Friday, September 27, 2013

And That's... One To Grow On.

Let's face it.  We all struggle with things.  Whether it's finances, career, weight, self-image, or the New York Times crossword puzzle. Or, all of these things.

This week I have struggled with Social Media.  More specifically, using social media as my own personal dumping ground.  I have written post after post after post and stared.  Isn't my life Awesome?  Yes, yes it is.  Should I share my struggles with everyone and let them know I'm human? Maybe.  But that's like giving an Automatic Photon Blaster to a heavily caffeinated solider.  Someone may get hurt in the crossfire.

So, I paused to think about what I was doing.  I prayed about it.  It was a small thing, but splinters still hurt right?  I was fine, Mrs. Awesome was fine, Little Awesome was fine.  I've seen that Pinterest pin that says something along the lines of, "Most of my problems are made up scenarios in my head".  That is me 99% of the time.  Did I need to let everyone in the cosmos know that I was worried about things in my life? How about this?

Dear Cosmos and Planet Earth, I worry about stuff.  I worry about the same stuff you worry about.  Sometimes quite a bit.

Mrs. Awesome has a tendency to know when I'm worried.  She tells me that everything is going to be alright, and she is right.  Everything will be alright, because usually one of two things happens and sometimes both.

1) Either it works itself out, or you find a way to fix it or make it work


2) It's something you can't control, and/or it wasn't worth worrying about in the first place.

In this case, #2 won out this time and after a day or two of pondering the issue I realized that it didn't merit the energy I was pouring into the worry.  As Stuart Smalley would say, I'm good enough, smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.

Will I ever stop worrying?  Probably not.  But every day is an opportunity to see how Awesome life truly is.
So, yes, I am Awesome - I have flaws, and I may have baggage.  But I have a great family, and great friends.  I have a great deal to be thankful for and that requires daily evaluation and daily acknowledgement.  And that. is. Awesome.

We're All Cinn-ers Here.


I think by now my faithful readers have figured out that I enjoy cooking.  Some would say a little too much.

My cooking ability, while not Michelin Star quality (yet) is one of the few things that I am beginning to realize that I do exceptionally well.  Not to mention, when I am in the kitchen listening to music and whipping up a delight for my family and the select few who become my critics - I am truly, and blissfully happy and content.

I conducted a Facebook poll last week to see what Culinary Delight I should whip up this past weekend and Cinnamon Rolls won the vote.  I have never made Cinnamon Rolls before... I'm frightened.

Walk up to any Cinnabon in the mall and you are cold cocked hit in the face with the most glorious smell.  Angels in Heaven surely must smell like a mixture of Cinnamon Rolls, Lavender, BBQ smoke, Bacon, and Leather. Or do the smells take turns?

So I set out to find the perfect Cinnamon Roll Recipe.  Normally I would turn to my trusted friend, Alton Brown, but something told me to venture out beyond my comfort zone.  So, I looked towards another friend, Laura Vitale and  I used Laura's bun recipe and Allrecipes version of the frosting.

We began the night before we actually wanted to eat the rolls... See? It even begins like a fairy tale! Break out your bowl and add your yeast, sugar, and water. Give it a stir and let it sit for ten minutes.  Yes, there is a lot of waiting in this recipe.  Use your time wisely to be Awesome! Go write a poem, or register for the Winter term at school, write down your goals for next week, pet your dog, but don't dog your pet it's rude.  A lot can happen in ten minutes, and your yeast mixture will be bubbly and sticky and smell like beer and that's okay.

Add your eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla and mix that up with your mixer.  I found a Kitchen-Aid refurbish on Ebay a while ago and I've never regretted it for a second.  Then, slowly, one cup at a time, add your flour.  You've seen this in cookbooks your whole life and you've always had the urge to be a Rebel this time.  Please don't.

You want this. 

To look like this.  

Not this.

After you've kneaded your dough for about 5-7 minutes, grease up a bowl and put your dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and put it in a draft free place.  I usually place mine in the oven because it's well insulated and it just seems like the right thing to do.

