Alien overlooking River and Rice Fields

Finding Inspiration In Every Encounter

This morning I woke up feeling positive and wanting to share my feelings. I’m not one to share feelings, so when the moment strikes it is important to grasp it with both hands!

Bagan at Sunset

Bagan at Sunset

I’ve been away from home for a couple of months now, I can’t say I’m missing England but I miss my family and friends incredibly! I’m away for such a short space of time that it feel like I’m only on an extended holiday. But home is where the heart is! Luckily staying connected through social media makes it a lot easier…

Alien overlooking River and Rice Fields

Alien overlooking River and Rice Fields

The alien in the above picture is me. Well, if I was pink and given away with McDonald’s ‘Happy Meals’ then this alien would be an accurate representation of me. My nephew gave it to me just before I left home so I could take it away with me to give to a little girl whose mother I’m good friends with. It’s been travelling around with me on my adventures in South East Asia, so now the said nephew wants it back. But he is only 4 years old so we can forgive him!

So I have been told that this alien is called ‘Oh’ and he is a character in an animated movie, I’ve not seen it but I read this little extract:

‘When Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And while he changes her planet and she changes his world, they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.’ Written by 20th Century Fox

So during this time in Myanmar, I am Oh…

I’m a mis-fit from another country, finding myself in Myanmar running away from home. However I’ve formed not one, but many, friendships on my adventure and I too have come to the understanding that it’s OK to make mistakes. I think I should watch this movie! 😉

Harmoneat Team Birthday Dinner

My inspiration

The people in the above photo have become my very good friends in Myanmar. In the sort time I have been here we have bonded over our common love of food and desire to work with the community. They each have their individual stories to tell, but they are equally inspiring! From each conversation I have I drawn strength and am grateful for every word of encouragement and all the laughter we have shared. We’ve been through some challenging times together and without these guys I may still be a little lost…

I’m a reserved person who likes to isolate myself from others and I have to talk myself into doing things that scare me. It doesn’t come naturally to me to strike up a conversation with a stranger and conversation with someone I’ve just met can be a strain. However if we talk about food, that’s another story! 😀

I brought a copy fo the Celestine Prophecy with me for a bit of light reading. I took a lot from it when I first read it nearly 15 years ago, but this time it didn’t have the same impact. Though what stuck with me was the need to be open to new experiences and watch out for ‘signs’ or ‘coincidences’ that would help lead you to the path of what you are looking for. In a way that makes sense, because we will believe what we want to and read into things in a positive way if we want certain answers to questions in life.

Rice Farming in Laos May 2015

Rice Farming in Laos May 2015- Reconnecting with my roots

As anyone knows, being the ‘new person’ whether it be at a party or in a city is a daunting experience. However I’ve come to realise that everyone is in the same situation, it’s the way that person deals with it that is different. I can shy away, hoping not to draw attention to myself or I can introduce myself to the next person to open myself up to new experiences. It took me a while to get over the fear of rejection but I still have to talk myself into taking that first step. (Obviously in my head! Who wants to talk to someone who talks to themselves out loud?!)

By being open to these new experiences, I have met some amazing people. Local Myanmar and international travellers and expats. I’ve reconnected with long-lost friends and become more confident to take the next steps in my career and personal life with a different perspective and way of tackling decisions. When travelling around on buses or hanging around in hotel grounds, I’ve struck up many conversations with people who are going through transformational changes in their lives… making the decision to steer themselves in the right direction rather than being carried along a path that doesn’t suit them. From each person I have learned these key lessons (and it doesn’t matter how many times you read these messages or people tell you them, as it has to happen when you are ready to take notice):

  • You’re never too old to change your life
  • It’s OK to make mistakes, nothing is forever
  • Experiences are only bad if you don’t learn anything from them
  • Do something that scares, it you makes you feel alive
  • Not everyone wants to be the shining light in the room, humility is a valuable trait

With this new-found optimism and thirst for life, I will return to England in July knowing that everything will be fine and whatever happens will happen because it is right for me at that moment.

