4.4.14

I'm moving!


After careful consideration, I have decided to take the leap & move my blog to a new host.  I've spent over three years on blogspot & I feel as though it's time to move on & help develop the site.  I truly feel as though I have grown through my experiences, whilst traveling & nearing my twenty seventh birthday, I feel I now know more about myself, my style & my passions, than I ever did before.

My new site is very minimalist, clean & simple, a style which I have really developed a love for.  Mère has always been very minimalist, preferring every wall in her house to be white, whereas I have always loved colour, both in my wardrobe & my house.  However, having stripped everything away in my life, I have found a great fondness for simplicity.  My (very tiny) wardrobe now solely consists of white, black, grey & a hint of nude pink & I love the idea of a clean, white living space, when I eventually get a place of my own again.

Being continually on my travels, I love writing about my journey & all that comes with spending a life on the road, both emotionally, physically & romantically.  I enjoy photographing beautiful thngs & places, sharing delicious, vegan recipes & giving honest reviews on products & places.  I hope that if you enjoy sharing in my passions, you will join me at my new online home www.ouijetaimeaussi.com.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Merci!


2.4.14

Officially snap happy!

A few weeks ago, I had the great fortune of meeting a lovely English couple, Paul & Pam, living here in France, who run French Photographic Holidays.  Having long wanted to learn how to improve my photography skills & finally learn how to use my current SLR properly, I was thrilled when they invited me along to one of their day courses.

Rolling up to their home in Les Âgés, a week after our original meeting, I spent the day in their in-house photography studio, learning about depth of field, shutter speed & Photoshop.  It took a while for all the jargon to fully filter into my brain & stick, but by the time lunch was ready, I felt I was starting to get to grips with it all.  Thankfully Paul is a very patient teacher.



Both their day courses & photography holidays, come with lunch included & I was most pleased to find that Pam was well equipped for whipping up a superb vegan friendly lunch.  Quinoa salad, homemade guacamole, fresh bread, mixed summer berries for dessert & best of all, a dairy free banana milkshake to wash it all down with!  Delish!

After lunch, Paul took me out into the cosy quiet hamlet, to put my new found skills to the test.  Finding an abandoned building, we took some great shots of the dusty furniture, left by the previous tenants.  Capturing the light shining through the windows & the cobwebs blowing in the wind.  It was beautifully haunting.



I found the whole lesson really invaluable, it truly inspired me to want to get out there & take more photos & start experimenting with settings, lighting & subjects.  Unfortunately, during our lesson, I learnt that after nearly seven years of keeping my camera in auto, the shutter speed & aperture dial has stopped working.  Therefore, in order to feed my photography hunger, I am having to look at investing in a new camera, which, having now been educated on the subject, I will at least be able to make far better use of.  That's my justification, anyway.

Having made firm friends in Paul & Pam, the three of us wasted no time in finding new things to photograph, a week later, when we took a trip to Perigueux market.  Whilst my camera may be a little restricting on some of the settings now, it still seems to work well on macro, so I had great fun snapping away at all the flowers, fruit & vegetables.  I love photographing inanimate objects, it has to be said.  I think a new camera & a few more lessons from Paul & I could be well on my way.



If you fancy a day's one-to-one photography & Photoshop course, or indeed, a week away in the sunny Dordogne, brushing up on your photography skills, whilst snapping the French roses, sipping the vin & nibbling on (it has to be said) fantastic food (Pam's vegan chocolate brownies are divine, whether you're a vegan or not), pop along to their website here & check them out.  I fully recommend them!

30.3.14

Insightful Sunday - Completion

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I was having a late night chat with my favourite person, Miss Charlotte, last night, about our dreams & I came to the realisation that a very LARGE & important part of mine, is having a partner.  Which, startled me in a way.  I'd always been such a feminist growing up, fully under the belief, that "you don't need a partner to complete you," but now, well, I kinda feel the opposite.

I want to share my life with someone, to share the highs & take comfort in their arms during the lows.  I've grown & developed over the past year, during my travels & I'm confident in myself & what I'm capable of, but sometimes, it's hard to do it all alone.  

I do think it's important to enter into a relationship on equal footing, knowing you are quite capable of being on your own, but appreciating being with someone else.  There is nothing more damaging in a relationship, than being reliant on someone else to make you happy.  It only serves to build up resentment & dependency, which wrecks a relationship like a bad case of woodworm.

Equally so, it's important to have a strong & healthy relationship with yourself, before you can have one with anyone else.  How could you ever accept someone's love, if you aren't capable of loving yourself, as you are, flaws & all.

Your partner should be your bestfriend, you should inspire each other, encourage each other, care for each other, be there for each other & LOVE each other, completely & unconditionally.  There is no compromise.  With billions of people in this world, there is someone, who fits with you like a jigsaw piece, who balances you out, who makes you want to be alive, to live, to breath, to feel, just because they're there & they make the world better.

I've had countless relationships start, then crash & burn before even becoming legitimate.  I've given my heart away, like a goody bag at the end of a kid's birthday party & had it shredded into confetti, on numerous occasions.  I'm done with dead ends & poor choices, I'm ready, ready for the end goal.  To find someone, who completes me, who fulfills me, who makes my life whole.

If they happen to be brown-eyed, bearded, have a penchant for skinny jeans & happen to be open to living in Paris, then all the better.

28.3.14

RECIPE: Protein Packed Raw Chocolate Brownies

I have found a wheat-free, super duper healthy alternative, to my gooey chocolate brownies, thanks to my friend Kitty, sending me the link to the recipe.

Protein-Packed Raw Chocolate Brownies

 


Packed full of nuts & seeds, these moist bars, naturally sweetened with maple syrup & cocoa powder, are high in fat burning protein!  What's that, a delicious chocolate brownie that aids weight loss!  That's officially a guilt-free indulgence!

Head over to MindBodyGreen for the recipe & try them out for yourself!

27.3.14

Self Identity


If there is one thing I am finding quite hard to hold onto at the moment, it is quite simply, my self identity.  I got over losing my home, no longer having a car & being without a job.  My travels made me realise that my identity didn't have to come from those things.  However, my great sense of self has somewhat diminished, along with my style.

During the long hot summer in Sicily, I consistently wore a bare face, my hair in a top knot, dirt under my nails, my skin darkened heavily by the sun & I was happy.  Although, I moaned, "this isn't what I normally look like" to everyone that would listen, until a Spanish guy I was friends with, said "what does it matter, those things aren't important, they're not what define you."  I didn't want to agree, but he was right.

