Sunday, September 20, 2009

Of Cinnamon Rolls and Peanut Brittle

David made cinnamon rolls this morning, using my recipe. I got my recipe from my Mom, who would, when I was a small girl, make them and time it so they came out of the oven about the time I got home from school. There is nothing quite like walking into a kitchen that is filled with the aroma of baking bread. I haven't made these for a long time, but I think I may need to bake some again.

Most times with recipes I got from Mom, there was just a list of ingredients and she just assumed I knew how to put it all together. So I have added instructions the way I do it. Good luck!

Cinnamon Rolls

Dissolve 1 package dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
Heat 1/2 cup milk to nearly scalding, remove from heat and add 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup shortening and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring to dissolve.
Cool milk to lukewarm and stir in yeast mixture.
Add 1 cup flour, beating well.
Add 1 egg, beating well.
Add 2 1/2 - 3 cups flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead until smooth.

At this point, Mom's recipe says to let dough rise in a greased bowl until double in size, but I have always skipped that part.

Take half of the dough and roll it into a rectangle about the size of a large cake pan. Spread butter over the dough, sprinkle with either white or brown sugar and then with cinnamon. I have never had amounts for these - just went by what looked right.
Roll the dough the long way and pinch the seam so it holds together.
Slice into about 1 inch pieces and arrange in a greased cake pan.
Cover with a towel and let rise until it looks right (at least doubled in size - probably more) and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown on top. Brush tops with melted butter.
While still warm, drizzle with a glaze made by beating together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Do the same with the other half of the dough. Mom always made one pan to eat and another for the freezer. They are wonderful!

As long as I am giving you the above recipe, I thought I would add a few more that maybe my children will remember. The next one is for buns - the ones I used to make for family gatherings. It is the same recipe Mom used and it makes mountains of them. The recipe can be cut in half, but I always made lots and froze them. I have been making these since I was about 12 years old, right around the time that Mom's hands became so crippled that she couldn't do this any more. This recipe is just a list of ingredients, and is made the same way as the cinnamon rolls. These taste better than any bakery buns I have ever had. Maybe that's because my Mom made them!


4 packages dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup melted shortening
2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 cup sugar
2 well beaten eggs
7-8 cups flour

Shape into balls the size of an egg. Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Brush tops with butter while still hot. Remove from cookie sheet and cover with a towel to let cool. This keeps them from drying out.

I think all of my children remember "Grandpa's World Famous Peanut Brittle." My Dad would make this every year about Christmas time. He didn't use a candy thermometer - just watched it to see when it looked right. Sometimes he wouldn't watch too closely, and he would heat it to nearly scorching. Now if I did that, it probably wouldn't be fit to eat. But his peanut brittle always was better than anyone else's. Here is the recipe, straight from his recipe card.

Peanut Brittle

2 cups sugar
1 cup white syrup
2 cups raw Spanish peanuts
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil, then add 2 cups sugar, and 1 cup of white syrup, stir until dissolved and boil until it will spin a thread. Now add 2 cups raw Spanish peanuts and cook slowly over a low fire until it turns a golden brown. Take from fire and add 2 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons soda and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir quickly. Spread on two large cookie sheets that have been well buttered. Place in a cold area to cool.

These are the best sugar cookies ever, and they don't have to be rolled out and cut into shapes. They just melt in your mouth. I think Mom got this recipe from Aunt Etta, but I'm not positive on that. It has been in her recipe box for many years, and because they taste so good, I often will make them at Christmas time, sprinkled with colored sugar, rather than the traditional rolled cookies. Mix them like you would any other cookie recipe.

Mom's Sugar Cookies

2 cups sugar
2 cups butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chill dough and then roll into balls about the size of a walnut. Butter the bottom of a glass, dip it into a small bowl of sugar, and press the cookie balls flat. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges of the cookies turn a light brown.

The last recipe I'm adding today is the one that Mom made for every family occasion, where there would be a lot of people. It makes enough to serve 20 - 25, but can be cut in half for family use. I always thought she made this because it tasted so good, but a number of years ago, at a family get-together for an anniversary or birthday or something similar, somebody asked Mom if they could bring her a plate of this shrimp salad. She replied that she didn't want any because she didn't like it. When asked why she made it for family doings if she didn't like it, she replied that she made it because it looked pretty in the bowl! Now that was my mother - wanting things to look pretty.

Shrimp Salad

4 cups uncooked macaroni rings
1/2 cup sliced stuffed olives
2 cups diced celery
1/2 cup canned baby peas
2 cups cooked baby shrimp
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1-1/2 cup mayo

Boil macaroni rings, drain and cool. Add rest of ingredients and blend well.

My mother's recipe box is an interesting piece of Matheny family history. There are recipes from relatives, some neatly written on recipe cards and others written on scraps of paper, on the backs of envelopes and still others clipped from newspapers. Many of the recipes I remember from my childhood, when my mother stayed at home and cooked and baked as mothers of that era did. Later when Mother became more ill, I remember Dad doing much of the cooking, and he was at least Mother's equal in the kitchen. A while back, my brother stayed with me for a day or two, and he remarked that I cooked just like my Dad - everything on high heat. Perhaps that's because I had heard Dad say that only cowards cook on "low."

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