Braided Bread

Late yesterday afternoon I was looking at Facebook and a post came up for making a braided bread.  It sounded so easy that I decided to try it.  All the ingredients are placed in a zip lock bag and kneaded through the bag, leaving your hands and counter clean. This was the recipe for me!  After you had the ingredients all mixed together you placed the bag in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes you add 1/4 cup more flour and knead that into the mixture, place that on the counter for 1 more hour of rise time, still inside the zip lock bag.  Then cut the dough into three same sized pieces and with your hands on a flour covered counter, roll them out into long ropes, braid, coat with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds – bake for 40 minutes and it was done.  Easiest recipe I have ever used and no clean up…right up my alley.  And it looked very pretty when it was ready. I am attempting to bake with other flours besides wheat, so 1/3 of the flour in this recipe was sorghum called sorgo in Uruguay. It added a nutty flavor and both Joe and I enjoyed it. I made french toast from it this morning with cinnamon and honey. Would I make it again? Yes.  Next time I would use a different non-wheat flour just to see how it worked out.

Edited after the original post: Several folks asked for the recipe and so I am attaching the YouTube video with the recipe and instructions.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjmILw86U34  

enjoy!  nl

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

We had fireplaces in a few of our homes in the US. But never needed any of them for heat. They were really more ornamental – of course we lived in the south and it didn’t get very cold often and if it did, we had central heating. Here you depend upon your fireplace to heat your home.  Most homes here do not come with any type of central heat or air conditioning, ours included.

This is a little over two loads of eucalyptus wood, cost per load $160 US.  We are not into winter yet but for the past two weeks have had a fire going from 8am until 8pm every day. We are becoming pretty proficient in fire starting, it is an art form all in itself.  Our other homes had gas starters or we just used those Duraflame logs that all you need to do is light a corner of the bag and voilà, you had a fire. It was a learning curve here, we found bottled kerosene in the grocery store and used rags soaked in this to start the fire.  Then a super helpful guy at the hardware store said, “why don’t you just use a tuna can under the logs”.  We are now pros at making fires, just about 1/4 cup of kerosene in the bottom of the can, place a few smaller starter logs (which they call rollos) on the grate and set the tuna can on fire. Always learning something new. Like using pine cones, but that’s another post.

To supplement the fire we have purchased several space heaters, one is a propane gas heater below:

The biggest issue with this is that it puts humidity in the air and our winters are humid enough without adding more humidity. But if we run it when the fireplace is going, it seems to be fine.

Next we bought one that looks like a radiator below:

This one filled with oil that is heated by electricity, not the best for here because electricity is very expensive.

and the last is a small heater with a fan just for the bathroom:

Also, not the greatest choice due to the cost of electricity. But it can heat the bathroom in just a few minutes. Also it blows the main fuse for the house if anything much else is running at the same time.

We also bought an electric blanket that goes on the mattress underneath the sheets and it is super snugly after just a few minutes ! I even put the pillows under there to warm up.  Next I will add the pajamas……

We have not received a full months’ electric bill yet, can’t wait to see what it will be.

 

The Great Outdoors

Every opportunity I get to be out-of-doors I take it.  I would rather be working in the yard almost more than anything, one exception would be baking in the kitchen.  But when the weather is cooperating with sun and moderate temperatures, (moderate for me now is 60) I take my clippers, tarp and rake out to the yard for some fresh air and garden time.

The yard has a huge pine tree with needles that are falling all the time. Here you do not see any pine cones just lying around, pine cones are used to get your fire started so get out early after a windy day or they will be cleaned up by one of your neighbors.

The low temperatures right now are in the 40’s with highs into the 60’s.  But if the day is overcast forget about seeing 60.  The house we rented sits on a corner lot filled with trees, shrubs, a huge white rose-bush, bird of paradise, a Bougainvillea shaped like a basket (which is very popular in our area), the plant above which is huge and kind of scary and assorted flowing bushes as well as several trees that I have no idea what they are because they were cut way back before we moved into the house.

Joe followed me around with the camera while I was out on this day. And caught me enjoying a great afternoon out-of-doors.

 The grass is in need of some TLC as it looks to be more weeds than grass. But we have all fall and winter to get it in shape.

Restaurante Don Vito

There are several nice restaurants within about 6-8 blocks of our home.  Don Vito happens to be one that we have frequented several times. It has a really big menu from pizza to steaks and pasta and seafood and so much in between.

We started our dining at Don Vito’s with chivitos when we came here a few months ago looking for a house to rent. But soon moved up to Sunday steak dinners.  The food is plentiful and Joe and I found we could order one meal and just split it and that is more than enough for us.

The steak we chose has been on the Chefs suggestion special daily menu. Bife Ancho similar to a sirloin as it is a thick cut, but tender like a tenderloin. The cut is like rib eye. We ask it to be cooked very rare. It is cooked on the parrilla which is a style of roasting meat over wood. It came with a baked white potato, a baked orange sweet potato, a roasted red pepper as well as rolls and a condiment tray which had chimichurri, an assorted chopped up pickled veggies and a mayo garlic and herb spread that we actually used on our baked potato. Yesterday we ordered an OJ for me as I am fighting a cold and a cappuccino for Joe and the total bill including a 10% tip was 669 pesos or $24. It was great this is the third Sunday we had it for lunch, so much food we can’t fit anything for dinner.

