Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cinnamon Soft Pretzels and Oh, Some Life Changes.

I know, it's been forever.   It's a good thing my livelihood doesn't depend on writing new posts and updating my blog.  There hasn't been tons going on in the kitchen because there's been a lot of this going on....

I really hate packing.  This hasn't been the everyday run-of-the-mill packing either, this time around it's involved selling furniture, booking storage and donating as much as possible--all still part of the "simplify" new years resolution.     And oh yeah, I gave notice last month and bought a one way ticket to Italy.

At the end of July, I'm heading to NY for a week and then it's off to Italy to study some Italian language and history and get a refresher on Renaissance art history. The former Liberal Arts major in me sings "hallelujah."  I'm signed up for a couple of months of intensive total immersion Italian lessons but the biggest plan is to not have any plans--you know, just live a little dolce vita for a bit.  Tranquilo. 

I bought a one-way ticket but I know I have to come back.  The biggest deterrent to this whole adventure was not the part where I quit a stable job that paid the mortgage, but rather thinking about leaving this one....

Finding an acceptable option for Brooklyn was really tough.  Really, really ridiculously tough.  I considered taking her because even with a full ticket, it was cheaper than boarding but smush face dogs aren't very welcome by the airlines.   I talked to quite a few people and long term boarding facilities before finally finding some great people to care for her.  I knew I'd stay home before I'd let her be kenneled for long periods of time each day so it had to be an in-home option with someone who likes loves dogs,  iand very importantly, someone who would definitely give me my dog back when I came back.  You'd think that would be a given but I swear I talked to a woman who was a self-declared "BT Addict" and got the sense I'd never see Brooklyn again if I went with her.   Just like everything else in the planning of this trip, it all eventually worked out.   I do feel so guilty though and already miss this peanut if that's possible.  

So between finding boarding and scheduling everything from movers to cleaners and running a bazillion and one errands, cooking has gone by the wayside.  That is of course except when I come across an abundance of ingredients that I feel guilty about throwing a half-full 25lb bag of flour.  Yikes.  

Luckily, pretzels are one of the easiest doughs to make and when covered with cinnamon sugar are seriously one of the best things ever.  This is the same recipe I posted last year for the pretzel dogs(the same recipe that everyone's posted really).  Pretzel dough is just that flexible. 

Rolling this dough into balls makes some pretty awesome pretzel rolls as well. 

Cinnamon Soft Pretzels


1.5 c warm  water (about 110-115ºF)
1 tbsp sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4.5 c all-purpose flour
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
12 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 stick of melted butter
1/2 cup sugar 
2 tsp cinnamon
Canola oil for greasing bowl
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with hook attachment, combine the water, sugar and kosher salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and melted butter to the mixer bowl and mix on low until the ingredients are combined.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 6-7 minutes.  Remove and roll into ball.
  4. Grease  bowl, add dough and turn, ensuring oil covers all surface of dough.  Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise in bowl until double in size (about 1 hour depending upon temp)
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with vegetable oil.
  6. Fill large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add baking soda. The boiling baking soda water can make quite a mess--definitely stick with a big pot filled halfway full if you can. 
  7. Preheat oven to 450 and line two sheet trays with parchment paper.
  8. Remove dough and place on work surface.   Divide it into 12 equal pieces. 
  9. Roll out each piece of dough into an 18- to 20-inch rope. Fold each rope in half, twisting the two pieces around one another and pressing the ends together. Twist the bottom end around the top, feeding it through the top hole and pressing to secure. 
  10. Return the twists to the cookie sheet.
  11. One by one, carefully place each twist into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove each twist from the water using a large slotted spoon or spatula(s) and return it to the cookie sheet. 
  12. Bake the twists until golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans (between racks and turning to rotate pans) halfway through, then remove the twists from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before topping.
  13. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.  
  14. Melt butter and lightly brush the top of each pretzel.  
  15. Hold over sugar bowl and liberally sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of each pretzel.  Serve warm.
For pretzel rolls, shape dough into balls and let rise for 30 minutes before adding to boiling baking soda water.  Pretzel rolls will bake for 15-20 minutes depending upon size. 


Wendy said...

Wow! Wow!!! I think this is so amazing. Isn't the saying that you can always earn money, but you'll never get these days back? My grandparents always tell me they wish they'd enjoyed life more instead of "waiting" for retirement. Not that they don't have a great life now, but they wonder what travel would have been like when they could walk farther or climb stairs. I think I need to just do it and plan a little trip with the hubs now.

D. R. said...

This is Fantastic! I'm glad to see you posting again, and I LOVE that you are checking off the items on your 101 list.

Similar to you, one of my goals was to move to the beach, and it was one of the best decisions that I've made in my life. Sold the house; garage sale, donate, garage sale, donate, throw away, throw away. I know what you mean about a lot of work. Went from a 2000 sq ft to 1100 sq ft next to the water. But the life change is what dreams are made of.

You are making a bold choice, that will open up your world and life. Have a GREAT Time!

I wish I could follow your adventures on Facebook. You can find my page at . I hope you "LIKE" it.

