Category Archives: rambling

Buenos Aires in bits and bites

When you live in such a huge city, it´s hard to feel like you´ve got a good grip on it since there´s no way to know it all. And sometimes that hugeness can make you block out your surroundings and not pay attention to the little bits of beauty that can be found all around if only you keep your eyes open.

And having grown up in the suburbs, there´s just so much I have left to discover. So I decided to make an effort to explore more and to drag my camera everywhere so I could capture it.

Which is why I´m planning to make this a weekly, bi-weekly or at least a monthly series, so those of you abroad can get to know the city a bit more along with me, and those of you who live here or have already visited can see it under a different light. Hope you like it!

Iglesia de Guadalupe
Iglesia de Guadalupe (between Charcas and Medrano)

Iglesia de Guadalupe

Iglesia de Guadalupe

graffity shrine
Shrine to all things graffiti (check out the monkeys above the columns!)

graffity shrine

art
Art in the park (in Plaza Armenia, between Costa Rica and Armenia)

the body, deconstructed

city art

Jewish food
Jewish New Year celebrations (in this case, just the food)

Jewish New Year

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Filed under Argentina, Buenos Aires, rambling

Random

No, the Daring Baker challenge didn´t kill me or induce a blissful buttery-chocolatey comma, I just haven´t been cooking that many note-worthy recipes lately.

But since I don´t like to leave you empty-handed for longer than a week or so, I´m gonna share some images of my “little” brother making sushi in an attempt to make him stop bugging me about it and show that everyone, and I mean everyone, can make sushi… this is what I call multi-purpose writing, ladies and gentlemen!

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And then there´s this broccoli sauté from Giada´s book that I loved, and this wonderful broccoli tortilla I invented (in fact, that´s another one of my problems as a food bloggers, there are many times when I just improvise a meal in 20 or 30 minutes so I can´t be bothered to slow down and record the amounts and the whole process.

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But I´m glad to announce this might be my very first sucessful tortilla endeavour… in terms of presentation I mean and the tortilla actually being a whole when I´m done cooking.

Oh, and another one of my excuses for leaving you stranded without much in the way of food or a recipe is the fact that my baby, aka Phoebe, had cataract surgery on her left eye last week so I´ve been occupied with puppy-nursing activities as well. But everything went fine, and even though “the cone” is now gone, it has left us with precious pics like this:

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hahaaha I hope that made reading this mess of an entry worth it.

And I´ll be back in a few days with hopefully some more food and an actual recipe, or maybe some pics of Buenos Aires I´ve started taking lately.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I´m planning to take advantage of the early spring and enjoy the city as much as possible (oh, and we have strawberries, people, can´t believe it, bye bye winter, won´t miss you one bit!).

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Filed under food, Phoebe, rambling, savory

There´s no such thing as too much sugar

Here we go again. Yes, it´s Daring Baker time!!!

Milk chocolate caramel tart

This month, it´s back to the hardcore business of chocolate, cream and sugar, and I couldn´t be happier. Veronica and Patricia chose a marvelous recipe for a milk chocolate and caramel tart from a book called Sweet and Savory Tarts by Eric Kayser.

I know what you are thinking, “caramel AND milk chocolate, that´s waaay too sweet”. Well, I´m here to tell you otherwise. First of all, let´s think for a second, what´s one of the yummiest airport threats? Toblerone. Yes, Toblerone makes duty free shops and airport waits a bit more bearable (well, that and those cute Lind boxes with a selection of tiny chocolates, but I don´t want to get off topic once again.) The typical Toblerone bar is huge, and is made out of milk chocolate and tiny bits of caramel-covered almonds, so I was convinced this tart would work, especially since it had plenty of cream to balance all the sugar.

Milk chocolate caramel tart

Milk chocolate caramel tart

But I still needed to make sure the I chose a brand of milk chocolate that wasn´t tooth-aching sweet. So I bought a Cadbury bar and a Milka bar, and set out to engage in the difficult task of tasting both to see which one made more sense in this tart. I´ve always been a huge fan of Milka chocolate, but in this case, it´d have been too sweet and ruined the tart, so Cadbury it was (but don´t worry, the other bar was saved for further testing.)

