Dearest Boo, what a roller-coaster day today is. Thirty-five years ago today Omaha had it’s largest tornado ever. And, the most amazing part is that only three dearly loved people lost their lives. According to the article in the Omaha World Herald newspaper “In the 1970s, the weather service issued warnings on fewer than two of every 10 tornadoes that occurred, said Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at National Severe Storms Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma. Today, the weather service succeeds in warning the public about seven or eight of every 10 tornadoes, Brooks said.” I know that when the sirens go off you sometimes get frustrated at the frequency, however, once you experience a tornado like the one in 1975, you count your blessings that we are getting the warning.
At that time we didn’t have “spotters” who are able to quickly phone in the information or Doppler radar that detects air movement, allowing meteorologists to pinpoint areas of intense rotation or weather computer programs that are more sophisticated and display in nearly real-time what is happening in a storm. At that time the only “advanced” help the gentleman working at the National Weather Service office in north Omaha was working with was rejiggered surplus military radar left over from World War II. He said that all he could see on the screen were differences in precipitation — where rain or hail was heavy, where it was light. He further compares the changes in technology to the difference between a Model T and a Lamborghini sports car.
At that time your dad and I were working at the Med Center. The warning sounded at about the time we were to get off work, so we headed out to the parking structure where our car was parked. We had to take an underground tunnel under the street to get to the four story parking structure. Our car was parked on the top story, so that was when we were able to see what was happening to the weather. The sky was a dark gray, almost black, but there was not rain so we were able to see pretty far into the horizon. Looking to the west we were able to see the tornado and the debris and destruction in it’s path. From this vantage point we were able to see at least four miles on the horizon. It was the most frightening thing I have ever seen in my life. However, the scariest part for me was the fact that is did not appear to be moving either to the left or the right. It was growing larger, not larger because the tornado was filling up with “stuff” like in “The Wizard of Oz”. It was growing larger because it was moving towards us! Lord help us – the only thought that crossed my mind was that I was going to die before I became a mother.
The skies opened and the freezing cold rain started to pour down upon us. It was raining so hard I was having trouble catching my breath. Your father decided that we should get into our car and drive to our duplex. That seemed to be not the smartest thing we should be doing at this point. First, we could just run back down the stairs and get into the underground tunnel. Pretty safe place I was thinking. Second, and most important, this was not a smart idea as our duplex was located between the Med Center and the path of the tornado. I thought that if we got caught in the tornado, the tornado would win and win big! If this happened today I am pretty sure I would tell your father to have a nice trip and I would run like a crazy woman back to the tunnel. However, thirty-five years ago I was a stupid, young woman in love and I followed my husband where ever he went. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Once we were in the car we could not even see past the front of the car, as the rain were coming down so fast and hard. And still your father drove on. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I have never prayed so hard in my life and if I could have gotten down on my knees to do so I would have. The winds were so strong our car was rocking back and forth. We could see nothing, so I was sure that the tornado was ready to toss us aside like a used toy. Purely by the grace of God we made it home and to the safety of our basement.
That night we were blessed to know that all of our loved ones made it safely through the storm. The worst damage anyone experienced was broken tree limbs in their yards. We compounded the idiocy of our lives further the next day by driving to and through the damaged area. The path was ten miles long, destroying about 300 homes, damaging another 4000 homes, and was on the ground about 45 minutes.
Four years ago my brother Al died. He was so young and just starting his life with his two young sons. He was a very creative and talented man. I still have the wooden goblet he made for me while in high school. However, I am sure that he would tell you his best creations were his two boys. When I look at his oldest son I can see so many of my brother’s mannerisms that I find myself just looking/watching him and drifting back in times when we were all younger. The youngest son, on the other hand, has my brother’s dry wit. He can just whip out these great observations and one liners that you have a hard time believing would come from this young soul. They are a wonderful combination of my brother. And a big thank you to your Grandmother for stepping in to raise them. Not an easy thing to do after thirty years of not having that responsibility.
Also today, drum roll please, is your Aunt “Izzy’s” birthday. Growing up I would have never thought that I would say it, but she has turned into a strong, capable, independent woman. She did an amazing job of raising your cousin Patrick, with very little financial and emotional help. Now she is able to kick back and enjoy the life of being a doting grandmother. This is a role that she was created to play. At the drop of a hat she is there with her support and love. It is wonderful that she is just a short drive from them, so they are able to grow up knowing her and experiencing her unconditional love. All grandbabies need this type of grandmother. We sister/aunts tease her almost too much, but she is a good sport and takes all our jabs.
