de Natal. Um novelo de lã e uma agulha circular de tricot para a tia j. ensinar a b. a tricotar. Velas vermelhas, douradas e marfim nas Velas do Loreto, duas douradas para oferecer, as restantes para nós. Papel, liso e com padrões, para fazer origamis, na Muji. Quando entro na Retrosaria imagino-me a tricotar e a costurar e a comprar materiais lindos para alimentar a minha produção. Mas na vida real, desmotivo-me com a minha falta de jeito, irrito-me, frustrada, quando me engano e cada engano é a confirmação da minha inaptidão e cada momento de frustração a confirmação da impaciência que jamais me deixará realizar um trabalho manual de persistência.
Claro que fica sempre a esperança de, daqui a uns anos, vir aqui ao blog, rir-me deste post, vestida com uma linda camisola feita por mim.



"Courage is more than endurance, it is the power to create your own life in the face of all that man or God can inflict, so that every day and every night is what you imagine it. Courage makes us dreamers, courage makes us poets."

from [The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald]



"I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
 [Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke] 

 Gosto tanto disto. Às vezes somos tão impacientes com a nossa evolução, não é?


autumn risotto

For someone who likes to cook living alone can be tricky. I'm not even talking about being too lazy to cook for one. If one likes to cook, one doesn't mind cooking for one. The problem is: there is no one to eat the food which, therefore, lies indefinitely in the fridge, waiting for someone to rescue it from its moldy fate.
Last week, following some unpredictably busy days, i found myself eating a 6 day old white bean soup with turnip greens and a 9 day old white basmati rice!! 9 DAY OLD! I did survive, apparently no harm done to my gastrointestinal tract. But how is one supposed to feed a food blog with such a stale food life?!

Finally, today, free of all leftovers, i was finally able to cook something from scratch. I turned to my fridge and pantry for inspiration and it came in the form of this delicious risotto! Its warm colours and creamy taste are a good welcome to the Autumn who is slowly starting to settle in.

Hokkaido Rice and Barley Risotto

Ingredients (for a couple of meals for 1)
1/2 cup short grain whole rice, soaked
1/2 cup barley, soaked
1/2 hokkaido squash, skin on
1 stick celery, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups vegetable stock (or water)
100 ml single cream
a few sage leaves, thinly chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
a pinch of ground cumin seeds
Olive oil and butter

Parsley, chopped
Queijo da Ilha (or any strong flavoured, salty cheese, like parmesan or peccorino), shaved
pine nuts, toasted
Crumbled paio or any good quality smoked sausage. I used this wonderful organic painho

Soak the grains for as long as you can, up to 8 hours and drain.
Heat the stock or water. Keep hot.
Deseed and cut the half squash in aprox. 1cm thick slices. Season with salt and the coriander and cumin seeds and roast for approximately 25 minutes or until tender in a 190ºC (gas 5) oven. Remove and cut into cubes.
While the squash is cooking, put a medium saucepan over moderate heat and warm some olive oil and butter. Add the shallots, celery and sage leaves and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the rice and cook, stiring for 1 minute. Add the red wine and cook, stiring until wine is absorbed. Add just enough stock or water to barely cover the rice and keep cooking, stiring frequently until all the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding more liquid until the rice is slightly undercooked.
Add the single cream and the roasted squash, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the stove, top with the chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts, painho and cheese and serve.



from the book "Ça pousse comment". Texte et illustrations : Gerda Muller

Back, after a long pause due to technical problems which resulted in a complete blog-makeover. Meanwhile, Autumn has arrived! Grey rainy skies make the world seem calmer and wiser, more thoughtful and austere. The perfect time to slow down, to enjoy slowing down. Here are a few things I’m longing for these next few months. Sturdier vegetables, wearing boots, walking under a drizzle bareheaded, baking cookies, crumbles, pies and this lovely apple cake (again!), crocheting scarves and wrist warmers for me and anyone who asks, learning to knit, lazy afternoons at home, jogging regardless of the weather, getting my hands dirty in b’s school garden, reading more, spending less time online, helping b with with her violin practice. And reading her and myself beautiful dreamy books like this (from where the beautiful picture below was taken). Welcome back!


A spring-flavoured pasta

Fava beans, fresh peas and mint is a combination made in heaven! If you pair it with a white cheese like ricotta or feta then you cross a point of no return. You will find yourself going back to these fellows over and over again and, as long as your veggies are good, you will never be disappointed. Not once. The possibilities are endless: in a bruschetta, risotto (maybe with some asparagus tips to join the spring party), frittata, salad (couscous, quinoa, bulgur...) or pie. Or this beautiful pasta. With a glass of good cold white wine, a true homage to spring!

