Friday, November 6, 2009

Food Phobias: Yeasty Beastys

I have issues with yeast. You can read more about my issues with food here.

But this post is about yeast in particular. Yeast frightens me. It is alive! And high maintenance! And can explode! Which it has, several times, on the rare occasion that I've been brave enough to bake.

What could possibly make me, a bona-fide Yeast-o-phobe, break out those little packets?

Three full days spent snowed in with small children.

Now doesn't that above sentence strike complete terror into your heart?

I don't know how Mama stayed sane during those North Dakota winters, because after just ONE full day of "snowed in with small children," I was stark-raving mad.

There aren't enough cocktails and episodes of Spongebob on the planet to get me through 3 days of "snowed in with small children."

I totally understand now why some animals eat their young.

Instead of noshing on them, however, I decided to put their busy little fingers to work kneading dough and shaping it into pretzel form.

~And yes, I am going to get that child a haircut soon. And yes, that is a hideously messy table littered with art supplies in the background. Three full days with small children killed my house. Killed it.

Whole Wheat Pretzels
makes about 1 dozen
recipe from My A to Z Recipe Box by Hilary Shevlin Karmilowicz

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 packet of yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
Coarse salt, sesame seeds or cinnamon sugar (we picked the latter)

In a large bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, salt and yeast. Mix well.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, brown sugar and cooking oil. Heat until warm but not hot!

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Add the whole wheat flour and mix well. Mixture will be slightly sticky.

Shape the dough into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and let the dough rise in a warm, dry place for 1 1/2 hours.*

Heat the oven to 475. Punch the dough down. Cover it again and let it rest for ten minutes.

Pull off handfuls of the dough and roll them into long snake-like ropes. This takes concentration, folks!!

Twist the ropes into any shape you like. I was the only person who opted for the traditional shape.

Place each pretzel on a greased baking sheet.

Brush each pretzel with melted butter and sprinkle with salt, sesame seed or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve with melted butter for dipping and (if you pick the sweet option)extra cinnamon sugar on the side.

* A smart mommy would not announce the Making Pretzel Activity until after this step. Trust this dumb mommy, who did not do that, and then had to hear, "Is it done yet? Is it done yet?" every 10 minutes for an hour and a half.

We managed to pick up an extra kid or two by the time the shaping step came around...yeah, that's what other housebound neighbors do when their kids are making them nuts...they send them to my house. So *I* can contemplate beating the shit out of them.

Actually, they were very excited and very well-behaved during the Making Pretzel Activity. And they got quite creative with their shapes!

I was afraid that my dough wouldn't rise, because I got my milk a little too warmish, but for once, yeast behaved. Maybe yeast took pity on me for once, because I was obviously desperate.

The girls scarfed the pretzels down and had a blast playing with the dough. And Stark-Raving-Mad-Mommy got to feel kind of like SuperHero Mommy for an afternoon. And those afternoons are few and far between.


  1. this looks like fun! congrats for surviving 3 days snowed in with small children! you are a better woman than i! :-)

  2. Well, you're MY hero, at least. Snowed in with three small (insanely adorable, but you totally don't want to hear that) kids, and just whipping up these yeasty beauties like the Swedish Chef. Nicely done, and...YUM.

  3. I love pretzels with lots of salt. I've never even thought about trying to make them myself.

  4. What a great kid-friendly activity! (Minus the rising time of course, but I suppose next time you could say it will be done after 3 Sponge Bobs and one cocktail...) =)

  5. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. I don't know what I'm more horrified by: Multiple children in an enclosed space for three days? Or that you were snowed in by early November.

    But hey, I guess it could have been worse. You could have been without power. Or the yeast could have failed you.

    How do you keep kids entertained for that long, anyhow? (Aside from the pretzels, of course.) Board game marathons?

  6. 3 days snowed in my god! But you did awesome I will have to try this with Haley.

  7. You were snowed in already??? Dear God...I am going to remember this one for this winter. And thanks for the Dumb Mommy tip...I would have totlly done that.

  8. Snowed in? Are you kidding me? It's the first of November, for goodness sake. You are reminding me why I moved south and stayed south! As for the whole wheat pretzle recipe - thank you! This will be the perfect rainy day activity for us.

  9. ...coming through loud and clear! LOL...looks like you soldiered through nicely. And I am totally the same way with the scarey beast that is yeast.

  10. OMG, snowed in and it's only November. Come live in sunny, warm, mild Chicago with me. Well, at least until Jan. Then it gets ugly.

    I think my girls would have a blast with this! Thanks for posting it!

