no-knead swedish tea ring, and arizona

swedish tea ring

So it’s funny. The last recipe that I intended to write about was a cinnamon bun recipe, featuring a coffee glaze. I forgot about it, and it long ago rotted in the hallowed back halls of this blog. I just discovered it today, when I felt a drive to bring you this significant cinnamon bun tea ring featuring a coffee glaze.

What can I say, I’m good with repetitive patterns.

swedish tea ring

Food is great, but let’s quick get to the recipe so that I can tell you about all the things of actual factual importance that I’ve had going on as of late. This dough is kickass because you let it sit around in your fridge while you pet your cat, and dance to pop music with 5-pound weights flailing about, and peer out your window at the frigid temps whilst deciding that today is a good day to stay in your jammies.

No kneading! There’s cardamom in the dough, and a filling of cinnamon, a bit more cardamom, and chopped up almonds. Topping this majesty is a coffee glaze to which I added a bit of espresso powder. The more the merrier says this usually anti-coffee consumer.

Swedish Tea Ring — Vetekrans

Adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. Great it is, it is great.

2 packages active dry yeast
1 c. warm water, 105F to 115F
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
4 to 4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 c. almonds, chopped

For the glaze:

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp hot coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp espresso powder

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar, let stand 5 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt, cardamom, and 4 cups of flour until combined. Cover and stick in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. Proceed to party.

Turn dough onto floured surface and roll to a 20- to 24-inch square. Spread softened butter across dough. Top with a mix of the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Sprinkle almonds over sugar. Roll up jelly roll-style.

Grease a baking sheet and place roll on it, shaping into a ring or an oval depending on the size of your pan. Pinch ends together to close circle. With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1″ intervals. Turn each piece so the cut side is exposed. Let rise until almost doubled.

Heat oven to 375F. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Mix glaze ingredients, top tea right while hot. Serve with coffee because that is what the Goddess Beatrice recommends.

swedish tea ring

So let’s get to the real magic, my life.

After much hesitation and embarrassment surrounding an in-person purchase, I bought One Direction’s first three albums online and have been devouring them nonstop all week. I mean nonstop, too, cause when they’re not on the CD player they’re on in my head. I think it’s a sickness. Like Eli said, it’s too bad I never get sick of the music I listen to – though I normally try to think of this as a gift, I fully understand his position.

one direction
Love the clever pre-teen who pretended to sign the booklet, then added humorous commentary.

Speaking of Eli – we’re engaged! Yeah!!

[oops, hold on, I have to restart my One Direction CD.]

treasure huntringy ring

Eli made a treasure hunt for me in our garage, which ended in a ring hidden in some dirty old sneakers. What a babein’ dude. Treasure hunts and mind games have long been drilled into me as the most enjoyable way to give gifts, so it’s bitchin that he’s not only risen to the occasion, but has also taken it next level. This second picture is more for me than for you, because my ring has been at the jeweler’s in Portland getting LAAASER WELDED for omg two weeks at this point, and I’ve pretty much forgotten what it looks like (pretty!) and feels like (nice!) and sounds like (…silence) and tastes like (love).

Moving on. We spent the holidays in Arizona with my parents, but I made a mess of everything by nearly blinding myself, and spent the remainder of the vacation with my eyes closed, pitifully asking “any food left on my plate?” and sitting around feeling like an invalid, being led from Points A to B, wearing old person sunglasses, pretending my other senses were growing sharper (which they weren’t).

Still, when I had the gift of sight, it was a really beautiful place. Really really beautiful, I can’t stress enough how glad I am that we were able to go. Warm sun, a buttload of cactus, all kinds of purty birds, and tasty Mexican food, plus I got to go biking on my last day which was ironic and cathartic all in one, given that I originally blinded myself while prepping to go biking.

Enjoy a few photos from our trip – again, these are more for me than for you:)

Damn, I miss that sun.

cactuscactuscactuscactuscactusvistacactusfamilypotbikesrock paper scissorsmmmmmvista

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bacon cinnamon roll cookies

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

The word bacon used to strike fear into my heart. Not positive terror like the words pork chop, nor definite disinterest like hot dog, nor middling boredom like potato chips. Just good old fashioned fear. The announcement that BLTs were for dinner made me feel nauseous. Forget about a delicious fatty weekend breakfast – or breakfeast, more like it. My mum tried to trick me into thinking turkey bacon was the more awesome counterpart to the bacon I found gross and unpalatable (because less sodium and fewer calories equals better taste…?), forgetting that Thanksgiving turkey was #1 on my Foods Most Unwanted list.

Life as a picky eater has been a long and difficult road. While my journey isn’t quite over, my 20s has been all about coming to terms with the endless list of foods that I heretofore wrote off without a second thought. Chicken. Cookies. Cake. Butter on pancakes. Butter on toast. Hamburgers. Steak. Wild rice. Potatoes. Milk. Several kinds of cheese. Broccoli and cauliflower. And of course, the aforementioned bacon.

The day that I fell in love with bacon was the best day in the world.

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

It was Spring Semester 2008, my Junior year in college. Near the end of every scholastic year, the club that I was most involved with on campus held a blowout all-day celebration, beginning with a pancake breakfast, continuing on with timbersports (read: wannabe lumberjacks throwing axes, pushing about logs, spitting tobacco), and ending with a formal banquet. The pancake breakfast has long been cooked and served by the department faculty, in a delightful twist of duty. Backtracking to 2008, I had just taken over as Forestry Club president, having been elected upon an Obama spin-off campaign slogan of “Yes Tree Can!” My comparatively-painless presidential duties included overseeing the pancake breakfast. However, I had a Remote Sensing lecture that overlapped with a good portion of the breakfast.

And here is where I tell you that up until that day, I had never cut class. Not once. Sure, I had been absent for each and every class since the dawn of time for a variety of reasons, but each and every one was premeditated, and often based on some sort of illness. It had never even occurred to me to skip class. The closest I got was skipping a pep rally in high school (before my school outlawed pep rallies), and even then, I felt my blood pressure increase alarmingly and damn, but I felt guilty.

So here I am, 2008, crossing the threshold into my lecture, resigned that I will miss out on my first elected duty, when some mental switch flips. My eyebrows raise in alarm as my feet halt, then backtrack, and finally turn around and exit the classroom. I make my way to the pancake breakfast, feeling ridiculously giddy and also a mite peckish. The world suddenly seems more colorful, more alive. My senses are heightened, and all of a sudden, I smell something. Something savory, and fatty, and unmistakably caloric. I smell bacon. I come face to face with it. It sits there, sparkling with grease. I sidle up next to it, and take one piece. I nibble it. I grab a second piece, and chomp it down. I take a third, and a fourth, and devour them.

I must have eaten 20 pieces of bacon that morning. They tasted like freedom.

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BaconBadge14-v2

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Enter Bacon Week 2014. My pal Mary has been doing this Clogged Artery Week for a few years now, and I’ve enjoyed playing along, given that I came to my senses in 2008 and realized what’s up. In case you missed my lengthy preamble, it’s bacon, you guys. In 2012, I contributed Potato Bacon Breakfast Churros served in the world’s cutest bowl made of bacon. And last year, sticking with a theme of cuteness+calory overload, it was Deep Fried Waffles with Maple Bacon Buttercream served in ‘bacon muffinettes.’

This year I went with something a little easier to throw together, though equal in tastiness. A few weeks back I had sketched out several dessert ideas that seemed ingenious to my simple mind. One was for these bacon cinnamon roll cookies. About ten minutes after that life-altering moment, literally, I was cruising the internet and saw like nine different recipes for cinnamon roll cookies just like these. So while I may not be unique or on top of trends, at least I have bacon.

Bacon Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Will yield 24-28 cookies

++Ingredients:++

For the dough:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 tbsp bacon fat
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour

For the filling:
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 strips candied bacon (Yummy Supper’s recipe will yield 8 strips, a perfect baking use: mouth use ratio)
1/2 tsp water

++Directions:++

In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, bacon fat, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Add in the flour and mix until the dough comes together. On a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, flatten dough. Cover with a second large sheet of parchment or plastic wrap, and roll out into a 9 x 14″ rectangle. Freeze on a baking sheet until well chilled, 20 minutes.

In a food processor, grind the sugar and cinnamon together. Add in candied bacon, and pulse until combined and fine. Add 1/2 tsp water if mixture is too dry.

