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1/12/2015

Renee-Lucie BenoitI love aprons. They’re something my grammy wore every day (except to church, of course!). Aprons helped keep her dresses clean. She didn’t have many dresses because she didn’t have a lot of extra money for new ones. She had to keep the ones she had as clean as she could. She usually made her own dresses and that was relatively time consuming. Aprons, on the other hand, are easy to make, use little fabric and are easy to wash.

I’m going to show you how to make a simple apron. You don’t even need a pattern. All you need is a sewing machine, thread, scissors like pinking shears, an iron and ironing board, and something to measure with. The beauty of this apron is that it doesn’t have to fit perfectly so if you make a mistake it will still work.

I think the best fabric to use is 100-percent cotton because it is absorbent. I think patterned fabric is better than solid or white because it shows less dirt. You are going to get it dirty. That’s the point! You need about 1 3/4 yards of fabric that is 44 inches wide. I was lucky to find fabric on sale for $2 a yard.

Wash and dry the fabric before you start. This is so the fabric will be pre-shrunk and you get no nasty sizing surprises later. Iron your washed and dried fabric and lay it out flat WRONG SIDE OUT on your table. Decide what length you want it and add 6 inches for the hem. I marked it on the wrong side with chalk. Cut away the excess. We're going to use it for the waist band and apron strings later.

mark hem  side hem

Next hem both vertical side edges. Make the hem at least 1/4 inch wide. Iron your seam flat.

Note: When I sew a line of stitches I always do something they taught me in Home Ec class. To keep the ends from raveling, I sew in about a half inch and then I stop my machine, switch the lever to reverse and I sew back over what I just sewed. Then I switch back to forward and continue. I do this at the end of my stitch, too.

sewside

My sewing machine is an old Singer table top model. My mom gave it to me when I was 20 years old. It was 35 years old then. Now I’m 64 years old. This machine is the energizer bunny. I’ve only had it serviced once. It doesn’t do anything except sew backwards and forwards and wind a bobbin. But that’s all I need and I love it!

first hem foldOK, now, let’s hem the bottom. Like you did on the vertical side edges start by turning over the edge about a 1/4 of an inch. Iron it flat.

You can sew your hem or blind stitch it by hand. But because we’re doing it the easy way I just sewed the hem. Before you sew, turn the hem up and pin baste it in place. Pin against the stitch direction. Then you can sew right over the pins. The needle will miss them but if it hits a little it will slide off.

 

 

 

pinbastehem

sewhem

Now take the top and sew the largest stitches you can in three rows closely spaced together. These are called basting stitches.

Note: Make sure your bobbin has a lot of thread before you start. You are going to make one continuous line of stitches all the way across. You can’t have a gap. It makes it really difficult to pull the gathers in the next step if the stitches aren’t all one continuous line. If your bobbin runs out of thread mid-line you’ve made yourself a problem. Now is a good time to check and make sure you’re not almost out of thread.

sewgathers

Once you’ve done that, take the fabric and start pulling the threads to gather them. Grab hold of the three top threads and pull lightly. See how hard you have to pull without breaking the threads. The three lines make it harder for the threads to break when you’re pulling. The three lines also make for a better gather in my humble opinion.

gather

As you gather do a little section at a time and then space the gathers as evenly as you can. Gather until the top of the apron is the width you want it to fit at your waist. Set it aside.

finishedgathers

Next we have to make the waist band and apron strings. They're all one piece. Decide how wide you want your waist band and apron strings. I’m going to make them about 2 inches when finished. Cut strips of fabric 4 inches wide and enough length to make the waistband and apron strings a total of 96 inches long.

waistbandstrips

You want a generous length so you can tie the strings in a nice big bow. Sew your strips together at each end with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER

sewstrips 

Iron your seams flat.

ironseams 

Then lay your strips on the ironing board and fold them in half lengthwise inside out. Turn one of the edges over about 1/4 inch and iron it flat. Next WITH RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER position the edge of the waist band in the middle of the gathers.