Spring-flavoured pasta
Ingredients (for 2):
1 cup fresh fava beans
1/2 cup fresh peas
3 heaped tablespoons ricotta (or portuguese requeijão)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 1 fresh red chili, sliced
250g no. 4 spaghettini (or regular spaghetti)
3 or 4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked salt and pepper

Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch fava beans for about a minute or two. Remove them with a slotted spoon and run under cold water. Peel the shell off and reserve. Keep the water simmering in a low fire. Heat a heavy skillet on a medium/high fire with a bit of olive oil. Add onion, chili. Let cook for a couple of minutes until onion is soft. Add peas, a few mint leaves, salt and pepper and cook for another minute in a medium/hot fire. Bring the water where you cooked the fava beans to a boil, adjust salt and cook the pasta according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, mix 1/4 cup cooking water with the ricotta in a bowl and whisk to combine. It should have the texture of a rich sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet along with fava beans and ricotta. Stir gently to combine. Season with more olive oil and pepper and top with the remaining mint leaves. Serve imediately.


portuguese flavors

Good food doesn't need much. Just itself and a few hungry souls



My banana and coconut bread with vanilla

Yesterday i ventured into the daunting world of "baking without a recipe" and - against all odds - survived!  With a winning smile on my face and a delicious banana bread in my mouth.

I was looking for a banana bread with a spring/summer feeling. No chocolate, walnuts, cinnamon or any of the typical ingredients you put in a banana bread and instantly make you want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a warm cup of milk watching the rain fall. After all banana is a tropical fruit and i wanted to highlight just that! I skipped through a bunch of banana bread recipes but none of them exactly fit my desires (or pantry). So i went ahead and made up my own. The result was a moist bread, not overly sweet and with a lovely grainy texture on the surface. Maybe i'll still lie on the couch after all, but in my shorts, dreaming of bikinis and a summer tan!

Banana bread with coconut
Ingredients 110g wheat flour 2 large eggs 2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork 40g arrowroot flour 50g light moscovado sugar 50g coconut palm sugar 25g grated coconut 80 g butter, melted 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 scant tbsp demerara sugar (large grain brown sugar) 1 pinch of sea salt

Directions Preheat your oven at 180ºC with rack in the center. Butter a loaf pan and sprinkle with a little flour on all sides In a medium bowl combine the flours, coconut, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl stir the bananas with the eggs. Add the melted butter, sugars (moscovado and coconut palm) and vanilla extract. Pour the cake batter in the pan, sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Notes:  Sugar and coconut palm sugar can replace each other in the same proportion. Arrowroot flour is a thickener and can be replaced with the same amount of cornstarch or with roughly twice the amount of regular flour. Don't skip the demerara sugar at the end. The sugar caramelizes but doesn't melt entirely, bringing a very subtle crunchiness to the surface of the cake.


beetroot ♥

I grew up on raw beetroots. My mom loved them and I lost count of the number of times i was awakened by the earthy-sweet taste of freshly made carrot-beetroot juice that i drank in bed with my eyes still closed. These fond memories might be one of the reasons i love beetroots so much. But i understand that beetroots can be daunting. Even with their lovely passion-like color, their earthy flavour doesn't exactly inspire love at first sight. Plus, they stain everything, making a 3 year old with finger paint on their hands look like an immaculate little angel next to them. So the purpose of this post is to convince my beet-skeptical readers to give beetroots a chance. Buy some pretty beets and try these two fabulous recipes! And then let me know.

They both use roasted beetroot, which you can easily make by wrapping a (whole, washed, seasoned with olive oil and salt) beetroot in a piece of tin foil and baking it in a 200ºC oven for aprox. 50 minutes (or until tender). Don't peel them before roasting. After they cool down, the peel will come out almost by itself. Also, I beg you not to buy those horrible precooked ones. If you don't have a lot of time, you can roast it in advance and keep in the fridge until you need it. So, here it goes. Enjoy!

Roasted beetroot salad with arugula, softened onions and pine nuts
Ingredients (for 2): 1 roasted beetroot, cut in 8 equal pieces 50g arugula leaves (or enough to cover the base of a big plate) 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts 1 medium onion (red look prettier and are usually sweeter but use whatever you got) fresh thyme leaves honey, olive oil, salt, pepper (to taste) 2 pieces rye bread (or other dark country bread) soft sheep cheese, like queijo de azeitão

Directions: Peel your onion and cut in 8 equal pieces. Place a small skillet on the stove, add a bit of ghee (or butter/olive oil) so that the bottom is covered in fat. When the ghee melts, add the onion, a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Let cook on a medium fire, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and have gained a bit of color. By now they should taste sweet. Turn off the oven and reserve onions. Meanwhile make your dressing. Put some olive oil, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust quantities. Use the onion skillet to toast the pine nuts (low heat, stirring constantly). Be careful as they burn pretty easily. Place the arugula leaves on a dish and scatter around the beetroot, onion and pine nuts. Season with the dressing and add some extra thyme leaves. Toast the pieces of bread and spread the cheese on top. Eat the salad alongside the bread.

Spaghetti with roasted beetroot sauce inspired by here, via here.
Ingredients (for 2): 200g whole wheat spaghetti 1 roasted beetroot 5 walnuts 2 tbsp lemon juice (or more, to taste) fresh thyme leaves 2 heaped tablespoons of requeijão (or good quality ricotta) 1 big garlic clove or 2 small ones olive oil, salt, pepper (to taste)

Directions: Boil a big pot of salted water and cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking, pulse the beetroot, walnuts, garlic, thyme leaves, olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a food processor. Drain the pasta, reserve a bit of water and return to the pot. Toss with the beetroot mixture and add a little water from the pasta for more creaminess, if needed. Serve with a dollop of requeijão, a drizzle of olive oil and some extra thyme leaves.


learning to ride

B. is learning to ride her bike. We recently took off her training wheels and had been looking for a place to practice. But in Lisbon....mmmm... not as easy as one might think. Bumpy pavement, not long enough, not wide enough, too crowded... We were yet to find the perfect place to practice her wobbly riding.

But not anymore. Right behind Museu do Oriente, next to the marina, is the Fun Track, a free huge open space: smooth pavement, long, wide... exactly what we'd been looking for! There's also a rental spot, where you can rent bikes, inline skates and pedal go-karts. A fun healthy way to spend a weekend morning! Inspite of B.'s frustration and willingness to swap the bike for a pair of skates (her real passion!), I'm looking forward to next weekend's bike practice. I hope she is too! Hopefully, with her persistence and our help, she'll be riding on her own in no time. It makes me smiles just picturing it.


things I'm loving

The sun is still shining but my heart is very autumny already. I'm dreaming of apple pies (apple anything, really!), winter squash, quinces (this year i plan to explore all their potential) and anything warm and cozy, like reading food literature in the sofa with D. and a blanket.

Meanwhile, while i wait for the rain, here are a few links from around the internet. "This is about using whatever you have, like a stick, to do something big. You don't need the latest tools or the best laptop or a beautiful studio or a perfect sunny day to make something great. You already have what you need." So true...
These photos, taken in Minho, right near the border with Spain.
 I love that americans have clubs for anything. I think i would like to have one myself. It's such a fun way to put our brains to work.
Family of 6 + 14 dogs, living in the french countryside. Beautiful.
Andrew and Carissa. A photographer and a filmmaker, who have just become parents. Their life in pictures.
Ever dreamed of having a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Check this blog, then!
  The selby. Creative people in their personal spaces. Have fun!


millet porridge

I first came across the idea of using millet in porridge on a weekend I spent with D. in lovely peaceful Belgais. The Portuguese Macrobiotic Institute (IMP) was having a sort of retreat there and we were lucky enough to share their meals. And, let me tell you, no pricey Wagyu beef would make me smile the way those guys have, with their yummy balanced meals.
Do you know the feeling of wanting to eat as slowly as you possibly can so that you can longer appreciate the wonderful flavours in your mouth? You do, don’t you? So you know what I’m talking about. So, one morning, one of these god-sent beautiful people who make their mission on earth to bring delicious food into our mouths, made a millet porridge for breakfast. It was so exciting to realize how amazing that mild-looking mash tasted! Simple, yet fulfilling, nutritious and delicious. In the good way, the one that makes you feel gooood even after you’ve finished eating. I’ve been making a lot millet porridge lately. With the tips from the IMP cook, advise from Sarah (like soaking the millet overnight), some tweaks here and there and my favorite thing: toppings. Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, raw cacao, cinnamon, dried fruit, fresh fruit, honey, homemade jam... so many flavours to choose from. Play with different textures and use your instinct to figure out what flavours to match. Or the expiration dates to help you choose. Or just bring different toppings to the table and let people choose their own. B. loves it. Nothing motivates kids more than being able to participate in what they're eating. And if they're still whining for their sugary cereals after that, hand them the dark chocolate bar and a peeler. If shaved dark chocolate doesn't work, i don't know what will! Good luck and bon appétit! 

Millet porridge (for 2 people) 
Ingredients: 1 cup millet, soaked overnight A few strips of lemon rind 3 cups water little pinch of sea salt toppings (see above). Here, i used honey, walnuts, flaxseed meal, cinnamon and dried apricots cooked alongside the millet. 

Directions: Wash the millet and soak it in fresh water (preferably overnight). In the morning, drain the millet, place it on a pot and turn on the heat. Stir for a couple of minutes until the remaining water evaporates. Cooked millet can have a somehow bitter tang. These first steps will avoid that. Add the water, salt and lemon strips to the millet and let cook for aprox. 40 minutes or until soft and mushy. If necessary, add more water and cook for a bit longer. Turn off the heat, remove the lemon rind (i don't, but i'm a lemon freak) and serve. (optional: use your hand blender to puree the millet before serving) 

Note: When i have leftovers, i pack it and take it to work to eat in the afternoon. During the day, the millet will absorb the honey and all the different flavours and will taste even better! And a few pictures from our visit to Belgais. Oh, the memories... 


An epic weekend

Sometimes i really feel i'm a lucky lucky girl. Last weekend i had the pleasure and the privilege of meeting healthy-food-goddess Sarah Britton from My New Roots. And if that alone wasn't enough to blow any healthy-foodie's mind, i also had the fortune to watch her cook, move around in the kitchen, talk about her adventurous journey from sugar-addict to sugar-free, share her knowledge on nutrition and the right way to feed ourselves and, last but no less important: show that not only is she an amazing mouth-watering-passionate cook, but also a lovely, simple and truly inspiring person.