Best Regards,

sophia said...

this is just so amazing! You've always had an ability to take leaps of faith That I admire. Does anything ever worry you? This is just so great and I couldn't be happier!!! Can't wait to see your posts and especially your pictures. Does this mean you'll finally use Instagram too?

Monica said...

So excited for you! And envious. But more excited than envious. Glad I get to see you before then!

Kendra said...

Holy sh*% ! That is unbelievable. I have to say I'm really jealous. I just dream about going to Europe and then I go to my mind numbing, soul killing job every day. That's so cool and kind of motivational!

Liz said...

I wish I could get the courage to do something like this, but I really like that you are just going and doing something you want to do. That's something for me to think about. It may not be something as big as Italy in my case, but maybe I start off small. I hope you continue to do cooking posts in Italy!

Jill said...

Gahhh, what?!! I guess nothing should surprise me since you did go visit a liberation army camp in Myanmar and posed with men with grenade launchers and machine guns. You know that's not a normal adventure right? ;p This one is much more my speed. Go and have a lot of fun but skip the boring art history and spend your time with sexy Italian men instead!!!! I'll take one to.

Betsy said...

I have been reading your blog for over a year now and made more than my fair share of your yummy recipes but I've never commented. This post is definitely worth stepping out and commenting on. This is so exciting and fun and I have to admit I'm a lot jealous too! I love Italy. What parts are you heading to? Good luck and I hope you post lots and lots from your adventure!

Lexi said...

This hardly surprises me, you've always been the most independent person Ive known. Good for you for having the courage to take a risk and live a little! Who needs a bigger house, more cars and stuff when life can be lived much more simply. So proud of you!

Christine said...

Hooray, I'm so glad your back! This is so cool. I think it's something we all dream of but so cool that you are taking the time to just make it happen. Can't wait to see your beautiful pictures!

Andrea said...

Mary, I love your food posts, your photos and now, your spirit. I always thought we could be kindred spirits when I read some of your posts, but now I am convinced of it. I've been thinking of doing the same thing but to Spain. You are truly inspirational. Wishing you wonderful travels, hope you share all of the adventures!

Elizabeth said...

I'm so so jealous and wish I could just do something like this. You'll have the time of your life and cute Italian Boys are definitely another thing to look forward to. Illibes your blog before

Elizabeth said...

Not sure what happened. Was saying I loved it before but now I'm super excited for your posts!

Kara said...

Good for you. We all spend our lives saying we want to do something and somehow never get to it. I really admire you for doing this and what an exciting change I'm sure it will be. Jobs will come and go, but things like this are what life's made for!

Leila said...

I am so jealous! This is on my bucket list too but I tend to think of my bucket list as things I'd do if I won the lottery. I think it's so cool that you are actually doing it! Good luck and love your blog!

Ginnifer said...

What a brave, crazy, fun person you seem like. I wish I knew you in person. This is so exciting and fun and I can't wait to see your beautiful pictures!

I love the blog makeover btw!

Laura said...

Wow this is so cool! I think sometimes you really do just have to get out there and do what you want to do and like the first comment said, you can always earn more money but you don't get these days back. :)

Kara said...

Can I tell you how much Iove this? I have this on my bucket list but good for you for moving to another country. I know the pictures will be wonderful, I can't wait!

Gabrielle said...

I make your pretzel dog recipe all the time, its one of my kids favorite foods. We've used the extra dough for cinnamon pretzels just like these.

What a fun trip. I can only imagine the cool food pictures and recipes you'll put here!

Christy said...

Wow, this is so exciting! I wish we could just uproot and do something like this. So incredible for you!

Renee said...

Okay so I read about moving to Italy in your camera post and thought "What?!?" and now I read this. Wow! This is like every girls dream. Good for you for making a decision to go for it. The rewards will be well worth it, life is more than work and paychecks for sure!

Kate said...

This seems like the kind of things that people only talk about in books or something. I think it is so cool that you are actually cool enough to just go for it! Yay you!

Lexi said...

Wowsa! This is just about the coolest thing ever, I'm so proud of you for just going for it! I cannot cannot wait to see all your pictures. I noticed you finally posted your first photo on Instagram too after 2 years of never posting anything! I hope those will be daily Italy pics!

Anne said...

OMG I am so thrilled for you! I think this is one of those things that you just have to throw caution to the wind and do in life. Wow!

Jules said...

This is one of the most exciting things I've heard in ages. I am looking at flights to come see you chica!

Jane said...

I am so jealous. Living in a foreign country is on my bucket list too!

Cristine said...

Coolest. Thing. Ever. !!! I love this!

Emma Jane said...

I was drawn to the pretzels in this post but WoW! You definitely have a go-get-em take on life which is so cool! My husband and I always say we want to do this but neither of us would ever give up our jobs. I wish we had that adventurous spirit though!

Carmen said...

I think this is everyone's dream so good for you for having the courage to just do it. Hope it is wonderful!

Lara said...

Wow I am so excited to read about your adventures! Good luck and be safe!

Braiden said...

I am so excited for you, this is what everyone wants to do but we never get around to doing it. Good for you!