centerwaistband

Pin baste it in place.

pinbastewaistband

Turn it over and sew along the gathers all the way through.

sewwaistband

Then turn the waist band over. Iron a little 1/4-inch hem in the long side.

tophemwaistband 

Fold the waistband/apron strings in half over the top of the apron. Pin baste it in place.

bastewaistband

Now sew up the long sides all the way to the end and then across the end. Iron everything again and voila! You have your simple apron!

finished

Sara LovelandHow many things can you do with an apron? Aprons can be used as a potholder to remove hot things from the oven. The edge of one will dry a child’s tears and sometimes will clean out dirty ears. You can carry almost anything in the folds of an apron: eggs, chicks, apples, peaches, carrots and kittens. Every shy child knows where to go when company comes – the folds of Mother’s apron. They’re good for wiping away perspiration in the heat of summer canning. Wood chips and kindling come to the kitchen in the folds of an apron. When unexpected company drives up the road, it’s surprising how much furniture an apron can dust in a matter of minutes. When dinner is ready, walk out onto the porch, wave your apron, and everybody knows it’s time to come in to dinner.

I didn't have a picture of Grammy in her apron, so here's Aunt Sara Loveland.



1/5/2015

Renee-Lucie BenoitI was spoiled as a child. I grew up in the middle of the most glorious soil region of practically anywhere on this planet. After the great ice sheets receded during the last ice age, they left the amazing Midwestern soil that is still mostly there. It was in danger of going south with the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico before it was mostly saved by changed practices of contour plowing, waterways and cover crops. I suppose people from Iowa get a bit of a swelled head about their soil. I just took it for granted. When I moved to California, I got a rude awakening. I wasn’t prepared for it in the least little bit. In the neighborhood I moved into, the builders had bulldozed off what little topsoil there was to make way for housing foundations. What was left was hard pan clay.

For the next 22 years, and even to this day, I am on a continuous quest to understand that which lies beneath our feet and from which our food grows. It’s been an interesting journey. It hasn’t always been easy. A lot of trial. And more than a modicum of error. Now I am a soil connoisseur. I love dirt. Just not on my floors. But make no mistake. I am not a card carrying expert. I’ve just paid attention to what was presented me and I learned a few things.

If you happen to be blessed with fertile soil, you’re lucky. When I was a kid practically all you had to do was throw seeds in the ground, wait for the rains to come and things grew like gangbusters. I remember only once was I outgunned by the beetles that overran my Brussels sprouts.

Out here in California, I am outgunned on every single level. But I don’t give up. My husband says, “Where there’s a Renee there’s a way.” My first challenge was not being able to double dig for my life. It took about two seconds to figure out what was going on. The aforementioned clay. Then came the years of trying to amend on a budget. It’s slow going, folks, when you don’t have rototiller, tractor or the budget to buy compost or gypsum.

For those of you embarking on your first gardening efforts, let me tell you a bit about soil (forgive the pun) from the ground up.

What kind of soil do you have? Look into this before going out and spending a lot on seeds and sets.

clay

Do this: A few days after a rain, grab a handful of your soil and see how it feels in your hand. If it’s sticky, heavy, feels slippery or forms clods easily, it’s clay. Clay is good. It’s a rich mineralized soil. It’s just that the particles are so fine water tends to pool and not soak in, and plants' roots don’t have enough room to breathe and move. If you have the budget for a rototiller and some soil amendment. you can add gypsum and lots of organic matter when the clay is moist. Properly amended clay is a good soil to plant in.

sandy

If you grab a handful of soil and it feels gritty, loose and it dries out real fast after a rain, you have sandy soil. Again, the remedy is to add lots of organic matter. Sandy soil is the opposite end of the spectrum from clay. The particles are very large or coarse. Again, not a bad thing. Just better for your plants if you can add a lot of organic matter to hold moisture. Just think of all those marvelous Idaho potatoes grown in their sandy soils. Yes, properly amended sandy soil is a good thing.

loam

If your soil feels loose, moist and crumbly, you are lucky to have loam. It’s soft, neither gritty or sticky. This is the friendliest kind of soil and the kind of soil I was used to and took for granted as a child. It stays loose, it drains well, but it also holds moisture and plant roots are comfy. The loam you see here is the product of amending my soil for two years. First I made compost and then I incorporated it into the clay.

