Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Memories

I recently saw a post on a food blog I follow about clover rolls.  They are a fun way to change up the typical dinner roll but the second I saw that photo I was immediately transported back to cooking in my grandmother's kitchen the Wednesday before Thanksgiving preparing all our usual menu items.  This was something we did every year that became my favorite Thanksgiving tradition. 

We would start with the dough for her delicious homemade rolls and while that was rising we would start in on making the pumpkin pies.  At some point, before the kitchen was completely covered in flour, my grandfather would come into the kitchen and make his famous oyster stew.  We would all sit down at their tiny kitchen table, say a blessing and enjoy a relaxing, thoughtful meal together. 

After lunch we would get back to work and each year my grandmother would have something new she would want to try.  One year it was melting butter and then pouring it into rose molds so that the butter served with the rolls would look like roses.  Another time she decided she wanted to try and make radish roses....I guess she has a thing for roses!  Maybe that had something to do with their time at Churchill Downs....who knows!  This is where you take a radish, cut off the bottom tip and then, with a pairing knife, make slits all around the top so that as it "blooms" in ice cold water the "pedals" with flay out from the center. 

It is all about presentation after all!

One year, as we were taking the risen dough from the bowl, getting ready to roll it out for dinner rolls, Gramma said she wanted to try something different that year.  This was a bold statement as many in our family didn't care if nothing more was served at Thanksgiving besides the rolls....should they be any different we might have an angry mob on our hands.

She told me how she had seen her mother, Mom Gordon, make the rolls this particular way once before.  Instead of cutting the rolls with a cookie cutter, we rolled them into small balls just smaller than a fist, placed them in our hands and squeezed a small portion through the opening between out thumbs and index fingers.  You do this three times and place three small balls of dough in a muffin tin so that when they rise they look like clovers.  Hints the name "Clover Rolls".

There was a gleam in her eye, a certain expression on her face that made me see my grandmother not as the matriarch of our family, but as the young girl she once was, sitting on a stool like I had done in her kitchen a million times before, watching her mother prepare these same rolls for a generation of my family I barely knew. 

It was s surreal moment and one that I will never forget. 

There were many such memories such as these in the small kitchen my sweet grandmother referred to as a "one-ass kitchen" - I was 100% floored when my petite-always polite-never say a mean word about anyone-let alone say a curse word grandmother dropped that one on me!

As the years have past and time marches on I find myself now the mentor in the kitchen to my curious young cousins who help me make pancakes and pumpkin bread and am always delighted to hear my almost two year old nephew come up beside me by the stove saying "STIR!" It is then that I pick him up, stand before a pot of something and together we "STIR!" 

As it was in the past so too shall it be again.

Maybe it is the reason cooking is so cathartic for me.  Perhaps it is what takes me back to memories of comfort, love and sharing.  For these memories and all the time I have shared with those I love in my kitchen I am eternally grateful!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!
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