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While I grew up in a family that started each dinner with a formal grace, Mike comes from a non-religious background. When we first moved in together I would recite a traditional grace while Mike looked on, but that always felt kind of awkward--food and ritual should be something that's shared, not something one person does while the other spectates. So a couple years ago, we switched to a Thanksgiving-style practice of listing something that we're grateful for. Since the PBS Newshour is on in the background while we cook, our gratitude tends to focus on the big things: thankfulness for shelter, for adequate food, for financial security, for freedom of speech, for our health, for our families, for each other.
But over this past week I've had lots of little things I've been thankful for, things that don't seem weighty enough to mention after listening to reports of the Ukrainian civil war or ISIS atrocities. I'm grateful that I have the luxury of being able to be thankful for smaller, non-essential things, like the heated seats in our new-to-us Prius. I'm thankful that my freelance writing career has begun, and I have a few more pieces in the works. I'm thankful that Mike met me over our Thursday lunch break for giant slices of Andrea Pizza ("The Biggest Slice in the Mini-apple"). And I'm thankful that I have this space to write about life's ups and downs, plus food, and that you're sharing the journey with me.
And in that vein, I have a new recipe. I wanted a simple whole wheat dinner roll recipe to pair with a pot of split pea soup, something hearty but not too dense. These rolls, a streamlined version of Bea Ojakangas' "Simple Savory Pan Rolls" from Great Whole Grain Breads, fit the bill, with an extra boost of flavor from the wheat germ. The dough is quite stiff, almost clay-like, but don't worry--they'll turn out in the end.
Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads by Beatrice Ojakangas
Yield: 16 small rolls (about 2 inches in diameter)
- 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Combine yeast, water, and sugar in a large bowl and let sit until yeast has swollen and small bubbles appear on the liquid’s surface (about five minutes). Stir in the salt, eggs, wheat germ, and whole wheat flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a very stiff dough forms. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.
Knead dough until smooth. Form into a ball and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
Punch dough down and divide into 16 equal pieces. Evenly arrange in a greased 9x9 pan.
Allow rolls to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls until well-browned, about 16-20 minutes.