Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Feliz Navidad...again



Well, I suppose that Christmas is here again. That year went by quickly. Too quickly. But at least I squeezed in some time for Christmas treats. This year, I added more cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels and pumpkin bread to my holiday repertoire.

The pretzels are half dipped because I didn't want to make a complete mess and they turned out great! I melted about 30 grams of chocolate in the microwave-stirring every 10 seconds until smooth (I melted both semi sweet and white chocolate separately). That was enough to cover 15-20 pretzels each. Then I had a blast with the toppings. After dipping (5 pretzels at a time) and carefully placing on a baking sheet covered with wax paper, I added sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or a drizzle of melted chocolate. Then let set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Mom's Pumpkin Bread


I know this recipe as Mom's Pumpkin Bread, but it may be from a can so please don't sue me if you own it.

My family brought down the bag of pretzels but you can also find them in the international aisle at Jumbo. Mom also brought a can of pumpkin but it's probably easier to make your own puree if your can opener looks like this:


I made a few changes to her recipe - using chai tea in place of water and substituting 1 t. of baking powder for one of baking soda. I also didn't fill up the whole cup of oil and added a little vanilla. Next time I'll toss in a cup of nuts. Here's the resulting recipe:
  • 3 1/3 c. flour (I used mostly sifted wheat flour - but the wheat flour at Coto is nearly like white flour instead of true wheat flour)
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
  • A bit shy of 1 cup oil (I used sunflower)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 c. chai tea
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
Mix all dry ingredients except sugar and set aside. Mix sugar, eggs, and oil in a super large bowl (see how mine nearly overflowed). Add tea and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture - add pumpkin last. Mix well. Split batter between 3* floured bread (budin) pans filled 2/3 full. Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly (15 minutes) and flip out of pan while warm.

*I couldn't fit 3 pans nicely in my tiny oven so I baked in 2 (one was rather large) pans for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Most deliciously served with cream cheese :)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Minimoon


I've been in a whirlwind since the wedding. The day after, we took my family back to the Buenos Aires airport and then made the trip back home--arriving after midnight. Gui took an exam the next morning while I packed for our quick version of a honeymoon.

We spent 3 nights in Villa General Belgrano in Cordoba at Altos Belgrano (hotel & spa) taking advantage of a low season, slow time of the week promotion that included some spa freebies. It was so lovely to leave the city and smell fresh air again. Here's a nice view of the golf course from our room...


And, being that I was free from worrying about fitting into my wedding dress, I was finally able to enjoy beer again. Luckily, this was exactly the place to be with an assortment of local brews--we tried them all! Yeah, minimoon.




We also took a short day-trip to La Cumbrecita...a tiny little village with hiking trails and streams and ponds to explore.





Scenes from the long and winding road home...




Now to begin planning a more elaborate honeymoon to take place during the European spring. No official plans yet except for a stop in the Canary Islands - suggestions welcome!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

iPhoto's enhance button...



...is amazing! Just look at the difference that it made in this photo...you can see each grain of rice as it flies into my meticulously planned up-do.

Of course, it didn't perfect every picture - it often overexposed a pic, leaving it too grainy, and I had to turn the shadows down - but for quick DIY photo editing, it's your best friend. All of the amazing wedding blogs that I followed made me drool over processed RAW photography, but it was impossible to find photographers experienced in that type of method here. This, however, saved me a lot of money and I'm totally happy with the results :)

Making a Memory


One of my mother's famous catch phrases is 'We're making a memory' and while I rolled my eyes each time that she said it while I was in high school, I increasingly realize the significance of trying desperately to remember a moment in time. I've got a terrible memory though, so the photos of the wedding will be an important reminder to me in the years ahead.

To make them a little more special than sifting through iPhoto (who knows what will exist by our 50th anniversary), I was inspired by 2000DollarWedding to create a book using blurb. So that's what I'm doing with any snippets of free time that I find - putting together a book of our wedding photography. The software is easy enough to use but the time it takes to create it will depend upon how picky I'm going to be about layouts and backgrounds, etc., and how much creative control I'll try to wrest from my new husband ;) Here are just a few of the pre-ceremony photos that I'm including:












All photos were taken by Luis Vignoli. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pesto Pasta Salad

This is my second attempt at this summer salad, and it turned out exactly how I had hoped it would this time. However, the measurements are by no means exact, as I used the taste-and-season method.

The recipe is taken from elements in this basic pesto but I never seem to have enough basil for a classic pesto and G isn't a big fan of garlic. The idea is to include equal parts nuts and cheese with a double to quadruple amount of basil.

