The Generosity of Others

The generosity of others always makes me smile. Today, I was on my knees, scrubbing the bathroom floor with Tilex when I heard the doorbell. And poof, five minutes later, I was sitting down with some coffee, taking a much needed break, and munching on a cupcake topped with the most beautiful sprinkles I had ever seen.

It’s amazing how a small thing can take you from complaining about how much hair you shed, much like a sheepdog in fact, to smiling happily as you lick off buttercream. I have always thought food can make someone’s day significantly better, but I’m not sure why. If someone I love is upset, my first thought is to make a cake, or cookies, or sweet-bars, something, anything, that could make them smile.

It’s a big part of why I give away most of the things I bake. That look of relief that people get when you bring brownies to school and they have something special to look forward too at lunch. The surprise on someone’s face when they open the door and you’ve got a big plate of homemade pretzel bites, still warm from the oven. Or the slow smile that forms when your neighbor asks you, “what did you bring this time?” Adding that small amount of joy to someone’s day is priceless.

I am trying to lead a more minimalist, giving life. Not buying things I don’t really need, giving away things I don’t use any more, and giving a portion of what I make to charities. The first two, because my mother instilled those values in me–think three times if you’re going to buy something, it could just crowd your house, and look at something and really think if you use it, or…well, it will just crowd up your house.

The last part comes from a lot of self-reflection…but it’s a simple conclusion: I can afford it. I can save 100 a month and give it to charity. Money can make a huge difference to charities like the Human Rights Campaign, Nothing but Nets, or Plan India, so why not? Makes me feel good, and they need it.

Anyways, this was not meant to be preachy, just when my neighbor came over with those cupcakes, well, I had some time to self-reflect while I was munching on one.

So, even a small amount of giving–cookies to your neighbor, cupcakes to your co-workers, or hey, a dollar to the homeless guy on the corner because heck, it’s 109 degrees outside, it’ll make you smile, so try!

Maybe try with these pretzel bites…which are AMAZING. They taste like the kind you get in the mall. Except healthier, since they’re half whole wheat flour!

Pretzel Bites
Adapted from What’s Gaby Cookie

2.5 tsp active dry-yeast
1.5 cups warm water
2.5 tbsp. brown sugar
2.5 cups all-purpose-flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Vegetable Oil for the bowl
0.67 cup baking soda
5 tbsp. melted butter
2.5 tsp salt
kosher salt for garnishing
1 egg yolk for a wash

In a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook mix the warm water, the brown sugar, and yeast. Let it sit for five minutes until its bubbly. Then add the salt and melted butter and mix. Turn on the machine, and while the dough hook is rotating, add the all purpose flour, and then add the wheat flour until it forms a huge mass. Then take it out and transfer it to a bowl coated with the vegetable oil, and cover that up with a cloth…let it rise for an hour.

Then preheat the oven to 425, and split the dough into 8 different parts. Roll each part into 14 inch ropes, and cut it into 1 inch pieces.

Then boil 10 cups of water in a large pot. Then add in the baking soda…it will bubble up as baking soda tends to do, so be ready for a little spillage. Toss in about 15-20 pieces at a time with a slotted spoon, and then after about 20 second, or when they float to the top, pull them out and put them on napkins to drain.

Then put them on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Brush with a the egg yolk, mixed with a little water, and the sprinkle with salt. Pop them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Pop them out of the oven and eat them when they’re warm with some mustard! 🙂

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