you, me and gluten free

Going gluten free would’ve been easy if I hated bread. Well folks, it turns out my diet and restaurant choices revolved around bread. (ask my fam) I would like to list the following bread(s) that I have given up due to gluten complications.

Underwood’s Cafe in Brownwood –  their dinner rolls melt in your mouth, people.

Johnny Carino’s bread with the dipping stuff.

Monkey Bread my mom makes on Christmas morning.

Biscuits from McD’s breakfast menu. (childhood bread love affair)

Garlic bread from Fazoli’s (college bread love affair)

Honey butter croissant from Cheddar’s.

CHICK-FIL-A sandwiches.

…ok now I’m just getting depressed.

As you can see, I used to go out to eat a lot but unfortunately with gluten, you can’t eat a lot of foods! It’s a blessing and a curse, really. This love/hate relationship has been an interesting one and thank goodness I married Dustin! Talk about sweet and understanding. That man has given up a lot and gone way out of his way to accommodate my food allergies. In the long run it’s going to be a great thing for my health and wellness! But sometimes you just wanna eat a donut, ya know??

I haven’t ventured much into the baking from scratch world but in the spirit of NZ, I decided to try something daring. I tried a new recipe on the morning of Thanksgiving. Pretty risky, huh? I thought so, too, but I just love to live on the wild side. I really wanted dinner rolls on Thanksgiving so I gave the following recipe a try and it was a big success! Much like a roll/cornbread combo – it was a crowd pleaser for everyone! I think I even heard…”I can’t believe these are gluten free!”

NAILED IT.

Recipe from Simplygluten-free.com

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups rice milk (or milk) – warm but not hot
*1½ cups superfine or Asian White Rice Flour
*½ cup superfine or Asian Sweet Rice Flour (also called glutinous rice flour)
*¾ cup potato starch (not potato flour)
*½ cup tapioca starch
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 ½ teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
large eggs – use divided
¼ cup butter or non-dairy butter substitute (Earth Balance recommended) plus more for brushing the pans
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

*in place of the various flours and starches you can use 3¼ cups of a good quality, all-purpose gluten free flour blend.

Directions

Combine the yeast, sugar and warmed milk in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Let sit for 6 – 8 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and had increased in volume.

Combine the flours, starches (or all-purpose gluten free flour blend), xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix for 30 seconds on medium-low to combine and break up any lumps in the potato starch.

Add the yeast mixture, 2 eggs, melted butter substitute (or butter), honey and vinegar. Mix on medium low until combined. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer on high and mix for 3 minutes. You should have a very thick, smooth batter.

Brush 2 standard muffin pans with melted butter (or butter substitute) or spray with gluten free, non-stick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling about ¾ full. Alternately you can use a small (#60) ice cream scoop and place 3 scoops in each muffin tin (like a clover leaf). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free place to rise. Let rise for 35 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water very well with a fork. Gently brush the tops of each roll with the beaten egg.

Bake for 17 – 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

The rolls can be made ahead – bake them, let them cool in the pans, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Warm for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven.

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Thanksgiving

(DISCLAIMER – long post, no pics)

Remember that one post a few weeks ago about learning to trust God and giving over our worries to Him. Wellllll, my little worrier mind has been put to ease. We have been overwhelmed by the love that’s been shown to us here in Nelson. Ok, yall….you won’t even believe this! Our first week here, we met a girl working behind the desk at our hostel who was really nice and gave us a ride into town. Coincidentally, Dustin had met her husband earlier that day in town and we connected the dots since there aren’t a lot of Texans wandering around Nelson. It turns out, this couple attended the church that we had found on-line before moving to Nelson that we were planning on checking out. We thought, cool! We might see a familiar face our very first visit to church. On Sunday we saw Emma and Mike and they invited us to a small group later that day and we met some really awesome couples our age. We were so excited! Meeting a few great people your age within a week of moving somewhere was so encouraging.

It gets better.

Before we even got to Nelson we had been searching and searching for a place to live. Every day we were messaging realtors and renters to inquire about different properties. We literally walked into every real estate company in town to talk to people and try to find a place suitable for a 4 month lease. We kept running into dead end’s. We needed a furnished place which there were plenty to choose from but all the one’s we called on were taken or wanted a year lease instead of month to month. After about a week and a half of looking and looking and NOTHING we started to look at the more expensive options. Never would we ever consider paying $1500 for a small little bedroom but things just weren’t working out so here we were, crunching numbers and trying to figure out how we could make it work! And then we found the perfect (or so we thought) situation. An older woman leasing out her new garage apt (aka sleepout in NZ lingo) that overlooked the ocean. Absolutely breathtaking! It was perfect and we were so excited. But it didn’t work out.

By this time I’m starting to get frustrated and we are living in a sleepout that we only had for a few more days. We had a hostel in town that was really nice to stay at but obviously not for a long term deal. (“I thought you said the story gets better…?” I’m getting there.)

