I glanced anxiously at my watch – it was five minutes to seven, and I was still in the office.
I was running late, and after switching off my computer and gathering my things, I rushed out of the office and headed straight for the subway. When I got off at the Ministerio Carranza station, I scrapped the idea of walking those 10 blocks to Kansas, the popular American bar and grill along Avenida Libertador.
I flagged down a cab instead, and on that short taxi ride to dinner, I checked the time over and over again, made some friendly conversation with the cab driver about the World Cup, and casually wondered if the lipstick shade I’d used was too bright.
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I was nervous, but in a good way. As I told Juan, it felt like a blind date, only it wasn’t a date, just a meeting with a new friend!
You see, after months of online interaction with Paula (a fellow food blogger who also happened to live in Buenos Aires!!), we were finally going to meet, in real-life, over real tables, eating real food together. The meeting was the result of months of saying “yes, let’s meet up” and then having life and busy schedules push it somewhere off the shelf. And while there was afinity with the Paula I knew online, meeting someone for the first time always kind of sends butterflies fluttering in my stomach.
I mean, all I knew about Paula was what I’d read from her blog.
She is the voice behind Vintage Kitchen Notes, a space filled with gorgeous pictures, interesting recipes and humorous writing. Paula also happens to have another cooking blog in Spanish, Cocina Central, that has even more recipes (man, where does this girl find the time to have TWO blogs, when I can’t even handle one?). I wasn’t sure if she would look like the photo in her “About Me” page. Plus, what made me nervous was the fact that this would be the first time I was going to meet a blogging friend, in the flesh!
My taxi pulled up just outside the already crowded Kansas at 7.35pm, five minutes late, but Paula’s beaming smile and friendly greeting made me relax straight away.
I’d never met Paula before, but that Thursday night, it took about all of five minutes to feel like the Paula and I were already friends (and real-life ones at that!).
We spent three hours chatting over Buffalo wings, Barbeque babyback ribs, coleslaw, and American cheesecake, talking about how we started blogging (turns out we both started blogging about two years back), and about our weird obsessions with taking pictures of food we’ve just cooked (and how that’s something that no one else except a fellow food blogger would understand).
And then from blogging, the conversation switched over to other aspects of life, such as our full-time jobs, and life in general. When we walked along the pavement that night, and later hugged goodbye, it already felt like I’d known her for much more than just one dinner.
I find it so incredible that blogging can bring people together, and witnessing a real-life friendship blossom and form because of food blogging is just amazing.
When I’d started this blog, I did it for so many reasons – to practice cooking, writing, photography, but fundamentally, it was to reach out to others (especially when I was still new in Buenos Aires and feeling lonely for friends). And while it took two years for me to make a new real-life friends thanks to the blog, I’ve realized that blogging has opened so many doors for me, and this was the first for real-life friendships.
So to celebrate, I made a gluten-free version of one of the first cookies I’d ever made – oatmeal walnut cookies!
These cookies remind me of the time when I’d first embraced the idea of blogging, when baking was still foreign to me. They remind of first steps, whether it be a big leap or a tiny tip-toe, and the idea of courage and being open to new experiences.
So here’s to new friendships and food blogging! Eat up!
GLUTEN-FREE OATMEAL WALNUT COOKIES (Makes about 16 cookies)
Adapted from: Not Without Salt
1) 1/2 cup of butter, softened
2) 3/4 cup of brown sugar
3) 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
4) 1 large egg
5) 1 tablespoon of milk (of your choice: dairy, nut, coconut etc)
6) 1/2 cup tapioca flour/ arrowroot flour
7) 1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
8) 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
9) 1/2 teaspoon of salt
10) 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
11) 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
12) 1 1/4 cup of gluten-free rolled oats
13) 1 cup of chopped walnuts
1) Pre-heat oven to 325 deg Fahrenheit (160 deg Cel)
2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it becomes fluffy and light
3) Add in the egg, milk and pure vanilla extract, and then mix very well
4) Add in the dry ingredients (tapioca flour, dessicated coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, oats and walnuts), and mix until well-combined
5) Using a tablespoon, scoop even sized balls of dough onto a very well-greased cookie sheet
6) Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
7) Let cookies cool before removing from cookie sheet