Monday, January 13, 2014

A Flourishing Porto Alegre Garden

Let me introduce you to Monique I met her on twitter, a lovely Mum and world traveler, fun and full of life she blogs at Ready, Pack, Go - A family travel blog where her, her hubby and daughter. share their travel adventures.

 The other day I was chatting about the passion fruit I had bought and how to know if it was ripe when Monique replied that she grew up in Brazil with passion fruits in her garden. In fact 30 fruit trees and an abundant kitchen garden. I couldn't resist asking her for a guest post to tell us about the wonderful garden she grew up with- 

My name is Monique and though many originally think I'm French, I am actually from Brazil. My family (husband and daughter) and I have been living abroad for the past 7 years and we are now based in Miami, FL, but travel is our passion. Since the world is too big to stay in only one place, we are always on the road. But there is one place we always go back to: Brazil, our home.

But my Brazil is a bit different than the one that is probably coming to your mind right now: no beaches or volleyball in the sand nor carnival. My hometown is Porto Alegre ("Happy Port" in literal translation), which is the capital of the Rio Grande do Sul ("Great River of the South" in literal translation), the southernmost state in the country. There we have cold winters, of about 30, 35 degrees (fahrenheit), and hot but not so humid summers and a very fertile land.

The connection I have with the fertile land aspect of my hometown is very strong. I remember growing up, in a city with about 1.2 million people, and having a backyard with more than 30 trees and a little vegetable garden; it all seemed pretty unremarkable to me since every neighbor had about the same amount of trees and a small garden, all in a residential area of a big city.


My family has always loved to plant, so we had a few lime trees (think freshly squeezed limeade everyday at lunch or snack time), avocado trees (in Brazil we eat avocados with sugar or just blend it with milk and make a yummy smoothie), sour orange trees (my great-grandma used to make some great jelly with it), papaya trees (also great for blending with milk and making smoothies) and passion fruit vines (which got out of hand, since they grow and spread so fast and there is only so much you can use and share with the neighborhood). Also, the neighbors' trees were fantastic: guava (I remember climbing my neighbor's guava tree to pick some up) and persimmon trees (which is not my favorite, but it is very popular in southern Brazil), and the regular orange and banana trees.
 Porto Alegre

Passion fruit 

We also had a small garden where my mom would grow parsley, garlic, onions, marjoram, basil, tomatoes and some more. And the cool thing was to see them going from the garden to the table, everyday. Nowadays my mom has basically the same items plus some strawberries and she has a lot of fun growing them and using them on her recipes.

Funny that I took all of this for granted somehow while growing up, but now I look back and it was so cool, such great memories. And while I know not everybody has space for 30 trees and a garden, I would encourage everyone to try and grow their own garden and create memories for your children that they can share when they are older and living far away from home! :)

I would like to share with you a recipe that is a hit with every guest at my mom's house: her Passion Fruit Mousse! This is the dessert that she always makes and everyone loves.

Passion Fruit Mousse 

1 can of condensed milk
1 can of passion fruit juice (reuse the condensed milk can to measure)
1 sachet of unflavored gelatin

Prepare de gelatin as directed but replacing cold water with the passion fruit juice. Stir in the condensed milk and refrigerate for 4 hours and then it is ready to serve.


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