YES, I’D DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN
Last week, I was feeling the effects of homesickness, thinking back on my decision four years ago to move to Latin America, all for the man I love.
I was feeling vulnerable, lost, uncertain, asking if what I did had been the right choice, and now, I know it is.
I know it is because I’d stumbled across this amazing article which reminded me that if I want my big adventure, there are certain issues that I will have to deal with as part of the all-in-one package.
There will be days that I feel lonely (it’s easy to feel so when you’re moving 30 hours by plane to a brand-new exotic continent, where your night is the day back home, and where your friends are so far away, Skype is the most affordable way to see them). There will also be days that I feel vulnerable for sure (I mean, giving up a stable bank job and flying down without any job in hand, much less the possibility of one, definitely doesn’t make you the most confident person on earth).
And there will be days that I will feel so much like a foreigner, even if I can speak Spanish with lunfardo woven into my conversations, sounding as Porteño as if I’d been born and raised in Buenos Aires. And there will also definitely be periods of questioning, or pondering and wondering, why all this even took place, and how I managed to convince myself to do something so drastic and impractical.
But at the end of the article, in bold black words, was this amazing paragraph that lit something inside of me.
“I’d rather be living in an honest, hands-on way — even when it’s uncomfortable — than let life happen to me.
And as I’m discovering, the big adventure is not a place, an experience or a plane ticket. The real big adventure is the thrill of a life (any life, anywhere) that’s lived honestly, deeply and with intention. This kind of life doesn’t avoid questions, risk or vulnerability. This kind of life is the one I want.”
I remember that the reason why I’d left Singapore in the first place because I was willing to take a risk, one so big my heart felt engulfed by it; but one whose rewards and returns would outshine the amplitude of the difficulties and effort required. I’d quit my first job ever, to go to an economy where crisis is the norm, jobless, because life if worth more than just a steady pay-check or a nice position, it is worth love and courage and the need for that outstrips the desire to flaunt a social status.
I recall being enamored with the Spanish language – a beautiful tongue filled with romance and expressions that know no end; one which captivated me and made me hang onto its every word, because it sounded so delightfully charming.
But mostly, I remember being true to my feelings, and my emotions, which as raw and open as they were, made me realize that I was willing to give up what others felt was the expected norm, to explore the wide, risky unknown.
In finance 101, they teach you that in most cases, your returns are proportional to your risks. In real life time, it simply means that if you dare to take on a huge risk, and step off the walking board to cliff dive, you could end up with an experience so exhilarating you’d do it again in a heartbeat.
And so.. four years after making my decision to move here to Buenos Aires for Juan, I’d say, “Yes, I’d do it all over again.”
CHEDDAR CHEESE SCONES
Saturday morning, I rub the sleep from my eyes, squinting at the sunlight streaming through the window. Clumsily swinging my legs to the floor, I slowly get up from bed, stretching lazily in my pajamas and then head to the kitchen in sleep-dazed excitement to make the cheese scones my friend Mercedes had raved about to me.
It’s bright and warm outside, or at least warm enough to hint at the upcoming arrival of spring, a welcome relief from winter; although I’ll say we were fortunate enough this winter not to have that many days of unbearable cold. The weather forecast for that weekend was good, and rays of golden sunshine floated in our living room, beckoning my sister Valerie and I to go outside.
Even before changing out of my pajamas, I get out the flour, salt, butter, and shredded cheddar cheese. I also pull out cream and milk, roll up my sleeves and started mixing – first the flour and a pinch of salt, which I later mix with cubed butter; then I throw in bright orange pre-shredded cheddar, cream and a splash of milk.
This is one of those recipes that look much easier when you read them, but are a bit more difficult than expected when put into practice. It is the sort of recipe that flusters me, because I’m left wondering how much more milk I have to add before achieving the right consistency, but eventually after another dash of milk and then another sprinkle of flour, the desired consistency starts to emerge.
I wrestle with the dough for a bit, in between jokes with my sister about how my dad would never eat these scones because he hates cheese, and unconsciously break into a smile. Following recipes isn’t always easy, but having your sister around for easy banter sure helps a great deal.
Oh dear, I can already guess how I’m gonna miss Val when she flies off this Friday! But I know she’s just a Skype call away, even while I’m on my big adventure, and I thank God for that.
Let’s go back to the scones. Cheddar is one of my favorite cheeses, for its sharp and tasty flavor. And because this is a scone that’s versatile and forgiving, and you could use any cheese that can be shredded easily, and it will probably still taste good.
The best way to eat these scones in my opinion would be to slather them with a generous helping of cream cheese mixed with chopped spring onions or parsley, and accompany them with a mug of piping hot tea. Eaten warm, just fresh out of the oven, I think you’ll like them a lot.
CHEDDAR CHEESE SCONES (Makes 20 large scones or 40 small scones)
Adapted from Maru Botana
1) 500g of self-raising flour (or 500g of all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
2) 1 tablespoon of salt
3) 100g of butter, at room temperature
4) 250g of shredded cheddar cheese (or any shredded cheese you fancy). You can add about 50g more cheese if you like cheese a lot
5) 3 tablespoons of milk cream
6) Milk about ½ a cup, but add more if dough is dry
1) Sift flour and mix with salt
2) Cut butter into small cubes, and incorporate it with the flour using your fingers
3) Add shredded cheese, milk cream and a bit of milk, forming a soft but consistent dough, without kneading too much (add a little more milk if dough is too dry)
4) Pre-heat oven to 220 deg cel (450 deg Fahrenheit)
5) Flatten dough with a rolling pin
6) Cut out circles with a floured round cookie cutter (I used a drinking glass)
7) Line a baking tray with parchment paper
8) Place cut out dough circles on parchment paper, and bake around 12 minutes for small scones, or 18 minutes for large scones (or until they turn golden brown)
9) Optional: Serve with a mixture of cream cheese and chopped spring onions/parsley
Sift flour and mix with salt. Cut butter into small cubes, and incorporate it with the flour using your fingers:
Add shredded cheese, milk cream and a bit of milk:
Form a soft but consistent dough, without kneading too much (add a little more milk if dough is too dry). Flatten dough with a rolling pin:
Cut out circles with a floured round cookie cutter (I used a drinking glass), and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place cut out dough circles on parchment paper:
Bake around 12 minutes for small scones, or 18 minutes for large scones (or until they turn golden brown):