Nov 23, 2014

Sunday Cinnamon Rolls...

I feel I need to offer a disclaimer: this post is in direct opposition to the healthier eating goals I've been working on for myself lately. If I had followed my own rules I'd have...well, I'd have done pretty much everything at least a little differently. If you're going to make and eat something like this I think the best thing is to call it what it is, which is a treat for Cheat Day, and remember that we have freedom in Christ. Because you're gonna need it for these.

So let's get on with our cheat treat, yes?  First go read the Farmer's Wife's post for the original recipe. If you do everything she said all your wildest cinnamon dreams will come true.  For our family of five I chose to cut the recipe in half because I didn't want an extra pan of cinnamon rolls trying to intimidate me all week. So here is my ingredient list:

Frozen bread dough--1 loaf
Cinnamon--roughly 2 Tbsp
Butter--1 1/2 sticks
Brown sugar--1 cup total
White sugar--1/2 cup
Vanilla ice cream--roughly 3/4 cup

  • First, thaw your bread dough. This is mostly straightforward, but keep an eye on it and don't leave it so long that it starts rising and getting too big too soon. Then roll it out to about 1/4" on a floured surface.  Get it as much like a rectangle as you can, but don't freak out because it's highly unlikely that it will be perfect. That's called 'character,' folks.

**In my ideal world I would make the bread dough from scratch, but thus far in my life, yeast doughs are sort of an unconquered frontier for me. I haven't worked with them enough to be confident that they will rise the way I hope. So I winced only minimally at buying the ready-made frozen loaves, complete with bleached flour and HFCS (Cheat Day treat!)**

  • Cover the dough with 1/2 stick butter somehow.  The Farmer's Wife said to smear softened butter over it. I chose to melt the butter and pour/spread it.  Potato, Potahto.  

  • Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the butter, and 1/2 cup brown sugar over that. 

**The Farmer's Wife says to "lightly" sprinkle the brown sugar, which I found curious because on my rolled-out loaf, 1/2 cup brown sugar was more like a heavy layer. But whatevs. Again, potato potahto.

  • Next, make it a cinnamon ROLL--roll the dough into a long tube, and then cut the rolls so they are about 3/4" thick. The Farmer's Wife says you'll get about a dozen rolls per loaf. I got more like 16-18, but the ends were smaller due to my dough being not quite a rectangle; this is how I roll. Character.

  • Lovingly place the rolls in a greased 9"x13" pan. You will notice they don't come anywhere close to taking up the whole pan. This is where the magic of yeast comes into play, so arrange them in such a way that they have a little space but also butt up against one another (heh) so as not to come unrolled.

  • Next, put the remaining stick of butter, 1/2 cup each of brown & white sugar, and 3/4 cup ice cream into a saucepan. I added the teensiest bit of salt (1/2 tsp?), but I'm not sure it was necessary. Melt, mix, stir, and bring to a boil for one minute before pouring over the rolls.  Licking the saucepan remnants is optional, but recommended for quality control purposes.

  • If you are baking them that day, let them rise at room temp until they are almost double in size. If not, cover them with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray (or not; I didn't find the cooking spray necessary) and place in the fridge overnight. They'll still rise, just much slower.

  • When you're ready, preheat the oven to 350F, then bake for 25-30 min. When done, let them cool a little, then flip them out onto a cookie sheet to cool the rest of the way before eating. 

**I pulled mine from the fridge around 5:45 to warm up a bit (I was up momentarily anyway; long story), and then put them in a cold oven at 6:30 and set it for 350F. I checked them at 7 and they were done, so I pulled them and let them cool 10 min or so.  I never did use a cookie sheet; we just flipped them straight from the pan onto our plates.

Obviously there are numerous tweaks and adjustments to be tried, depending on your dietary needs and preferences. But if you need a sure thing, this is it. I recommend a glass of milk or some eggs for some protein alongside these so you don't go into a sugar coma. And I would classify these on the smaller(ish) end in the big scheme of cinnamon rolls, so go easy on yourself if you end up eating, say, three.

These were universally liked among the Skerrib family, although the Littler One said he still prefers the iced Pillsbury ones from the tube. So take that for what it's worth--the rest of us LOVED them.

Go forth, give them a try, and let me know how they turned out...

**UPDATED 12/29/14**  OK I've tried some tweaks on this and found I could cut out a bunch of the sugar. Like, in the first round, cut it from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup.  For the caramel sauce you can cut a little of the sugar, but if you cut too much the sauce will be too buttery, and not in a good way. I also tried whipping cream instead of ice cream and it was maybe not quite as good, but still sufficient enough that I can suggest you use whatever you have on hand. Also, don't add any salt to the caramel sauce. It's just not necessary.  Happy rolling!

Nov 21, 2014

Overarching Rules and Thinking In Speeches...

One of the ways the Littler One makes sense of his world is by making overarching rules and decrees upon finding new knowledge. That boy can bend & break the rules like no other, to a point that he appears to have a complete and utter disregard for them. But the truth is he craves and asks for the structure. He wants to know all about the rules...I suspect because he wants to know exactly how far he is bending and breaking them. He was home sick one day a couple weeks ago, and asked how he would put away his laundry since he didn’t feel well, and I said I’d do it for him as a favor. He then sort of straightened a little—in his tiny sweet languishing on the couch way—and solemnly said, “So, whenever I’m home sick, you will put my laundry away; that’s the rule.” To which I replied, “I’m making no commitment beyond today.” 

He’ll do similar things with his friends and siblings. As they work out/fight over a toy he will then declare the conditions and circumstances under which the toy will go to whom, and so on. 

From a grown-up perspective it’s adorable to watch his gears turning as he is finding how things work and making his own categories and framework of the world around him. I was struck today, though, by how similar it is to when I speak and think in speeches. Hence, example #347 of why grown-ups are just giant little kids.

As I’ve done my self-work over these past few months, the cacophony in my brain has quieted quite a bit. I’m simplifying my daily routine and focus, and practicing being in the moment more, and learning how to direct my thoughts better when they try to bombard me. Still, when I’m out jogging or even folding laundry on the bed, I’m continually forming little blog posts in my mind. In the Hispanic foods aisle at the store I had some sort of salsa-based wisdom going. It was brilliant, I tell you. And I think probably at my core I am—much like the Littler One—forming and revising my own structure, trying to make sense of the world around me. 

This is mostly harmless, except that it does keep a sort of white noise going in the back of my mind, and I wonder if in a way it can keep me from being in the moment. Also, I think it actually hinders me from putting anything down in writing because, like anyone, my structure of daily experience is constantly revising, and I think I might’ve convinced myself that I can’t write down anything I’m unsure of, because then if I contradict myself or change my mind it will be too messy to sort it out, and then how will I ever become a real blogger who is able to manage a speaking schedule????

(I’m not quite sure how I always end up worrying about that)

So for today I am learning to see it when it happens and take a breath, and remind myself that right now my goal is a little more structure to my thoughts. They’re going to come no matter what—that’s what thoughts do—but I can learn to handle them and put up limits when needed. And even send them on their way, because that is actually possible (I’m told). And when I have an experience that makes an impression or otherwise moves me, yes it is part of the bigger picture, but maybe some(most)times it is OK to see it for that moment’s lesson and nothing more. To keep it to a sentence or two and step off the soapbox. 

Much like putting away the Littler One's Laundry--making no commitment beyond that day…