Thursday, January 3, 2008

Weird Landscape?

Some weird landscape, eh? My son suggested I take a picture of this weirdness. So I did. My husband said it looked very "artsy". I should maybe make a poster. In case you haven't guessed just where this lovely landscape is located--but you've probably come very close to doing so--you could have stumbled upon it in my kitchen the day after Christmas. Yes. It is a 13" by 9" pan of cinnamon rolls just prior to entering a 400 degree oven! Oh, the curelty of it all! Not. They were delicious. Quite delicious. And here it is a week later and they and all their cousins in another, yet smaller pan have disappeared. My husband was very sad to learn that fact last evening when he was looking for a sweet treat. He thought it exceedingly unfair. Guess I'll have to make some more. After. After I get some more sour cream. Yes, they are made with sour cream in the dough. I did mention that they were delicious.

If I get really brave, I'll make some more and maybe enter the recipe for others to try. I've been making the recipe for probably over forty years. Eeeeehhhh! I said it! Actually, when I first endeavored to make a sweet treat like this for the first time, I was knocking on the door of my 18th birthday. It was Christmas time--it's been a yearly Christmas tradition since. But I'd found a recipe for some kind of cool looking braided, cherry, Christmas yeast dough dessert thingy. It may have had sour cream in the dough, I honestly don't remember--you know, the older brain issues I have and all.

At any rate, being adventurous and all about cooking--I inherited it--the adventurousness of cooking family tradition some of my forefathers, and/or foremothers apparently had. That was kind of in the days when my mother still tackled cooking. Mom ALWAYS encouraged me to be involved in cooking. She made some things I still remember and would love to eat. But, she never seemed too happy with having to. My dad actually taught her how to, but I digress!

Back to the cinnamon rolls saga: When I was fifteen, and living in Texas, on a huge Army post, I had a friend who lived a couple of doors down from us, and her mom was a great cook. She made these great, crescent shaped cinnamon rolls for her family--and some of us who were lucky enough to be invited to sample her cooking! I'd watched my friend make her Mom's recipe, so since it was mouth-wateringly delicious, I called her up--after my 18th birthday, at some point, because we were living miles, and miles away from each other at that point--and asked if she were allowed to share that most delicious recipe.

Long story short: I learned that they used potato water in their recipe. It was great and I tried it a few times, and I'll be forever grateful to their family for sharing their most awesome recipe with me. But, I have this nasty habit of tweaking recipes to fit my own spectrum of cooking tastes, or whatever you call it. Anyway, as I fiddled with the potato water recipe, I remembered the cherry, braided dough Christmasy thingy I'd made at almost 18. It had sour cream in it. I liked the sour cream taste of it. It was yummy. So I put my inherited cooking talents, abilities and interests to work. I substituted. I did. I put sour cream and butter in rather than potato water and, well, maybe butter. I don't remember. Ooops. My memories issues. My son could go on for days. Heck, my daughters and my husband could--and probably will for the remainder of my life--go on for days about all the things I've forgotten or can't remember or whatever. Family! You gotta luv 'em. And I do. When I REMEMBER to do that. Actually, I never forget that I love them. They may question my methods, but I hope they know I love them. Dearly! Every cotton-pickin' one of 'em! Especially my husband. And my daughters. And my son-in-law. And my son. And especially my three grandchildren. They're super. They're very cute and exceptionally intelligent. And did I say cute? Well, they are. And I do love them.

OK. The sweetrolls. Back to the sweetrolls. I remember making them. Humungous piles of these tasty little love bites one year for Christmas presents. I'd made them at home a time or two, tweaking the recipe, as I mentioned earlier, and had my younger six and older one sibling hooked on them. Not to exclude myself from being hooked. ON them. Well, you understand.

Since I was newly married in 1970, my husband was in school, and we lived fifty thousand miles away from my family, and we had little $$$, I decided the best thing to do was to bake goodies for my family back home, my in-laws, my co-workers and some friends.

One of the first things I learned about this recipe on that particular occasion--since it is a yeast dough based goodie--if you leave it around very long while you make humungous piles of the stuff, the dough rises, over and over and over and as it sits around rising over and over again, it starts to ferment. It's a natural process. I mean you combine flour, water, yeast, sugar--lots of sugar--and all the other stuff, yes. The sour cream. And the butter. But it's mostly the sugar, and the yeast acting with the flour and you achieve fermentation. Well, it turned out to be an added bonus, I learned, AFTER being devastated that I couldn't roll out huge circles of dough, butter and cinnamon sugar them fast enough to keep ahead of the fermentation process. So, I resigned myself to failure. Turned out, it really made them tastier. Nowadays, I refuse to roll out the first batch of dough until I can smell the fermentation taking place.

The great thing--or troubling thing as it was at first--was that this dough will continue to rise in the refrigerator! I can't tell you how many pounds of dough, over the years, I've had to toss because it flowed over the boundries established as being reasonable and just--for being able to use to eat.

So that's about it. My family back home, my new family of in-laws, my co-workers, and friends couldn't get enough. My family back home demanded them every Christmas, until my little sister took up the challenge one year when I was either too busy or too lazy or too something to make the blasted cinnamon things and I shared my recipe with her. She told me just last night, I think it was, that family members, especially my youngest brother--who's getting married on my birthday in less than two weeks--Christmas just wasn't the same if she--SHE--didn't make HER sweet rolls for them. She told me that she reminded them (him) it was MY sweet roll recipe. At least, that's what she told me. I don't know. Her recipe probably morphed differently than mine has over the past thirty years that she's been making the gooey, yummy, cinnamon . . . . . . . Yeah. You get the point.

Now after all this thought and expression, I'll probably have to take myself into the kitchen at some point in time today, and make another batch of the cinnamon, sugary, slightly yeasty, fermented, pastry thingies. Sigh. They smell so good rising. Baking. I can almost smell the heavenly aroma now! Ya'll have a great day! OH!!! and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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