Having to say goodbye has never been easy for me.
I recently had to say goodbye to my parents who had come to visit with us for a while this summer, after not having seen them for about two years; they left to go back to their home (these days) in Slovakia.
It's tough not knowing when we'll all see each other again; perhaps another two years from now? The pace at which time and life goes by, it'll most likely be at least a little while again.
And what's difficult about a “goodbye” is parting ways with what one gets used to about a situation. Parting ways with all the wonderful and connective conversations we had; with my mom's cooking when I'd be too busy to prepare something; with the two of them sitting outside in the afternoon with their coffees, and us joining them whenever possible to chat about this-and-that for a while.
I just got used to their presence, their spirits and their energies. And now, they're gone, and their room and our house is a little more empty and bit more quiet once again.
But that's the way life goes.
We need our space, and they need theirs.
Everyone has their lives to live, but it doesn't mean I don't miss all the good stuff about being together.
Every season has it's time, and then things move forward and morph into something else, once again.
Actually, saying “goodbye” seems to be a theme in my life for this upcoming year.
I've been putting a lot of mental attention on the fact that I'll be having to say it in a major way within the next ten months, what with our son graduating from high school this school year, and then leaving us to pursue his passion—his career— and his own interests.
Talk about saying goodbye, and about the end of a “season”, and a whole way of life as I've known it for so very long!
But life has to move on, for all of us.
That's how we grow: by changing our circumstances, and what we've gotten used to.
Saying goodbye to a season that's passed, is saying hello to a new one; one that holds brand new experiences, and places one into a new role which calls upon different aspects of one's self to be brought to the forefront.
This new season of autumn is probably my favorite time of year. I love the color of the leaves when they change, the coolness that envelopes the evening and the change in light in the afternoon sky.
I love the apples that it brings in (along with all of the other wonderful produce and offerings fit to be placed upon our tables to be enjoyed); and the cozy, soft and sweet caramel apple sticky rolls with a caramel-cider glaze—my own unique take on when a cinnamon roll meets a sticky bun—that these delectable apples can be used in.
The autumn nourishes the soul in a completely different and unique way than does the summer, the winter or the spring. But each of those are needed, as well. And they, too, will also come again as new seasons, and pass, once again.
And again, “goodbye” must be expressed.
I suppose the truth of it is that life is really a series of “goodbyes” in a way, isn't it?
We're always having to say it, in one way, shape or form. But somehow, we get through it. Sometimes with bitter tears, sometimes with soft tears of laughter and joy, and sometimes without even noticing.
All I know is that I want to taste every bit of what a “goodbye” brings with it, and stay open, willing and ready to embrace whatever flavors the new season of life will bring with it.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Caramel Apple Sticky Rolls with Caramel-Cider Glaze
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes about 16 Rolls
• ¼ cup warm, unfiltered apple juice (110°), fresh pressed is best (*see note below)
• 1 (¼ ounce) packet active dry yeast
• 1 scant cup warm milk (2% or whole milk)
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 eggs, room temp
• ½ cup (approximately) mashed potato, room temp (**see note below)
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
• Caramel-Cider Glaze (recipe below)
(*You can use water in place of the juice; just add 1 teaspoon of sugar to it.)
(*The addition of the mashed potato creates a specifically “pillowy”, light and fluffy roll, without adding any additional flavor. Prick a large russet potato with a fork a few time, place into microwave, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender; once cool enough to handle, cut the potato in half, and scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin; either mash the flesh until lump-free, or put it through a potato ricer, the best choice.)
• ¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, unsalted and softened butter, divided use
• 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced very finely
• 2 honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced very finely
• ¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, brown sugar, divided use
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
-To prepare your dough, add the warm apple juice (or water with 1 teaspoon of sugar in it) to a small bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over top in an even layer; using a fork, mix to dissolve; allow the yeast mixture to sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
-While the yeast is activating, add the warm milk, the ½ cup of sugar, the eggs, the mashed potato, the vanilla, the ½ cup room temp melted butter and the salt to a large bowl, and mix with hand mixer until smooth; add in 2 cups of the flour, and mix that in until incorporated.
-Pour in the yeast mixture, and mix that in to incorporate.
-Now, working with a wooden spoon, add in the remainder of the flour, incrementally, and mix that in until sticky and soft but coming together to form a kneadable dough. (If the dough seems too sticky, you can add another ¼ cup or so of flour.)
-Turn the dough out onto a work surface sprinkled with flour, and knead the dough for about 4-6 minutes (you may need to continue to add sprinklings of flour), or until elastic; lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough in, turning it to coat it lightly in the oil, and cover with plastic wrap.
-Place the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen (I place mine in my microwave oven with the door closed), and allow it to double in size, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
-While dough is rising, prepare your filling; place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and add in the 1 tablespoon of butter; once melted, add in the diced apples and the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and saute for about 6-8 minutes just until tender but not mushy; drain any liquid from the cooked apples (there shouldn't be much), and set them into the fridge to cool completely.
-Add the ¾ cup of brown sugar and the cinnamon to bowl, and using a fork or your fingers, blend to combine well; set aside.
-Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down; turn it out onto the lightly floured work surface, and roll out into a 15” x 9” (roughly) rectangular shape.
-To fill, spread the ¼ cup softened butter over the dough leaving about a 1” border; then, sprinkle over about half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
-Next, sprinkle the cooled diced apples over the dough in an even layer, and then top the apples with the rest of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
-Roll the dough starting from the top downward, rolling as tightly as possible, and pinch the seam closed.
-Cut the dough into about 16 rolls (plus or minus), and place the rolls into a buttered or cooking spray-misted baking dish, or a couple of 9” cake tins; cover with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to double in size, about 45 minutes.
-Bake at 350° for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden.
-Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes, then drizzle with the Caramel-Cider Glaze, and sprinkle with about ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans, if desired.
Caramel-Cider Glaze Ingredients:
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• 4 tablespoons unfiltered apple juice, fresh pressed
• 10 ounces good caramel sauce (I used a jar of “Fleur de Sel” caramel sauce from Trader Joes)
-Add the powdered sugar and the apple juice into a medium-size bowl, and whisk together until completely smooth and blended.
-Then, add in the caramel sauce, and whisk that in to completely blend and incorporate.
-Use immediately, or keep covered in fridge, if making ahead; then simply warm it a little bit to make it drizzle-able; store any unused portion in the fridge.