Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pine Nuts - on Steroids!

Autumn is coming to Brazil.
 But even with the cooler weather, there is always still something green and blooming. 
My favorite green thing down here is the magnificent Pinheiro (Paraná Pine - Candelabra Tree). It has many names. It is officially known as "Araucaria Angustifolia". 
Anyway, this time of year, the monster pine cones start to fall and hopefully you're not hit by one! They break open, and, wal-lah!  The edible seeds inside are called “pinhão” or in the plural form “pinhões”. So people collect them or buy them in the markets or from vendors on the street, cook them, and eat them. Of note - this is considered a local food that even parts of Brazil aren't fortunate enough to enjoy. The pinhão and the Araucaria tree are big benefits of living in Paraná.

(The pine nut, which is the fruit of a pine tree hidden inside a woody structure known as a pine cone.)

This seeds of this winter snack look a lot like 2" cockroaches
  The pine nut (still in it’s shell) is prepared most often (by the Natives) using a pressure cooker and is seasoned with salt. We just boiled ours in salted water for 40 long minutes. 
That was actually the easy part. After they're cooked, you peel the seeds. The pinhão are quite difficult to get into. Our friends here suggest biting off the end, spitting it out and then pushing the nut out with your fingers. We tried this, but I always ended up having to peel it.
The texture and flavor are like a cross between a nut and firm bean which is enhanced by the added salt. The closest thing I can compare the flavor of cooked pinhão to is roasted chestnuts - or for you Texans - boiled peanuts. And as many in my family know, I am NOT a big fan of boiled peanuts. So...considering that and the fact that they are very hard to get into...I'm glad I tried them...but I probably won't miss them all that much when we return home.
(Peeling these nuts open is hard work!)
 Tremendous quantities of pinhões are consumed every year in Brazil. Figures show an annual harvest of about 4,300 tons of seeds! Someone is loving them.

If you decide not to eat them, you can plant the “pinhões” and they will grow into another beautiful “Araucária”. However, it takes about 20 years for the tree to start to producing these seeds, and 40 years for the tree to reach maturity. But they do live for another 100 years or more after that!

Breaking News From Up North!!!
Called to Serve
Two of our three Senior grandsons have received their mission calls. 

Christian has been called to serve in the Canada Toronto Mission (Portuguese speaking) and will report to the MTC on July 5th.

Seth has been called to serve in the Mexico Monterrey East Mission and will report to the Mexico MTC on August 29th. 

How cool is Facebook Live!?
Alex turns his papers in the end of this month. Can't wait to find out where he will go!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


This week Christians around the world celebrated Easter. 

Brazil's cultural traditions include - chocolate eggs and bunnies!!
There were chocolate eggs everywhere. When you went to the supermarket, there would be tunnels made of brightly colored hanging chocolate Easter eggs. White chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, with hazelnuts, pieces of cookie, sprinkles, caramel, raisins, with a prize or with more candy inside. You just find your favorite egg and "pluck" it down.

Don and his Ovo de Chocolate – Chocolate Egg

Another typical food in the Brazilian easter menu is the pane di pascal, a kind of Easter cake (that resembles a panetone), whose origins come from Italy. Here, it is sold only during the Easter season and it is usually filled with chocolate chips and covered in chocolate toppings. 
The shopping centers also take advantage of the season by providing Easter play and activity areas.

Easter in Brazil is a time to see bunnies everywhere! No little ducks or baby chicks. Just lots and lots of bunnies.
(Don and Larry didn't want to stand by a bunny)

In Brazil, though, they don't dye Easter eggs or hold traditional Easter egg hunts like Americans do. The kids will paint the blown out eggs, fill them with surprises, and cover the ends with paper. These are then given to loved ones.  
Another interesting thing about Easter is that if there are kids in the family, they usually hunt for their Easter baskets. The night before, children will leave their baskets empty and wait for the next day. Parents (or the Easter bunny) will then put chocolate and candies in the baskets and they hide them!

And bright and early Easter morning we were awakened to the sound of "Resurrection" fireworks from the Catholic Church in back of us. We are used to the random ringing of the bells every day but the fireworks were a bit of a surprise.

It's been fun learning about the different traditions here in our beautiful Brazil, but...

Lest we forget,
 "Easter is the Christian holiday celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. After Christ died on the cross, His body was placed in a sepulchre, where it remained, separated from His spirit, until His Resurrection, when His spirit and His body were reunited. Latter-day Saints affirm and testify that Jesus Christ was resurrected and lives today with a glorified and perfected body of flesh and bone."
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

I am so grateful for my Savior and my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Vila Velha

This week's adventure took us to Vila Velha.

This park is located about a hundred kilometers from Curitiba. 
Vila Velha means "Old Village". The formations kind of resemble a medieval town with its castles and towers in ruins, hence its name. 
We thought it reminded us of southern Utah, with its red dirt and formations. Well, a mini southern Utah, anyway. 

Our little group consisted of the temple presidency and missionaries. 
(Our grandson - who will remain nameless - wanted to see 'natives'. So, except for the Browns and us, the rest are truly Brazilians!!)

This little guy was on a tree on the backside of the park. You don't find those in southern Utah!

After a couple of hours exploring the park, it was on to Ponta Grossa for some - what else - you guessed it - churrasco.
The Brazilians really know how to get their 'meat fix'!!

Marli and Jair (AKA Elder and Sister Medeiros) leave us this week. They've been temple missionaries for almost three years. How will we ever survive without them?!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Curitiba to Canuihas

The three day General Conference weekend gave us an opportunity to take a little road trip. The Browns served down in Canoinhas when they were last in Brazil. It's about 180 km southwest of Curitiba - about three hours away. It's small compared to Curitiba with around 53,000 people who are mostly German-Brazilians. Lots of agriculture and logging. Because of that fact, you have to pass a lot of slow moving vehicles on the mostly two-lane roads going and coming into the city. 

I can't begin to tell you how cool we felt driving our very own car!! It sure beats the ônibus.

This is the city entrance. All little towns/cities seem to have something like this to welcome the weary travelers.

We stayed in the lovely Petry Plaza Hotel. You can see how highly decorated it is. But it was clean and had hot water so we couldn't complain. (They also had a very nice breakfast.)

Before Conference on Sunday we "attended" the Catholic Church in town. They were very friendly. One guy even came up and told us that his wife and son would be meeting with our missionaries later that day. 

We watched conference in the little branch. The members were  wonderful. They welcomed us into their homes and hearts. They were so happy to see the Browns again. They fed us. We even had popcorn in between sessions. You can't beat that!
Don and I apparently look just like the drawing on the left. As you can see, we have both lost a lot of weight and grown taller since being down here!

You can only imagine how getting another temple in Brazil was received!!

On our way to lunch on Monday we ran into Elders Goés and Morales. We invited them to lunch and they readily accepted. 
Unfortunately, Elders Segalla and Nasciento and Sisters Kehr and Ferreira didn't show up until after. Rats! These three sets of missionaries are all serving in Canuihas.

Before returning home on Monday we paid a visit to Mauro. He does wood marchetaria (wood inlay). We visited his workshop and couldn't resist buying a few pieces. The picture in the upper left hand corner shows him holding the dry hardwood knot from a fallen pinheiro pine which he then makes into the beautiful balls you see at the bottom.

I love these trees!

Our trip home was uneventful. After a good night's sleep, we were ready to begin another week at the temple. 

P.S. I bet you can't wait to see where our next road trip takes us!