Dec 8, 2009

Freezing Over

It's Sunday when I'm writing this.  The Husband is watching the Saints game.  I'm not watching it.  I'm not big on football.  But even as a non-football-person, I can't help it... I am listening.  I'm listening to our TV and I'm listening to the neighbors 3 houses down who have every single person they know over for every single Saints game.  Yes, I can hear them yelling all the way down here.  And I'm wondering what the heck is going on.  I know what's going on in the game...I mean what's going on with the Saints.  When I was growing up in NO, the Saints were a joke.  People wore paper bags on their heads as they sat in the Superdome.  Ashamed to be seen at the games.  I grew up in the time of the Aints not the Saints.  As in they ain't doin' nothin' this year...same as last year and the year before that.  When my grandpa and my uncles--all huge Saints fans--would talk about the Saints having some kind of a chance, the words "hell freezing over" usually came up.  The Saints have a long history of losses.  But this year they have yet to lose a game.  This year they have clinched their division.  Crazy!

Also crazy is the fact that we just had our second snowfall in as many years...and it was actually enough to do something with.  Snow is a big dang deal here since we (used to) rarely get any.  It snowed the year I was born, my sophomore year in high school, and the winter before Katrina (Christmas Day, actually).  There may have been one other snow event in there that I'm not remembering since I lived out of state for some time.  Last Dec. 11th it snowed. And this year it snowed on Dec. 4th.  And now The Boy thinks that it will snow in December in south Louisiana every year from this point forward. 

Two snow events in two years.  And the Saints winning.  Surely hell is freezing over.


Part of my problem with football is that I can't sit that long and do nothing.  Just ask my family.  I've been told that I can't even relax when I'm relaxing.  On weekends when I'm bored, I play kitchen.  On cold weekends when I'm bored, playing kitchen means baking.  I thought soft pretzels w/ jalapeno cheese dip sounded like some good, solid football food.  And talk about hell freezing over...I come from a long line of Anti-yeast people.  So, the fact that I'm making something that requires yeast and kneading and rising...well it may just snow again and the Saints'll go all the way.

This recipe is from an old Taste of Home magazine.  It is an easy one--my just about 8 year old can make this (almost) on his own.

Mise en place for making Giant Soft Pretzels: active dry yeast, warm water, sugar, table salt, flour, butter, coarse salt

Add yeast to warm water--I use the microwave to warm the water.

~*~The recipe says to then add the sugar and salt and stir.  I had The Boy do that this time for the sake of actually following a recipe.  But the pretzels didn't rise as much as they usually do.  Usually, I add the yeast to the water along with the sugar.  Sugar is food for the yeast and gets them going.  After the mixture foams, I add the flour, salt, and so on.~*~

So, sugar and salt go in, but I'd rather do it like I mentioned above.

Start stirring in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. 

The dough will be very sticky.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface.  With floured hands, knead for about 5 minutes.  If the dough is too sticky to work with, don't be afraid to sprinkle more flour onto it as you work.

Kneading is The Boy's favorite part.

Place the dough in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour...until the dough is double its size.

After the dough rises, punch it down.  That's my favorite part.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into a 14 inch rope.  This is the only part The Boy has trouble with.  That's because you may not really be able to form ropes solely by rolling the dough.  You may have to hold the semi-rope by each end and swing it like a jump rope to get it stretched out.

Sounds more complicated than it is.  It's really just a few wrist flicks worth of work.

Next, bring each end of each rope towards the center to form pretzels.  Place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 425 for 15-20 minuts, or until golden brown.  Serve as is or with Jalapeno Cheese Sauce.

Five minutes later...

Giant Pretzels
from Taste of Home
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 ½ tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted (you may not need all of this)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar and salt. * See note below.  Stir in flour, ½ cup at a time, to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead, with floured hands, until smooth and elastic (about 5 min). Dough will be sticky. Place in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour).
Punch dough down and divide into six portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 14 inch rope. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Place on greased baking sheets. Brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425 for 15-20 min, or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack. Serve warm.

Notes: I like to proof the yeast first by adding the yeast and sugar to the warm water.  Let this sit until foamy, then add the salt with the flour.  I think this results in a better rise.

1 comment:

  1. You cracked me up about the snow, the saints, and hell freezing over. I didn't know that it ever snowed in NO. Yeast is a new thing for me and I need major practice with it. I definitely agree with you about letting your yeast proof with the sugar first. I guess salt kills yeast so it makes more since to do it "our way", right? I love the pretzels and the jalapeno cheese sauce. My husband likes to put chopped up jalapeno in the pretzel dough, but I'd rather dunk my pretzel in that jalapeno cheese sauce :D
    I made the Almost-Famous Soft Pretzels from Food Network a couple times and they are a lot like the Auntie Anne's pretzels in the mall. You all might like that recipe too.

    I'll be watching the weather for your area, you might need me to send you a snow shovel and a snow scraper for your car - LOL!


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