Six months have passed since I last looked at my little blog. Six months since I set off on my trip. Nothing worked how I had planned which is not to say things were bad. They were just really different. And really really fun.
So where did we leave off? I was still in Vietnam, settling into my shoe box apartment and cooking soups with little clams, battling culture shock, humidity that made my hair frizz and preparing to settle into my new role as English teacher. However I was consumed with a need to see more, to do more and was miserable at the prospect of settling into routine again so soon. It probably didn't help that I did not get on with the other teachers. Or that one of the other English teachers (a blonde haired shit called Dave) pinned me to a wall one afternoon and put his hands down my pants. The fact I kneed him in the groin and smacked him across the side of his head really didn't help matters. It did cement my resolve to leave however.
I ventured over to Thailand and went North where I took a mud bath with rescued elephants, ate spicy noodles and drank a milkshake that left me hallucinating on a dirt road. I stayed for a month in Bangkok eating myself stupid and generally just having the best time. I caught a train down to Penang but did not have the best time. I was attacked (again!) one afternoon walking back to my hostel by a randy local so I left back up to Thailand feeling exhausted and devastated. I booked a ticket to Heathrow. I spent the next three months emptying my bank account across restaurants, markets, galleries and cafes in London. A month was spent hitchhiking around the Hebrides in Scotland, drinking wine and drinking in history in Edinburgh. I slept in a Caravan in a field in Cornwall and got to know my sister and her beautiful family. Finally I made my way over to Ireland and with an empty bank account I boarded a plane to Abu Dhabi then another to Australia.
I didn't keep blogging while away as I had intended. As soon as I got back to Hanoi I lost myself in teaching and travelling. I have a multitude of stories and recipes and photos coming but first a recipe. A recipe for rhubarb and brown butter blondies I used whilst jet-lagged and cursing elusive sleep.
While whacked out from Jetlag I made spiced hot chocolates and read Madame Bovary. I danced about in the kitchen baking these blondies to Flo Rida and Beethoven Symphony No. 7. And when sleep finally did come it was the deepest sleep I can remember. I was exhausted and exhilarated. And while I am enjoying the comforts of home, like having two fluffy fur babies to cuddle into at night, a real kitchen to cook it, not having to vacate my bed before 10 am or sleeping in a room that smells like sweaty feet I am eager to leave again.
Honey Rhubarb & Brown Butter Blondies
Adapted from Hummingbird High
For the Honey Rhubarb Topping:
- 1 large bunch of rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 5cm pieces
- 2 Tbsp Raw honey
- Zest & juice of 1/2 an orange
- 1 Vanilla Bean, seeds scraped
For the Blondies:
- 120 grams/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup raw sugar
- 1 large free range egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
For the roasted rhubarb:
- Preheat the oven to 200 (C)/ 400 (F).
- In a baking dish, mix together rhubarb, 2 tablespoons honey, the zest & juice of an 1/2 orange and the vanilla bean (seeds and pod). Make sure the rhubarb is coated well and arrange in a single layer in the dish.
- Cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes until the rhubarb is a little softer but still holding its shape. Remove the foil and roast for another 2 -5 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and set aside allowing the rhubarb to cool to room temperature.
For the Brown Butter Blondies:
- Preheat the oven to 180 (C) / 375 (F). Grease and line with baking paper a 20 cm/ 8-inch square cake pan.
- In a medium, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, melt the butter. The butter should be taken off the heat when it starts turning a brown colour and emitting a nutty aroma. Cool slightly.
- Beat together the butter and both sugars until smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract until well incorporated.
- Sift flour, cinnamon and salt into the butter mixture, Fold in gently until just combined. Fold in 1 cup white chocolate chips.
- Pour the blondie batter into the prepared baking pan. Make sure the top is smooth and even. Place the roasted rhubarb pieces over the top of the blondie mixture and scatter the remaining white chocolate pieces over the top.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Cover the tin with foil if the rhubarb and white chocolate are browning too quickly ( a mistake I made in my sleep deprived state - although burnt white chocolate is not too unpleasant). The edges should be a lovely golden brown. Don't worry too much if the middle is still a little wet - they will set more as they cool. Cool in tin, cut into squares and gorge yourself until you fall asleep.