Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Recipe: Rocket, Feta and Mushroom Pizza (with a yogurt base!)

Super easy and healthy pizza recipe.




Ingredients

Pizza Dough

1 cup natural Greek yogurt
1 cup sifted plain flour
1 tablespoon rosemary
Salt (to taste)

Sauce

1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon mixed herbs
salt and pepper (to taste)

Topping

1 cup, thinly slice mushroom
1/2 cup crushed feta
1 cup rocket
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Chilli flakes (optional)

Method

1. Fold together all the dough ingredients in a bowl, making sure its all incorporated well. Set aside for 20-30 minutes in a warm place.
2. Mix together all the sauce ingredients.
3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, Celsius
3.  Roll out dough, as desired. I prefer it thin. Sprinkle it with flour if its too sticky to handle.
4. Place dough on baking tray and bake for ten minutes.
5. After baking and allow it to cool slightly, then spread sauce. Sprinkle the toppings (bar the rocket). Bake for another 30 minutes.
6. Once out of the oven, sprinkle rocket and serve!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'll Take You To The Grocery Store

Food is, for most travellers, a big part of the fun of travelling. And its pretty common when travelling to encounter "strange" food. I believe there are two categories of "strange" food: 1) Things (mostly, animals) that we wouldn't consider food e.g. frogs legs, animal embryos and insects, or 2) Strange because its different or new.

Eggs, Switzerland


It is category 2 which makes visiting supermarkets, grocery stores etc overseas so fun. People often think I'm being sarcastic when I say I could spend ages in a supermarket overseas (maybe you yourself are thinking, wow, this girl is a bore), but I love wandering the food aisles and seeing the different foods and the varied flavors they come in. And, of course, while I'm wandering the aisles, I'm throwing into my basket any food that looks interesting and not like something back home. And sometimes it's as basic as a strange flavour of chips or drink that I'll quickly become addicted to, and then miss when I come back home.

Fruits, Sri Lanka


Don't get me wrong, I'm usually keen to try foods that fall into catergory 1 (eating frogs legs and escargot in Paris is proof of that) but foods in catergory 2 aren't ones that are pushed on tourists. They normally aren't anything to write home about (and by that I mean post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram). But they may make you feel like you've experienced a bit of everyday life in the country that you are visiting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Packing: My 7 Essentials for Hostel Hopping

Hostel hopping is often synonymous with backpacks and limited luggage space. And with space so limited, you want to ensure that everything you pack is essential. So to celebrate Day 7 of the Boots'n'All "packing" theme, here are seven little things that won’t take up too much space that you will be grateful that you packed.

Travel towel

Second time going to Europe, I purchased a small micro fiber towel from a sporting goods store, and I actually fell in love with it while travelling. Not only is it compact but it is impressively effective at drying you (so much so that I wanted to use it post travels). You will especially grateful that you packed this when you realise many hostels don’t provide you with towels/charge you for hire.

Travel lock

You are going to be sharing rooms with strangers, this will give you some peace of mind when leaving your bags while you are out.

Card game

A pack of cards barely takes up any space and is so cheap you can ditch it when packing for the return trip. Cards can have two uses:
1) Bonding tool with people you meet in your hostel or tour group. Most travellers can recount a time where they spent a night bonding over a game of cards (Usually a game that also involves alcohol. Kings cup, anyone?).
2) Aiding in fighting boredom during long trips. Long bus/train/plane/car trips are often a part of travelling and a deck of cards can help make that journey a little more pleasant.
When I went to Europe this year, instead of deck cards I took Cards Against Humanity (which I downloaded for free here). It's a politically incorrect, hilarious game that is easy to play and is a quick way to create “in-jokes” with a new group of people.

Power supply

Cameras, phones, ipods, laptops, tablets. The list of electrical devices travellers are packing are ever increasing and they all need juicing up. Majority of the time hostel rooms will not have enough powerpoints for you and all your roomies to charge their things. You and your roomies will be grateful that you thought ahead.

Safety pins

Multipurpose. While travelling I have used safety pins as replacement buttons, as a keyring for hostel keys, to alter clothing and to hold together bags and clothes that didn't fully survive the journey.

