The Saddest Tortilla

As some of you may remember, my unofficial New Year’s Resolution was to eat less sugar and overly processed foods.  I lasted seven whole days.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Unfortunately, all of my good work was undone in one fourteen-hour day on set in the presence of the craft food services table. See, I sometimes work as a background extra on films and tv shows. The pay is crap, but you do get free food, and crafty (aka the snack table) is the devil. Round about hour ten, the caterers usually put out tons of candy and other sugary junk to keep the background actors from falling asleep on set. Needless to say, I fell off the wagon and stayed there.

Now that April is almost over, I decided it was probably time to start thinking about that resolution again. Since cutting out sugar in its entirety worked out so well for me the last time, I’ve developed a new strategy. Rather than eliminating all manner of sugary goodness, I’ve been eating a lot more lean protein and steamed vegetables lately, but still allowing myself a piece of candy (or four) only after I’ve finished all my brussels sprouts. I’ve even curbed my daily waffle habit. (There is a waffle place directly below my bedroom so that’s no small feat.)

I’ve also gotten into the habit of making protein smoothies for breakfast and I have had some truly epic disasters with a blender. For instance, there was this one time when I was adding ice to my smoothie and the blender blade kept getting stuck, so I turned it off, mixed the ice around with a big wooden spoon and resumed blending. I discovered pretty quickly that this wasn’t a terribly efficient method for chilling my smoothie, but rather than scrap the whole thing, I decided to press on undaunted…or at least minimally daunted. After about three minutes of blend – jab – repeat, I lost patience and just started jamming the end of the spoon through the hole in the lid while the blender was still running. The end result was a nice raspberry wood chip sorbet.  You could really taste the fiber – yum!

Now that I’m a bit more experienced in the art of blending, I use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes. Though the first time I tried it I was so paranoid about the blade getting stuck again that I actually nuked the fruit for (what was supposed to be) a few seconds to soften it up. Trouble was, I got distracted by something on tv and left the fruit in the microwave for way too long – not entirely my fault because half the buttons on my microwave don’t work so I couldn’t set an accurate time limit – and the fruit got really mushy and warm. Wanna know what’s gross? A hot smoothie, which is basically fruit soup, but I still drank the whole thing.

Aside from my smoothie debacles, I’ve been doing really well with cooking. I make a mean shepherd’s pie, I can sauté up red meat like a champ and I made a killer broiled Atlantic salmon with mango lime salsa the other day. Chicken still kinda gives me the creeps, but I’m working through it.

Anyhoo, during alternate side parking time this morning, or ‘office hours,’ as I like to call it, I was perusing some healthy-eating, whole food, raw, organic, locally grown, paleo-hippie, communist websites to get some new recipe ideas. Because I am the highly suggestible type, when I stumbled across this website – Jules Gluten Free – I decided it’d be cool to experiment with gluten free baking. (Can you see where this is going?) Mind you, I don’t have celiac disease or even a mild gluten intolerance that I know of, but gluten-free people always seem so healthy and superior, so I decided that my life could be much more awesome if I too, freed myself from the corporate farming gluten machine.

Since I was planning to make fajitas for lunch today anyway, I decided that Easy, Soft, Pliable, Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas would be my first attempt at from-scratch baking.  Yeah, yeah I know, but the recipe looked easy enough…

In a food processor, mix the following ingredients:

- 2 cups gluten-free flour (with added xanthan gum, because I didn’t feel like ordering Jules’ super amazing flour and waiting for it to come in the mail, so I bought some other brand at Fairway)

- 4 Tbs butter

- 3/4 tsp salt

- 2/3 cup very warm water

I have a really small food processor, so I had to make two half batches. The first ball of dough turned out perfectly – exactly like Jules said it was supposed to look. My initial success must have made me a little cocky though, because I got kind of cavalier with the water on the second go around and I wound up with a gooey, sticky lump of useless mush.

Rather than lose half of my potentially delicious tortillas, I just mashed the two dough balls together and added some extra flour hoping that everything would balance out. (Spoiler alert: I was incorrect.)

Phase two involved letting the dough sit for thirty minutes, then rolling it into thin, circular, disc-like thingies. That’s when I hit my second stumbling block – I do not own a rolling pin. However, while my dough was doing whatever it was supposed to be doing for thirty minutes, I went out in search of one.

Four dollar stores later and one trip to El Mundo (which is basically a dollar store that also sells clothes and bedding,) still no rolling pin.  Though I did encounter two different Spanish men who tried to sell me a paint roller. [I really need to learn to speak Spanish if I'm going to keep living in this neighborhood.] You’ll be happy to know that I did not let my lack of rolling pin deter me. In a stroke of pure genius (if I do say so myself,) I removed the wooden dowel from my paper towel holder and went to town.

Ingenuity aside, I was slightly less than successful.

Here is what the soft, pliable, delicious flour tortillas are supposed to look like:

Here is what mine looked like:

Second attempt was decidedly worse:

And let’s not forget the giant mess I made in the process:

After several attempts, I was able to get one decent-looking, but still unusable (not at all pliable) tortilla:

So basically…I spent over two hours and seventeen dollars worth of gluten-free flour and xanthan gum to make the saddest tortilla in history…ever.

On the plus side, if I ever write a children’s book, regardless of the subject matter, I now have a title.

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