Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Dawns and Caramel Rolls Beckon

I'm typing in the dark, nose about two inches from the keyboard so I can see in the reflected glow of the monitor. It is not so early on Christmas morning, but still dark. Victoria bounced into our bedroom at 3:45 AM, announced that it was Christmas, and expected us to get up and open presents. Hah!

But by 6:15 AM, I hurt too much to stay in bed, so I got up, took two tramadol, and came out the see what I could do in the dark - not wanting to wake anyone else up prematurely.

Tramadol aside: I have deterioration in the femoral joints of both my hips. It is a matter of time before I have to have hip replacement surgery. Recently, they have been more painful than usual, probably because I've been on my feet a lot rather than in my recliner. (A recliner is the most comfortable locale for my painful hips, takes the pressure right off of them.) Sleeping is especially bad - or should I say "trying to sleep" is especially bad? - because I can't lay on either side without causing myself enough pain to awaken me. I also can't sleep on my stomach because I had a disk in my neck fused years ago, so I am a one-position sleeper at the moment. It frustrates me to no end, but, as the Borg say, "Resistance is futile." I may have to think more seriously about the hip replacements.

When I got up, I did turn on the Christmas tree lights which are blinking quite beautifully across the room from me. It is a pleasant view from my desk. A moment ago, I stepped to the back door to see if the snow was still there, and a holographic reflection of my Christmas tree appeared in 3-D under the canopy frame on the patio. Neat!

There is no snow. This is Houston, why am I surprised? Because it did snow yesterday, a rare and amazing event to most Houstonians. When we got the first flurries - and they barely rated as flurries! - Michael called me outside to see them. It took a minute, but, yes, Virginia, there was snow. Watching my neighbors watch it barely snowing tickled me more than the snow. People from three or four houses stood outside, heads craning upwards, oohing and aahing. I am not knocking the wonder of snow, especially if you hardly ever see it, but at that moment, the snow existed only until it got about five feet off the ground, when it melted and finished off as drizzle. (I guess that's a good reason to crane your head upwards ... )

Towards evening, as it got colder, the snow stuck a bit and we had little wisps of it puddled in the sheets that are draped over the plants we are guarding from frost. Snow stays on the sheets longer than it stays on the ground because warmth radiates up from the ground. That's the principle that allows you to protect your plants from freezing by draping them. The cover keeps the heat from the ground contained enough to warm the air around your plant. And all these years, I thought the sheets just kept the frost from touching the plant surfaces. The things you learn on the internet.

Caramel roll emergency!!! I just remembered that I had to take the caramel rolls out of the fridge and let them rise an hour or so before I could bake them from Christmas morning breakfast. Aggh!! I wasted an hour of bread rising time before it occurred to me. Oh, well, everyone else is still asleep and we'll want to open presents before eating sticky, gooey caramel rolls anyway.

Caramel roll aside: I don't have a recipe for caramel rolls, I just know how to make them from watching my grandmother and mother make them. It is incredibly simple and I'm happy to share the process with you. Make sweet bread dough in your bread machine, but DON'T bake it. Take the dough and roll it out on a floured surface until it is the size of a 9"x13" cake pan. Spread it liberally with margarine (or butter if your arteries can take it) and then sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally on the that. Roll it up the long way, so that it is about 13" long. Pinch the seams to keep the rolls from falling apart before you get them baked. In the meantime, dump about half a bag of brown sugar into the cake pan and pour a small carton of heavy cream into it. Stir until well blended. Slice the caramel rolls into 15 rolls and place them in the pan in 5 rows of 3 each. Let the rolls rise, then bake according to directions in whatever cookbook you got your bread dough recipe from. The cream/brown sugar mixture will bake into the BEST caramel topping you ever ate. You will be so happy I told you this.

Now I'm going to go make a little noise and see if anyone else will wake up because I'm bored being the only mouse in the house on Christmas morning and I want to see what Santa left for me. More on that later.


No comments: