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cinnamon rolls

While driving through the Texas hill country early this morning, the sun rose, a fiery scarlet behind thick steely clouds. And then the rain started. First in splatters that I find resemble chicken feet, then a more pounding rain, beading up on the freshly waxed car. The trucks in front of us spewed extra water at our windshield; I repositioned myself, my body sore from remaining in the same spot for so long, and fluffed my pillow, tucked the blanket around my feet. And as I sat there, watching scenery fly past in a wet flash, I thought. About our trip. About writing and about life. About how, to put it bluntly, stupid family arguments are and how they leave holes in one's heart. Family is something that should be embraced and cherished, and to have it ruined hurts. A lot.

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The rain tends to do that to you, it makes you think and then in the midst of deep contemplation, the drowsiness arrives. And as you're in that space between consciousness and slumber, everything seems to make perfect sense and the world seems right.

I'm home. It's been a crazy, messy, but mostly good few days. There are bags to be unpacked, work to be caught up on, a room to be cleaned, but that's okay -- after all, they're all things that come with traveling, a small price to pay.

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Oklahoma weather is as beautiful as ever (after being reminded of Houston's humidity, I'm so thankful!), still warm during the day but cozy at night. The leaves haven't quite changed yet; nearly all the trees still verdant and leafy as ever.

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And in this in-between time, the metamorphosis of summer to fall, there's the dilemma of food choices. Something that doesn't plunge too deep into fall, but not something light and summery either. Enter cinnamon rolls. They still hold a note of an Indian summer quickly fading away, but the spice of cinnamon slowly introduces the first wisps of autumn. But who am I kidding -- cinnamon rolls aren't limited to early October. I made them all through out this year and relished every single bite, but it's hard to surpass a warm roll with a cup of steamy coffee on a cool morning.

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cinnamon rolls


for the rolls
- 1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour

for the filling
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter, softened

to make
   In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and flour, and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball. (I used the hook attachment on my KitchenAid for this step) Place dough back in bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place for approximately three hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
   Place dough on a floured surface; it will be slightly sticky. Don't be afraid to use lots of flour! It is essential for easy rolling up later. Roll the dough out until it is approximately 21 inches long by 16 inches wide.
   Spread softened butter across surface, add the brown sugar, then sprinkle on the cinnamon. Working carefully from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom. With a sharp knife, slice into rolls about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, cover with a clean towel, and let rise.
  Note: I prepare all this the late afternoon/evening before and let the rolls rise overnight, then pop them in the oven the next morning. It takes a bit of planning, but it's so worth it.
  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for ten minutes, then rotate pan and return to oven for an additional five minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

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-carlotta