The recipe card is spotted with dried flour, its edges curled and some ink slightly blurred from water spilled or splashed. It has traveled, stuffed with others in a wooden box, through three moves over the last 20 years, and it carries with it a treasure-trove of memories.
It’s a simple recipe: soft pretzels. The recipe first surfaced more than three decades ago in a Massachusetts junior high (middle school) classroom. It was “home ec,” a combination cooking/sewing class, and it was while making that recipe that I forged a friendship with a best friend. We repeated the recipe in class when the teacher allowed it, and later in our parents’ kitchens. It was something to do while we attempted to solve our teenage dilemmas and plot our futures.
We occasionally pulled out that recipe when we reunited through college, marriage and children. My oldest daughter made her first pretzels as a toddler, proudly plopping dough blobs onto the pan, her face and shirt smeared with flour. A couple years later, her younger sister joined us at the dining room table as we kneaded and rolled dough. They made letters and caterpillars and princess wands, delighted when they succeeded in making an actual pretzel shape.
Recipes are magical in that way. They connect us to our past, binding us to times and places and experiences that live only in the crevices of our minds. They also offer the opportunity to connect as a family and establish traditions.
When my daughters were young, I didn’t think about making pretzels as an educational activity. In truth, it was.
Children love doing things with their hands, and pretzel-making helps children with fine motor skills (mixing, rolling and shaping the dough) and language development (discussing ingredients, steps in the recipe and shapes to form). In addition, recipes help with cognitive development as children organize ingredients and follow the steps of the recipe (sequencing).
Whether you’re looking for a snowy day activity or an educational opportunity, pretzel-making is a tasty way to sneak fun into learning.
You’re bound to form lasting memories in the process.
- 1-1/3 cups warm water
- 1 package dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp coarse salt
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine water and yeast. Stir until completely dissolved.
- Add sugar, salt and 1 cup flour. Stir until well blended.
- Slowly add 2 more cups of flour, ½ cup at a time. Dough should be well blended.
- Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Brush with water; sprinkle on coarse salt.
- Bake 15-20 minutes.
Karen Nerney has been a communications specialist with Capital Region BOCES since 2011. She is mom to two daughters, 18 and 16, and a son, 10.
Copyright ©2015 by Parent Today and Capital Region BOCES; Used with permission