Today, for the first time in days, i had a real sugar craving. I picked up a medjool* date, my jar of tahini and 2 hazelnuts, spread the tahini on the date (wow. talk about balancing flavours!) and ate them with the hazelnuts. It was delicious, the craving was gone in a few minutes and i felt proud of myself. I know Sarah would have felt too, if only she knew! :) * I had heard a lot about medjool dates, but had never (until a couple of days ago) tasted one. I can just say (and by 'I', i mean someone who thought hated dates) they were worth every one of the 23€ i spent buying a kilo of them!) Try and then let me know!


nectarines, almonds and raspberry

We do variations around yoghurt with fruit, nuts, seeds and granola almost on a daily basis. Plain yoghurt, whatever fruit you want/need to use up and nuts, seeds or granola for the "crunch factor". When we feel the need to add some extra flavour, we finish up with some brown granulated sugar, cinnnamon or shaved dark chocolate. That's it! Yummy, right?

This time, instead of using fresh nectarines, i cooked them the night before in a bit of water with approximately a teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract until all the water evaporated into a syrup and the fruit was tender and sweet. In the morning i whisked the yoghurt with a spoon to make it creamier, added the stewed fruit, a few almonds (toasted in a pan and coarsely shaved) and one or two frozen raspberries. Perfect! B. loved it and singled it out as one of the best combinations so far. I agree.


couscous with chickpeas, spinach and mint

Today i wanted to tell you about the tasty breakfast we had this morning, but i'll tell you about that tomorrow and instead i'll leave you the link of a recipe i'm dying to try. Check out this colorful, warm, Autumn-welcoming couscous tagine!
[Source: Recipes for health, NY Times; Photo by: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times]

And if you find the time, check out all of Martha Rose Shulman recipes. They are smartly organized by ingredients, which i think it's very convenient when you're looking for ways to spend what you already have at home. They're simple, healthy and look so yummy they make me want to drive directly to the nearest market and spend the rest of the day cooking. Now that i've been half the time alone, there's not much chance for plenty of cooking. Everything i buy or cook just seems to last...fo-re-ver and i miss cooking proper dinners every night, planning my food shopping and seeing the food vanish quickly, leaving space for further planning and further cooking.


O melhor arroz doce do mundo!

This post was first posted in portuguese in my previous blog. Because it was so popular and because a few people have asked me to re-post it, here it goes. Hope you enjoy it! This post will be organized into a Q&A form. Questions that usually come up when thinking about how to do arroz doce. And the answers i came up with once i made myself those questions.

[Arroz doce with a cinnamon Hello Kitty, made for B.'s 4th birthday, last year] 

Which rice to use? Any short grain rice really. You can use arborio or carnaroli (the ones usually used in risotto). In Portugal we have a slightly-longer-grain rice, but still on the short side, that we traditionally use in arroz doce, called carolino. I use that one, but use whatever suits you best. As long as it's a short grain, starchy one.

Wash the rice. Yes or no? The rice should not be washed, as it will take off the starch (read creaminess). On the other hand, water does prevent the grains from sticking into each other when cooking in the milk (which can be very annoying!). To get around this, i wet the rice with a bit of water (just enough to cover it), soak it for around 5 minutes while the milk is heating and then add the rice and water to the hot milk. This will prevent the grains from sticking while perserving the starch. Plus: soaking the rice before cooking helps to break down the phytic acid present in the outer layer of grains, helping in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, especially zinc.

Cook the rice in water first? I usually cook most everything in water, rarely use stocks, don't really care much about the supposed loss of flavor induced by the water and everything turns out great anyway. But when i tried to briefly cook the rice in water (as traditionally many people do) before adding the milk, i felt the flavor turned out too bland and the rice less creamy. So i cook it directly in the milk so that the grain is entirely hydrated with something that gives it flavor and creaminess.

Milk. How much and what type? I always use whole fresh milk. Most recipes i found had a small proportion of milk. Since i don't cook the rice in water first, i use a generous amount of milk. This way you get a flavorful, extra-creamy rice. Yummy!

What else? Yolks? Butter? Lemon rind? Cinammon? I use the rind of one lemon, cut in stripes. Be sure not to include any (bitter) white flesh. I never tried to use butter, so i'm not really sure how it would turn out. About the yolk at the end, i honestly think it's more of a color issue than a flavor issue. The flavor doesn't improve enough that i think it's worth using it. But it does give the rice a lovely color, warm and inviting, so it's up to you!

Finally: I would love to hear how it turned out, in case you try it. Let me know! Bad feedback is good too. In that case, i promise to help you understand what went wrong!
Bon appétit!

Arroz Doce
Ingredients: 300 g carolino rice (or any other short grain rice) 2 l whole fresh milk rind of 1 lemon, cut into thin stripes (no white flesh) 270 g brown sugar (more if you have a sweet tooth) 1 small cinnamon stick + ground cinnamon to dust at the end

Preparation: Put the milk in a heavy pot with the lemon rind, the cinnamon stick and the sugar, stir and heat. Meanwhile, put the rice in a cup and pour water just until the rice is completely immersed and soak for around 5 minutes. Add the rice and water to the milk and cook in a low fire, stirring regularly, until the milk has evaporated and the rice has the perfect consistency (creamy, not too dry). Take the cinnamon stick and lemon rind from the rice, pour in a deep serving plate, decorate with powdered cinnamon and let it cool before eating. 


blue sky

When i'm tired and my energy seems to have been drained out of me, i like to look at the sky.

Or the sea, which has the same effect. But the sky, unlike the sea, is always right there, wherever you are. It's not a magical energy pill. But it renews the hope. And the grit to keep on moving.



Orange and grapefruit juice and a toast with butter.


domingo na Gulbenkian

We played ball at the gardens, saw the museum, met a friend for coffee and chat, had lunch at the cafeteria and went to the pond to look for frogs (B.'s favorite thing and an easy task, since there were dozens all over the place!). I love going to Gulbenkian any day, but my favorite time is sunday mornings. The museum admission is free and i can calmly stroll through the museum, or just go directly to a specific painting i want to see. I know parts of the museum by heart already but i never get tired. It's my favorite museum in Lx.


Pensão Amoreiras

I am drawn to it every time i pass by. I like the name in red (did those used to be neon lights?), the old washed-out flags in both windows, the falling tiles and the unlike colors. Standing in a posh Lisbon neighborhood it just seems tremendously out of place. I like that too! [Rua das Amoreiras, 83]


linha d'água

I don't go there as often as i should, but it is one of my favorite places in Lisbon.

The pond with its ducks and insects and water lilies stand right in front of me while i sit in an outside table, reading a book and drinking something. Water, maybe a coffee or a beer... i rarely eat when i'm there. With that background, you don't really think about food. Except when i turn left and spot a few rows of rosemary shrubs growing and my mind suddenly starts to wonder, thinking about all the nice roasts i would use it in!


a supermarket walk

I went to the supermarket. I bought spaghetti, summer savory and 4 carrots. I took my camera.


love and muffins

...make a perfect weekend.
(the ones in the picture are the "espresso banana muffins" from this lady's second book. A nice grab and go breakfast, with the energy kick from the espresso and all the general goodness of the bananas and walnuts)


can the can

A new place opened in sunny Terreiro do Paço.

Expect a wide space with a double ceiling suspending a chandelier made of 3000 fish cans, a huge wooden shelf, regular fado performances and light meals with good canned food that doesn't hark back to summer camping in your teens. No worries, camping (and all things related) haters. You are safe in here.

The starter of olives with lemon/orange rind and thyme was very much appreciated by B. (our official olive expert) and the bread was good too, which is always a good base start for a decent restaurant. For main, I had a yummy mackerel salad with rocket, dried tomatoes, croutons, sliced almonds and shaved zucchini. And then i drooled for a while over the "berry couscous with Porto wine, mint and honey" on the menu, but eventually didn't order it. I'm not really sure why. I guess i was looking for an excuse to return.


in lapa

I have a crazy dream of taking a picture of every different tiled facade in Lisbon.

[Rua dos Navegantes, 5, Lisboa] What better day to start than today, right? {smile}


tomato salad with feta and basil

Any delicious red tomatoes will do, but all the different colors do look nice together, don't they?

Farmer's market in Campo Pequeno

Oh, how i love to go there and walk home with my bag full of pretty tasteful veggies. Better still when the vendor is nice, helpful and even throws in a bunch of lemon basil for free, suggesting i do a tea with it.


Pea bruschetta with feta and mint

My stove is returning to life. Slooowly, though. Today it warmed some leftover fish green curry for lunch and boiled some frozen peas for dinner. Frozen peas. For years, they used to almost dry out in my freezer. I always had them, since they're so handy, but they inevitably ended up forgotten in the freezer's bottom drawer...until this bruschetta came along.


tomato salad with feta and basil

Any delicious red tomatoes will do, but all the different colors do look nice together, don't they?

kitchen diaries

Since D. and B. left, my cooking activity has been, well... scarce. It's been pretty hot in Lisbon these days and i just want to eat either fruit or very simple food that doesn't involve getting near the stove.


ikea hottel and a long walk

Today was the last day of a very busy and eventful week. A birth, 2 birthdays, B. and D. leaving me by myself for the next few weeks, going back to hard work after some well deserved holidays... like I said: busy! But it could not have ended in a better way, with a long long walk, a long long lunch with friends and a wonderful surprise: IKEA HOTTËL.



It was kind of crowded. But swimming and playing with my nieces in that (almost) waveless sea and those three amazing sailboats in the distance, i honestly couldn't have cared less. Plus: all those colorful parasols made such a fun picture!


wrist worms

I recently bought a pair of these beauties. They are beautiful, handmade and sent in a package so lovely i haven't yet had the courage to throw it away.

Farmer's market in Campo Pequeno

Oh, how i love to go there and walk home with my bag full of pretty tasteful veggies. Better still when the vendor is nice, helpful and even throws in a bunch of lemon basil for free, suggesting i do a tea with it.


Jam session

A mirabelle plum jam session, to be more precise. Made from all the plums we were able to pick from the tree minutes before we left our countryside retreat. Plums are a perfect fruit for jam. Full of flavour and full of pectin, which basically means: great jam, less sugar. And since i've mentioned pectin, here are a couple of things one should know before making jam: - pectin is a substance present in most fruits and some vegetables that acts as a gelling agent when combined with sugar and acid. No pectin, no jam; - the amount of pectin varies with each fruit. Fruits rich in pectin have a bigger setting power and therefore need less sugar/acid; - pectin is at its peak in just ripe fruit. When the fruit ripens further, the amount of pectin decreases and so does the gelling power. On the other hand, fully ripen fruit means more flavour; - many jam recipes call for lemon juice and lemon rind. There are three reasons for that: 1) pectin needs acid to work on that jelly texture you’re after, and lemon juice is a good alternative is your fruit is not sufficiently tart; 2) lemon (both juice and rind) are rich in pectin which can be helpful if the fruit you’re using is not 3) this is my favourite reason: lemon rind is delicious and gives a great taste to almost anything! - in case you're wondering, here are a few fruits and vegetables that are rich in pectin: apple, plum, tomato, pumpkin, quince, citrus peel and lemon. But there are more. And remember: low pectin doesn't necessarily mean you can't make jam out of it. You just have to find ways to cope with it, like mixing it with rich-pectin fruits, more sugar, more lemon juice, more time simmering; - if you like your jam with an even texture, cut the fruit as small as you can. You can also peel the fruit, but since the peel is usually rich in pectin (read: good), i wouldn’t. I like to feel small pieces of fruit and peel in my jam so i just cut the fruit in half; - don’t worry if time passes and your jam seems to remain runny. Be patient: it will work. It’s just a matter of time. Don’t forget that once it’s cold, it will always be thicker than when it’s boiling in your pot; - sterilizing the jars is important and easy. Don’t skip it if you want to be sure your jam lasts for a long time in perfect conditions. This time, because i had so many plums, i made two versions: a classical one, with cinnamon and lemon rind (you could also add lemon juice for the flavour - i will next time) and a quite different one, fresh and exotic, with vanilla bean and star anise. b. and d. readily chose the second one as the best and i did too at first, but now, after a few days of tasting both, i’m not so sure. Next time i think i'll try ginger + orange juice and rind. I don't know if it will work, but it just sounds so delicious in my mind.

Plum jam with star anise and vanilla bean
Ingredients: 3 kg plums 2 kg sugar (more or less depending on how ripe your plums are. Mine were very ripe!) 3 star anise 1 vanilla bean
Preparation: Cut the plums in small pieces, remove the stone and put in the biggest pot available. Add the sugar, stir well and let the mixture rest in the fridge (from 1 hour (that’s me!) up to 8 hours - your patience sets the limit). Meanwhile sterilize your jars. Wash them with soap in lukewarm water, rinse, put them inside a big pot with water and bring to a boil. The water should cover the jars entirely. Let it boil for at least 5 minutes and then remove the jars carefully and place in a clean tea towel. Remove the fruit mixture from the fridge and bring to a boil, on a low fire, stirring regularly. The mixture should begin to thicken after a while. To check if it’s ready, pour some jam in a cold plate and run a spoon through it. if it stays clear, you’re done.


a weekday lunch

I love meeting D. for lunch in Chiado. Brief and hasty romantic dates, but enough to cheer the long afternoon of work ahead. Last monday we went to Fábulas, a beautiful café in Chiado, now with a lovely outside seating area.


home, sweet home

As much as i love holidays, one of the best things about being away is coming back home! With my soul rested and my heart full of love, beauty and precious memories, suddenly everything seems fresh and alive. Happy to be back!


A very...plum... plum

You may remember these words from the movie "The english patient". The moment Hana feeds her burnt patient a juicy plum. As he tastes the fruit he murmurs meaningfully: "it's a very...plum...plum". The contrast between the fresh juicy plum and his dry dying skin is striking and it's a beautiful moment. I've been remembering this scene lately as picking plums has been a part of my daily routine since i got here. Yellow, purple, round, oval, extra-small and wild... So many varieties and so much of each! Such a pleasure to look up to the heavy filled branches! (pictures soon!) We've been eating them plain, mixed with yoghurt and porridge and i'm planning to use them in crumble and jam. Yet, while i rejoice over nature's bounty and being lucky to seize so much of it, It's also a little frustrating to know that a good part of it will still end up uneaten, on the floor. If you know any other good plum recipes or ideas, do let me know! ;)


A simpler life

Holidays at last! What a thrill!


Couscous summer salad (um quintal virado a oeste)

A summer salad idea. You can substitute the couscous for quinoa or other grains that suits you best. Just be sure to include lots of herbs. They add such a refreshing vibrant taste!

