Marilyn Mork, my husband’s cousin, makes the most marvelous dinner rolls. Within her circle of family and friends, I’d say she is downright famous… practically a celebrity because of these rolls that she calls Butter Scones. (They are also known as Crescent Rolls). For as many family dinners as I can remember I always hoped (prayed?) that Marilyn would make these rolls.
And, for about the same number of times, I wanted to ask for the recipe. I might have mumbled something time and again, but never really followed through. Fortunately for all family members, Marilyn and I made these rolls together recently… she sharing the recipe from Vernon’s mother Osa (her mother-in-law) during her early married days and me following around the kitchen taking notes and asking questions. Osa’s recipe, you see, was short and sweet… with none of the embellishments of techniques required for today’s bakers (and non-bakers).
A generation or so ago, mothers taught daughters to cook and therefore recipe techniques were “understood” and not written in detail. Unfortunately, most of that which was understood has been lost to lack of continuity. Those who’ve tossed out “I don’t cook” as a status statement of liberation from the kitchen may have lost something irreplaceable: family recipes!
So, may I urge you once again…capture your favorites now. As the holidays come, you may visit with family members you seldom see. I encourage you to ask for family recipes now so that you may pass along the tradition. Very soon I will be making these rolls with my grandchildren, Hannah and Charlotte, and preserving a copy of the recipe for when they are a bit older.
Now, of course, it is not just about recipes. I’ll be telling them what a loving, caring person Marilyn is and about her wonderful, consistent crewel stitchery with the Needlers group from her church producing huge embroidery hangings that grace The Guild Hall of Plymouth Congregational Church. These hangings are well known in needlework circles as each mural can require 6 to 10 years of work…the group is now doing its fourth creation. Wow…what dedication!
Pauline Baynes was the illustrator who created the watercolor design for each hanging. You may remember Ms. Baynes, who recently died, as illustrator of the “Narnia” tales.
So, there will be much to share with our family over the years as we make Marilyn’s rolls and celebrate another family tradition in the kitchen.These tender, buttery rolls are easy and delicious. Make the dough one evening. Shape and bake the rolls the next day… a perfect scenario for a busy holiday meal.
Marvelous Butter Scones (Crescent Rolls)
1 cup milk, scalded
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup sugar
¼-1 tsp. salt, optional
1 pkg. yeast
3 tbsp. warm water
4 cups “bread” flour
Additional flour for rolling
¼ cup butter, melted
Scald milk (surface will develop a scum) in a saucepan or microwave. Remove scrum. Add butter to hot milk. Stir in sugar. Add salt, if using. Combine yeast with warm water and stir to dissolve. Transfer butter-milk mixture to a medium-large bowl. Add yeast dissolved in water to milk-butter mixture.
Beat eggs with a whisk or fork. Add to milk-butter mixture in the bowl. Stir to blend.
Measure flour into a mesh strainer. Tapping on the edge of the strainer add about ½ cup flour to the butter-milk mixture and blend in; then add another ½ cup. Continue adding the flour, blending well after each addition as when making a cake. When all the flour has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape around the edges and do a final blending. The mixture will appear rough rather than smooth. Cover well with plastic wrap, then foil, crimping tightly around the edges. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
With dough still in bowl, divide into quarters. Remove one-fourth of the dough from the bowl onto a well-floured pastry cloth, rolling to coat well with flour, and form into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a circle about 10 inches in diameter or into a rectangle about 10-12 inches in length.
Brush all over lightly with melted butter.
With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8-12 triangular portions. Starting with the wide (not pointed end) of the triangle, fold over about ½ inch of the dough and then roll toward the point. When finished rolling, gently bend ends so that roll forms crescent. Place each completed roll on a very lightly greased baking sheet. Continue, allowing about 1 ½ inches between each roll.
When baking sheet is filled with rolls, cover with a clean lightweight dishtowel. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen (if there is enough clearance, over the refrigerator works well). Allow to rise until double in bulk, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When rolls have risen to be double their original size, bake in the preheated oven about 10-12 minutes or until well puffed and golden brown.
Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a napkin-lined basket for serving.
Makes 32-48 rolls.
Marilyn said that her “most versatile” of all my dessert recipes came from her dear sister Joanie Barette. We all loved Joanie, who had a great, loving spirit and wonderful laugh. It is fun to make this unusual pie and think of our many great memories of Joanie and her children Timm and Larry. Larry even has a grandchild now!
Soda Cracker Pie
3 egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
16 whole soda crackers,
¼ cup chopped pecans
(or other nuts)
1 tsp. vanilla
Accompany with ice cream, fruit, whipped cream, Cool Whip, as desired
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff. Gradually add sugar, beating continuously, until stiff peaks form. Fold in crushed soda crackers, nuts and vanilla.
Pour mixture into a deep greased pie plate.
Bake in a 325-degree oven 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool.
Serve with scoops of ice cream, diced fruits, whipped cream or Cool Whip.
Marilyn and Vernon tried moving to Florida in retirement. They lived there several years but family and friends drew them back to the Twin Cities. A favorite culinary memory for them is this tangy, sweet pie made with lime juice only available in the Florida Keys.
Key Lime Pie
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup Key West Lime Juice
(Nellie & Joe’s Famous Lime
4 egg yolks
9-inch prepared graham
cracker pie crust
Combine condensed milk and egg yolks. Using a hand mixer, slowly add the Key Lime juice, beating at low speed until well blended.
Pour into a 9-inch graham cracker pie crust. Bake in a 325-degree oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Serve with whipped cream.
Ruby Bell, my mother-in-law, gave Marilyn Mork this recipe fifty years ago in December 1958. Marilyn says it remains one of her favorites.
Ruby’s Shrimp Salad
1 small pkg. lemon Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. lemon juice plus water
to make 1 cup
2 cups cooked shrimp
½ cup sliced stuffed olives
2 hard-cooked eggs, garnish
Add boiling water to Jell-O in a 1 ½ qt. metal or glass bowl. When dissolved, add lemon juice plus water to make 1 cup. Blend well. Refrigerate until mixture begins to thicken. Add shrimp and olives. Turn into oiled mold or shallow glass or metal bowl. Chill until firm. Unmold onto plate lined with lettuce leaves. Garnish around the edges with sliced hard-cooked eggs. Serves 6-8.
Ah, the circle of a recipe: Ruby Bell’s close friend was Fran Otto. So from Fran Otto to Ruby Bell to Marilyn Mork to me comes this bar cookie from 1962…enjoy!
Fran Otto’s Bar Cookies
2 cups flour
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
6 tbsp. flour
2/3 tsp. baking powder
2/3 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups coconut
2/3 cup chopped pecans or
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups sugar
4 tbsp butter, softened
4 tsp. orange, lemon,
or almond flavoring
For the cookie base: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, brown sugar and butter and mix well. Pat onto the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Meantime, beat eggs with 2 cups brown sugar. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to butter-sugar mixture. Fold in coconut, nuts and vanilla. Spread over pre-baked cookie base. Bake in a 350-degree oven about 30 minutes or until set. Cool. When completely cool, spread with prepared frosting. Allow to stand about 1 hour, then cut into bars.
For frosting: Combine sugar, butter and flavoring and blend well.