There’s been a fickle drizzle going on for the past two days; the kind that doesn’t seem to stop but doesn’t really require an umbrella either.
The skies are shrouded in a dull grey, heavy and thick with a blanket of clouds, and the temperature has dipped once again, literally raining on our parade just as we thought spring was coming early.
I’m sitting at the table in the middle of our living room, which doubles up both as a dining table and my makeshift office desk.
To my right is my thick spiral-bound notebook that’s scribbled half-way through with recipes that I’ve worked on or am still working on; to my left is my trusty mug of tea, which is almost empty by now. And in front of me is my laptop, open to a blank page while I try to assemble the jumble of thoughts that is running around in my mind.
While these rainy days aren’t the best for walking by the lake or running errands, they definitely put me into a pensive mood, one that calms me and shifts me into writing mode.
I’ve just gotten home after lunch at Le Pain Quotidien with a new friend, Rocio. To think about it, it’s actually pretty crazy, because we first connected because of this blog, and while we’ve been friends on Facebook for the past one year, it was only today that we actually met in person. Like going on a blind date, I was nervous initially, but I relaxed when we hit it off almost immediately. Now, that was really awesome, and it’s making me smile.
It’s not the first time that I’ve cultivated friendships like this though. Through blogging, I’ve made friends with people whom I’d never have met if not for my food blog or the other blogs that I read.
I still find it mind-blowing that in this digital age, we can now make friends online – some of whom we may actually get the chance to meet in person, connecting over a physical table, sharing a bowl of soup and a loaf of bread, and sharing real-life conversations.
More than ever, though, being able to connect with others is something that I treasure increasingly each day, especially since starting work as a full-time freelancer.
You see, while freelancing gives me enormous freedom to manage my schedule and work as much or as little as I want, working from home can be lonely at times – there are no colleagues to joke around with, nor secretaries to gossip about the latest fashion trends to. And while I definitely don’t miss a mundane 9-to-5 job in a tiny office cubicle, I do miss having the daily human connection at work.
Growing up, making friends was always something done in a physical place – at the playground during recess; in the courtyard after class; at the food court in between university lectures; at the gym while working out; in the office during conferences. Meeting people back then was always a physical activity; one that was tangible and three-dimensional. I could shake their hands, see their smiles, smell their perfume, or hear their laughter.
Yet today, the act of making friends can be as simple as receiving or sending an email or leaving a comment on a blog post. An exchange of words through the internet, and a connection is made. The idea of connection is still there; the only thing that has changed is the place.
So you see, this magical phenomenon of being able to meet people online – no matter which continent they’re from or which time zone they live in – is not only surprising and wonderful, it is also what I love so much about blogging. Receiving comments on a blog post or replies to the weekly email newsletter makes me smile so wide, and makes my heart feel all fuzzy inside.
The internet is probably my favorite invention in the world, and in this digital period that we’re so lucky to be in, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to make friends with like-minded people through my blog.
I’ve learnt that connection is what makes us better as human beings. Connection is empowering and beautiful and shows us we are not alone – whether in our gluten-free diets, vegan lifestyles, triumphs or the harshest of moments. We were made to be sociable beings, and reaching out to one another comes to us as naturally as breathing. It is in embracing and welcoming others that we become stronger, wiser and happier people.
There’s a scene from the movie Forrest Gump that I always think about.
It’s the one where Forrest is seated at the bus stop next to a woman. He takes a box out of his bag and offers her its contents, saying, “You know, my momma always said that ‘Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”
And what do you know, Forrest’s momma was right.
Life is full of surprises; we never know what we’re going to get. This life that I live now is a surprise for me. The work that I do surprises me each day. And while I don’t know what else life will bring, what I do know, though, is that we should enjoy every bit along the way.
It’s only apt that I share this recipe for homemade chocolate with you.
You know, there are things in life that may seem harder in concept that they really are – and for many years, I’d wrongly assumed that chocolate was something that was difficult to make at home. In fact, I’d never even fathomed the thought of making my own chocolate (I’d thought it was something better left to companies such as Milka, Cadbury and Lindt).
When my friend Ally (the same friend who also introduced me to this life-changing chocolate beetroot cake) mentioned casually a few months back that she sometimes makes her own chocolates, my eyes grew wide. It was revolutionary to me; and as I let the thought simmer and brew over the next few months, I eventually plucked up the courage to make it myself.
Turns out guys, it’s really easy – I mean, so easy that you could do it in just ten minutes of hand-on time.
All you need is some coconut oil, a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder, a drizzle of maple syrup, and some raisins and seeds if you like some nice add-ons.
Begin by melting the coconut oil in a small pot or pan, and then mixing in the unsweetened cocoa powder and maple syrup until you get a homogeneous mixture. Next, pour the mixture into a silicon chocolate mold and drop a few raisins and a sprinkle of seeds into each cavity. Finally, all you’ve got left to do is to freeze the chocolate mixture for at least an hour or until it is firm before eating.
That’s really how simple it is to make chocolate at home.
Ready to make your own chocolate now?
- 1 cup coconut oil
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of choice)
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup seeds (I used a mix of sunflower seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds)
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- Melt the coconut oil in a small pot or pan.
- Mix in unsweetened cocoa powder and maple syrup and stir well until you get a homogeneous mixture.
- Pour chocolate mixture into a silicon chocolate mold and drop a few raisins and sprinkle some seeds into each cavity.
- Freeze the chocolate mixture for at least one hour or until it is firm.