By the time winter came around, I had accepted this very stripped down version of myself.  The outer shell was no longer important, it was who I was as a person that mattered.  Sadly though, with spring gently rolling in, I have to admit, I'm struggling.  I can't help but miss my groomed former self.  My monthly mani-pedi, my waist length hair, that golden tan, which has now faded to a sickeningly pale tone.


Having sold the contents of my wardrobe, I am left with a pair of Hunter wellingtons & a beaten up pair of DMs.  I don't even own a pair of sandals, let alone a pair of heels.  My black skinny jeans have faded to ash & holes have formed in unfortunate places & all of my T-shirts & sweaters are equally falling apart.  'It doesn't matter' I tell myself, but y'know, it kinda does.

Getting down to the bare essentials, stripping right back, exploring the world, understanding more about yourself, it's all great, but honestly, in the past eight months, as much as I've gained, I equally feel as though I've lost.  Yes, maybe having great hair isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but being able to look in the mirror & like what you see, somewhat is.  If not just for your self esteem!

I want to be the best version of myself, I have a dream & in that dream, I don't look like the vagabond I currently see in the mirror.  I think, there comes a time when, you have to start taking baby steps towards making your dreams a reality.  There's no point visualising a skinnier, healthier, more stylish you, if you never do anything in reality to achieve this.  Seeing your dreams formulate into reality is all part & parcel of forming them in the first place.

In eight months, I've learnt to accept myself as I am, know what I want & who I want to be.  I've learnt a lot & even more so, I've learnt that if something makes you unhappy, you should do something about it.  I don't want to spend my time feeling miserable because of my appearance, so I think it's finally time I bought a new pair of jeans.

25.3.14

REVIEW: JĀSÖN Calming Lavender Deoderant Stick

On my quest to eradicate all unnatural, chemical laden products from my life, I have discovered a new deodorant, by the Californian brand JĀSÖN.

Founded in 1959, JĀSÖN's products are clinically tested, free from aluminium, parabens & other nasty chemicals & thankfully not in any way tested on animals.  Which makes them perfect for me, now that I'm back to shopping more consciously.


Having always been a fan of aerosol spray deodorants, after a disappointing experience or two with roll-ons, I was surprised by how much I liked their calming lavender deodorant stick.

The minute you pop off the cap, the intense smell of lavender hits your senses.  I like this stick because, unlike many other roll-ons, this one is not in any way sticky & doesn't leave you feeling like you need to dry out before getting dressed.  It's more like a moisturiser.  Goes on light & sinks in fast.

Having used this stick for over four months now, I've been really happy with it.  It's kept me feeling fresh & odour free.  There are five other scents in the range & I'm quite keen to try the apricot one next.

Now that I have been suitably impressed with their deodorant, I'm quite keen to try out the rest of their product range, which includes body lotions, dental care, hair care & more.

What's your favourite natural deodorant?

23.3.14

Insightful Sunday - Self Recognition

I recently came across this on Pinterest & it kind of summed up exactly how I've been feeling of late.


After four months of traveling, the last place I visited, before my Christmas break in England, was a Buddhist monastery near Rome.  Spending two hours a day meditating, really centred me & made me realise who & where I wanted to be.  I went back to England on a high & then seemingly, came crashing down, with great force.  It's one thing to find 'inner peace' in a monastery, a place of no distractions, but to take that peace & keep it with you, in the big troublesome world, well, that's a little harder.

I fell apart a little & although I managed to pull myself together in time to return to Italy, a week went by & I started to feel disillusioned again.  By the time I arrived in France, I was on full meltdown alert.  A part of it is knowing what I want to do, but accepting that I don't know how to get there yet.  I have learnt to accept that it's about knowing the destination & trusting in the journey, but sometimes, when you feel like nothing's changed, like you haven't got any closer to the end goal, it's hard to keep the faith.

Life can be so distracting & I constantly worry that I'll end up way off track, because I lost sight of where I was going.  Although, as John Lennon famously said, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."  I know I can be a rigid individual, afraid to let go & I do try to embrace life & what crops up along the way.  Even the past few weeks have proved miraculous for me & been evidence to how life can work out, without you having to worry or force things.

The worst thing I could imagine, would be to get to the end of the year & look back on my travels & regret anything.  Not doing what I wanted to do, or embraced the moment enough.  Even if I don't make it to my apartment in Paris, if I'd had a year of blissful memories, then that would truly be enough.

21.3.14

RECIPE: Mushroom & Quinoa Vegan Meatballs

Let it be said, that one should never underestimate the value of quinoa.  This ancient grain was introduced to me by mère, who essentially fills me in on every unheard of superfood going.  I was about sixteen, had not long been vegan & took to having it instead of rice, which I was never too fond of.

When I gave up being a vegan & returned to eating meat once more, I stopped eating quinoa & instead, started a love affair with couscous.  However, whilst being entirely delicious & quick to cook, couscous, essentially being from the pasta family, makes me bloat & isn't particularly of any nutritional benefit.

Thus, upon returning to my vegan ways, I also returned to quinoa.  It had been so long since I'd had it, I'd forgotten how good it was & how versatile.  Great in salads, cakes & even...

Mushroom & Quinoa Vegan Meatballs

 


This great recipe by 84th&3rd, was really easy to follow & made delicious, flavoursome meatballs.  Kate & I made them together, slightly adjusting the ingredients to what we had to hand, such as using spinach instead of kale & served them with the tomato sauce & a plate full of spaghetti.

Quinoa is a complete protein & like couscous, it soaks up the water you cook it in, which means that you fill up on very little.  So even a couple of these little balls is enough per person.

What do you make with quinoa?

19.3.14

One good deed deserves another.

Here in the Dordogne, I have found a little paradise, complete with a plethora of huggable furry creatures & four very kind & loving people, who have opened up their home to little old me.

Set in the countryside of the beautiful town of Brantôme, The Phillips family run a sanctuary for retired British Police horses.  Not only do they have over twenty horses, wiling away their days in the surrounding grassy fields, but they also have nine dogs, most of whom have been rescued, three cats & three very plump chickens.  As you can imagine, with me being a rather large animal lover, I am quite in my element here.


During my stay here, I have learnt that The Metropolitan Police, does not offer any financial support to the rehousing of Police horses, once they are retired from service.  Which, considering what these animals go through when on duty, on the streets & during riots, along with their length of service (the average horse lives for over thirty years), I think is appalling.  If it wasn't for people like The Phillips, offering these horses a final home, they would simply end up being euthanased.

Unfortunately, the majority of the horses that come to Brantôme, arrive with both physical & psychological issues, which take both time & money to treat.  Every penny that the family make, through fund raising events & renting out their holiday gîte, goes on paying the sizeable veterinary bills that roll in each month, along with the huge amount of feed they need, to cater for all of the horses.


To help raise further funding, BPH offer the public the opportunity to come & visit the sanctuary in the Spring & Summer months, providing a guided tour, whereby guests meet all the horses & learn about their stories & sit down to a delicious cream tea on the lawn, all for €10 per person.  During my time here, they have been speedily erecting a Summer House in the garden, ready for the start of the season, which they intend to stock with gift items, that will be available for guests to purchase during their visit.

They also introduced a membership scheme a year ago, hoping to secure regular donations.  A year's membership costs €10 per person, which is a nominal fee, but having funding trickling in each year from paying members, is something the family rely on, in order to keep going.


I'm sure that anyone who's done stable work before, will know how much time & effort looking after one horse takes, let alone over twenty & with only four people to do all the work, it can be a struggle to find the time & energy to plan & organise events, maintain the vast property & do necessary building work, let alone deal with marketing & publicity, in order to raise awareness & much needed funding.  Sometimes, there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

Having spent two weeks at the sanctuary, mucking out the stables, helping to groom the horses & developing some favourites, I can honestly say I have fallen in love with the place.  Seeing how much love & dedication the family put into caring for the animals, is really touching & I don't think I could express strongly enough, how much praise I think they deserve.  I've decided to stay on a little while longer & offer my services, both with marketing & general help, so you may be reading a little more about them in the future.

If you would like to find out more, donate, or come for a visit, you can find further information on their website here, or their Facebook page here.  You can even find them on Twitter here, because even horses like a tweet!

17.3.14

REVIEW: Vademecum Organic Whitening Toothpaste

Hurrah, the supermarché has come up trumps again!  This time, with an organic whitening toothpaste by Vademecum.


You see, I have a bit of an aversion to chemical laden toothpastes.  In the few years that I fell off the organic wagon, I ended up just buying any old tube of paste, whatever was the cheapest whitening one to be honest.  But then I started to notice my enamel was turning translucent & I was convinced my gums were receding, which was all quite concerning, considering my teeth had always been in quite good condition (not one filling I'm proud to report).  Hence I thought it best to return to using something a little more natural.


I've used plenty of natural toothpastes before but, I've found it quite difficult to get one that actively helps to whiten my teeth.  I don't smoke or drink tea or coffee, but I have spent a large number of years consuming high amounts of chocolate, especially dark & unfortunately, I think this has contributed to some staining.  My teeth are not the pearlescent white I would like them to be.  That is until I began to use this toothpaste.

I have to say, brushing with this paste morning & night, has made a noticeable difference to the colour of my teeth, they now seem far lighter.  I'm also impressed that you can buy this in the supermarché too, especially in France!  It makes me happy to see more organic & natural alternatives available.

16.3.14

Insightful Sunday - Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

It's almost impossible to go your whole life without inevitably relying on someone, at some stage.  Whether it be emotionally, financially or otherwise.  Unfortunately, in life, you soon realise, that you can't always rely on people, even the people you feel you should be able to.  I've had to learn this the hard way.  But it's difficult being completely independent.

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I think at some point, you have to find a healthy balance between standing on your own two feet & knowing that you have people who'll be there for you, when you trip & stumble.  I also think it's important to be that support for those around you & to remember that, what you say as a passing comment, may be taken as firm action by someone else.

So it's always wise to mean what you say & say what you mean.  Don't make empty promises, whether they're little or large.   Always give with an open heart, be understanding & love unconditionally.  At the end of the day, that's all anyone can really ask.

14.3.14

RECIPE: Indulgent Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

If there's one thing I love, it's chocolate cake & thankfully, I've managed to find the ultimate vegan friendly version!

Indulgent Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

 


This simple recipe by vegan blogger Pony Chops, is easy to make & results in a delicious, moist sponge, slathered in devilishly chocolatey buttercream icing.  This may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but damn it, it's worth the indulgence!

12.3.14

A Week In Pictures

I find myself in the heart of the Dordogne, where the sun has finally come out & I can feel the warmth on my skin once more.  I couldn't be happier & I couldn't be busier either!

Having made no secret of my love of animals & especially, my desire to work with horses, my dear friend Lucy, put me in contact with her family friends, who run a wonderful sanctuary, for retired British police horses, down in Brantôme.  Thinking I'd spend a week or two mucking out stables & doing general equine related activities, I have found myself falling in love with the place & getting overly involved with all aspects of media marketing, in an attempt to raise awareness, for what I feel, is a most wonderful cause.

I want to fill you in completely on this most wonderful place, so I'm going to make some time in my, seemingly busy, schedule & post something special!  In the meantime, I bring you a pictorial update from the past week, which includes my gardening efforts, a trip to Aubeterre & Bergerac & some of my new four legged friends.










For regular pictorial updates, you can find me on Instagram, under @ouijetaimeaussi

10.3.14

REVIEW: Biopha Nature Range

I've been greatly surprised by the large range of organic produce on offer in the supermarkets, out here in France.  Not only do they now provide a huge variety of organic food, but they are also now stretching out into the toiletries aisle too.


Taking a peruse in SuperU, I came across Biopha Nature & decided to give some of their products a try.


After my disastrous experience with Dr Organic, I thought I would try out a new shampoo & conditioner.  I picked a shampoo for dry hair, as my locks are lacking all kinds of lustre at present.  Unfortunately, as seems to be the case in France, there was only one option of conditioner, which was a shea butter one, for all hair types.

I quite liked the shampoo, it had a lovely smell & it left my hair feeling squeaky clean, the conditioner on the other hand...You see, I have very difficult hair, it's fine, but there's a lot of it & it tangles ridiculously easily!  Such a pain!  I find the best solution, is to brush it with a tangle teaser when it's smothered in conditioner, then rinse it out & leave it the hell alone.  Unfortunately, this conditioner, which lacks any real scent, doesn't spread throughout my hair very easily & simply isn't rich enough, leaving it impossible to get my brush through it!  Resulting in tangle central!


