27 September 2015

Upcoming Adventure: Morocco & the Sahara!

I'm worming my way back into my blog - I come as easy as I go by the look of it.

In my last post, I mentioned a new trip. Today, I am excited to tell you that I am off to explore Morocco!

Morocco is a country I have wanted to visit for years. I first developed an awareness of all things Moroccan when I tried a DIY Moroccan tagine kit from Lidl (!). Not genuine Moroccan food, no - but the general idea of it captivated me. Fruits with meat? Woah! It looks as good as it tastes. Moroccan food has a real sense of achievment too it also: leaving fruity, meaty stews to bide and marinate for as long as you can possible bear. The reward: deliciously hearty food, offset with a harmonious blanket of cous cous. Moroccan food really paints a vivid picture with flavour. Oh yes.

I've nagged many friends and boyfriends to go with me for years, but none of them saw the appeal like I did. Lately, I decided to bite the bullet and go by myself!

Solo travel is both awesome and terrifying. I've visited foreign countries on my own before, but the idea of going to a new, foreign land with only yourself to depend on is always daunting. The only thing that experience teaches you in solo travel, is that the more often you do it, the more reassured you are that you won't have any disasters! I haven't experienced travelling solo that much, so it's still spooky for me. As scary as it might seem, the gains you make from solo travel are absolutely worthwhile. It gives you an inner security, reassuring you that you can do what you want, anywhere, with only yourself to turn to. For anybody even slightly socially anxious (like me!) it also forces you to meet new people and throw yourself completely into the culture around you.

I will definitely a separate post about solo travel, so I'll not dish out all of my propaganda for you just yet!

So I'm pretty scared about it - I'm more scared than excited really! It might seem stupid to throw money at something so daunting, when you could be doing something that is guaranteed to be 100% chilled out and relaxing. People always say that good things happen outside of your comfort zone. It's definitely good advice to follow. I'll go with that. You should too.

So I'm going to Morocco. Starting in Marrakech, I will be travelling up to the Mediterranean Sea, crossing over the Sahara desert and the Atlas mountains. The journey will take around 2 weeks. I hope to see some inspiring and exciting things while I'm there, and I cannot wait to share it with you! Here are some of the things I have planned:

1) Marrakech

I will first be spending a few days in Marrakech. I have been incredibly loose with my plans for what to do in Marrakech, but it will definitely involve the following, in any order:

+ Admiring pretty mosaics.
+ Street Food (and throwing all hygiene instinct in the bin).
+ Smoking away in moody cafes (and throwing all health concerns in the bin).
+ Shopping, severely. I want lots of scarves and extravagant cutlery (and throwing all financial responsibility in the bin).
+ Lounging in flowery gardens (and throwing all general stresses and worries in the bin).

2) Kingdoms in the Sahara

I will be travelling through the Sahara Desert, in which there are bubbles of ancient civilisations which look so magical. A prime example is Ouarzazate. Used in many blockbuster films as the ultimate old-world environment, this is one place to get snap-happy.

3) Camping in the Desert 

I may be excited about this part the most. I LOVE the stars. I'm lucky to have experienced some great stargazing-sights in my life: stars above Kilimanjaro, stars above Salar de Uyuni in South America and stars above the Himalayas. Watching stars in complete darkness is the most intense, out-of-body experience you can have. There's nothing like it in this world. Looking at something so expansive and far beyond the grasp of your imagination makes you realise how incredible our world is. I recommend star-gazing to anybody who is stressed or feeling rubbish about life. You don't have to know a thing about astronomy to appreciate it - screw all that - just watch in wonder!

4) Exploring ancient Fez 

Fez is a pretty hectic, vibrant city but has a lot more ancient wonders that are clothed in modern day souks and markets. Fez is the kind of city in which, if you look hard enough and see past the obvious, you will see something fascinating and outrageously old. I can't wait to explore the secrets of this little mountain city!