New Begginings (um quintal virado a oeste)

Hello and welcome!
How exciting to start a brand new blog. Like a blank notebook on the first day of a new school year. So much to learn and so many white pages ahead of us, waiting to be filled.
That's what this blog is about. A place to share what i learn and what i love. Food, nature, photography and strolling along the streets of beautiful Lisbon. And some other things along the way.
Hope you join me in my journey! Carolina


De tempos a tempos 

Começa-me a crescer uma vontade de ir viajar para algum lado!! 
Agora estou assim. A sonhar com parques, passeios longos, restaurantes e cafés bonitos onde apetece ficar a ler a ementa eternamente e comidas diferentes (ou marcas diferentes das comidas do costume) em mercados e supermercados. 
Tudo em boa companhia. 
E, a propósito deste último ponto e da vontade que me dá sempre de comprar comida nas viagens: devia existir um aparelho de teleporte especial, dedicado a produtos alimentares, que conseguisse transportar as coisas boas para nossa casa e as conservasse intocadas e frescas até ao nosso regresso.

um poema da terra. sóbrio e eficaz.

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

[To be of use by Marge Piercy]



Ontem, depois de receber o meu Mac "novo" (novo, novo não é. Uma herança bem-vinda, é mais assim) e apanhar um susto em que pensei que ia perder 1 ano e meio de fotografias e vídeos, organizei o meu iTunes e voltei a assinar o meu podcast preferido: o RadioLab É um programa de radio norte-americano que explora os mais variados temas científicos numa perspectiva super dinâmica e fora do comum. Tornou-se rapidamente um vício e até serviu como banda-sonora de jogging algumas vezes. Eu, que normalmente nem gosto de correr com música! Mas neste caso, aquilo é tão absorvente, que nem dava pelo cansaço do corpo e, assim, corria mais! Durante uns meses deixei de ouvir, mas agora voltei! Hoje estou a ouvir este, sobre um "presente" que deixamos nas nossas mães quando estamos na barriga delas e que dura anos, décadas depois de sairmos... Parece-me que nos próximos tempos vou andar nisto: de phones nas orelhas a compensar o tempo perdido! Alguns dos meus preferidos: Limits (possivelmente o meu favorito, sobre os limites do corpo humano. Genial e verdadeiramente impressionante!), Falling e Time. Se ouvirem, depois digam-me o que acharam! Também ando a ver se encontro mais podcasts giros. Já tenho alguns em vista: o Lugares Comuns, da Antena 1, o Governo Sombra da TSF e aulas de Psicologia da Universidade de Berkeley. Costumam ouvir podcasts? Têm algum que gostem muito e queiram partilhar?



No sábado entrei dentro do Jardim Botânico pela primeira vez ao fim de 14 anos a viver em Lisboa. É um bocado embaraçante dizê-lo assim, mas mais vale ir tarde do que nunca, certo?
Mas não serei a única que andou a ignorá-lo durante muito tempo porque o jardim está com um ar... ignorado. Com uma atmosfera particular, uma espécie de pó quieto que poisa sobre as coisas que ficam paradas durante muito tempo, uma espécie de cristalização do tempo sobre a matéria. E um ar bucólico que condiz com as árvores centenárias de troncos e ramos que parecem impossíveis de existir à luz da física que aprendemos na escola.

Fomos lá para visitar o Borboletário. Já lá queria ir há muito tempo e a b. foi a desculpa perfeita. O Borboletário é uma espécie de estufa dentro do jardim, onde as borboletas têm um ambiente perfeito para viver e se reproduzir, com uma variedade grande de plantas (maioritamente mediterrânicas) de onde elas tiram o nectar para se alimentarem.
À primeira vista não impressiona. Apenas umas plantas e umas borboletas que vão esvoaçando por ali. Bonito, mas sem mostrar aquilo que com um olhar mais atento se consegue descobrir.
Foi quando acedemos a ser guiados por uma rapariga (que eu imagino ser estudante de biologia ou acabadinha de se licenciar) numa visita guiada que tudo ganhou outro encanto. Apesar de não ter o maior à vontade do mundo como guia nem ser uma oradora genial, cumpriu bem o papel, respondeu a todas as nossas minhas perguntas, foi prestável, simpática e mostrou-nos muito mais do que teríamos alguma vez conseguido ver sem ela.

A b. também mostrou que tem olho e passou o tempo a descobrir coisas (lagartas e borboletas) giríssimas, que mais ninguém via. Ficámos a conhecer muito melhor as borboletas e até aprendemos a identificar algumas das mais comuns, que vemos muitas vezes passar por nós nos jardins. Conhecemos a borboleta da couve (que pode ter duas ou quatro pintas pretas, consoante é macho ou fêmea), o almirante-vermelho, a impressionante borboleta cauda de andorinha que em fase de lagarta se alimenta de uma planta tão mal-cheirosa que os predadores mal a tentam comer, sentem o cheiro e largam-na logo, a borboleta limão e a borboleta cleópatra (verdinhas e muito parecidas), o bicho pau (giríssimo. essencialmente parece um pau, mas é um bicho, daí o nome :), lagartas de bicho da seda, etc, etc...
Para além dos bichos, também é giro ver as plantas. Entre outras coisas, morangos silvestres e vários tipo de ervas aromáticas, incluindo a salva ananás, que cheira MESMO a ananás (é o máximo. uma autêntica confusão dos sentidos. como comer um morango que cheira a laranja!).

