Rural Brazil – End of the year views from the countryside

Although my blog is relatively new, six months old, and my posts about living in rural Brazil are even newer, I realized that I had not shared any views of the Brazilian countryside. Brazil is a very large country and quite obviously the area where I live, Serra da Mantiqueira, is not representative of the whole country, but, I hope that these photos will give an idea of how one part of the Brazilian countryside looks.

Happy New Year!!!!

I am not always out of bed when the sun rises, but I do manage to catch a lot of beautiful sunrises while lying in bed, waking up, and looking out of my window. Sunrises are one of the most beautiful times of day here in the Serra da Mantiqueira.
sunrise serra da mantiqueira

Fog and mist are a common sight. I always love it when the fog hangs in the valleys and I can see the tops of distant mountains behind the fog.
fog serra da mantiqueira

On sunny days it seems as though we can see for hundreds of miles.Serra da Mantiqueira

Serra da Mantiqueira

Trees and forests are all around. One of my favorite trees is the pinho bravo which is a pine tree native to Brazil that looks as though it is hundreds of years old. Pinho bravo forests are absolutely breathtaking and I am fortunate to have a little area on my farm that has a gathering of these beautiful trees.

Although everything here seems to look very green there are a lot of flowers and I do manage to get out and take photographs of these beautiful colors that dot the landscape.

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Animal life is all around us. Bird songs fill the air from sunrise to sunset. Although rare to see, this little squirrel paid us a visit recently. Squirrel Serra da Mantiqueira

It seems that he was interested in the bird food that we had put out. We were happy to watch him eat and are hoping to see him come back soon. Squirrel Serra da Mantiqueira

Here in the serra da mantiqueira I have been privileged to witness some of the most amazing cloud formations, night skies, and moons.

Serra da Manitqueira

Serra da Mantiqueira


Not only cloud formations, but beautiful rainbows cross from mountain to mountain!

And, because we live in the countryside there is no abundance of animal skulls and bones. This sits on a dead tree stump outside of my house. Slowly more bones are adorning the stump.Skull

And lastly, cloudy days are not uncommon, but the view of the mountains still remains beautiful!Serra da Mantiqueira


Panettone: The “Brazilian” Christmas Bread

Beginning sometime around mid October Brazilian supermarkets begin to stock up on panettone and the panettone eating season begins. There is no way to avoid it and at every corner you will be bombarded with this tasty sweet bread loaf.

PanettonePanetonne is originally from the city of Milan, Italy and the orthern Italian immigrants brought panettone to Brazil in the early 20th century. There are several different stories of how the  panettone loaf received its name. The first tells that Fr. Antonio was very fond of this particular bread and because he wore a hat similar to the shape of the bread (tall with a puffy top) it became known as ‘pane di Tony’ or Tony’s Bread. Another story suggests that the name panettone came from the Milanese ‘pane del ton’ meaning ‘cake of luxury’. Or another play with these words says that the name came from ‘pane’ which means bread and ‘tone’ which is large. Now, the last story tells that a Milanese nobleman, Ughetto Atellani, loved Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. In order to try to win Adalgisa’s hand in marriage the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich cake to which he added flour, yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied lemon and orange peel. The bread was praised and the nobleman and Adalgisa were married.

This is how my panettone should have looked with the nice puffy top! (

This is how my panettone should have looked with the nice puffy top!

Whether any of these hold true is not for me to say, but a bread with a little story behind it is always something wonderful.

So, although panettone is so easy to buy at this time of year in Brazil I decided that, nevertheless, I still needed to learn how to make it. This recipe is my first attempt, and, although it tasted absolutely delicious there are some things that I need to work on to make this loaf much better. For starters, I didn’t quite get the puffy top to the loaf which gives it its signature look. Secondly, I think that I kneaded the dough a little too much and maybe added too much flour taking away some of the light fluffy texture. But, apart from those two issues I was so happy with my first results that I thought I could still share it here.

If you do not want to try to make this recipe at home, but still want to have a slice of this delicious cake, you can order it on

PanettoneThe recipe that I used is a quick bread recipe based on brioche bread. Many of the panettone recipes that I came accross required about two days of rising, kneading, etc, etc, etc. I wanted to make a quick and easy panettone and opted to go with this recipe. The brioche dough is very sticky and runny and can be difficult to work. Don’t make the mistake that I made by adding tons more flour to try to make the dough easier to work!

