Honestly, this intimidates me. I am a wimp when it comes to vulnerability and plain ol' group discussion. Luckily, we drew names from a hat the first night, and my name was not drawn. Whew! It was Peter who had to begin. Sucka! Just kidding.
I can't really describe it, but listening and responding to him tell the story of his life was amazing. He has a very interesting and different story than myself and I felt like it was a blessing to be guided through someone's journey. I am really excited to hear the next one. Hopefully it won't be me just yet. Not that my story isn't interesting, I just get caught up in "What do I say?" "Where do I begin?". I need to stop worrying and start talking, I guess. If you don't know, my continual analysis of a situation is a dead giveaway of my nervousness.
I'm sitting in my LR, blogging and watching life happen outside of my beautiful bay windows. The approaching sky is black and there is, for now, a gentle breeze blowing on my greasy hair, dragon breath, I-woke-up-two-hours-ago-and-haven't-thought-about-personal-hygiene-once self. It's a heavenly breeze. One that you feel and chills run up and down your spine, not because it's cooling, but because it's a breath of fresh air, the feeling of autumn on the horizon, or the realization that you are alive right now. I think it's the breath of God.
So, back to life stories.
All I have just told you is a prelude to what I'm really trying to get at.
Peter shared his life story with us last Wednesday. Yesterday, his parents drove all the way from Georgia to visit him for a day, on their way to Rhode Island to be a part of his brother's graduation from the navy?! I can't remember which branch of the military it is. Regardless, his parents were here. They are wonderful, beautiful people that I had met only once before.
They were missonaries in Ghana, Africa for 25+ years. Peter was raised there. Contrary to popular belief, though Peter and his family are from Africa, they are white. Not all people from Africa are black. I hope I have expanded your world view with this bit of information. Back to the story....His dad is a doctor from Georgia, and his mom is a nurse from Sweden. Elisabeth, his mother, speaks many languages, including Arabic and English (very fluently), but she still holds onto that sweet Swedish accent. I could listen to her talk for hours. She's so cute.
A couple of years ago, Peter introduced us to one of the many brilliant customs of the Swedes. They call it Fika (fee-ka). If you love coffee/tea and sweets at any time of the day, this is the tradition for you, your friends and family. Think of it as a coffee break + social gathering. We fika a lot around here. Since his parents were in town and we wouldn't be able to hang out with them until later, we decided to honor the timeless Swedish ritual of Fika. I had made some killer English toffee earlier in the week and we had a slice of store bought pineapple pound cake.
I was not satisfied with those two treats being our only selection, so I did a little research and discovered there are several traditional Swedish sweets that are served, probably all of the time but especially for Fika. The one that caught my eye was "Bullar" (Boo-LAR).
Now what do these look like to you??? Cinnamon Rolls!! You're right! How easy! I could just purchase some store bought cinnamon rolls, stick them in the oven and voila! The American version of a Swedish pastry at it's finest.
I am disappointed/laughing at you if you think that's what I would do. Not that I wouldn't have done that two months ago after getting home from working an eight hour day. Presently, I have way too much time on my hands to look for shortcuts. And I must confess that I LOVE baking, but more specifically I have acquired a deep affection for the phenomena of yeast activated dough. Letting it rise is a thrilling process for me. I am amazed every time I lift the dish towel to discover that this lump of mush has just doubled in size! Whoa!
It all started with my friend Amy's bread baking skills. I admire her.
Needless to say, my cinnamon rolls were not store bought, they were from scratch. And who better to guide you through a made-from-scratch recipe than The Pioneer Woman herself.
Look at these babies!
I wish I had a picture of my successful attempt at making these delicious rolls, but there were eaten too quickly. Not that I'm complaining.
I must warn you, The Pioneer Woman's recipe makes 7 PANS of these guys. I was forced to summon my 5th grade math skills in order to decrease the amount of cinnamon rolls down to 2 pans. Fractions intimidate me. I will say, I must have done a pretty good job dividing things up because these little goodies were to-die-for!
Here's the breakdown:
It makes two pans. Approximately 18 cavities.
1c. whole milk
1/4c. vegetable oil
1/2 package active dry yeast
2-1/4c. all purpose flour (the 1/4c. is separate and added later in the recipe)
1/4tsp. (heaping) baking powder
1/4tsp. (scant) baking soda
1TBS. (heaping) salt
1/2c. or 1 stick of melted butter
lots of cinnamon...depends on your taste preferences
1c. powdered sugar
1/2tsp. maple flavor
1TBS. brewed coffee
pinch of salt
I ended up going back doubling the glaze because it was so good.
The end result was very satisfying. I got to partake in kneading and rolling the dough and watching it rise, not once but twice. The second rise was after they were in cinnamon roll form. They filled that round pan like that's what they were made to do. After our fika, between the decaf coffee (with creamer!) and all the pastries and sweets, my bottom was feeling nice and round. And jiggly.
I would like to make these again. All SEVEN pans. How's Labor Day Weekend sound? Great, I'll be there.
I'll try to take some photos on my next attempt. Why? Because it's fun. Am I good at it? HECKS NO!