Today, I needed comfort. It’s only Wednesday, but already it’s been a tough week, both at the office and personally. I had today off so I decided to throw myself into the daily routines of the office I call home. There is a comfort in those routines.
It is not uncommon for us to seek comfort in food. For me, at least, it’s not always about the eating of the food, but rather the MAKING of the food. There is something about preparing a meal for the family, be it a family favorite or an old recipe, that connects us to each other and to the past. Today I was really missing my Grandma Minnie. So I decided to bake some bread. For me, the process of baking bread is more comforting than the eating any delicious, warm, gooey food known to man.
Grandma Minnie, or Minnie Mom as many people called her, was sort of known for her bread. She was good at making it that’s for sure. No recipe, just a process that almost seemed a part of her DNA. Of course she had 11 kids so she made plenty of bread, several times a week to feed her family, so in some way, it probably was ingrained in her very being.
It’s been very hard to find a recipe that compares to hers. I remember making bread from my 4-H Yeast Breads project book and we felt that came close. It certainly had the same ingredients, but still seemed to be missing something.I remember my mom coming back from a visit to Missouri, where she grew up and where grandma lived. They’d stopped at a place called Lambert’s Cafe. It’s a popular restaurant in the Ozark area of Missouri. Who’s claim to fame is that they “serve” their rolls by throwing them at you! They proudly boast that they are “The Original Home of the Throwed Rolls”!
I’ve never had the pleasure but mom said that these rolls were about as close as she’d come to grandma’s rolls since grandma stopped making them. So, today I made a double recipe of a copy-cat recipe of Lambert’s Throwed Rolls that I found on Pinterest. I made half of the dough into rolls and half into a loaf of bread for toasting tomorrow morning. 🙂
The recipe isn’t EXACTLY the way she made hers. There were no eggs in her recipe and she NEVER would have used butter, she didn’t like butter. She would have used Crisco, but I didn’t have any, so I used butter. She also would have slathered bacon grease on the tops of them when they cam out of the oven! 🙂 I know, butter no, but bacon grease? YES!
Grandma Minnie would always bake bread when she would come up to visit us, she’d make a bunch of bread and we all helped! It was…well, I just can’t find an adjective wonderful enough to explain it, but it was pretty special. She would talk us through the process, showing us along the way the things to look for as we warmed the milk, stirred in the flour and kneaded the dough.
Today, as I prepared the dough, I could hear her voice again as she warned me not to get the water too hot, to watch for the bubbles at the edge of the saucepan when warming the milk taking care not to scorch it.
I heard my mom and 4-H leader too as they reminded me to take the time carefully measure out and level off the flour with the back of the knife (grandma never measured, she just knew).
I saw my grandma’s hands as she kneaded the dough…I still can’t do it the way she did it and judging from numerous other attempts, I’m quite certain that I over knead my dough.
As I worked, my kitchen filled with the presence of these wonderful ladies past and present and I was comforted to know that their love and memories were just a bowl of bread dough away. I shed tears, happy and sad, and I did not hurry. I wanted to savor this time.
As I continued to work the dough, hearing my grandma’s reminder not to over-work it, mental snapshots of standing next to her at the stove watching the pan of milk or working my own piece of dough for my own little loaf played through my memory. I could smell her, I could almost touch her. I remembered her slathering the finished bread with bacon grease and made a note to slip some bacon in the oven, to top her potato soup we’re having for dinner of course. 🙂
Waiting for the dough to rise was always torture. Still is. I can never wait to get it in the oven! A side note here, it was too cool inside the house this morning to properly proof the dough, and my oven was busy cooking bacon, so I took my dough out and put it in the van to rise. It worked nicely. 🙂 I think Grandma would have been proud.
As I remembered the times spent with grandma, I wondered what memories my own children and grandchildren would cherish of our time together? I know that I do my best to take hold of every opportunity given me to connect and create with them. I also wonder what grandma would think of my family, my kids and grand kids. That granddaughter who bears a resemblance to her…
I miss my grandma Minnie a lot. I wish she existed in more than my memories, but she does not. Still, I found comfort in the memories I shared with her. I found comfort in food. And my house smells like grandma.