In the afternoons, I tend to get really bored driving around by myself for work. Radio is the only thing to keep me company, and although I was always a strictly-music type of gal, hearing the same songs over & over can wear on you.
So lately I have been listening to a radio show where these two guys, Deminski & Doyle, have people call in and comment about things. They'll take something that's in the news, something in their life, a political issue, or even just a random thing they saw and turn it into a question.
Like, "What's a movie that you can never resist watching when it's on TV?"
Or, "Should NJ limit the amount of times you can get married?
I have been wanting to call in for a while, and when I heard the question "What was the shortest time you ever held a job?" I knew I had the perfect story for them.
When I was 16, the summer after my sophomore year of High School, I got a job at an ice cream & candy place on the boardwalk.
I showed up for work the first day, and the manager (a middle-aged woman) told me my shorts were too short and to go home, change, and come back.
I was shocked. My mom was somewhat lenient with my choices in clothes, but she also would never let me leave the house in something completely inappropriate - especially for a job.
So I stood there dumbfounded for about 10 seconds, then I walked out and never went back.
But the best part of the story is that I just went a little ways down the boardwalk, to a frozen yogurt stand that was managed by a young guy. I told him the whole story, and asked if he was hiring.
I think he was a little taken aback, but he said something along the lines of "If you work here, you can wear as short of shorts as you like."
And not too long after I started, I became his assistant manager. It was a lot of hours for a 16 year-old but it was a fun job. And as I told you a few weeks ago, I ate my weight in frozen yogurt that summer.
Surprisingly, I really never got too tired of eating it, but every now & again I needed a break. Luckily, the stand next door sold giant soft pretzels and the Latino guys that worked there would trade us yogurt for pretzels.
I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has passed so it's ok to tell you that now ;)
But those pretzels.... ugh. Insanity.
Eating just one probably exceeded your weekly allotment for carbohydrates, but it was sooo totally worth it.
And ever since then, soft pretzels have been on my (long) list of food weaknesses.
I got it in my head recently that I wanted to try to make soft pretzels at home, incorporating whole wheat flour. I haven't had the best luck with yeast in the past so I typically try to avoid recipes that use it, but I threw caution to the wind.
And if you read my post a few days ago, you would know that the first attempt was pretty much awful.
But Take Two came out perfect.
I was about to throw "thankfully" into that last statement ... but I'm not exactly thankful that I ate half the batch in one afternoon?
Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels
- 1/2 C. + 2 T. warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 1 1/2 t. rapid-rise, dry active yeast
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
- 1/4 C. baking soda
- 1 1/2 C. hot water
- kosher salt for sprinkling
- melted butter, for brushing tops after baking (optional)
Dissolve yeast in warm water, and let sit 5 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a baking sheet.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine brown sugar, salt, and flours. With mixer on low, pour in yeast & water mixture, and mix only until well-combined and no flour streaks remain. Dough should form a smooth ball. (However, do not knead – the dough will become overworked & tough).
Cover bowl with plastic & let dough rise until doubled, at least 20 minutes. (FYI – I was too impatient to let the dough rise, but the pretzels still came out great. Just sayin’.)
Divide dough in 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a skinny rope, applying even pressure to get a uniform width, until about 18 inches long. Grab each end of the rope and cross one hand over the other to form into a pretzel shape*.
Once all pieces are formed, make the dipping solution: Dissolve baking soda in hot water, and pour into a pie plate or other shallow dish. Dip each pretzel into mixture, front & back, then place on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with kosher salt (or other toppings) OR you can bake them plain then brush melted butter over tops before sprinkling with toppings. Place in oven and bake about 10 minutes, until pretzels are puffed & browned.
Remove from baking sheet and cool slightly before eating (or adding toppings). Pretzels are best when consumed immediately, but they can be frozen or kept in an airtight container for a day or two and reheated later.
*Note: There’s no need to limit yourself to just a pretzel shape. You can get creative and make your dough into letters, braids, nuggets, etc. Just make sure you adjust the baking time if you want bite-sized pieces – check after 5 minutes for doneness.
Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com