5) Relaxation in the Blue Town (Chefchaouen) 

Everybody I know who has travelled to Morocco has described this as one of the most beautiful, serene places in the world. Chefchaouen, known as the Blue Town, is a small town in the Moroccan mountains which has been painted every different shade of blue. The buildings are blue, the streets are blue, and most of the residents are dressed in blue. I love blue, so skipping Chefchaouen would be absolutely stupid of me! I'll be spend a few days here, being care-free, drinking jugs of mint tea and being scrubbed to within an inch of my life in a local hammam spa. Can't wait.

6) Meet the Med' (Tangier) 

This is where my adventure ends: The Mediterranean Sea. Tangier is absolute madness. It is the kind of city that has attracted hippies, musicians and creatives for decades. Artists and musicians find a lot of inspiration in this noisy, crammed city - every sense is charged with information. It's where ancient Arabic and Berber traditions meet the flamboyance of southern Europe (particularly a Spanish influence!) I hope to have a quick peek at this place before I head home. It's not somewhere people like to stay for too long, as it can quickly become a headache.

There we have it!

My backpack is filled and the guidebooks are packed. Hopefully it will be one hell of an adventure! I'll be sure to tell you all about it! See you in a few weeks! Anthony

23 September 2015

Back on Track

I've missed this place. It's only been a couple of months really, but still, dust collects quickly on the internet. I figured I would get back on track with it and let you know what's been going down.

Even though I've been away from blogging, I've still kept my beady eye on the blogosphere, reading and discovering new blogs, and seeing so many cool ideas that people like to share and read all about.

I've had tonnes of new ideas for this blog which I want to roll out in the next few months: recipes, new topics, new structure, a new design and new adventures (I've also arranged a jaunt to a new, foreign land, which I'll share real soon.) Things need a reshuffle. I want this blog to be more uplifting, informative and encouraging. There will definitely be plenty of food, but I want to add more of a meaningful, thoughtful spin to it.

If you've been following my blog this year, you've probably noticed that I've been all about the food, not so much about the travel. Life has been all over the place for me this year, so all of my travel plans have slid onto the back burner. This year started with me having no money, no job and frankly not much hope either. I was getting job offers that ended up falling through and letting me down. I had settled back home in Newcastle, which wasn't an easy transition to make: I didn't have much money to do anything; my close friends lived in different corners of the country; and I was helping my mum through her anxiety problems (which are always the worst during the winter). However, at the start of spring, I met a nice guy, we went for coffee, and we ended up seeing each other. It came out of nowhere. In spite of everything else going on at the time, being in a relationship was enormously uplifting.

Sadly, the relationship didn't last. He recieved a job offer in Moscow. We entertained the idea of a long-distance relationship, but a few weeks before he was due to leave, he changed his mind, and it ended. Even though I respected his decision, I was totally heartbroken. We decided to stay friends. Two weeks later, I saw that he jumped into a relationship with somebody new. He decided not to go to Russia after all. We're not friends anymore.

So this year has been a scatterbomb of problems, but I made it through, and things finally seem to be settling. I'm getting the hang of my new job and I finally have money to buy decent food and make plans. Moreover, I have money to travel!

There is one thing I have learned for sure this year though: refinement. I feel like I've learned how to refine most aspects of my life: how much food I really need to be satisfied, what hobbies and interests I really have time for, how much money I need to be comfortable, how many close friends I really need, how much 'stuff' I really need to hang onto, and how much space I need to live in. This year has shown me how little I actually need to feel comfortable and energised. It feels strangely liberating to just have the essentials and not much more - it's not as compromising as you'd think. Anyways, I'll probably write a little more about this idea when I've managed to make better sense of it.

Until then, I have plenty of goodness to share with you in the meantime!

Watch this space.


2 July 2015

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Tiffin

A 'blonde' take on a classic - no baking required!

