I. comes down at around six, and climbs up onto the kitchen stool with a surly scowl. If I have, by some bizarre chance, not yet poured a glass of milk for him, because I was oh, I don't know ... doing TEN other things? he snarls, "Where's My MILK?"
Yep, I just can't wait to wake him up for high school.
I dish out whatever fruit we happen to have on hand (N. demanding "Tay? Tay?" meaning "Excuse me? Put the fruit on my TRAY! NOW!") while I'm finishing up lunch preparation, and then I. is on his own to find the rest of his breakfast, because I'm on N.-meal-supervision duty. Though I often need to run through the list of options, usually, he's pretty good about this: he rummages through the cabinets to find cereal or granola bars, is capable of toasting himself a waffle, climbs up on top of the stools to reach condiments while giving me heart palpitations, and has even, on rare occasions, made French toast with minimal assistance.
Yesterday, when I asked him what else he was going to have for breakfast after he finished his bowl of canteloupe, he looked me square in the eye, crossed his arms, and whined dramatically, "MOM, there is NOTHING here to EAT. I'm BORED with this food."
I laughed, told him that we had all kinds of things to eat, and he needed to choose one, and continued with the morning routine. He grumped for about two minutes, and then poured himself a bowl of Life.
My husband is the bread baker in our house, but it would probably never occur to him to make cinnamon buns, because for him, bread is a straightfoward if variable affair involving yeast, flour, water, salt, sweetener for yeast food, and heat. It never would have occurred to me, either, except that I was going too slowly in the refrigerated dough section of our grocery store last week, saw cinnamon rolls there, and felt nostalgic for Talkeetna.
In 1996, the summer after my first year in graduate school, my father got it into his head that I should take a vacation. I was living alone in LA at the time, and had been traveling up and down the West Coast to visit friends in Berkeley and San Diego, drinking in as much of the Pacific as I could, but I hadn't yet ventured too far north. My father, in his infinite wisdom, declared that I should go to Alaska. And, despite my insistent refusal, that he would pay for it.
It was settled. I planned the entire trip online, in the still-early days of the internet, when first generation web pages were still the standard currency, before Twitter and Facebook, so everything was sight unseen. I would fly to Anchorage, rent a car, drive to Seward, then backtrack north to Talkeetna, finishing in Wasilla (I had to laugh that I actually knew where Wasilla was during the last presidential campaign) and back in Anchorage. I made reservations at B&Bs in town at all of these places, so I could walk where I needed to. Except for Talkeetna, where there was no B&B in town. And when I drove into Talkeetna in my rented compact, and parked at the Fairview Inn, where I'd reserved a private room, I started to worry.
You see, the Fairview was a bar. Is a bar. A historic bar, a lovely bar, perhaps, but a bar nonetheless. In Alaska. Where the town bar is just about the only entertainment in town at night. If you've never slept in a room locked with a hook and eye closure above an Alaskan bar, well ... let's just say it's a unique experience. You survey the situation. You decide that it's in your best interest to get to know the locals before you go to bed. You order a Diet Coke, because you don't dare order a beer. You strike up a conversation with a mountain man and pilot who hands you his business card: it reads--I kid you not, look him up--Trigger Twigg. You notice that people carry weapons instead of handbags. You retire early, and you carefully lock your little hook and eye closure, inspecting the door frame, which is ... historic.
I spent most of the night sitting up in my bed, listening to the raucous laughter downstairs, wondering if one of the locals might, in their excitement, come beat down my door.
I survived, but the next morning I moved to the Talkeetna Roadhouse. I'd originally been hesitant to go there because it was more like a hostel, with multiple bunks, but it was the only other option in town, and for a woman traveling alone, it seemed like a better choice. It turned out that the bunk room was empty anyway, so I got my privacy. I bolted the door that night, slept like a baby, and in the morning, I woke up to the incredible smell of baking cinnamon buns. I think I wept for pure joy when I arrived downstairs.
I curled up on the couch with a book from their chockfull built ins, and dug into a dinner plate-sized fresh cinnamon bun with a vat of coffee to wash it down. It was, quite possibly, the second best breakfast I'd ever eaten.
...I set to work during N's always-too-short afternoon nap, mixing the ingredients for the dough, setting it to rise, making the filling. By then N. was awake, and I peeked at the dough, which wasn't rising. I realized I'd set it on the cold countertop, which wasn't warm from the sun as it usually is, and moved it closer to the stove. After a little while longer I decided I couldn't wait, and attempted to roll out dough while she pulled on my leg: "SEE? SEE? roll, roll. Roll, roll."
They smelled fabulous while they were baking. They looked fabulous when they were done. And smeared with icing? I was determined that my son, too, would weep for joy when he arrived downstairs for breakfast.
Unfortunately, this morning, he decided that he didn't want cinnamon buns, either. Madness, I tell you.
Can't win then all, I guess. More for me. Here's looking at you, Talkeetna. I still remember you fondly. Maybe if you read this, you'll send me your recipe for cinnamon buns. I promise I'll guard it with my life.
What was the best breakfast you ever ate?
Adapted from here. I halved the recipe and it still made eight ... though I suppose if you want to make them Alaskan size, like the Talkeetna Roadhouse did, you could get twelve from the full recipe. Or eight, but that might be a little crazy.
1 package dry yeast
3/4 c. warm milk
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 t. salt
4 c. flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 T. cinnamon
1/3 c. butter, melted
8 T. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cream cheese
1/2 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour. Mix well.
Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour, and adding flour a little at a time if the dough is too sticky. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place (not the countertop, like I did!) about 1 hour or until the dough had doubled in size. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 21 inches long by 16 inches wide and 1/4-inch thick.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the surface. Working carefully from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. Cut the dough into 1 3/4-inch slices, and place on parchment on baking sheet (or in a baking pan if you don't like your rolls "free form"). Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
To make icing: While the rolls are baking, combine 8 T. butter with cream cheese. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat again until the mixture becomes spreadable. When the rolls are cooled, spread with icing.
You can keep these in the refrigerator and warm them up the next day in the microwave for about 15 seconds.