It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Recipe : Peanut Butter Sheet Cake With Chocolate Icing

I'm a big fan of The Pioneer Woman, not only for her funny posts about life on a cattle ranch, but also for her recipes, which are easy to follow and generally VERY yummy.  I particularly like it when I can source all of the required ingredients here, which doesn't happen with every recipe she posts.

I'm also a big fan of cake (who isn't a fan of cake?), and an ultra big fan of Sheet Cake.  My friend Kris in MI makes a gorgeous Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake which blows my mind, and I can never replicate it as well as she can.  The only thing with Sheet Cake recipes is that they seem to use every flipping bowl in your house, so maybe it's not something that should be attempted unless you've got a dishwasher - or a lot of time on your hands.

This is a great Pioneer Woman recipe; it's easy to follow and it works.  Get out all of your bowls and let's get cooking!  My notes in italics, as usual.  Oh, and yes, I know it uses a lot of butter and sugar, but it's really yummy and I'm not advocating you eat it all yourself (though that's certainly possible, I'm not judging!).

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake with Chocolate Icing
  • Cake
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. quarter teaspoon of salt
  4. half cup of buttermilk
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  7. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  8. one and three quarter sticks of butter (about 210gm)
  9. half cup of peanut butter
  10. one cup of boiling water
  • Icing
  1. one and three quarter sticks of butter (about 210gm)
  2. 4 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
  3. 6 tablespoons of milk
  4. 1 pound powdered sugar, sifted (about 500gm of icing sugar, and I forgot to sift mine)
  5. 1 teaspoon of vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (about 180c).
  • In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whist together buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla.  Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt one and three quarter sticks of butter.
  • Stir in peanut butter until smooth.
  • Add boiling water.
  • Let the mixture bubble up for about 10 seconds.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Pour the peanut butter mixture over the flour/sugar mixture and stir until halfway combined.
  • Pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir gently until the batter is smooth.
  • Pour the batter into a sheet pan or jelly roll pan (I'm never quite sure what a sheet pan or jelly roll pan are, so I used 2 x 28x23cm non-stick pans, or you could upsize and use one larger one) and smooth the surface.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven.
  • While the cake is baking, make the icing.
  • Okay, to do the following bit I melted the butter in a small saucepan and added the cocoa powder and milk whilst it was in the saucepan.  Then I tipped the saucepan contents into a bigger bowl and added the icing sugar that way, or I find that you get icing sugar all over your kitchen (and yourself).  I added half the icing sugar in one go and stirred that in, and then the rest of it in intervals whilst I stirred it in because I didn't want it to be too thick.  At one point it looked like it was splitting, but I kept stirring and it was fine once I poured it onto the cake.
  • Melt one and three quarter sticks of butter.
  • Stir in cocoa powder, then the milk.
  • Remove from heat and add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir until smooth.
  • Pour the icing over the warm cake right out of the oven (yes, really) and smooth the surface.
  • Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and eating warm.  Nah, didn't do that.  We ate ours cold later on and it was still yummy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two Roads Diverged ...

As I was out walking with Archie recently, my favourite poem came to mind as we turned a corner to see these two roads diverging in a yellow (well, yellowish) wood.  We didn't take the one less travelled by though, we took the one we always take to get us back to the car.  But in life I know I've taken the one less travelled by more than once, and it's always lead me to good things.  Do you sometimes chance it in your life, and take the less travelled path?

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Oh, and I know that somewhere there's a certain Mr Bukva saying "That's NOT what this poem about!", and Beth is saying "Oh, I love this poem"!  I guess we've all got different ways of looking at things - and I choose to think that this poem is saying "Take a chance!".

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Restaurant Review : Tenth Avenue Cookshop, 156 Tenth Avenue, NYC, USA

After our nice, yet bland, breakfast experience at Sarabeth's, we were looking to try something a bit more adventurous and the fabulous Tenth Avenue Cookshop fits the bill perfectly.

Tenth Avenue Cookshop is an exciting restaurant in Chelsea and you'll need to book, this place is jumping - and deservedly so.  These guys are mad for sustainable ingredients, humanely raised animals and supporting local farmers and artisans.  Their menu is American with a focus on seasonal availability.  The staff are top notch, friendly and passionate, and there are loads of them.

We'd booked in advance, and the line was already forming outside as the doors opened for the day.  We were shown to our table by cheery staff and were handed tempting menus whilst our coffee orders were taken.  The menu is clever, different and imaginative - no boring hotel breakfast staples here.

