NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
February 25, 1999
Prairie Fare: Twist away the Baseball Season
Let the baseball preseason begin. The Chicago Cubs, Nicki's and my favorite team, play their first game on Friday, March 5, against the Seattle Mariners. I can almost smell the pretzels now.
You know the pretzels I'm talking about. Those fit-for-a-king-or-queen-size, warm, chewy ones that partner well with nacho cheese, the kind you can pump on from a condiment dispenser. Mustard is a good pretzel topper too. Sometimes I can't decide so I have to eat two, one each way.
Of course, I won't be eating any pretzels in Wrigley Field this year. Nope, the Windy City is not on our list of 1999 travel destinations. Even so, I can still enjoy my favorite baseball fare sans the summertime hurly-burly of the pretzel, peanut and popcorn concessions, the beverage vendors and of course, the action on the field. All I have to do is insert a baking pan of store-bought pretzels into a hot oven and within about six minutes, I've got a reasonable facsimile.
OK, in columns past I've complained about bread machines and how those contraptions take the fun out of bread making. But let me be clear here: watching baseball is more fun than making any kind of bread product. So I'm all for convenience once the boys of summer take to the field.
I've not always been of this mind-set. Back in the my irreverent youthful days, when I liked football more than baseball, Nicki and I (Nicki mostly) took the time to make homemade pretzels, hearty ones made of rye flour and topped with chunks of sea salt. Those pretzels were hard to beat but also hard to eat the next day. Rock hard. And because we didn't have a microwave back then to radiate the pretzels back into tooth-penetrating submission, we gave up the practice.
While practice may not help you make perfect pretzels, pretzel making can be fun, especially for young children. So parents, give the following recipe a try. It's simple and a good one for keeping eager helping hands busy. After you've made a batch, sit back and catch a baseball game. Who knows? You might just be starting a family tradition.
(This recipe comes from the October 1994 issue of "Scholastic Early Childhood Today.")
Yield: 12 pretzels
1½ cups warm water (110-115 F)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Mix the water, yeast and sugar together in a bowl and set aside for five minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the flour-salt combination and stir together until dough forms into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes until smooth. Let dough rest covered for about five minutes. During that time, beat the egg with an eggbeater in a separate bowl. Divide the dough evenly into 12 portions. Roll each ball into a "rope" about 12 to 15 inches long and then twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Brush pretzels with egg and place on baking pans that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Bake at 425 F until browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dip or accompaniment.
What's Your Take on This, Julie?
Snack foods are supermarket stars, ranking third in supermarket sales and accounting for 20 percent of the daily caloric intake of adults. The most popular snacks are salty and crunchy. According to research on snacking trends, during Super Bowl Sunday 1998, Americans ate 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips and 4.3 million pounds of pretzels.
We all snack for different reasons. With today's hectic schedules, some people would rather graze than partake in sit-down meals. Some people snack out of boredom. For others, snacking is a habit during sports events or movies, regardless of hunger. Many a bag of chips disappears when the snacker is preoccupied watching a game or movie.
For children, snacks can make important contributions to their overall diets. Two or more nutritious snacks in addition to regular meals are typical for children and can help fill nutritional gaps due to occasional picky eating habits. Adults trying to control weight or snacking behavior should try to spread snacks throughout the day rather than exclusively snacking in the evening. For older adults with appetite problems, six small meals may be more appealing than three larger meals.
Think of snacks as mini-meals. Aim for snacks that provide nutrients in addition to calories. Try keeping plenty of healthy snacks within reach: washed fruits, vegetables and 100-percent fruit juice in your refrigerator or packs of raisins or graham crackers in your glove compartment or desk drawer.
Homemade pretzels are a tasty, nutritious and economical snack. Who doesn't appreciate the aroma of freshly baked bread? Each large pretzel (1/12 of the recipe) contains about 160 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. Try dipping them in warm spaghetti sauce or honey mustard sauce for added flavor without a lot of added fat and calories.
Making pretzels can be a fun family activity, as well as a learning opportunity for children. Children learn about math through measuring ingredients and science by observing the action of the yeast. They also can practice their motor skills through kneading and forming the dough. By working with others their age, children can develop cooperation and patience. Children also have a chance to express individuality and creativity through their signature twist of the dough.
The best part of all is the sensory evaluation, or taste testing. My 3-year-old son Thomas certainly appreciated these chewy snacks, pronouncing his T-shaped pretzel "awesome."
Sources: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136 and Julie Garden-Robinson (701) 231-7187
Editor: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136
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