Measure makes perfect (soft pretzels)

I had to giggle a little when my son, Andy, asked me if I had a ruler or a tape measure in the kitchen. He wasn’t measuring a wall to determine where to hang a picture. He wasn’t measuring for window blinds. He was measuring strips of dough.

He and his family was spending the weekend with us. Andy was in the mood for cooking and baking. Following a recipe from the book, “Hungry Monkey,” by Matthew Amster-Burton, he had mixed up some yeast dough using my stand mixer with the dough hook. After the dough had rested for a short time, he was ready to form strips that would be shaped into pretzels. The long snakes of dough were to be 18 inches long. That’s when the tape measure was needed.

In fact, I do keep a tape measure and a ruler in my kitchen drawer. When I was in high school, my mom and dad gave me the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book for my birthday. The first time I made the recipe for cinnamon rolls from the book, my dad thought it was quite funny that I dug out a ruler to measure the size of the piece of dough I was rolling out. I’m not good at estimating. I need to know exactly.

I handed Andy the tape measure. He measured the first snake to be sure it was 18 inches.

The remaining dough was pulled and rolled until there were six snakes.

A twist here and a twist there — pretzels!

As the recipe directed, Andy plopped the pretzels into a pot of boiling water. When they rose to the top, he transferred them to a baking sheet and slid them into the oven.

We had them for snack that afternoon. They were good. Chewy and warm and just the right amount of salt. We all enjoyed the homemade pretzels. But the one who enjoyed them the most was Andy’s own little 13-month-old hungry monkey. She’s my little monkey, too.

As I was searching the internet for a copy of the Hungry Monkey Pretzel recipe, I came upon Jess Thomson’s blog, hogwash. She has such a nice entry about how the book got her cooking. She made the pretzels and has the recipe printed with permission from the author, Matthew Amster-Burton.

You can go right to the recipe for soft Pretzels by clicking here.

I don’t think Andy used the tape measure in the kitchen again that weekend, but he kept right on cooking — overnight waffles, the pretzels, homemade wonton skins filled with seasoned ground chicken and then fried, and chocolate chip cookies. I wish he’d come more often.

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