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Lately, on some mornings, often when the sky is rainy and gray and the work week is still mostly ahead of me I feel the active need to remind myself of the promise of infinite possibilities, to cultivate that magical feeling of expectation, excitement and most importantly, gratitude for the day. To do so, I’ve started making an early morning detour under the grey skies to my favorite Colombian cafe. I order a cafe con leche and a pan de bono. I sit at a table alone and watch as the combination of half tourists, half office workers and a few stay-at-home-moms with double strollers comes through. They go about their morning routines, carrying their troubles, the day’s necessities, grappling with their own inner monologues. It reminds me of the world’s magnitude. I smell the coffee grinds blooming, hear the milk warming into frothy bubbles and I savor the soft, warm pan de bono, one of my favorite parvas– baked goods from the region of Antioquia in Colombia. It’s a leisurely affair, a celebration of deliciousness and the power of observation. It’s my version of a quick time-out, where I’m accountable to no one and I could be anyone, from anywhere.

When I finish the pan de bono, I take the coffee to go, checking my blackberry to see what I’ll be walking into when I get to the office. No messages yet? Good.  I have one more stop to make. I walk a block to the library and browse the cooking section, the biography section and the fiction. I’ll allow myself to be transported for a bit in the aisles of the library, take out a book that I promise myself to make time to read, then walk the rest of the way to work with my umbrella and cafe con leche in hand.  On these days I feel better for have stolen a few moments for myself while the day was still new. I look forward to the rainy detour days. I need them.

This enough should be inspiration to recreate pan de bono at home (I often crave them on weekends), but there’s an added bonus. World Cup! One of my favorite occasions. A world divided comes together in a display of athletic prowess. These are the things that speak to me. The Brazilians have their own version of this cheesy bread called pão de queijo. How could I watch and not have one? 

The recipe calls for tapioca/manioc flour, which I was unable to find readily. It’s made from the cassava/yucca root, which means these babies are gluten free. I thought I could grind up tapioca pearls with my coffee grinder, but no such luck. I burned out the motor. Then I bought a new one and burned out that motor too. Then I bought another new one and on my way to pick it out I passed the “world” section of the same store and I found tapioca flour (Bed, Bath & Beyond, $3.99). How’s that for irony? I actually contacted Erin from Naturally Ella about this, as she just came out with an awesome book about grinding your own flour. I think tapioca pearls may call for more than a coffee grinder.  Armed with all the tapioca pearls and flour I’ll ever need, I got to work and in about half an hour I had enough pan de bono for 12 rainy day work detours and an entire futbol game. Viva Colombia!

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Pan De Bono

Ingredients:

(12 pandebonos)

  • 2/3 cup cassava starch or yucca flour, also called tapioca flour or manioc flour
  • 1/4 cup precooked cornmeal or masarepa
  • 3/4 cup Mexican queso freso or Colombian quesito (substitute with farmer’s cheese or if not, feta)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt

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Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. In a food processor, place the yucca/tapioca/manioc flour, cheese and masarepa. Process until well combined. Add the egg slowly while food processor is running. Divide the mixture into 12 equal size portions, shaping them into balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden on top. Serve warm.

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