Nothin’ but the oooey gooey . . . Marvelous Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon roll final

Dear Friend asked for recommendations on where to find a good classic cinnamon roll in Seattle? If you have seen one roll you have seen one roll. Each bakery has their own style, none of which were what her taste buds where searching for….  Grand Central – too dry, no frosting; Cinnabon – too commercial, no ambience, Maltbe Cafe – heard they are good, too far north, too long of a wait, Macrina – not gooey, no frosting yada yada yada.  Based on exclusions and no other ideas at the tip of my tongue – I decided that I could make the roll she longs for: Gooey, cream cheesy, white flour (none of that healthy whole wheat stuff), not too French, (who cares if it’s Golden Croissant Award winning or whatever) AND ….  just like we used to eat on Thursdays in grade school. Ah….. Chili, cinnamon roll and chocolate milk day! Still continues on but I chose to live in my memory. That and I am hundreds of miles away from those Thursdays.

Searched my recipe tomes for the home ec recipe that I swear I saved (it would be perfect!). No where to be found. Turning to Pinterest and obsessively critiquing reviews I settled on “Overnight” Cinnamon Rolls via Turntable Kitchen blog complements of Pink of Perfection, and added in my own twists.  With all the best intentions to start the night before sleep in and serve for brunch, I started at 11 pm all to find out my yeast expired 2011 and was supposed to be in the fridge/freezer after opening, which is was not. Rather than launch into a futile mission, I went to bed and set my alarm to head to the store first thing. Fast Forward to Sunday morning!

“Overnight” Glazed Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
1 cup of milk (I had skim and some half and half which I created some % of milk)
1/3 cup of butter
1 packet or 0.25 ounces of active dry yeast
1/2 cup of sugar
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs

For the filling:
1 1/3 cups of brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons of flour
1/4 cup of butter softened

1/4 cup butter for spreading on dough

For the sugar glaze
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of butter, melted
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt

Cream Cheese Icing

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

  1. Start by making the dough. Heat milk in a small pot or microwave until it just starts to bubble. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter until it is melted. Set aside and let cool. so you don’t kill the yeast…
  2. Combine half of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), mixing well. Add in the lukewarm milk/butter mixture and eggs, beating well. Add in 1/2 cup of flour, stirring well. Continue adding the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well each time.  When making it same day I dissolved the yeast in the lukewarm milk, butter mixture, brought the eggs to room temp in a water bath and just dumped it in all together
  3. Once the dough has just come together, transfer it to a lightly flour surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Add flour as needed if too sticky. This could also be done with a dough-hook in a stand mixer. I started with mine but just can’t get the hang of it. I like the real knead.
  4. If overnighting – Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes. If same daying – place in greased bowl (Pam) and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 60 minutes, ideally to double in size. Mine did not rise that well but no big gig said the pig.  Have your dog supervise the rise…
  5. While the dough is resting or rising, mix the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Use your fingers or a fork to create small crumbs and make sure that the cinnamon and brown sugar are well-mixed with the butter. Not an exact science here. You could toss in raisins or nuts or whatever too.
  6. On a well flour surface – roll out the dough into a roughly 16 x 21 inch rectangle, about a 1/4 inch think. Spread a 1/4 cup of soften butter on the dough, THEN spread the cinnamon/sugar/butter filling over the dough and roll from the long end.
  7. Prepare a 9×12 inch baking pan, glass or metal. Cut the dough log into 12 – 16 rolls, placing them cut side up in the pan. Cut using a double up piece of thread.
    1. For overnight – cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately 8-12 hours.
    2. For same day – cover with tinfoil or plastic wrap and let rise a second time for about 30 minutes
  8. For overnight rolls – the next morning remove the pan from the refrigerator and let it sit out in a draft-free place for about 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  10. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze or icing by whisking together all of the glaze ingredients. Same for icing. Thin out with milk, if needed.
  11. Pour the glaze or dollop the icing evenly over the hot cinnamon rolls and eat warm. I also tried melting a salted caramel on top.  pretty good but cream cheese is better.

supervised rise Supervised risecinnamon roll pan2 Hot and Fresh!

Cinnamon rolls – how I have forgotten my love for thee ….

The Art of Packing the Picnic Hamper

picnic basket

Etiquette Roulette Time: Courtesy of Amy Vanderbilt, Miss Manners, Smokey & Yogi Bear

AV Picnic collage

MM picnic collage

Eleanor Roosevelt would say: no one can make you go picnicking without your consent.

picnic basketOnly YOU can make a picnic Fabulous…

Source: Amy Vanderbilt’s 1952 COMPLETE Book of Etiquette (p. 309), Miss Manners 1938 Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (p. 134) & Random Googling for Bear quotes

Promoting Culture II – Champagne of Life

In follow up to my January 23rd post about promoting culture, in the form of yogurt, here is a post about taking it to the next level – Kombucha.  So beyond a beverage I enjoy, What is Kombucha?

