The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sweetened Hockey Pucks

It all started with the cinnamon rolls. I should have known. I should have anticipated that this was not going to go well, by the sheer force of will exerted by these same rolls in the effort not to be made. Remember my saying that I kept putting off making them, couldn’t find the yeast, etc? It gets worse. But you know, I’m a generous soul. Allow me to share this (thankfully) secret family recipe. You never know when you might need a sweetened hockey puck.

We’ll pick this up where we left off—in the grocery store replacing the missing yeast that the house is even now ingesting (I expect at any time to open a cupboard and find fresh bread, mysteriously manufactured by the house while I slept. I’m going to go see if any flour’s missing). I bought the yeast, I trudged back through the rain, drove home. I went into the kitchen in a state of (in retrospect) heartbreaking innocence. That is, I was certain that all would now be well. Which is when I realized I had no eggs. And the recipe called, most definitively, for eggs. No way was I venturing back out into the rain (my hair frizzes in the rain, and I already looked so much like those white puffballs that dandelions turn into, I was more than a little afraid that someone would come up, make a wish, and blow in my face). I found another bread recipe that did not call for eggs. I tested the yeast. I blended the ingredients. So far, so good. Now, for a place to stash it overnight where it will be neither too cold nor too warm.

It is helpful here to note that Mr. Knitingale, unbeknownst to me at the time of our vows, is in fact a polar bear. He’s not white or fuzzy…but I suspect that this is a cunning disguise. He keeps the heat in the house so low during the night that it is not unusual to find the thermostat showing 55 degrees when I get up. Ed, who generally spends most nights outdoors, is usually begging to come in at this point; however, one step inside and he seems to recognize instantly that he has not much improved his lot and heads straight back out. Hence, finding a warm place for the dough was no easy task. I should have heeded Marianne’s sage advice and put it into a warm oven with a damp towel. Did I? Why, no. Of course not. Because for some reason this logic slipped from my mind and I didn’t remember it until later, when eating hockey pucks with the determination of one who cannot admit her own stupidity.

Instead, I placed the bowl of dough on the gas burning stove in the living room. Now wait, hear me out—it’s on a thermostat that my ursine hubby turns down into the 50s before retiring. So it can’t come on and cook the dough, but it has a pilot light that keeps the top quite warm. See? Not totally nuts. Not about the dough, anyway. Well, not at that point.

3:00 am. For some reason, I found myself wide awake. I was puzzled because I’ve actually been sleeping really, really well. I was also mightily pissed off, because I’ve been sleeping really, really well and am not the slightest bit interested in being insomniac again. But I know from experience that pissed off and sleep are poor partners indeed, and that lying in bed tends to promote one—the wrong one---and not the other, so I got up and moved to the living room couch with a blanket and a book. Great. Except I was freezing. Not being from a polar climate myself, I found myself shivering even under the blanket, and I felt certain that this would not be conducive to sleep. Turning up the furnace wasn’t an options—it would heat the whole house and wake up the bear. Who, as it turns out, eschews any warmth whatsoever when sleeping and would probably be doing so in the driveway if it were not for my stellar company. Which, at 3:00 am, was not so stellar. The only possibility then, was the gas stove/fireplace which was, unfortunately, also the only possibility for the dough. What to do? I considered my options—leave the dough where it was and have a burned blob of bread dough gaily scenting the air, or take it anywhere else in the Knitingale Ice Hotel and have it wither away pathetically in the artic breeze. Neither one was particularly tempting. In a fit of genius (you try getting up after 3 hours of sleep and see what strikes you as genius….), I finally placed a pan of water on the stove and balanced the bowl on that. Once it seemed to be warm, I then placed the bowl on the floor in front of the fireplace where it might stay warm without cooking. So clever. I then retired to the couch with my book and spent the next couple of hours alternately reading and hissing urgently at the cats to “get away from that bowl!!” (Don’t worry—it was covered. And it’s not like the dough ended up being anything edible anyway.)

