French soup, French bread… I moved to Vancouver.

I haven’t died! I am here! I just haven’t really known how to write about this last little chapter in my life. Not that a lot hasn’t happened, in fact, quite the opposite. I feel as though I stepped into the midst of a hurricane three months ago and among preparations, and goodbyes, and graduations and weddings, and the big move I haven’t had a second to sit down and hash out my feelings, and maybe I haven’t wanted to, because part of me was worried that I would talk myself out of something that I know I really wanted to do.

But, I did it. The move, that is.  A few weeks ago now, I hopped a plane with a few bags and moved  to Vancouver. Amidst tears (and sheer terror during the plane ride) I finally arrived at my destination, and now I do need to think.

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Finally here!
The funny thing is, I always remember the ocean being salty, but it never fails to surprise me every time.

The thing is, I expected to get here and immediately have all my fears and anxieties put to rest. I expected to see the girl I loved as I exited the airplane and know I was home. But I didn’t. And for the last week I have fought with myself, struggling with the pressure that I daily saddle myself with to love it here. To feel comfortable in a huge city that I know nothing about. To be immediately pro at  sharing a space with someone who I love.  For the first few days, I think I shed more tears than any smile could hide. I called friends convinced that I had made some colossal mistake – and to a person – they all said the same thing.
“Stop fighting it.”

I know in my heart that this is 100% where I should be – where I want to be – but anxiety and fear can do funny things to the things you think you know; and for those first few days, I didn’t know if I knew anything, except that I had just performed a Tarzan style jump from a support network that could hold me through any storm, onto a vine that I’d never really tested the strength of.  It was like cutting your main parachute line and hoping the backup had enough strength to hold you.

What I have come now to realize, is that Soph isn’t my backup line. She’s plan A. She’s my first mate, my number one.

I am thankful for patience – because the adjustment here isn’t just on my part. My girlfriend suddenly has hurricane Raff on her hands – along with a broken window, and wine glasses, and a whirlwind of messes from the minute I stepped in the door. But she’s patient, or definitely tries to be, even when she might not understand the plethora of emotions that are whirling through my head.

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Ain’t she a doll?

Enough of the sentimentality for today. I feel like I’ve finally weathered a bit of the storm (or maybe I’ve just reached the eye and will have to step back into it shortly.) I’m sure I will touch more on that later. Since, moving here I have been doing only three things – playing with wood, cooking, and spending some much needed time with this stunning girlfriend of mine.

So, given the enormous amount of free time and all the super interesting things I have been doing, it turns out I have more to share than my emotional ramblings and life thoughts.

Such as! I’m back on my gluten free cooking spree!
A bit ago I wanted to make a French Onion soup – and what goes better with French Onion soup than some fresh baked bread? I had never had gluten free bread before so this was another new step for me in a month chock full of new steps.
What I’ve found with gluten free baking is that there is a truck load of different types of flours. I’m sure given some time and experience in the mysteries of baking without wheat, I will learn what flour provides which characteristics in each dough I make, but for now, I’m just following recipes as closely as possible so as not to ruin something (Especially because these special types of flours are damned expensive!)

So, I scoured the unfailing internet in search of what looked to be the perfect, easy, beginner gluten free bread recipe. And lo and behold, the internet really I does never fail!
I came upon this lovely lady who runs a blog dedicated solely to the art of gluten free cooking. What a goddess to the beginners such as myself! I snagged this recipe right quick and meandered down to the local Whole Foods (because it turns out that things like, “Potato starch” and “Xanthan gum” and “Tapioca starch” aren’t actually regulars in my cupboard (BUT THEY ARE NOW!))

I’ll let you wander over to the Gluten Free Homemaker’s blog yourself to see the actual recipe. The only thing I changed was that I added twice the amount of xanthan rather than the guar gum, because I couldn’t find that stuff anywhere. I mean what IS that stuff any ways?

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I also made this bread as rolls, because having just moved in we actually own next to no baking sheets let alone French loaf pans. Also, I will probably never own French loaf pans, because what else do you do with French loaf pans but  bake French loaves? I’m really a fan of multi-functionality (Actually, I just have no space so one thing basically does everything…).  In fact, of the two baking sheets that we do own one doesn’t actually fit in our little oven, and the other has a weird raised ring on the bottom. I have no idea what this pan’s actual job is, but it has been re-purposed into a baking sheet since it happens to fit in the oven – unlike our actual baking sheet.

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So, I mixed all the ingredients and was CERTAIN I had done something wrong because what sat in front of me was one gooey mess that didn’t really resemble dough at all. Then I thought, “You know what, Raff? Stop being such a dough elitist. Dough can come in all shapes and sizes.”
And then I happened to read the recipe, and it did mention that the dough would be rather soft- in fact, I had probably added too much flour.

And thus, the globby little rolls went onto the “baking sheet,” and three quarters into baking, I realized that maybe I should have put an eggwash on them because they were looking a little white… and lumpy. In fact, after 25 minutes they looked exactly the same as when I put them in, except they were hard. I was surprised to notice that they didn’t rise or significantly change shape while they baked. What you put in there was certainly what you got! I wondered if this was a product of my doubling the tapioca, or of me not having the proper bakeware, or maybe just suffering from the consequences of the wheat bread baker in me that said, “If it’s too gooey, add flour.” Regardless, I took them out.

This really great girl I know says that you can’t take something out of the oven and then put it back in. She is probably right. She is right about most everything. Except on how amazing milk and mushrooms are (not milk and mushrooms,  together, just milk and mushrooms in general).  I told her once that I don’t trust people who don’t like milk. It’s weird.

IN ANY CASE, long story short, I didn’t follow her advice, I put the eggwash on and then put them in back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
While they were baking, I was also whipping up a French Onion, Mashed Potato soup that was going to totally rock those buns. Tee hee.20131102_191758

The result was pretty good, if I do say so myself. They had a crusty outside, and the texture was a lot better than I expected. I wish I had gotten a picture of one cracked open, but once the wine was decanted and the smell of that soup was wafting about the apartment, the camera was forgotten. I can say that the inside almost looked like non-gluten free bread! They were especially delectable once dipped in the soup as well! If I were to make them again I would definitely put an eggwash on them at the start to avoid the catastrophe of taking them out of the oven and then back in.

And as always, folks, the presentation is everything. Our dinner, served on a table beneath the window, complete with mismatched cutlery and a metal bowl that I think is probably meant for dogs:

I have never been happier.

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