Just Rice and Veg… If That’s What You Are Into

“Just rice and veg”? I meant to say “a delicious meal”.

As I try to express all ingredients in the names of my foods, I won’t really try to do it with this one.

But what does it have, you may ask? Well, let me tell you! I started by cooking the brown rice in a pressure cooker. I added a ratio of rice to water of 1:2.5, brought it to boil and started counting down 20 minutes cooking time as soon as the cooker was pressurized, in medium/low heat. Make sure the escape valve is spinning around! After 20 minutes, the water will mostly likely not have dried out and the rice not fully cooked. Add a little more water and cook for another 8 minutes.

While the rice was cooking, I caramelized the onions with orange blossom honey. Once the onion was caramelized, I added the chestnut mushrooms, broccoli, leek and a single chopped and seeded chili (lightly spicy, not overwhelming at all!). Added a little water (100ml), 4 whole cloves of garlic and let it boil with the lid on until the water dried. Once the water dried out, add a little olive oil and mix vigorously.

I like adding herbs at the end, with the fire already off. I added a bit cumin and parsley just before serving. Check the rice and season it with a little salted butter or coconut milk.

And, to top it off, a single leaf of basil!


*A nerdy aside: Only use pressure cooker if you know how to operate it! While there is water inside the cooker, it’s fine. If water is present, the internal temperature will be modulated by that of the boiling point of water at that given pressure, i.e. The heat supplied by the fire/heating hub will be used to convert water into steam. Once the water dries out inside, the heat supplied by the fire will be used to expand the air inside (at higher temperatures). As soon as the rate of air escaping the cooker is less than the rate of expansion inside, you are risking an explosion. Modern cookers are fitted with fail safe devices, but they are there in case other things fail, not because you decided to watch a bit of TV! So, be careful!*

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WORDLESS WEDNESDAY

Published as part of WORDLESS WEDNESDAY

Beer Economics Review: DadoBier Ilex

Who doesn’t like beer? And even more, who doesn’t like caffeine? Mix the two together and you should get an amazing beverage, right? Well, not so much. I will try to explain why.

DadoBier is the first brazilian microbrewery. It’s located in the mid-latitude city of Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The state prides itself for having the best wine in Brazil and, well, they have the climate for it! Also for making beer, since the southern region of the country is the largest producers of barley.

The state is the second largest producer and the largest consumer of a commodity called Erva-Mate, or just Mate. It’s a herb which is mainly used for tea and has a high caffeine content. If you walk around the city of Porto Alegre, you will see hundreds of people drinking the stuff wherever they go. Think that the British are big tea drinkers? The Gauchos (natives from the state) would put them to shame. Brazil itself is not a big tea drinking country, but the Gauchos consume a whooping 10kg of Mate per capita per year, which puts them ahead of Turkey, the biggest tea drinking country in the world (at 7.32kg/pc/py).

But I digress. So thinking that having the climate and ingredients for a good beer would give them an edge? Well, not so much. Adding a bit of their favourite drink to the beer? That didn’t work so well. Now add that beer to their custom made Cuia-shaped glass? Well, that’s the recipe to get flat and bland beer. In their novelty glass, I couldn’t pour the beer and take a photo fast enough for the head to hold shape. The beer is ok, but the flavour changes quite a bit very quickly, most likely due to oxidation due to the lack of the protecting head.

I have brewed with tea before and I am not sure the techniques they used to add the mate to the brew, but I can say that they were unsuccessful.

Now for the price. The average citizen of Rio Grande do Sul is better off than the average Brazilian. The beer is slightly expensive, at R$14 (£4) for a pint, it is still quite expensive for the local working man. But as it so happens to microbreweries in Brazil, producers manage to keep the clientele very selected. You can find Dadobier online, if you so choose, but most places are out of stock and, in Porto Alegre, one of the few places where you can find the beer is at their restaurant. This leads to you buying overpriced food with it. So, again, just like with Amazon Beer, if you are not part of the elite or pseudo-rich, this beer can be seen as something you can treat yourself to in a special occasion.

Knowing how much it takes to produce beer and having most of the ingredients locally available, overpricing beer that isn’t all that good seems to be the thing to do nowadays. Microbrewers in Brazil are having a field day with the new middle class!

The Day I Thought I Had Received my Last Rites

After a long trip to Brazil, back in 2004/2005, I returned home to Ireland and, as I still had 6 months with nothing to do, I decided to get a job.

There is nothing more rewarding than getting a job, right? So people say, anyway, so I became a bartender at a local hotel.

On the second day of the job, as I was pulling a pint, I felt the strongest, sharpest pain I had ever felt in my entire life. I spilled beer on the costumers and all, it was a massive mess, I tell you!

That pain didn’t go away! It was sooooo bad and no position I tried to be in felt comfortable, just more and more pain. Well, what else could I have done? So I was brought to hospital. I had no idea what was going on with me, I thought it was appendicitis, but I was wrong… it was kidney stones.

My mother was there with me and I could see she was in pain from seeing me in pain. They tried three different types of painkillers and none made the pain go away, so they had to bring out the big guns: Morphine. Still I am not sure what I felt, but the pain went away almost instantaneously, but also my blood pressure, which dropped down to 73 by 31 (This is really, really low blood pressure). I am not sure what had happened, but I couldn’t speak and could barely understand what the people around me were saying.

