That time I've applied to THE KITCHN

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2015

   When I was a kid I used to spend my entire Summer vacations at my grandmother's farm in Ribatejo, in the country side in Portugal, where people raise bulls and horses and used to carry their food outside in cabbage leaves. It was a magical and powerful experience for me, my sisters and my cousins.

   I remember waking up with the sun rising with my grandmother Virginia, with her red cotton scarf wrapping her hair, telling us "today is the day, I can't wait for tomorrow because you soon will be old and must learn it now". I couldn't understand how I was soon going to be old since I was five or six, but now I know she was right. Some things you can't leave for tomorrow. You have to give it a day to learn. It was bread making day.
   We all gathered in the large wood table near the kitchen open fireplace, where women from my family cooked food in large iron pans directly on the fire, and we all mixed the flour, the water and the grains of salt.

   When we are so little, we are so small that our faces are so near the food we eat, we are no near the table,
near the bowl of salad our mother is making, the feast cake on the counter waiting for the time someone will blow the candles that every unique smell gets registered in that part of us that is one third mind, one third stomach, one third heart. Until today I bend myself to fully inspire what I'm cooking, because just like with tasting it, it will assure me that I am cooking something that will nurture both the stomachs and soul of my dear ones.
   And so it was the dough. Fulfilling and nurturing, promising that everything good can be created with our
hands. Tiny hands. We then put the soft white dough to rest, in large yellow pottery bowls painted with blue flowers, that kind of pottery that is so fresh even in the hottest day of summer, covered with old clean linen to rest. "The dough grows" my grandmother said, "but it must be left alone, covered, in a quiet, fresh place" she completed, while passing softly her hands on the bowl, like we do with a child, as saying "you'll be wonderful my dear". When white linens have stains there is a quick remedy: some soap rubbed over the stain and leave it outside in the sun, when you come back there is no stain waiting for you. It's call "corar" in Portuguese. So they were old linens, but there is no stain in them, my grandmother wouldn't allow it.
   I remember the aroma of the dough : intense, profound and clean, when we left it to rest in the dark and grow. It was about to transform. Cooking as love, takes time. Than we made small breads (mine smaller than everyone else) for my grandmother to put in the outside wood stove with a huge wood shovel. It was a beautiful Summer day, and for me, bread still reminds me of the scent of the vines surrounding us, wild daisies and the olives we were eating at the same time. Olives that have been cut and immersed in olive oil, garlic, parsley, thyme and oregano for one day. Good things take time. But they are also simple. Usually so simple.

   For me writing and talking about food, is telling the recipes that will gather people around a table, that will
create memories, that will unify everything around you. Because when food is good every detail around you,
the flowers on the table, the joke someone told, the taste of the wine, everything leaves a memory. And suddenly you are living.
   I don't have any cooking training. All I know was learned around the country table, among amazing women
that in that time would make men stop at the doorstep (the door was always open) and ask "what's cooking?" and then come in. That was Mediterranean, countryside, Portuguese cooking. My mother, back home, taught me French cuisine: soufflés, coq au vin, Charlotte. In my early twenties, when I first met love, I dived myself in learning Indian and Italian food, because love needs food. I don't have cooking education but I'm proud to say my chicken saffron risotto made my mother smile when my father died and my shrimp coconut curry make friends that have come for dinner stay talking until the sunrise. If I could write for Kitchn under your direction, I would be so happy and grateful for sharing recipes with stories, food with seasonal folklore tales, plates with funny tales. Food that is simple but so amazingly satisfying, food that makes a house and a life.

   I have good photography skills, it is an art I've been self-taught myself for a while, I've studied Cinema
Direction and although I don't have online resources to show you (except for a blog that had no commercial
intentions, it was just a way to register some of me and my boyfriend's memories), I've written all my life,  and among other things, have been published in a Portuguese newspaper and had screenplay written by me chosen to be funded by the
Portuguese Cinema Art Fund (ICA). I've also studied English for eight years at school. I've been to Spain, France, England, Holland,Switzerland, Monaco and Italy. I've ate and learned a lot in each one of these places. I also took a short Journalism Writing course years ago which I've ended with the best grade, I've
engaged in Antiques and Vintage selling in 2010. I'm very comfortable with the skills needed for this position:
marketing experience, online photography requirements to catch the eye, how to style a photography, Google analytics and online conversation. I would love to write for Kitchn and be creative with so many different things.

   I love: food, photography, style editing and writing.

   Thank you so much for reading my words. By the way, just to end the story: the bread turned out wonderful. And my grandmother was right, time passes quickly by us, we should be cooking.

