Monday, September 26, 2011

Second time around



So I decided to do it again, this whole moving-to-a-country-where-I-dont-know-anyone-and-dont-speak-the-language thing.

It's one of those weird things, where I felt like I knew what to expect because I´ve done it before, and yet in no way has it made it any easier.

It's funny, too, because the last time I was in the states, people kept asking me what my plans were, and I would explain my "plans", emphasis on the quotations marks...and that I was a bit nervous...and the response was largely, well, blase. It's not that I think anyone needs to give a crap about my half-brained plans, far from it, it's just that when I first moved to Argentina, the response, even from people I only see once every couple years, was, you WHAT? ARE YOU GOING TO BE OKAY? WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS? YOU DONT SPEAK THE LANGUAGE! (All legitimate concerns) And all concerns that I continue to consider legitimate, and that I still occasionally have. But now, the collective reaction is along the lines of: Eva's crazy enough to have done it before, and it worked out fine, so of course it will work out fine. Shrug. What should we make for dinner?


So, yeah. I am still freaked out. It is not easier. And it will be fine. I wonder if having your second kid is like this. You know the drill, and it is still crazy hard. The first day here I literally couldn't ask where the bathroom was. (I tried, and the girl just looked at me. How do you gesture-communicate "bathroom" without getting arrested?) I couldn't figure out how to make a phone call. (You have to buy a prepaid card at a newspaper stand and then you stick it into the pay phone. Super unexpected.) I asked the guy at the supermarket what the difference was between farinha de milho (cornmeal) and fubá (cornmeal?) because both had identical ingredients (corn) but were clearly different products, and he looked at me like I was crazy, farinha é farinha e fubá é fubá! (Flour is flour and fuba is fuba!) Uhhh, thanks.


Instead of weirdo corn whatever, we've been eating granola. Like, batches and batches of it. I don't know why, other than that they serve it on top of açai, whose acquantaince I was more than happy to make after hearing about it from everyone who had ever traveled to Brazil. Yes, it is amazing, who knows if it has all the supposed health benefits but it's inexpensive, it's delicious, and it has about 1000 calories a cup (or so I'm told). I suppose that could be the argument for eating McDonald's, too, but we're living on top of a mountain, I'm pressed for calories, and I feel 1000% less sick to my stomach eating açai than I would be eating some American-style junk food (perros quenchis- hot dogs! cost about the same). It's like eating purple jamba juice with a spoon. And they will sprinkle granola on top for you if you want, 'cause, you know, it's not gut-busting enough on its own.



So, granola. I've made a lot of it over the years, going through phases where I made it ever week, never making it in Argentina because I could never find rolled oats, and I've gone through multiple versions. Somehow this one seems just right. Muscovado sugar is pleasantly common here, and it given the granola a lovely caramel-y flavor (I've had problems in the past with undone and then burnt granola, which never tastes good, and the muscovado seems be immune from this problem. Assuming that you don't, you know, leave the house while it's in the oven.) You can certainly throw in nuts or seeds here, and/or stir in dried fruit/chocolate/candied ginger afterward once it's cooled (adding dried fruit before baking will result in hard little fruit pebbles). But I do think it's a really nice base, which is always good to have, especially when you're not quite sure what's coming around the bend.


Granola

3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. dried unsweetened coconut
5 Tbsp. muscovado sugar*
3 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. water
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. In a large bowl, mix the oats and coconut together. Add the rest of the ingredients to a small pot and heat it, stirring, just until it begins to bubble up at the edges and the sugar is completely melted. Immediately pour over the oats and stir until the oats are evenly coated. Spread the oats out on a rimmed baking sheet, but try not to let any of it wander too much into the corners or right next to the edges as it tends to want to burn in those places. Bake for 10 min., then stir well. Bake another 10 min., until golden brown. Let cool, then transfer to a storage container, breaking up any big chunks if you're not a fan (do those people exist?). Eat with milk. Try to make it last more than a day. (Granola is crazy filling in a very sneaky way. As in, I just had a big bowl of oats for breakfast, why do I feel like I just ate half a pan of lasagna? Proceed with caution.)

*Muscovado sugar seems to vary in sweetness by brand, so you might want to adjust the proportion of white sugar. If your moscovado tastes similar to brown sugar, you might want to change the ration to 6 Tbsp. moscovado to 2 Tbsp. white sugar.





Aquí hay una receta básica para granola. También se puede echar nueces o semillas a la mezcla antes de hornearla, y también cualquier frutos secos, pasas o chocolate después de hornearla (si los echas antes si vuelven duros en el calor del horno).

Granola

3 tazas de avena gruesa (flocos gruesos)
1/2 taza de coco rallado 
5 cucharadas de azúcar moscovado (buscala en tiendas dieteticas)
3 cucharadas de azúcar blanca
2 cucharadas de aceite vegetal (girasol)
2 cucharadas de agua
una pizca de sal

Precalienta el horno a 150ºC. En un bol grande, combina la avena y el coco. Echa los demás ingredientes a una olla pequeña y calentala, revolviendo, justo hasta que empiece hacer burbujas por los lados y todo el azúcar esté completamente derretida. Inmediatamente echale sobre la avena y revuelve hasta que la avena esté untada uniformamente. Distribuye la avena en una capa fina sobre una bandeja con lados bajos, pero trata de que la avena no se vaya a los rincones o demasiado cercana a los lados porque suele quemarse allí. Hornea durante 10 minutos, después revuelvela bien. Hornea otro 10 minutos, hasta que esté doradita pero que no haya empezado a ponerse cafe. Dejala enfriar, después guardala en una coquita, rompiendo los pedazos grandes si no te gustan. Come con leche. Trata de que dure más de un día. (Granola es muy llenadora pero de forma muy engañosa...como, comes un bol grande para el desayuno y cuando te paras sentis como si hubieras comido media bandeja de lasagna. Entonces sigue con cuidado.)

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