Hey Hey We’re the Monkeys

Because we love yeasty warm smells in the kitchen and because I miss long days with nothing better to do and because my fam is being awesome about my new job, we did this:

 

If you’re about to drool into your cellphone, I agree.

Let’s start at the beginning and I’ll walk you through a virtual Monkey Bread baking blog.

If I could only add a scratch-n-sniff meme, this would be complete.

You can go one of two ways:

  1. mix this in a big bowl with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand for ten minutes, getting a super arm and shoulder workout, or
  2. layer it in your bread machine that you still have from the early 90’s and hopefully makes round loaves because you’re cool like that. And also, you’re lazy like that.

Monkey Bread

1 1/3 C. warm milk
2 tbsp. diced butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp. sugar
2/3 tsp salt
4 C. flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast

I’m not telling you which way I made this perfect little lump o’ dough, but many watts died in the process.

 

(What? What is she talking about? What watt?)

Let the lump rise for an hour or so in a warm place. I turned my oven on for a minute and then turned it off again, and set the dough inside to rise. If you’re not careful, it will be too hot and kill the yeast and then you will have a hard little lump of dough to go bowling with. We’re going for just mildly warmish here.

Next, turn your big puffy lump out onto a lightly floured countertop and show it who’s boss. This is the fun part. The punching, pushing, slapping, poking, kneading, and stretching reminds the kids that they are just a sass away from a trip to the family bakery.

Now we take the reduced lump and start pulling it apart.

 

Over and over and over…twist and pull. The smaller you make them, the more fun it will be to eat later.

 

Roll the dough into little balls and toss them into any shape pan you want. It makes into a nice sized loaf, so grab a pan big enough and butter the inside first. You could bake them in a glass or metal mixing bowl, or a casserole. I used my angel food cake pan. This is going to the monkeys, so it won’t stay in this shape longer than five minutes once it’s done, anyway.

Layer in half of the dough balls, sprinkle with your sugar/cinnamon mix, and repeat.

 

Pour two melted tablespoons of butter over it all. Your pan is already buttered though, right?

Set this little beauty back into a warm place to rise up for another hour. Clean your mess. Yes, I see it.

While it rises, get out your frosting stuff. Because, cream cheese.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz softened cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
16 oz powdered sugar

Mix together to desired consistency:
thinner, add milk 1 tsp at a time
thicker, add powdered sugar 1 tbsp at a time

This is the standard recipe, but life isn’t always so tidy, at least in the kitchen. I myself would have just layered a slab of cream cheese on a hot slice of Monkey Bread and called it a day, but when you add sugar and thin it out a bit with milk, it impresses the company.

Your Monkey Bread.

Your rules.

When it’s puffed up to your liking, bake it in a preheated oven at 350* for 20-30 minutes, depending on your pan. You will know it’s done when it smells terrific in the house and when you peek in the oven, it looks toasty on top.  Reach in and tap the bread; if it sounds hollow, you win. Let’s eat.

 

Let it cool for a few minutes, then dump it upside down over a plate, out of it’s pan.

I sliced it to make a pretty picture and to make life fair.

 

The kids were disappointed.

The right way to eat this, so I’m told, is for everyone to lay a hand on the bread, count to three and pull.

You then proceed to eat your hunk of bread by hand, dipping lumps into the frosting tub.

Animals.

 

Macaroons and Mayhem

Happy Friday!!

Just kidding.

Today is the start of our kids’ spring break, which goes for one week and one day.

Because they can.

This means that while the rest of you are gearing up for sleeping in on the couch, the TV remote in one hand and a fridge in the other, us moms are hunkering down for a marathon.

Also, we’ll have a house full of wanderers and vagabonds coming through, both of which are as fun as pirates but with less weapons, so I’m taking a good hard look at the kitchen this morning.

The kitchen is ground zero. It’s the place where all life decisions are made, where everyone ends up at a party, where plots are hatched.

I’m pretty sure President Obama argues with his daughters over a blueberry muffin in the White House kitchen.

“No,” he says as an aide brushes crumbs from his red tie, “until your grades are up, there won’t be any school dances in your future,” he scoops some Ovaltine into a glass, “And why do you girls wait until the last minute to bring me all these field trip papers to sign?” another aide shows him the calendar, “Which one of you volunteered me to send in three dozen cookies for the bake sale? The ambassador from Thailand is coming today. When am I supposed to do all this?”

Well, I’m sure Michelle stepped in, but it’s not like she doesn’t have stuff to do, too.

My list is straightforward: a gallon of milk per day in the fridge, leaving enough space for orange juice, string cheese, four dozen eggs, a 2# bag of baby carrots that no one will touch, and more tortillas than you can understand because we do burritos instead of PB&J around here.

Pantry stocked with cans of refried beans, spaghetti parts, sprouted potatoes, and cans of soup.

Cupboards topped off with Costco sized boxes of Ritz crackers, Honey Bunches of Oats, pancake mix and syrup. Microwave popcorn and liters of soda: check.

Freezers (yes, two): pepperonchi pizzas, ice cream, veggie packs, a turkey that was “a good deal” last November and we won’t eat until this October, and pie crusts.