Ok, so Mike and Emma just bought a fixer-upper house in Nelson but right after they closed on the house they found out they were pregnant. Yay for a sweet baby! Not so great for renovation time-line’s. They were planning on renovating the house for awhile before they welcomed a wee one into the world but since the baby will be here in May, they will need to renovate sooner than later. It just so happens that they have an unoccupied sleepout…and they also need help on the house…and the homeless Texans need a place to live. One night we came over for dinner and they generously offered their extra living space in exchange for work around the house every week. We were a) blown away by their generosity and hospitality b) we were excited to have a permanent place to rest our heads. So we are basically WWOOF’ing and we have the great opportunity to get to know Mike and Emma on a deeper level. It’s also great when I sometimes work at night, Dustin won’t be all by his lonesome. =)

Not only do we have a place to stay, 2 of the couples from our small group donated their furniture for us to use while we are here. Holy moly, we feel so loved! A huge thanks to those friends who have donated and sacrificed for Dustin and I. I must say again with confidence, God is so good and He knows what He’s doing! We thought we wanted the ocean front apartment but He had a much greater plan and community for us to be immersed in. Awesome. Thankful.

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Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is one of the reasons why we chose Nelson as our home. It is an hour away from where we live so it’s a great 2 or 3 day getaway when we have some time off. We took advantage of this as soon as we got a chance! We went tramping (hiking) for 5 hours until we reached our beautiful beach.  It was my first overnight hiking experience and it was a good one to start with. I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t admit that the 5 hours back on day 2 were challenging. We felt like we were on a private little island. The next time we go, we will kayak into the different little coves and then set up camp for the night somewhere. I don’t think I have to say much more because the video has a lot of great footage. (Doesn’t Dustin do a great job on the videos??) Enjoy!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/52813255″>Abel Tasman</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user13934178″>Dustin Miksch</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Makin that money…

Dustin and I are both employed and (almost) fully trained. I am working at a nice restaurant within a resort and Dustin is working at an outdoor store similar to REI. If a restaurant is interested in bringing you on, they offer you a “trial run” for the night to have a go. I was given three tables and thrown into the mix. Overall the night went really well and they offered me a job (yay!) but there were of course some funny things that happened due to being in a foreign country.

The restaurant I work at is fine dining – so fine that I haven’t heard of half of the ingredients.  Thank goodness for Top Chef or I would’ve been drowning my first night! I also don’t know a lot of the lingo because there are foods grown here that we don’t have in the states. Or maybe we do and we just don’t eat them in little ‘ol Texas. Not to mention the extreme mix of cultures in the kitchen. My boss is German, some of the other server’s are Austrian, South African, British and Indian and one of the chef’s is Irish. Oh and apparently I’m really hard to understand, too. As you could imagine…this is the perfect storm for really funny moments which I will be documenting here. My first night I waited on a family of four with 2 cute little boys who wanted to “ask me a question” but were too shy to say anything. Finally their mum said, “They want to know where you’re from…” I made him guess which didn’t help the blushing and when he guessed America I made him guess a state. He was too young to understand states but instead he said, “Do you live in Hollywood?” Kids say the darnest things! It was too cute. Hollywood has a big influence over here so anytime we tell people that we are from Texas they think we are pistol shootin, cowboy hat wearin, son-of-a-gun.

We just smile and laugh.

Dustin seems to be adjusting well to his new job! The company he works for was put on the map by the most famous kiwi, Sir Edmond Hillary. He was the very first man to ever climb Mt. Everest successfully and was well equipped with one of MacPac’s high quality sleeping bags. Talk about a selling point! I’m sure he’s going to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world doing very adventurous things. In his spare time he has been learning how to kite surf…cool, huh? He is thoroughly enjoying the manly job selling outdoorsy things, riding his bike around town and learning how to do more extreme sports! And I’m enjoying driving to work and laying on the beach while he is being extreme. Haha! We have an AWESOME video to show you on our next blog…you will get to see a glimple of where we are currently living!

My fancy pants work place:

A kite surfer (not Dustin) with our new city in the back ground! This is the view from our local beach…

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SOUTHBOUND

Ok, now back to our road trip! After the glow worm caves, we made our way to Rotorura, home of natural mud baths and sulpher springs. (For our NZ friends reading along, sorry if I butcher some of the lingo). It has an interesting smell to it…kind of like…West Monroe, Louisiana! haha The sulphur springs smell a little bit like rotten eggs but we heard it was a well known spot in NZ so we had to check it out. I’m a sucker for marketing and infomercials so when we read this description of the place we were going to visit, we were on board!

  • Very strong affinity to moisture in the skin making it an excellent product for promoting regenerating skin cells.
  • Detoxifying and purifying action of the mud on the skin when drying.
  • Highly active clay surfaces of the mud that easily absorbs excess oils and fatty secretions from within the skin’s pores.
  • Bactericidal properties of the geothermal mud through it’s sulphur content which kill bacteria and assists in the prevention and elimination of acne.

After Rotorura, we headed to my favorite city on the North Island (so far). It’s called Napier and it’s on the eastern coast – home of about 58,000 people. There was an earthquake in the early thirties that ruined most of the downtown area in Napier so they re-built the whole city in Art Deco architecture. There is a huge festival every year where people dress up in 1920’s/30’s attire and they have a ton of events celebrating that era.  Some of the events include a gatsby picnic on the lawn by the beach, a classic cars parade and steam train rides. Fun, huh? I was loving it all and would LOVE to go back for the festival but we aren’t sure if it will work out with our schedules. Fingers crossed! My apologies for my lack of pictures….I will do a better job.

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