07 April 2012

Sweet Lamb Cinnamon Rolls


Catching Up

Spring has arrived and, true to its promise, is bursting with new life. The bones of my backyard landscape are unfurling in tender shades of green. Colorful blossoms punctuate the transition, their aroma teasing me into the yard to tend my long neglected garden.

As the sap is rising in my backyard landscape, I can feel new strength in my healing arm. Gardening is both pleasure and exercise as I stretch my fingers in the warming earth and trim away the disfigured brush left from last autumn. Herbs leaf out under spent seedheads, their fragrance making my work an even greater joy.


The Joy of Saved Steps

Not only have I fallen behind in the yard, plans for a festive Easter celebration have been neglected too. Still I am looking forward to the celebration of Jesus' victory over death. A feast doesn’t have to require extensive preparation. It only needs a few special elements and a joyful state of mind to lift the presentation from ordinary to memorable.

I often make a homemade yeast bread for Easter morning. It is delicious and worth the extra effort when there is time available for preparation. This year, however, I am saving time and steps by making a different Easter morning sweet roll. This year I will be relying on canned breakfast quick breads for our morning meal. Still I would like to dress them up for the occasion.

This simply adorned breakfast confection was fun to make. I started with my recipe for Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls, and with a few extra ingredients ended up with a wooly-lamb-shaped breakfast cake that fits right into the season.



Sweet Lamb Cinnamon Rolls

1 recipe of Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls, prepared as directed through slicing
1 can of large refrigerated biscuits (I used Grands)
2 raisins or chocolate chips
1 dried cranberry

Prepare the Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls as directed up to the step where you cut each can of the rolled dough. Cut each section into 14 instead of 18 pieces. Arrange the sliced cinnamon rolls on an unglazed baking stone or other baking sheet. Begin with a grid that is four rolls by four rolls, leaving a space of ¼-inch or so between rolls.

Cut three of the large unbaked biscuits in half lengthwise. Position two half pieces on either side of one whole large unbaked biscuit, settling the straight cut side of the biscuit pieces against the whole biscuit to form ears. Dot the biscuit with two raisins (or chocolate chips) for eyes and the dried cranberry for a mouth. Position the assembled biscuit pieces to the upper right of the cinnamon rolls to represent a head.

Place another cut cinnamon roll beneath the head and next to the other cinnamon rolls. Now position the other two halved pieces of biscuit dough to either side of the lower row of cinnamon rolls to form legs. Place the remaining cut cinnamon rolls over the “head” and around the left side of the body of the lamb as desired. Place one more biscuit half to the left of the cinnamon rolls to form a tail.

Top the cinnamon rolls with any remaining melted butter and/or cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven.

Prepare glaze as directed for Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon roll portion of the lamb. Serve warm.

Happy Easter!

03 April 2012

Simple White Beans


Seasonal Adaptation

In just a few short days it will be Easter. Lent is drawing to a close and another season of simplicity and fasting will give way to abundance and feasting.

This year the reality of my life has been unusually in tune with the season. On Ash Wednesday I had surgery to reassemble a broken wrist. While the healing has been remarkable it is a process that takes time. Throughout Lent I have had to approach even ordinary tasks with special care. I have had to give up some of my usual activities and take other things more slowly. Cooking has been a particular challenge, especially where any chopping or knife work is required.

Adapting has been a challenge, but not a painful one. I have relied on help from friends and family, explored new convenience products, taken advantage of some prepackaged items and fallen back on an ongoing quest for simplicity.


Welcoming Old Friends

Sometimes limitations invite us to become reacquainted with old friends. The first dinner I cooked after my accident was actually an old favorite and perfect for Lent. With my arm still in a massive splint I carefully poured a bag of dry white beans into a large pot and covered them with water. The next day I slowly drained them, added more water, maneuvered the pot onto the stove and stirred in a spoonful of bouillon. There the beans simmered until they were tender and silky.

These beans are delicious straight from the cooking pot. We also like them paired with a simple rice pilaf and garnished with a drizzle of Sriraicha and a few flakes of shaved Parmesan.



Simple White Beans

1 lb. bag of dried white beans
1 Tablespoon vegetable base (I use Better Than Bouillon)
Water

Rinse the beans in a colander. Sort through them carefully to remove any dark beans, small stones or other debris.

Place the rinsed beans in a 4-quart cooking pot. Add water to a level several inches above the top of the beans. Cover and set aside to soak overnight (or for eight hours or so).

Drain the soaked beans and return them to the same pot. Add clean water to a level 2-3 inches above the top of the beans and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms on the top of the water.

Reduce the heat and stir in the vegetable base. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender (1-2 hours). Adjust seasoning to taste, adding a little salt and/or pepper as you like.

Serve and enjoy!