Of course, you could and are likely to have a combination soil. I have straight heavy clay soil. It’s so heavy you can dig a hole and three days later you’ll still have water in it and it will not have drained away. Maybe some native person saw this and it gave them the idea for clay pots. OK, so that’s all well and good but I didn’t have pottery in mind when I came here and I need to grow food anyway. So you deal with what you have.

Good soil helps keep plants strong and resistant to disease and predatory insects. When you want a big healthy garden this is the place to start. Once this is in place and you take care of your soil with sound principles and dedicated effort, you will be way ahead of the game and the rest will be a lot easier. The saying “well begun is half done” was never truer that when considering soil.



12/22/2014

Renee-Lucie BenoitWinter has been interesting so far this year on the ranch. We went from a terrible drought to an overabundance of water.

 

 watson

The creek is more than full.

spillway 

The spillway coming out of the lake is a raging torrent.

lake 

The lake is high enough to overflow and fill the creek bed, which then fills the stock ponds. What a relief!

Of course, they’re telling us that we still need more rain to bring the water table up enough to return us to “normal.” This past summer, more wells were dug or dug deeper and deeper. So even though we’re more soggy than we’d ever care to admit, we’re grudgingly praying for more rain. Such is life on a ranch in a semi-arid land.

The Solstice

Another subject to note is that the Solstice has passed and we’re on our way back to lengthening days. The longest night of the year was last night. So even though we celebrate Christmas – that lustrous holiday of the new born child who brings light and love to the world – we also honor the ancient traditions of the longest night of the year. We had the house lit up with a big fire in the woodstove and candles on every table. We just sat together and talked about the past year and the year to come. We had good food that came from our land, and we drank to life and to ourselves. The wheel of work had ground to a stop. Now the wheel starts moving forward again.

Here on the ranch we are more in touch with nature than many people in the city. It’s just a fact and not meant as a condemnation of those in the city. Nature is our stock in trade and either our ally or our enemy. We have to know her and respect her because if we don’t, she can bankrupt us and ruin everything in a flash. At the Solstice, we recognize the return of the sun and that the difficulties that nature hands us in the form of winter are coming to an end. We look forward to things warming up. They will eventually and sooner rather than later. Then there will be that season’s unique preparations and responsibilities.

We wish you the Happiest of Holidays, a warm fire in the hearth, food on the table and good company all.

two



12/12/2014

Renee-Lucie BenoitI’ve been trying to post this favorite Christmas cookie recipe for about a week and a half. One thing after another has distracted me. This is the way things go on a ranch or farm. Ranch work always takes precedent. So, if you have a huge rain storm headed your way, as we recently had, you must prepare so you don’t find yourself, for example, taking the animals to higher ground in the middle of the night or some annoying thing.

spillway

Our lake spillway. From nothing to Niagara in 24 hours.

So the rainstorm happened in all its magnificence and we all survived including suffering the power outage. The predicted high winds never materialized. If we had had wind I’m sure we would still be out there putting tin back on the barn roof. We have an old barn. A big one. And it’s wonderful but old and the tin is prone to blowing off. We never know which piece will come off or where and we want to go up there as little as possible because it’s steep and dangerous. So we dodged that bullet which is why you find me now working on this wonderful recipe. Finally! It is authentic and it, too, comes by way of my friend Andrea Hjelskov, a Danish writer who lives in Sweden.