Ziplock bags

Again multipurpose. Originally purchased as a cheaper and smaller alternative to space bags but I soon discovered that it was also for useful for organising my bag- separating my dry clothes from wet and clean from dirty.

Washing powder

You are not always going to have access to washing facilities or want to spend your money on washing. However, you will have free access to a sink. This is an item that people might question as being necessary as you can buy it anywhere, but this way you can take a small amount in a ziplock bag rather than buying a box whilst overseas.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How to Condition Yourself to Sleep on Transport

The theme of Day 4 in the Boots'N'All challenge is "Overland Travel". It encouraged us to share our best overland travel story. And although I've had my fair share of overland travel (vans, buses, ferries, tuk tuks, cars etc), the stories aren't too epic as I have been asleep for most of the journey! I'm one of the lucky ones that through my travels have been conditioned to fall asleep as soon as I begin on a long journey. And yes, it may mean that I may miss the occasional view or sight, but most of the time I am lucky enough to have thoughtful travel companions to wake me so that I can marvel on any passing wonders, such as crossing into a new country or (as was the case in Turkey) a field of sunflowers.



So, I'm going to share my breakdown of how I conditioned myself to fall asleep on long distance transport (obviously this is a guide made jest and not based in science):

- Being a child that was prone to motion sickness, I developed a fear of getting sick on long distance transport. Because of this fear, I think the extreme sleepiness I was faced with upon settling into my seat acted as a defence mechanism. If I'm asleep, I can't get sick.
- This fear also meant that I now pop a pill to prevent motion sickness 30 mins before any long trip. Now, I don't know if these pills actually cause drowsiness but the placebo effect works a treat!
- I ensure that I wear plenty of layers. They keep me warm in overly air conditioned buses or vans. And they are easily removed if it gets too hot.
- I have the same routine when I get on long distance transport. Do a quick scan/exploration of the area (e.g. Check out what entertainment is available. Like it matters, I'll be snoozing soon anyway.), pop in my earphones, and close my eyes (eye mask for overnight travel) and wait for sleep. Repeat this process every long trip and hopefully your body gets the idea!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 2: The Travel Bug

I am participating in the Boots N All 30 day blog challenge. Today the question they posed was:

When, where, what, and with who is the story of your travel origin?  

I don't think I can pinpoint an exact moment because with most of my extended family living in Sri Lanka, I have been lucky enough to have been a "traveller" since I was a baby. Visiting Sri Lanka with my family every 3-4 years definitely roused my interest in travel. Each trip, even though it was to the same country, would hold new wonders. Whether that be discovering different cultural norms and trends or visiting a new area of the country.

However, I developed the true travel bug upon planning my first trip (i.e. not a family planned trip). And that was my first trip to Europe with my high school best friend (details of which can be found in earlier posts) in 2012. Since then the travel bug has been raging. Soon after my return I was determined the Greek islands would be next. And sure enough the next July I was dancing on the beaches of Greece (although there was a trip to Thailand between those European Adventures).

And the travel bug isn't exclusively (temporarily) cured with trips overseas, but discovering more of Australia, even Sydney, satiates it. Since the travel bug has taken over I have been driven to discover waterfalls, new beaches, hiking trails, islands etc, all in the place I call home.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Crazy Wings, Sydney

Hot wings whose ingredients include the very, very spicy Habanero chilli pepper, and left my friends in tears for an hour after he consumed it. This is what my friend experienced at Crazy Wings in the Melbourne branch, and over the weekend we headed to the Sydney store (Chinatown) to see if we were up to the challenge. We decided to be smart and begin the meal with some of the other options the restaurant had to offer before we killed our taste buds with the hot wings.

Teriyaki Beef Fried Rice

Nice, but nothing special. Balanced out the meat and more unusual items that we ordered.





Ox Tongue and Lamb Kidney

The two more adventurous items we ordered. Both used a similar spice rub, which I really liked but meant they both tasted similar. Just based on the meat alone, I think I prefer the tongue over the kidney.

Ox Tongue
Enokitake Mushrooms

This was my first time trying Enokitake mushrooms, and although I normally like mushrooms, I found the texture plastic-like and lacking in flavour.


