Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Do You Like In Art?

Hey all,

As you know, one of the things I enjoy doing most on our tour is to visit museums and see different art.  Especially art that is done by local artists.  I do love the masters and get so jazzed when I see a painting done by one of my favorites.

I've seen Joan Miro's work in Sao Paulo and Rembrandt's in Brasilia.  But what I am really enjoying is finding Brazilian artists and the different art that just screams..."I'm all about Brazil!!!!"

When I look for traditional Brazilian art, I look for the tropical scenes, cityscapes done with geometrical designs, or sculptures, usually in wood.  I know what I like and I'm drawn to those types of work.

So, when we went to the National Museum here in Brasilia, I was expecting to see that sort of thing.  There were a couple pieces I really liked, but instead of traditional Brazilian art, there was only a modern art exhibition.  So, I shook off my old expectations and decided to try to enjoy what I saw instead.

There were all kinds of pics, some I liked, some I could only scratch my head over.  I thought I'd share some of what I saw and see what you all think!

This first one I really liked.  Very much what I consider Brazilian art.  The colors, the style...just everything about it.  I'd probably hang it on my wall.

And this one I truly scratched my head over.  Why exactly does this artist think condoms are something to use in art?  Or is it just my naughty brain that sees something that isn't really there.

This one I liked, though I'm not really sure why.  Sometimes that happens.  I see something that just touches me, even when I can't explain why that is.

And lastly, I thought I'd share this picture.  I really, really liked it, but what I found most interesting was what I saw in the picture was totally different than what Jonathon saw when he looked at it.

I guess that's what true art is all about.  People see, feel and enjoy a picture so differently.  The same painting, photograph or sculpture can make different people feel different things.  One may hate it, and gets creepy ugly vibes from the same painting another might go into raptures over.

I think the worse thing that can happen when viewing art would be indifference.  To look at a painting and feel...nothing.  To shrug and move on without feeling or caring one way or the other.  It happens all the time and I find it sad when I just walk by a painting that does nothing for me.  Because I know the artist put his/her heart and soul in the piece.  But it is what it is.  Some touch your heart, others make you laugh or cry and others...they do nothing at all.

So, to end today's blog, I've got a final question for you.  Look at the last painting above.  And in the comments tell me what you see in this art.  Then next week, I'll tell you what Jonathon and I saw in the painting.  We'll see if you are for Team CJ, Team Jonathon, or if you started your very own team!!!  LOL

Until next week...


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brasilia - A Pretty Cool City

Hey all,

I thought I'd give you a quick look at what I've discovered here in Brasilia.  Overall, the city is pretty cool, though there isn't a whole lot to do once you'd done the "tourist thing".  I've managed to keep busy and we have a few things more to do in the last couple weeks we're here, but I've spent more time working inside, then out and about.

Here's a few pics of things I've seen.  I hope you enjoy them!

The National Congress Buildings - Very interesting design

The JK Memorial Building - Everything is underground.

The National Museum - I am still wondering what the outside swirly ramp thing is for.

The following pics are from the Brasilia National Park.  We loved the time we spent there.

The Natural Spring made into a swimming pool.  Just one of several in the park. Water is so very clear.

 One of the park trails.  We saw marmosets and many kinds of birds on this trail.  This is the drier portion of the area.  Very scrubby.  A little way down the trail is a rainforest.  Right next to each other.  You take a single step and then you're in a different climate.

A family of coati!  Very much like a USA raccoon.

This beautiful bird we saw on the walking trail.  Awesome.  Anyone know what it is?  I've looked and can't find it online.  Help!!!!

Brasilia has many things to see and do, and I hope you've enjoyed this brief glimpse.  If the internet was better, I'd put up more pics, but I think you can see a little of what we've been able to visit while living here.  Have a great week!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Taste of Brazil - Yum!!!

Hey all,

I'm back today with something I thought you'd all enjoy.  As I've mentioned in the past, one of my favorite things to do in a new country is to try all the wonderful new foods and drinks that are available.  And so far, Brazil is no different.  There are many delicious taste sensations, each very different from the other.  In fact, I'd have to move here permanently to get to eat them all!!!

In today's blog, I thought I'd share a couple of recipes I've discovered her in South America, as well as one of the best drinks I've ever tasted!  I hope you enjoy them as much as Jonathon and I have!

So let's start with a cocktail, shall we?