I have to admit, I have a lifelong love affair with Palmer's Cocoa Butter.  It's thick, creamy & keeps my skin smooth, toned & happy.  Unfortunately, it's not the most natural of products & so, I have been attempting to find an alternative, since my 400ml bottle ran out.  This body milk by Biopha isn't bad, but I'm not quite used to using a milk, instead of a thick butter.  It goes on nicely & has a really pleasant smell, but I don't find my skin as hydrated as with a butter.  I think I'll carry on my search.


Now, these eye wipes, which I have been using to take all my makeup off with, are my new favourites!  Firstly, they smell like almond macaroons!  So sweet & delicious, I have to stop myself from nibbling on them.  Most importantly, they remove all my face paint & don't leave my skin dried out & blotchy.  Hoorah!  Biopha Nature have succeeded in getting something right!

All in all, not a bad range, especially for something available in the supermarché!

9.3.14

Insightful Sunday - Learning to let go.

Inspired by my bestest, Charlotte, doing Motivational March, over on her wonderful blog, The Tea Drinking English Rose, I have decided to start Insightful Sundays!

Although I am entirely out of the working loop, what with having resigned last May & essentially living as a vagabond ever since, I can't say that I get the gloom wash over me on a Sunday evening, in preparation for the Monday morning return to work.  However, I know that for a large percentage of people, this is the case & so, rather than end the week on a glum note, I wish to end on something positive & insightful.

Through a combination of words & inspiration from my Pinterest boards, I shall attempt to lift your spirits, so that you may start your working week on a happier, more enlightened note!  Enjoy!


At the beginning of the week, I had the great honour of guest posting on Charlotte's blog.  The post was to coincide with her Motivational March & offer a positive message, about how we can choose to overcome our adversities to triumph & fulfil our dreams.  At least, that was what I was attempting to convey.

Mère brought me up believing that you can't plan life, because ultimately, things will simply unravel as they will, whether you try to control them or not.  For someone who likes to be in control, such as myself, I found this quite exasperating.  However, over the years, I've learnt that she's actually quite right (not that I'm thrilled to admit it).

If I think of all the times I've tried to force a situation & it's fallen spectacularly apart, or how I've clung so fiercely to routines & plans, only for boulders to come rolling in & everything to crumble around me.  The thing is, when you actually start to let go & just accept these changes, you start to see that everything kind of happens for a reason & ultimately, things tend to work out far better than you originally planned.  Take my life right now as a prime example!

Whilst I still struggle to entirely 'free flow', I do at least relax a little more about things now.  When something seemingly negative arises, I take a step back, accept that it's most likely occurred for a reason & try to find something positive in it.  If nothing else, it stops me screwing up into a ball of negativity & most of the time, things generally do turn out for the better.

Plus, if I have learnt nothing else in this life, it's that shit happens (I now have this tattooed on me to remind me of this fact).  You've just got to keep positive!  I know it's not always easy, but sometimes the rockiest roads take us to the best destinations.

7.3.14

RECIPE: The Ultimate Vegan Scones

I don't think there's anything more quintessentially British, than the great scone.  For me, they remind me of childhood days out with mère, to the little village of Alfriston, where we would feed the ducks, down by the lake & go for a cream tea afterwards.

Now, ideally, any decent scone should be buttery, a little bit crumbly & adorned with an oversized dollop of clotted cream & strawberry jam.  However, returning to my vegan ways, this setup isn't quite feasible & so, I have had to do some experimenting & have come up with...

The Ultimate Vegan Scones

 

 

Ingredients 

225g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
50g vegetable margarine
25g golden caster sugar
125ml soya yoghurt
4 tablespoons of milk (rice, soya, or whatever you prefer)
You can also throw in some currants, for a fruity version.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7/fan 200C.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl & add in the salt.
Pop in the margarine & rub it into the flour, until it becomes a crumb like consistency.
Now add in the sugar.
If you fancy a fruity version, now's the time to throw in any currents.
Make a well in the middle & pour in the yoghurt & the milk.
 Time to get your hands dirty!
Work the mixture, until it starts to form a sticky dough.  Be careful not to overwork!
Knead the dough 3-4 times on a lightly floured surface, working out the cracks.
Roll out the dough, until it's about 2cm thick.
Then, using a 5.5cm round fluted cutter, cut out the scones.
You should get about twelve out of this amount of mixture.
Pop them on a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray, in the middle of the oven & bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
Then devour them with margarine & lashings of jam.
Parfait!

I'd quite like to try making them with coconut butter, instead of margarine, for a healthier, slightly less processed version

How do you like your scones?

5.3.14

Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.


So, I survived my first ever BlaBlaCar experience!  After an eight hour car ride, with four French men, all of whom did not speak English, I managed to make it to Limoges, with all my money & dignity in tact.  To think of the times our mothers told us not to talk to strangers & there I was, in a car with four of them, being trusting enough to have a doze in the back seat.  Oh how things change.

My favourite friend Kate & her husband Cheese, came to collect me from Limoges train station, dogs in tow.  I was so happy to see them.  Traveling is a wonderful thing, never let that be denied, but darn is it tiring, especially when you're on your lonesome.  Having the opportunity to just chill for a while & spend some time with friends is something I really appreciate nowadays.

For two whole weeks, that sadly sped right by, we baked our way through Google, watched every new release film we could find online, took daily dog walks through the countryside & snuggled up in front of the log fire, chatting & bursting into tears of laughter, usually over some ridiculous meme, that predominantly seemed to involve cats.

One evening, we decided to attempt to make quinoa vegan meatballs.  Unfortunately, I was in charge of cooking the quinoa & it turns out I lack portion control.  Having a lifetime supply of cooked quinoa on our hands, we took to Googling recipes, in an attempt to use it up.  This resulted in; Quinoa Apple Spice Cake, Quinoa Pancakes & Quinoa Chili, among other things.  Let's just say, I'm now an encyclopaedia of quinoa recipes.

We also took to baking something sweet & delicious everyday & it had to be everyday, because we would make something so yummy, that we would devour it all in one night.  Scones, brownies, chocolate fudge cake...My purist healthy eating regime took a bit of a detour, it has to be said.  I'd gone from cutting out sugar almost completely, to wolfing down numerous cupcakes, smothered in chocolate buttercream icing on the reg!  Damn you sugar & your deliciousness!


