The Pursuit of Like

It’s the cyber-equivalent of the gold star on your spelling test in the 4th grade. And despite what we who choose to put our musing out there in the inter-space for inspection might say about doing it for ourselves, or to educate, or spread the word, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit we do it for the like, too. Or rather, for “a like”. We are in fact, suckers for the “Like”. You know what I mean. That little button you click, or thumbs-up that goes from lonely gray to happy blue the minute you touch it. Everyone likes to be LIKED.

I hope I’m not shocking you out there or ticking off my fellow bloggers, but when you really get down to it, much of what we do is in the pursuit of LIKE. If that weren’t the case, those programmy people wouldn’t have invented the button. Just like the blinky red light on your answering machine, getting liked is a sign that somebody out there noticed and even better, thought it was pretty good. And just like coming home and seeing an unblinking red eye of loneliness staring at you when nobody called, bloggers can feel like the last kid left standing when teams are picked if the site-hit counter says zero. That’s when the luring begins.

Because we are writers and hopefully somewhat creative, we can get pretty crafty when enticing you to click into our world. Naturally, our first attack is to actually present something that is well written, interesting, maybe even insightful. That’s the goal at least. But everyone falls a little short once in a while, and I suspect I’m not the only one who has resorted to the cheap come-on here and there. Like mentioning a celebrity, whether relevant to the topic or not (as in my many mentions of Mr. Clooney.) Tapping into the current hot tabloid news topic works on occasion too, especially if it’s something a search engine will pick up on and draw the unsuspecting reader in. Going for the laugh works too, something I admit I’m guilty of, a lot. And then there are the pictures. Some folks really do visit purely for the pictures. Unfortunately I discovered this one day when I noticed a large jump in hits only on the pictures on my site, and realized innocently posting pictures of high heels with the food can draw, how shall I put this, shoe “enthusiast” too.

Ultimately the best way to the “like” is to post something you all actually do, so I’ll keep trying my best. And if you think the whole point of this post is to garner an extra like or two, well, I always knew I had the smartest readers. 😉

©cookinginmyheels.com

©cookinginmyheels.com

This week the world watched as one of the biggest contests to get a “like” happened in a beautifully painted chapel in the Vatican. So in honor of the passing of the red shoes to a new wearer and give a nod to the homeland of the old, I’m sharing a recipe for Pretzel Rolls adapted from one I clipped out of Bon Appétit years ago. These are surprisingly easy to make and guaranteed to please. After all, everyone likes a good pretzel.

Pretzel Rolls (Adapted from Bon Appétit)

Makes 8 rolls

I know that yeast baking intimidates a lot of folk, but I have to say these are really easy to make for a few reasons: you don’t have to proof the yeast, just add to the dry ingredients, and you let the food processor do the kneading. The step of boiling them first (the same technique used in making bagels) gives them the wonderfully chewy crust and mahogany color of soft pretzels, and bit of celery seed adds that distinct old world flavor. I like to make half round, the other half long like hot dog buns -there’s nothing better wrapped around a hot dog or brat!

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 envelope quick-rising yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water (the original recipe says 125°F to 130°F, which is just a little too hot to keep a finger in more than a second or two.)
  • Cornmeal
  • 10-12 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg and a teaspoon or two of water, beaten to make an egg-wash
  • Coarse salt (if you want to substitute sesame seeds or something else other than salt, up the salt in the dough to 1½ tsp.)

Combine flour, yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and celery seeds in food processor and blend. With machine running, gradually pour hot water through feed tube, adding enough water to form smooth elastic dough. Process 1 minute to knead. Grease medium bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35-45 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Flour one sheet and sprinkle cornmeal on the other. Punch dough down and knead a few turns on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 8 pieces and form each dough piece into a ball or baton. Place shaped dough on the floured sheet, leaving a little space (about an inch) between. Using a serrated knife cut an X in the top center of each dough ball. If you made batons, cut two parallel slits in the top of each. Cover with towel and let dough rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring 10-12 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda and 2 tablespoons sugar (water will foam up). Add a few rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rolls to sheet with cornmeal, arranging X side up. Repeat with remaining rolls, making sure they have about an inch between.

Brush rolls with egg glaze and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Bake rolls until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Serve rolls warm or room temperature. These are best a little warm, but you can prepared ahead and easily rewarm in a 375°F oven 10 minutes. You can also freeze them, and reheat after they have thawed. Calories: about 150 per pretzel roll.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button). Thanks! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Like

  1. It used to surprise me which of my posts were ‘liked’ more – and then I realised that actually the most popular posts were ones which were essentially a photograph and a cake and a line of accompanying text, rather than a full post I’d toiled hours over. How’s that for a HUGE dent in writing confidence?!

  2. I gave up on being liked a while ago… too much investment! 🙂 But you are right… we all want to see that ‘thumbs up’ on our posts! These pretzel rolls look great. It does remind me of the first bagels I ever made from scratch… the best I have ever had. So these rolls with some good mustard? Yum!!!

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