Welsh Bosom Buddies meets Raw & Healthy Chocolate Truffles

Enough about all that wall-building stuff, more importantly (drumroll please): I have a new friend—and I don't mean the cat.
(But let's be honest, he's a new friend too, and yes, the majority of my "new friends" do end up being cats).
Readers, meet Teabag.
Playing the guessing game
It's been a long time traveling, and spending nearly every waking moment with one's boyfriend is nice and all (if you're lucky), but you can't put a price tag on female companionship. Just because I've looked like a little boy for over a year now (short hair much?), it doesn't mean that I, too, don't need a bosom buddy sometimes.

And so here's my tribute to the amazing Lisa, whom I suspect I'll be seeing on and off for the rest of my life (sounds like John has some competition, ehhhh?). Enthusiastic and forever young-at-heart, Lisa just gets it. She knows when to look out at a piece of sunshine and ride it all the way to a spontaneous hike around the coast, whether or not there's work to be done. She takes an interest in the people around her and is one among the few people we've met on this trip who still has an open mind about learning from and about everybody she meets.
A spur-of-the-moment drive to the Gors Fawr stone circle, which sits at the base of the Preseli Mountains, known as the birthplace of the Stonehenge bluestones. The landscape immediately puts you on the lookout for marsh nymphs and green-tinged fairies. Look just past the dead tree and you can make out part of the large circle (66 feet in diameter) of shortish stones.
Another last-minute Lisa idea: driving to an old hilltop to spy on dolphins and a stellar sunset.
In rainy Wales, you never let sunshine go to waste, an idea Lisa holds onto no matter what's on the to-do list
As a further tribute, I propose a recipe that relies heavily on dried fruit. This may or may not have something to do with the thousands of bags of dried fruit that Lisa has strewn about her pantry shelves (raisins!! So many raisins!). Lisa is the type who's always on the lookout for creative recipes, and healthy things that she can trick her 13-year-old son into eating are an obvious bonus. This faux chocolate truffle recipe is the perfect thing to cook up (even though there's no actual cooking involved) when you want an amazing dessert without the guilt.
Looks decadent, but it's an iluuuusionnnn.
I like my sweets, but I'm not such a big fan of diabetes and/or tooth decay. So erring on the side of minimal self-damage, I go for "healthy" sweet things, which is often achieved by substituting raw sugar with the more-natural sugars of fruit. It's still sugar, but it's the lesser of two evils by a landslide. This is where all that dried fruit hiding out in your pantry comes in.

In this case I've used prunes and dates, but you can try this out with a mixture of anything: raisins, currants, apricots, you name it. I would suggest getting dates in there if you can, because they just blow other dried fruits out of the orchard when it comes to their chocolatey sweetness.
How can something that looks so wrong be so, so right?
Sunlight hitting a globe of chocolate, this is art at its finest.
Raw Chocolate Truffles
Ingredients
1 cup pitted dates
3/4 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup + 2 tbs nut butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup desiccated natural coconut (can substitute ground nuts)
3-4 tbs maple syrup or honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coffee extract or 2 tsp espresso powder

Topping
1-2 cups cocoa powder, ground nuts or dried coconut, icing sugar (I use a mixture of cocoa, a pinch of cinnamon, and icing sugar)

Directions
Blend dates and prunes in a food processor until smooth (if you have a weak machine, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes beforehand). Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until a paste is formed. Mixture will be sticky, so you can refrigerate for about 45 minutes for easier handling.

Put your "topping" (which will serve the role of sealing in moisture) into a bowl. Set up a pan that will fit in the fride with wax or parchment paper. Roll the truffle paste into ping pong ball-ish sizes, give 'em a roll in the topping, and set on your prepared pan. Once you've filled up the pan, throw it in the fridge to let the little guys firm up. 

After an hour or two, they're ready to be thrown in some tupperware and stored. They'll keep for one to two weeks and can be frozen, so keep them around and eat when you need a nutritional boost or a fast but impressive meal-finisher!
Homemaker wife idea: Put them in an old-fashioned jar (put circles of parchment between the layers), tie a string and a note around the top, and give them as a gift. Oh Pinterest, here I come!
All this sentimentality and fruit/chocolate stuff is saying nothing of Lisa's partner Mick, who has patiently and talkatively worked alongside John and me as we bungle our way through our baby steps toward construction know-how.

Chancing upon this duo and their bright son Jake has been the most absurdly perfect fluke of this trip. It took ditching an odd man in a mansion to bring us here, but a disruption in the plan is sometimes the best thing that can happen to a person. I realize bittersweetly how few of the hosts we've had understand help exchanges the way Mick and Lisa do. When matches like these are made, there's a level of symbiosis where volunteers help to accomplish the practical and onerous tasks, but when the work is over, we all find time to have an actual friendship among the returns of room and board.
John and Mick take the blowup canoe out for a ride, and soonafter were startled by a breaching seal who quickly said hello and swam away. There is talk of John and I using this vessel as an inexpensive way to get to Ireland...
Despite wishing that I could stay holed up in this one-room wooden cabin for longer, greeting Mick, Lisa, and Jake in the mornings after rousing ourselves to stroll across the garden to their home, and then pulling myself away from the urge, after every breakfast, to stay inside talking to Lisa all day, it's time for us to move on to Ireland.
Heading to the Fishguard ferry port. This is how you say goodbye, right?
This time around, I'll be leaving with a galvanized sense of the good in people and a bolstered hope for more little treasures to be found in this vagabond lifestyle. Will I find another family like this one, though? Doubtful.
Sunset at our dolphin-spying lookout
Follow us to Ireland where we'll start of learning about dry stone-walling in a southern coastal town called Ballydehob.

1 comment:

  1. I was getting worried Lisa wasn't real - when all I saw was the landscape. Sigh. So happy you've met her! -stay/mo

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