There are few things more ego leveling than selling your stuff. Sure, applying for job after job (after job) with nary a nibble is rough, and writing what you think is a compelling online dating profile then getting very few pings can be painful. But those are child’s play compared to pricing your beloved possessions and then having a cheeky bargain hunter offer a tenth of the price you agonized over, prefacing it with a snotty “I’ll take it off your hands for this meager bag of peanuts, missy.” Anyone who has gone through the process of a moving sale knows exactly what I’m talking about. That “perfect for that spot” sectional that lovingly cradles your tuchas like a giant micro suede hug just won’t fit into the cute cottage you’re renting 3,000 miles away. And so you list it with Craig, hoping to find it a good home in exchange for fuel and roadside food funds.
I’m not sure why the act of selling a sofa would have such an effect, but it did. Perhaps the ordeal of purchasing the item in the first place is the reason. It’s different from when you first move out on your own, and the entirety of your décor had Swedish names and was assembled with an allen wrench. There’s a built-in expiration date on that stuff as you move past the “dorm-room décor” phase. But when you’ve reached a certain age and level of decorating and bankbook maturity, furniture buying rises to a higher level. The process becomes far more elaborate as does emotional attachment. First you tear pictures from catalogs, then surf on-line in an attempt to narrow down candidates. This, plus polling potential sitters on your selected options is necessary before you can move onto the “sit-testing” stage. And merely sitting on a sofa is never enough. First you sit, then you stretch out the legs, perhaps a “flop on couch” test to determine strength, and finally assume a napping position. This is an investment in comfort, and all of the variations of that must be explored before plastic comes out of wallet. So after going through all that, then adopting one and living on it in snuggly comfort for 7 years, having someone dare suggest they’d take it off my hands for cheap is like tossing an icy glass of water in the puss.
Tomorrow I start setting up appointments for potential parents for my couch. Luckily, there are several who seem appropriately enamored with my beige comfy friend. So what about that bargain hunter? Well, I’ve saved their contact info too, just in case. After all, it is just a couch…
This past week I’ve been dog sitting at my mom’s house while she’s away. Since it’s been a string of rainy days, I thought I’d raid her recipe box and finally copy down those recipes that remind me of family. And as it’s Mother’s Day weekend too, the first one I tried was Schnecken, perfect for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea for mom’s and non-moms alike. “Schnecken” literally means snail in German, and some awfully tasty pastry snails they are! What I like the best about these is that they are not over-the-top goopy sweet and sticky, but just the right amount of yeasty dough, sugar, cinnamon, nuts and a touch of citrus glaze. If your preference of breakfast pastry runs to the more outrageous sugar-bomb side, I’m sure there are many wonderful recipes available online.
Makes a baker’s dozen (13), which means you can make a dozen to share, and still have one leftover for that cup of coffee you just made…
For the dough
- 1 package yeast
- 2/3 cup warm milk
- 2 TBSP sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup very soft butter
- 2 cups sifted flour, plus a little extra if needed
- 1 large orange, zested and cut in half (you’ll need about 2 ½ tsp zest total)
For the filling
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 TBSP cinnamon
- ½ cup seedless raisins + 1/3 cup orange juice (from the zested orange)
- ½ cup chopped almonds or walnuts
- 2 TBSP melted butter
For the glaze
- Juice from ½ an orange, and ¼ lemon
- ½ tsp orange zest
- ½ cup + 1 TBSP powdered sugar
- Pinch salt
Making the dough: I suppose you could make this in a mixer, but I actually like doing it by hand. It doesn’t require a ton of kneading, just 2 or 3 minutes and I feel like I’m exercising (and can therefore have a second schnecken with mid morning coffee…)
Warm the milk in the microwave for about a minute. It should be quite warm but not so hot that you couldn’t stick a finger in it. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let sit a minute and start to dissolve, then mix in. Whisk in the sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon orange zest and softened butter. Switch to a wooden spoon and add in 1 cup of the flour and mix well. Once the first cup of flour is incorporated, add in the second and mix. At this point I usually ditch the spoon and mix it with my hands, first in the bowl then on a floured work surface.
Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes until it is smooth and not sticky. Depending upon weather and how damp or dry your kitchen, you may need to add up to a cup more flour. Start with an extra tablespoon or two and go from there. You can always add more flour, but you can’t take it away.
Form the dough into a ball and put in a buttered bowl, turning once so both sides gets a little butter on it. Cover bowl with a piece of cling wrap or a clean damp towel and set aside in a warm spot away from drafts. Let rise until doubled, about 35-45 minutes. While the dough is rising prepare the filling.
Add the juice from half the orange to the raisins and microwave for 45 seconds. Set aside to steep. In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix the cup sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts and 1 tsp orange zest together. Set aside until the dough is ready.
Once the dough has risen to double, punch down and knead on a floured surface about a minute. Cover with cling wrap and let rest 10-15 minutes. (Rolling out right after you knead guarantees you’ll wrestle with a dough that just wants to pop back to it’s original shape.)
Butter a sided cookie sheet or line it with parchment and butter the paper. After the dough has rested, roll out to a rectangle about 18”x 13 (just a little bigger than sided cookie sheet). Brush the dough with 2 TBSP melted butter. Drain any juice from the raisins (there likely won’t be any), and mix the raisins into the cinnamon/sugar/nuts mixture. Spread the filling over the dough evenly to just a little short of the edge.
With the long size facing you, roll up the dough like a jellyroll, pinching the dough together when you get to the edge. Slice the roll into about 1”inch slices. Place the slices on the cookies sheet, spacing out evenly so there’s space between them to rise. Cover with cling wrap and let rise another 35 minutes till doubled.
Preheat oven to 350°F. When the schnecken have finished the second rise, bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan after 10 minutes.
Prepare the glaze by mixing juice from other half of orange plus 1 tsp lemon juice, ½ tsp orange zest, a pinch of salt and 1 cup + 1TBSP powdered sugar. Stir until the sugar is melted. When the schnecken come out of the oven, drizzle each with a tablespoon of the glaze. Brew up the coffee and Guten Appetit! Calories: About 275 per schnecken.
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