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Last week, I decided to start volunteering at a local preschool in addition to volunteering at Projeto Lontra because I wanted to spend more time working with children. I go to the preschool Monday afternoons and Wednesday mornings. Because I do not have any formal teaching training, I am just an “amiga” or “tia,” a teacher who is more of a playmate. In addition to helping the teachers with their classes, I teach a little English through art projects and songs. We sing songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” back and forth in English and Portuguese, “Cabeça, Ombro, Joelho, e Pé.” I tell the kids that first I am their English teacher and then they are my Portuguese teachers.
Today was my first Wednesday at the preschool and El Niño definitely did not miss the memo. El Niño is a tropical weather phenomenon that brings unusually warm weather and rain to rival the Indian monsoons. As a result of Global Climate Change, southern Brazil is experiencing a very intense El Niño this year. It has been raining heavily almost since the day I arrived in Brazil. But as the rain hammered away outside, the teachers at the preschool were busy making bolinhos de chuva in the kitchen.
The name, “bolinhos de chuva,” means “little rain cakes.” One of the teachers, Michelle, explained to me that when it is rainy outside here in Brazil, grandmothers make these little donuts. When the batter is dropped into hot oil, it quickly forms what resembles a raindrop. The grandmothers serve these little rain cakes warm to the children, warming up their bellies and keeping them happy while they are trapped indoors.
Bolinhos de Chuva
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
oil for frying
1. In a bowl, stir the cinnamon into the 1/2 cup of sugar and set it aside.
2. Now mix the flour, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar together in a separate bowl.
3. Stir in the eggs and 1/2 cup buttermilk with a spoon. Add the rest of the buttermilk slowly until the mixture has a very thick consistency. Now stir in the baking powder.
4. In a deep skillet, pour 2 inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Now scoop a golf ball sized ball of batter with a spoon and drop it into the oil.
6. Let the little balls of batter cook on by one until golden brown and then place them on a platter with a paper towel to dry.
7. Once dry, roll the cakes in the bowl of mixed cinnamon sugar. Serve while hot.