Danish Butter Cookies

This recipe comes in gram measurement. I am lucky enough to have digital scale that converts to grams so I was able to take Andrea’s recipe and use the measurements verbatim. Please note that all measurements are close but not exact. Isn’t cooking an art not a science? After cooking all my life I rarely find myself scrupulously measuring ingredients. I’ve included some observations to help you through.

250 grams butter
200 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (Andrea does not use this. I do.)
1 egg
100 grams pulverized almonds
250 to 300 grams all-purpose flour (the amount of flour is dependent on the size of your egg; next time I think I will add all 300 grams and have a stiffer dough to work with. My eggs are large. It’s up to you.)

Cut up the butter, cover it with sugar.

1buttrsugr

Then using a pastry blender or your hands blend it all together.

2mxbuttrsugr 

Blend until the butter and the sugar is integrated.

3cream

Now add one egg and the vanilla.

4egg

Blend this all with a spoon, spatula or hand mixer.

5mixegg

Then if you haven’t already, it’s time to pulverize the almonds. I use skinless slivered almonds. Pulverize them until they are as fine as you can get them without turning them into butter. (If you don't smash the almonds enough, pieces will clog the pastry tube hole. Also the texture will be chunky. A chunky texture is all right if you slice them and you like a chunky cookie. A traditional cookie has a fine texture.) Renee’s note: If you want, this can be a big grand experiment and there’s no major wrong or right. Just guidelines. Feel free to try things if you feel bold. If you don’t feel bold just go by the guidelines and you’ll be happy.)

So back to the guidelines…

Add the almonds to the butter/sugar/vanilla/egg mixture and stir thoroughly.

6almonds

Then add the flour…

7flour

and mix thoroughly. You’re looking for a really stiff paste or dough.

8dough

Now at this point you can bake the cookies or you can roll them in non-stick wrap and refrigerate.

9wrap

I refrigerate because I have to slice. I don’t have a pastry tube to make squeezed-out cookies. If you have a pastry tube you can squeeze them out in small, large-holed doughnut shapes. (The traditional shape is a wreath!) Another note: Before you bake them always do a test. Bake one cookie in the oven. If it flattens out too much, you need to add a little more flour before you go on and bake the rest.

The dough may be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to 2 months. If you do this let the dough soften slightly before you slice it or squeeze it out.

Baking

Preheat the oven to 375 F. I use parchment paper to line a baking sheet, but you can also use a lightly greased sheet. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange them about a half inch apart on your baking sheet. Same thing if you make wreaths. Bake your cookies in batches in the middle of the oven until they're golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes, and transfer them with a metal spatula to a rack to cool. Your cookies may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for five days. This never happens in our house! We always polish them off right after they come out of the oven!

10bake



12/1/2014

Renee-Lucie BenoitI want an old-fashioned mudroom. In the olden days every farm or ranch house had a mudroom. My Aunt J’s old farmhouse had such a room. It was almost as big as the main living room in the house. It was in the back of the house near the barn and equipment sheds where the tired farmer or rancher would trudge up the walkway at end of day and peel off the grime of his work. Aunt J’s mudroom had the washer and dryer and a shower. You could dance a jig in there. It was great! It was almost my favorite room in the house!

Nowadays I find that mudrooms are too small. In ours, we can barely fit the washer and dryer, furnace and water heater. This is a big mistake. You know the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life”? If you’re tromping mud in because you don’t want to take off your boots – and believe me I get this – you are going to have to suffer the repercussions of having an unhappy wife. Or at least a resigned wife. Resigned wives, if you didn’t know already, are not really happy. Guess what category I’m in.

mudroom

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our mudroom is a joke. We have an older manufactured house with a front door and back door. When you go in the back door, you’re in the “mudroom.” It’s full of a sink, dresser, a furnace that doesn’t work, and a washer and dryer. There isn’t room for much of anything else. Coats and leftover plastic bags hang on the wall. Shelves hold laundry detergent and odds and ends that have nowhere else to go. I’m telling you this room wouldn’t know an interior designer if it backed over one with the ranch truck. Seriously, Martha Stewart would not feel at home here. As a matter of fact, I think her head might explode if she had to step one foot in the place.

