Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter already?

It's Easter. Well, Easter Eve actually.

It's been so hectic in our house that Easter kind of sneaked up on me. We are having work done on the master bathroom (floors and walls), displacing us and our grooming equipment and spilling its misplaced contents into the rest of the house causing everything to feel off kilter. There is a 6.5 x 3.5-foot mirror leaning against our bedroom dresser. Light fixtures and shower doors lie next to it. We are sharing a bathroom with our 3 year-old. He told me he doesn't want to share with us. Apparently, we're too messy for him. Not to mention that our clothes closets are in the master bathroom, which makes it difficult to get folded laundry put away (I say that like it's not a problem I battle normally). We've had to get clothing out in advance of some floor work to be able to change, thus it is sitting in the bedroom.

Then, I have been ruthless in my Spring Clean Out. I have cleared out, organized, and rearranged most of the pantries, closets, and rooms until my husband is scared to sit still for long lest I might put him in the "go away" pile also. The rest of these items are roosting in the guest room until I get them boxed up and ready to donate or sell. My guest room runneth over.

My office is still in its normal disarray with the added bonus of having extra stuff hanging out temporarily. Oh, and I've been cleaning out old files in there too.

We recently downsized to one vehicle, as well, by getting rid of my car. I think we'll adapt our schedules easily, but it means that there is a little more room in the garage for stuff to collect as well. Life abhors a vacuum, and clutter abhors an empty space.

So our casa is a mess. And while I see the light at the end of the tunnel, this dark part is feeling a little claustrophobic. When I have projects adding up, what do I want to do? Cook, of course. During all of this overhaul and upheaval, my kitchen was the first to get finished and has remained somewhat out of the fray. It is a nice place to keep from pulling my hair out over the other stuff. (Did I mention these projects were all my doing? I either lobbied for them or initiated them.) And while I am in the kitchen, cooking, my back is to the cluttered mess and my mind is occupied on the food. But it also means, some tasks are languishing.

So, here I am on the eve of the most important day on the Christian calendar, and I confess, it has not been at the top of my priorities. But, it has found its way into my kitchen.

Many years ago, I became friends with a woman named Linda, who was a wonderful Christian person, fantastic wife and mother, great cook and baker, terrific teacher, and lovely friend. She taught me a lot about cooking. By the time I met her, I was in college and was starting to gain interest in cooking. I would sit on a bar stool in her kitchen visiting with her while she would whip up dinner or lunch or cake or bread or snacks, and she made it seem almost magical.

I was fortunate to share in the Easter holiday at her house a couple of times. One of her traditions was Easter Sunrise Cinnamon Rolls, which would be baked before sunrise church service and eaten upon returning home from said service. She passed away several years ago but has been on my mind a lot lately. I miss her. This year, I made a batch of her rolls. I'll bake them up in the morning before church. Here is her recipe, mostly in her words. I have noted a couple of modifications I made:

Easter Sunrise Cinnamon Rolls

2 pkgs. (4 ½ tsp) dry yeast*
½ C. warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 C. lukewarm milk
1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. shortening (I used a non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening)
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 egg **
6 C. flour, divided (+ some for kneading)

½ C. oleo (I used butter and only used a ¼ cup – worked great)
½ C. sugar
¼ C. brown sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon

1 C. water
3 Tbs. Oleo (I used butter)
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vinegar

In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, shortening, baking powder, salt, egg and about 3 cups flour. Beat well. Mix in remaining 3 cups flour. Knead about 5 minutes on well-floured board. (I used my stand mixer and added a little flour at a time, taking care not to exceed my mixer's 7 cup capacity.) Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double. Punch down dough; divide into halves. Keep half covered and roll other half into 12x14-inch rectangle. Spread with ½ the softened oleo; sprinkle with half of the mixture of sugars and cinnamon (chopped nuts or raisins may be added at this point). Roll up, beginning at the wide side; pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Stretch roll to make even. Cut roll into 15 slices; place cut side down into greased 13x9x2-inch pan; cover tightly with heavy foil. Place in refrigerator. Repeat with remaining dough.

Early Sunday morning:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil from pans. Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes. While rolls are baking, in a saucepan combine glaze ingredients and simmer until rolls are done. Drizzle glaze over hot rolls. (The glaze makes these rolls!)

Attend Easter Sunrise Service; then enjoy these rolls with the folks you love!

*Yeast- I read an article by someone who tested pre-measured packages of yeast and determined that they can vary widely in their content. One package is supposed to equal 2 ¼ teaspoons. Some packages had more some significantly less. For the most consistent results, use the yeast from a jar and measure for yourself.

**Egg- I accidentally left this out, and I fretted about it for a bit. It reminded my friend Darla of the scene in Julie & Julia in which Julie ponders what difference one egg makes. Since I had already gotten the rolls put together by the time I realized it, I just went with it, figuring, if they came out badly, I'd just remake them. I did a test bake on a few of the rolls, and I must report that they tasted divine. So, egg is optional. Maybe.
That was actually Friday night. Andrew helped. He can hardly wait until tomorrow morning to see how good they are. He's never had a cinnamon roll. Call me "Mommy Frankenstein", because I may be creating a monster considering his taste for sweets. (He told me recently, "Mommy, I love candy and cookie and cake and pie and all sweet things! I'm a sweet little man!" Why yes, yes he is.)

Tonight, Andrew and I made Annie's Resurrection Cookies. We'll see how they turn out tomorrow morning. Walking through the story part was a little difficult since I was talking to a 3 year-old, but he did great helping put the cookies together. I hope it works.

As for now, I am off to bed. I need some sleep for a little renewal. That, and when my eyes are closed, I can't see all the stuff closing in around us.

Happy Easter, friend. May you know the joy of the holiday.