This morning is so cold! I can feel a draft in our apartment and my feet are not happy about it. The rest of me, however, is loving the sudden drastic change in the weather. My Minnesota-girl roots are thriving on what is reminiscent of a November morning at home.
I was talking to my mom on iChat earlier about how much I miss my old bedroom. The windows looked out over the 2 acres or so of grass in my parents backyard all the way to this massive cottonwood tree at the back corner of the property. I used to lay in bed and listen to the cold Minnesota wind gusting by my window, watching snow pile up or autumn leaves swirl gracefully through the air. I am grateful that I have those memories while living in a city like Tokyo. Sometimes, thinking about that view from my bedroom is all I can do to keep from feeling suffocated by the tall buildings and seemingly endless concrete. I’m just not a city girl. At least there is amazing food and accessible city getaways.
Another memory that creeps in occasionally is the smell that would slowly work its way under my bedroom door, across the floor, up over the food of my bed and slowly into my nostrils from my mother’s breakfasts.
Growing up in Tennessee, my mom developed a seriously amazing list of breakfast recipes that could make anyone feel like they were sitting in a country house surrounded by wide open spaces. Whether it was gravy and biscuits, pancakes, eggs and bacon (well, who am I kidding, we had bacon with most breakfasts like these) everything she made was so lovingly prepared and given to my sister, my dad and myself. I fully attribute my love to cooking, as many people do, to my mom. More importantly, it is because of my mom that I have a need and desire to share my cooking with others. It is how I express love. I think somewhere in my mind I feel like I can communicate to people best though their stomachs. Think there is any truth to that? I certainly do.
A more recent addition to my mom’s amazing morning meals is this cinnamon roll recipe. Unlike many cinnamon rolls, these are not overly heavy. Mom made them with her biscuit dough recipe and they are perfect for a winter morning alongside a steaming hot cup of coffee. I can smell the aromas and see images of my family sitting together on a Saturday or Sunday morning, sleep still in our eyes, taking in my mother’s love through her cinnamon rolls. Bliss.
I added a little twist to these cinnamon rolls because I didn’t have any powdered sugar on hand to make the frosting. I used some left over dulce de leche which proved to make a rich, decadent topping for these incredibly easy-to-make cinnamon rolls.
Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls
2 cups self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
2 T butter, plus 3 teaspoons
2 T shortening
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/8 cup cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
Combine flour, butter and shortening in a large bowl. Use your fingers to work the shortening and butter into the flour until it is in tiny pieces no bigger than a pea. Add the milk (or buttermilk) and stir until combined. The dough should be sticky.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl.
When you have the dough finished, roll it out about 1/2″ thick in a long rectangle and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture liberally on the dough. Roll the dough up into a log cut into about 5 or 6 sections and place in a baking pan (Note from Mom: “I like to add about 1/2 teaspoon butter on top of each roll”- use the additional 3 teaspoons for this part.)
Bake at 450° about 15 minutes.
Make glaze with powdered sugar and a little milk or apple cider and drizzle over each roll and serve. (Or, if you have any Dulce de Leche hanging around that is a fabulous topping as well!)