The plane’s shadow became visible in the distance, slowly growing larger and approaching us with increasing speed. Finally, after the landing gear had descended and the runway came into view, the plane rumbled a bit in anticipation. You could feel the ground a moment away, until the wheels finally pushed into the ground in exhalation. Once the familiar earth was underfoot, the plane slowed, decelerating at a rapid rate. Our bodies wish to maintain their former speed, so we’re pulled to the front of our seatbelts as we brace for this familiar dance. The plane taxis through the runways, with the heart-warming early evening fall light streaming through the grass. Home.
This plane brought us back from a weekend of magic and wonder in San Francisco. BlogHer Food; my first conference of any sort. I met blogger after blogger; from those I’ve admired for years to those who were new to me. It was beautiful, overwhelming and educational. Such a joy. I’m still processing it. Photos? There were barely any. A spattering at the farmer’s market and blurry attempts at the conference itself. You know what? That’s okay.
This conference was about the people. It was about the act of putting names and blogs to faces and actual people. It was about learning from the greats, the friends, the idols. It was about getting to wrap your arms around people who have brought you to tears with their passion and ushered you into their lives through food.
Now, here, I could list the names of those I adored seeing, those that made my stomach flip when they came up to me, somehow recognizing my face, but I won’t. There were all the people I only had a moment to speak with, those that I somehow missed altogether. It’s all part of it. I’m incredibly grateful I was able to go. My mom was there, sometimes right with me, other times chatting across the room or soaking in other sessions. It was the perfect balance. Having the comfort of family, with the freedom to get to know the people behind the names. Plus, without her, there was no way I would have gone. Next year? Who knows. I would love to, but being in my first year of university could mean a lot of things. I can only hope I have the pleasure of being in the company of brilliantly passionate individuals with a setting of food once again.
Sure, it wasn’t perfect. Some moments were rushed, and many were overwhelming. Seeing so many people, chatting with handfuls of them, and always going. Overstimulation was abundant, especially by the end of the day. There were the junior high moments, looking into a half-empty room, suddenly being scared of where to sit. Would there be a friend, would we sit somewhere that was spoken for? Tiny bundles of nerves, calmed when we began chatting to whomever was near. Issues of success were brought up. What was that? Where did it come from? I saw success in passion. Not in what everyone had done, but why they were doing it, how they loved it and the fact that they were always giving all that they had.
Listening to those with TV shows and hearing their true love for food, for comedy, for creating this beautiful thing in their chosen format. Hearing the stories of cookbook authors, who shared their truths. The work, their love for it, the process which was draining, lonely and exhilarating. Seeing those that simply adore where they are. Those that love sharing, blogging. Each person’s success was unique, some was hidden, others were assumed. Overall, it was an honour to meet all of you. Or at least be in your presence (I know I didn’t get the chance to say hello to everyone, but that likely would have made it so much more overwhelming. The moments would have been forced, not organic. Next time, come say hi if I don’t).
Thank you to the women who invited me to dinner on Thursday. Thank you to the woman who turned around at the top of the stairs and gave a big smile. Thank you to each of you who chatted, sharing your stories, excitement and truths. Thank you for being yourself. Thank you for introducing yourself, and listening when I did the same. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the hugs. Thank you for creating a final party that was entirely gluten-free. Most of all though, thank you to Mom who came and put up with all of my nonsense, disbelief, and everything else too.
Through this all I found something important; I don’t know where I’m headed. Maybe this way, maybe that way, but regardless, I’m thrilled to be a part of this community. It’s what makes it worthwhile. I’ve always felt privileged to enjoy the company of fellow bloggers, whether it be locally or on a grander scale like this. So, thanks. Thanks for being a part of this journey. It’s a pretty darn cool one.
On that note, I have a recipe for you. It’s only half here though. You know how community is such an essential part of all of this? Well, this is Shauna’s recipe (which she adapted from Deb [who in turn adapted it from Cook's Illustrated]), I only changed the flours based on what I had on hand. So, I’m handing you the ingredients I used. If you want the rest? Go see Shauna.
Irish Soda Buns
2 ounces quinoa flour
2 ounces sorghum flour
4 ounces millet flour
4 ounces brown rice flour
4 ounces sweet rice flour
4 ounces tapioca starch/flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp guar gum
2 1/2 ounces sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
(and you could add dried fruit, but we were just looking for a simple bun)
Go to Shauna. (I used the food processor method. I made them into buns, there were 14. They baked for 5 minutes, were slashed and brushed with melted butter, then 13 more minutes, until golden brown and tested clean when a toothpick was inserted in the centre.)
I should note that these buns are not yeasty. They do rise a bit, but their consistency is closer to biscuits than a soft, squishy, yeast bread. They were the perfect accompaniment to the lasagna we had last night.
Add some butter, or don’t. They were delightful both ways!
Overall, that Thanksgiving weekend was a whirlwind. It was a perfect coincidence that it fell on Thanksgiving (yes, I’m talking about the Canadian one. But to me, it’s just Thanksgiving). In fact, it made me more grateful for being there. The only part I missed was the turkey and pumpkin pie. Hopefully in the next weekend or two, that can be remedied . Actually, anything with pumpkin would be nice. Soon.