  11. FUN! Can't wait till I get to watch the girls and give you a break! Mira is getting so big! I can't believe it.

  12. I love pretzels! It must have been so much fun making them - kudos for thinking up such a great activity for your kids and their friends!

  13. That looks like so much fun (and cutiepatootie daughter there)! You are such a wise mom...and everyone loves pretzels. Hereby awarding you the Coolest Snowed-In Activity award.

  14. I like how you honestly contemplated beating the shit out of them. Is that wrong?

  15. you do realize that next snow-in, all the kiddies will flock to your yummy gooey pretzel house!$%#$!#%@&! I'D LIKE TO MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT: KITCH WILL TAKE AND FEED YOUR KIDS WHEN IT SNOWS. GOOD TIMES. FREE PRETZELS!

    so, I suggest you start a signup sheet and charge admission. in gold bullion.

  16. What a nice way to use up a bit of your snowbound time. I love soft pretzels!

    Oh and, BTW, if you really love me you'll trade me kitchens!!! :D

  17. Been there.... but didn't have the pretzle recipe. Instead I went quietly insane and no one seems to have caught on yet.:D

  18. ck: you have no idea how close I came. Thank god for cocktails.

    jc: Damn you! Don't tell the neighbors I'll feed the children! Although payment in gold bullion....ALMOST worth it.

    Ungourmet: you want my kitchen? You got it! But once you see how messy it is, you won't want it anymore :)

    And yes, it snowed THAT October, not November. And November is our 2nd snowiest month usually...sigh.

  19. Oh dear God. Snowed in the first week of Nov!?! I would contemplate suicide and I live in Chicago, not someplace very warm. My kids drive me bonkers come January, so I can't imagine starting this early. I am soo saving this recipe for winter. What a great idea!

    PS-I have complete stove envy! That thing looks beautiful.

  20. I feel the same way about yeast, which is why I don't bake much. I love pretzels though, so maybe I should get over it and give it a try!

  21. If I had kids, I'd send them to your house on snow days. Because you are SuperHero Mom.

  22. What a nice, patient Mommy you are! Cooking with the kids AND neighbor kids! And yeast besides. I am impressed!

  23. not to rub it in, but it's 70 here.

  24. Jessica,

    That's funny, because it was 70 here, too! Our weather is whack, man!

  25. I can't stand the word yeast. I don't know why...but thank you for giving me something to do if I'm ever trapped in this house with my kids for 3 days!

  26. JC, I'm laughing so loudly right now that I may just wake the kids. But that's ok because I will show them the sign and off they will go to Kitch's for gooey pretzels.

    And, once again, you *must* start a blog. Pretty please? We want to read it.

    (Hi Kitch! Just talking to JC here in your comments. Hope that's ok.)

  27. What a great way to get the kids into something fun. Love the pretzels & love the different knots. Aaah FUN!!I was so awefully yeastophobic, & then one day, the silly thing just began to behave! Won the battle, and now love to work with it. have you ever tried using fresh yeast?

  28. Ink: feel free to chat with jc in my comments section any time. And I agree with you--jc needs to blog! I want to read it!

    Deeba PAB: just the words "fresh yeast" strike fear in my heart...

  29. I love making homemade pretzels - haven't done it in ages though!

    At least it kept your natives restless for a while! :D

  30. Hi, TKW -- I found your blog through Good (Enough) Woman's. Love your candor :). And props to you for showing the yeast who's boss chez vous. I don't fear yeast per se, but you won't find me messing with things that need rising time. I, like Miss D. and Miss M., don't have the patience!

  31. I think your pretzels would go perfectly with my mustard. Shall we plan a get-together?

  32. What a fun snow day activity! Why do all the crazy snow events happen when I don't live in CO? No fair! I hope this pretzel activity will help with your yeast issues!

  33. Contemporary: Thanks for stopping in! If you are a friend of GEW, you must be good people!

    Jen: The next time we are snowed in, I am calling you, girl. Bring the mustard.

    Erin: Are you insinuating that you are BUMMED that you missed "3 days snowed in with small children?" Lord girl, what you say? I was foaming at the mouth crazy by the end of day 1.

    Laura: the stove IS nice, but it's a bitch to clean, alas...

  34. I have the same yeast phobia. But I'd love your kitchen too mess and all. My house was built in 1960, I think it the original stove and countertop! But we won't go there.

    I can't believe you had snow days already, but then there is a hurricane out in the Gulf of Mexico now it's November and we still have to keep our hurricane supplies in tact.

    Looks like a fun time at your house!

  35. At least you have the space to be snowed in with kids (your house looks fab). I was snowed in with 2 tiny people in a 1200 square foot house.