One weekend, Kate & I took a mini break to her friend's house in Angoulême & we all went out in the evening to the local cinema, to watch 12 Years A Slave.  Having not been to the movies since Christmas, it was a really nice treat to go.  Handy that they had it in Version Originale too.  Upon our return, with the weather being cold, wet & miserable, we took to watching copious amounts of films online.  American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, The Wolf of Wall Street & five others.  I do love a movie night!

Everyday, we'd take the dogs out for their stroll around town.  Most days were wet & cold & both the dogs & my Hunter wellingtons tended to come back muddy.  My new pink coat from Zara, took a beating too & is now in dire need of a dry clean.  (Perhaps I was too optimistic in busting out the pastels.)  We did have a couple of relatively warm & sunny days though.  I honestly cannot wait for Spring!  The feeling of warmth on my skin & the sight of bright blue skies!  Oh when will it come!?

All in all, I had a lovely time with my friends & I was genuinely sad to leave them.  I shall deeply miss throwing on my 'stretchy pants' & snuggling up on the sofa, bowl of crisps to hand & watching a movie with Kate & SamIAm the cat, curled up on my lap.  I'll miss chowing down on Cheese's fresh baked bread, toasted in the mornings, with lashings of honey & smothered in margarine with our lunchtime soup, & I'll especially miss the dogs, & their overexcited morning greeting.

Just in case they start to forget me, I left them with Nigel the nectarine tree, who will hopefully do me proud & provide them with plenty of fruit in the summer…in time for my return.

3.3.14

REVIEW: Saponi & Saponi Mediterranean Scrub

Last October, I had the great fortune of meeting, Polish born, Aga & the Sicilian Mazotta brothers.  Tucked away in the countryside of Sciacca, on the west coast of Sicily, the three of them were living on an olive grove, they'd inherited.

Passionate about sustainability, the environment & living as naturally as possible, they had invested in turning the ground floor of their house into a laboratory, in order to experiment ways of turning their organic extra virgin olive oil into something more than just a salad dressing.

What they ended up creating, is a rather impressive range of organic, chemical free skincare, which not only smells sumptuous, but delivers on its promises too.  Whilst I was there, I not only abused their hospitality (they're exceptional hosts), but their products as well & if I had to pick a favourite, I think it would be their Mediterranean Scrub with sea salt, extra virgin olive oil & lemon peel.


The aroma of lemon this scrub emits, is quite divine & it's gentle granules are just rough enough to slough off dull dead skin, without being too abrasive.  Because it's made with olive oil, it doesn't dry out your skin, like some chemical laden scrubs do & instead, it leaves your skin smooth, soft & dewy.

Saponi & Saponi also offer as part of their range; body oils, soaps, lip balms & even an ingenious, locally made, ceramic potted candle, which, when lit, melts into a massage oil.  I quite honestly love their products, their ethos & the guys themselves & could not recommend their range enough!

If you are ever in the Sciacca area, pop by & see the guys at work, they'd be most happy to show you around & take you for a cocktail & a spot of salsa dancing afterwards.

28.2.14

RECIPE: Apple Spice Quinoa Cake

I have been nestled in the countryside of Chabanais, in the south west of France, with my dear friend Kate, for the past week & in an attempt to entertain ourselves, we have been baking sweet treats on the daily.  Having been a little zealous with my measuring, whilst making 'meat' balls the other night, we ended up with about half a tonne of cooked quinoa left over.  Rather than let anything go to waste, I scoured the internet for recipe ideas & came across this...

Apple Spice Quinoa Cake

 


This simple recipe from the Little Artisan Kitchen, has nine ingredients, which can be modified for both vegan & gluten free diets.  Taking only three steps to make, it's great for people for whom time, or indeed patience, is short.

I replaced the butter with vegetable margarine, used up a cup of the leftover quinoa & after an hour in the oven, was salivating over the smell emitting from the cake tin.  Between the three of us, Kate, her husband Colin & myself, the entire cake was devoured by the time we all went to bed.  A most successful foray into quinoa related baking, even if I do say so myself.  Now, what to do with the rest of this quinoa...

26.2.14

Nice, where the sun don't always shine.


There was a part of me, that assumed, that once I reached France, I'd just know what to do.  I've always thought of France as my spiritual home.  I don't know why exactly, it's just, whenever I'm there, no matter what part of the country I'm in, I always get that feeling, that I'm where I'm meant to be.

Now don't get me wrong, I've had my ups & downs with France.  For starters, after two years of French class, my ability to speak the language is still embarrassingly poor.  Then, of course, there is, I feel, this slight elitism about the French.  In Italy, if you try to speak Italian, even if you are piss poor at it, they love you for trying, they embrace you.  Yet, in France, if you try & speak French, predominantly speaking, they still seem to dislike you.

Of course, I don't want to tar an entire nation with the same brush.  I have met lots of French people who have been wonderful & whom I am still in contact with.  It can just be very frustrating & somewhat isolating, when you're in a country that you love, trying to incorporate yourself & you feel as though you're being rejected.

So there I was in Nice, waiting for the feeling, that feeling of direction to wash over me & it just wasn't there.  I started to feel more lost than ever.  Was I doing the right thing or had I just rushed leaving Italy.  I suddenly wasn't sure & my indecisiveness took hold & spun me into a black hole of self-doubt.  The kind that sends me off into self-destruct mode.

Making friends with a Chilean guy in my room, we caught the number 100 bus from Place Garibaldi & spent the day in Monaco.  For €1.50 & forty minutes, it seemed madness not to.  It was so warm & sunny, it felt like spring.  The pair of us walked around in nothing but our T-shirts.  It was bliss.  For a brief moment, I actually allowed myself to stop thinking about what to do next & actually just enjoy the moment.

The pair of us walked up to the Jardin Exotique & sat & ate lunch, overlooking the city, with the sea glistening, outstretched in front of us.  I felt happy.  If not just for a moment.  Chilean asked me what I was going to do next, where would I go after Nice.  I couldn't answer.  I hadn't thought further than getting there.

I wasn't worried about money.  I wasn't worried about having somewhere to stay.  I was worried about doing the right thing.  Like honestly, what had made me come traveling in the first place.  It's so easy to sit at home & think the grass is greener in the Mediterranean.  That life would simply make sense somewhere else.  Somewhere warm.  But what happens when you get there & realise, it's not about the place, the issue is you.


That evening, panicked by my own indecisiveness, I sent frantic messages to my friends, posted statuses of distress on my social networks & then, gave in to the hostel's Happy Hour & got drunk on €1 beers.  I could actually sense myself falling into a spiral of incomprehensible madness.  I actually couldn't think straight.  I'd forgotten why I was there.  Lost all that inner peace I'd found in the monastery.  I was a mess.

