37 – hot rolls, prime numbers and profundity

Once I’ve finished this post this morning, I’m going to put together the dough for a loaf of bread, and use the other half of it to make some hot dog and hamburger buns, using a recipe my mother wrote out for me.

Mama's hot roll recipe.  Good luck!
Mama’s hot roll recipe. Good luck!

If you’ve ever wondered where I got my sense of humor, read the recipe at right.  One of Mama’s favorite stories was telling how a friend had threatened to whip her ass (her words, not mine) because she left out one key ingredient in a shared recipe. The only thing I actually had to add to the ingredient list at right was flour, because she left that off the list.  Kind of a key ingredient.

Mama was an amazing cook, but like most of her generation, was “by guess and by golly” in terms of amounts. Probably at least partially due to the poverty she experienced in her early married years, she often had to just use what she had, so everything was open to variation if needed. It’s one of the reasons I think it’s funny when people on these cooking shows start making blanket statements like “you have to be completely precise about measurements in baking.” Um, not so much. Honestly, one of the best parts of being job-free is that I have the time to try out recipes like this over and over until I get a combination that is right for the stove I’m using and the purposes that I’m using it for at that moment.

Hints, if you decide to do this (skip over this bulleted list if you’re not going to make bread or just don’t care):

  • You shouldn’t start this unless you have at least six cups of flour in hand–and it may take more than that.
  • After the dough rises to about double, punch it down and form it into the shapes/uses you want, whether it’s for a loaf of bread, or whatever. The amount of sugar in this makes it a little sweet for bread dough, but you can cut back on the sugar.
  • Once you’ve shaped it, put it in whatever warm space you’re using and keep an eye on it, as it’s going to rise fast the second time–and only let it rise to about 2/3 as big as you want it, as it’s going to get even bigger once you put it in the oven.
  • Your oven should be at 350 degrees, check to see if they’re done at about the 15-minute mark.
  • You can check doneness on both bread and rolls by tapping with your fingertips–if they sound hollow, and they’re nice and brown, they’re probably done.
  • This is a GREAT recipe for using as the base dough for making cinnamon rolls, but make sure you roll the dough out as thin as you can, as it’s going to rise like mad.
  • Cinnamon rolls are easy – on the rolled-out dough, spread as much butter as you can stand to put on it, sprinkle sugar or brown sugar to cover the butter evenly, but fairly thinly, and then cinnamon. Lots of it.
  • Roll up the dough tightly into a long tube, then cut in about one-and-a-half to two-inch slices, and place in a pan with sides, with room to rise.  A nine-inch cake pan will hold about nine.
  • Good luck. And after looking at all this verbiage around how to make it, I understand why Mama kept instructions to the minimum, who’s got time for all this? 🙂

There’s so much pleasure in seeing my mother’s handwriting on the sepia-colored index card tucked into my recipe book. Her recipe reminds me that my geekiness about numbers and measurements simply complicates things that aren’t in need of that kind of precision. I thought I was the only geeky one about numbers–but reading an article on Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer reveals that I’m in good company.

Unlike Mayer, I happen to love prime numbers.  Remember prime numbers from high school algebra? Those are the numbers that are evenly divisible only by one and themselves. Many of the events with profound ripple effects for my future occurred when my age was a prime number. I left home at 17, and turned 19 in basic training in the US Air Force.  I was 43 when I was elected 1st VP of the DFW Writers’ Workshop, the amazing group of people who helped me understand that I was a writer.  I was 47 when I decided to leave my now ex-husband. And this year, as I decide what to do with my life, I am 53. All very positive things, which is quite reassuring when I’m stumbling around. 🙂

I’m sure there were other things that happened between 19 and 43. When we accidentally flooded the storage compartment in the House McNugget, the only casualty was the only cardboard box in the compartment–which contained 30 years of my journals. Part of me wanted to get upset… but the vast majority of those journals were written by someone else than this me. It’s like the final piece of my baggage to be chucked overboard. Profundities abound.

Profound regards,
Lisa

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