Remove dough from freezer and allow to warm up for 2-5 minutes. Slather dough with bacon mixture, evenly coating the dough’s surface. Starting with a long edge roll the dough carefully into a log, using the bottom piece of plastic wrap to encourage the log to roll. Smooth out any cracks that develop in the dough as you roll. Once in a log, roll back and forth over the seam several times to seal it. Re-wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and freeze until firm, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment paper. Use a trustworthy knife to cut the log into just-under-1/2-inch slices. Transfer cookies to baking sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown on the undersides and edges. Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks.

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

It’s been an exciting few weeks! I got the chance to interact with a veneer (log) buyer, who taught me quite a bit about log valuation and what I can look for to maximize my wood utilization and timber values.

After a year of silence, we got a new record player up and running, for a total cost of 0 dollars. Now I can listen to Steely Dan and Morris Day each and every day, and my days are bright and sunny (though my vocabulary has seemingly suffered).

And it truly is sunny here from time to time, though we continue to be pummeled by snow. We managed to escape down to New Hampshire for a work conference this week, where we spent a few nights IN A CASTLE.

castle winter veneer

lazy cinnamon applesauce

A lot of the recipes I craft involve somewhat crazy ingredients, or a crazy multi-step process. Replace crazy with lazy, and you have the applesauce recipe here that requires close to no thinking. A little bit of prep work, an hour’s worth of cooking, and that’s it. Delicious, beautifully-colored applesauce, without any food dye.

How? I left the skin on, of course. I’ve made it pretty clear in the past that if an ingredient doesn’t absolutely need to be peeled, I don’t bother. Example the 1st: Almonds in madeleines. Example the 2nd: Squash in Pierogi. Example Now: This applesauce.

Of all the batches of applesauce that I’ve made, I’ve never once left the skin on until now. The funny thing about this is that I’ve long treasured eating apple peel. I adore it – long strands fresh off the peeler, devoured in an instant. So why get rid of that tastiness? Everyone knows that’s where the nutrients are, anyway.

The best part of this recipe? There’s hardly anything else in it. Gone are the days where I add water, followed by a hearty (but not healthy) dose of refined sugar. This time, I added a cup of apple cider. The perfect liquid and sweetener, all in one. The only other ingredient I added was cinnamon – use it if you’d like to, or let your apples speak for themselves.

Since this recipe is so easy peasy, it leaves us plenty of time to discuss other things. Like this 1965 Mamiya C33 Professional Twin-Lens Reflex camera that I was so kindly gifted over the weekend. I’m still figuring out how to use it, but once I get my hands on some 120 film, rest assured that you will be hearing a wee bit more from me on the subject.

Or perhaps you were wondering what blue potatoes look like after they’ve been put through an industrial-grade peeler for 20 seconds. If so, wonder no more. Aren’t they nifty? They look like an in-progress batik project.

Or maybe you were curious about the chocolate I’ve been eating lately. In that case, I would refer you to the following: one Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee bar with Butter and Sea Salt.

It’s incredibly enjoyable. Toasty roast and crunchy chewy. It was on sale for $2.99. And I like their new packaging. My only complaint is that the bar had bloomed, but perhaps that’s why it was on sale.

Or lastly, you may have been hoping that I have some more Potato of the Day pictures that didn’t make the cut. I do! You are so lucky.

Here is a self-propelled foot, ironically walking across my dying clutch, indicating what I may someday soon be doing much more of. Just kidding, my car is running fine (I hope).

So, that easy recipe. If you haven’t before made applesauce with the peels incorporated, you have to try it. And then you have to let me know if you prefer it – because I certainly do.

Lazy Cinnamon Applesauce {Recipe by myself}

Makes 5 cups

4 lbs (~15 small) apples, I used Spartans
1 c. apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon

On a cutting board, core the apples. I used a coring device for this, but could as easily have done it by hand. Once apples are in slices, cut into thirds if desired (this will decrease your cooking time). In a large pot, combine apples and apple cider. Cook over medium or low medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Apples should be turning saucey, and breaking down.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (alternatively, blend in a blender, likely in two batches). Add cinnamon, and mix well. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Eat within a week if stored in the fridge. May be frozen in a well-sealed container for several months, or may be canned in a hot water bath and stored semi-indefinitely. For an amount this small, I wouldn’t bother canning. If you double the recipe, though, canning is likely your most appealing route.