Right after Christmas 1993,  I left Brazil with the firm, but slightly far-fetched idea that I was not going back.  Many things made my departure hard.  A marriage. A lovely home. Toby, a dog I was crazy about. I could only take two pieces of luggage with me. Everything else was left behind. Books, dishes, pans, photos. But, much harder than that, family, friends, and the safety of a job at the best university in  the country.

At the time, I had no idea whether I was making the right decision.  I left São Paulo at the height of the summer, I arrived in Paris on a very cold night,  a few days short of New Year’s Eve to face months of loneliness like I had never experienced before.  I quickly realized I was fully unprepared for it, but giving up and flying back to Brazil was not an option I was willing to take. My former husband at some point told me: the struggles you are going through today, one day will be like invisible medals you will be proud to wear on your chest. Wise guy.

Twenty years flew by.  I cannot express how fortunate I feel for taking that risky first step. I do not mean this as advice, it’s rather a personal observation:  the only way to move forward is to take some risks, and to accept the idea of being very uncomfortable for a while. So, when in doubt, take a deep breath, and dive into your dreams!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
(opening line of a favorite book, read in Paris, March 1994).


Last week Mimi from “Chef Mimi” blog posted about several awards she’s received this year, and as she described her views on awards and the type of rules associated with each one, I found myself smiling and agreeing with her all the way…  We do have quite similar views on the issue, and we both wrote posts clarifying them. You can take a look at my own views by clicking here. But, what I did not expect was that she nominated me for a super cool award, the Blog of the Year 2013, and handed me not one but three stars at once!  Here is my badge, folks:

Blog of the Year Award 3 star jpeg

The instructions for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2013’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3 Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them – (please don’t alter the instructions or the badges!)

4 Come over and say hello to the originator of the ‘Blog of the Year 2013’ Award via this link – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/blog-awards-2/blog-of-the-year-2013-award/

5 You can now also join the ‘Blog of the Year’ Award Facebook page – click the link here https://www.facebook.com/groups/BlogoftheYear/ and share your blog posts with an even wider audience.

6 And as a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog … and start collecting stars…


So, having shared all that, I will open an exception and pass this three-star award to one blogger, Sawsan from Chef in Disguise.  She blogs from Jordan, and adds so much to the food blogosphere with her knowledge of cooking,  her amazing photography, posts that are thoughtfully composed and go a lot deeper than simply sharing a recipe.  I always look forward to a new post by Sawsan, and often wonder how a woman with a very busy life – she is a orthodontist and has two  young kids – can find the time to compose such high quality posts.  I don’t know how she feels about awards, and will totally understand if she prefers not to forward them, but this is just my little token of appreciation to a wonderful woman!


And now, let me thank Mimi once more not so much for the award, but for her words about my blog, which meant a lot to me.  Of course, stating that I have a “killer accent” did not hurt either.  Every foreigner HATES his/her own accent, and I am not an exception, so a different perspective on it is more than welcome!  ;-)


Remember our old kitchen?  Well, we barely recognize the place now! Weeks of renovation struggles are over, and we could not be happier with the outcome!  So I join Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial in her series In My Kitchen revealing our new space…

In our kitchen…

Supernova1supernova2We now have a 6-burner Blue Star range, powered by gas, with a convection oven,
and a gorgeous coral-front panel… We named it Supernova ;-)

In our kitchen…

cabinetsA new look for our tired cabinets, with new front doors and a green, antique treatment to the frames.  We love the hardware too. It matches the stainless steel look of the appliances.

In our kitchen (and dining room)….

compositefloor(click to enlarge)
A new hardwood floor, light, bright, and comfy on our feet.  It has a light semi-gloss finish.  That alone made our kitchen into a completely different space, joining smoothly with the dining room next to it.

In our kitchen…

fridgeA new fridge that actually makes ice! Isn’t that something? (when this photo was taken, the new granite countertop had not been delivered yet).  But, just a couple of days later…..

countertop1A gorgeous piece of Yukon White granite, born and raised in Brazil,  found its permanent home in the center stage of our favorite place in the house. The cabinet underneath was enlarged to accommodate the bigger stone. We absolutely love this addition, it makes cooking and hanging out in the kitchen so much nicer!

In our kitchen…

IMG_3103A colorful light fixture on top of the sink…   With a window frame painted in antique yellow.
No, we are not afraid of color!  ;-)

In our kitchen…

dishrackA dish drying rack from Simple Human.  I’ve flirted with this piece for 8 years, decided it was time to get one.   Very functional, very stylish. You can change the orientation around to fit your space, and the dripping spout works like a charm…

In our kitchen…
compositetrashcanA trash can also from Simple Human, perfect size to fit in the space between the fridge and the little hall that leads to the garage.

In our kitchen…
Bosch1A Bosch dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes!  Can you imagine that?  ;-)

In our kitchen….

knivesA drawer to hold our knives, with cleverly designed inserts sold by Bed Bath and Beyond.  The storage is completely flexible, you can customize to the size of your knives and drawers.
Three inserts did the perfect job for us.