I had the cornmeal pancakes with fresh raspberries, and also the beignet special to share, both of which were glorious.  The boys had other hot dishes that they raved about.  To drink I had a yummy coffee and a Ithaca Ginger Beer, whilst the boys had coffee and BLT Marys.

This place has a real buzz to it and everyone seems to be smiling, both staff and diners.  We really enjoyed it, and then went for a walk along the Highline in the sunshine to walk some of it off.  Tenth Avenue Cookshop?  Go there!

Tenth Avenue Cookshop
156 Tenth Avenue (at 20th Street)
Phone:- 212 924 4440

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

40,000? Wow!

My blog has just clocked over 40,000 visits and, besides being utterly amazed, I'm also very thankful that so many of you have taken the time to come over and have a look at my ramblings.

I just want to say a big THANK YOU to you all.  I hope you've managed to get some useful info out of my travel tips, some decent food out of my recipes, and some laughs out of my adventures.

Thank you so much, and have a fabulous day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Restaurant Review : Sarabeth's, Central Park South, NYC, USA

Going out for breakfast isn't really a "thing" where we live, and if you do find a place that does breakfast, it's cold continental style, which isn't terribly exotic.  I'm a mad fan of going out for breakfast or brunch, so we try and do it when we travel if we can.

We'd heard good things about Sarabeth's in NYC, and bookings were advised, so we booked well in advance and there weren't many bookings remaining - it's VERY popular.  Sarabeth's has 5 locations, and we booked in at Central Park South, within walking distance from our hotel.

On arrival on a chilly morning, there was already a line forming outside as they opened.  Luckily we'd booked and were escorted to our table and offered coffee as we were seated.  Now, I'm no huge expert on NYC, but I'm almost sure that we stayed in a hotel on this exact spot about 20 years ago.  It's not a hotel now, but the decor is the same as it was back then, very 90's pastel-y with definite "hotel breakfast room" feel.  It's also very large.

The menu looked good and I ordered the Classic Eggs Benedict (my fave breakfast dish) and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice to go with my coffee.  The boys ordered other hot egg dishes and we shared a side of bacon (mmmmm, bacon).  Breakfast came to well over $US100 for three.

Honestly, the food is good, but it's not fabulous.  I'm not sure what the buzz is about this place.  It's absolutely jammed with tourists and it's not cheap.  By the time we left, the line was working its way down the block.  If you're mad for eating what amounts to a nice pricey breakfast in a fairly ordinary atmosphere, then this is the spot for you, but you could replicate it in lots of hotel breakfast rooms in NYC, and find better in lots of other lesser known cafes (like the fab Tenth Avenue Cookshop, which I'll review later).

40 Central Park South
(59th Street, between 5th and 6th)
Phone:- 212 826 5959

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Best Places To Go In 2014 : Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet has just published their "Best Places To Go In 2014" list, and I'm thrilled to see that my home town, Adelaide in South Australia, is in their Best Cities to Visit category - yay!

Lonely Planet say "The often overlooked Adelaide should have a big 2014.  The city has just completed a multimillion dollar refurbishment of the "Oval", which links the centre of the city with the more historic parts farther north.  Add new boutiques and eateries and Adelaide is ready to take front and centre in Australia".

So, come and visit lovely Adelaide and see how pretty a city can be.  Experience this fabulous "lifestyle" city, enjoy top notch food and wine, and visit "The Oval" for the cricket and football.  Here's a link to Lonely Planet's "Adelaide" information page.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Could You Travel For A Whole Year?

You know those days when life gets all a bit much and you want to throw your hands in the air, scream at the world, throw your job in, and just take off?

Well, Clayton B. Cornell did just that (and so did my cousin, Moose, but that's another story).  He took off and travelled for 12 months.  He did it on a budget of around $US1,200/month and he had an absolute ball, made loads of new friends, had amazing experiences, started up an online business and drank a little too much (whilst sticking to the budget, of course!).

He travelled from Honduras to Uruguay.  With a surf board.  On a bus.  And he loved it.

His trip wasn't so much about sightseeing, though he did lots of that, but it was more about "living" in different places.  Experiencing life in different places where you don't know what's what and you don't speak the language.

I'm going to pinch one of his lines and tweak it a bit, because I really do believe that "if you want a fast track to self development, get on a plane".  I would add "alone" to the end of that.  Because if you've only got yourself to depend on in a strange place, you'd be amazed at how resourceful and strong you are.

  • Click HERE for a link to the 20 things Clayton learned from his year of travel
  • Click HERE for a link to his web site so you can read his adventures