Seventy days. Ten weeks. Two months… no matter how I express how long I have been away from work, it does not match how long it feels. I left work about that long ago. I voluntarily, without coercion or drugs, bid adieu to my job as a software engineer and left my colleagues with dulce de leche brownies. Seventy days. That sounds like a lot of time, but to me it barely feels like two weeks.
The first few days I felt elated. Free at last, free at last… This was quickly followed by separation anxiety. What did I do? What am I doing? Basically, I’ve gone through a few of the stages of grief including but not limited to anger, sadness, chocolate binging, and finally acceptance. I guess that makes sense. My job was such a big part of my life. Ten years. That is a lot of bugs. And a lot of late nights. It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t for me. I felt like a square peg in a world made of round holes (Pop Quiz: Who starred in the eighties television show Square Pegs?)
I struggled with that decision for several years before I finally left (and I mean several)… I kept waiting because I thought I needed to know what I would do after I left (plus I was plain scared). This year after much thinking and waffling (and a little saving and calculating), I decided to do it without knowing the answer to “what’s next?”. Does this make me crazy? Maybe. Probably… but I have gone through the stages of grief in two short months, and I feel relaxed. And balanced. These are things that were waaaay out of whack last year.
As for the future, who knows what it will bring in the long term. But I do know that tomorrow I start a writing class. A humor writing class. I’m scared and excited at the same time. At the end of ten weeks, we’re supposed to read some of our material in front of an audience of our peers and invited guests (and possibly some random bookstore customers). This terrifies me. I’m not a public speaker. But it’ll be fun and it’s good for me… right? Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.
While I am scared of writing classes and people and public speaking, I am comforted in knowing that I can whip up a batch of pinwheels anytime I want. If you can make biscuits, you can make pinwheels. And I’ve been making biscuits and pinwheels since before I started high school. It’s nice to know when things out there in the real world are big-n-hairy with pointy teeth, that there are pinwheels in the kitchen.
Pumpkin spice pinwheels
(adapted from Alton Brown‘s biscuit dough)
These are an easy alternative to “real” cinnamon rolls which require yeast and rising. I normally make a plain biscuit dough with the sugar-cinnamon filling, but this is an updated version for fall (with pumpkin spice! I can’t get enough of pumpkin and spices right now).
Best served warm, but if for some reason you can’t eat them all, store them in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350 degree oven covered with aluminum foil for about 10-15 minutes.
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (*see notes)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
about 3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
about 1/4 cup maple cream cheese frosting
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a pie pan or round cake pan.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- With your hands or a pastry blender, work the shortening and butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse cornmeal.
- Measure pumpkin puree into a measuring cup. Fill with buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk together.
- Create well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in pumpkin-buttermilk and quickly stir together with a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, just until dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface. Lightly dust the top with flour, and turn the dough onto itself 4 or 5 times.
- In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and pumpkin spice. Set aside.
- Roll dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread softened butter on the dough. Sprinkle sugar-spice mixture evenly. (Optional: sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts).
- Carefully roll the dough into a long log. Smooth the seam. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
- Place into a buttered pie pan (so they are lightly touching each other).
- Bake 15-20 minutes. While they are still warm, top with maple cream cheese frosting.
- Serve to your boyfriend and listen to the ooohs and aaahhhs and mmmms.
- Pumpkin spice: I made my own by mixing together cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves in a 4:2:2:1 ratio (Ex: 4 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons allspice, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cloves… adjust it to your taste. I’ve been thinking about adding ginger and/or cardamom next time), but you can use store bought or your own creation instead.