Hungover the next day, I packed up my things, checked out & wept into my complimentary breakfast in the hostel's bar.  An American guy I'd spoken to the night before, in my drunken depression fueled fog, came to join me.  He was about as clueless as I was.  There's something about New Yorkers though, they radiate this sense of overbearing wisdom.  Consistently psychoanalysing you & reducing you to tears.  Yes, I cried.

Strangely, despite myself, I found that, through my hatred of him, I somehow ended quite liking him.  It was a clear cut case of a love-hate relationship.  Leaving our things in the hostel, we took a stroll through the streets, along the beach & ending up at the castle, overlooking the sea.  There was a busker playing L'Autre Valse d'Amélie on the accordion, which practically gave me chills.  When he then started playing La Vie En Rose, I closed my eyes & I could almost believe I was in Paris.  It was a perfect moment in time.

Returning to our hostel, it was time to make a decision.  I could travel along the coast & work my way up to Paris, or I could head to my friend Kate's in Chabanais.  One was logical & the other was intuitive.  I chose the latter; head to Kate's.  Unfortunately, having been spoilt in Italy, with cheap & easy public transport, I was completely naive when it came to getting around France.  Looking into the train to Limoges, I was shocked when I saw it was going to cost over €150!

This revelation threw me into a panic.  Cue another meltdown.  Thankfully, Jean, one of the guys working at the hostel, who I'd made friends with, came to the rescue & pestered me into looking at BlaBlaCar, a car share website, a few people had mentioned to me.  I hadn't really liked the thought of it & so hadn't bothered to take a look, but ended up being so glad I did.

Essentially, people making long car journeys across country, sign up to the site & advertise seats in their car for a set fee.  All you have to do, is pick someone going your way & contact them to reserve a place.  I managed to find someone who was leaving Nice & driving directly to Limoges, for €50.  Saving me over €100 on train fare.  Only issue was he wasn't going until the following day.

Villa Saint Exupery was now fully booked, because of the impending carnival, so myself & New York, who'd decided to head up to Lyon on the train the next day, found another hostel round the corner & checked in for a night.  Perhaps some time with friends was what I needed, to shift me back into reality.

24.2.14

REVIEW: Chia Seeds

I can't deny my relationship with food over the years, has been a strained one.  I gain weight terribly easily & loathe the feeling when I'm carting about those extra few pounds, with my jeans cutting off the blood supply to my lower half & oh how I hate the site of my face when it fills out.  Nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.  

Thankfully, I have always been able to lose weight very easily, I simply pack my diet with protein; poached egg on toast for breakfast, sushi for lunch & either mackerel or chicken thighs with salad for dinner.  Boom, those pesky pounds drop off within weeks.

Unfortunately, since returning to veganism, consuming high amounts of fat burning protein hasn't been so easy.  Although tofu may have, gram for gram, the same amount of protein as red meat, I sadly, am inconveniently intolerant, which means, my body absorbs none of the protein & instead, just bloats out.

So, the horrendous amount of weight I put on in Italy, through excessive pasta/gelato/formaggio/pane eating, was not shifting quite as quickly as I'd hoped, when I came back to England at Christmas for a break.  I started to feel a slight wave of despair at my rotund middle & hugging thighs.  I had cut out all processed products, cut my sugar consumption down to almost nothing, was eating plenty of raw food, gallons of water & yet, not much was changing.

Attempting not to land myself another eating disorder, I persevered, then one day, mère told me to try Chia Seeds.  Sceptical at first, I didn't bother.  Then, just before I flew back to Italy, mère bought me a pack.  Within a week of consuming them daily, the weight just started to drop off & my energy levels increased tenfold.


Packed full of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins & minerals, these tiny little seeds from South America, are nothing short of being a superfood!  They have six times the amount of calcium than milk, provide more omega-3 fatty acids than any fish out there, thrice the iron content of spinach, nine times the phosphorous content of whole milk, double the potassium of bananas, fifteen times the magnesium of broccoli, two times the dietary fiber of bran flakes & nine times more selenium than flax seeds!  Phew.

That's not all!  When added to water, its complex structure of dietary fiber, absorbs the water & turns into a gel.  When this gel gets into your digestive system, it essentially scours & cleans your intestinal tract, improving your body's nutritional absorption & then coats the walls of your intestine, acting as a barrier for any carbohydrates you consume, therefore, slowing down & stabilizing the absorption of sugar into your blood stream.  This results in the energy from this sugar lasting longer & being used more efficiently by your body, making it great for people with diabetes.  The added benefit of this gel, is that its ability to hold water, makes you feel fuller for longer.  Which is great for cutting down on excessive snacking, of which I am eternally guilty of.

I make sure to have two tablespoons a day, which I sprinkle over salads, or mix into my soup.  They don't have much taste, just a crunch, so you can pretty much mix them into anything, yoghurts, porridge, even bake with them.  Mexicans pour them into their water bottles & drink it down for an energy boost.  I tried this method, but have to say, it tasted like frogspawn & so, I wouldn't recommend it.

Available to buy from most health food stores or online through amazon, they are sold by various brands & at differing prices.  Mère bought me a 250g bag of organic Chia Seeds from Infinity Foods & as I only have two tablespoons a day, I still have half a bag left after nearly a month.  It's best to shop around & get the right size & price.

I am happy to say, that since taking Chia Seeds, my Italian weight & I have parted ways & I can actually breath in my black skinny jeans once again.  For an unnoticeable addition to my meals each day, I am now packed to the rafters with all my nutritional needs, which means that I no longer suffer from cravings & go off on snackathons.  It has most certainly been a change for the better.  Maybe I'll start listening to mère more often.

23.2.14

L.O.V.E.


Oh love, bastard ruddy love.  Oh how I miss thee.  That intense pain you put me through.  Those tears you make me cry.  When I'm out of breath, certain my life is about to expire from the inconceivable grief you leave me in.  I miss that.

They always say, you find love when you're least expecting it & so, I try to switch my light off & carry on, alone.  Attempting to find peace in my solitude & then, just as I think I'm doing okay, something happens, which serves to remind me, I miss love.

I miss it like I miss the heat on my skin, in the depths of winter.  I miss its ecstasy & its disillusionment.  How it comes up so abruptly, yet withers away so slowly, you think it might never leave & then, when it finally does, you feel numb.