  • Pronounced – kŏm’bū chah  (kobooocha)
  • In a nutshell: Effervescent fermentation of a sweet black tea
  • Who does the work? SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), comprised of Acetobacter and a yeast or two.
  • Who is this SCOBY character and what do they doo (pun intended)? SCOBY forms a zoogleal mat (this is a great example of a pictures being worth a thousand words!)
  • Health Benefits – Ancients claimed it was “a beverage with magical powers enabling people to live forever”, obviously this has not been reviewed and approved by the FDA, nor have the claims of detoxification and general godliness. This probiotic libation does however wet the whistle,  quench the thirst, and tickle the taste buds.
  • Drink formerly known as – Manchurian mushroom, chai of the sea, champagne of life, spumonto
  • Etymology – just see the wiki on it, if that is your gig
  • Brew –  1 cup of sugar to 1 gallon of brewed tea, fermented over several weeks once, bottled, fermented again with flavor then refrigerated
      • Too much brew action = apple cider vinegar or really weak hooch
      • Not enough brew = lame, no bubbles

My Experience:

Fabulous hubby bought me a K-kit for Christmas from Brooklyn KBBK. Complete with everything you need (but could totally round up somewhere else) and an IOU for Señora SCOBY.


Just completed my first batch all the way through consumption. Talk about two good lookin’ SCOBYs and I am so far still standing!  Next time I will let the second batch ferment a little longer for more bubbles but other than that turned out great and will save big bucks over buying at the store. Kombucha is fun to drink and may make you mortal but will have to wait and see.  Try some different flavors in the store to see what you think but save the bottle, so when you start making your own you already have the vessels.

complete kombucha

Conclusion: You CAN have your culture and drink it too.


cheers v2

Big thanks to Wikipedia and general tubes of internet for random party trivia.

Reach & Read: Grayson

Grayson by Lynne Cox

graysonIs it really a book about a baby whale? Sure, if you judge it by its cover. Lynne has shared with us a personal memory of swimming with a baby whale separated from its mother.  She describes all of the vibrant sea life and the swimming experience in a way that almost transports you there (why yes, how could I forget how annoying sand in my suit is…). The total time spanned in the book is just less than a few hours of one morning, and probably takes less to read, but Lynne grows and experiences years of lessons. A notable characteristic of this book that at times felt rather cloying, especially if you took it in context, are the plentiful life lessons presented right in the text as part of her seventeen year old stream of consciousness. However, just take a pause and move below the surface (as Lynne often does in this tale) and reflect for just a bit longer.  I want to share with you some of thought capsules to be consumed.

  • Capsule # 1:  Be patient. Wait. Nothing is all good or all bad. As a problem develops, so does the solution. [p. 133]
  • Capsule # 2:  Waiting is as important as the doing . . . it’s painting the subject and the space in between; is the reading and the thinking about what you’ve read; it’s the written words, what is said and what is left unsaid; it’s the space between thoughts on the pages, that makes the story and it’s the space between the notes, the intervals between fast and slow, that makes the music. . . [p.103]
  • Capsule # 3: Use your heart. it is love that surpasses all boarders and barriers. It is a constant and endless sea. Speak … with your heart and … will hear you. [p.82]
  • Capsule # 4: It’s always difficult to swim against the tide . . . because the ideas that could result might cause something to change. . .  if I didn’t move outside  my comfort level, how would I ever experience anything new, how would I ever learn or see or explore. [p 80]
  • Capsule # 5: Sometimes … the important things take time, sometimes they don’t happen all at once, sometimes answers come out of time and struggle and learning. [p.73]
  • Capsule # 6: … it’s the process of doing that makes things clear. If we don’t start, we never know what could have been. Sometimes the answers we find while searching are better or more creative than anything we could have imagined before. [p.56]
  • Capsule # 7: a thought is energy and as it is transmitted it is multiplied. Thoughts can can be either positive, negative or neutral ….. affecting ht way other people think. If I thought negatively, I would put out negative energy. But if I thought positively, I would put out positive energy, expanding the possibilities of what could happen. It is very much like actors improvising. If they work together…. respond to one another in a positive way they keep their skit … moving forward….. as soon as someone puts forth soothing negative, the improvisation shuts down. [pp 47-48]

Is this really a book a about a whale? That is for you to decide. Be patient, it will be the space between the words on the page. Take from here what you will but use your heart, find the tide to challenge and by doing find clarity, maybe where you least expect it.

