Thursday, November 17, 2016

Think ... Write ... Thursday!

My sister and I looked at each other in disbelief. Unwrap the sliced turkey in the refrigerator and reheat it? Make a double portion of Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes? Get two jars of the Heinz gravy out of the pantry and pour it into the gravy boat? Thanksgiving 1976 was the year my mother gave up cooking.

I grew up in a house with a mother did not like to cook. Sure, she produced dinner every night, gladly passing this task to my sister and me when she started working in the 1960s. I finally realized just how much my mother hated cooking when I went home for Thanksgiving my sophomore year in college to find that she had ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Boston Market. We ate dry, reheated turkey, instant mashed potatoes, and glutinous stuffing. My mother did like the lime jello salad with canned pineapple that she grew up with, but boiling water, opening a can, and stirring the Jello was the extent of her cooking that Thanksgiving. The meal tasted as appalling as it sounds, but it was also an epiphany for me: I was perfectly capable of producing a tasty meal myself instead of just expecting the home-cooked deliciousness I had been hoping for. That marked the beginning of my cooking in earnest.

Fast forward several decades to when I had children and a home with a 12-foot dining room table. I'm lucky that I do enjoy cooking and was looking forward to having everyone gather at our house for Thanksgiving. Ryan had seen a photo of homemade crescent rolls in a cook book and thought they looked so special that he insisted we make them, asking persistently in the way that five-year-olds are so good at. The original recipe was time-consuming and a bit fussy, but the kids helped and we all had great fun.

Ever since then, homemade crescent rolls have been a part of our Thanksgiving for the past 21 years. I've changed the recipe over the years to lower the fat and calories a tiny bit by not laminating multiple layers of dough with butter, but the kids and I agree that these are the best, even if they're not quite as flaky.

The recipe makes two dozen, but that was never enough to have any left over. Some years I've made as many as six dozen depending on the number of people I was feeding and mostly because Justin liked to eat them as a snack, six at a time. (Teenage boys can eat an incredible amount of food!) The amounts in red are for making 3 dozen, which was just right when both boys were here.

Neither Ryan nor Justin will be here for Thanksgiving, so I've been trying to decide if I even want to make the crescent rolls this year. The recipe brings back so many wonderful memories of being in the kitchen with the boys, their eager anticipation and enjoyment of eating them that I think I'll make a dozen, even if it's just for those memories I hold dear.

Our Think Write Thursday topic for today was to write about a favorite recipe and share why we are grateful for it. I'm grateful for so many things that I associate with this recipe - happy times with my sons, feeding people good food, making something that everyone in the family loved to eat, and maybe even having a recipe and loving Thanksgiving memories that Ryan and Justin will associate with me when I'm no longer the one making the crescent rolls. Food says I love you, whether it's homemade crescent rolls, reheated turkey from Boston Market, or lime jello salad.

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here


  1. I loved hearing the history of how you came to be a great cook and your crescent roll story is wonderful. I definitely think you should make some this year, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them.

  2. I can so relate - my mother not only hated cooking, when she did it was horrid. My love of cooking was nurtured by my Nana (my mom's mom) who could not understand why her daughter was such an epic failure in the kitchen. Your crescent roll recipe looks so good! I think I might try a batch of those sometime soon! And, I am with Carole - you should absolutely make them this year!

  3. What a beautiful post, Bonny. I love thinking about you and your boys and the crescent rolls! (My mom never enjoyed cooking either, which was why Thanksgiving became "my" thing.) I will be missing my mom this year at Thanksgiving -- as this will be my first without her in 30 years.

    And, yeah. I agree that you should make a batch this year. Because it will connect you to Ryan in Justin in powerful ways!

  4. Your story is so good - and so real. I can't imagine the stress your Mom must have felt but hopefully she had herself a good chuckle when she decided on Boston Market! I say go for the crescent rolls and send them a selfie of you eating them! :-)

  5. The stories alone connect me to my mom, who loved to bake. I have so many fond memories of the beautiful dinner rolls she made and her delicious pies (just read Carole's post). Thank you for connecting me to my family memories and I hope you make the rolls to continue your tradition.

  6. Two great stories in one post! I loved reading about the Thanksgiving that made you a cook... and about the traditions you created with your family. Yeast still intimates me, but if anyone could get me to try, it's you! (you might not be surprised to learn that there are no rolls on our menu - but there will be bread in the stuffing - and I'm trying a new recipe this year ;-) all that said, I hope you do bake the rolls this year. Sounds like your holiday will be better with them!

  7. What a great story!! I was surprised when my mother admitted to me, quite late in her life, that she didn't really enjoy cooking. She wasn't a superb cook, but she was pretty darn good -- and sometimes adventurous, even taking cooking classes now and then. I really think she tried and that's huge!

  8. I think you should bake the rolls this year! It will help you feel close to your boys even though they are far away. Someday they will start baking them.


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