Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lessons Anew

What a wonderful weekend I was blessed with! After a quite hectic week (which kept me away from home everyday week-day) I was blessed to have a very good friend of mine come to visit. I was exuberant about her visit, and once she arrived, it was better than I could have ever imagined!

We, of course, partook in the usual friendly catch-up chit-chat, but what came next was astounding!

It has been well into the low 30's at night and on this last Saturday, the daytime high didn't reach much more than that. Despite this fact we all wanted to go for a hike, so we decided to just start on the community trail and go from there!

We climbed up a very large hill and down the other side and decided that Cam would take the dogs home and start the smoked pork, and my friend and I would continue on through the canyon.

After 3 1/4 hours of hiking, we finally made it back home. It was a cold but beautiful day so our hike seemed to only devour a minuscule amount of time. It's truly amazing how fast time flies when you are with the ones you love and miss!!! Cam treated us to a quick lunch so we could get back and prepare for the smoked pork dinner we were planning.

However, on our walk, my friend and I had made other plans!! We wanted to dig out our old school videos which we had to make for class projects (let's just say...we go WAY back ;-) and old school photos! We did precisely that!! I went through my keepsake trunk and found our social-studies video from our freshman year of high school and we watched it! It was fun, embarrassing, and so comforting to see...we laughed at ourselves and at that complete awkward stage in life but also remembered who we were at the time. It was tremendous!

But, getting back to our evening meal, Cam decided to smoke a pork loin for us, so we needed to make coleslaw, rolls, and his North Carolinian finishing sauce. The pork and finishing sauce were in Cam's jurisdiction; coleslaw is somewhat easy for me; the rolls were in the hands of my dear friend the baker. I've made my own breads before and am pretty good at it but rolls have never been my forte. She was the answer to all of my questions!

She found a wonderful recipe and helped me make it...OK, she did it and I watched and took notes!

I've always wanted to be able to make 'fluffy' rolls, but for some reason, whenever I attempt to make rolls, they are anything but fact, flat would be extremely appropriate as a description ;-) Anyhow, with an educated baker in my midst, these rolls were going to be perfect! I could have never guessed just how perfect they could be:

Fluffy Dinner Rolls
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2.5 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 – 3.5 cups all purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water), optional
Sesame seeds, optional

Begin by combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together until the yeast and sugar are dissolved.

Mix together the softened butter and egg. Add the butter/egg to the yeast mixture and whisk together. Add the salt and 1 cup of flour then beat vigorously until it’s fully incorporated. Whisk the batter and dissolve all the lumps.Gradually, add the remaining flour ½ cup or 1 cup at a time, stirring until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with your hands, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the counter.  Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth, but still light and soft.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume (about 1.5 hours). Punch the dough down, reshape into a ball, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise a second time until the dough has doubled in volume again (an additional hour). For the best proofing conditions, turn the oven on to 150 degrees, crack open the oven door, set the bowl with the dough in it right next to the oven door, and place a light towel over the top of the bowl while letting it hang over the open oven door.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Shape the rolls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpad. Let the rolls rise while the oven preheats, until they are a bit puffy.  If desired, brush the tops of the rolls with some egg wash (to make them shiny) and sprinkle with sesame seeds before baking. If you have large rolls, lower the oven temperature to get the best bake or place a piece of foil over the top of the rolls so they don’t get too dark. Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes, until the rolls are golden on top.
Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes on a baking rack. The rolls are best served warm, but they will keep for a few days in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic.

 These rolls were amazing and fluffy! The perfect amout of sweetness (from the rolls) met the twang of the simple asian coleslaw and the slight heat from the smoked pork and finishing sauce...we had a phenominal meal! (Cam's pork butt and port loin recipes are to be on the look-out!)

Not only did our rolls turn out perfectly, but the pork and coleslaw were unparalleled! It was literally the perfect end to a wonderful time spent with friends and the ones I love!

I hope you enjoy! What else do you find inspiring when friends/family come to visit from our-of-town? I love hearing stories and recipes from those who are in the same perverbial boat. I hope you find some inspiration here as well!!




  1. LOL! me and my friends have old videos too and they are sooo fun to watch!!! They bring back so many memories!!

  2. I had so much fun Jen! Thank you for having me over! I want to plan another trip again real soon! We need to get our thrift shopping on!! Thank you for such a wonderful weekend my dear friend! You and Cam are the best! Love you guys!!