Monday, October 21, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes and double chocolate chip

So it's been a month.........oops! Honestly there have been some big changes in my life and this has not facilitated blogging, although it should because changes are interesting. Therefore in an attempt to make amends (idk will it?!) I will fill you in on what's been going on and some of the highlights of the last month. But since this is a baking blog it's only right to give you a delicious recipe and set of photos to enjoy as we go.

Where I'm from everyone knows someone, frequently many people (including family members) who have moved away to find work, education or just better opportunities than they can at home. I have always embraced this approach and have enjoyed periods of living in other countries to access these opportunities. Aaand this is a long-winded way of saying that I moved again! I had an opportunity to progress my career and I jumped on it, it has involved giving up a great many elements of my life that I loved, taking a few big risks, a few big favours and one big move. Admittedly not as big as moves I have made in the past or as distant as many others are making (i.e. to australia and the like) but moving countries always involves an enormous upheaval. Luckily I am not doing this alone, which makes it a million times better!!!

In the interest of making a useful blog post I thought I would attempt to include some of the things I have learnt (usually the hard way) about moving country and I may include other tips as I learn more in this new location. However I should admit upfront that I have only ever traveled to places in North America and Europe, where the style of living has many similarities. Still I like to think that these could apply in other situations.

When traveling it can be fun to explore all the different opportunities, customs and local activities. No-one needs to tell you to embrace these exciting different experiences. However when moving country for a while it can be a wholly unsettling experience and, I have found that, it is very important to establish a sense of normality in your new home. Consider the normal pattern of your life in your home town and which elements are most important to you. For me, I don't feel right if I can't go to the gym or run in the morning so that is the first thing I look for. However you may be more into your choir, your dance class, your Sunday morning trip to a local cafe or whatever. I would recommend establishing these routines first, even if they appear more superficial than shopping around to find the cheapest electrical/gas/oil provider.
The reasoning is that change is extremely stressful and big changes can lead to a sense of being disorganized and disorientated. Establishing one element of familiar routine can serve as a stress reliever while also grounding you which can have a much larger impact on your general sense of well-being than you may realize. Another extremely important thing to have around is chocolate, it releases endorphins that make you feel loved  which, in moderation, is essential in stressful times. Therefore I have cooked up these fudgy double chocolate chip cookies for a hit of endorphins whenever you need. They are crispy with a nice bite but then your teeth sink into a chewy fudgy center.

Double Chocolate chip (adapted, as often, from here)

225g Melted Butter
100g Dark muscovado sugar
125g Brown caster sugar
50g   White Caster Sugar (vanilla sugar if possile)
1 tsp vanilla essence (if no vanilla sugar)
200g Bread Flour
100g Plain Flour
50g Good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
2 tbs milk
200-300g dark chocolate chunks

Put the melted butter in a bowl and add sugar and vanilla. Beat gently until the mixture looks like fudge itself. Then beat together the flours, baking soda and salt. In a seperate cup beat together the eggs and milk. Now add the egg mixture into the butter and finally add the flours. Now the dough should be dark and thick. Finally add your chocolate chunks and mix one more time.

Chill your mixture for 30mins and preheat your oven to 180'C. Scoop onto a baking sheet covered baking tray and bake for 12 minutes. Then remove from the oven and squish with the back of a spatula. Leave on the baking tray for another 1 minute and then put on a wire wrack to cool.
 (Note: you don't necessarily need to buy seperate wire wracks, many oven roasting dishes come with an elevated wire part, this can be used as a cooling wrack easily and saves on cupboard space - just make sure it's clean ;)

So let me take a moment out from this stress with a tea and a cookie and forgive me some sentimentality.

It can be really difficult to make a big change, particularly the older you get. As important and necessary as this move was it has been very sad to leave behind friends, family and familiar routines. Moving means going from meeting for tea whenever possible to skype chats and face-to-face meetings every few months if you are lucky. The nice thing is that time together can be maximized and that can create some of the best memories. You have to give up the routines that you have developed with friends and family, routines that are sorely missed and cannot always be replicated abroad and the people that you have been used to working with on a daily basis are suddenly out of your life, for better or worse. All that said, I cannot emphasize how much I am looking forward to the new life with my wonderful bf; the exciting opportunities, the old and new friends that we can spend time with and the new flavours of this city. So it's the end of one chapter, for now, and the start of another one ........ here we go

A sunset or a sun-rise?!

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