Memories that last from Easters past


As I write this week’s column, I realize how fast Easter has come upon us. Maybe this is due to the cold, inclement weather we have been experiencing which prevents us from realizing that spring is really here.

But mostly, I think that our age is more the cause. Days have a way of just running into one another allowing time to pass too quickly.

But, ready or not, Easter is here and with it comes memories of Easters past. Growing up, Easter meant the “Easter Bunny” and candy. Then there were the red, green and blue hands that we had for several days after dying those horrible tasting hard-boiled eggs.

I think the thing I looked forward to most about Easter was going to the neighborhood 5 & 10-cent store and picking out a “colored chick” — no, I don’t mean the yellow sugar kind that we ate until we got sick. I mean the ones that had been dyed bright colors and run around under the heat lamp.

Do you remember those? You picked out one in your favorite color and took it home and hoped it wouldn’t die before the colored feathers started falling out to make room for the white ones.

I can still remember the tears when I realized that I had been “conned” and my beautiful pink chick was really white! This meant it was no longer a baby and that Mom was going to yell at me to “get that thing out of this house, now!”

As we got older, rabbits and candy were no longer as important as “spring break” which meant two days off from school. Unlike today, we did not get a week out of school and there was no money for an elaborate vacation spot. The kids of today have no idea how great they have it!

Another one of my Easter highlights was the trip to the dry goods store to buy materials for an Easter dress. I always got to pick out my favorite pattern and fabric design for my mother to sew. As I grew older, I learned to sew my own which was even more fun because I would plan this special dress for weeks, sometimes combining several patterns and fabric to achieve the look that I wanted. If the budget would allow, I would get a new pair of black patent Mary Janes and maybe even a new hat and little white gloves.

A few Easters my father would make sure I would have a sweet smelling corsage to wear to church. Easter outfits became a tradition that I kept for my own family. Even though I had no daughters, my sons always got a new Easter outfit, some which I hand sewed and were very fashionable if I say so myself. Some of my favorite photos of my sons are in their matching outfits.

Food and family has always been a large part of any holiday for me. We would all gather at my grandmother’s home with my other aunts, uncles and cousins. If we were lucky, we would each get 50 cents to go to the movies (35 cents for the movie and 15 cents for some candy or popcorn). Oh, what a great time we had!

No matter how you spend your Easter holiday, I ask that you not forget what we are really celebrating and spend time in your favorite place of worship. Be thankful for what you have been blessed with and take time to say, “Thank You.”

Today’s column includes a recipe for yeast dinner rolls that I have made for my family for years, starting when I was a teenager. It was a recipe that I found in an old “Bake-Off” cookbook and one that I used in my 4-H fair competition for my yeast breads and rolls project.

I remember that judging so well because, in preparing the dough, I used water that was too hot for my yeast and killed it, causing it to not rise properly. Unfortunately, you don’t know this until you are in the “proofing” process and by then it was too late for me to start over and make new ones.

Instead of light and airy cloverleaf rolls, they were heavy and chewy. Needless to say, they did not win a first-place ribbon, and were a failure that I have never forgotten. I am very careful today about checking the water temperature before adding it to the yeast making sure it is very warm but not hot. (NOTE: It is better to erron the side of cool rather than too hot. This will still allow the yeast to rise, but just in a slower manner.)

Whenever we have a family dinner, everyone would request these wonderful, light and buttery dinner rolls laced with a touch of sugar. They are really not difficult to make and can be made the day ahead, refrigerated and then formed and baked on Easter morning if you want.

If you have a stand mixer, the process is even easier. For the best results, I still suggest kneading by hand for a short time, even if you use your “hook” attachment which kneads the bread for you.

Although the recipe for “Cake Mix Rolls”, which I printed during the Christmas holidays is fast, easy and delicious, this recipe produces a finer texture roll which can be made into cloverleaf or other shapes easily which adds a touch of class to your Easter Dinner!

SHERYL’S DINNER ROLLS

¼ cup very warm water

1 pkg. dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup scalded milk

1 stick BUTTER, melted

5 + cups flour

¼ cup melted Butter

In small bowl, soften yeast in warm water until foamy. In large bowl, beat sugar, salt and eggs until well mixed. Stir in softened yeast and scalded milk**. Add melted butter and beat until completely mixed. Add 1 cup of flour, mixing until smooth, then add remaining flour in 1 cup increments until all 5 cups have been beat in. Gradually add additional flour if needed until dough is stiff and will accept no more flour. Remove from bowl and place on floured work area. Knead by hand for approximately 15 minutes or until dough is smooth, glossy and very elastic so that a finger mark will not stay in dough. DON’T BE IMPATIENT AND UNDER KNEAD! Form into a ball, rub top with oil and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover and place in warm area to rise until COMPLETELY double in bulk. Press down and break off pieces of dough to make shape of rolls you desire. Place in well greased pan.

Bake in center of preheated oven of 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown and bottoms are not doughy. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. By placing hot rolls on raised wire rack to cool, you will prevent them from becoming moist and wet on the bottom of the roll as it cools. Cover top of rolls with a terry kitchen towel to keep warm until ready to use.

** Scalded milk is milk placed in a non-stick saucepan and heated over medium heat until milk starts to form bubbles around the edges. Do not boil. Cool until the milk is slightly warm before adding to bread mixture.

God bless you and Happy Easter! —Sheryl

Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column “Welcome to My Kitchen” out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at kitchenlady44@yahoo.com.