Devotional,  Family

Grandma’s Rolls

Every year during the holidays I make a batch of dinner rolls to share with friends and family. I started years ago with a basic recipe from my baking cookbook. Through lots of practice and much trial and error, I gradually developed the ability to work with yeast and bake a decent dinner roll.

I started this because of my Grandma Reese. You see, we never had a big family dinner without Grandma’s rolls. The very smell and flavor bring back so many good memories. I wanted to recreate that experience. Even though I used some good recipes through the years and tried some different variations such as whole wheat and oat, nothing ever measured up to Grandma’s. I asked her once if she could show me how to make them. She said I just needed to get my ingredients together and work up a good dough. That’s when I realized that she didn’t really have a written recipe.

It turns out that many years ago, one of my cousins was able to spend a day baking rolls with Grandma and writing out the recipe as she went. Recently, she brought several dozen rolls along with grandma’s recipe to a family reunion. Oh the excitement! You bet I had a copy of that recipe as quick as anything! This was life changing for me! I feel like I can now recreate those memories for myself and my family, as well as pass along new memories to my children and grandchildren.

I love making Grandma’s rolls, not just because they are the best rolls I have ever eaten, but also because I get to spend time remembering Grandma. As I spend hours measuring, mixing, kneading, shaping, and waiting for dough to rise, I allow my thoughts to wander back to Grandma’s house and the many memories that were made there.

You see, my Grandma Reese was a very quiet, simple, ordinary lady who was larger than life to her grand kids. Grandma wasn’t a fancy lady. She wore simple dresses every day, never wore make-up or polished her nails, and wore her long hair rolled up in a bun at the base of her neck. The only time I saw it down was on the rare occasion when I spent the night and she would let it down in the evening before she went to bed.

Her kitchen was as simple as her wardrobe. Well worn cabinets and counter tops were filled with mismatched dishes, cups and eating utensils. She cooked delicious meals on a simple gas stove. She kept leftovers in butter tubs in her refrigerator. Then there was the cookie jar that sat in the corner of the counter. Sometimes it held homemade cookies and sometimes it held stale graham crackers. It didn’t matter because it was from Grandma!

Grandma was a servant. She worked hard to make sure everyone was happy and fed. Grandma could whip up a delicious meal for any number of guests at a moment’s notice. She seemed to glide through big family dinners with ease (at least in my childhood memories she did).

Meals at Grandma’s were always a treat. Big family dinners included homemade rolls, homemade chicken and noodles, fresh green beans, and pie. If you happened to stop by in the summer time, you were sure to be served fresh veggies from the garden. Yet no matter when you dropped in for a meal, you knew you would go away satisfied.

All of us grandchildren and great grandchildren are in awe of the fact that Grandma raised ten children. She not only took care of her own, but also reached out to others over the years to feed, clothe, encourage and give them a place to stay. Grandma was an expert at cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning and watching a host of kids at once. She did all of this without many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.

Grandma also did a lot of gardening. I think Grandpa did a majority of the gardening, but Grandma sure could cook up the produce! She canned dozens of jars of green beans, tomatoes and I don’t know what else. During late summer it wasn’t unusual to find Grandma and Grandpa sitting outside under the big shade trees snapping beans. One of my favorite smells of all time is fresh green beans cooking on the stove, usually with bacon for flavoring. I remember trying freshly picked radishes, rhubarb and gooseberries! There were always fresh grown goodies to try and boy could Grandma make a rhubarb or gooseberry pie! Yum!

One of my very favorite memories was listening to Grandma play the piano. She had very few piano lessons in her lifetime, yet she could play about any hymn or Christmas song you asked her to play. It was also wonderful to hear her and Grandpa sing. They often sang for church, but it was common for them to just sing around the piano at home as well. She passed on her talent and love for music to many of her children and grandchildren.

Grandma was a woman who loved the Lord. She lived out her faith every day in her home. She was faithful in reading her Bible and praying. Grandma also served in her small country church. She not only taught Sunday School, sang, and played the piano, but she also served others in practical ways. She and Grandpa visited the “elderly” in the nursing home even when they themselves were getting up there in age.

When I think of my Grandma, I think of the Proverbs 31 woman. This was a woman who did everything possible to take care of her family in every way. Proverbs 31:28-30 sums up what I believe about my Grandma. It says,

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” (KJV)

I will never measure up to the example my Grandma Reese set for me. I doubt I will ever work as hard, cook as well, or pray as consistently. Grandma didn’t live a easy life, but she lived a faithful one. She wasn’t a big personality. She wasn’t a popular figure, wasn’t rich, didn’t keep up with fashion, or do anything flashy. Grandma was a simple wife, mom, and grandma who made a huge impact in the life of her family. I have no doubt that when she entered heaven she was greeted with, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Wife, mom, grandma, and country girl. I am living by faith and encouraging others to do the same. I integrate faith, family and country living.

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