In our kitchen…

IMG_3004A drawer with wooden dividers (also from Bed Bath and Beyond) to make storage a little more organized. Don’t you love the light yellow frame that we chose for the central island cabinet?   Brought even more light to the place!

In our kitchen…

newpotA little ceramic pot that is oven-friendly, and makes me smile every time I look at it. One of those happy little containers… found it at Marshalls.

To wrap up the post, a before and after short series…



A completely new look, that matches our mood, our style, our personalities.

Now, a final message from a four-legged friend who probably struggled the most with the ordeals of the hellnovation: Chief. He stayed inside with the workers all the time, but sometimes searched for peaceful places to sleep, as far away from the noise as possible.  A laundry basket (with freshly washed garage towels), or an empty luggage seemed perfect to rest his tired body… ;-)



I hope you enjoyed the tour through the New and Revamped Bewitching Kitchen!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings

TWO YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

THREE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101


photo 4(4)

A beautiful, blue, star-shaped fire!  Consider this just a teaser, a full post on our new kitchen will be published next month… for the time being, just a few shots of our new range, a Blue Star with a very sexy coral front panel…

photo 1(7)

Can you picture me doing a happy dance?


Coming soon to a food blog near you… full disclosure of the New Bewitching Kitchen!


In this world, we have dog people and cat people.  We have early risers, and those who are not themselves until past noon. We have those who worship the sun and those whose heart sings with the first snowfall.  We have East Coast people, and West Coast people.  Phil and I are early rising dog people who worship the sun, and between East and West California is the jackpot.   ;-)

GG-bridge-12-2006(image from Wikimedia)

California holds a special place in my heart, because that was my destination the first time I left Brazil, back in 1986.  It was my first contact with a country that decades later, would become my new, permanent home.  For Phil, California is beautiful, diverse, and progressive, a perfect trilogy.  We have wonderful memories of all our times spent in that gorgeous state, and cherish every opportunity to travel back.  A couple of weeks ago we flew to Los Angeles, visited UCLA and the lab of our friend and mentor Ron Kaback, and also got together with my stepson and his fiancée (= the coolest couple of LA ;-)). We kept our rental car busy, first going to  San Diego where Phil had a meeting to attend, then driving all the way to San Francisco.  The trip ended on a high note: we spent a couple of days in wine country paradise, around Mendocino and Navarro.  We stayed with a couple of KSU Biochemistry alumni, who after retirement from business decided to grow Pinot Noir grapes, and are now one of the most successful Pinot growers in the region.  They took us to a couple of wine tastings, to several amazing restaurants (Stone and Embers was perhaps our favorite), and also arranged a surprise visit to Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. We’ve been to many farmers markets in the past, but it will be very hard to top this one.

compositetomatoTomatoes in all shapes, sizes, and colors!  A feast for the eyes, made me sad that I would not be able to take a bunch with me to play with…

vinegarsTomatoes do not travel well in a suitcase, however, a 25-year-old bottle of white balsamic found a nice spot in mine, wrapped in plastic and surrounded by cozy sweaters… You can bet it will be featured on my next “In My Kitchen” post.

produceProduce of the highest quality peeking at us from every corner…

woodenboardWe were tempted to stick one of those in our suitcase, but their heavy weight would be a problem. So, we left them behind… ;-(

figsIt was also tough to wave goodbye to these gorgeous figs… but we were headed for a nice sushi lunch, and decided it was best to resist grabbing a basket or two.


Maybe my favorite spot at the market was Spicery, owned by a delightful woman called Evelyn. Our friends are serious gourmet cooks and familiar with the best sources of spices, including Penzey’s and Spice House. So, when they told me they rather buy their spices from Evelyn, I listened very carefully.  My favorite way to test a spice store is to ask for “pimente d’Espelette“.  Very hard to find. I posed the question, she opened a huge smile and said she has it but did not bring to the stand because not very many people ask for it, and she sells most of that precious item to restaurants.  I will be placing my order soon! And you can too…   Just follow this link and have fun browsing her products.


Of course, wine tasting was part of our weekend.

Can you imagine tasting wine on this setting? This is the view from Copain Wines that processes the grapes from our friends’ vineyards.


Look at the smile on Phil’s face!  I can only hope it was just for the bottle of wine. Red finger nails can be dangerous…   ;-)

We also visited Twomey, because according to our hosts, they do a wonderful job with Pinot grapes too.  Equally beautiful setting!


P&S_BigSur_100913A brief stop at Big Sur, magical place to wait for the sunset…


Until next time, California, we shall miss you!

ONE YEAR AGO: An Orange Frame of Mind

TWO YEARS AGO:  San Francisco Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: A Real Oscar Winner  (dog lovers: don’t miss this!)

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pane Siciliano