Today is my green-eyed Irish guy’s 50th birthday. He is the love of my life, my best friend and my soul mate. I always say we’ve talked to each other every day except for one since the moment we met. I’m going to tell you the story of how we met. Remember back in the day when Yahoo had chat rooms? One night over 10 years ago I was sitting in an Indiana chat room, watching people talk. This green-eyed Irish guy said hello to me. I said hello back. Little did either of us know at the time but we had each other at hello. Boy oh boy did we talk. We talked until the wee hours about music, movies, politics, anything and everything that popped into our heads. The next night I had a date so I didn’t get on the computer. He still teases me about that. The following night we talked all night once again. And the next. And the next. We did this for a couple of months and he asked me out on a date. He drove 150 miles to have dinner with me to which I was late. Long story. I called to tell him I was only late. I wasn’t standing him up. We ordered our food and started talking. At some point, our dinner arrived. It remained untouched as we continued talking. The waitress kept asking if there was something wrong with our food. We assured her nothing was wrong. Finally, we told her we were on our first date and too busy conversing to eat. She left us alone at that point. It was a wonderful evening. He went back to his side of the state and I went home. At that point he was a territory manager for an ATM installation company. He would travel from the Ohio state line to Minnesota and south to Texas. He would travel to his work site, install the machine and drive all the way back to me. He always let me know where he was going, when he got there and how long he would be gone. We would use our computer cameras so that we could see each other as we would talk each night. We had our first date on Feb. 26, 2005, got engaged at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2006 and married on a beach in Florida on Oct, 8, 2006. We’ve packed a lot of living in the past 10 years. We’ve had so much happiness, great sorrow and terrible illness. I wouldn’t trade one minute of any of it because I know as long as we have each other, we can make it through anything. Happy birthday, my darling green-eyed Irish guy! Here’s to many, many more birthdays together.
These pretzels are easy to make and are much more tasty than the soft pretzels you can buy frozen or at the mall. They’re really fun to make too. I used a baking soda bath, but you don’t have to. You can just bake them and then broil them for the last five minutes. The kids would get a big kick out of helping to form the pretzels. They are a very good accompaniment to beer cheese soup (find my recipe here). Just a thought. Original recipe found here. Homemade Soft Pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus more for sprinkling on work area
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
coarse sea salt for sprinkling on the pretzels
If using a water bath:
9 cups of water
1/2 baking soda
Place the water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to mix together. Set aside for 5-10 minutes or until yeast is frothy and has bubbles. Add 4 cups of flour to the bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and put the salt in it. Stir the salt into the flour and then mix the flour into the wet ingredients below. If it’s still very sticky, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time. You can tell when it’s enough flour when you can press it with your finger and the dough pops back up. If using the water bath, place the water and baking soda into a large pan on medium high heat. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter top. Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and cut like a pizza into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Roll each ball into a rope about 18-20 inches long. You don’t have to be exact. To form the pretzel shape, hold both ends of the rope so that you start to form a circle. Twist the ends and then press the tips into the dough. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If using the water bath: Carefully lower 1 or 2 pretzels into the boiling water. They will sink to the bottom and in about 30 seconds they’ll rise to the surface. That’s when you remove them and place them on a pan, continuing to bathe 1 or 2 at a time until they’re all done. Place on 2 baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Brush each pretzel with the egg mixture on both sides. Sprinkle the tops with the coarse sea salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If not using the water bath: Turn the oven temperature up to broil and allow to bake about 5 more minutes, watching carefully to not let them burn. Allow to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
Wishing you love, laughter and cake,