Caipirinha – Brazilian National Drink


4 generous Tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)
5 lime wedges
7 count pour of Cachaca (Brazilian alcohol make from distilled sugar cane)


Muddle (crush) sugar and lime together in shaker using pestle.  Add Cachaca and shake well.  Pour into proper container for serving, or individual glass with ice.

**CJ says it's awesomely delicious just as is, but you can also use strawberry, kiwi, pineapple and other fruits in the muddle.

* * * * *

 One of the dishes I've discovered in Brasilia is called Pamonhas, which is the Brazilian version of a tamale.  I'd seen them in Sao Paulo, but never had a chance to try fresh ones.  Here in Brasilia, near the hotel is a weekend craft fair and they have a large food area there as well.  And one of the vendors sells these delicious treats.  They aren't easy to make, but if you like tamales, and want to try something a little different, you should give these a shot!

Pamonhas come in two basic varieties in Brazil, savory and sweet. Savory pamonhas are often filled with chopped meat or chicken, but can also be made without stuffing. Sweet pamonhas are generally unstuffed, but can be flavored with coconut milk. The ones I tried were sweet and had a bit of cheese in them like the picture above. (I liked that one the best.)

Ingredients  (makes 12)
12 ears very fresh corn
4 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold whole milk


Cut off the bases of the ears of corn, then carefully shuck them, taking care not to rip the husks if possible. Reserve the husks. Remove all the silk from the cobs, then trim them.

Grate the ears of corn over a large container. Put the grated corn into a blender or food processor. Add the sugar and salt into the corn mix and blend, then add the milk. Blend it all together so that you get a corn paste.  (add coconut milk instead of regular milk if you want a sweeter pamonha. Or half and half, depending on taste.)

The next step is the tricky part: stuffing the husks with the corn paste. Using a corn cob as a mold, wrap the cob in at least four husks, remove the cob, and tie one end of the package of husks securely with kitchen twine. Carefully fill each package with the liquid corn mixture. At this point you can add stuffings of your preference to the middle of the corn paste: try ground beef, sausage, cheese or shredded chicken. Don't add to much, or it will get messy.  Then tightly tie the other end of the package with twine.

Bring a large quantity of water to boil in a stockpot or other large saucepan. Lower heat, then carefully place the packages in simmering water to cover. Partially cover the stockpot or pan, and let the pamonhas simmer for one hour. When done, remove the pamonhas from the water and let them drain thoroughly. Serve hot or at room temperature.

* * * * *

Now of course to finish up our meal, we have to have some sort of sweet.  There are several ones I could choose from, but my all time favorite so far is a yummy little treat called Pacoca.  The first one I had was made by--I know it's odd--Hershey's!!!!  And from that moment on I was hooked.  I tracked down the recipe and it's easy enough to make in my hotel room with my little blender, so anyone can make it.  So if you like Reese's Peanut Butter cups, or Peanut Butter and Chocolate Christmas Balls, you'll adore this new desert candy.

Ingredients  (makes 20 - 30 pieces of candy depending on size and shape)

1 1/2 cup peanuts, lightly salted
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup manioc flour or manioc starch (can't find?  Use corn flakes from the ethnic food aisle)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup condensed milk 


Blend the peanuts with the sugar, salt, and manioc meal until very finely ground.

Add a tablespoon of condensed milk and blend for 30 seconds. Check if mixture is starting to come together by pressing some into a ball with your fingers.

If the mixture will form a ball that stays together well, it's ready. If it is still too crumbly, add more condensed milk and blend.

Now is the time to form the candy.  You can do this in one of several ways.

A) Press mixture firmly into a square 8 inch by 8 inch pan lined with wax paper.  Once done, remove candy from pan by lifting out the wax paper, and cut into smaller squares.
B) Roll into 1" balls.  Arrange on pan lined with wax paper.
C) Roll into 2" long by 3/4" wide logs.  Arrange on pan lined with wax paper.
D) You can also use greased cookie cutters (simple shapes) to cut pieces out of the candy, or press the candy into molds to shape it.  Arrange on pan lined with wax paper.

If you want the chocolate variety, melt semi-sweet chocolate in microwave or on stove in double boiler and carefully dip candies.  Arrange on pan lined with wax paper. Put in refrigerator to cool.

Store in airtight container. (IF you haven't eaten them all!!!)

* * * * *

I hope you've enjoyed this taste of Brazil.  Have a South American recipe you'd like to share?  Put it in the comments below!  I'd love to hear from you!

Hugs and see you next time,
CJ England

Follow Your Dreams