   Last year, on the last day, I've discovered that The Kitchn, the culinary website we all so much love was looking for someone to cook and write for them. The deadline was just a little less two hours (which you know that in reality passes by very fast) when I found out about it, so I quickly made food, photograph it and wrote a letter plus three ideas (that I don't share here, sorry they are too good :)!) for articles to publish.

   The food in the pictures wasn't good, didn't tasted that good honestly but I was in a hurry. The pictures taken with a less than desirable camera were terrible. And English is not my mother language so I decided to use one of those websites that edit texts and correct grammar. The problem was I was running late, so I didn't notice that instead of helping, for example, it replaced "sweet" for "sweat" which is not the kind of word you want to see in a short essay about food. 

   I have done my own editing now, because if there any mistakes, that will be my own, and decided to share it here. And maybe one of these days, share a food story and a recipe...

   Have a nice day.

Fairy House

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015

 I am an avid collector of everything natural. Usually things found on the ground, flowers, twigs, seashells, you name it, I'll probably brought it home. I always wanted to build a fairy house, or at least a little corner in case one of them needs gets lost and needs to spend the night at my house. We would drink tea, eat walnut biscuits and probably talk ourselves over about our romantic troubles and all kind of matters of the heart.

So two days ago when I saw this interview with the amazing fairy castle's creators Mike and Debbie Schramer and their gorgeous book that I hope to order soon, I couldn't resist and go in search of more natural treasures. Last night I started a little fairy bedroom and her tree swing and today I've finished a couple of details (her pine cone chair, among other things that are a must-have for a fairy I suppose). I've played around with the decoration so don't find it strange that the furniture is in different places!

I imagine the fairy who chooses this house to be very carefree. The small yellow pillow is pure cotton dyed with only saffron (I can make a post on that later, it's so simple) and is stuffed with fluffy moss since a fairy needs to have a good beauty sleep. She gathers a lot of thing humans forget in the woods, but only the beautiful ones (no plastic allowed!) like small pieces of lace, mother of pearl buttons. First I've made her bed just with moss and petals but then I thought any fairy would love a small wool blanket (which was small patch my mother made years ago that I've always found so sweet). There is a small hanger and a pink dress. A wood sink for water. The best seeds I've found. It was so delightful, so wonderful to make this that I can't recommend it enough. Start gathering natural treasures now, since in this time of the year there are so many things falling down from the trees. You'll be so happy for doing this and surely...the fairy who visits you will be too!

Edited: With the little help of fairies, this Fairy Abode has entered The Fairy Gardens Contest. This is exciting!

Enjoy! (Don't judge yourself) A long long text about a simple conclusion

Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2015

I was 20 I think when I was studying Cinema and my sister left her job as a lawyer in a Portuguese town's council and came to live in the capital too. She had just entered on one of the most competitive national study centers: I don't know the right term in English but is where people who studied law go to be trained to become judges. It's a hard field, really hard to get in and hard to finish. Two years of intense studies and a really conservative tough environment. One of the things I recall from those times are the career, self-worth crisis we all had. Well, not all. But I did, my best friend did, some colleagues did and my sister and some of her colleagues did. She is my older sister, our ages are apart from almost a decade. It became obvious to me that in any field and at any age people can question themselves until they feel like they are worth nothing and what they do, well, is also nothing. How could we all be so wrong?, I look back and question.

One of the other things I recall from those times is my long conversations with my friend João about how we probably should get a real job instead of studying Cinema. And one day at lunch I heard my sister and her colleagues and friends talking. “What are we doing? Who are we to judge people? We haven't done anything with our lives until now, it's just intellectual work, we should get a real job, like working at a coffee house or cleaning stairs.” Then I would look at the people working in the coffee house we used to go, and although some had an epiphany meditative alive glow on their faces of someone who is content with their lives, most of them, specially being in a city where apparently people should be pursuing and doing bigger things with their lives and taking advantage of the city opportunities, but most of them just looked sad and inferior, not proud of their work, maybe thinking “I should be a doctor no be serving a doctor, I should be someone”.
How crazy is this? Judges thinking they should be waiters, waiters thinking they should be doctors, doctors thinking they should be artists and artists thinking they should be farmers, farmers thinking they should travellers and travellers thinking they should be fathers. I completely support and admire people who realize they are not fulfilled with their lives and pursue better more aligned with themselves, but there is something in these memories that make me think this was not the case. Whatever one of us was doing we felt it was not enough. We should be doing another thing, the bottom line is that whatever each one of us was doing we felt it was not enough, we were not enough, we were not really contributing to the world and if we did another thing, oh that way we would be happy. We weren't enjoying ourselves and our experiences, we had our minds on the prize, on the value, we were putting ourselves on a scale that only exists in our heads. We were leaving life out of our lives. Kind of dramatic, hum? It is really is.