One of my long-term projects is to turn this dinky little room into a better functioning mudroom. Any suggestions? There will never be a shower in there, but perhaps there can be such a miraculous rug that it will attract and collect dirt when the man of the house comes in and doesn’t want to take off his boots because he’s just come in for a drink of water and is going right back out again. It will be a place to get most of the dirt off the dogs when on a rare occasion the outdoor dogs are let in the house. As for the husband, I’m not so persnickety as to demand he take off his boots every time he comes in the house. This is a ranch after all. It’s not the Taj Mahal. But still … it would go a long way to transforming me into a happier version of my already happy self if this mudroom was better functioning. So let’s get working on it!

The Heart of Our Home

There’s nothing like a woodstove. Yes, it dries out the air, but around here that’s not too bad of a thing because we’re in the rainy season so the air-drying factor is compensated by the humidity. Other than that I can’t think of a bad thing. Well, one thing perhaps. You might think getting the wood for it is unpleasant. We actually have figured out how to make it as pleasant a project as possible. We have lots of oak for the picking, and we also have a log splitter so these old bones don’t have to do the heavy lifting. When we were young, using the mallet and splitting maul was not such a travail but now we have to face facts. We ain’t as young as we used to be. My guess: Technology was invented by old people. We had to find another way to get by when sheer brawn didn’t cut the mustard.

So now the wood is all in the shed and kindling is the only task day to day. Making kindling is an easy task. I sit out on my stump splitting kindling like I saw a fellow on Alaska the Last Frontier do it. He steadied the piece to be split with another small piece of wood and then – whack – he hits it with the hatchet and no fingers are in danger. They’re well out of the way.

woodstove

Now the woodstove warms up the room in two seconds flat. It’s cheery in the cold and darkness like only a fire is cheery, and I think of our ancestors way, way back huddling around the fire while the blizzard raged outside or the wolves howled at the edge of the forest. Then it was more than cheery. It was life itself. What a relief that must have been and no wonder we still retain that joy when we sit in front of a fire in these days of convenience. I know I do.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
– Benjamin Franklin (from www.BrainyQuote.com)



11/21/2014
Renee-Lucie BenoitDedicated to my good friend Roberta who once told me that sourdough is the healthiest kind of bread.

Some researchers and health practitioners say that fermented food products are very good for you. We’ve all heard of the benefits of pro-biotics. Let’s just state for the record that I’m not a researcher or health practitioner so I’m not making any claims. I’ve just heard that some people say that we should stay away from gluten products and that if we must eat grain products they should be fermented. They say that the gluten chain is already partially digested by beneficial micro-organisms before we even ingest it. So that’s good. Then some of these micro-organisms make their way into our gut and thereby making it healthier. That’s also good. Me, personally? I just like the way it tastes.

In this recipe we will be starting with the fermented part – a California sourdough base because this is California after all. Wherever you make your sourdough it will be your own unique sourdough.

It’s very easy. Into a crockery bowl or any non-reactive non-metal bowl put and mix 1 tablespoon  active dry yeast, 2  1/2 cups warm water, 2 teaspoons sugar or honey, and 2  1/2 cups rye flour or whole wheat flour to make a thick mud consistency. I have used my Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown for years. I always refer to it for basic understanding of bread baking.

