To my chagrin, I can’t paint. Not a wall, not a canvas – ugh – I can’t paint. But, I can bake. You’d be right to argue this is not the same artistic equivalent, but you really need to stop by on Bread Day and get a slice, warm, right out of the oven. Then let’s talk.
Smells are something I’ve always strongly associated with my memories. I can instantly recall the smell of the Columbia, TN courthouse (strong ammonia) or the Graymere pool snack bar (chlorine with a dash of hamburger).
Can you remember the smell of your school growing up? My earliest bread memories are McDowell Elementary School in Columbia. Jumping off the bus and walking into the front door with my little, plastic messenger bag draped across my chest, I’d take a deep breath on Mondays cause that was bread day. I wish I could remember the names of the ladies who lovingly made those delectable yeast rolls cause they were my serious heroes. Who couldn’t tolerate turnip greens and marsh mellow, orange congealed salad when it was bread day.
Growing up, my mother was a really good cook. Green peppers stuffed with meatloaf, salmon croquets, spinach casserole, incredible congealed salads and great frozen desserts were all her specialties. Our family grew up eating every vegetable under the sun from eggplant to okra. But, baking wasn’t her deal. Her mother was a great baker and she thought it probably skipped generations cause I love to bake.
I gravitated to desserts as a way of expressing my affection for others. I’ve always loved bringing “oatmeal, toasted pecan, cherry, white chocolate chip cookies” to folks. But, to those to whom I’m really reaching out, you get a loaf of my sourdough bread.
The bread starter is now over 20 years old. I found out today the lady from Columbia who gave it to me has passed away. Like a puppy being adopted, I’m pretty particular about who gets the starter. It’s a commitment and you have to feed it once a week. It takes care and thrives even better when you give it away. So, don’t be surprised if I ask you what your intentions are toward my starter.
Nance’s Potato Rolls
1 C four
1 C solid shortening (Crisco)
1 C mashed potatoes
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs, add one at a time
1 C lukewarm milk
1 tsp salt
½ tsp soda
½ C lukewarm water
2 Pkgs rapid rise years
6 C flour (you can substitute whole wheat for 2 cups)
1 stick melted butter (yes the real kind)
Blend flour, Crisco and warm potatoes. Add sugar and eggs one at a time. Add lukewarm milk (microwave 30 sec) , salt and soda. In lukewarm water, dissolve 2 packages of yeast. Add to mixture then add 6 cups of flour. Let rise for 2 hours. You can refrigerate overnight. At room temperature, roll out dough. Use a bread cutter or a large drinking glass to cut your rolls. Take roll round and fold each side inward and then squeeze ends. Dip in butter and place on ungreased cooking sheet. Assemble in rows with the bread touching. Allow to rise 2 hours. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown in a 350 degree oven. After cooked, these freeze beautifully. Wrap in aluminum foil and put inside Tupperware or a freezer bag. Remove from bag, thaw then warm in foil in a oven and serve.