After a good night's rest your dough should indeed look like this... 
For those of you who are die hard's like me, give the dough a good smell.  The scent should remind you of a respectful bakery down the street.  Now, pat yourself on the back.  Good job.

Find a rather large flat surface and dust it with flour, punch down your dough and scrape it out of the bowl onto the work surface.  Lightly dust the top and roll your dough out into a rectangular-ish shape.

Now, you can mix your brown sugar and cinnamon together.  I put mine in a small tupperware and shook it.  I sang a little tune and Little Awesome asked me to please stop.

Spread some butter on your rectangle and sprinkle your sugar mixture on the rectangle leaving about a half to a quarter inch at the end non-buttered and non-sprinkled.  Press the sugar mixture down into your dough.

Now, tightly roll your dough up into a cylindrical shape, start with one side and move your way over into it is tightly wound.  Some folks will say stay in the center and roll but I think that allows for the sides to go rogue and you're left with guerrilla cinnamon rushing for freedom out the sides and who really wants that early in the morning?

Here is your finished product placed on a cutting board.

Slice your cinnamon rolls, wiping your knife between each slice.  Yes, it's extra work, but yes it's important, and yes you will be pleased.  I promise.  Place your cinnamon rolls in a well greased tray. Let them rest covered for 30 minutes.  Start your oven at 350 degrees.  Once your 30 minutes is up, bake for 30 minutes, which will allow you time to make the glaze.

Mix the cream cheese, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar together.  There should not be any lumps.

Take the cinnamon rolls out and turn the dish over to coat the rolls with any of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture that may have leaked out.  Then coat with your glaze.  The finished product with look something like this...

The cinnamon roll exceeded my expectations for the first time out.  Try it served with vanilla ice cream.  Is this recipe labor intensive?  Yes.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.  Will I make these again?  Already planning on it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Note to Little Awesome

I imagine that this will be the first of many notes that I will place here.  It is my hope that one day when I am older, and slightly crankier, that L.A. will read these and get something from them.  I'm certain at times that I may contradict myself as I go along - but I think that is part of growing, you learn that sometimes what you thought you knew wasn't necessarily the best thing (not that it was a bad thing to begin with perhaps) but that you evolved into something new and more luminous.

I am, for the most part, a list maker.  I have scribbles of lists on post it notes everywhere I tend to go.  At home.  At work.  Sometimes in the car.  From groceries, to ideas - some grow legs or wings, some get left behind, forgotten.  Goals. Appointments.  But sometimes I leave snippets of notes for things I'm thankful for.  When these lists are made I try and be specific.  It's too easy to do the umbrella gratitude:

"I'm thankful for my car, my house... my life."

"I'm thankful for my family, my wife, my son, my dogs."

I want to attempt to be specific, it's like saying, "I love you." You can say "I love you" so many times to the people you love and in time it can become like a breath mint.  It tastes sweet for a time and then it fades, which is okay because you have a whole pack in your pocket.  I fear that the phrase can lose its value.  So, when I write my lists I write things like, "Laughter, that sexy way she stands at the sink when getting ready for bed, that little strand of hair that seems to find its way down her face when her hair is pulled back." Trivial things maybe to her but Snap into a Slim Jim awesome for me. I mentally hold onto these things when I say, "I love you" because it holds value, I'm conscious in the moment that I am actively feeling those things when I say the phrase. I want to perpetually and actively love my wife and family on a daily basis even when we disagree because at the end of the day when the lights go out I want to know that the love I have in my heart is dancing and not coasting.

These past few months have been exciting times in my son's life - full of discovery and wonder.  He just recently found his feet and has discovered how to pull his socks off.  He's so intent on every little thing that he does and smiles so big constantly.  Even at 3 in the morning when we're so exhausted, he's there, smiling.  Happy that we're giving him food and making goo goo noises.

It is my hope that he approaches his life with that same level of discovery and wonder.  I hope that I can be the father he deserves.  I hope that he can be actively thankful for his life and the things in it early in his life.  I hope that when he hears "I love you." from his mom and dad, he can sense the long list of memories behind it. We mean every word.