I loved going to my Grandmother and Grandfather Hawkins’ house when I was growing up. They lived on a farm in Beavercreek, less than 10 miles from our house. When we would visit, Grandpa would take us first to the barn to see the baby lambs, which he loved. Then he’d take us to the milk house to open the big milk cans of fresh milk and ladle us a taste of the fresh cream.
But what I really remember was my grandmother. She loved flowers and her yard was beautiful. She would always give us a little tour of her yard, especially in the spring, pointing out each favorite plant. I remember the “hens and chicks” and “snow on the mountain” and the crocuses and daffodils and hyacinths. I remember the white fence and her blue gazing ball in the middle of it all which I thought was so cool.
Mostly I remember Easter, which was her favorite holiday. The whole family went there every year — all my cousins and aunts and uncles. And it was always beautiful. I still remember the blue swirled Easter eggs and to this day I can’t figure out how she made them. Our Easter baskets were delightful and her Easter dinner was perfect. I think of her every year as I prepare my Easter dinner. She always had a big ham, corn pudding and delicious rolls. I’m making both of these for my Easter dinner.
I don’t have Grandma’s recipe but these rolls are one of my favorite things to make. And my family loves them. It’s what my grandkids really look forward to. I’ve found a way to make them ahead, freeze them after they are formed, and then, three hours before dinner, I let them thaw, rise and then bake them, so they are hot and fresh and there’s no last minute clean-up. Sometimes I even make some of them into Hot Cross Buns or cinnamon rolls for Easter breakfast.
Fran’s Favorite Rolls
2 cups milk
1 stick butter
1/2 cup honey
2 packets yeast (or 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour
1 stick butter, melted
Heat milk in Pyrex container for 2 minutes. Pour into large bowl. Slice in butter and stir to melt. Add honey. Mix in 2 eggs. Now that it has cooled down sprinkle in the yeast and whisk together to dissolve. Add salt and about 4 cups flour and mix well. Stir in 2 more cups of flour. Sprinkle remaining flour on counter top and gently knead in any remaining flour until forms a nice ball that is not too sticky. (No need to knead more than a minute or two.) Oil the bowl and place the dough ball in it. Cover, and let rise in warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size. Gently punch down and divide dough into 4 parts. Roll each ball into a circle on a lightly floured surface. Brush with melted butter. Cut like pie into 12 parts. Starting from wide end, roll up each triangle and place on cookie sheet a couple of inches apart. ** Let rise about 30 minutes or more. Bake in 350° oven for 15-20 minutes. Makes 4 dozen rolls.
**At this point you can freeze the shaped rolls. Take them out of freezer about 3 hours before dinner and let them rise. Then bake 15-20 minutes.
Hot Cross Buns
Mix 1/2 cup raisins into half of dough. Form into buns and put into greased pan. Let rise until double. Bake about 20 minutes. Pipe an icing cross on each one.
Icing: Mix 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon milk.
Grandma Hawkins’ Corn Pudding
2 cans cream style corn
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 box Jiffy corn bread mix
1/2 cup milk
1/2 stick butter, melted
Mix all together and put into buttered casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes until set in middle.
Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, wife of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and guest columnist. Her next cookbook, Fran DeWine and Tina Husted’s Family Favorites will come out this summer.