4 – 5 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon salt
2 heaping tablespoons of active dry yeast (2 packages)
1 cups of milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup of water plus 1/4 to 1/2 cups more to be used as needed
Warm 1/2 cup of water to about 115F – 125F (about 30 seconds in a microwave on high works well for this.) Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to the water and stir well. When the sugar and salt are dissolved, stir in 2 heaping tablespoons of yeast. Set aside and let proof for 5 minutes or so – the yeast will produce a frothy “head” on the water.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 4½ cups of flour, the sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt, mixing well.
Heat the milk and butter to about 115F – 125F. The butter will start to melt, but you do not need to let the whole stick melt.
Stir the milk and butter mixture into the flour mixture, and add the proofed yeast and water. You will most likely need to add some more water a small amount at a time until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If the dough is sticky, add some more flour at about 1 tablespoon at a time. If mixing by hand, this is a laborious process. In a large stand mixer, it should take about 6 – 8 minutes. Once the proper texture has been reached, knead for an additional 6 – 8 minutes. Put the dough in a covered bowl and let rise for about 15 – 20 minutes, until nearly doubled in bulk.
Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking pan. Set the oven to 425F.
When the dough has doubled, punch it down and roll it out to 1″ thickness. Use a 2.5″ biscuit cutter to cut the rolls. Place the rolls into the baking pan in a grid — the rolls should be just barely touching one another. (You may have a good bit of leftover dough, so maybe you should also grease and flour an 8″ square baking pan also for any remaining dough.)
Let the rolls rise about 15 minutes more, then place into the oven on a center rack. Bake for 12 – 13 minutes. The tops of the rolls should be golden-brown. Take a wooden spoon and lightly tap the rolls in the center. The sound should be clear and “hollow-sounding;” a dull “thud” indicates that you should let the rolls continue to bake another 2 – 3 minutes.
For a whole wheat variation, use 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 2½ cups white flour, adding more white flour as required; use 3 tablespoons of honey instead of sugar.
For the United States of America, today is a truly historic national Election Day. It is election day in across all of the United States, from Nome, Alaska to Key West, Florida; people will go to the polls in Honolulu, Hawaii, Chula Vista, California, and Eastport, Maine, and here in my home of Flower Mound, Texas. Because of our system of a College of Electors, votes in some states have far more impact than votes in others, a legacy of the 18th Century compromise that led to the adoption of our present Constitution. Nevertheless, as always, voting matters. Every Election Day represents an occasion to have important impact upon the future, but today is the most important election of my lifetime, without a doubt, and the results will directly and deeply affect our future as a nation of equality, opportunity, character, resolve, accomplishment, and consideration. And there is so much more at stake than just the immensely high-profile presidential race: every race matters all the way down the ballot; local races have immense impact upon our daily lives. Vote. Vote completely. Every qualified American Citizen can have an impact. Having that impact, of course, is only available to those who vote.
While the United States was still in the throes of the ferocious fighting of the Second World War, President Franklin Roosevelt took to the radio on 5 October 1944 to address a nation about the need and the obligation to vote:
Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do that is by not voting at all.
The continuing health and vigor of our democratic system depends upon the public spirit and devotion of its citizens which find expression in the ballot box.
Every man and every woman in this nation, regardless of party, who have the right to register and to vote, and the opportunity to register and to vote, have also the sacred obligation to register and to vote. For the free and secret ballot is the real keystone of our American constitutional system.
The American Government has survived and prospered for more than a century and a half, and it is now at the highest peak of its vitality. This is primarily because when the American people want a change of Government, even when they merely want “new faces,” they can raise the old electioneering battle cry of “throw the rascals out.”
Roosevelt also frankly acknowledged the serious defects which then plagued America’s voting rights then, saying:
It is true that there are many undemocratic defects in voting laws in the various States, almost forty-eight different kinds of defects, and some of these produce injustices which, prevent a full and free expression of public opinion.
The right to vote must be open to our citizens irrespective of race, color or creed, without tax or artificial restriction of any kind. The sooner we get to that basis of political equality, the better it will be for the country as a whole.
Two decades would pass before Roosevelt’s ambition for equal access to voting would be made into law. For many Americans today, access to voting may be more difficult than it should be. Polling places are often fairly distant, lines will likely be quite long, and even registered voters may be challenged. But exercising one’s right to vote is a very worthwhile thing, and worthwhile things do not always come easily.
I have heard from many folks that they either have already voted, taking advantage of early voting options, or that they surely intend to do so today. I have also heard from a variety of folks who tell me that they have been praying and plan to pray about this election. That sounds like a good idea.
This conflation of voting and praying is wholly apt, as it turns out, at least from the etymology and origins of the word “vote.”
Our English word “vote” derives from the Latin VOTVM, which means a prayer, a wish, or a promise to God (this last is reflected in our words such as “devotion” and “votive” offerings.) The word VOTVM is in turn derived from the verb VOVERE meaning to pray, wish or to vow.
When we vote, then, we express our wish. Perhaps we avow our preference. Possibly we pray. And maybe – just maybe – our prayers will be answered.
Flower Mound, Texas
I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:
1, To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:
2, To speak no evil of the person they voted against: and,
3, to take care their spirits were not sharpened against those who voted on the other side.
– John Wesley
From The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A. M., Volume IV, 3rd edition, London: John Mason, 1829, entry from Thursday, October 6, 1774: