Friday, July 29, 2016

The Circle of Life

I am faced with the decision to euthanize or not to euthanize my Miss Sugar. She has been my constant companion for the past 13 years. Good and bad we have been through it together. Her first trip was to Nova Scotia. A semi-truck passing me on the highway terrified her. It took all of those two weeks across the continent for her to be comfortable in the car.

We have been down to Tennessee and that's where she picked up the Miss in Miss Sugar. She is a true belle. Today I found her a baby mouse in my garden and she turned her nose up at it. Only the healthiest cat kibbles for her. 

And at this same time we are moving my 90 year old father back to Saskatchewan. Juxtapose my ailing cat with my ailing father gives an interesting image. I wonder if my father wants to choose death? I watch my dear Sugar wither away and her spirit is broken. She is putting in time. I wonder if my father feels he is putting in time.

One difference is that I can communicate more effectively with my father than my kitten. I can ask and be answered in a language I understand.

Perhaps. I had a conversation with Sugar last night while I was uncontrollably sobbing. We have this way of having a chat. After she stops her throaty discourse I begin telling her my problems. When she is ready to talk again, I stop. And so it goes, back and forth. Forth and back. Until we have had our say. Last night as I sobbed her voice was strong and the more I sobbed the stronger her voice became. There was nothing more for me to say so I had to stop sobbing. She stopped talking, too. We sat there cuddling without words for a good length of time. Call me crazy but I think she was telling me to buck up. It isn't the end of my world, only hers. My life will go on without her.

The only way I can connect this to food is to channel comfort food. What is more comforting than cinnamon buns. I rarely divulge my market recipes but I am doing it today. These are the absolute best cinnamon buns.

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls
  • 4 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 8 c. (plus 1 c. reserved) all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping tsp. baking powder
  • 1 scant tsp. baking soda
  • 1 heaping tbsp. salt
  • 1 c. melted butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • cinnamon
  • Maple Frosting
  • approx. 8 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. maple flavoring
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. brewed coffee
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar.
Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Cut into 1-inch slices. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter onto the bottom of a sheet pan. Place the sliced rolls in the pan, being careful not to overcrowd.
This will make about 30 rolls and can be made in disposable foil pans or a large sheet pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, maple flavouring, and salt. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.