This morning at the table having a sweet little breakfast with my husband, we got on the topic of passion and how when it's plentiful, life has such clarity and meaning; but when it's lacking, moving through life can be a little like moving through murky waters that are hungry for the sun's rays to penetrate through.
Really, there's nothing like passion to get a job done, and done well and with full intentionality. At this point in my life, I cannot escape the fact that it is passion that is the driving force behind every single thing that I place my hand on to do that is of any real meaning to me, as it is a sort of magical infusion of gusto and purpose that can turn the relatively-mundane into something that has indescribable charisma and flavor. It is something that springs up from within, like a well of living water.
Passion is a little like those silky and rich ingredients found in a recipe for soft & pillowy blueberry breakfast rolls; it helps raise, puff, sweeten, tenderize and create that wonderful “mouth feel” of a warm, perfectly chewy and fluffy roll. It gives flavor when flavor is needed, and is a part of that magical chemistry that creates desire, helping the little bites of life slide oh-so pleasurably down into the belly.
When it's present, passion can move mountains; it is that special something that aids in keeping all of the balls up in the air, so to speak, when they should otherwise, for all intents and purposes, be falling all around.
Ah, but when passion is hiding...that's another thing.
I go through periods in my life that feel a bit like a desert—they seem arid and void of the moisture that is so necessary to have in order to keep life feeling vibrant and thriving. In those moments, it seems to me like the faucet of passion has been turned off, or at least turned down to a trickle, and I can't find the desire anywhere within my soul to take another step forward in any direction.
In those moments, I feel so very uncomfortable in my own skin because it is not what I would prefer to be experiencing. It's a little unnerving, discombobulating, even, to temporarily be unable to clearly see (or feel) the meaning behind what I do.
Endeavors lack luster, in the same way that a simple dough without salt lacks flavor.
When passion is playing the “find me” game with me, I look under this rug and behind that door; in that corner, and under the bed. But instead of a revelation, what I get is a little far-off giggle, a little mischievous laugh from passion letting me know that it is there to be found, but that it would rather have me search it out, whole-heartedly, than reveal itself to me. That it would rather have me realize that I'm missing it and put in a little of my own elbow grease to find it.
And it's the best thing.
Discomfort is a great motivator to asking questions and to arriving at the realization that something that is vital, is needed. It creates a prayer in the heart, an empty space that needs to be filled. It brings me to a place where I cannot avoid the simple fact that even passion is a merciful gift that must be requested, and is not automatically present even when one is participating in their life's work and on the “right path”.
This morning's quiet gift to me over our sweet little breakfast was an awakening to the truth that even passion must be asked for. When it's there, in full glory, in full revelation and strength, it is phenomenal and invigorating beyond belief. It is incredibly powerful. Yet, as with so very many things, it can easily be taken for granted.
Passion helps us to juggle all that life's busy schedule throws at us—helps us to keep all balls up in the air, rather than landing, with thuds, onto our heads. It gives us a desire to share, a desire to connect, a desire to be vulnerable—in a nutshell, a desire to love and to exist, at all.
It is also a state of being that desires to be requested, and is worthy of being sought after when it's playing hide and seek. And when there in its fullness, it should be grabbed with both hands, kissed and held close and cherished; but when it's not, the empty space that it leaves must be fully felt, and compel us to come to a place where there's humility enough to ask for its rich, buttery and softening presence once again.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Soft & Pillowy Blueberry Breakfast Rolls with Creamy Vanilla-Lemon Icing
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 12-15 Rolls
• ¼ cup warm water (110°)
• 1 (¼ ounce) packet active dry yeast
• 1 teaspoon sugar (for activating yeast)
• 1 cup warm half and half
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• ½ cup (approximately) mashed potato, room temp (*see note below)
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch or two, divided use
• 3 ¾ - 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
(*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.)
• ⅓ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 3 tablespoons butter, softened
• ½ cup blueberry preserves
• 1 (6 oz) package fresh blueberries
-To prepare your dough, add the warm water to a small bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over top in an even layer; sprinkle in the teaspoon of sugar, and mix to dissolve; allow the yeast mixture to sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
-While the yeast is activating, add the warm half and half, 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.
-Add in the yeast mixture, and mix that in to incorporate.
-Now, working with a wooden spoon, add in the remainder of the flour, incrementally (you may or may not use all 4 cups), and mix that in until sticky and soft but coming together to form a kneadable dough.
-Turn the dough out onto a work surface sprinkled with flour, and knead the dough for about 4-5 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 a 200° lightly “warmed” oven that has been turned off) and allow it to double in size, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
-While dough is rising, mix together the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar with the lemon zest, and using your fingers, work the zest in until fragrant; set aside.
-Once 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” rectangular shape.
-To fill, spread the 3 tablespoons of softened butter over the dough (leaving a bit of a border around the edges) then sprinkle over the pinch or two of salt; next, spread the blueberry preserves over the dough, top with the blueberries, and sprinkle over the lemon-sugar.
-Roll the dough starting from the top downward, rolling as tightly as possible, and pinch the seam closed.
-Cut the dough into about 12-15 rolls, and place the rolls into a buttered baking dish; cover with plastic and allow the rolls to double in size, for 45 minutes.
-Bake at 350° for about 25-27 minutes, or until golden.
-Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes, then drizzle with the Creamy, Vanilla-Lemon Icing; best enjoyed warm and fresh. (You can reheat these for about 15 seconds in your microwave.)
Creamy Vanilla-Lemon Icing Ingredients:
• 3 cups powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 4 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
-Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl, and whisk together until thick and smooth; keep covered until ready to use.