When Roger moved into a new apartment, he asked his roommates who was the coolest girl in the area. "That would be Tanji." He picked up the phone, dialed her number and asked her out. That was ten years ago.
Tanji and I were college buddies. We worked together in a newspaper office, laughing and talking and once in a while selling ads. We lost contact for over a decade until a couple of months ago, on this blog, a blip appeared in the comment section. There is only one Tanji-it had to be her. And now this last weekend, Tanji and Roger kissed their four little children good-bye in North Carolina and came out for a visit. After ten years, we didn't miss a beat. I think I could have talked to Tanji forever, about everything and nothing, about how her little babies can read Harry Potter and scale walls, about how she can throw together Greek chicken with pantry ingredients, about her snow-mobiling date with Roger, about her circle of friends in Charlotte, about her latest shoe find at Target. The best part is that Roger is every bit as clever and fun and smart, a perfect match for my Tanji. And we really did talk approximately forever, or at least until after 2 AM and then again at 4:30 AM. I didn't notice how the years had flown....until I tried to get out of the bed the next day. Don't tell anyone, but I'm decidedly thirty something and definitely no longer twenty something. But some things never change. After ten years, Tanji is still the coolest girl around. Here's a great recipe to make with your wee ones (or not) on a Fall afternoon. Itty bitty hands are experts at rolling rope snakes, so put those little charges to work! This recipe is stolen off Two Peas in a Pod, a lovely blog about a darling couple cooking up amazing food. Money Saving Tips: I always buy whatever wheat flour I can find on sale. My favorite is Prairie Gold, but I don't often buy it anymore because of the price. You can swap out sesame seeds or poppy seeds if you don't have course salt. You can convert this snack into a light meal. Stir together extra honey mustard for a turkey and cheddar pretzel sandwich.
Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels
Estimated Cost:$4.00 for 8 giant pretzels
Notes: I like to put honey and mustard in one ramekin, side by side. That way every bite is a surprise.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 and 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat)
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt
For the Pretzels: Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Dip into desired sauces.
Butternut Squash Risotto