1sourdough

Don't use a metal spoon to stir it. Use wood or any other non-reactive utensil. Set it aside covered loosely with plastic wrap and a towel for 4 to 5 days. Once a day, stir it to add air to the fermenting process. Watch while bubbles begin to form and then it will settle down and start to smell “sour.” This means it’s working. It doesn’t mean it’s going bad. Watch out that you use a big bowl! I had a lovely crockery container that I thought would work fine and then the next thing I know I’ve got Lucy Ricardo-washing-machine-overflow going on. But if this happens, don’t worry. Just scoop it up and put it in a bigger bowl. The sourdough starter is very forgiving. I wish I had a picture of my “volcano.” It was so funny.

Now you can store your starter in the fridge indefinitely. Just stir it once in a while. But better yet use it at least once a week to make pancakes or whatever your little heart desires.

Danish Fermented Rye Bread

This is my Danish friend’s recipe. Her name is Andrea Hejlskov. She writes a wonderful blog that you should check out. Andrea told me that this recipe is not bullet proof or authoritative. This is how she does it. So that is how I do it, too.

Take 2 cups starter and add 4 to 5 cups rye flour into a big bowl. Add 1 cup at a time. You might have to add more. Stir it well. The consistency of the mix should look like what you see in the picture. Thick, sticky mud. Consistency is important when making rye bread. Don’t worry. It’s going to be wetter than a normal yeast bread where you add flour and then knead until it’s dry and springy. No kneading in this recipe.

3sponge 

Now add rye flour or water until you think it looks right. You can also add oil, 1/2 to 1 cup. Not more. I don’t add oil at all and it turns out real nice.

2soakgrains

Then in another bowl mix 1 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup each of poppy seed, flax seed and sesame seed, and 1/2 cup each of cracked wheat and cracked rye. Use your imagination. All I had was nine grain hot cereal instead of cracked wheat and rye so I added that. It was perfect. These additions will give the bread a very nice texture. Cover the grains and seeds with water. Andrea and I always use the wooden spoon that we used for mixing the sourdough, and we let it sit in the grains and water for a while. Andrea says, “It’s a superstitious thing.”

Cover both bowls and let them stand for at least 12 hours.

Now it’s time to finish, but before you do, you should replenish your sourdough by putting some of your flour mixture back into the container. Use a couple big dollops and stir it in. Store it for the next time you need a sourdough.

4replenish

Now back to your bread mixture. Add a little bit of salt, a handful of sugar and a couple teaspoons of fennel in this bowl. You can also use anise. Either one is traditional.

5fennel

Note: There are a lot of rye bread recipes out there and in most of them you will find ingredients such as syrup, beer or malt. Even chocolate! You can add this stuff if you want, but we find that using simple salt and sugar is the easiest and the bread gets as dark as we want. We think syrup tends to make the bread pasty and beer tends to make it a bit bitter. Experiment around. See what works for you.

6addgrains 

Then pour all of the soaked seeds and grains on top of it. The seeds and grains will probably soak up all of the water but if they haven´t drain out the water. Just use the grains.

7stir 

 Stir well and add more whole grain rye flour until you get a consistency that looks like mud.

Coat your loaf pans with a good olive oil.

8pans

Fill them halfway up. Then let the batter rest for a while. At least a couple hours, but you can let it rest for longer. How long it takes depends on how robust your yeast was. The dough will rise more and be ready to go into the oven. Here’s where good experience will tell you. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that the dough will tell you. If it looks like it’s rising out of the pans, the dough is telling you it wants to go into the oven.

9risen

Preheat your oven to 250 to 300 F. This wet dough needs a long baking time. It might be 2 to 3 hours. That’s why we’re using a slow oven. Just keep an eye on the bread and when you think it’s done take it out and tap it with your finger. If the loaf is the color you want and sounds hollow when you tap it then it’s done.

10bakedbottom 

Immediately take out the loaf from the pan. This is done to keep the crust on all four sides of the bread crisp. If you only want it to be crisp on the top leave the bread in the pan a little longer.

11bakedtop

The bread should be firm. If it wobbles, quickly put it back into the pans and into the oven for a little while longer. It's real hard to burn in a slow oven. You'd have to completely forget about it and hours later you will have adobe bricks. That's useful, too!

