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Atole – My Favorite Winter Breakfast


I know what you’re thinking, it’s May, why would I write about my favorite winter breakfast? On April 1st, my dad passed away while playing the congas. My father was a lot of things, an artist, a musician, a poet, but he was also a really great cook. My love for food has a lot do with him and his cooking. While he introduced me to so many dishes, it’s the memory of him making “atole” that I really hold dear. What’s atole? In the southern United States, you have grits. In Mexico and New Mexico, we have atole. It is usually made thick like a porridge or thin and drinkable. While you can make it using regular cornmeal, I grew up eating it made from blue cornmeal.

I am the youngest of 3 and by the time I was born, my mom was ready to go back to work, and my dad happily volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad. I was lucky to have this time with him. While I could go on for hours with memories and hilarious “dad-raising-daughters” mishaps (allowing me to dress myself – think polka dot shirts with contrasting striped pants and the ever present ” my dad did my hair” messy side ponytail) it is him making me atole that I will offer up today. After my sisters would go to school, my dad would make us breakfast and it was often our favorite – atole. No one else in the family liked it. My sisters were put off by the color, my mom didn’t like the flavor. My dad and I loved it, it was our thing. He would make it with milk, cinnamon and maple syrup (I would sneak extra sugar when he wasn’t looking).

As I grew up, he’d send me to school with a thermos of atole to drink until I graduated from high school. As time moves on, I find I am reflecting on “little” memories the most. The everyday moments we shared.

Every time I eat atole I will make a little extra for him.

So, here it is, an adaptation of my dad’s Atole:

Ingredients:

2 cups water
1 cups atole (blue corn meal)
2 cups milk (less for a thicker porridge style. I subbed almond milk because reg. milk doesn’t love me anymore)
Maple syrup and cinnamon to taste (you can sub honey, agave or sugar)

Bring your water to a boil in a saucepan. Slowly whisk the Atole in, avoiding clumping.
Bring to a boil and add the cinnamon and syrup; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in milk as desired (no more than ½ cup for porridge style Atole).

You can flavor this however you want. Add vanilla? Sure! Make it savory? Why not!

 

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My Favorite Granola Recipe 

Regardless of the season, this is one of my favorite, easy, go-to breakfasts. Not only is it comforting, but it’s so versatile – you can use any nuts you want, spice it to make it more season appropriate and add any fruit that you wish. I promise you, make this once and it will soon be a staple in your breakfast repertoire 😋.

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Combine the oats, pepitas, and chopped nuts

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Mix in the vanilla, maple syrup and melted coconut oil

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Top with salt and mix until combined. You have no idea how good this smells! Once it’s finished you can wait for it to cool or dig in when it’s warm and fresh from the oven.


I like to top mine with almond milk and pomegranates 😍

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Whole Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts ( I used Pecans)
2 Tbsp Melted Coconut Oil
2-3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Large Pinch Fine Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you start to smell it.

Carne, Verduras, and Everything In Between

I realize I have talked some big talk about loving food on here, but there is little content dedicated to food. How that’s possible, I have no idea. It’s not fair – to me, to you – to the food!

I think everyone’s first reaction to the food here (aside from how amazing the beef is – because everyone knows that) is – “it’s so hard to eat healthy here.” Yup, those very words came out of not only mine, but every other extranjero’s mouth. At a glance this attitude is easy to understand, you have heladerias every 10 feet, and restaurant menus seem to mainly consist of – carne, queso, empanadas, pizza, and or pasta.

Eating here can also be an adjustment as the food isn’t that diverse, it’s delicious, yeah, but diverse? No. Argentine cuisine is infamous for not using spices and don’t even think about getting anything picante (spicy), I am serious. For a Mexican girl like me, this has been difficult. And due to the ridiculous restrictions on imported goods, it can be hard to find your favorite chili sauces, herbs, spices etc. And when you do find them, they are insanely overpriced.

Now, the majority of my money goes to food, in my opinion, it’s money well spent, and while I tend to eat out often (shh) I have to say that since moving here I have seriously stepped up my cooking game! I have always loved to bake, but cooking is a different breed. I am a slight control freak, and with cooking you to have to learn to let go. But, the teacher of desire has pushed me to take a step back, relax, and let go en la cocina. I I have noticed that in cooking here, I have really cut back on carbs, processed foods and sugar. OK, not sugar. I’m sorry the helado is too good.

The key to cooking, and eating, here is knowing where to go. Once you know what is going on when it comes to where to shop and what to ask for etc. you will find that there is a lot of room to be creative, and yes, healthy here. Thanks to the verdulerias on every block you can count on fresh seasonal produce -WINN! Some neighborhoods offer a better selection than others and if you can find one owned by Bolivians, you are in luck, as they always have cilantro and jalapenos.

