“We are all children. We all need approval.”
~ Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s the memoir that Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of French Elle, dictated by blinking one eye. My friend Hugh, a retired psychiatrist, bought me the book last year. He said he knew that I would love it, and love it, I did. It’s a poignant, powerful book – a testimony to the human spirit. The kind of book that makes you seriously re-think everything. Everything you think you know.
Bauby was the man who had it all. Two gorgeous children, a glamorous enviable career, money, beautiful women, and travel. He was living the sweet life in the fast lane in Paris – when everything changed in a flash. Bauby was just 43 years old when he suffered a terrible, massive stroke that left him paralysed and speechless – a rare condition called Locked-in-Syndrome. The only movement he could make was to blink his one good eye. His other had to be sewn shut.
Bauby was in hospital in France when he dictated his remarkable autobiography. He worked with a woman who transcribed his blinks into words. They did this painfully, one letter at a time using a form of code. If you think writing a book is an epic project, imagine having to blink out each letter out individually.
Bauby died ten days after the book was published in 1997. A decade later, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly was made into a stunning, astonishing film that won major awards at Cannes and other international film festivals. The film also scores 4.5 stars on Rotten Tomatoes.
This morning I got up while it was still dark and went into my kitchen to make a batch of cinnamon buns. It’s autumn and I’ve been under the weather and needing TLC, and was craving some serious comfort food. But as fabulous as these buns are, I was a little guilt-wracked about all the white flour and sugar.
Then, this evening, I sat down and watched The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly – a reminder that we don’t actually know what’s coming next and that life really is too precarious to waste one moment worrying about anything so inconsequential as a little white flour and sugar – especially when it comes in the form of home-made cinnamon buns.
My late mother-in-law used this dough recipe only she didn’t have a bread maker. She was not only a superb cook – but also one of the strongest, kindest, and most capable women I’ve ever known. When she served these cinnamon buns – it was like love on a platter.
Grandma M’s Cinnamon Buns
1/2 cup milk, warmed slightly
1 large egg
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp yeast
Add ingredients to bread machine in order listed. Use dough setting. If you don’t have a bread machine mix together the warmed milk, sugar and yeast and let stand for approximately five minutes, then mix in the remainder of the ingredients. Knead thoroughly and set to raise until doubled in size.
1/4 to 1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp cinnamon
Once the dough is ready, roll out to a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick. Spread thickly with butter (use as much as you like – be generous!) and then sprinkle with brown sugar (1/2 cup) mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon. I’m pretty conservative with the sugar – use more if you want the full-on Cinnabon kind of experience. Roll tightly starting with the long side of the rectangle. Divide in 12 equal portions. Place the rolls into a well-buttered Pyrex lasagna pan (9 x 13 inches)- giving the rolls room to expand. Set to raise for 30 minutes in a warm spot.
Bake at 375 deg F for approximately 15 minutes or until the buns are golden brown.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 tbsp butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat together and spread over the warm rolls before serving.