The tradition rolls on

The tradition rolls on

Mouth watering deliciousness
Mouth watering deliciousness

Every year on Thanksgiving Eve, the phone rings and the conversation between North Carolina and Colorado goes something like this:

“How many batches of rolls are you making this year?”

“I think I’ll do a double.  All the kids will be home.”

“I think I only need to do a single – but what if we don’t have enough?”

“That would be tragic, but don’t forget they freeze well – if any of them even make it that long.”

The prized roll recipe
The prized roll recipe

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

The small – maybe 6×8- cookbook was stuffed in a drawer or cupboard with all other cookbooks.  The nondescript white cover which announced that it was the project of the Saginaw-Midland (Michigan) ward Relief Society, was barely hanging on to the red plastic binding.  It included  such gems as “Tomato Soup Cake”(a spice cake that actually was pretty tasty), countless jello salad recipes, and other dishes typical to the mid-America family dinner table in the 1960’s.  Certain pages were warped and ripply and stained from repeated use – evidence of which which recipes were the favorites.  But the one recipe that has stood the test of time, passing from one generation to another, is for “Refrigerator Rolls”, submitted by Joyce Berrett.

Mom’s rolls have been a part of holiday meals and other special occasions for as long as I can remember.  Light, fluffy and buttery, they are tender enough to eat 6 or 8 before dinner really even starts, several more with the meal, and just a couple more before dessert is served.  As kids and adults, we eagerly anticipated those rolls as one of the highlights of the holidays.

So it was only natural that when I left home the roll tradition continued with my family.

I’ve made them in Isfahan, Iran.

They were part of several beach Thanksgiving picnics in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Thanksgiving, 1983
Thanksgiving, 1983

Our young grandchildren have rolled and cut and dipped dough in butter while wearing makeshift aprons.

Ryan - Thanksgiving 1999
Ryan - Thanksgiving 1999
Maddie & Ryan - 2001
Maddie & Ryan - 2001
Katie & Charlie - 2009
Katie & Charlie - 2009
Charlie - 2009
Charlie - 2009

These rolls made an appearance in a rented vacation home, because “It’s Christmas, and we can’t have Christmas without the ROLLS.”

Mark & Don - 2006
Mark & Don - 2006
Mark - 2006
Mark - 2006

Our kids get almost giddy at the sight of rolls rising under the white towels.

We can hardly wait!
We can hardly wait!

This year I got a new Thanksgiving Eve phone call – from Nate in Huntington Beach, California.

“I’m in the grocery store.  What kind of yeast do I buy for the rolls?”

And then Thursday morning that same son called with a slight tone of panic in his voice.

“I’ve just emailed you a picture of our rolls.  I don’t think they worked just right.  Go look at it and tell me what you think.”

Are they going to be okay?
Are they going to be okay?

The picture was inconclusive, so we did a live video chat allowing me to inspect the dough.  I assured them that I thought it was just fine, but cautioned them to allow plenty of time for rising once the rolls had been shaped.  They turned out beautifully.

When Pete came in Thanksgiving morning after having rolled and shaped the rolls for the Gentry family dinner, he commented, “I hope Grandma Joyce knows that all across America today people are making her rolls!”  And a little later in the day, this picture came to my in box:

Grandma's rolls loved by all generations
Grandma's rolls loved by all generations - Sam, 2010

And that’s how we roll.

One thought on “The tradition rolls on

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