Now, if you are waiting for a disaster story, this isn´t the Daring Baker´s recipe for you. In fact, I was surprised because it was fairly easy and not time-consuming since the crust is made ahead and the only tricky part is the caramel cream, which required a bit of patience to dissolve the caramel after the cream and the butter were added, but turned out great.

Milk chocolate caramel tart

I loved the creamy texture of this tart combined with the crunch of the crust, and so did all my testers… my hips sang in gratitude because it was devoured in under a day so I didn´t get to participate much!

As for the flavor, it was delicious as it was, and I omitted the hazelnuts and the cinnamon in the crust because we were allowed to do so and I didn´t want my little cousins to say they didn´t like the cake, but I´m sure it would be even better with the added complexity (if you do add the cinnamon, use a bit less than what the recipe calls for since other DBs said the cinnamon flavor was a bit too strong.)

Milk chocolate caramel tart

Phoebe trying to lure the tart into submission

So all in all, this was a nice break from the more complex DB recipes, and I got to work on my caramel skills, or lack thereof, so I´m ready to tackle whatever next month brings.

In the meantime, go check out how my fellow Daring Bakers fared this month here and see the recipe after the jump.

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Filed under Daring bakers, food, rambling, sweet

Moving

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Exactly one year ago today, I was getting all my earthly belongings to a whole new place. Moving out had been this long exciting process through several months of daydreaming, weekends at my brand new house, design consultations, reform disasters, chickening out, then getting excited again… so when the day came, I was ready, so to speak… there might have been a new freakout incident some days later haha

But all along, I knew deep down that it was the right move for me. I needed to grow up (and still do) and hanging out with my friends and exploring different things was becoming increasingly hard being at the other end of the city without a car.

I feel like I still have a long way to go if I want to be where I want to be inside, but I´m working on it. In the meantime, I´m taking a few punches here and there and learning to get back up on my own, enjoying the freedom that comes with being your own master, weekday lunches and dinners with friends, movie nights with the girls, the peace that comes when you sit down to read a book on the couch, dog resting on your feet and the rain falling gently through the window… all those little things add up.

Hopefully this second year will be filled with even more adventures, growth, and laughter… ultimately, it´s up to me, so I´ll just stop hoping and make it happen.

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Filed under rambling

Goodbye

Bye, sweety, you´ll truly be missed. Love you.

maia closeup

maia lady

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Filed under Maia, rambling

When life hands you lemons…

Things aren´t going particularly smoothly for me right now, so I hope you forgive me for the lack of regular posts. Our family dog, Maia, seems to have a severe neurological problem and we still don´t know what it is, so I don´t know if she´ll make it or not (she´s not even 5 yet, by the way). And Phoebe has been having problems with her eyes (i need to take her to the vet yet again, but I´m pretty sure she has a cataract in her left eye and she´s only 7 months old).

I´m sure that for those of you who don´t have pets, this doesn´t sound like such a big deal, but when you love your dogs as much as my family and I do, it means there´s quite a bit of despair floating around.

So cooking, and writing, are taking a back seat right now… and it doesn´t help matters at all that I´m being cheap with buying new ingredients since not much work has been coming my way lately. Yes, I am officially the reincarnation of Debbie Downer, but I just wanted to explain why I haven´t been posting much lately.

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But to cheer things up a little bit, I´m going to tell you about some kickass lemon bars I made a couple of weeks ago for a BA bloggers meeting (along with my staple brownie recipe and the chocolate-chip-yogurt cake I posted about almost a year ago). You have probably seen them before since Mary of Alpineberry first posted about them and then Helene adapted them. I used Helene´s version but used lemons instead of key limes and upped the amounts for the crust a bit since I knew that wouldn´t be enough for a 10×13 pan.

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They are extremely easy to make, yield quite a few bars and the general concensus was that they were great, so I´m definitely making them again soon… since life has been handing me lemons lately, I might just use them!

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Filed under food, Maia, Phoebe, rambling, sweet

Another round of egocentric ranting

Well, it seems that this one will add up to the recently growing voyeuristic section of my blog (I´m hoping the use of the word will increase blog traffic exponentially, because as you know, sex sells.)

