I almost cried yesterday because, well, a good friend had offered to watch Owen so that I could have an afternoon out, all to myself. In my afternoon of freedom and fun, I had planned to buy these shoes with the cash we got back from using our credit card to pay for Owen’s birth. Baby-pushing shoes. That’s right. Then I was going to follow up this reward purchase with an hour at a coffee shop, reading this book.
I had big plans for my afternoon out. But apparently so did the weather.
It had been lightly raining and sleeting most of the morning, but it wasn’t until I was about halfway to this friend’s house that the sleet turned to road-slush, and a heavy
snow-sleet sneet began falling, resulting in 30-mph traffic and that panicky feeling you get when a semi passes you and its sprayed road-slush momentarily covers your windshield, completely inhibiting your ability to see. Usually that special relationship between semi-slush and my windshield is reserved for January or February…but this has been a weird spring.
This was all happening at 1:00pm. And as I drove, (with my gas light flashing for additional stress), I had the sinking realization that my trek back home a few hours later would be right at the peak of rush hour. Slushtacular spring-blizzard traffic jams?…On my day of freedom-and-fun?!…Shut it down.
So, I exited, and I called my friend and cancelled. But before simply returning home to throw myself the pity-party of the year, I thought I could at least salvage the afternoon by buying myself the shoes. (editor’s note: I am not regularly the type of lady who seeks comfort in a new pair of shoes…really. The only other time that happened was in 2nd grade when my mom bought me some new Keds after I lost mine in a battle with some quicksand-swamp-mud. True Story.)
Gas light glaring at me from the dashboard, Owen and I made a quick stop at REI, where I bought myself said shoes and also, in the process, an increasingly crabby baby. Back in the car, I was completely unable to see out of my foggy car windows, so I waited for the defrosters to kick in while I smartphoned the closest gas station. A mere .6 miles down the road, and I was off…with a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and what sounded more and more like a siren in the backseat.
A few minutes later, I pulled into where the GPS had led me: a Sam’s Club gas station. Thanks SmartPhone! I stood outside with completely soaked shoes and socks while I slowly realized that no, I was not a Sam’s Club member and was therefore not allowed to fill up my tank.
Back in the car. Baby clearly, clearly unhappy with my choice of activities for the afternoon. And another .5 miles down the road to the next gas station, where I stood with my back to the wind, squinting as snow pelted my eyeballs. With my soaked shoes squelching with each pump of the brakes, we slowly made it home, as I alternated between deep breathing to try to keep myself calm and several rounds of Old MacDonald to try to keep Owen pacified.
Needless to say, when we returned home at 2:15, I called it quits for the day, traded my damp clothing for sweatpants and my baggiest sweatshirt, and once Owen was napping, made myself this microwaved mug cake as solace. And honestly, I went to bed grumpy, joining in the great Minnesota Mumble about how it’s nearing the end of April…and that this winter madness must stop.
But then, something strange happened. I woke up this morning, and snow was everywhere: a white and undisturbed blanket resting quietly over the neighborhood, clinging to every branch, twig, and tree bud. It was a very calm morning – still, white, intricate..and beautiful. A landscape in humble submission. So after breakfast, I strapped Owen onto my back, and we walked down to the park and back to embrace the seasonal strangeness and take some pretty pictures…of course stopping at the bakery on the way home for a giant Snickerdoodle. #obsessed
Hungry and apparently eager to cancel out any benefits from my workout of hauling my 20-pounder through deep snow, I came back and heated up some of these homemade buns and slathered them in butter and cinnamon-sugar. Bliss.
These buns are another recipe from the book we’re giving away this week: The Exact Place (Giveaway details below). In the book, the author’s mom pulls these out of the oven on a stormy day, and as I read the description of this moment, I daydreamed about offering the same kind of bready comfort to my own kids as they stepped off the school bus and back into our home.
