First off let me just say thanks for the support in my right to not choose proper grammar on this blog.
And now on to today’s topic:
Several of my friends commented lately about being in a funk. Many of them felt that way because their holidays didn’t go how they had planned, they didn’t get everything in they hoped to get in, etc… Or some of them are in a funk because they didn’t get accomplished all that they had planned in the 2010 calendar year.
Rosa over at Rosa Yummy Yums, wrote an excellent post about this. Why do we feel the need to set the bar so high, especially around the holidays? I have friends who were upset that they didn’t get to string their own popcorn around the tree. I did that once. Mostly just stabbed myself with a needle repeatedly and just ended up eating most of the popcorn anyway.
I myself had grandiose ideas of making a gingerbread house this year. Then I decided to save time I would just buy a premade one and decorate it. Still didn’t get that done. When Christmas passed, there it sat in the container and I felt unaccomplished. Why was I caring so much? It is just a gingerbread house after all. It doesn’t expire for a couple of months, so this year I will be doing either a Groundhog or Valentine day Gingerbread house. Who says it has to be for Christmas only? Or maybe a hockey themed just in time for the playoffs? My holiday was not made any better or worse because I didn’t have a gingerbread house. And if I don’t ever get around to doing it? Yeah, I am out $12, but the world will keep on turning…or at least I would hope so.
We have a joke in our locker room, mostly when we discuss dating…”lower your standards, better your odds”. And though we are joking, there is some truth in that. Most of the single women I know have incredibly long lists about all the things that they are looking for in a man. And if he doesn’t hit the marks on the list he is looked over. Sadly, they are probably missing out on some great guys. Now, I am not saying to throw out your core values when looking for someone but if you don’t have six pack abs, maybe insisting that the person you date has to have them is asking a bit much. For the record, the women seem to have the long list. The men just seem to have one…looking for a girl willing to let me see her naked.
People are so hard on themselves these days. Look a certain way. Live in a certain place. Drive a certain car. Always wishing that they could have what others seem to have. Wanting to be the size you were back in high school, and sorely disappointed if you can’t make that happen. Mad at yourself because you backed out of the 10K your friend talked you into running for motivation to get back into shape. When will you ever be good enough? Trying to keep up with other people’s expectations is exhausting. I know, I tried for awhile. You know what? No one seemed to care. I think we too often build up what we think other people’s expectations are in our head, when really they didn’t have any for us at all. I know I don’t have expectations for my friends, except to simply be my friend and accept me for who I am. If people can’t handle the real you, why do you want them in your life anyway?
Take a breath. Realize all that you have. I promise if you take the time to look you have a lot. A lot. And if you don’t have a lot, what can you do about it to change? If you are truly that unsatisfied, what can YOU do to make the difference? I say YOU because it really is up to you. You are the only one person you can truly control. And even I can’t do that half the time…especially around baked goods.
Speaking of not gaining control around baked goods, I decided after the Nutella post, what other ways can I get chocolate into my breakfast routine. Why Monkey Bread of course. I realized after 5 ½ years I don’t have one single Monkey Bread recipe on here. That is probably because I cheat and use biscuits from the store. Don’t judge that’s the way my mom made it and I am used to it that way. But I’m going a little above and beyond and made it this time with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Brioche. Mostly just because I am still trying to see what I can get this apartment oven to produce. So far it’s been alright. I have had to swear at it from time to time. But overall it’s cooperating…I find threatening it with violence has helped.
Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Brioche Monkey Bread
2 cups brown sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
Chocolate brioche (recipe follows)
Lightly grease a standard 10-in Bundt pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.
Place brown sugar in a small bowl. Place melted butter in a nearby bowl.
Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and gently deflate so that dough is relatively flat. Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut off small pieces of dough to form 1/2 to 1-inch balls. The smaller you make them the stickier the monkey bread tends to be. As you cut each piece of dough, roll it into a ball in the palms of your hands. Dunk each ball in butter, use tongs or a fork to remove it and transfer it to the sugar to be thoroughly coated. Place all coated dough balls into prepared Bundt pan.
Once all balls have been coated and places in the pan, cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let bread rise for 60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Bread will spring back when lightly pressed.
Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a serving platter. Serve immediately, as it is best when eaten warm.
Chocolate Brioche (makes 2lbs of dough)
For the Chocolate Butter:
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Melt the chocolate using a double boiler. Once melted set aside and keep at room temperature.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth; add cocoa powder and chocolate beat until well incorporated. Set aside at room temperature.
For the Sponge:
2 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
¾ cup lukewarm coffee
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
Combine yeast and water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whisk until he yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients, forming a thin batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes until bubbles form.
For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp. salt
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Shift flour and salt into sponge.
Add yolks, and mix with paddle attachment on low speed for 2 minutes, until yolks are absorbed.
Increase to medium speed; knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and satiny.
On medium low speed, add chocolate butter one tbsp. at a time.
Switch to dough hook; knead until very well developed, smooth and shiny. Add chocolate chips, mix on low until incorporated.
with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours until double (mine took longer as my apartment is super cold). Punch down and rise again until double, about 45 to 60 minutes (or refrigerator for 4hours or overnight).
Brioche recipe adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard