13 September 2014

The Next Step

As I mentioned in my previous post, I moved back to Newcastle!

After four wonderfully enlightening and hilarious years in Wales, the time had come to finally leave. My friends had finished university and were finally moving away to start their careers. Living in that tiny, seaside town wouldn't be the same without them, so I felt there wasn't much worth hanging around for!


I then learnt that I was going to Bolivia in the Autumn. So that was it sealed. The end of the chapter was reached, and it was time to embrace the next step.


I handed in my notice at the supermarket I was working in, and bid farewell to my work colleagues. I felt so proud and relieved that day. Even though it was a basic job, it helped me get on my feet after a tough period of unemployment. That job allowed me to support my family while they too were unemployed, about to lose their home and were visiting local food banks. I even managed to save a little bit of money to put towards my next adventure! Despite all of that, I made sure I had enough to enjoy myself and have decent food. I worked very hard, and got a lot back in return!

Now I probably make it sound easy!

This past year has been the hardest year in my adult life. It began with being unemployed and unable to find a job for months. Then around Christmas time, I had to go through a difficult breakup. I felt incredibly lonely, as though I couldn't reach out to or be understood by anybody. I was miles away from my family and couldn't afford to go home. So I stuck it out. I decided to occupy myself with more pressing issues in my life - my direction, my purpose, my place in the world, and how to make the life that I want. I started spending more time with my friends and reached out to them, and we became very close. We had brilliant times together that I'll always remember!


But despite that, there were many frightening nights I felt lost, trapped, restrained and powerless. I was working over 40 hours a week and I felt my job was consuming my life. My quality of life wasn't bad, but I felt like I couldn't escape my routine and move forward. On those frightening nights I would sit on my doorstep, staring at the moon - the moon always makes me feel peaceful - praying for some intervention or directing force. Now I'm not a religious person at all, but this kind of spiritual practice helped me enormously. I felt so skinned of my options, and the stress that resulted made me recalculate what I wanted to do with my life. I started to ask myself very raw questions to make sense of things:

'What is my purpose here?'

'How can I make myself useful for the world?

'What do I have to give?'

I still haven't answered those questions. But I started listening for answers. I listened to my instincts and I became more receptive of my thoughts and feelings, even the ugly ones! I became more observant and mindful of how I react towards certain situations, people, activities, feelings and thoughts in my daily life. I've noticed particular things that I enjoy and that make me feel good as a person. After a while, I'm sure a recurrent theme will become clear, and I can begin to steer my life towards it. For now, it's noticing the little hints, and trusting that they will take me closer to the answering those questions.


That is what my life is about right now!

So I left Wales. I packed as much of my things into my one suitcase and booked my train back to Newcastle. On a very sunny, still afternoon I said goodbye to my friends, and we parted ways. I'm really going to miss living with them. It's not often I find people who accept my strangeness and my weird imagination, but I felt so comfortable around them and we were always being daft together!


Living back at home in Newcastle is very different, but I'm embracing the change. It's time I make the next step and figure out the answers to the questions I mentioned earlier.


Right now, I think have a good idea of where I would like to go and what I would like to do: I want to go to medical school; I want to help people; I want to travel; I want to improve lives; I want to hear people's stories; I want to talk to people and give them hope; I want to bring people together; I want to give people a chance of happiness. But no doubt the future will produce unexpected and difficult choices that can lead me far away from where I think I ought to be. I just have to have trust in my moral GPS to tell me which choices to make, and wait in hope that it leads me to my optimum way of being.

So I'm going to Bolivia in two weeks.

That's all I have planned so far!

I'm going to see what happens there, and I hope I return home at Christmas with a better idea of what I want, which step to take, and a more resolute answer for my questions!

Thanks for reading! :)

Anthony

19 August 2014

Next Adventure Confirmed: BOLIVIA 2014

So, my next adventure is confirmed!

At the end of September, I'm jetting off to South America to work in Bolivia until Christmas!

I'll be working with a charity called International Service, who develop projects in countries such as Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Palestine. Their goal is to fight poverty, empower citizens and encourage human rights action. It's a small charity, based in the quaint British city of York, but their vision is huge!

They're only partially government funded, so I've been running a fundraiser to build up some funds to keep the scheme going. You can have a look at my progress HERE if you like; I'm almost done!

It's a wonderful opportunity for volunteers, especially those who don't have access to these kind of schemes in their community. So, it helps people abroad and people back in the UK. Win-Win!

So, in Bolivia, I'll be working on health projects in La Paz, the capital city. There is an enormous amount of poverty in Bolivia in general, one of the poorest states in South America that, unfortunately, is ignored.

So why Bolivia? This happened unexpectedly. I attended an interview with International Service in York, thinking I was going to be sent to work in Palestine. A week later, they not only told me that I got the place, but they wanted me on a much more exciting project in South America. After some thought, I grabbed the opportunity and ran with it!

While I'm there, I plan to share some of the things I see and learn with you. I'll also share information, photos, and give you a flavour of what this country has to offer.

