Aunt Edith’s din­ner rolls, a no-fuss fam­ily fa­vorite

Texarkana Gazette - - FOOD - By Bethany Jean Cle­ment

SEAT­TLE—When I was lit­tle, the drive from our house on Capi­tol Hill to West Seat­tle seemed to take so long, it was like a trip to an­other state— and this was be­fore Seat­tle had traf­fic. We went sev­eral times a year to Aunt Edith’s— my mom’s aunt and the de facto ma­tri­arch of that side of the fam­ily, a warm, no-fuss woman who loved us and, I found out years later, loved po­etry.

Even then, I knew this trip also in­volved time travel. Aunt Edith’s house was a dream of a split-level mid­cen­tury, with glass blocks sur­round­ing the front door and a mag­i­cal push-but­ton coun­ter­top range, sep­a­rate from the oven set in the kitchen wall. There was al­ways a bowl of hard candy, to which chil­dren could help them­selves, and al­ways Un­cle Jack, tac­i­turn in his leather re­cliner. The car­pet was lux­u­ri­ously wall­tothe fur­ni­ture re­gal, an­tique. The house al­ways smelled, tan­ta­liz­ingly, like the din­ner to come.

My brother and I would play in the base­ment, putting to­gether our older cousin Johnny’s an­cient Hot Wheels set. Din­ner hap­pened at a spec­i­fied time, not just when­ever it was ready, at the ta­ble with its linens in­stead of pa­per nap­kins, its pretty china. Aunt Edith’s cook­ing was dif­fer­ent from ours—we had pesto, she had pot roast. She made things like dev­iled eggs, wig­gly and de­li­cious, and twice-baked pota­toes, ethe­re­ally creamy and piped with fluted edges back into their jack­ets. More magic!

Aunt Edith gave me things over the years: some of her cos­tume jew­elry, in­clud­ing a pin shaped like a funny lit­tle dog with rhine­stone spots, and sev­eral gor­geous, glossy-black man­ual type­writ­ers from the days when she and Jack ran a real-es­tate busi­ness. Later she gave me her Desert Rose dishes, an in­cred­i­bly full set in­clud­ing a but­ter dish, gravy boat, cookie jar, teapot, cof­fee pot, cups and saucers, rose­bud-shaped salt-and-pep­per shakers, lit­tle footed dessert dishes and more.

When, as a grown-up, I ad­mired her din­ner rolls— sim­ple, ten­der, al­ways served warm with but­ter—she was de­lighted. “They’re so easy!” she said. And she wrote out the recipe on an in­dex card, with “Rolls Good + Easy,” in her per­fect cur­sive at the top, the words un­der­lined for em­pha­sis.

EDITH GUN­NING’S GOOD + EASY DIN­NER ROLLS

Makes 12 large or 16 small rolls

“Start about 4:15 for 6 o’clock din­ner,” the in­dex card my great-aunt wrote the recipe on help­fully notes. She used short­en­ing in­stead of olive oil, and I’ve halved the amount of sugar.

1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tea­spoons) 1/4 cup luke­warm wa­ter 1/2 cup warm milk 1/4 cup olive oil 1 ta­ble­spoon sugar 1/2 tea­spoon salt 1 egg 2 1/4 cups flour

1. Com­bine all in­gre­di­ents in a large bowl, in or­der. (I like to give it a stir af­ter the milk to get the yeast think­ing, then af­ter the egg to com­bine; I also like to sift the flour, partly be­cause I like sift­ing and partly be­cause this recipe just seems al­most too easy.—B.J.C.)

2. Beat with a spoon un­til glossy (if it gets sticky, you can use your hands to knead gen­tly).

3. Let rise (in a warm place, cov­ered with a clean dish towel) un­til dou­ble in bulk, about one hour.

4. Stir down and di­vide into but­tered muf­fin tin—grease fin­gers and roll smooth off spoon. (To get them all the same-ish size, I pull the dough in half, then di­vide each half in two again, then into thirds for 12 rolls. If you want to get fancy, you can di­vide each in­di­vid­ual roll-ball into thirds and nest them to­gether in the muf­fin-tin com­part­ment, so each roll pulls apart into three lobes when eaten.)

5. Let rise again about half an hour to top of muf­fin cups.

6. Brush top with melted but­ter. (Here, Aunt Edith of­fers a forgiving par­en­thet­i­cal: “I don’t bother.”) Bake at 375 de­grees for 10-15 min­utes. (Serve warm with lots of but­ter!)

Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Rolls Good + Easy, ten­der and al­ways served warm with lots of but­ter.

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