Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Cooking

I'm so excited to get cooking for Christmas. Mom does a bang-up job on the main event, serving a hefty beef tenderloin and all our favorite sides (squash casserole this year, Mom?). As for me, I'll be making a coconut cake with lemon filling and cream cheese icing (Dad's running request) and, if it works out, an oatmeal pecan pie (another one of Dad's favorites, and B's too), but the thing I'm most excited to make are my Grandma's rolls.

Each Christmas, Sunday brunch, and "I feel like it" Tuesday, my Grandma would make a huge batch of her buttery yeast rolls. The recipe makes two full cookie sheets of the two-bite morsels. They're delicious warm and even better cold when you can stuff them with leftover tenderloin or slices of ham.

B's excited to try them. So far, all he knows is that you don't cut them with a biscuit cutter, but rather a drinking glass, and that you dunk them in butter before popping them on the cookie sheet and basting them with (ding! ding! ding!) more butter.

Grandma passed away this year in March and at the time I was so heartbroken. I live only a few hours from where she lived, in Florence, but that was the week that I'd flown to Durham then driven to the beach to see B for his spring break.

The circumstances couldn't have been worse. Delta lost my luggage, in which I'd so foolishly packed my phone charger. So my phone died the Friday night of my arrival (due to my calls to Delta) so when Mom and Dad called me on Saturday to tell me about her death, my phone was totally, well, dead.

I have a terrible habit of immersing myself in whomever I'm around, so when I'm with my family, I tend to ignore all phone calls from the outside. Same when I'm with B or his family. So my parents assumed that I wasn't checking my phone or perhaps had turned it off. On Sunday they called B's phone and when he called out, "It's your mom," I just knew.

Losing someone is never easy. I'd imagine so, at least. I'm blessed to have limited experience with the situation. But Grandma was 97 and, having baked at least 2,000 pound cakes, was no longer baking for herself or for others. She'd help me in the kitchen during the holidays, dunking the rolls and adding an extra splash of butter when she thought I wasn't looking, but her real joy had been taken away when she'd moved out of her house at the age of 95.

Grandma spoke through food, easily making it her love language. It was understood that you took seconds, regardless of if you'd piled your plate high the first go-round (clearly a rookie mistake). She remembered favorite dishes, or dishes you even commented on. One of my siblings brought a then-significant other over and she commented on the chicken fingers. Bless that girl's heart if she didn't have to eat her weight in chicken fingers every time she went to visit Grandma.

I think I got a little of that from Grandma. Nothing makes me happier than making dinner when B and I are having a quiet night and, to be totally honest, I get the little flutters in my stomach when he finds something he really loves and asks for it again.

I can't wait to share the Grandma rolls with him this Christmas, our first actually spent in the same place. And maybe we'll give the rolls an extra dunk of butter, for good measure.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Such great memories of your sweet grandma! I'm putting together a family cookbook that has my mother's, grandmother's and great grandmother's recipes so that they will stay in the family. It sounds like your grandmother had a lot of great recipes. Your description of the rolls made my mouth water!!