So it’s our first holiday season really together-together. Which is weird to say, because James and I have known each other since October 17, 2009 (we saw a movie, walked around Tyson’s Corner, and then visited a fish store, where I bought some lovely aquatic plants, in case you are curious).
The audio is annoying due to the noise of the filter
MY FISH TANK WAS BEAUTIFUL *sob*
Anyway, the reason why we are saying that this is our first Christmas together is because:
December 2009: we weren’t dating yet
December 2010: we didn’t live together
December 2011: we weren’t in the same state
December 2012: we didn’t even see each other
December 2013: I was going to be leaving in two weeks, it doesn’t count (says James)
So anyway this is our first Christmas really together. All other years will be compared to this year. So we got a real tree (three feet tall and sitting on an end table). We bought new ornaments to complement the few we actually liked from the ornaments James’ mother gave us. We got a mantle and hung stockings from it.
MINE IS CLEARLY SUPERIOR.
The question now is, what to do about Christmas Morning. My family makes a big deal about Christmas Morning. We have bagel and lox and we don’t open any presents until everyone’s awake. Every year we say we won’t look in our stockings, either, but the first few people to get up always get impatient and take everything out and peruse them until the last stragglers are awake. James, coming from a smaller, quieter family, would have quiet coffee cake and open presents quietly, I guess.
James comes from a very quiet family. They don’t get loud until there’s, like, 40 of them.
Anyway, setting up this entry has taken way longer than I intended. The reason why I bring this up is that I — I mean, we — have to decide on our own version of Christmas Morning. So I thought I would make Monkey Bread.
Most breads you eat are meant to be eaten in loaf form, sliced accordingly. Monkey Bread is made of little pieces of rolled-up dough that you stick together and bake so that it looks like a loaf. But really, you just tear little pieces off and eat it like that. I’ve only had it once but it was amazing.
Oh, hey, now I see what James meant when he asked if he should grab his mother’s bundt pan. It’s made in a bundt pan. Oh. Huh.
I was perusing Buzzfeed and found a list of “incredible” slow-cook dessert recipes. Most of them were chocolate, but I saved the three that weren’t. One of them was slow-cook Monkey Bread. I was excited to read it. Most recipe blogs these days have about six pages worth of lead-up talking about how delicious the recipe is and why the decided to make it, along with tons of pictures of the actual food. I skim/scroll right past all that before getting to the recipe, the reason why I’m visiting the page. I did the same thing for this recipe, and then a sentence caught my eye.
Last week I bought two cans of Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls because (1) I’m addicted to those suckers (and, yes I do work for them but no this is not sponsored
Wait a second
I decided…why not make monkey bread? With Cinnamon Rolls? In the SLOW COOKER???
You can make a traditional monkey bread this way, using Grands! biscuits, but I went one step further and used cinnamon rolls because, well, why not?
This can’t be.
Plus? Cinnamon Rolls come with icing.
Please tell me it’s not.
The prep for this recipe is less than 20 minutes. You open your two cans of cinnamon rolls (5 rolls per can) and cut each into 6 pieces.
That is not a real recipe! That. Is not. A real. Recipe. Recipes aren’t “take pre-made food and then chop it up some”. Recipes are “take a whole bunch of uncooked ingredients, prepare them, and then cook them”. I even made a facebook post about it.
*sigh* If a recipe’s first ingredient is premade something-or-other, I immediately reject it. Case in point: a recipe for monkey bread that called for 2 cans of Pillsbury Grands. The blurb at the beginning of the recipe even bragged that the cinnamon rolls “even come with the cinnamon already on them!” No.
Well now wait a minute, I said to myself as I lay in bed waiting desperately to fall asleep for the first time in three days (I have a difficult relationship with sleep). Aren’t you still cooking it? Just because of the first steps are done for you, you’re still producing the final product. It’s still possible to ruin pre-made food. Look at Jose, who couldn’t beat a ball of pre-made pizza dough into a flat pizza. And yet I could, in less time than it took for him to ruin a ball of dough.
Yet I remembered when I mentioned to my manager at Petsmart that I was being trained as a baker for Harris Teeter. He got all excited. “So you’ll be kneading the dough and stuff?” No, I said. I just took the pre-made dough from the cooler and put it in the oven. He looked disappointed.
I brought up my concerns to James, who was laying next to me.
First of all, James agreed with my initial assessment: using pre-made ingredients was lazy and not real cooking.
But wasn’t taking the cinnamon roll dough and turning it into something else…that takes skill, doesn’t it? Cooking skill? Creativity? An understanding of how cooking works? In order to create a recipe, you had to understand how dough works and what a slow cooker would do to it. Just because you saved several steps by using pre-made dough, it still takes skill to turn that dough into something edible.
“Look at it this way,” James said. “Who is going to be more respected on Food network — someone who uses Pillsbury dough, or someone who takes the time to make everything from scratch?”
“Why are we using Food Network as our measuring stick?” I asked.
James didn’t know. I thought it was weird, anyway, that he would take this tact. Just the other day, he had been talking about some famous chef who said that the only deciding factor in whether or not food was good was whether or not it tastes good. This Monkey Bread probably tasted good. I probably wasn’t going to use the recipe, but it clearly made the writer, Dorothy, happy. At the end of the day, that was good enough, wasn’t it?
I find that, when I make monkey bread in the oven the outside gets so hard and crunchy and done in order for the center to get fully cooked. I prefer my monkey bread to be soft, not hard, so this creates a problem. It’s like a fight to the death: who will get to the center of the monkey bread first?
By making the monkey bread in the crockpot, the bread steams as it cooks, keeping it soft and doughy but actually baked all over. It’ll get a little browned around the edges, as you can see, but even the browned parts stay soft.
That’s the perfect monkey bread, if you ask me!
I might take those words of wisdom and stick with a slow-cooker as my ultimate cooking tool. But I will probably make my own dough. Everyone has something to add to this world.