Saturday, March 18, 2017

Homemade Peanut Butter

The expats I've met in person and online come from all walks of life. Some are older, some are younger, some have kids, some are living the single life - but there's one thing we can all attest to: at some point you miss the hell out of American food! (I'm thinking of adding a page with all my "from scratch, American" recipes for my fellow expats). The food here is incredible, fresh, free of processed chemicals and additives, but sometimes you just want some damn peanut butter. After my 80oz supply ran out (shout out to Dion, Tony, and Jay for mailing it to me!!), I figured I could go PB-less until our next trip to the States, or I could have a go at making it myself. I found some guides on Pinterest and it didn't seem too difficult. One thing that really worried me is that I don't have a food processor. Although, it's at the very top of my "to buy" list. I don't know how it keeps escaping my grasp, because I've wanted one for years. I figured I'd give the old blender a try instead. By the way, Brazilians love their blenders. They function as blenders, food processors, and mixers all-in-one. Seriously, look up blender cakes. 

At my local store, I can buy peanuts whole in a bag, roasted and split, or roasted and ground. I figured I'd try the roasted and ground (torrado e moido) to give my blender a little break. I did put the ground peanuts in a pan in the oven at 200C to let them get a little warm. For some reason I thought that might help them blend better. So you can take that step or leave it. After that, I threw small amounts of the ground peanuts in my blender at a time and blended it until it got shiny and creamy. I did add about 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of honey, and 3 tablespoons of soybean oil. I just added the ingredients slowly until the taste and texture seemed right. Also, I was using 500g of peanuts, which is just over 1lb. I thought my blender was going to burn out, but it worked! The color turned out a little lighter than the JIF that was previously in the jar pictured, but the taste is perfect. I put it on some toast this morning and my kids couldn't even tell the difference.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Downstairs Business-Business

***WARNING - This post is all about vaginas and stuff, so if you're offended or disgusted by that, carry on and I'll see you next week!***

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to help other future expats. The major reason was to document our life here for my kids to reflect on one day. But I gained so much information from other expat blogs before I moved here, that I feel like I have a kind of duty to expand on that information for others. So, once in a while, I'm going to talk about the gross stuff that no one wants to talk about, but everyone wants to know about. Kids, if you read this post one day, sorry, but mommy is a woman and women issues are nothing to be embarassed about. That being said, let's dive in!

Like most women, I've had a few yeast infections in my lifetime, but I think this past year and a half I've had as many as I've had every other year combined. And I have a few theories about why that is. One) It's hot here. It's really hot. All the time. It's a tropical climate after all. And if you're a fragile white woman like myself, that means you're going to be sweating a lot. I've acclimated somewhat to the temperature, sure, but I'm a sweaty person by nature. I'm French Canadian, so my genetics have really designed my body for the freezing cold. My husband and son, on the other hand, barely sweat. When we first moved here I was taking three cold showers a day just to wash off all the sweat and lower my body temperature. I'm lucky enough to have air conditioning in my house, but that's a rarity here. And it's not like I can lug it around while walking my kids to school or walking to the store or walking around the lake. (We're big walkers). In summary, it's hard to stay fresh. One thing I used to utilize when I was in the military and we were in sweaty field conditions is, cue a chorus of angels, pads! They're fairly cheap and you can easily swap them out for freshness. Woohoo! Theory Two) I've been sick a lot, re: previous post. A lowered immune system and antibiotics are often factors in a yeast infection. Sweaty environment, lowered immune system, antibiotics; it's a recipe for vaginal health issues.

If you find yourself in this situation, you have two easy options. First, you can go to your neighborhood clinic and get free medicine from the pharmacy there after seeing the doctor. Of course, you'll have the two hour wait before you see the doctor. Personally, that's not something I want to do. The second option is to go to the commercial pharmacy and buy medicine. The medicine I've purchased is less than R$20, so it's not very expensive. It's worth skipping the wait at the clinic. Having a yeast infection in a foreign country is a major inconvenience, but if you're in Brazil, it's not the end of the world. 

Side note: My husband picked up this medicine for me once and the pharmacist asked, "Do you have this too?" When my husband said no, he said, "No it's okay! You can tell me! Are you itchy? Is it uncomfortable down there? We have medicine for men too!" My husband insisted he didn't have it. So the pharmacist said, "Well just make sure you don't have sex with her or she could pass it to you!" I don't know if he was really enthusiastic about selling medicine or if he thought my husband was too embarassed to admit he had a yeast infection (which he didn't).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Don't Drink the Water

Delhi Belly, Montezuma's Revenge, the Pharoh's Curse.. I don't know what silly nickname has been bestowed to traveler's sickness in Brazil, but there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn't drink the water here. Namely, the Samarco mine disaser, but I've written enough on that. I don't know if I have a particularly weak stomach, but I've been sick a lot here. Actually, I have a propensity for getting sick. Strep throat, migraines, extremely painful monthly cramps (like extra-extra, thank you tubal), sinus infections, colds, I get them all. I eat really healthy and I get a decent amount of exercise, so I guess I just have a shitty immune system. On the other hand, all the women in my family live well into old age, so maybe it's the price I pay for all the extra years. Either way, my stomach still hasn't quite adapted to all the new bacteria and viruses Brazil has to offer.

When Maicon started school last year, he spent a lot of days at home due to stomach issues. Now that Alessandra is starting school, and has had her first real exposure to a ton of kids, she's accumulating sick days as well. Out of 10 full days and 3 half days of school since school began, she's spent 4 full days at home. She's averaging 1/3 of her school time at home, sick. I'm not complaining, since it saves me an extra drop off/pick up, and I kind of miss her when she's not here destroying everything. But I don't take any kind of pleasure in stripping a mattress and showering a toddler in the middle of the night.

I haven't read up on how much time one needs to spend in a foreign land before they become acclimated to the local illnesses, but I thought that that time would have already come for us. I think we've had a delayed acclimation in part because we very rarely eat out, and in part because we only cook with and drink bottled water. I only have stomach issues now maybe once every two months. And I try to think on the bright side - "Now I don't have to count all those calories!" Also, I rarely feel nausous with it - I think I filled my lifetime requirement of nausea while pregnant with Alessandra - and it rarely lasts more than a few hours. What really annoys me are the fevers and dizziness that come with it. Not to mention how it seems to come on fast and furious out of nowhere. "Why no officer, I don't know how fast I was going. But since I'm 12 minutes from home and my stomach is upset, driving like a bat out of hell is a bit of a necessity right now!"

Since it passes relatively quickly for me, I try to just drink water until I feel better. (BTW - bottled water here comes in two forms. Agua com gas or agua sem gas. Carbonated or non-carbonated. Make sure you order aqua sem gas, unless you're a psycho and for some reason like carbonated water). If I'm starving, I'll have a very small amout of biscuits or crackers, but I don't want to feed the bacteria. Other than maybe sticking near my house, I don't do anything differently. You should, however, always be on the lookout for serious issues like cholera (oddly enough more common in the US than in Brazil), dysenttry, typhoid fever, rotovirus (especially for children!!), etc. This website has some pretty good info on gut infections.