I don’t typically buy, make, or eat white bread, so these buns are such a fluffy treat. For a yeast recipe, this one is pretty easy – not much kneading involved. Honestly, the buns themselves don’t have a ton of flavor – despite being perfectly soft and fluffy and bready smelling. But put some butter on it with some sprinkled brown sugar or a cinnamon-sugar combo, and it might just change your life. If you go the cinnamon-sugar route, as I did, and you add some coffee to the mix, you might even forget, for just a minute, how badly you want spring. I’ve been eating these for breakfast (and my afternoon snack, because, you know, I’m a fifth grader), but these buns would make a perfect companion to your next dinner, especially spread with some herbed butter.
Here’s how to enter the giveaway:
1. Leave a comment HERE indicating that you too would like to read this book!
2. For an extra entry, like Carpé Season on facebook or, if you already do, share the link to this post on your facebook page and tell us that you did so in the comments HERE.
3. For an extra, extra entry, tweet about the giveaway and let us know that you tweeted like a boss HERE.
4. You can give yourself one more chance by pinning the picture of the book and commenting to let us know HERE!
The giveaway entries will be closed this Saturday, April 20, at midnight, CST, and the randomly selected winner will be announced the next day!
(recipe from The Exact Place )
(yields 30 buns)
I'm not sure why these simple buns from The Exact Place are called "Half-Time" Buns. They seem like pretty normal-timed buns to me. But these are classic white buns perfection - fluffy, soft, and perfect with some good butter. I halved the book's recipe, and the halved amount is listed here, which still yielded 30 buns.
3 and 3/8 tsp. active dry yeast (equal to 1 1/2 [1/4-oz] packets)
1/4 + 1/8 c. warm water*
1/2 c. vegetable shortening, melted
1 1/8 c. milk scalded**
3/4 c. cold water
1/2 tbsp. salt
6 c. all purpose flour
You're looking for water between 100-105 or warm enough that it feels hot when it runs onto your wrist but not so hot that you want to pull it out
**To scald milk, place milk in a a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Stirring almost continually, heat until it begins to froth around the edges and then remove from heat. I read that often old-fashioned recipes called for milk to be scalded to kill bacteria and that it is no longer necessary to do this. Other websites informed me that scalding the milk affected the texture and taste of baked goods; I decided to scald it, figuring it couldn't hurt.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water by stirring slightly. You are looking for the mixture to bubble and froth a bit (that's how you know your yeast is ready for action; if this doesn't happen, start over. Your water may have been too hot or cold). Set mixture aside.
In a large bowl, mix melted shortening and sugar. Add scaled milk and cold water; let sit until it is lukewarm, then add yeast mixture. Add 2 c. of flour, beating well with a mixer. Then thoroughly beat in the eggs. At this point, ditch the mixer for a wooden spoon, and stir in the remaining flour. I found that to get the flour incorporated, I had to turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a bit, using a little more flour to keep it from sticking to my hands. The dough will feel wetter and sticker and thicker than you think it should, but press on!
Heat oven to 200*. Turn oven off after it reaches this heat.
Once the flour is totally incorporated, spray your bowl with cooking spray and spread it around the bowl with a paper towel. Shape dough into a rough ball and return to your lightly greased bowl. Cover with a flour-sprinkled towel.
Place covered dough bowl into your heated oven, WHICH YOU'VE TURNED OFF :)
Let it rise until doubled (this took me one hour). Punch it down with oiled hands. Form dough into buns (sized bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball) and place buns onto greased baking sheets. Cover with floured towels and let rise again until doubled (I heated my oven again to 200*, offed it, and let the buns rise again in the warm oven; allow for 30-45 minutes).
If using your oven to let the buns rise, remove from oven and preheat oven to 350*.
Bake buns for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
If serving immediately, brush tops with butter. If saving or !freezing!, save this step until ready to serve.
Topping options: butter! cinnamon-sugar! brown-sugar! garlic salt!
half recipe makes 30 buns