To most people, tiffin is a British grandmother's favourite. Tiffin is typically made by mish-mashing biscuits and dried fruit with butter and chocolate, before pressing into a tray and setting it in the fridge. Tiffin requires NO baking, so there's very little room for it to go tits-up! Infantile cooking at it's best. Despite how easy it is to make, tiffin always tastes superb; it's dense, crunchy and oh-so rich. I needed to fit it into my life somehow

I adapted a basic chocolate tiffin recipe to make a delicious 21st-century-ready contender that blows away your granny's cobwebs. My 'blonde' tiffin, using peanut butter and white chocolate, tastes spectacular. It reminds me of white chocolate Reese's cups, which I adore. I personally reckon white chocolate is a much better dancing partner than milk chocolate when it comes to peanut butter. As you probably know, peanut butter an incredibly intense - almost traumatic - experience in your mouth. It's so claggy, rich and nutty. White chocolate works so well with that, by giving you a milky, dreamy, harmonious break from all that thick, nutty fiasco.

I actually made these tiffin slices for my workday breakfasts. As taboo as it is these days, I like to eat my breakfast on my way to work. A 'Grab'n'Go' approach means I'm not watching the clock while I mindlessly wolf down an invisible breakfast. What's more, I like to eat a breakfast that has more than plenty of fat and protein, to guarantee that I make it to lunchtime. So, a white chocolate and peanut butter tiffin just made perfect sense. They are bursting with nutty fats and protein, and by using HobNob biscuits instead of digestives, they have a longer-lasting wholegrain punch. Overall, they are indeed calorific, but you want those calories early in the morning.

You could mix this up by using different nuts and nut butters. Try switching peanut butter for almond or cashew butter. These will work just as nicely, so feel free to play around!
What You'll Need:
for 8 slices of dense, nutty goodness
100g Butter
100g Peanut Butter
150g HobNob biscuits (or Digestive/Grahams)
125g Salted Peanuts

25g Butter
200g White Chocolate

1. Start out by taking a large, heatproof mixing bowl.

Add in your 100g of butter, cut into pieces...

...followed by your gloopy 100g of Peanut Butter...

2. No we need to gently melt these two together, and the best way to do that is with a double boiler:

Fill a small pan with some water. Make sure the water in the pan is about 1-inch deep and doesn't touch the bottom of your mixing bowl. Bring this water to the boil, and then turn the heat down to low. Sit your mixing bowl on top of the pan, and allow the steam to heat the bowl and melt your butters...

...until you have something runny and luscious, like this!

Dismount your bowl from it's bath, and set it aside while we obliterate some biscuits!

3. Empty your 150g of HobNob biscuits into a bag, and crack them with a rolling pin (or any heavy object really!) until you have a rough rubble - not like sand - like crumble!

4. Tip your biscuit crumbs into your hot, buttery swamp.

Give everything a good mix until your biscuits are completely sodden with butter.

5. Now simply add in your 125g of Salted Peanuts, and stir until well-distributed throughout your buttery mulch.

6. Tip all of this sticky mixture into a dish; anything smaller than an A4 piece of paper is ideal for this tiffin. Make sure your dish is buttered/oiled or lined with greaseproof paper - it just makes life easier!

Press it all out flat with a spoon and set aside while we tend to chocolatey matters...

7. Snap your 200g of White Chocolate into a microwavable bowl or jug, and add in your 25g lump of butter.

Microwave all of this in 10 second bursts, until everything is melted and thick.

Don't worry if the chocolate looks slightly grainy, it will set glossy while it is chilled, creating a soft, chocolatey topping.

In the meantime, have a dip of a HobNob. It would be stupid not to!

8. Once you've treated yourself, slather this creamy white chocolate all over the top of your tiffin, making sure to smooth it about evenly.

Pop this in the fridge for 2-3 hours...

...and you're done!

Pop it out, slip it out of it's dish, and cut into pieces.

I cut mine into triangles.

I like triangles. :3

Hope you enjoy this gorgeous treat!

Thanks for reading,


22 June 2015

Balsamic Strawberry & Almond Crumble

Your will power for pudding is about to crumble!

