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 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.
Our young grandchildren have rolled and cut and dipped dough in butter while wearing makeshift aprons.
These rolls made an appearance in a rented vacation home, because “It’s Christmas, and we can’t have Christmas without the ROLLS.”
Our kids get almost giddy at the sight of rolls rising under the white towels.
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.”
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:
And that’s how we roll.