Archive for April, 2011

April 25, 2011

Tina Fey’s Prayer for Her Daughter

Below I’ve excerpted one of my favorite chapters of Bossypants.  There is a little cursing and inappropriateness; be forewarned.

First, Lord: No tattoos.
May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

[…]

Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from
Acting but not all the way to Finance.
Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes
And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

[…]

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a
Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

I started out laughing, and now I’m crying.  It’s just silly and funny and really beautiful all in about 3 minutes, and I think we can go ahead and categorize that as “really good writing.”

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April 24, 2011

Family Secret Cinnamon Rolls

Okay, seriously, these are the best.  They’re our family go-to holiday sticky bun cinnamon rolls and they are universal favorites.  We make them to eat, to give away as gifts, to bring to holiday work potlucks (everyone goes bonkers for them), and for most major holidays.  They use some old-fashioned, non-snobby ingredients (read: frozen dough), but that really just adds to the fun.

Here we go!

You’ll need four things.  The fifth is optional.

1. Bridgeford Frozen Bread Dough(I have literally no idea what might substitute for this… some other white frozen dough, I guess)

2. Butter

3. Brown Sugar

4. Cinnamon

5. Cream (optional)

First you must thaw your bread dough.  It doesn’t take all that long, but if you can remember to get it out 45-60 minutes before you want to use it, that’s best.  Then you stretch and knead the dough into a 12×5″ rectangle that’s about 1/4″ thick, like so:

No need for a rolling pin and/or a ruler.  Just approximate.

Now spread a thin layer of butter over the top.  Please don’t ask me for measurements here… just a thin layer of softened butter.  On top of that sprinkle a good amount of brown sugar.  I’m guessing about half a cup, but mostly just sprinkle on, smooth out, and look.  Is it about 1/4″ thick?  That’s right, then.

Smooth it out with your hand.  Getting messy is good.  It’s very natural.

Doesn’t that just make you want to take off your shoes and lie down with a good book?  No?  Just me?

Sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar.  Don’t cake it on thick, just sprinkle it evenly over the brown sugar.

Now you get to roll!  Starting from the long side further from you, start working your way back and forth, tightly rolling the dough toward you.

My sous chef is preparing her favorite: l’hoof d’Sophie:

Once you reach the front side of the rolls, pull it up and over the roll, pinching a bit to seal it off.  At this point I always stretch it a bit, although I believe my mom omits that step.

Before you start slicing you have to prepare your pan.  Melt about 1/2 stick of butter (did I mention this is not low cal?) and pour it into a round cake pan (or pie tin, or 8×8″ square pan) and add about 1/2 cup brown sugar and a 1/2 tablespoon of cream and mix it all up with a fork (the cream is optional but helps keep the mixture from crystallizing).  It will look something like this:

Now start slicing the log into 3/4″ rolls and place them face up in the pan.

Anything extra on the counter?

Add it on, baby.

Waste not, want not.

Now is the hard part (for me, anyway): waiting for them to rise.  Sometime in the next 45 minutes or so go ahead and preheat your oven to 325.

Here they are ready to bake, about an hour later (if you have a warm, non-drafty spot in your kitchen it will work best).  My rule of thumb is that they have to have risen to the top of the pan.

Note: it’s a good idea to put a large baking sheet on the shelf underneath the rolls, as the sugar and butter often overflow and (and this is hearsay, I wouldn’t know anything about it personally) occasionally light on fire.  So I’ve heard.

And here they are about 25 minutes later, lovely and golden brown.   One thing I didn’t get a picture of (full hands): flipping them onto the plate.  As soon as they come out of the oven invert them onto a plate (they’re HOT.  Please be careful.) and let them cool that way.  Like so:

Now, important note.  If you, say hypothetically, decide to re-organize your baby’s dresser drawers (post on this coming soon) while you’re baking your cinnamon rolls, do remember to set a loud timer and/or do not get engrossed in an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy while folding because you may 1) frighten your husband when he comes home and finds you bawling uncontrollably over a sad season 2 incident and 2) burn the heck out of your last two batches of rolls.  Like, I don’t even want to say how long these baked.  It was probably less than an hour, but not much less.

Bright side: they still look pretty!  And shockingly, did not taste terrible.  Not good, but not charcoal.

There you have it!  The bestest cinnamon rolls in the whole wide world.  Go forth and conquer your jeans’ top button (it, uh, might not like you so much after you eat a whole pan of these).

April 22, 2011

Easter

Happy Good Friday and Easter!  I will be back Monday.  In the meantime here is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of my favorites:

Easter Communion

Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast:
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips,
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu’s; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,

God shall o’er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

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April 20, 2011

Potpourri ~ {phfr}

IMG_8896-3

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She’s so pretty!

Is the mom-gushing too much?  I seem to have lost all capacity to tell.

~~~

So sorry to rub in this California weather, but LOOK at my basil!  Look at it!  Pesto is in my immediate future!  This is happy-making indeed.

~~~

One of the great things about our big family (besides all the love and supportiveness…) is that there is almost no need to buy any baby toy, ever.  We recently got a standing wobble saucer thing that J loves to play in on loan/hand-me-down from a family member.  It had been in the garage so we cleaned it all up and washed it lovingly, all except one stuffed dinosaur thingy that couldn’t be removed, but it isn’t that dirty, after all and anyway it is high up on the side and too hard for her to reach right now.

Famous last words.

~~~

This is about as real as it gets:

Oh my.  Does anyone have baby clothes drawer organizing tips?  I have organized and re-organized this dresser at least once a month since J was born, and yet every time after about a week it goes native again.

Happy Holy Week!  Can’t believe it’s already Thursday.

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April 18, 2011

No-Waiting Cinnamon Rolls

In my Quick Takes on Friday I noted that I had found a recipe for no proofing, no rising cinnamon rolls that I wanted to try.  Lo and behold, on Saturday morning my little bean woke up early giving me the perfect excuse to make them for breakfast.

Since I hadn’t planned on making them beforehand I didn’t shop for any ingredients or anything which is why when I pulled up the recipe, I realized there were some problems.  1) It called for ricotta cheese, of which I had none and 2) it called for a food processor which I also did not have.   The author mentioned she preferred this recipe to another she had tried that hadn’t worked for her, so I clicked on through to that site.  There I discovered that there was no ricotta/food processor requirement, so I went for it.   This is how it went.

Your players:

Pretty basic stuff.

The first thing you do is mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter until it resembles wet sand.

Next you whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate, larger bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder,  baking soda, and salt.

Check on your sous chef.

Looks like a party over there.  Moving on.

In another bowl (medium sized) whisk the buttermilk and melted butter together, then add to the dry ingredients.

Mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.  Note that right now my mixer looks like this:

and that pleases me.  No mixer dishes!   I don’t know why, but washing the mixer bowl and attachments always seems so daunting.

Anyway, once you mix the dough, it will be pretty soft, and look like this:

Turn that out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes, until it looks like this:

The light wasn’t great… early morning.

Shape the dough into a 12×9″ rectangle and pour the remaining two tablespoons of butter over the top, spreading it evenly.

Pour the filling over the top, spreading it out evenly and leaving about an inch border on all sides.

Roll the back edge towards you, keeping a tight roll by moving back and forth at an even pace.  Bring the front up to the top, pinching the edges to seal.

Cut the roll into 8-12 equal pieces, depending on how large you like your cinnamon rolls (I did more like 12).  Place them in a greased cake pan.  Here is a picture of them in the oven, as I forgot to take one on the counter.

They took about 25 minutes to bake and I made the glaze in the meantime.

I have no pictures, but I whisked together 2 oz. mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  I liked the sweet glaze, but I think I’d prefer the tang cream cheese has to the milder flavor of the mascarpone for next time.

Once the rolls come out of the oven, pour the glaze over and let everything get all warm and cozy.  Here is the finished product.

Final verdict: the texture was a little different than normal rolls; a little denser and flakier, but they were good and took about as long to make as some cookies, which is a major bonus in my book.  Try them out on a Saturday morning when you’re up before everyone else with the baby.  People love yummy surprises.

No-Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe by Cooks Illustrated via Gastronomy Blog.  Click the link to get the full recipe!