I knew that I wanted to make her something special to celebrate her day, but what oh what? She has some dietary restrictions that hampered my decision. Nothing that would need refrigeration as it had to be shipped. Nuts – out; chocolate – out; pepper – out; remember to check to be sure the ingredient was not processed in the same plant as peanuts……….head scratching time. I know that she loves to be able to share with her fellow co-workers, so I wanted to make something that she could take to work and would be something that they could easily eat on the run. Teachers just don’t have enough hours in the day! I came up with four ideas and could not settle on one, so I did the smart thing. I made them all! That is where my smart stops, as I totally spaced out getting pictures of the finished goods. Rats…………….! What I made was Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, Orange Crescent Coffee Cake, Boo Bread (your all time favorite) and Cinny Sticks (mini Cinnamon Rolls on a sucker stick). The Boo Bread was your favorite, but to be honest I would have to pick the Cinny Sticks. Any food on a stick is just so gosh darn cute that it is automatically a winner.
Since I don’t have pictures I will post the bread dough recipe that I used for the Cinny Sticks and the Orange Crescent Cake. I was able to get about 40 Cinny Sticks and one 9×13 pan of Orange Crescent Coffee Cake.
To make the Cinny Sticks I cut the dough in half and made those into cinnamon buns. I used 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 stick softened butter and 1 1/2 T of cinnamon for the filling. I made sure to roll it up tight and then rolled it to be long and thin. Then I cut it into 1/2″ slices and place it into my mini muffin tin. Once it finished baking I pushed a sucker stick through each roll. Ta-Da!
The other half of the dough I cut in half again and rolled each half into a circle. The filling for the coffee cake is 1/2 stick softened butter, 1 c sugar and the grated peel of one orange. I then spread half of the filling on each circle, cut into six triangle shape and rolled up into a crescent. Place the rolls into a greased 9×13 pan in two lines the length of the pan. Just thought of this, but it would also be very pretty if you would use a cake pan and place the rolls into the plan like petals of a flower. You can drizzle on the coffee cake, while it is still warm, a glaze of 2 1/2c powdered sugar and the juice of one orange. Anyway…………along with the dough, Joy Rising!
Yummy for Your Tummy Dough
Prep Time: 15 minutes; 2 1/2 hrs for the rising
Bake Time: 8-10 minutes for mini Cinny Sticks; 25-30 minutes for Coffee Cake
Source: Lisa Poulsen
- 2 c milk
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/2 c oil
- 3 tsp salt
- 6 c flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 pkgs instant, rapid rising yeast
- 1/2 c warm water
Filling for Cinny Sticks:
- 1 stick room temperature butter
- 1 c light brown sugar
- 3 T cinnamon
Filling for Orange Crescent Coffee Cake:
- 1 stick room temperature butter
- 1 c sugar
- grated peel of one orange
Glaze for Cinny Stick:
- 1 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2T-3T milk
Glaze for Orange Crescent Coffee Cake:
- 2 1/2 c powdered sugar
- juice of one orange
- Stir milk, sugar, oil and salt until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add 2 c of the flour and beat well.
- Add 2 eggs and stir in completely.
- Dissolve the packages of yeast in the warm water. Let “bloom” about ten minutes.
- Add yeast/water mixture to the flour mixture. Stir in.
- Mix in the remaining 4 c of flour.
- Sprinkle small amount of flour onto either a pastry board or counter and knead until dough is smooth and not sticky (more flour may be added if dough is sticky).
- Put dough into a greased bowl and let rise until double (about one hour) in a warm place.
- If making just the Orange Crescent Coffee Cake; divide into six pieces and roll into a circle. Spread each circle with one-sixth of the filling and cut each circle into 8 wedges. Roll each into a crescent shape and place into pans. Cover and let rise at least one hour more in warm place. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Pour on glaze when rolls are still warm.
- If making just Cinny Sticks: divide into fourths and roll out into a rectangle shape. Spread with one quarter of the filling (you can double the filling if you want “oozy” filling). Starting at one end of the longest side, roll the dough into a snake-like form. Pinch and seal the edges so that the roll will hold it’s shape once it’s cut. Cut each roll into 1/2″ slice and put into the muffin pan. Cover and let rise at least one hour longer in a warm place. Bake 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Invert pan onto counter or pastry board and insert sucker stick into each roll. Glaze when cool.