Mother’s Rolls

The only thing that could save us from a slow death by global warming would be the arrival of Chicxulub II.

One of my favorite columnists at the San Francisco Chronicle, Caille Millner, wrote the other day about trying with incomplete success to make her mother’s pie crust, ending up with one she described as “adequate”. This set me off. It’s a slippery slope to try to make some dishes as good as they were made by the previous generation, but first let’s count the successes.

Pie crust.  I finally managed to make one pretty much as good as my mother’s a number of years ago, just about the time that I got seduced by recipes for desserts other than pies.

Cornbread. I’ve managed to tweak my mother’s cornbread recipe to be better than hers although every time I say this I worry about being struck by lightening.

I gave up several years ago trying to make dumplings that got even close to those airy clouds bobbing in a sea of chicken stock that Aunt Sara made.  Something about the touch, I think.

My project now is to bite the bullet and again try to make my mother’s legendary yeast rolls.  I tried to make them for a decade or so when she was still compos mentis. I started with working along with her in her kitchen so as to learn how, tried making them in my kitchen alone, and finally tried them again with her at my elbow when she was here for a visit.  They rose just fine in her kitchen, but they never rose right prior to baking in mine and were thus miserable failures.  That was thirty years ago.

Just a few years ago I was struck in a flash with a reason for their failure to rise:  my kitchen in San Francisco is something like twenty degrees cooler in all seasons than hers in the piney woods of east Texas.  See, in the summertime she set the thermostat to a balmy 80 degrees, which was comfortable for her, and just left the thermostat there in the winter so she wouldn’t get a chill. Sometimes she cranked it higher because she could look out the window and see the birds shivering.

So what I need to do is turn the little electric bathroom heater to low, stick it in my walk-in closet, and close the door to create a warm environment for rising.  Alas, fear that this last solution might fail has kept me from trying it until Caille’s column rekindled my desire to make those rolls.  If it works this time, I’ll cook them for others; but I’ll give them a new name: Closet Rolls.

Meanwhile, speaking of rolls, here’s the Rainbow Roll at Sushi Zone.

Sushi Zone's Rainbow Roll

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