How can something so beautiful be so cruel.  So unkind & so elusive.  I need love.  I love love.  I love giving love & sure as hell I love receiving it.  If only I could have some now.  Just a little hit, to see me through.  Come find me love, I'm waiting.

22.2.14

Sometimes you can't make it on your own.


Once upon a time, when writing my bucket list, I added 'go traveling alone' to the list.  I had always envisioned packing a bag, dropping everything & just catching a flight somewhere.  Quite without a plan & entirely on my own.  When I was nineteen, I bought a business class flight (clearly had more money than sense) to Rome, booked up a swanky four star hotel (again...) & fully intended to spend my twentieth birthday there, alone.  However, as the departure date drew closer, my nerves set in & I ended up asking a friend to come with me, who, thankfully, said yes.  This became a little bit of a repetitive pattern through the following years.

So, when I finally made it to Amsterdam last July, all by myself, with only my wits to guide me, I was quite impressed.  After nearly a week, I left Amsterdam & took a flight to Naples, then a boat to Sicily & three months later ended up in Rome.  I almost felt silly that I'd ever been so scared to go anywhere on my own.  However, my new found confidence took quite a battering during my journey from Milan to Nice.

Having had a crappy afternoon, attempting to leave Milano Centrale, I had finally settled into my seat on the train to Albenga, iPhone plugged into the nearby power point, happily abusing my data allowance.  With only a few hours until I was due to arrive in France, I figured I might as well use as much of it as possible, as my Italian sim was due to be defunct.

Arriving at Albenga at around six o'clock, I strolled out of the station to the awaiting buses outside.  None of them were indicating Ventimiglia, my destination of choice.  Spotting a very attractive hipster kid in a beanie & skinny jeans, I moved closer & asked him if he was going in my direction.  He was.  Brilliant.  I could cosy up to him on the bus & possibly arrive in Nice with a new boyfriend in tow.  I can't deny, I am a hopeless...optimist.

Finding the bus we wanted, we queued up & Hipster boarded first.  I showed my ticket to the woman guarding entry & she just started waffling on at me in Italian.  I may have spent four months in the bloody country, but there is a limit to my vocabulary.  "Parli inglese?"  Venom crossing her face, she told me my ticket wasn't valid for the bus & I'd have to go catch a regional one.  My face washed with horror.  That bloody swine in Milan had sold me the wrong ticket.  Bastard!

Hovering round once again clueless, without my hipster boyfriend, I approached another official looking person, who looked at my ticket & told me to get on the bus I'd been shunned from.  "But she won't let me on!"  I said, to which he responded with a quizzical look & told me to wait.  So I waited.  Then the bus drove off.  Then I panicked.  Grabbing the guy again, I kept asking him where the bus to Ventimiglia was.  He pointed to another bus & sent me off.

I handed my ticket over to the bus official outside of bus number two.  Nope, apparently his bus wasn't going to Ventimiglia, apparently there now weren't any ruddy buses to Ventimiglia.  By this time, I was holding back tears.  He told me I'd have to get on the bus, get off at Imperia & get the train from there & that I'd have to go back into the station & pay a little extra for the privilege.  I started wailing about how I bought the ticket in Milan & they'd told me to get the bus & yada yada.  Bus Official couldn't handle my hysterics & ended up telling me to just get on.

The very sweet driver thankfully spoke English & told me he'd let me know where to get off & how to get the train once I'd arrived.  Sadly though, by this point, it was all too much & by the time I took my seat, I burst into tears & cried the whole way there.  Maybe traveling on my own wasn't as great as I thought it was.


Arriving in Imperia, the driver didn't stop at the train station like he said he would.  All these elderly Italian woman started shouting at him, demanding he pay their taxi fare to the station.  That's one thing I've learnt in my time in Italy, don't get in the way of an Italian's temper.  The driver, attempting to be reasonable, locked up his bus, grabbed some of their luggage & walked us all down to the train station.  "This is Italy, it's all crazy!"  he said & I was inclined to agree.

It was 7:50pm by the time we arrived at the station.  Thankfully there was a train to Ventimiglia at 8:10pm, so I figured I didn't have to wait too long.  The only issue being that I was supposed to arrive in Nice at 8:30pm & so, it suddenly dawned on me, what if I'd missed the last train there.  Whipping out my phone, I went online & saw that the very last train to Nice Ville from Ventimiglia was at 9:20pm.  I knew the train to Ventimiglia was supposed to take forty minutes, so I figured I'd make it in time.

Standing on the platform, half my makeup down my face, feeling very agitated, I could feel myself about to explode when at ten past eight the train had not arrived.  Another five minutes went past & I ended up asking a fellow commuter, if it was due to come at all.  He assured me it was coming.  Italy, a land where the term 'on time' doesn't exist.  Another five minutes went by & I almost wept as I saw it approaching.

A few more tears, several hundred time checks & a conversation with some creepy Italian man sat across from me & finally we arrived in Ventimiglia.  Another passenger left the train as I did & I saw him check the board & then run to change platforms.  Worried it was the train for Nice, I did the same, only for the board at platform two to be blank & next to it, on platform three, only Cannes was showing.  "Nice!?" I asked the guy, who at this point was stood smoking a cigarette by the waiting train.  "Sì!"  By now distrusting anyone's advice, I asked him again.  "Nice Ville!?"  "Sì!"  I looked at the board, back at him, back at the board.  "Are you sure?"  "Honestly, I'm getting off there."  Deciding to trust him, I hopped on & crossed my fingers.

Train Guy & I conversed a little on the journey.  He was Italian, but had been living & working in Nice for two years as a chef.  He apologised for his pigeon English & I assured him his English was far better than my Italian, or French for that matter.  I showed him the map of where I was staying & he assured me it wasn't far from the station.  When we arrived in Nice, he told me he would take me to my hostel, as, whilst Nice was not a dangerous area, myself being a 'small blonde girl' alone might pose a threat.

Off we set, the pair of us, down Avenue Thiers, turning right, down Avenue Jean-Médicin & walking all the way down to the end, before turning left to go down Rue de l'Hôtel des Postes, where, much to my delight, I saw my hostel, Villa Saint Exupery.  I was so overwhelmed with relief to have finally arrived, I hugged Train Guy & thanked him excessively!

So, whilst I do feel rather confident in my abilities to get around, country to country, on my lonesome, sometimes, just sometimes, it's rather nice to have someone to help.

20.2.14

Milano, where even the pigeons make me sad.