To purchase the panettone mold online CLICK HERE!


250 ml warm milk
15 g yeast
350 g white flour
120 g butter
2 egg yolks
60 g white sugar
10 g lemon zest
10 g orange zest
30 ml vanilla essence
100 g crystalized fruit
50 g raisins
60 g almonds
60 g cashew nuts

Begin by mixing the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl or on a counter top. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest, and orange zest and mix together. Add the warm milk and knead the dough together. Add the cubed butter and knead into the rest of the dough. Knead well for approximately five to ten minutes until the dough comes together well. Place in an oiled bowl and set aside in a warm area to rise. Leave to rise until doubled in size. Once doubled in size, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter top. Press the dough down forming a thick pancake. Add the crystalized fruit, raisins, and nuts to the dough and work in by kneading. Knead until all the fruit and nuts are fully incorporated. Split the dough into two equally sized balls, shape, and place into the panettone forms. Set aside in a warm area to rise. Leave until the dough is doubled in size. Preheat oven to 160C. Brush the top of the panettone with egg and bake until the top is brown!


Fresh Fruit Juices

Living in Brazil I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have so much fresh fruit available to me, especially in the form of fresh fruit juices. At any restaraunt, padaria (bakery), or lanchonette (snack shop) you can order fresh fruit juices. Depending on the place, your options for fresh fruit juices will change; some will have an endless variety of fresh juices and the simpler places will probably just offer orange juice. But, no matter where you are you can guarantee that you will at least be able to order a fresh orange juice.

Açai Juice (

Açai Juice (

Fresh fruit juices are one thing about Brazil that I absolutely love and feel privileged to have. In the USA your juice options are limited and the chances of finding fresh juices are often next to impossible. And, if you do find somewhere selling fresh fruit juices you are going to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Although I often order fresh fruit juices when I go out to a restaurant or have a snack I often forget about the fruit juice options available to me and I tend to order the same juices every time. I also don’t always mix fruits together which can be easily done and always makes for a really delicious drink. Why I stick to the same juices and don’t mix fruits is probably because I know that I can always do this because these fresh juices are on my doorstep. But, I do need to start trying more juices, even if I CAN do this at any time!

Acerola Juice (

Acerola Juice (

These past two weeks my parents were visiting from the USA and one thing that they could not get enough of was the fresh fruit and the fresh fruit juices. Being with them encouraged me to try new juices and combinations and we all managed to sample a wonderful variety of fruits and juices. At almost every restaurant and snack stop we would see what different juices were available to us and usually we would order at least one new  flavored juice. There were definitely some juices though that got repeated because we liked them so much. Although we didn’t do too much mixing of juices the one mix that my parents did try and absolutely loved was orange and acerola juice. Acerola is a very small fruit that is known for its high vitamin C content. The flavor of acerola is like a very sour orange, but in a good way! (Acerola Wikipedia Link).

The juices we tried were: orange, acerola, guava, pineapple with fresh mint, passion fruit, lemon, acai, graviola, corn, sugar cane, papaya, and blackberry. Because some of these juices were so tasty we ordered them several times causing our list to be a little bit shorter, but, we did pretty well with sampling the different juices.

Pineapple Juice with Mint(

Pineapple Juice with Mint(

One thing my parents noticed, sometimes to their disappointment, was that because a juice was really tasty in one restaurant it did not mean it would be good at the next one. This is something to always remember when in Brazil and ordering fresh fruit juices, or in my case ordering  caipirinhas, everyone makes it a little bit differently. One restaurants passion fruit juice may be absolutely amazingly delicious but the next restaurants may just about be drinkable. Because these juices do not come from a box they will always be different. For me this is one of the excitements of ordering fresh fruit juices (unfortunately it can also be very annoying) along with the endless variety!

Bolinho de Arroz (Little Rice Balls)

Little Rice BallsYou know that I like the simple recipes and I always think that the simple recipes are the tastiest. Laboring in the kitchen to produce an extravagant meal is always wonderful and the rewards are big, but, for me, it always comes down to those small and simple morsels of goodness. Bolinho de arroz is one of those foods that I just absolutely love. And, to make them even better they are fried. Really, anything fried is delicious and irresistible. Translated to english bolinho de arroz means little rice balls and there isn’t much more to add to it because that is just what they are.