I've been making crumbles since FOREVER. They're a total life hack. Fruity crumbles can use incredibly cheap ingredients, yet the small amount of preparation involved is still enough to give you that buzz of making something tasty from scratch, and therefore feel quite proud of yourself! I rarely make crumbles with fresh fruit - I actually use frozen or canned fruit most of the time. I'm not ashamed of that in the slightest.

Frozen/canned fruit have suffered from such a bad rep' lately. In a world where unprocessed eating is making a comeback, it's very easy to assume the dusty tins and frosty punnets should be given a miss. Although canned or frozen fruit may not physically feel the same, all the nutrition is still there. Most frozen and canned fruits are packaged as soon as they're picked, meaning they're instantly shielded from the destructive effects of light, air and temperature - unlike fresh fruit. Plus, they're so much cheaper and will really last you, so don't cast them aside!

Desperate pleading aside, on this occasion I'm actually using fresh fruit - strawberries! Now, strawberries are usually pretty underwhelming, sadly. Pound-for-pound, they don't yield much natural flavour and you need an awful lot of them to afford them any presence. If you pair strawberries with anything sharp like lemon or raspberries, the strawberries are effectively silenced - it's actually pathetic. However, there's one treatment for strawberries that makes their flavour erupt like a phoenix from the ashes. Pairing strawberries with balsamic vinegar will make strawberries burst, almost flamboyantly, into life and gives you a fabulously bold flavour, rather like Strawberry Ribena!

This particular crumble is a fantastic way to make something dazzling out of any strawberries you may have hanging around. What's more, when they're topped with this light, buttery almond rubble, it summons the sunshine. It's a summertime star that completely blows away the wintery, comfort-eating stigma of your Gran's plain, old apple crumble!

What You'll Need:
For 4 delicious servings of summer comfort.
500g/2 Small Punnet of Fresh Strawberries
2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons of White Sugar
100g Plain Flour
90g Butter
50g Ground Almonds
50g Flaked Almonds
75g White Sugar

1. First of all, heat an oven to 200C/390F. While the oven gets underway, let's take on the fruit.

Remove the leafy tops from your strawberries, and chop your scalped strawberries into heart-shaped halves. Place these into a fairly deep, oven-safe dish.

I'm making a personal-size crumble here, just for me, so don't be alarmed if my measures are smaller than yours!

2. Scatter over your 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix around until your strawberries are sugar-coated and slushy.

3. Spoon over your balsamic vinegar and mix until everything is evenly soaked. You'll notice your strawberries instantly pop through the dark stain of the vinegar - blood red almost!

Place your dish of menacing strawberries aside to soak while we tackle the next task: the almond crumble topping!

4. A crumble topping is the only bit of dirty work really - and it's not even that dirty. There are no floury countertops, no dough-packed nails, just lightly buttered fingertips. Nothing too daunting right?

Anyways, measure out your 100g of flour...

...tip in your white sugar...

...and tip in your ground almonds. Mix these all together well.

5. Add your butter to your dry mixture. It's best if the butter is fridge cold and cut into little pieces; it makes the job so much quicker.

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips, making sure everything is butter-slicked and dreamy.

6. Once everything is buttery, scatter over most of your flaked almonds and roughly mix them through the crumble. Keep a handful back. They'll be handy to shower over the top of your crumble before it gets the oven treatment!

7. Retrieve your dish of strawberries. They'll be nicely soaked by now.

Crumble over your almondy rubble, making sure to keep the centre well-covered. You can press your topping down a little if you prefer more a dense crust. Alternately, if you like a loose and nubbly crumble, simply let the pieces sit as they've fallen.

8. Place your crumble on the middle shelf of your oven, and bake for 25-35 minutes until gold and toasty.

9. Rescue your crumble from the oven and allow it to calm down for 10 minutes. Don't worry if the thick, fruity syrup has bubbled over a little. It adds to the charm I reckon!

You can enjoy it with custard, but I think a dollop of thick, Greek yoghurt is best-appointed for this summery treat!


Anthony :)