 
Before I had even flown back to England, from Rome, at Christmas, I had put together a general itinerary for when I returned to Italy in the new year.  I would fly to Pisa for the day, then onto Florence, for two weeks of WWOOFing on a horse farm, catch the train to Bologna, then Venice, Verona & Milan, all for a day each.  Finally traveling across to Genoa, for a week of WWOOFing, before catching the train to Nice & seeing where the wind took me.  On paper this all sounded great, very organised & within budget.  Sadly, in reality, very little of this has gone to plan, but, as mère says, you can't plan life.  Seemingly, never a truer word has been spoken.

So, as planned, at the beginning of February, I flew to Pisa & spent the day there alone, sightseeing.  Then, the next day, I caught the train to Florence, only the farm I had intended to stay on, ended up turning me down & with it being too late to find a suitable replacement, I ended up just booking a hostel for the night instead.  This then turned into two nights, after arranging to meet Kate & then obviously meeting Italian Beard & combining it all with one too many drinks & staying out all night.

Having one of my mini meltdowns about what to do next, I decided to scrap going to Bologna & headed straight to Venice, which once again, ended with me staying for far longer than anticipated after various events & meeting of people.  After finally leaving Venice for Verona, I made the last minute decision, at the train station, not to stay for the night & instead head to Milan after a few hours.

Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow & things end up turning out better than your original plan.  The only issue with all this free flow, is it can end up being a little financially challenging, which I discovered when I got to Milan, late Monday evening.

After checking into the New Generation Hostel, two metro stops from Milano Centrale, soggy from the rain & starting to feel rather under the weather, all I wanted was to sit in bed & watch TV.  Setting up camp on my top bunk, surrounded by snacks & blankets, I allowed myself an hour of Homeland.  Blubbering my way through that, I thought it was probably a wise decision to check my overseas account...Witnessing that my month's budget had been devoured by too many unplanned nights in hostels, dozens of museum entry fees & several train rides, all in a week, I felt a little sick.

Already feeling ill, the thought of my impending poverty pushed me rather over the edge.  I'm afraid that, generally speaking, I am terribly disorganised in my own life.  Put me in an office & I'm fine.  Ask me to advise you on your life plan & I'll happily give you direction.  Place me in front of a mirror & I'll fall apart & seek answers in all the wrong places.  I think the issue is, faced with more than one option, I crumble.  Self doubt washes over me & I find myself unable to trust my own decision making skills.  Currently, I am standing in the middle of a roundabout, surrounded by sixty different exits, all perfectly acceptable options & I have no idea which route to choose.  Grilling everybody for their opinions, only to never really find the answer I'm looking for.


After some frantic emails to mère, I decided to wipe Genoa from the itinerary & hop on the train to Nice the following afternoon.  Maybe France would ease my soul.  So, sleeping on it all, I arose the next day, packed up my things & headed for the station.  Deciding not to shell out another €5 at the Left Luggage department, I kept my things with me & went & bought a ticket for Nice.  Italian train stations, predominantly the larger ones, require you to take a number, quite like you're waiting in line at a deli for a few slices of prosciutto.  Despite having eighteen desks, only eight were actually manned, which resulted in me waiting over twenty minutes for my number to be called.

I paid €38.50 for my train to Nice, which, although was very cheap, unfortunately was not direct.  Due to a break in the line, I was informed I would have to catch the train to Albenga, then get a bus outside the station to Ventimiglia & catch another train from there to Nice Ville.  Inwardly rolling my eyes, I took the ticket & headed out of the station, looking to spend a few hours sightseeing in Milan.

Milano Centrale to me is like a vortex.  Every time I tried to leave, I seemed to end up back inside, clueless.  I asked half a dozen people where the Tourist Office was, so that I could get my hands on a map & every one of them sent me off in different directions, which never ended at the elusive destination I was aiming for.  I'd made a note in my notebook about the buses, but had failed to say where outside of the station I caught them, or even where I was supposed to get them to!

I figured I could just hop on the metro, but equally wasn't sure what stop to get off at.  Losing my patience, I began to abuse the internet on my phone for answers, only for my phone to start threatening me with a dead battery.  Feeling overwhelmed by my ridiculous situation, I sat on a bench, on platform twenty two & just began to weep with frustration.  There I was, twenty six years of age & I couldn't work out how to get out of a bloody train station!  I mean honestly, it's so ridiculous.

Sobbing away, I took out a bread roll & started nibbling away on it, feeding the falling crumbs to the pigeons, which had gathered around me.  Finally getting a grip, I got up, brushed myself off, took a trip to the train information office, asked, once again, where the Tourist Office was & an hour after I had first arrived, I finally found the place, gleaming at me in front of platform fifteen!

Grabbing a map, I sped downstairs, spent €1.50 on a single ticket & jumped on the metro to the Duomo.  Coming up for air, I felt so stupid at how long it had taken me to get there.  I took in the cathedral, the whole of the square, the people & just felt relieved.  Stupid, but relieved.  With time running out before my three o'clock train, I took a stroll down the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, round the various side streets, had a quick look in the & Other Stories store & took a brief break outside the cathedral, before rushing back to the station & onto my train, which, thankfully, came with a power point for my phone.

There's going with the flow & there's just simple disorganisation.  Seemingly I need to learn the difference.

19.2.14

RECIPE: Gooey Vegan Brownies

I am currently in Chabanais, in France, staying with one of my favourites, Kate.  The weather outside is grey & damp, but inside we're snuggled up with the fire roaring, the dogs dozing on the rugs & a film or two to entertain us.

Making the most of being in one place for more than a moment & having access to a kitchen, we decided to do a spot of baking.  Looking through numerous recipe ideas, we settled on trying our hand at these...

Gooey Vegan Brownies

 


Simple to make, with not too many ingredients & they came out super delicious!  The chocolate chunks in them were all gooey when they first came out of the oven & then returned to firm chunks once they'd cooled.  We have all of one left...

Ingredients

2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of granulated sugar
2/3 cup of water
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of chocolate chunks

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180º.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt & mix together until fully combined.
In another bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, water & vanilla extract, until all the ingredients come together & form a gloopy consistency.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, mix thoroughly, then add in all the yummy chocolate chunks.
Pour into a tin of your choice & bake in the middle of the oven for about thirty five minutes.

Et voila, delicious, gooey, chocolate brownies, which will add warming layers of fat to your thighs & a smile on your face.  Parfait!