The wonderful thing with this recipe is that you never need to throw out rice again. I always struggle to think of what to do with the small amount of rice I usually end up with after a few meals of eating the large pot of rice that I make every few days. I usually end up giving the scraps to the dogs. So really the old rice never really goes to waste, but there are those times that I just want to do something more with the rice so that I can eat it and not my dogs (yes, a little selfish I know).

Little Rice BallsSince learning to make this recipe there is no more excuse for me to throw out the left over rice or feed it to the dogs (ok, they will still get the leftovers sometimes as I can’t eat fried rice balls all the time). It is easy to make and a great snack before dinner or to accompany dinner. Who could ask for more? Quick to put together, tasty, and you’re using leftovers. This is my perfect recipe!

Little Rice BallsIngredients

2 cups of cooked rice
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese
Parsley and spring onions, finely chopped (Cheiro Verde)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup flour
Canola, sunflower, or vegetable oil

Put the rice, egg, milk, grated cheese, parsley, spring onions, and salt into a bowl. Mix together well using a spoon or your hands. Slowly add in flour, one spoon at a time. Keep adding the flour until the mixture becomes slightly firm and holds together when you roll a ball, approximately half a cup of flour. Roll the rice into small ovals. Pour enough oil into a pan to cover half of the rice balls. Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the rice balls into the oil and cook until golden brown. Turn the balls over and cook the other side until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper napkin to drain the oil. Eat when still warm.

For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!

Little Rice Balls

Torta de Limão

Lemon PieWhen I decided to start writing this blog and learning to cook Brazilian food my husband was quick to tell me that I had to make torta de limão. He told me that he used to make this pie as a child and absolutely loved it. Obviously I had to make this childhood delight of my husbands.

Lemon PieTorta de limão translated to english means lemon pie but this is more what americans would consider a key lime pie with a twist. Although it is called a lemon pie in Brazil it is actually made with what we know as limes in northern europe and north america. Limes are actually just a different variety of lemon and are called limão or limão tahiti in Brazil.

When I finally decided to take the plunge and try to make this pie I was hoping that my husband would give me the directions for how to make the pie. It turned out that he had forgotten how to make it and only remembered the ingredients that went in: sweetened condensed milk and lime. So, I started on my mad hunt to try to find the right recipe that would recreate my husbands torta de limão. The hunt for the perfect recipe proved to be more difficult than usual. None of my recipe books had this recipe and all the recipes that I found online seemed to have completely different ideas for how to make this pie. In the end, as I seem to always do, I found about three or four recipes, combined the aspects of each that I liked the most, and hoped that my pie would turn out fabulous.

Lemon PieTo my great surprise this pie turned out absolutely amazing. It tasted delicious, held together surprisingly well, and was not that much work to make. I loved every part of this pie and if I wasn’t worried about gaining too much weight I would eat it every day.

If you like key lime pie this is a recipe that you cannot pass up the opportunity to try. It is disgustingly easy, tasty, and beautiful.

Luckily for me I managed to bring back some childhood memories for my husband, even though he never made his torta de limão with the meringue topping!

Lemon PieIngredients

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 – 3 limes (depending on how strong of a lime flavor you would like)
3 egg whites
200g biscoito maria or any simple cookie for making the pie crust
200g butter
5 tbsp sugar

Crumble the biscoito maria or other cookie of your choice until very fine and resembles bread crumbs. Melt the butter and add to the crushed cookies. Mix together until it holds and forms a ball. Add more melted butter if needed. Place cookie and butter mixture into a pie dish. Spread thinly over bottom of the dish and on the sides. Press down firmly making sure it holds in place. Combine the sweetened condensed milk and lime juice in a blender and blend well. Use a spoon to make sure that all of the lime juice is well mixed with the sweetened condensed milk. In a standing mixer combine the egg whites and sugar. Beat until the egg white holds together and forms peaks when the mixer is lifted. Pour the condensed milk and lime mixture into the pie dish. Spread the egg white mixture on top. Place in a preheated 180C/355F oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the meringue mixture is a light brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before eating.

For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!
Lemon Pie