Kat Barry: Grandma’s rolls pay tribute to life well lived

Published 3:03 pm Thursday, February 28, 2013

My beloved grandmother Inez died last week after a rich and long life surrounded by books, family, friends and nature. Being a lover of the written word and the culinary arts, I can’t think of a better way to honor her than by sharing a bit of her wisdom and one of her best recipes. We had a special bond, sharing many of the same loves. Our common flare for life further solidified our relationship, and she jokingly referred to us as, “little devils” when exhibiting our notorious spunk.
Inez only got upset with me once that I can remember. When I was probably about 8 or 9 years old, I decided thank-you notes to your grandma were passe, that a thank you from me to her was understood. A month or so after my birthday, she asked me why she never received a note from me. She told me I shouldn’t take anything for granted and that taking the time to write someone is meaningful. I’ve never forgotten that and still take pride in sending handwritten notes.
Expressing your gratitude, or any sentiment for that matter, was very important to her. She was never shy to express her thoughts on any topic, outspoken in word and eloquent with the pen.
My grandma inspired me to do more than just express myself. Inez was a true example of feminine strength to her family. She not only taught her granddaughters the come hither look, but showed us how to use quick wit and charm to get what you want out of life. She was well educated and well dressed, yet proud of being a domestic goddess, wife and mother.
A home economics teacher in her younger days, my grandma was an accomplished cook and entertainer. Fortunately, I had a chance to sit down with her a couple summers ago and copy down her favorite recipes. She was great at keeping track of which girlfriend gave her the recipe, so she shared the back story to each with me as I fervently jotted down notes. Though my dad and aunts joke about Grandma’s regimented meal schedule growing up, her rolls were always a must at holiday feasts.
For the nearly three years that I’ve had this recipe, I’ve threatened to veganize it and bring some of Grandma’s dinner rolls to our next family event. Since I never got around to mastering this particular recipe in her lifetime, I thought it would be a great tribute to her to make them and share the recipe. I feel comfortable divulging this secret recipe because of the vegan changes and substitutions I made. Hopefully, my aunts agree, and no one will be too upset that I let the cat out of the bag. In Innie’s honor, happy baking.

Grandma’s (vegan) 90-minute rolls
1 cup almond milk
2 ½ Tbs. Earth Balance natural buttery spread
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. milled flax seed and 3 Tbs. water
1 tsp. sea salt
1 packet yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour

In a small saucepan, heat the almond milk and two tablespoons of the Earth Balance just long enough to melt the butter. When milk is lukewarm, dip out two or three tablespoons to dissolve the yeast. In a very small mixing bowl, whisk together the milled flax seed and water. When milk and EB mixture has cooled fully to room temperature, add the sugar, salt, flax and water mixture, dissolved yeast and flour. Mix well in a stand mixer. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 90 minutes.
Drop roll batter onto a floured pastry sheet (or wax paper). Roll out to about an inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter or glass, brush with melted EB, pinch together with a knife in the center and let stand for 35 to 40 minutes. I placed mine in a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Bake at 375 degress for about 10 minutes and serve with dinner.