Around 5:00, I got up and punched down the dough (even though it had done absolutely nothing to me…perhaps this explains the rest of what happened) and proceeded to shape it into lovely cinnamon rolls. I placed them in a carefully buttered pan. I covered the pan and placed it lovingly in front of the fireplace. At this point, I was so proud of myself that I had nearly forgiven the universe from rudely kicking me out of bed at o’dark o’clock. An hour later, I examined the rolls (which were supposed to only need another 45 minutes or so). They didn’t actually look very…..well…risen. A few of them looked puffy…but nothing too impressive. Still, in the same way that a knitter can continue knitting a sweater even after it becomes apparent that it could be worn by the Green Bay Packers—all of them, at once—so it was possible for me to actually bake the dreadful things. I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps that the roll fairy (who I now know does not live at the North Pole with us) would come and fix things? All I know for sure is that the time in the oven did absolutely nothing except scent the house beautifully and turn the dough into little hockey pucks. They clunked when I threw them out. I tried eating one (sleep deprivation is a sad thing, people) but began to worry about the tooth I have that is actually a porcelain implant. Somehow, the idea of a mouthful of fractured porcelain did nothing to improve either my spirits or my day. The rolls went.

Which is when hubby woke up and said cheerfully “Oh, it smells so good, Honey. What did you make?”

Poor polar bear. He never knew what hit him.


  • At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Dear Ms. Knitingale,

    I am so sorry I couldn't make it by early this morning to,ahem,work my magic on your..oh yeah,
    rolls...but was tied up at the Faerie Convention, (pesky Tooth Faerie anyway!), better luck next time, eh?


    The Cinnamon Roll Faerie

  • At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Seriously, I was laughing heartily over here, I would love to have the house cooler at night but sadly, DH doesn't suffer from hot flashes, but at the same time...he's like his own furnace! Go figure.

  • At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Jill said…

    I like those pilsbury rolls in a tube. So far, I havn't been able to screw those up. Also, pre-formed bread dough=BEST THING EVER!!!!

  • At 7:59 PM, Blogger Faren said…

    *snort* Funny story... to me anyway!
    It is really mean of the Cinnamon Roll Faerie to have them still smell like cinnamon rolls, but taste like hockey pucks!
    Now you got me wanting a cinnamon roll.

  • At 7:38 AM, Anonymous marti said…

    sounds like some of my own baking adventures!

  • At 7:47 AM, Blogger ambermoggie said…

    now look what you made me do, spurt Green and Black's hot chocolate all over the keyboard:))
    Seriously I think we have all done that with dough where we have this thought within us that some magic will take place during cooking and puff the darned things up:)))
    amber in scotland cleaning keyboards

  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger Peg said…

    You cracked me up with the cinnamon roll story, Ms. K. I often made cinnamon rolls using tea biscuit or scone dough. They may not be as tasty as yeast dough rolls, but they are good! I do not eat sugar, so cinnamon rolls are in the past for me, but I still love the smell of cinnamon baking! I think the time for rising (the dough that is) was just too short for the 'igloo' conditions of the house!

  • At 10:22 AM, Anonymous angie cox said…

    Oh Florence I am in love ....with your bear! I am a sad Polar Bear who lives with two Tarantulas . I am sorry about your bread ever thought of buying it? ouch what a shot spot on my nose !

  • At 6:03 PM, Blogger Lynn said…

    Oh how I wish you could meet Captain Kolache. He's a genius with the dough, and he gets quite a lot of mine. Kolaches of every flavor you can imagine, pasties of ham and cheese, pigs-in-blankets with mesquite sausage and jalapeno jack cheese, and *two* kinds of cinnamon rolls: smallish ones [the size of a woman's fist] that are frosted, and ginormous ones [the size of a polar bear's paw] that are not.

    And then there is the kolache man himself. Middle-aged, silver-haired, mustachio'd, and he sings in the back of the kitchen as he rolls the dough. On key, even.

    We will not say how long I had a crush on the kolache man.

    If you ever come to this part of TX, we'll make a field trip to the shop. Come early; he closes at noon.

  • At 9:41 AM, Blogger Jo said…

    But lookit you got the SCENT of baking cinnamon rolls, didn'tja? Isn't that the whole aim of the game? Just think - you mightn't have anything scrummy for breakfast, but the next person to walk in will definitely want to buy your house!
    Celtic Memory Yarns


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