Homemade Yeast Rolls Make My Temperature Rise
Homemade buttermilk biscuits were a staple at our house. It would have taken a loaf of bread to make toast for everyone, and that was too expensive. Mother prepared food that would stick to our ribs, to use her words. Biscuits, bacon or sausage, and gravy were on the table every morning. The only break was the rolls she would purchase for Sunday lunch at Cas Walker grocery store.
My cousins would fight over any left over, cold biscuits that might be sitting on the stove when they came to visit. Nobody could make bread like Aunt Mildred. Mother was an extraordinary baker. She was known for her cakes, pastries, biscuits, and yeast rolls. If she was in the kitchen baking, I was usually right by her side. I would drag the step stool over to the table to observe and help. It was fun to watch her knead the dough. She would pinch off a piece and give it to me to knead. She would sift flower on the dough board. We would make handprints in it to cover our palms, to keep the dough from sticking to them. Methodically, we used the rim of a drinking glass to cut out the rolls or biscuits. The rolls were dipped in melted butter, folded in half, and placed on a greased cookie sheet to rise. Just before supper, the rolls were put into the oven to bake. The aroma of freshly baked bread filled the house and drifted outdoors, so that when Daddy came home from work he would know he had a nice meal ready for him, after a hard day at work.
One of my favorite memories is Daddy coming in from work, going in to the kitchen to kiss Mother hello. He laughed as he brushed away the flour off the tip of her nose. That was so romantic to me.
Mother and I were making rolls one day, when the question came to my mind. “Mother, did your mother make yeast rolls?” My grandmother died many years before I was born, so I didn’t know that much about her. A little sparkle came from deep within Mother’s brown eyes. She began to laugh very hard. The only thing funnier than one of my mother’s stories, was watching her while she attempted to tell it. She would laugh so hard that she could hardly breathe. She would get a few words out and then erupt again into a fit of uncontrolled hysteria. This was one of those times. When she finally settled down enough to tell the story so that I could make sense of it, she said. “No, honey. Mama was a wonderful cook, but she never could make yeast bread.” “Why not?”, I was curious. “She just never had any luck getting it to rise.” The hilarity overcame her again. She continued. “Papa was very frugile. It was just after the depression, so flour was not anything to be wasted. He had told Mama never to try to make yeast rolls again, that it was just a waste of time and money.”
I thought that was the end of the story, but there was more. “Mama decided she was going to make yeast rolls, and that they would be so fat and tasty that she would make Papa proud.” Mother got that familiar look of mischief on her face, as if she had been the one doing the dastardly deed. “ Once again the dough didn’t rise. She didn’t want Papa to find the dough in the trash, so she instructed Aunt Mable to bury it outside.” Another laugher episode ensued. After gathering herself, Mother continued. “Papa came home from work, later that evening. When he came into the house he said. ‘There’s the strangest thing growing out back. It’s just bubbling through the dirt. It looks like dough or something.’ Mama never said a word about it, but she knew that the strange planting had found it’s home in the warm earth, which triggered it to rise.” At this point, I joined Mother in the laughter, and the story has stayed with me for more than fifty years.
I guess you could say it stuck to my ribs.