Friday, December 10, 2010

Grocery store terror and the joys of soft pretzels

On Monday morning we needed to get out to the grocery store for a few things, but didn't manage to make it there until 11-ish.  I knew that I was playing with fire (too close to naptime), but what I didn't realize was that Jonah was not going to be happy unless he had a Car Cart.  And we weren't parked near any.  So I didn't get one.  This would have normally been fine, except that he actually saw another kid riding happily out of the store in a precious Car Cart, and that. was. it.  Even more sadly, the safety belt in the front part of the regular cart is now too small to fit around his deliciously plump belly, so I had the fun challenge of hanging onto his thigh while he screamed and wept as though someone was killing him.  Translation of the unending scream/sob/hysterical weeping: INEEDACARCARTORIWILLDIEOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHNOBODYUNDERSTANDSTHEHORRIFICTURNMYDAYHASTAKEN!!

It was a truly soothing experience in the produce section.  He got so entirely beside himself that I finally had to just take him out, pushing the cart with one hand (with Lavella loaded in the back of the cart), and trying not to crash into the astounded/annoyed/horrified elderly around me.  Once we reached the snack aisle (note to self: next time, go there FIRST.  OBVIOUSLY.), I was able to pacify him with a bag of bite-sized Vanilla Creme flavored rice cakes, and all was suddenly right with the world.  We definitely got a few strange looks when we inevitably saw some of our fellow Produce Section Shoppers in other aisles, and Jonah was chuckling and singing to himself.  Good stuff.

Once we got home, I popped a few Alieve, put the little ones down for their naps, and I was feeling right as rain again.  AND we had food.  BONUS!

In the afternoon, we had a visit with a little girl my boys know from school, and I planned our favorite playdate activity: pretzel making.


It's like playdough, with a bonus snack!  Unless you're Jonah, and then you're eating playdough as a snack anyway, so it wouldn't matter.  But you're probably not Jonah.


We've made Smitten Kitchen's recipe several times before, and it always turns out delicious results, regardless of the dexterity of the little fingers shaping the dough.  I sub in 2 cups of White Whole Wheat (King Arthur sells some), which adds wholesomeness without heaviness.  Serve it with some chunks of cheddar, and you've got a little meal.

A few tips:
  • Be sure that your dough mixture is more on the firm side than the soft-and-sticking-to-the-bowl end of things.  Otherwise you'll have a sad moment when your pretzels deflate as you attempt to peel them up off of the baking sheet to drop them into the water.  Although they'll still taste good!  They'll just look a little rough.  
  • When you lift them out of the water, be sure to set them on a cooling rack first to drain for a moment, before transferring them to the cookie sheet to salt and bake.  If you don't remember this step, you'll most likely have a soggy-bottomed pretzel, which -- while still quite edible -- may not be exactly what you had in mind. 
  • If you're using a really large saucepan to simmer these in (mine is a 12 inch 5 quart, and I fill it to a depth of about 2-ish inches), increase the baking soda/sugar ratio by 1-1/2.  (i.e. 6 Tablespoons baking soda, 3 tablespoons sugar).  The baking soda/sugar is the Magic Ingredient combo that makes these pretzels taste...well, like pretzels!  And the baking soda allows them to go all beautiful and golden in the oven.  Hooray!

The most important thing to remember though: relax and have fun!  Pretzels are not rocket science, and they don't have to look good to taste great.  Enjoy!!

1 comment:

a.susie said...

THAT is such a great grocery store story! Every mom everywhere past and present HAD to be thinking back on her own with either cringes or grins!

I must try these pretzels out. Thanks for all the good advice on getting them to come out. Gary and I both adore soft pretzels!