The kids love that they have a few parrots at the front of the restaurant.  Keeps them busy while their parents enjoy a nice lunch.

It was a beautiful sunny day for an enjoyable outdoor dining experience.  This happens to be our favorite restaurant so far.

Feria One Block from the House

Every Thursday afternoon there is a feria (farmers market) set up one block from our house. It has seafood, cheese, meats, sausages, clothes, shoes, plants, cleaning supplies, garden items, you name it and it will likely be found on a table, or under a canopy or in a trailer.  I know that in Montevideo the residents of the street receive a tax incentive for having the farmers market in front of their homes each week and that it is a three-year commitment allowing the mercado to be on your street.

They sell grains and beans in quantity, plus all different types of herbs and spices.  Some places sell medicinal herbs as well.This stand had honey and home canned veggie mixes.Not a great deal of fruit this time of year.  But they did have three varieties of apples, bananas, pears, juice and eating oranges and plums.  One stand had beautiful strawberries but there were just too many people.These trailers have chilled display cases with cheeses, salami and other cold cut meats, they also have several varieties of olives.This market does not get totally set up until around 3pm. By 4pm it was packed with people. This week the variety of warm clothing was unbelievable – coats, hats, scarves, gloves, you name it and it was at the market.  Joe and I bought heavy wool socks and gloves along with some fruits and veggies for the week.  We also bought a variety pack of sweets, cookies and alfahores. It came out to 10 pesos a piece.  Not bad since we cut everything in half and share.Another trailer with cheese, salami and cold cuts. This one sells pet supplies. Makeup and nail polish anyone? I wanted all three of these cast iron pots.  Not exactly sure what to do with the one with legs… Now for all you Yerba Mate drinkers…I bought a dozen or so of the pansies.  Hopefully this afternoon I will get them into the planter on the front porch. Next time Joe requested that I take close up pictures so you could see the actual items and cost.  Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Thursday market. Joe also said the best part was eating the torta fritas that reminded him of hojaldras in Panama.

Rudy The Burger House, Montevideo Uruguay

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You must taste the burgers at Rudy’s. Located on Av 26 de Marzo here in Montevideo.  Oh MY Oh MY.  First the restaurant located almost next door to the apartment we rented for the past 3 months. The burgers we had were nothing short of fabulous. The meat was excellent, juicy is not the word for this burger, maybe super juicy would be better.  We ordered the burgers jugoso which mean juicy but it actually is rare but not bloody red, just very juicy and dripping flavor. By the way, the server told us they make their own hamburg rolls as well.

It is a cute place with out front seating on a patio overlooking the sidewalk and road, inside seating in several different rooms as well as a patio out back that is walled and super private.  Our first visit we opted for the patio in the back and it was cozy, private and perfect for our lunch date.

The menu is burgers and fries. We wanted the cheeseburgers with all the trimmings and rustic fries.

Excellent.  We went back several more times before we moved and each time I brought the camera and the battery was dead. Guess I need a new camera.

If you are visiting Montevideo you MUST make a trip to Rudy. The best burger we have ever had. The beef here in Uruguay is outstanding and these folks know how to do it right. The only thing they do is burgers…..out of this world delicious.

Yerba Maté

Yerba Maté (pronounced mah-teh) is not just tea, it is a way of life and a cultural tradition that you can see everywhere in Uruguay. From an office worker on his/her way to work to a gaucho – folks carry their mate cups called gourds, straws called bombilla and hot water thermos everywhere they go. Some even have a fancy leather carrying case just for their maté. Morning or evening it is always maté time.

While Joe and I were flying from Santiago Chile to Montevideo our plane had the entire Montevideo futbol team Cerro on it.  Many of the players had their maté essentials with them for the flight. That was the first time we had seen the complete set including the leather carrying case.

There is a process to making Yerba Maté the right way.  I am not in any way an expert but I have drunk it many times over the past several years but never in the gourd. I will tell you what I have read and heard about that process. First folks have their favorite brand of maté, they come in pretty large bags the size of a 5 lb sack of flour is the largest I have seen down to very small bags.

You put the dry Yerba Maté into your cup, add a small amount of hot water, not boiling, to wet the maté which activates it.  Allow about 30 seconds for the water to infuse the leaves. Fill the cup with more water and insert the straw called the bombilla. You do not move the bombilla once inserted, no stirring, no messing with the bombilla. If offered a cup of maté you would drink the entire cup, no stirring the straw and return to the owner. Sharing a cup of maté is a very common practice here.  Locals refill the cup until the thermos of hot water is empty. Using the maté grounds 4 or 5 times. And many restaurants will sell just hot water for your mate – there are even vending machines for just hot water.

Uruguayans as well as many Argentinians enjoy this tea all day long.  I have even heard stories that folks wake up early, have their maté and then go back to bed.

Below are just a few examples of the complete set being sold in the mall currently.

Now lets talk bombillas. Oh my, what a selection is available here. Most I have seen have been silver, with all different types of screens to stop the leaves from coming up the straw.

Just another cultural difference that we are learning about.