Thoughts: Yellow Mustard Field

Happy Monday! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. April is upon us and spring is in full bloom. Sometimes the most beautiful things can be right under your nose and all you have to do is take a moment from your busy life and actually look at your surroundings. Spring in California is a great time to do just that. Last week as I was driving my son and a couple of his classmates to Half Moon Bay for a 2nd grade field trip, I came across the most yellow and fantastic field of mustard. I immediately told myself that no matter how busy the next couple of weekends, I would make the time to bring the family back before it stopped blooming, and a few days ago, we did.

What are some things about spring that really move you?

SO. AMAZINGLY. YELLOW. / Kiana Underwood

We even spotted a hawk flying nearby. / Kiana Underwood

The kids had a lot of fun getting lost in the field and running around. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

What better setting could there be than this to take some family shots in?! / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

The Arrival of Spring

Happy spring friends! In addition to being a fantastic season for beautiful flowers, the first day of spring has a special significance to me as it is also Persian New Year (Norouz). So, between work, getting ready for our new year's celebrations, and having my sweet aunt visiting me from Iran after 23 years, it has been quite busy in my home. But, truth be told, I couldn't ask for a better way to be busy. Here are some pictures showing how we began preparing for Norouz in my home this year. First, we colored some eggs for a table (the "Haft-Seen") that we decorate in anticipation of the new year. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

The one quality I love about our new year is that it has no affiliation with Islam, and it is purely a tradition that has been passed down from one generation to another since the time that Persians were Zoroastrians. Every thing that you see on my table has a meaning and symbolizes the wish(es) that we have for the new year. The apple represents health, the goldfish symbolize good fortune, the hyacinth is a symbol of beauty and rebirth, eggs stand for fertility, and the vinegar is a symbol of patience and wisdom. / Kiana Underwood

Say "hello" to Bobby and Strawberry - the newest members of the Underwood family (although we're not sure how long they will last). / Kiana Underwood

To me, tradition is everything and I am so glad to be able to pass down such a beautiful custom down to my children, and I am hopeful that they cherish and honor it for many years to come! / Kiana Underwood

Granny's Easy Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Icing

Some traditions just have to be passed down, and these easy cinnamon rolls with orange icing are a regular fixture in my mother-in-law's (Granny's) home at special occasions. They are very easy to prepare the night before, and will be risen and ready to bake when you wake up in the morning. The aroma of them baking while the coffee is brewing is the start of a perfect lazy weekend morning, and if you have children, they will be eager to assist in the eating. My husband is usually the one who makes them, so when the opportunity arose last week, I got out the camera. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Granny's Easy Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Icing

For the rolls:

  • 2 loaves frozen bread (e.g. Bridgford Ready-Dough)
  • 1 stick (8oz) butter
  • 1c granulated sugar
  • 2tbsp cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 2c confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1-2tbsp milk
  • 1 orange (zest and juice) / Kiana Underwood

The "easy" in the recipe comes from the use of already made frozen bread dough. Bridgford Ready-Dough is available at many grocery stores, and works very well in this recipe. Each pack has three loaves of bread, but the recipe uses only two. I buy two packs at a time and keep them in the freezer, which allows for three batches of cinnamon rolls.

Prep (the night before you want to eat them) - total active prep is 15-20 minutes

Begin by removing two loaves of Ready-Dough and allowing to thaw. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show, and by the time it is over, the dough should be thawed and ready to work with. Flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll out the dough until it is roughly rectangular, and about 1/2 inch (or 1cm) thick. / Kiana Underwood

Next, spread the butter (you had the butter out softening, right?) over the dough, or, cut into small cubes and sprinkle over your rolled dough. / Kiana Underwood

Sprinkle the granulated sugar and cinnamon over your buttered, rolled dough. If you feel inclined to touch things (as my husband is), you can ensure even spreading manually. / Kiana Underwood

Starting from one end, roll the dough into a cylinder shape. / Kiana Underwood

Slice the finished cylinder into 1.5 inch (4cm) sections. They don't have to be perfect, and the finished rolls will be slightly different sizes. / Kiana Underwood

Butter a 13 inch Pyrex or metal baking dish, and place the sectioned rolls loosely inside, as they will expand as they rise. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Finally, cover the dish with a towel, and place on the counter to rise in a reasonably warm area free from drafts. With your dish covered, you may go to bed. / Kiana Underwood

In the morning when you awake, your rolls will be risen and ready to bake. Start by pre-heating your oven to 375°. / Kiana Underwood

Once the oven is ready, put the rolls in and set the timer for 18 minutes. It is now time to make the orange icing.

In a bowl, add the confectioner's sugar and 1tbsp of milk. Stir or whisk together, adding very small amounts of milk until a very thick, paste-like consistency. Zest your orange, and squeeze in the orange juice 1tbsp at a time until the desired consistency and taste is achieved. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Check the rolls after 18 minutes. You want them to be evenly browned on top, which may take a couple of minutes longer depending upon your oven. They should look similar to the picture below when done. / Kiana Underwood

While the rolls are still hot, pour the orange icing over them, and start eating. / Kiana Underwood / Kiana Underwood

Enjoy! / Kiana Underwood