About enjoying, that word appears in this text because a couple of days ago I've watched a Neil Caiman's speech. I totally recommend it. Neil Caiman, who is a very talented writer among other things, talked about the impostor syndrome. He said that when the success started (and that the success can be even more daunting than failure) a voice in his head kept saying “they will discover you, you'll be caught”, like at any minute a man would knock at his door and say “It's over, sir. We've discovered you make things up and write them down, you can't write more from now on, go get a REAL job”. 

One of the first plays I've seen as a child was written by Neil Caiman, that memory of mine wouldn't exist if stopped writing. Me and my father loved to watched “Stardust” together, it was one of our things (most of our family is a little more grown up than us, but just a little bit). I wouldn't have that precious memory, and I'm crying writing this since my father is no longer here with us, if Neil Caiman stopped writing.

So I think of all my beautiful loved life and all the roles people played in it. Even the anonymous persons. The ones I will never get to know the name. The ones that made me feel good when I was miserable just because they were feeling good and I could feel it too. They made a huge service to me, they were enjoying themselves. On his speech, Neil Caiman, said he spent too much time worrying and not enjoying himself. I know the feeling. And suddenly, life goes by, and when I look back I think is it really important the list of things I did or if I was enjoying myself and all that I was doing and learning and trying and finding and living? The last one. The memories I like to recall are the ones I was happy, I was light, I was alive and not thinking I wasn't enough and I should be doing better. There is not better, there will never be, if I go up that ladder I'll discover the infinite burden of the next thing that will really prove that I deserve a place in the world and that I'm worthy.
I saw an interview of Elis Regina, the brilliant Brazilian singer. When asked what did she wished for her (at the time a little baby) daughter Maria Rita, she replied “I wish her to be light”. So simple and so true, right? She did become a talented singer too, but that's not what a mother wishes. I don't wish my beloved ones to become this or that, I don't want my mother to win the Nobel Prize, I want her to be happy. This is what we wish when we love someone. Sometimes, life needs a twist, and we should do it, but not because we will be more worthy then, but because we will be ourselves. We wish happiness to our beloved ones because we know that's the only thing that matters. We are already worthy. Most of the time, the important things we do, we will never know. They are small gestures that change people's life. We shouldn't think “I should be saving lives at a hospital” unless that is our call. The other day, a couple of weeks ago, a man gave my mother and me his place at the parking near the beach. It was totally full and after many rounds my mother told me she was feeling bad and tired, so did I. Suddenly a man waves from his big car and says he was going to be waiting in the car for someone anyway that was no need for him to be in that spot. We had a great time at the beach and those hours there are my favourite memory from this Summer. A real life changer when I was feeling lost.
One day, years ago, while playing I hit my head on the bed wood headboard, in the area of my eyebrow there was this big wound and a lot of blood. In the hospital I was received by this kind doctor who seemed very proud of her work. She did a huge work calming down, not by saying something but just by looking proud of herself. Don't appolozige who you are and what you are doing at a moment (unless you belong to the mafia or any other criminal group!). You are living your life by living it!
I don't want to waste my life thinking I should be doing something else, living other life, because in the end, unless I accept I'm really important, as we all are, that life will not be important. There are no better things to do. What we want to do, what we do, is always a response to other's people needs. By living our lives, by enjoying are lives we are doing a service. Do what makes you happy, feel that you are enough and trust that you are doing others a service just by being you. So many things change lives. One day is a perfume, the other day is that lawyer consultation, the other day is the fact that the gas man helped you to get hot water. There is nothing better or bigger. Life is not that way. There are no “real jobs”. Or, let me put it this way, they are all real jobs. Not jobs, really. Real lives. Important lives. The monk who lives alone at the top of the mountain, the mother who stays at home, the cashier at the drugstore, the cable technician, the fashion blogger, the dentist, the teacher, the nurse, the child who plays, the old man who stares at the trees, the rose that blooms, the palm tree that rests, the dog who sleeps, the cat that plays with the carpet. I don't think my beloved cat should be catching ten birds a day to prove his existence as a cat. I just want him to be happy, with what makes him happy.
That something I wrote years ago, it was a profound moment for me. I had just discovered, when questioning what made me happy “I'm happy with what makes me happy”. Seems so simple, and it is. But it was really hard for me to understand this: I'm happy with what makes me happy.