Confirmei mais uma vez que à medida que vou "crescendo", vou gostando cada vez mais de árvores e plantas e bichos e, apesar de continuar a achar que o meu lugar para viver é mesmo na cidade, já só penso em ter um quintal para brincar com a b. e o d. no jardim, plantar as minhas ervinhas e alfaces, ter um limoeiro e jantar ao ar livre todos os dias de abril a outubro!
Quando olho para guias de turismo, também já só dou por mim à procura de jardins, hortas, parques, jardins zoológicos, aquários e afins... A vida vai-me aproximando do essencial: da natureza, da comida e das pessoas. Sinto-me a mudar (de uma forma boa) quando vejo a importância que estas coisas vão ganhando em detrimento de outras que antes me ocupavam tanto o espírito. Mas ainda há tanto caminho para andar!


Bernardo Sassetti (1970-2012)

[Do silêncio revelação, Bernardo Sassetti]

"Não quero a beleza, quero a identidade"

Clarice Lispector


La mia casa mi sta stretta quando il sole brilla così

[A Forest (Remix Mix), Mixed Up, The Cure]

Hoje é dia desta música, que eu "encontrei" (seria mais exacto dizer que me "encontrou") ontem lá em casa e que me dá uma pica descomunal! É uma boa música para celebrar este dia de sol e calor que nos aguarda e que, pelo menos em mim, desperta aquela energia latente que nos acorda para o mundo. Eu ouço esta música e apetece-me pegar nos meus amados nike e palmilhar uns quilómetros, dar passeios, apanhar uv's na cara, invadir os jardins da capital... Em suma, mudar-me para a rua.
E fazer mais comidas de verão, como os tomates recheados com couscous, iogurte, harissa e manjericão que jantámos ontem, acompanhados de um D. Ermelinda branco e muita muita conversa à janela, que fingíamos ser o quintal que um dia haveremos de ter!
Um bom dia de Verão para todos!


Mercearia Criativa

A Mercearia Criativa já vai fazer 2 anos. No dia 15 de Maio celebram dois anos de luta contra a dificuldade que é ter um negócio pequeno, para um público de nicho, numa altura de crise, num país de supermercados. Tem muito valor, parece-me. Quando penso em abrir um negócio (o que, esclareço, acontece muito muito raramente!) a única coisa que me vem à cabeça é uma mercearia. Porque é o que me faz vibrar. Porque tenho recordações de infância dentro daquelas mercearias antigas, que já quase não existem, onde se compravam frutos secos a granel no Natal e os empregados eram magrinhos e nos tratavam como se fossemos só nós. A Mercearia Criativa não é igual à minha memória idílica. Nem é parecida. É diferente e muito própria. Longe da frieza distante das DeliDeluxes que andem aí e uns pontos acima das vulgares mercearias que ainda resistem, é especial. E o que a torna especial é o amor. Um amor que entusiasma quando falam dos produtos que foram escolhendo pelo país fora para trazer até nós. Um amor que participa nas nossas escolhas, se interessa, sugere, quer saber. Um amor que nos conta histórias sobre as pessoas que fizeram o que nós vamos comprar. Um amor que nos acolhe, nos cumprimenta com alegria, se lembra de nós. E, como tudo o que é feito com amor, é bem feito. Os produtos são bons, especiais, únicos. Como o queijo de cabra da Granja dos Moinhos, a muxama de atum, o bolo do caco ou o pão de Castro Verde ou outras tantas coisas que eu ainda nem provei, como a tarte de amêndoa, as anchovas,… Às vezes penso: e se fecha? Onde é que eu vou comprar [introduzir um dos supra-mencionados]? Começo a planear ir lá mais vezes porque não quero correr o risco de um dia ficar sem e sei que é sinal que já valeu a pena, que fizeram alguma diferença. Mas isto é poesia. No final, o que conta é vender mais do que se gasta. Contas. Verdadeiras contas de merceeiro. E o que eu espero, agora que fazem dois anos, é só que essas contas reflitam pelo menos algum do amor que se sente por ali.


Pesca (in)Sustentável

Quando compram peixe, pensam no que estão a comprar?

[Bacalhau, imagem de origem desconhecida]

Aqui têm um guia, feito pelo Oceanário de Lisboa, para as melhores (e piores) escolhas de peixe cá em Portugal.


Tiebele, Burkina Faso

[Cour Royale à Tiébélé, Rita Willaert, Tiebele, Burkina Faso]

Ontem, numa das minhas deambulações pelo Pinterest, descobri esta imagem da vila de Tiebele, no Burkina Faso.
A tribo Kassena (Gurunsi) vive nestas casas fortificadas, com frescos abstractos pintados pelas mulheres da tribo. As casas quadradas são para os casais e as redondas para os solteiros. O Cour Royale, que aparece na foto, é a residência do chefe da tribo.
Dizem que esta arquitectura, pela sua simplicidade e funcionalidade, serviu de inspiração ao Corbusier.
Não sei se é verdade, mas a vila parece mesmo bonita! Pena estar tão fora de mão :)