Here's a rough estimate of my ingredients:
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 handful of Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (pine nuts are nearly impossible to find down here)
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. mayonnaise
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • 1 generous pinch of salt (depending on saltiness of cheese)
  • 3 turns of the pepper grinder
  • 1 1/2-2 c. whole grain spiral pasta (I just dumped in what I had left - no exact idea)
  • 1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 splash of pasta water

Boil pasta in salted water until cooked to your preference and drain, reserving a small amount of pasta water (I kept 1/2 c. to be on the safe side). Combine basil, parsley, nuts, cheese, salt and pepper in food processor and blend until the nuts are in tiny pieces. Add olive oil, mayo, and lemon juice and process until fully combined. In a large bowl, combine pasta and pesto, adding pasta water as necessary to evenly coat the pasta with the pesto. Stir in tomatoes. Super yum.

Hopefully my basil will grow enough to satisfy my need for pesto throughout the summer!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scenes from an Argentine Wedding

I went to my first Argentine wedding last weekend. This wedding started off pretty normal...

But after...
dinner, a performance by some dancer from Bailando por un Sueno (Argentine Dancing with the Stars), a belly dancer, a slideshow of the happy couple and their childhoods, tango serenades from the brother of the bride, a singer (the highlight was the Spanish version of Unbreak My Heart), a slideshow of the civil marriage, a random video montage, and three rounds of dancing, we looked like this...




Luckily, at around 5:30 am, they brought out pizza and sandwiches...we were getting hungry again! We left shortly thereafter. Of course, we needed all of Sunday to recover.

And I leave you with this little dance...

video

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

'Invitations' is not a big enough word to describe this

Wow, this was something. I mean, it's just a card, but it wasn't so easy. First, the vision in my head when I think 'wedding invitation' was nowhere to be found. Apparently, letterpress doesn't exist in Argentina for invitations. Also, your only choices, really, are ink jet or laser printing - forget DIY gocco - you're not gonna find an affordable gocco set on MercardoLibre (Argentine eBay). And good luck trying to explain any 'fancy' printing styles in Spanish.


We decided, then, that we needed to get involved in designing something that we liked and could produce. We ended up taking a picture of the gates of our reception venue and having our sister-in-law in Spain turning it into a printable design. I love the effect she used to give it a retro feel.


Fortunately, Guille's brother offered to take over the invitations and gifted them to us, buenisimo!


We ended up with 2 designs - I chose a chandelier as the inside graphic for the ones I sent (as is hanging when you walk through the gate), and Guille's mom came up with a cute Spanish phrase for a music stave that went on all of the ones distributed to Spanish speakers. My favorite detail is the shadow of the gates that is on the reverse of the front flaps - so cool!


We ended up writing separate texts for each language instead of translating it directly - there's a different tone here - I get that, but luckily I got to write what I liked in English. They printed the invites on a kind of sparkly, off-white paper and rounded the top - a sweet detail - and then Guille's mom brought them over from Spain. We went out in search of envelopes, with no idea of what color we wanted but found a nice sand color with a little sparkle to match at Papel Plus.


We printed them ourselves and then hand addressed the outside envelopes for the international invites.



For the ones that we delivered here, we added a wax seal, which turned out to be pretty fun. We don't have wedding colors so we just picked some fun ones for the wax.


For the lighter colors, we found that it was easier to melt a chunk of the wax in a tiny spoon instead of putting it directly on the flame, which could sometimes turn it black.



Lovely! Thanks to L & I for such amazing work :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegetarian Rosario


I've briefly mentioned these vegetarian restaurants but they're worthy of their own post - it's not easy being green in an extreme meat-loving country, but I hope these spots will stick around.

Verde Te Quiero Verde
(Palace Garden Shopping, top floor)
Verde has become my go-to place for Saturday lunch. Freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, natural flavor infused water and teas, and healthy eats, like spinach mashed potatoes. I'm a big fan of the woks and tartas, but there is still a lot on the menu that I haven't tried - like the pizzas and salads. I also haven't tried the 35 peso brunch buffet as seen here:
LinkIt just seems that there's something new to try each time. Here's the tapas sampler that included cheesey baked tofu, olive tapenade, roasted tomatoes, herbed cheese, another spread (carrot and butternut squash?), seeds and nuts, and toasts. It was plenty for both of us.

Oh, and the homemade bread...yum.


Sana Sana
(Alvear y Brown)A healthy way to go out to eat. The lunchtime specials here are fulfilling and more budget-friendly than dinner. Their lentil-loaf (inspiration for lentil burgers) came on an overflowing plate and was only 15 pesos with drink. Last week, this veggie wok with rice noodles was 17 pesos with drink (orange or lemon juice). Lunch also includes tasty rolls.

So thanks, veggie places, for daring to be different. :)

**2012 Update: For veggie take-out options see this post and visit La Casa De Nicolas on Santa Fe between Italia and España. Also, the prices listed above are much higher now.**