Yesterday I turned in my last paper of the semester! Yay! Now I'm going to read a book that I want to read. Any suggestions?
This might be something I have spoken about before, it's impossible for me to check, but I am going to be very angry if I'm 40 and there are still commercials on television that are like, "New Lash-tabulous Mascara: For the Longest Lashes Ever." Because, honestly, no. "FINALLY, after 50 years, we found how to make your eyelashes longer. It turned out to be this Gobo Extract we made up. Huh." No it didn't. How long have we been working on this important issue? In all that time, are eyelashes really appreciably longer? All of this stuff. Do people really have less wrinkles? Is this new cleaning liquid really making the bathtub that much more sparkly? "Oh look, they finally made a low-calorie soft drink that tastes great. It seemed like it would never happen, but they finally did it. And now we never have to have another commercial about it because they have already done it. That's how this is going to work."
Are long eyelashes even a thing? Are ladies really clamoring for the 20 hairs on their face to be a little longer? It seems like there are an awful lot of commercials for long eyelashes and we just kind of assume that it's a thing people want. "Why would they sell it if we didn't want it?" Would eyelashes that protrude a foot out from someone's face be considered the sexiest thing ever? "Eh, she would be OK if her eyelashes weren't so short. Oh well, plenty of long-lashed fish in the sea." Isn't there even a medication now? I think your eyes fall out or something but at least your eyelashes are a millimeter longer.
But all of this stuff. We need new topics of conversation. If we go through another holiday season arguing about holiday versus Christmas I'm going to go insane. "It's a Christmas tree!" "It's a holiday tree!" SHUTUP. Let's make up a completely new word and then we can call everything that and stop having this ridiculous conversation every stupid year. I have an idea, you call your tree whatever the heck you want to call it and everyone else will do the same and yay. And if a company wants to say, "Happy Holidays," because believe it or not (but you might as well believe it because it's a fact) some of their customers may celebrate a holiday during the month of December that is not Christmas, or they may not celebrate anything at all, who knows, people make different choices in their life, and really that company doesn't hate you or your religion or anything it just wants to make more money and it does that by making as many customers happy as possible. That's just how it works. You can take my economics class in the spring semester. So maybe let's not spend the entire month of December getting our panties in a twist and figuring out ways to exclude other people. Let's just eat chocolate covered peppermint joe joe cookies from Trader Joe's because have you had them they are the best.
If the President has time, I'm sure he does, he should think of some new topics of conversation for all of us to talk about and then we can talk about those things and stop rehashing the same topics over and over and over. He's got a State of the Union coming up, he should say, "My fellow Americans. The State of the Union has stagnated and we have to stop talking about the same boring things over and over and over again. Like, every Sunday night you don't have to give your favorite football player advice about how to play on Facebook. He can't read it and nobody else cares, yet we do it every single week."
And then he can be like, these are the new topics of conversation and list some ideas. One of those ideas can be, "Did you see the movie Hanna? Judging from the box office receipts, a lot of you didn't, which is too bad, because it's fantastic. Discuss." (I've been thinking about my favorite movies of the past year, because all the lists are coming out, and I guess that's also a thing we keep on doing, making end-of-the-year best-of lists, but at least they are about different movies, although only kind of because Hollywood keeps on making the same movie over and over, which is Alvin and the Chipmunks, but let's move on). And then he can invite others to submit ideas, because everything has to be interactive these days. And nonprofits and churches and schools can have ideas too, because we are all in this together and blah blah populism.
I'm a little afraid to complain about this because it's something I complain about a lot and then it's kind of like the thing I am complaining about is something I am guilty of, but also oh well because at least the thing I am talking about is in an effort to change all of the things. Do you get what I'm saying? Good.
Are you one of those families that eats turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas, if you happen to celebrate Christmas? Well, if you are and ham day is coming up, you can use that ham to make these pretzel and honey ham sandwiches. Not for the leftovers, although do that if you want, make them for the main event. That's how great they are.
Cardamom and Thyme Pretzels with Honey Ham
Adapted from Snowflakes and Schnapps | Makes 12
RECIPE FOR THE PRETZELS
Heat 3 tablespoons of water to 105 to 115 degrees F. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast over the warm water and set aside until frothy.
In a large bowl, mix the 4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme and 1/2 tablespoon of crushed cardamom together. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 1/4 cups of warmed skim milk to the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until sticky and stiff.
Flour a board and turn the dough out. Knead the dough for about five minutes, or until smooth and tacky. Oil a large bowl, place the dough into the bowl and turn the dough over once to coat. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and set aside to a warm place for about 60 to 90 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough down once, re-cover, and set aside for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil two large baking sheets and set aside. In a deep pot, combine the 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 8 cups of water and set over medium-high heat.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, use the palm of your hand to roll each portion back and forth across the board, forming a rope about 5/8 inch thick. To make the pretzels, place the dough horizontally in front of you. Take the ends and pull them towards you to make a curve. Cross the ends over each other once and then tuck the ends back under the curved side away from you. Place on the oiled trays and continue with the remaining portions until all of the pretzels are formed.
When the water and baking soda mixture is boiling, place one or two pretzels into the water and boil on each side for about thirty seconds on each side. Remove from the water and place on a tray. Continue with the remaining pretzels.
Sprinkle all of the pretzels with the coarse sea salt. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Place them into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until they are a deep, golden brown.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PRETZELS
+ 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
+ 1 tablespoon active dried yeast
+ 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
+ 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
+ 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
+ 1/2 tablespoon crushed cardamom seeds
+ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and set aside
+ 1 1/4 cups skim milk, warmed
+ 4 tablespoons baking soda
+ coarse sea salt
RECIPE FOR THE HAM
In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the pan. Heat over medium until just sizzling. Add four slices of ham, cooking on both sides until they are well-glazed.
Repeat five more times with the remaining ingredients and ham.
Slice each pretzel in half with a serrated knife. Slather half of each pretzel with a spicy mustard. Add two slices of ham to each pretzel and top with the remaining half. Serve warm.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE HAM
+ 6 tablespoons of butter
+ 6 tablespoons of honey
+ 6 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
+ 24 thick slices of fresh ham
+ spicy mustard for serving (see assembly instructions below)