Locally grown Mango and Rambutan Season

Locally grown Mango and Rambutan

So I’ve just over one week left in Myanmar before I head of on a whistle-stop tour of Singapore and Malaysia, and am trying to make the most of my time here. Of course, being a foodie most of my plans are revolving around food. The fruits grown locally are so amazing that I am desperately trying to eat as much of it as I can before I leave. A mango for breakfast every day is the norm as well as snacking on rambutan throughout the day…

So I’ve shared with you my personal journey, from leaving my job in September 2014 to getting back into the head space I need to be to decide on where I choose my life to be next. I still have until September 2015 to make a decision on what that next step is but I’m ahead of the game!  😀

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No Bake Pizza

Pizza in a Pan (No Oven Recipe)

No-Bake Pizza

No-Bake Pizza

Living in a ‘developing’ country when you are used to the comforts that the UK has to offer was always going to be a challenge for me. I’m a ‘home-girl’ at heart and like to have my familiar things around me… my family, friends, kitchen gadgets… Oh I miss my electric whisk, my kitchen scales and my food mixer… 😉

So it has been nearly two months since I left England and came to live in Yangon. I only have a couple of weeks left in the city before I head off on one final adventure around Singapore and Malaysia. Then I head back to England. Back to reality and ‘real life’. I’ve been taking a career break since September 2014 and I’m now 9 months down the line. It’s been an adventure, full of learning and re-discovering what I love most in life!

I write this post after a particularly gruelling 24 hours of unexplained 12 hour illness, lack of running water (in the middle of handwashing laundry) and sporadic internet access. Being a quite a pessimist, although I’m working on that, I have struggled to get back into a positive mindset and remember the good things about my Yangon adventure. A decent meal in a new cafe and a huge slice of carrot cake soon got me on the right track!

Home Made Tomato Pizza Sauce

Home Made Tomato Pizza Sauce

So today I share with you a recipe I am particularly proud of- Pizza in a pan!

At Harmoneat we have been working very closely with the Yangon Women’s Christian Association to teach local Myanmar women to cook ethnic foods from all over Myanmar as a way to learn about the cultures of the different ethnic groups that make up the country. As part of this we also introduced an ‘International cooking’ class for women interested in learning how to cook foods that may never have tried before.

Rice Cooker Banana Cake

Rice Cooker Banana Cake

One of the main challenges for people who love cake in Myanmar is that oven’s are not widely owned, so baking is a challenge. For the past few weeks we have been experimenting with ‘baking’ cakes in a rice cooker. I’ve not had much success but my colleague, Mellissa, has definitely cracked it! Using a basic banana cake recipe, she has produced some lovely, fluffy, cakes!

Pre-cooked Red and Yellow Sweet Peppers (Capsicum)

Pre-cooked Red and Yellow Sweet Peppers (Capsicum)

The next challenge posed to us was how to make pizza without an oven. One of our regular attendees had tried it but was confused with the technique so it was obviously do-able! A quick internet search later found a basic recipe that works every time! I did a practice run the day before the class and was surprised by how easy and pizza-like it was. I then left the second half of the dough to proof a little longer and it baked perfectly into a small loaf in the oven. So a good all-round bread recipe!

Pizza in a Pan

Pizza in a Pan

Ingredients: (Makes 4 large frying pan-sized bases)

  • 2.5 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Toppings:

  • anything you like on your pizza but they must be pre-cooked- we used roasted peppers, aubergines and extra oregano (can add cooked meats too)
  • tomato pizza sauce
  • some grated cheese (mozzarella or cheddar work well)
Steaming the pizza to melt the cheese

Steaming the pizza to melt the cheese

Method:

  • Add sugar and yeast to the warm water and mix thoroughly, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes to get the yeast working (although I have tried it without this resting time and it worked fine)
  • Add the flour and the salt to the yeast water and bring it all together into a ball of dough, some extra water/flour may be needed if too dry/sticky
  • Knead on a floured surface until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands
  • Cut your dough into 4 equal portions and roll them out into round bases. The thickness depends on your liking but it needs to be smaller than the base of the frying pan you are using.
  • The actual cooking of the pizza is very quick, so you need to have all your toppings ready!
  • Dry-fry one side of the pizza base in the frying pan over a medium heat. You will see the dough start to change colour as it starts to cook through, the dough may bubble up but thats fine as the toppings will squash those bubbles back down
  • Take the pan off the heat then flip the pizza base over so it is now cooked side up. Add the tomato sauce base, toppings and cheese as you would with any pizza recipe
  • Put the frying pan back on the heat but with a lid on it this time, turning the heat to a medium-low. This is important as the lid will help to melt the cheese and warm the toppings whilst the heat will cook the underneath of the pizza base. This takes about 3 minutes, but need checking to make sure it’s not burning!
  • Repeat these steps with the next three bases.
Pizza in a pan- no oven

Pizza in a pan- no oven

Not only is this pizza recipe good for when you have no oven, but also when you want a quick meal! Once you get fast at making the pizzas, you can do cook several at the same time, if you have the frying pans available! Make the bases as thick as you like, some people prefer the thicker, doughy texture, whereas I like mine thin and crispy! 😀

No-Bake Pizza

No-Bake Pizza