Mossy Walk

Today I launched a new creativity campaign – Mossy Walks. Inspired by a single paver near our driveway and a never ending supply of green, unassuming, intricate mossomeness in BeHi.  What began as just a reason to get out for a walk, log some steps on my FitBit and finally take a photo of that lovely stone, turned into a meditation walk and a time to connect with my neighborhood. I skipped yoga to complete, made North Beacon Hill my labyrinth and was rewarded greatly.  See the Photo Walks gallery for documentation.  Top five reasons everyone should take a Mossy Walk:

  • Spending time with a singular focus is a luxury
  • When you are looking for less, you see more
  • Number of steps is proportional to the amount of inspiration
  • Allows you to see beauty in even the most dinghy areas
  • May just find enlightenment


“A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”


PS: I can’t help my self but in my head is the Rocky Top Tennessee song, of course being dubbed Mossy Walk Tennessee… Mossy Walk, you’ll always be Home Sweet Home to me! Good ol’ Mossy Walk …  Big shout out and thanks to my grade school music teachers for instilling these classics into our lives.

Reach & Read: Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses – Jeanette Walls

Half-Broke-Horses-A-True-Life-NovelWalls delivers many answers to disbeliefs conjured up during the unbelievable but true story line in The Glass Castle.  How can Jeannette be so resilient? Under what circumstances did her parents meet?  I always love a back story and this is no exception. Definitely more action packed than the Little House series (although Laura will forEVER have a special place in my heart and I long to be a Bonnet Head).  You can see the scenes unfolding: driving an automobile, flooding gully, red silk shirt and one-room school house.  I loved living life through Lily’s eyes.  Do note: I definitely recommended reading this AFTER The Glass Castle, and enjoy the original ride without a road map. Not that I have experience with the opposite order….. just take my word. Take heed, nibbling on the chocolate first will skew the wine experience. Never let the chocolate be sweeter than the wine and bitter(sweet) is better with Beaujolais. (who doesn’t love an alliteration).

Happy & Prosperous

Gōng Xǐ Fā Cá!

Hanukkah may bring Eight Crazy Nights (thank you Adam Sandler for teaching me this) – but the Chinese have Fifteen Crazy Nights of New Year. See Wikipedia article for all the amazing things that occur.  I also think the Chinese have another thing figured out, especially when it comes to New Years. I much prefer overindulging with food than alcohol (and not staying out till the wee hours).

And here we are on New Year’s Day, status post a wonderful meal with family and friends consisting of oysters in the half-shell, egg rolls, soft shell crab, seafood/beef/lamb hotpot, red wine and pineapple upside down cake.  Pictures are lacking because to pause and photograph would have meant missing out.  There are many foods set to bring good luck for the New Year, many of which we consumed last night.

  • Oranges and Tangerines – wealth and luck: Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, the word for tangerine echoes luck.
  • Long noodles = long life, naturally
  • Spring rolls = wealth, if you squint and bring in a dose of imagination you might see gold bars
  • Leafy greens = money, long life when served whole, my MIL is the best and bought my favorite vegetable rau muong, water spinach, kangkung among others (scientific  Ipomoea aquatica)
  • Fish: a play on words – Chinese for fish is Yu  sounds like the words for “wish” and “abundance”. While, traditionally, a fish is served with its head and tail still attached for a good beginning and ending to the year, we ate our chopped and plopped into the hot pot (rhymes!)
  • Oysters (in the half shell) – Chinese “hao”, sounds like “good events.” Science has demonstrated these tasty bivalves aphrodisiac tendencies, oysters are chuck full of zinc, a key nutrient for testosterone production, important component for a healthy libido. However, one could still suppose the connection with romance is based in random chance. Slurping the slippery contents from their shells might just reveal a pearl.  Oh the metaphors and double entendres!
        • This year we dined on Kusshi, Penn Cove and High Point – all belong on a list of repeats
  • Sweets: while I don’t think the Asian cultures have dessert figureed out (I mean really BEANS – no amount of sugar makes that a dessert). This year: Pineapple upside down cake. See below for the play by play.

Every good critical thinker should ask the contrary -What foods should one avoid consuming? With the exception of tofu, white foods could symbolize misfortune, mourning or even death. I have no problem avoiding foods that look like death.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake:

My father in law asked that I make a dessert for New Years. I know that he loves the sweet treats I make for him and probably shares the same sentiments that Asian desserts miss the mark when a true sweet tooth sings… (Durian, beans and corn). Citrus is important and red/yellow/gold are the celebratory colors of New Year symbolizing just about everything good (look up all the meanings sometime) and circles are deep with meaning in many cultures. Insert a moment of clarity and  Voila! I remembered making a pineapple upside down cake in home economics (which quite possibly could have been the last time I baked one).  With the circles of pineapple rings, red maraschino cherries and golden color of the brown sugar – perfecto!