Bolivia, if you don't already know, is outstanding. Here's why:

1) The Amazon Rainforest


Bolivia sits on the edge of the colossal Amazon Rainforest. The epicness sells itself really.


2) La Paz

The capital city of Bolivia, and it sits at an ear-popping, dizzying 4000 metres above sea level. That's an altitude at which you don't want to climb stairs.


*Huff* *Puff* *Huff* *Puff* ...I'll just have a little rest here guys...


La Paz is an incredibly diverse city - many nationalities, many walks of life and crammed full of activity in the way of carnivals, cafés, street food and music.

3) Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni is a gigantic, shallow salt lake, that dries to leave miles of sparkly, snowy crystals. It's absolutely majestic.


It's referred to as the world's biggest natural 'mirror'.


If you think the daytime mirror looks awesome, you should see it at night when the stars come out to play.


Famous worldwide, and to travellers it's the symbol of Bolivia - the salty jewel in its crown.

4) Valley of the Moon


Situated just outside of La Paz, and very martian-esque. Apparently, because of the altitude, one of the most beautiful sunsets to be in the world. And a great place to see the moon, as you probably guessed by the name!


5) Laguna Verde

Literally, 'The Green Lake'. And boy is it wow.


Tbh, I'd say it's more turquoise. But I don't want to be a dick and ruin the allure, so I'll digress.


6) The Ancient City of Tiwanaku


When I was a teenager, for some reason, I was fascinated with the Inca Empire. I used to read all about the mythology, the legends, and how they thrived in Peru and Bolivia until their demise at the hands of the Conquistadors. I said back then that I'd love to one day visit Peru and Bolivia, but that wish sort of dissolved as I got older - until now. 

Remains of the Inca cities still exist today, in ruins. One of the most fascinating, and archaeologically active, is Tiwanaku. I've gotta see it!


Sounds incredible, doesn't it?

It doesn't stop there.

Being right in the heart of South America, Bolivia has excellent links to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. This opens the door to a number of really cool potential travelling opportunities which I'm currently looking into. Here are some of my ideas so far:

PERU?

A weekend in the ancient city of Cusco?


And if I have time, a trek to the world-wide wonder, Machu Picchu?


ARGENTINA?

A visit to the ancient, artistic city of Salta in the north?


And the idyllic Argentine countryside?


CHILE?

A stop-by the Chile coast? I've never seen the Pacific Ocean before!


BRAZIL?

Or a showstopper weekend in Rio?


(I'd probably need a tan, a wax and a speedo, naturally.)


So there we have it!

It sounds like it could be an action-packed Autumn, and I can't wait! I hope to have lots of interesting stories to share, both about my project work and about travelling and culture. Stay tuned for updates!

Now I better get learning Spanish!

Anthony

A Whole Lotta Change

Hi everybody!

I've been radio-silent for a little while, for that I'm very sorry!

It's been a dizzying few weeks. There have been some big changes in my personal life, which has been frightening and at the same time, electrifying. For starters, I no longer live in Wales! I'll elaborate more on that in one of my next posts!

So I've had loads of stuff to do recently and of course, now I have lots of shiny, new things to share with you - recipes, travel plans, advice and perspectives - a lot of goodness, and it's all coming your way!



I'll be updating this blog over the next week. I'll be updating some of the pages, pruning old posts and expanding on some of my content. There will a few layout changes to make this thing look a bit tidier - I know it's not too bad right now, bit it could be a bit neater!


Follow me on Bloglovin' to keep up with my new posts over the next few weeks - you ought to, they're going to be pretty exciting!

See you soon!

Anthony

8 April 2014

Churn It Up!

I made an investment this week!

I bought an ice cream churner.

My last ice cream recipe post was quite popular with a few people. I had a few messages from people who had a read and tried making my Coco Piña Ice Cream. They thought it was delightful too!

I would love to make more ice cream. I do have very good reasons.

1) It is my absolute most favourite food ever.
2) You can make a plethora of flavours (I love variety!)
3) It can be a guilt-drenched treat (for naughty days) or a guilt-free delight (for fatty days).


So my little goodie-box arrived!

I bought a churner with a generous 1.5 litre canister. I found it HERE on Amazon for around £20. This particular churner is on an 80% price mark-down, so it's worth grabbing quick! You pop the canister in the freezer for 12 hours before you make your ice cream - it's lined with a slow-defrost gel that stays frozen for a while during the churning process. Using this churner, ice cream takes about 20-30 minutes to make. You can buy ice cream churners that have a self-contained freezing unit. This would be much more straight-forward and better for a sudden, urgent ice cream craving, but they usually come at about £200 a pop!

So unboxed my new baby and set it up.



The mixing paddle scrapes the edges of the bowl and churns the ice cream mixture constantly, so it freezes slowly and doesn't produce solid ice crystals. That way, you get a smooth, creamy ice cream and not a gritty, frosty slush...or a block of milky ice!


Just when I thought that was it, I noticed a pop of colour at the bottom of the parcel. I fished the object out and...oh...hello there!


They sent a Ben and Jerry's Recipe Manual! It's a pretty hefty book and it is crammed with a lot of funky recipes. They even have recipes for their classic flavours like Cherry Garcia and New York Fudge Chunk.