Once you take the bread out, this is NOT the time to cut the bread – however tempted you may be – let a couple of hours pass. It makes the bread pasty. The loaf needs to rest, just like everybody else.

12slices

Andrea suggests that you eat it with good cheese and carrot marmalade or pastrami. I drizzle it with honey from our ranch and put a good California jack cheese on it. Very delicious and good for you!

13quail

I sit on my front porch and eat it while there’s warm afternoon sun. I notice that the quail came to the feeder and that the surrounding landscape is the same color and texture of the bread.



11/10/2014

Renee-Lucie BenoitI’m about to do the unthinkable. I'm going to share a cherished family recipe with you. My husband says they are so good that I ought to go into business and sell them at county fairs. He thinks I can get $5 for each and I probably can, but they are a bit of work so I think I’ll just keep the recipe for the family and share it with you.

I don’t make them all the time and I don’t make them in summer. It’s a perfect fall and winter comfort food. I hope you enjoy them. Even though the recipe takes time and a lot of ingredients, the outcome is so very worth it. Especially 10 minutes out of the oven while still warm.

Our Family's Sticky Buns

finished

Start off by making yeasted coffee cake bread dough.

Combine in a large bowl:

1/4 cup warm water (feels warm not hot when you stick your finger in it)
2  1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk (room temperature)
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Mix with a whisk until blended.

bowl 

Stir in 2 to 2  1/4 cups bread flour.

bowlwithflour 

 Mix until the dough comes together.

bowlwithdough 

Knead by hand for a while until the dough is smooth and elastic and doesn’t stick to your hands or the bowl. You may have to add a little flour. Add 6 tablespoons really soft butter (room temperature) and knead it in.

bowlwithbutter

This is very messy but persevere and it will all incorporate. After the butter is incorporated, you will have to add a little flour to make it knead up smooth again.

bowlwithkneaded 

Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in volume.

If you have a gas stove, the warmth from the pilot light usually makes the top of the stove a warm area. I have an electric stove so I turn the oven on at the lowest setting. The heat rises from the oven and makes the stove top warm. Take care not to put the bowl right over a really hot area. We heat with wood and sometimes in the fall or winter the kitchen can be quite cool. This rising might take about an hour and a half.

After it’s doubled punch it down, knead it a little bit and put it back in the warm place until doubled again.

Now it’s time to start the assembly phase.

For the Topping

Melt in a medium saucepan:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup honey

meltedtopping

Remove from the heat and add:

2  1/2 cups chopped pecans

toppingpecans

Grease your pan or large muffin tins, and pour or spoon in the topping. This is going to be like Pineapple Upside Down Cake. That is, upside down. Let the topping cool while you make the rolls.

toppinginpan 

Spread the dough out on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a big rectangle; 12-by-16 inches is just about right. Brush the surface with melted or really soft butter. Then sprinkle with:

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Roll it up on the long side so you have a long cigar-shaped roll.

rolled and ready for slicing

Cut it crossways into slices,

sliced

and put them down in the pecan candy syrup pans.

ready for baking in a round pan

Don’t crowd them too much.

baked in a muffin tin

They will swell up in baking.

Preheat your oven to 350 F while your buns are resting covered loosely with plastic wrap while you clean up. When you’re done and they’ve risen again a bit, pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them because they can go to burning quickly so set that timer for 15 minutes and add more time until they are nice and brown. Tap them with the tip of your finger. They should sound hollow.

baked in a muffin tin 

baked 

Out of the oven let them sit for 15 minutes to cool and then invert them over your plate or cake server.

finished 

I like to use a cake server because after all this work I feel proud and want them to be fit for a king or queen and look like it! As I’ve said these are best served while still a little warm so get your tea kettle boiling and make some tea or coffee. This recipe is the personification of nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven! (Sorry, Pillsbury).





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