Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Orange pecan cinnamon rolls

orange pecan cinnamon rolls

When I was young, my mom was a health food nut. We’re talking a full-on carob, wheat germ, no sugar in your cereal kind of health food nut. It was the 1970s, so it wasn’t that unusual, but still it drove me crazy. I wanted white bread, Fruit Loops, and Tang—not the crunchy, wholesome food products we’d pick up at the natural foods store. Sure, she cooked that way because she loved us, but I wanted to be like everyone else.

My mom’s do-it-yourself healthy ethos extended to the bread we ate, and it was the rare occasion when there wasn’t dough rising in a bowl or a loaf baking in the oven. (Whole wheat, of course.) Though I’m not complaining—I was a big fan of her homemade bread. Who can resist a warm slice of bread slathered in creamy butter or dipped in honey?

Now, for my birthday every year she’d make me orange cinnamon rolls. They were a flaky, buttery roll laced with a creamy, citrusy frosting. Our whole family loved them. Of course, there was nothing unusual about my mom making rolls—she baked bread all the time. But here’s the strange thing—these orange cinnamon rolls, loaded with white flour and sugar, were not homemade. Instead, these cinnamon rolls came from a can. It was quite the scandalous treat.

When I grew older, I began making my own bread. Yet, despite my having no fear when it came to working with yeast, flour, and water, I continued to buy canned orange cinnamon rolls. For some reason, I was afraid to make my own. But one day, I went to pick up a can and the store was out of the orange flavor. If I wanted orange ones, I’d have to bake them myself. This wasn’t a bad thing, as I soon discovered making cinnamon rolls from scratch isn’t terribly complicated. So if you’ve never baked bread or rolls yourself, I highly recommend it. Don’t be afraid!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chicken-fried chicken

chicken-fried chicken

Spring semester of my senior year in high school, when my friends and I were feeling daring we’d occasionally leave school for lunch. We only had 45 minutes so it had to be quick, and my school was in a remote area so there weren’t many dining options nearby. Though there was one restaurant that appealed to everyone—the local Grandy’s, which was only a short ride away.

If you’re not familiar with Grandy’s, it’s a fast-food joint that specializes in Southern cuisine classics. So if you’re looking for a quick chicken-fried steak along with biscuits and fried okra, Grandy’s is your place. Indeed, that’s what most of us ordered. But one friend, a gal who said she was watching her weight, always insisted on getting the chicken-fried chicken instead.

I hadn’t thought about those carefree days or chicken-fried chicken in years. But when someone asked me how I made mine, I realized it was a topic that needed visiting. Before we go any further, however, let me clarify one thing: chicken-fried chicken is not the same as fried chicken. Instead, it has more in common with chicken-fried steak. This is confusing, I know. Let me explain.

chicken-fried chicken

Two things differentiate fried chicken from chicken-fried chicken. First, fried chicken is bone-in chicken pieces from all parts of the bird that are coated in flour. Chicken-fried chicken, however, is a flattened chicken breast that is dredged in flour, then dunked into an egg and buttermilk wash, and then back into the flour again. The latter process being the same that is used to make chicken-fried steak, hence the name.

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