Because life’s too short.

Some day I will be a gourmet chef. I will be able to make stuff that grown-ups eat.

But this (once more) is not that day.

My boys do all of the eating around here and they don’t bother tasting it, heck, they don’t even care if it’s got glass shards in the sauce, so long as it’s edible and goes down quick.

I watched a seagull once, on a pier in Santa Barbara, pull a fried chicken leg bone out of a trashcan and proceed to swallow it.

Slowly but surely, that thing went down its throat and…into what? Into where?

I had absolutely no plans to stick around and see what came out the other side.

But it sums up my kitchen action pretty well.

I have just enough energy to buy some bananas and make a batch of cookies.

Cookies are my kryptonite, depending on the flavor, so I rarely make them.

But this is go time. A girl needs her strength, right?

Fast, easy, and coconut heaven.

Thank you to my girlfriend Carol for the recipe, and you’re welcome.

Coconut Macaroons

Place rack in upper 1/3 of your oven and preheat to 325*
Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet

Stir together with a fork:

2/3 C sweetened condensed milk (most of a 14 oz can)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Then add in and mix:
3 1/2 C flaked/shredded sweetened coconut

Plop about a tablespoon at a time onto the parchment paper, with your fork. This isn’t rocket science.

Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly toasted, depending on your oven.
Start peeking at them around 18 minutes if you’re like me and have oven conspiracy theories.
Cookies need to cool before you peel them from the paper.
If these last a whole day in your house, you win. Store them airtight.
So not happening here….

The Amazing Race

I’m on the way to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Between home and there, we have to cross Nevada and Utah.
The plan is to drive to Richfield, Utah on day one and the rest of the way on day two.
There are three other families driving this route at the same time, spread out along the way so as not to advertise each other’s driving techniques.
Some of us *ahem* drive a wee bit zippier than others.
I don’t name names in this blog, but one rhymes with “chubby”.
Our wimpy car could’ve gone even zippier, except Hubby had everything and the kitchen sink packed into the back of it. The man likes his options.
We are all connected by a running group text, in case of emergencies.
Such as, someone in our car needs a slushy pronto and has anyone seen a Dairy Queen up ahead?

The first car headed east had a solid two hour lead.
Halfway through Nevada, their air conditioning broke.
It was over 100 degrees and climbing.
Their plan was to get to a dealership somewhere in Utah, where the next two cars coming along would catch up and offer assistance.
They ran their car heater in case it would help the engine, and landed, dripping wet and in borderline heat stroke, in St George Utah.

We pulled into the dealership parking lot just as they were informed that the air conditioning wasn’t going to be fixed. Not today anyway.

As the third car joined us, and folks generally milled around in the volcanic heat, I noticed Hubby looking at the front of our own car.
Like a man who just found a hair in his soup.
Like a man who just discovered his kids’ secret booger collection.
Both of our front tires had gone bald. The tread gone, the cables showing.
No explanation other than: we need two new tires immediately.
“Jolie? What do you have for me?”
Within five minutes, I had discovered via Smarty Phone that the nearest Costco was at the next exit up the freeway, their tire department (“Mike”) had tires in stock for us, and could install them in the next half hour.

Boom.

Which is how the other cars took the lead in this Amazing Race while we ended up browsing a Utah Costco. A fascinating experience in what a Costco can do when called upon by Brigham Young to provide for multiple wives, each of whom require a phenomenal kitchen at exceptional prices.

The following is actual footage from my cell phone text with the car that had gone ahead of us.
It began by asking if anyone needed anything from Costco while I was there.
I was eyeing up the wine selection while thinking of our hotel room still tantalizingly out of reach.
I didn’t get any takers.

So this Costco is totally geared up for big family homes.
Domestics alone – kitchen gadgets! – is killing me.
I want it all and have no room in the car for a single spatula.
I blame Hubby. If he hadn’t’ve packed the kitchen sink I could be buying a new one right now. Besides, I don’t fit in.
Surrounded by good Mormon mamas and I’m dressed like a wicked city woman.
Well. I got the skirt right.

Cover those shoulders Jolie! People will be scandalized.
Are you taking photos?

Hey! This isn’t Walmart.

Hahaha! That’s what they thought until you arrived.

You’re a very bad friend. Why do I talk to you?!

I don’t know.

So I took some pictures for her.
The first one is to prove that yes, I could have bought a kitchen sink.

In this case the dishwasher is an upgrade.

In this case the dishwasher is an upgrade.

The other one is proof that, in addition to a huge selection of furniture that was being jumped on by a multitude of identical children supervised by pregnant women wearing skirts and tennis shoes, this Costco offers thirteen different vacuums.

20150627_170839
Thirteen.
Just of vacuums.

I fled St George Utah before my overwhelming nesting instincts kicked into gear.
I could feel my hair growing past my waist and a sympathy pregnancy coming on.
We caught up to our peeps in Richfield and they had the courtesy to not “U Turn” us.

The Amazing Race continued the next day, our Utah Roadblock now in the distant past.