The book is very informative if it's your first time making ice cream. The beginning chapter gives you an understanding of the process, some handy flavour tips and a basic grasp of the food chemistry involved in making a perfect ice cream.




I was delighted with this surprise! I'll try some of these out and share them with you if they turn out wonderfully!


I hope to bring you a few interesting ice cream recipes in very near future! Do you have any flavour ideas to start me off?

Thanks for reading,


Anthony :)

1 April 2014

Piña Coco Ice Cream

Pineapple Coconut ice cream - a taste of holiday, whenever.

During my first year of university, I made a lot of ice cream: low-fat, low-carb, soya ice cream, fro-yo - the lot. Before I forked out for an ice cream churner, I tried and failed many times at making a no-churn, smooth, scoopable ice cream that didn't just freeze into a solid block of ice. I tried different ingredients and recipes, and eventually found a Goldilocks balance. To make no-churn ice cream, you need the right balance of sugar and fat so that the ice cream will remain in a constant, crystal-free liquid state, even in a -18°c freezer! My recipe requires no churning, so you literally have nothing holding you back from making it yourself.

Pineapple and coconut remind anybody of a holiday. Whether you yacht around in Antigua or take a package holiday to Ibiza, a Piña Colada is bound to have crossed your path at some point. It's a trademark of relaxation and vacation!



We've had some incredibly stuffy weather here in Wales this week. Shorts are making their way back out of their seasonal wardrobe crypts are meeting the sunshine once again. Of course, when the weather becomes lovely and bright, so do we. We're happier, more optimistic and we tend to eat more nutrious, healthier food. I'm sure, if the weather were nicer more, we'd be a much healthier nation!



I love to cook when it's sunny. I become so inspired to make colourful, happy food because I feel happy. And today, on yet another sunny, warm day, I chose to put together something happy, honest and reminiscent of vacation - perfect for a day off! 

This sunny, refreshing ice cream requires no churning. If you have an ice cream churner, by all means use it. However, I'm old-skooling it in this recipe! You won't get a perfectly smooth Walls texture, but you'll have a cool, creamy dessert with a charmingly home-made quality.

Here is what you'll need for your taste of summer holidays:

+ 1 medium pineapple (or 2 tins of pineapples rings).
+ 400ml can of coconut milk (not fat free).
+ 400ml of natural yoghurt.
+ 4 tablespoons of icing sugar


And that's all!

Let's begin:

1) Take your pineapple.


We're going to reduce this fruity bombshell into domino-sized chunks, Here's how:


a) Chop off the pineapple's head and bum.




You'll be left with a pineapple 'drum'.

b) Cut your drum in half and then into quarters.



c) Cut your quarters again so that you produce 8 segments that look like a pineappley Union Jack.


d) Now slice the tough husk off each segment.



e) Then slice off the pointy tip of your segments. 


The reason why we're cutting the pointy edge off is because pineapple contains a strong protease enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain breaks down proteins, which explains why your tongue burns if you eat too much pineapple! Some people end up with a sore tummy even after just a small amount. Sadly I'm one of those people! If you're the same, remove the pointed edge of your pineapple, as the core of the pineapple is where the bromelain is usually most concentrated!

f) Now you should have sticks of pure pineapple flesh. Chop them into chunks and add them to a large beaker or a blender.


Make sure to keep a baton to yourself. All this chopping should honour you with a tasty treat!



2) That's the technical bit done! It's all downhill from here. Open your can of coconut milk and admire its pure white, whippy texture. 



You need to use full-fat coconut milk, not the reduced fat variation. The fat (don't panic, it's naturally-occuring fat in the coconut) is vital for making a smooth, scoopable ice cream. This won't work without it.

Empty the whole can of coconut milk into your pineapple. Give it a long sniff. What you'll smell is a sign of what is about to come! Holy tropical delight.


It should smell like beach bars and days by the pool.

3) Now add in your yoghurt and mix until it's all roughly combined.




4) Now we're going to blend it all together. I had to take mine inside for this part! Simply crush it all together in a blender or with a hand-blender until the pineapple chunks are annihilated.



5) Mix in your 4 tablespoons of icing sugar, and blitz once again to eradicate any sugary nuggets. You'll notice your mixture become rather thick and glossy. Icing sugar increases the melting point of the mixture, so when you freeze it, you should end up with a scoopable ice cream and not a solid block of ice. This is what makes it no-churn!


6) Pour your ice cream mix into a container and freeze it for a good few hours. Your work is officially done!



7) Once it's frozen through, you can remove it from the freezer. Leave it for 10 minutes to thaw slightly before scooping and serving into bowls.


I suggest adding a chunky scoop to a tall glass of lemonade for a sparkly summer slingback!

On this occasion however, I blended a few scoops into some milk for a deliciously delicate tropical smoothie!



Hope you enjoy this delight!

Do you know any other ways of making a non-churn ice cream? I've seen many recipes but I'd love to know which ones produce the best results! 

Thanks for reading!

Anthony :)