A Lullaby All Its Own

Made some orange rolls Tuesday and they were not bad. Got up a bit early, had a hankering, and BOOM! – two hours later, there they were. All baked and glazed and still a bit warm. It’s still cool enough outside for warm rolls, I say, but my, those birds are making sounds. My favorite thing about Spring – right up there with the smell of fresh grass and the breeze on my skin– is the song of birds as I work in the kitchen.

What goes into our ears is, in my mind, as important as what goes into our mouths, and Spring is good for that. The wind in the trees, the sounds of people out mowing and working in their yards, children laughing on the playground, the waves crashing the shore of the lake, the hum of cars on dry asphalt, the whines and thumps of garage doors opening and closing, the neighbor on his deck strumming on his guitar, the chimes on Mrs. Johnson’s front porch, the creak of the porch swing and the rattle and slam of the screen door, the splash of lemonade on ice. Such a lovely break from the long silences of winter.

‘Bout now I’m wondering where we put the hammocks. Bought two of them at summer’s end last year, and it’s nearing time to string ‘em up out in the trees at the edge of the woods. There’s something about the thought of an afternoon nap out there under filtered light, the wind blowing gentle and birds all ‘round, that calms the anxious moments in an ordinary day.

Whoever thought up the hammock deserves a round of applause. I’m thinking it was someone on a long journey who saw two solid trees and joined them with rope and a blanket and took a long-needed rest, suspended there above the wintergreen berries and old oak leaves from last autumn’s fall. Someone who knew, in his or her heart, what people often need. To be suspended awhile, to feel cradled, to sway to and fro under a sky of soft blue, where clouds cast occasional shadows and the sound of wind in tall grass is a lullaby all its own.

Here’s another one from back in the day, the very recipe my mother made on Saturdays when the sky was cloudy and spring blew in with a chill.

Orange Cinnamon Rolls

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 T butter, melted
3 -3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:
2 T sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 T butter, softened

Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 T orange juice
1 T orange zest (optional)
1 T vanilla extract

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Add orange peel, orange juice, sugar, salt, egg, butter and 1 1/2 c of the flour. Beat 30 seconds on low, scraping bowl constantly; increase speed to medium, beat 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead 5 minutes and dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (dough is ready if an indentation remains when dough is touched).

Punch dough down and, on a lightly floured surface, roll into a rectangle 15×9.”
Spread w/ 1 T butter and sprinkle w/ combined 2 T sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Roll up, beginning at one of the long sides; pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well; stretch to make roll even. Cut roll into 15 slices about 1″ wide. Place slices slightly apart in a greased oblong baking pan, 9×13 pan or in greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree preheated oven until rolls are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Mix together confectioner’s sugar, orange juice, orange peel, and vanilla; frost while warm.

Recipe is from Betty Crocker’s “Breads” cookbook, published in 1974, and is easily doubled.

Enjoy!

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