I always avoid “the chino”, Asain owned supermercados (fyi all Asians are referred to as “Chino” here – just the way it is, ask my Vietnamese friend). Why? Their selections are limited and often overpriced. On that note, if you want to splurge on imported goods, Barrio Chino, albeit far, is your one stop shop for imported goods. But, it’s not your only option. There is a great little health food store off of Anchorena and Santa Fe that carries Sriracha, Nutella, and yes peanut butter! They also carry quinoa and other health items. There is another place near Carranza and Caballido (think Palermo Hollywood) that sells quinoa, coconut milk, popcorn kernels and other random delights. Also, there is a huge Coto (think Alberston’s) in Abasto that pretty much has everything you might need – and they deliver – just saying.

All this said, I still avoid buying and cooking fish. Back home, I cooked fish all the time, but here – I just can’t trust it. I know there are good places to buy fish here but . .. I can’t do it. But, ughhh how I miss it. Also, keep in mind – if you are only here for a short time – 6 months and under – AVOID sushi. You will just be disappointed. Everything is stuffed with cream cheese and the tuna, the tuna,  is canned tuna. There are places that sell “red tuna” but the price isn’t worth it. Yes, you might cry. But, who needs sushi when you can order asado de tira, or bife de chorizo?! “Healthy eating”, vegetarianism etc are starting to catch on here and as a result there are some great restaurants to feed your healthy appetite. They may be a little more expensive, but then again, everything is expensive here – so if you can, go for it!

Long story short, it’s possible to eat well and healthy here, it just takes time to figure it out, and that is half the fun right?! So, get out there and get cooking! Buen provecho!

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**I am unable to load images for a minute, until I purchase a new cord or laptop. Somehow I imagine the cord will come first ;). Until then, allow the random ones I will be uploading :D.

Journey to the North – Salta

I had hoped to post as we went along our trip but, knowing that we would have limited access to the internet and, in an effort to pack lightly, I decided to forgo packing my laptop. An effort I failed miserably at BTW.  I was preparing for what I thought was going to be a blistering cold journey, and if I had to bundle up, I wanted to look cute doing it. That said, in the back of my mind, I knew I would end up wearing the same things anyway. The vanity, the vanity. . . Luckily for me, I didn’t have to carry my bag much.

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Anyway – after about a 23 hour bus ride we arrived in Salta – tired, needing a shower, and hungry. After having asked a few people were we should go to eat, we got a little excited when everyone mentioned the same place – Panadería del Chuña. With all this hype, how could we NOT try it out? So, we showered and marched our hungry asses in search of what seemed to be a legendary restaurant. And, legendary it was. . .

Just east of the plaza we came upon the restaurant and each of us just stopped and stared in . . . amazement. Was the building huge? Yes. Incredible architecture? Meh. Beautiful? Not particularly. So what was the big deal? The wall opposite the entrance was lit up by a huge curtain of Christmas lights that changed colors. -_-

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There was a small debate about whether we should find another and then we succumbed because A) we were starving and B) “well, when in Salta”.

The food was mediocre at best – the empanadas were the smallest I’ve ever seen, the meat was the worst that any of us have had in Argentina, and the wine list was limited. At one point we were drenched in a savory blue lighting followed by a light show sure to bring on an epileptic attack. All the while there was a mix of Folkclorico dancing, singing, ANND a video of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World which included (of course) Iguazu Falls. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cultural event – I did major in Anthropology in college with a focus on Cultural Anthro, but this was too much, even for me.

The strange thing is, we seemed to be the only non-Argentines there. And everyone was LOVING IT. They were clapping, cheering and dancing along. It was all a bit awkward, to say the least. I am sure Salta has some wonderful restaurants but this is not one of them.

Maybe it was the long bus ride, maybe it was the lighting that made my food look like black ink,IMG_6989 or that this place was INSANELY over priced (I am serious you can eat 10x better in Buenos Aires for less, and that is saying something) – whatever the reason we were eager to finish our wine and get some sleep.

All of that said, we still had a great time and it was an experience. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for?

**** I have had issues with loading images this week, thus the delay in posting AND the lack of pictures. But don’t worry, I will be providing images as soon as I can ;).

It’s breakfast, breakfast tiiime

You wake up, your hungry, so you go for a stroll and you happen to choose one of the many cafe’s lining the street. You don’t expect much. You know you won’t get bacon, there will be no Cholula on the table – but on the upside there will be medialunas :).

Now, a lot of restaurants have this amazing little thing called “menu ejecutivo” – where you can get a few courses for a set price. These are great if you are on a budget but they can be hit or miss. But this place, this place was different.

Bercy Cafe - Pueyrredón 1585

Bercy Cafe – Pueyrredón 1585

So, I’ll break it down – 40 some pesos will get you coffee/tea, 2 medialunas a pretty large jamon y queso omelette, a fruit salad, annnnd an orange juice. Oh, and they provided bread. Not only is that a TON of food, it was simple yes, but it was also pretty tasty.

As if that isn’t enough – everything was timed out really well!!!! For some reason at a lot of restaurants here your server will bring you everything all at once. So many times I have sat down ordered a tea to start and they bring it 15-20 min later with my food. SMH. I am thirsty, I would like to have something to sip on while staring into the distance pretending to be deep in thought.

Also, our server was pretty fantastic.

Moral of the story – you have a hunger? You on a budget? Head over to Pueyrredón 1585 (Next to Hospital Aleman) you won’t regret it.

No chocolate bunnies here

So, I have been off the grid for the past week/2 weeks. First, because of a lot of power outages and second, because I was on “feriado” (bank holiday).  I haven’t had a vacation in a while so I took full advantage of it. Sorry about my absence, but I needed to recharge, and a friend came back to Buenos, sooo all in all it made sitting down and writing next to impossible! Buuut, back to holidays.

It’s a week late but the reason I had so much time off is because the past week was Holy week. I don’t think anyone would call me religious, and as I have grown older the holidays have lost their sparkle, I can’t recall the last time I properly celebrated a Christian holiday. This is the first Easter I haven’t had to work – serving families their brunch in their “Easter best” – since I lived at home (time abroad aside). And, let’s be real, they aren’t the same when you don’t have your parents nearby.

Typically I probably wouldn’t have done anything special but seeing as majority of the population here in Argentina is Catholic, and I mean the new Pope is Argentinean, it only seemed fitting to celebrate in some way. So what do a bunch of extranjeros do on this holiday far from those they love? Go to San Telmo and have a brunch picnic in the park. Medialunas (croissants), empanadas, alfajores, pastries on pastries on pastries filled with dolce de leche.

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The weather was great, there was frisbee to be played – well not for me of course 😉 – the best part and one of the reasons I love the parks here – this random band set up right in front of us and put on a pretty great show! Everyone loved it, including the drunks who came up to sing a few songs. LOL. Their songs were so catchy I still have one stuck in my head – “la noche dormirrrrrr – la noche dormir”

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We didn’t hunt for eggs – or throw them at each other (it’s a Swiss thing) – but it was a pretty great Easter and it kept the homesickness at bay. I hope your holiday was just as wonderful!

Maybe I Need a Spoonful of Sugar

I tend to lean on the positive side of things, but as amazing as this city is, there are definitely some things that rub me wrong. Everything is a balancing act, no? You can’t have the good without the bad. So, as promised, here are a few of my LEAST favorite things here in Buenos Aires.

1) Las Cucarachas (cockroaches) – I am not accustomed to this pest. Thanks to the geckos, and other insects and bugs, I never really noticed the cockroaches in India (except for one that will forever live in infamy – it was the size of a kitten – no joke).  But here, oh man, did you know they can FLY?! And swim. HELL NO. Gracias, pero no gracias.

2) The streets – As charming as they can be, some are cobbled, some are patterned – all are busted. Pair that with my clumsy self, and you have another sprained ankle waiting to happen. Seriously. I haven’t worn heels here because if I need to “take it to the streets” – the streets will win.

3) The Colectivos (buses) – This is more of a love/hate relationship. But, on days like today when they are over crowded, and what should be a 30 minute commute turns into a 45, AND the bus driver just doesn’t stop at your stop, for no known reason, thus forcing you to walk an extra 5 blocks, making you late for work – yeah, the 29 is on my list today.

4) Limited Accessibility to Spicy Food – Argentines aren’t too keen on spicy food. While the cuisine is divine, I am often left longing for the slow burn that comes with a well seasoned spicy dish. This is coming from someone that grew up snacking on jalapenos with salt – the heat feeds my soul. One of my housemates threw down a bottle of Siracha on the table the other night and I almost wept. If I could only find some Cholula.

5) Inflation – Inflation is real, it is no joke, and in the time I have been here the inflation rate has jumped up about 5% – bringing us to around 25%. This number is estimated, but don’t worry it will go up next month :).

6) Alfajores – Because I love those little cookies too much 😦

OK, that’s enough for now. I don’t think Fraulien Maria would be so apt to make me a jumper made of curtains for this list.