Taking a break from knitting design talk, I thought I’d talk about my next-favorite thing … food! Well, actually knitting and food both occupy that “favorite thing” spot. (I must make sure they both know that so no one gets jealous!)
I decided to make myself a batch of soft pretzels today. It’s been some time since I made them last. Although, around these parts, I’m pretty well-known for my breads. Particularly flatbreads. I have no Mexican heritage (other than being an Arizona native, perhaps) but I make excellent flour tortillas. Alright, I suppose you could argue that flour tortillas are really more of a Tex-Mex thing, but I’m not from Texas either! My ancestry also doesn’t come from Greece, but I manage to make pretty tasty pita breads, too. Many times, I learn to bake or cook things at home because I’m dissatisfied with what’s stocked in the grocery store. Sometimes it’s just because I’m too lazy to go to the store and I’ve got a fierce craving for something. Whatever the case may be, there’s something special about an item that comes out of your own kitchen!
I think I learned to bake soft pretzels because I had a craving. The frozen Super Pretzels in the market are certainly acceptable enough – I think they’re actually produced in Philadelphia, where people know their pretzels. However, I’m usually pretty loath to make myself reasonably presentable to go over to the grocery store! So, I just make them at home. They’re boiled in a baking soda bath briefly before baking, which is what gives them that deep brown color. When I used to bake pretzel rolls at work, we used a weak lye solution … yes, you read that right, we used drain cleaner … to dunk the pretzels in before baking. True pretzels are always made that way … nothing compares to the glossy brown sheen of a lye pretzel. However, lye is caustic and I often wound up with lye burns from the process, so at home I just use the baking soda.
After the dunk, they’re baked … very similar to the process of making bagels. In fact, I remember reading that people used to make lye bagels. I don’t know how I’d feel about that – the sort of salty, deep brown crust of a pretzel on a bagel would probably be off-putting to me. My grandfather used to love the salt bagels, though … and I imagine those are an homage to the old-fashioned lye bagels.
Anyway, the result is a tasty treat, perfect with some spicy brown mustard. Sorry guys, I’ll take mustard over cheese sauce any day with my pretzels. The vinegary, tart mustard is the perfect foil for the salty pretzel. I never developed a taste for beer (in fact, I really don’t drink at all) so my pretzels are served with my drink of choice, iced tea (unsweetened, please!)
What do you think of a knitted pretzel? It’s probably too easy a knit to bother with on its own. Maybe some kind of knitted bread set including a pretzel! Sounds like fun stuff! I’m always looking for neat ideas for free patterns, so like usual, if you have anything you want to see, let me know!
And speaking of free patterns, tomorrow is Friday, which means another edition of DrFrankKnits Free Pattern Fridays! Be there or be square!