I looked for updated recipe from my home ec version that of course I still have, and landed upon Veronica’s Cornicopia.  Omitted the rum, subbed homemade yogurt for sour cream and used salted butter and Kosher salts (oops, but not a problem). It was a hit, perhaps a new tradition for the McTruongs.

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I leave you with images of the special Chinese New Year Tissue poms. My MIL loved the ones I made the baby shower and asked probably 12 times for me to make her some for New Years (but not white ones, again reminded 12 times, the whole death thing). Who could say no to that? So I made two sets, one for her and one for her sister.  DIL brownie points! and a Big Thank You to my assistant fluffer – HT – who can do it with one arm in a sling. xoxo

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New Year

The cure for a common Super Bowl…

Don’t get me wrong… I have been known to be a tad competitive. Not at sports though – I had to have special after school T-ball instruction in middle school, learned to skip AFTER my little brother and self-selected to be the girls basketball team manager in high school (read: chief hair braider, statistician and water girl).  Boom! Lettered in it!

Know what else is competitive: Football and Pinterest.  How many times have you felt like, oh my, I am such a slacker I should totally be painting my staples to match my stationary and doing up my nails to depict the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? You are lying if it hasn’t happened at least once. Well, to minimize the amount of time I had to watch Super Bowl pontification, I set down to getting crafty, cooky and domesticky. Someone cue up Chariots of Fire!

Hubby asked for brownies last night when at the grocery store when paused near a display of brownie mix. I can’t turn him down, as he asks for little but I was NOT about to use just a mix on this special 3rd of February. Enter – Pinterest search for Brownies –> Glorious Treats. Voila! Random acts of chocolate.

brownie collageNext – must continue to one up myself in MIL’s eyes. She brags of my Caucasian ways to her Asian peers. “Oh no, those white girls are not lazy!  Let me count the ways … my DIL makes her own…… ” (loosely interpreted via hubby). I am also whipping up some red tissue poms for her in honor of Chinese New Year.  Bonus points!

Pate – comppate1liments of the article on the lowly anchovy.  I made it my own by using truffle salt and sherry (instead of maderia). Topped off with lavender pepper. When they say meat smoothie, they mean it but it is tasty.  Just needing some crusty bread now. Spread that on your bahn mi!

Miso Cod – set about-a-marinatin’ for Tuesday night’s dinner. They wanted at LEAST 24 hours in the miso, mirin and sugar bath. Bound to be a winner! Thank you Leite’s Culinaria

Football food for hubby – spicy sweet molasses meatballs! No photo as they were all gone before I could snag a shot.

Yogurt – third batch now (see previous post on promoting culture). I have it down now. I use 2% milk and whatever yogurt is still left over. Made a special batch for MIL (see above about pate)

asparagus collageCooked a Pinterest inspired dinner:  Fried Egg Asparagus Gruyere on puff pastry. Added a sunny side up egg and bacon, because EVERYTHING is better with bacon (and hubby might’ve wined)

Prep for Monday dinner – Jamie Oliver’s Pappardelle with braised beef. Crock it up! Again, thank you Leite’s.

Post vintage crocdoily collage 2het bedspread and doilies for a friend to etsy. Still a little more to go here. Made by his mother, these are fine specimens of patience and attention to detail. Also, posted ready-made bow ties to etsy store.

puppy bowlWatch the Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl featuring Kitty Half-Time show.  Seriously funny, cripplingly cute – I’m talking hedgehog cheerleader cute — and if you can rescue a pet or support on you SHOULD!  Read the bios if you missed the show and don’t miss the hamsters, pigs and birds. My fave: Montana.

Other things, like laundry, walking the dog, washing a ton of dishes (result from above), shopping online for fabric, buying books on Amazon, Pinning pins about Pinterest etc.

All in all – I’d call it a win. AND I never lost any power! Someone cue up some Queen for my victory lap.

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What’s in a name? That which we call a ….

Bow Tie. Neck Flare. Noose….

Regardless – I love a challenge!  Here are some fruits from a recent request to make bow ties as party favors for one classy lady DT!  She knows how to throw a party and to be included in the festivities is an honor for sure.

Enjoy the sample showing and see if you can figure out my logic (or lack of) for naming each tie!

collage 2 collage of ties Bow Ties 12

Interested in purchasing some lovely neck flare for that someone special? See my Etsy shop and put a BOW tie on IT!   Orange you glad you stopped by my blog today….