Crazy Wings

We ordered a selection of wings, which comes served on a skewers. We picked Honey Soy, Fresh Garlic, Black Pepper, Asian Curry and the one we came for, Chili Pepper. The waitress assured us that the Chili Pepper was very, very spicy. 

We put the Chili Pepper wings aside while we tried the others. They didn't taste significantly different. The only one I didn't enjoy was the Asian Curry wings which were just rubbed in curry powder.
Chili Pepper Wings

And then it was time for the main event, the Chili Pepper wings. Nerves had built in our stomachs over the course of the meal and I was eager to just get started. We each served ourselves one wing each and began at the same time. With each bite we waited to for the explosion of spice in our mouths. And waited. And waited. And nothing. Not one of us found it spicy and it was clear that these wings weren't the same as the famous ones in Melbourne.  The limited English of the staff meant we couldn't even ask about the differences from the Melbourne store.

Despite the disappointment of the not-hot wings, we did have a fun night sampling some new things we hadn't tried before. Plus, the food is relatively cheap, our total bill was a little over $50 for the four of us.
Crazy Wings on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Unplanned Day, A Good Day

I love a busy, action packed travel day- where you are travelling from one attraction or activity to the next, trying to fit in as much as you can in one day. However, sometimes the day with no plan or where the plan falls through, turn out to be some of the best.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, 2012
A beautiful, but quiet town in Switzerland. We came here as part of our Topdeck tour (see herefor full entry), and decided to pass up on the expensive optional excursion to Jungfrau. No real plan for the day, we thought it would be a good day to relax, and as boring it is to admit- do our laundry. What started out as a relaxed walk with three other friends in search of cake, ended up being up being a memorable journey, and one of the best days of my life (sorry for the sappiness). In the end of we didn’t find any cake but did collect four more people on our journey, a journey which included an unexpected trip to the town Stechelberg, where we appeared to be the only people, so had a lot of laughs sledding and crashing into piles of snow.
Having no plan for the day was what allowed it to turn out so well. No “must visit restaurant” meant we could have a cheap but delicious picnic in the Alps consisting of finds from the local supermarket. Having no itinerary meant we could continue trekking until we discovered the cable cars. No next planned activity meant we were free to catch the cable cars and get off at a random town. This day taught me having no exact plan when you travel is ok, maybe even better than ok as it allows for discoveries you couldn’t imagine. And I was lucky enough to learn this early in my travels.

Fun in the snow


Kas, Turkey, 2013
Mountain biking through Taurus Mountains, this was what was on the agenda for the day. This activity was part of our “Turkey Active” Intrepid tour. As we were each given our bikes and gear, I found that I was more nervous about the cycle then I was about jumping out of a plane! The stories about the injuries that occurred in the previous cycling treks only made it worse. I was going to the Greek Islands the following week, and definitely didn’t want to arrive with a broken appendage. But I sucked up my fear and hopped on my bike and cycled up that mountain, struggling with the different gears and the growing heat. I began to lag behind the group but pushed on. I then cycled upon my friend Carly (who I had actually sparked a friendship with a year and half before on the above mentioned day in Switzerland). She had hopped of her bike and was walking alongside it, pushing it up the mountain. I hoped off my bike too and we discussed whether we wanted to continue. You should note, this was very, very early into the cycle. Yes, it was the plan for the day and maybe we could see it as giving up but ultimately neither of us were enjoying this planned activity. We could continue, solely because it was on the itinerary, or hop on the support van (the van was slowly following the group in case of any emergencies or to pick up anyone that couldn’t complete the journey). And I have no regrets about deciding to go on the van. Carly and I had a great time indulging on all the treats we had bought (originally to act as fuel for our cycle). We cheered along the rest our group as they continued the trek. Slowly, the group in the van grew as more and more of our group joined us. A rolling party. In the end, only three out of ten of us completed the trek on bike- which was a huge achievement! And although it would have been great to be one of them, I still had a wonderful day taking in the scenery and enjoying the company of my fellow support vehicle users.

So there you have it, some of the best travel days are the unexpected ones.

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