It's Pretzel Time!
No, this is not a cherry baked good. It's not even a typical bakery baked good. In fact, giant, soft, warm, salty, chewy pretzels and heavenly (yes, heavenly!) beer cheese dipping sauce might not seem like they have anything to do with the settings of my cozy mysteries, and they really don't. However, the German styled pretzel for me invokes memories of traveling around Lake Michigan to my favorite lakeside towns, the one's I write about in my cozy mysteries. Soft pretzels served in pubs and sold at farmer's markets from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to Frankenmuth, Michigan, and beyond. In fact, just the shape of the pretzel makes me smile. They're said to have been around since the 7th century, baked by monks to eat during lent. Lucky monks! They're also said to be a symbol good luck, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment, something we could all use about now.
Another reason to make pretzels? Your family will thank you. I've been hunkered down for nearly nine weeks now with my husband and two of my three sons. They've all been champs at following the guidelines to beat this dang virus. And the best way to thank them for their efforts is with their favorite pub food. Just a little flour, water, salt and yeast and you'll be transformed from boring old mom to BEST MOM EVER! They might even enjoy staying in the same house with you for another week or so.
I've even upped the ante a little by making the beer cheese dipping sauce with their favorite micro-brewed beer, Oberon. It's a summer beer brewed by Bell's in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It's the favorite beer of the Hannah boys, and using it in the cheese dip might be blasphemy, but it's delicious blasphemy! Besides, they get to drink the rest of the can.
Pretzels are a Hannah family favorite. When the boys smell these baking in the oven they magically appear in the kitchen. The dogs do too, hoping I'll drop one by accident. Another fun family activity is to have everyone try their hand at rolling a pretzel. It's not easy, but it is fun. Who doesn't love trying to make a rope out of dough and then making that rope look like a recognizable treat? Here are some of our pretzel attempts. I made a few examples and the boys did the rest. Guess somebody needs to watch the video again.
I would also like to add a note. I just watched the ladies from Cooks Country make pretzels and they were gorgeous! I'm a writer who likes to dabble in the kitchen, but these ladies are the real thing. The recipe was pretty similar to mine here, but the big difference is that before the pretzels were ready to go into the oven, they were first boiled in a baking soda solution for about a minute or so then placed on cooling racks to dry. This gave the pretzels a more typically brown, glossy look. While mine are buttery and delicious, you might want to try that one too!
Happy reading and happy baking!