My good friend Lis from La Mia Cucina tagged me for this meme about “7 random things about me” and I just couldn´t resist the temptation to go on and on about myself, it´s kind of an annoying treat I have, but I find that fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) many people share such egocentric tendencies, so I´m hoping no one minds.

So here we go, brace yourselves.

1. The nickname Pip doesn´t come from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, but from a tango called Pipistrela. The tango is basically about a working class girl who thinks she´s too beautiful and classy for her surroundings. When I was like 8 years old, a friend of Javier, my older brother, started calling me Pipistrela, i have no idea why really since I wasn´t standoffish or anything. But anyways, of course, I hated the nickname and started hating his guts, my brother thought it was a brilliant idea and started calling me Pipistrela, then when it got too long for his lazy ways, he shortened it to Pipis, even worse, and finally, many years later, when he had regained his love for me, he went for Pip, which I actually didn´t mind because it was pronounced with a degree of affection, something practically unheard of between siblings.

No one really calls me Pip but my brothers and a couple of friends, and of course, people here who think that´s my name, but remember, as long as you stick to Pip, we are ok.

2. Just as a clarification, I don´t just do baking as some people seem to believe (just don´t ask). Yes, muffins and cakes are a big part of what I´ve been publishing lately, and if we count bread as baking (which I don´t), then you are killing most of my later obsessions, but not all is lost. Just some examples from the archives: naan bread, tandoori chicken, quinoa with lime chile vinaigrette, milanesas with panko and parmesan cheese, won-ton ravioli, and home-made tagliatelle. Ok, I´m tired just from linking to all of that and now I need to find 5 more random things about me, damn it!

3 . I´ve always been a bit of a bookworm, though I don´t read as much lately. Picture a 9 year old girl asking for books on her birthday, not just a book or two, but a trip to the most gorgeous bookstore ever to explore and buy a bunch of books, I think they were 8 novels (about 200 pages each) and I read them in 6 days. Talk about fast reading! The wonderful thing about reading at that age is I was reading the classics without knowing they were classics, so I could just take them at face value. For instance, I loved Dickens, Wilde, Alcott and Jack London, yet I remember hating a Dostievski book I read. Ok, on to the next thing before my geeky nature becomes to blatant.

4. When I was a child I got along better with boys than with girls. I just couldn´t seem to grasp the endless fascination with playing house and went to play soccer or ride the bike with my brothers and some friends. My tendency didn´t go as far as my cousin´s, who cried because she wanted to imitate her brother and pee standing and couldn´t… but it´s something that still pops up once in a while when surrounded by women who are too prototypical and only think about clothes and diets.

5. I love dogs mmmm I guess you already knew that, but here are some new pics of Phoebe so you don´t realize I´m cheating.

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6. This one isn´t about me, but about Argentina, but since I´m running out of ideas, this will have to do, today is Friends´day in Argentina, yes, we do have a day for everything here. I don´t particularly hate or love the day, I think the idea is good in theory, but I hate the commercial aspect of it all, I´m not buying some stupid stuffed bear or something just because. Yet it´s a good excuse to get together with the friends you see all the time, and even those you don´t see that often anymore. So happy friends´day to all my new and not so new virtual friends.

7. I don´t believe in God as such, but as Seinfeld would say “not that there´s anything wrong with that”. This would deserve a long explanation, but this is not a religious blog, so let´s just say I used to be a Catholic, I´m not anymore, and I´m fine with people believing what they want if it makes them happier as long as it doesn´t make them feel like they have to “convert” me. I´m even nice to Jehova witnesses when they ring the bell and try to save my poor tormented soul… well, there was one time when they woke me up at 10am on a Sunday when I probably wasn´t that gracious, but that doesn´t count.

Since I´ve seen this meme everywhere and I don´t want to burden people, I´m just going to tag 7 people in case they want to share some dirty little secrets and if anyone else wants to do it, just join in: Ilva, Madeleine, Diva, Frank, Nathan, Alan and Kristen.

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Filed under Maia, meme, Phoebe, rambling

Repaying in kind

In another chapter of voyeuristic blogging, I´m about to show the world… my aprons! But, before you start thinking I have a strong exhibitionist streak, this one is Ilva´s fault, since she was curious about people´s aprons and the story behind them, so she created an event around them.

I have to confess that I rarely use aprons while I cook. And it´s not because I shouldn´t given my clumsy ways, it´s just that I usually forget, that is, unless I´m making bread and the flying flour sends a clear put-on-your-apron message.

So I “only” have three aprons: two were given as gifts and one I bought from El Gourmet because I thought it was cool. Obviously, I´m going to talk about the two gifts.

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This first apron was a gift from María Teresa, a fellow translator from Panama I met through Proz.com and quickly grew attached to. It´s really funny how some people just seem familiar to you pretty much instantly, she certainly was one of those rare cases. She came to Buenos Aires for a translation conference last year, so we met there and I invited her to my house for a round of facturas. What I didn´t know is that she had brought me an amazing apron all the way from Panama. She told me the handiwork was very typical of a native tribe there, and being the clutz that I am, I obviously forgot the name of the tribe. But either way, this apron reminds me of her and just how nice and good-natured the world can seem at times… if only world politics were that easy!

apron Panama

Now, on to the second apron. This one was given to me by someone you probably know… none other than Helene from Tartelette. This one has a long story behind it, part of which would be weird for me to share, so let´s just say that I sent a care package to Helene a couple of months ago because she was going through a true ordeal and there´s just something special about her… I can´t quite put my finger on it, but I feel this weird connection with her, considering I´ve never met her. So, anyway, I don´t want to get all mushy and lose my street cred (yes, people, we are assuming I have street cred), so as I was saying, I sent her a dulce de leche jar and some salted butter caramels a while ago, and then Helene asked me for my address so she could send me a thank you note. (As an aside, thank you notes are a foreign concept to us in Argentina, so it did seem strange when she asked for my address, but I figured it was an American thing to do. Yes, she is French, but she could have Americanized after all these years.)

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Last week, Helene told me to be on the look-out for the mailman because she had sent me a little something. Of course, my mind went into overdrive mode trying to figure out what it could be. And this is what I got in the mail:

apron Helene 2

How posh is this apron? I mean, it´s a bit too cute to cook with. I should just put it on before guests arrive so I look like a Stepford wife or Martha Stewart… cooking a full meal without breaking a sweat or getting dirty… as if!

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Filed under events, rambling

Snow in Buenos Aires: a photographic essay

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I know this will be boring for those of you in cooler climates, but it´s the first time it has snowed in Buenos Aires since 1918, so this is big news around here, thus bear with me for a while.

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My parents smiling in the snow

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It´s not big foot per se, but my father huge foot on the snow 

I was at my parents´house in the suburbs, so we got much more snow around here that in the city itself so we stayed outside as much as possible trying to capture everything, even Phoebe got to play in the snow for the first time.

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It´s funny how something as simple as snow can make me happy, but I´ve been in a great mood all day playing like a child. What can I say, the best things in life are free indeed after all, which works for me since I´m not particularly loaded at the moment!

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(Back to the regular programming soon, but this deserved to be captured. Remember to take a look at the previous post with the cheese roll recipe.)

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Filed under Argentina, rambling

Egotastic… an interview

I´m not one to shy away from a chance to talk about myself, so when I saw an interview meme from the lovely Ilva of Lucullian delights in which she asked who wanted to play along, I volunteered. She sent me some questions about myself a week or so ago, but I´m just now sitting down to answer them… I seem to be getting some sort of diva complex hahaha

While I try to be discreet in the blog since we live in a very crazy world, I´m not too sure I succeed. And since my blog is quite small, it still feels like a cozy environment to share food and moments with friends, so, while there is some degree of censorship going on, I try to be as open as possible because, as a blog reader, I like to get a glimpse of the person behind the blog, so I imagine most people feel the same way. Just let me know when it feels like too much information!

So this is me (with Yoko, Phoebe´s sister):

behind the apron

And now, on to the questions:

1. What do you prefer to do in the kitchen: cooking or baking?

Mmmm tough one. Baking has always been my thing, but that was mainly because when I lived with my parents, either my mom or my dad did the cooking most of the time, so after school I´d sometimes bake something to eat for the “merienda” (afternoon snack, which would be like the English 5 o’clock tea, which is a meal in itself, making 4 daily meals instead of 3.) But since I´ve been living on my own, I´ve gotten more into savory dishes as well, since I can experiment more freely and I´m the only one stuck with the disaster if I mess up, or my poor friends who act as guinea pigs. So I´d say it´s a tie right now.

2. I know that there are a lot of Italian immigrants in Argentina and I just wonder if this is reflected in the national cuisine?

Definitely! Argentine cuisine is mainly a mix of Italian and Spanish cuisine. There are some traditional dishes that date back to the time before the two big waves of immigration late in the 19th century and in the middle of the 20th century, but even then, there was a clear Spanish influence dating from the days of Spanish rule in the area. Anyways, back to Italian cuisine, there seem to be some changes in traditional Italian cuisine as it was adapted to Argentina, but it´s still quite authentic in that when I went to Italy, it certainly felt like home in terms of cooking. In the culinary battle, I think Italy defeated Spain here, since Spanish cuisine is seen mainly in tortillas and some dishes with seafood, but Italian cuisine is more widespread.

Just to give a few examples of very popular Italian imports: farinatta (called fainá here and eaten with pizza), polenta (either with cheese and tomato sauce or grilled), milanesas (what Americans call chicken parmessan or veal parmessan), rissotto, pastas of all shapes and sizes usually eaten with traditional sauces such as bolognese or carbonara… well, you get the point.

3. How do the younger generations ‘live’ Argentina’s political past? How present is it in your life?

Well, I´m sad to say many people of my generation don´t know much about the military governments. It´s something that´s covered on tv quite often, but some people just don´t deem it important enough I guess. I think it has to do with the lack of conscience in older generations, which didn´t teach their children about it and the general lack of intellectual interest and the poor state of our education system.

It´s quite scary to see a lack of analytical thought both in terms of our undemocratic past and in regards to the 2001 crisis and the craziness that was the 90s.

Personally, it´s something I´ve heard about growing up from my parents and studied at school, though I can´t fully grasp living under military rule since I was born in 1982 just a month before the Malvinas War (Falklands to the English) and the military “government” was gone by the 1983 elections. I read a bit of “Nunca Más” (a very important book detailing the last de facto government and its tortures), but couldn´t really finish it because it´s just so full of facts, and just too harsh for my young teenage mind at the time. But, summing up, I try to remember it as much as possible and not to take democracy for granted, or forget what some people did, and how a very small minority still supports what happened.

4. What is your favourite pastime? (Cooking or baking is not a valid answer here!)

Mmm I like to read novels of all sorts, though lately I´ve been on a female-themed period so I´ve been reading mostly women writers like Marcela Serrano and Gioconda Belli (and some food-related books as well, by Anthony Bourdain for instance… don´t shoot me, I´m a food blogger!). I´ve read all sort of books, from classic English and American literature to well-known Argentine writers like Borges and Cortázar and best-sellers.

I also like to watch tv, mainly American series (Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Heroes, House, Men in Trees, Seinfeld…), some animal or historical documentaries, good or crappy movies (the crappy movies are apt to be watched on lazy Sunday afternoons and usually have some sort of high school element.) Now we´ve created movie night with some friends so I´m bound to watch better movies soon haha

I like to do many other things, but I don´t want to go on and on about myself, it gets old haha

5. When you listen to music, what/who do you listen to?

In terms of genres, I´m pretty open, so I´ll give you a list of bands/singers to give you a general idea: The Beatles, Alanis Morissette, The Cranberries, Dido, KT Tunstall, Jaime Cullum, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, Blur, Elastica, Norah Jones, Robbie Williams. Some national singers or bands that I like are Charly García and Divididos.

DIRECTIONS FOR THE INTERVIEW MEME
1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Beware, I’m not shy of asking personal questions! Please make sure I have your email address.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

So just post a comment here asking to be interviewed or send me an email to pipinthecity at gmail dot com and I´ll play journalist for a while.

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Filed under meme, rambling