Ti chillin with Lao Tse
Last night I was reading a Lao Tse's poem and the part (my translation) Seal all openings / Close all doors / And you'll arrive unscathed to the end of your life. / Open all openings / Multiply your tasks /And you'll end without nothing in the end of your life.” spoke to me about not searching for more than it is. It's not about stop doing things, but not constantly be thinking about other things we SHOULD be doing with our lives. That way we lived, and we'll arrive to end of life full. If we lost ourselves in all that we could and should do, we won't feel good. Should and ifs are so draining. We are here to feel good about ourselves. There is nothing needed for us to be content with ourselves. We just are. The pain and the actions that come from we thinking that we are not enough, that we should be bigger and better are usually what causes pain to us and the humanity. We are enough. 

They say we teach what we need to learn. I'm writing all this, just because this is a lesson for me. Why shouldn't I be proud of myself? Why am I not proud? Why do a compliment stays one minute in my head and then fades to this feeling that someone will knock on my door, or find me on the street, or call me and say it's over, they found me: I haven't done anything with my life! I should do more, prove more, never enough!

This is not how I think, this is not what I believe, but this is what the little voice inside me tells me. Like Benjamin Zander, the author of the Art of Possibility, says, it's the voice that says to the cello player “The difficult part is coming up, you are going to fail, there are so many people that play better than you, what are you doing here?” and prevents him to enjoy while playing.

I don't want to keep proving anything. It won't be enough. I want to enjoy what I do. Will you be a dear and help me in that...just by enjoying who you are, what you do and what you like. Life is meant to be lived. Not proved. So don't let your dreams become obligations and don't mistake your obligations with dreams. I've read (we all probably did) this phrase in so many places but it never sounded so true to me: You are enough!

I think I have the same questions and similar conclusions from time to time, maybe because I haven't fully perceived what I've concluded and what life was trying to teach me or maybe because it's natural that we find ourselves in the same crossroads in different times of our lives. Because as I once read “Today enlightened, tomorrow an idiot” (can't remember the precise source) which is one of my favourite quotes from all time. And always makes me smile. Maybe we need to keep remembering the conclusions we came to. So today I've remembered when I had just entered my adult life and everything seemed scary, difficult, confused, so many choices, so many obligations, so many things I thought I was supposed to be, I've discovered:

“I don't want to be perfect, I want to be authentic.”

And today, these words still fit me perfectly.

All pictures by me.

Summer Idea (plus...someone stole my pizza)

Posted on Friday, August 14, 2015

If you have the luck to go to a beach this Summer that is rich in algae don't forget to bring some with you. 

Here is not unsual to find a lot of algae on the sand. Just beware that the ones you find are not toxic, which I know ours aren't. Actually, the local fisherman usually sell them to the terapeutical and pharmaceutical industry.

I'm drying my own outside right now. Since they are a little smelly (mermaids suffer with their beauty routines too I suppose) I will then put them in a glass jar.

In the Winter I will surely pour some of them in a hot bath and enjoy the properties of these sea treasures!

When I went inside I heard some strange noises on the pateo. I thought sounds like someone is eating, but I'm alone! The doggie had just stolen a slice of pizza. 

I would usually take the pizza right away, but he looked so cute with that triangle of pizza that I just had to go grab my camera, but when I returned the triangle had almost disapeared. So I thought, well, at least one time a year...let him eat pizza!

Our doggie lived on the streets for many years before becoming part of our family. I suspect a slice of pizza brings him a lot of memories of his wild times!

Bye, have a nice Friday! 


Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2015

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hiraethpronounced [hɨraɪ̯θ], is a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire[1] for the Wales of the past.[2]
Oxford and Merriam Webster define Hiraeth as: (noun) "a homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that never was".

I met this word today. I remember reading in a book, about the emotional life of cats, the author questioning if, about caged felines, even if born in captivity could they long for something they never knew: freedom. I remember thinking about it, of course they can. But more, I thought about a desire for something I never knew, I too miss something I can't name. I know it becomes calmer by the sea and when the people I love are close and happy. I don't know if it a place that one day I'll visit or if it a spiritual and emotional state. But when I read this word today I felt it. Hiraeth. 

In Portuguese we have the word Saudade. I've read that Hiraeth and Saudade have probably the same definition. But for me Saudade, which I can't translate to English, is feeling what you feel when you are sad about the past being past. Hiraeth I would say, could be also about something you miss but that moves you to the future, to the place, that you may not know but you'll know it is what you were looking for when you find it.

But in truth, I've found what calms down my Hiraeth so many times in my life. Because, maybe, just maybe, for some of us, happiness is hidden in million of places and thousands of faces. Beginning with our family smiles. And even when they are gone, we carry their smiles with us and we find their smiles in everything that makes us happy.

E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)