Out of nowhere, I see a priest lean over me, puts his hands over my forehead and says something, which for me sounded like Charlie Brown’s teachers. As I couldn’t speak, I started struggling, well, I wanted to know what was happening! “Why the hell is a priest talking to me?”, I thought… maybe I should have just given up, really… at that stage, I thought I was dying and the priest came to give me my last rites. As quick as he appeared, he disappeared and, slowly, I became more alert and asked why the hell was he giving me my last rites? I heard a wave of laughter from the nurses and from my mom… I felt so embarrassed! It turned out that my mom was the priest’s hairdresser and he just came in to say hello.

Yeah… and that’s how you feel like a fool.

“Am I a thief?” – What Rights Do I Have Over the Food I Buy?

After a constructive comment discussion with Margaret, a fellow blogger, I decided to write about something that I have been thinking about for a long time.

I will be brief. There is one type of chili I really, REALLY like that comes on the pizza I buy at my local shop. I haven’t been able to find the seeds to sell, so I decided to buy a pizza, open a few of these seeds and see if they will germinate (probably not, as they probably have been cooked and all). This is not the point, really.

If these seeds I saved, from the pizza I bought at my local shop, actually germinate and I am able to produce my own, am I a thief? Legally speaking, that is.

Well, there are precedents in some countries that if you buy seeds from a company, you have NO right to save them for future sowing (These companies shall remain nameless… Cough… MONSA.. Cough…)

I saved the seeds and will try to plant them. Does that make me a thief? In my opinion, NO! No one on Earth should be allowed to own any seeds or the intellectual property on them, regardless on how genetically modified to resist pesticides they have been.

Remember, these new seeds came from harvested seeds that belonged to no-one (or everyone). For a company to ruin people’s lives for something they shouldn’t own in the first place is horrible.

Seeds should belong to everyone and everyone should be allowed, without costs, to have access to whatever seeds they want.

But that is just me.

Twisted Pepper Sauce: Amongst Other Things

This post contains 5 photos.

Well, maybe it’s time to put some of that gardening products to good use, right?

My basil is grown, with a lot still in its adolescence, my chillies are doing very well, so I decided to make something “inventive”. I have three types of chillies here, but only two with fruits and not yet ripe: But I like green chillies! Anyway… I harvested a few of each and decided to make a sauce, which I will probably be used for my “Twisted Pepper Pasta”, but it will take a few weeks.

Here are the ingredients for this particular concoction:

Freshly picked basil leaves, around 30g of it;


This kind of pepper (help me identify it, please?);


And that pepper (that one too!);


Onion, garlic, honey and olive oil. I deseeded most of the peppers, blended half with the rest of the ingredients and the other half I sliced to mix with the blended paste;


Topped it up with extra virgin olive oil for conservation and flavour extraction and added the twisted pepper on top. As well as some aesthetics, the spices of the pepper will diffuse over the top layer. I will wait a couple of weeks before I use it, in order of the olive oil to extract the flavour of all ingredients.


The initial impression is that the sauce is quite mild and sweet, just the way I like it, but in time, I am expecting it to become spicier. Well, when you can taste the spicy air from chopping the chillies, you can expect something pungent!

Beer Economics Review: Amazon Beer Stout Açaí

I am not sure if this is a good idea, but I will publish a quick beer review worth of notice.

My girlfriend, who travels a lot, gave me several beers from local breweries from different parts of Brazil, which is great! Yesterday, we decided to drink it and, my God, what a tasty beer!

I am no beer connoisseur, but I can appreciate a good beer. And I guess it would have won the title of best beer in Brazil! It is quite subtle, coffee-y taste with not much taste of Açaí, still with a relatively high alcohol content. I wouldn’t expect the extremely hot city of Belem to have been able to produce high quality stout, of all beers, but they did the job! If you know anything about brewing, fermenting at constant, relatively low temperature is crucial, as temperature fluctuation can damage the overall body and taste of the beer. Belem do Para is the largest Brazilian city near the Equator with temperatures averaging around 28C throughout the year. It’s located at the Amazon River Delta and, adding all these factors up, it makes it one of the most humid cities on Earth. All these factors make Belem a nightmare for brewers (and for people to cope with the heat too).

Controlling the brewing temperature must cost the brewery a small fortune on heat belts, AC units etc. Also, everything (except the Açaí and water) must be imported, since the city’s climate is unfavourable for the growth of any of the raw products necessary to produce the simplest beers. All of this is reflected in the price. A 330ml bottle can cost you up to £5. These prices are also not compatible with the means of the average Brazilian, so you can only find it for sale in speciality shops and fancy restaurant, which is a pity.

With a GDP per capita of £3809 (£317/month), and 75% of the population living below that line, most of the population won’t be able to afford one single bottle of this lovely beer.

Well, that’s free capitalism for you! A city, which in my opinion, overcame all the difficulties of brewing a quality product, managed to produce something unique, but only for a selected few.

Now that I have calmed down, I can conclude. It’s a very good beer.