Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Food, Smells & Memories of Home

A few months ago, I completed a life history compilation of my dear Grandma Helen.  She was a choice lady with a remarkable life.  I scoured through dozens of handwritten journal pages; most of which were on loose sheets of paper left in random order.  At times, I felt like I was assembling a jig saw puzzle.  It took me a long time...months.  I do not even know the total number of hours I spent, but it was a joy.  She was a treasure in my life.  It has been nearly two years since she passed and I still miss her everyday.

I loved reading about her life.  Her childhood was like a movie.  She grew up in a small town in Georgia on a farm during the depression.  It was such a pleasure reading about her and learning about her in a new way.  One of the most interesting things I found about her journal entries is how often her memories of home and childhood related to food.  Her memories were always tied to the food she ate...or in some cases, didn't eat.

At first I thought this was because meals were so scarce and that food must have always been on her mind, but as I have taken a step back, I realize that her memories are happy ones and associating those memories with food was a trigger for her thoughts.  She grew up very poor, but she was deeply loved by her siblings and parents and remembering the food she ate must have helped her remember the feelings of home.  Her journal entries are poignant and vivid because she was able to remember so much more than just events.

I think my mom understood this too, because the smell of homemade bread, soup, scones and homemade chocolate cookies...smells of comfort food...were very common in our house.  It reminds me of walking into our home after school.  My mom made us a hot breakfast everyday...yes, everyday except the weekends!!  Dinner as a family was treated as sacred.  I can't help but think that those traditions are probably why we are all still such great friends.

As I have thought about it, so many of my happy memories are also surrounding food.  I know that Romney would say the same thing.  So, I have been asking myself, what smells will trigger happy memories for my kids?  (Hopefully not just the smell of a clean bathroom!!!)

I have been experimenting with different bread recipes and I stumbled on this recipe for homemade rolls.  I had never made them before, so I decided to give it a try.  It was a lot easier than I had expected and if I don't sound too boastful, they were delicious.  I am trying them today with freshly ground wheat flour.  (We'll see if the kids are as excited about these rolls if they are a healthy brown....)

Here is the recipe.  Happy baking and memory making! (This recipe makes A LOT, but it gave us an excuse to share with the neighbors. You could always cut it in half).

Delicious Homemade Rolls

1/2 c. tap-hot water
pinch sugar
2 pkg. yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1 c. butter
2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
4 eggs (beaten)
1 c. warm milk
8 1/2 c. flour ("bread" flour)

Mix water, yeast and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Set aside until foamy.

Cream butter, salt and sugar. Add boiling water (I just used the microwave). Mix until dissolved.

Let it cool for a couple of minutes.

Beat in yeast mixture and eggs. Slowly beat in flour and the warm milk.

Knead for five minutes. (Dough will be pretty sticky).

Let rise until doubled in size (approx. 1 1/2 to 2 hours).

Remove from mixer and punch it down.  Divide into four balls. 

Shaping the rolls is much easier than you might think. All you need to do is roll out the dough into a big circle so that it resembles an untopped pizza. Then, using a pizza cutter, divide up the dough into 12 pizza slices. Starting with the “crust” edge, roll each slice of pizza towards the center to form the rolls, then curve them slightly when you place the on greased cookie sheet with point tucked under. 

Let rise, covered with a cloth until doubled in size (approx. 1 1/2-2 hours).

Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.


  1. Thanks for the recipe Alecia! I will definitely try it. Maybe I'll sign up for rolls for our ward's thanksgiving dinner and experiment on my ward :)

  2. I'm constantly trying new roll recipes. These look a lot like the ones I made on Sunday, or I should say what they were supposed to look like. :) I hear ya that most good memories revolve around food. Isn't life about good food, family and friends? We do a lot of cooking around here and I'm sure my kids get sick of mom always experimenting with new recipes. You are one fabulous cook. Keep the good recipes coming! xoxo

  3. That picture looks like Crazy Eyes!


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