Maybe it’s the time of year. Maybe it was the vacation I had two weeks ago. Maybe it was that awful feeling in my body that I was eating too much crap and the feeling that my wallet was getting too light by getting most of my meals “to go” for a period of time. But recently, I pulled out my recipe book, the one filled with clippings from magazines and notecards from friends, and started leafing through. I picked out recipes I liked but haven’t made in some time. I picked out recipes I ripped out of publications with every intention of trying, but never did. Let me just say, it’s been a fantastic few weeks.
One of the things I love about cooking is being part of the process. And one of the things I’ve learned from endurance training is that the process doesn’t need to be perfect in order to be effective. Which is a good lesson to learn in the kitchen. See, I have a tendency to get hung up with perfectionism. Let me be clear, I am far from perfect. You would need a map and compass and a free month to calculate the distance between me and perfect. Ah, but that doesn’t keep me from expecting perfection from myself. And therein lies so many abandoned dreams, feelings of unworthiness and tears shed when the pies I baked for Thanksgiving ended up with burned edges.
But when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. (Thank you Dr. Wayne Dyer for that gem.) Enter my friend Jude. She talked me through the art of making homemade pie crust. (Note: This was research for a key element of the novel I have been writing. But I’m seriously thinking I need to put this into practice soon.) Jude said the most difficult part for her was crimping the crust. She never gets it to look very pretty. So she says they’re “artisan” style.
And so I took this thought into my kitchen earlier this week when I decided to try a recipe I had cut out from an issue of Runners World magazine for Whole-Wheat Walnut-Raisin Rolls. I made the dough on Sunday evening using my standup mixer and dough hook. It didn’t look, well, like dough, so I added a bit more flour, a bit concerned that I might be foo-baring the entire experiment. But it looked OK when I stuck in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
Monday morning, I took out the dough and again, it looked just fine. Then I went to create the 24 rolls. And, um, it was a mess. It was sticky no matter how much flour I put on my hands. I created 24 rolls but they looked pretty crazy and I wasn’t sure if they would actually bake properly. Guess what. They did.
I wasn’t left with 24 pretty-looking rolls. But I was left with two dozen artisan rolls which tasted yummy. Change the way I look at things, and the things I look at change. And the final product becomes not just passable but perfect in its own right.
Whole-Wheat Walnut-Raisin Rolls
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 cups warm water
- 3 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 cup dark raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup walnuts
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water
- In a separate bowl combine the flours and salt then pour the mixture onto a work surface. Make a well in the center and fill it with the yeast mixture. Slowly blend by pulling a little flour into the liquid with your fingers until all is incorporated.
- Knead the dough five minutes until smooth and elastic. Knead another five minutes, combining raisins and nuts.
- Cover and let rise on counter until doubles in size, or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cut into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into a round. Place each roll on floured parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 90 minutes or until double in rise.
- Bake 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until light brown on top and bottom.