Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Snow in the Mountains

We were in Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg for a few days last week to enjoy all the Christmas festivities there.  On Thursday night, the Weather Channel said there was zero percent chance of precipitation.  The local news said maybe a dusting of snow.  When we got up on Friday morning, it had started to snow, and it snowed all day.  The temperature stayed around 32-34 degrees, so there was none on the roads.  It was a rare treat for us to be in and out of the snow, which was sometimes blowing like a blizzard. All these photos were taken early Saturday morning.

The photos above were taken from our balcony at Mountain Loft resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  The ones below were taken on the road going from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge.  You can see in some of the ones below that the sun was breaking through the clouds.

We have been blessed to enjoy Christmas in the Smokies many times, but this was the first time we have seen snow like this. Thank you, Father, for this early Christmas gift.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Yeast Rolls

I love making yeast rolls.  I started making them about forty years ago, and I never get tired of it.  If the rolls turn out well at a holiday dinner, it really doesn't matter about the rest of the things you serve, because the rolls are all your guests will remember.  It is not that hard if you take it step-by-step.  I usually start at least three hours before dinner will be served.

This recipe comes from an old Southern Living cookbook.  When you find one that works for you, stick with it.

Start with 2 cups of warm water in your mixer bowl.  Add 2 packages of dry yeast, or 2 tablespoons if you buy yeast in bulk like I do.

After about five minutes, the yeast will "bloom" or rise to the top and bubble like this.  If your yeast doesn't rise, dump this out, go buy some fresh yeast and start over.  Ask me how I know this.

Go ahead and prepare a large, greased bowl for the dough to rise in.

After the yeast is ready, add 6 tablespoons of sugar,

 1 teaspoon of salt,

4 tablespoons of shortening,

2 eggs,

and three cups of plain/bread flour.  Mix at the slowest speed at first, or the flour will go all over the kitchen counter.  Ask me how I know this.

Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes or so.  Add flour until a stiff dough forms, about 2 1/2 or 3 cups.

This is not quite ready; needs more flour.

Now, it is ready.  If you are using a hand-held mixer, be careful here.  You can easily burn up the motor in it with the stiff dough.  Ask me how I know this.  Just put a stand mixer on your Christmas list.

Dump the dough into the bowl you prepared earlier.  Turn it so that all the outside is greased.

Like this.  Cover with a dish towel and put it in a warm place.  I usually put mine on the back of the stove where it is always warm enough.  Wait for an hour or a little longer until the dough is doubled in size.  Your kitchen will be smelling good at this point.

I love it when it turns out like this!

Use your fist to punch the dough down.  It is especially nice to make this on days when you are totally stressed out and need to punch something or somebody. The dough won't mind and you won't get arrested.

At this point, you can cover the dough and refrigerate the dough up to five days.  Bring it back to room temperature before you go to the next step.  I have done this, and it works okay, but I like to do it all at once.

Roll the dough onto a cutting board and roll out to about 1/2" thickness. I usually do it in two batches; makes it easier to work with. My sister, Mary Lynn, bought that rolling pin for me in 1971 and I've used it since.  I have more cute rolling pins that I have collected through the years, but I always use this one.  It makes me think about her.  Sure wish she was still with us to see it now.

I use a regular biscuit cutter to cut them out, but that's up to you.  You could make them larger or smaller, but this has always worked for me.

I cook mine on three cookie sheets.  That way, you can put them in the oven at different times.  If you happen to burn one pan, you still have two pans left.  Ask me how I know this.

Let them rise again for about an hour.  You don't need to cover them this time. Looking good!

Cover the top with some melted butter.  Cook in a 400 degree oven.  Takes 10-12 minutes.

Oh, yeah!!! Get them to the table as soon as possible.  People will love you.  Ask me how I know this.

Be sure to have some softened butter on the table for your rolls.  Enjoy!

This recipe makes 36-40 rolls. You can half this recipe if needed.  On the rare occasions when we have some left, I freeze them.  When we are ready for them, I thaw them and warm in the oven with a wet paper towel over them.  Not as good as when they were fresh, but still pretty tasty.

Start making these today, and when the time comes for Christmas dinner, you will be a pro.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mama

Violet Beatrice Gean Stricklin
October 26, 1917-November 11, 2007

It's my mama's birthday.

The Earth raced around the Sun and the seasons changed ninety times while she was here.

She was uneducated, but wise.

Beautiful, work-roughened hands that were never still.

Her life was taking care of her family, and that she did well, even when the road was hard.

She did massive amounts of laundry on a wringer washer; her clothes lines full every sunny day expect Sunday.

She could coax nutritious vegetables out of tired clay soil, rising with the sun to do battle with weeds.

Her quilts still warm our beds and our hearts.

Known for her incomparable biscuits, she made enough in her lifetime to completely fill a Cracker Barrel.

More familiar with pain than joy, she endured.

She lived to see adult children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.

We are educated, talented, well-traveled, scattered.

She lives in all of us.

Beadie Haynes, Marie Thompson, Mama, Geneva Gean

In heaven, we are promised a mansion, blissful rest.

I'll bet my mama's has a clothesline, white robes waving in the breeze.
Could be she's sitting on the porch, waiting for her children to get home.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed. Proverbs 31: 27,28