The Family Secret

By Janet Thomas

Church Magazines

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These cousins used Personal Progress to preserve Grandma’s delicious family secrets.

About a year ago, Whitney Walton, 16, her four sisters, six aunts, and all her girl cousins were gathered together to learn a family secret.

The secret had been a treasure in the family for more than 50 years. It was something that everyone enjoyed, and they all wanted this secret to be passed down in the family. They didn’t want it lost. A single person had the key to unlocking this secret—Whitney’s grandmother Ilean Corbridge.

On this one day, because of Whitney’s Personal Progress project, Grandma Ilean had agreed to reveal her secret to all her daughters and granddaughters. Grandsons could have come, but they preferred to wait with their dads for the results. The group was gathered to learn how to make Grandma’s rolls—those light, buttery, baked-to-perfection rolls that for years and years had become an essential part of every family dinner and were everyone’s favorite for slathering with homemade jam.

How did they convince Grandma to reveal her secret? The new Personal Progress program in Young Women encourages families to become involved in the projects and goals set by the girls. The Walton family of Vernal, Utah, took this suggestion to heart. Whitney and her mother, Kathy, thought it would be great to learn the homemaking skills perfected by Whitney’s grandmother. They asked her, and she agreed to share what she knows.

“My cousins and aunts and I love getting together and just having fun,” said Whitney. “We thought we would get everyone together to learn how to make rolls. My grandmother is really good at making pies, too. And she quilts a lot.” Grandma helped them do all of these things.

In preparation for the day they were to get together with their grandmother, Whitney made invitations and got the ingredients together for the rolls and pies as well as the materials for the quilt. She then typed a cookbook—a copy for each person—with recipes from her grandmother and from her aunts. For the event, she picked the home of one of her aunts that was the most centrally located. But some still had to drive several hours to meet on that day. They were happy to make the trip.

It was a fun day. Everyone got to see up close just how Grandma could sense when the roll dough had the right amount of flour so it wasn’t too stiff. They learned to cool the milk so it wouldn’t kill the yeast. And the girls learned how to roll out the dough to just the right thickness and how to cut and fold over the circles of dough for uniform, beautiful rolls. Plus they got to try making her pie crust. “My favorite pie is banana cream,” said Whitney, “but we each had a turn in helping make everything.”

Whitney’s parents have searched for other ways to help their daughters fulfill their Personal Progress goals. One day at church in the Glines (Utah) Fourth Ward, the Waltons listened to a ward member tell of her troubles in keeping up her yard and flowerbeds. Whitney’s dad, David Walton, suggested that Kaylen, 14, might plan a Personal Progress project in Good Works that would help this ward member. Kaylen thought it was a great idea.

“My dad and I went over and planned with her what we could do,” Kaylen said. “We put down black plastic and had rocks brought in. We planted new flowers. My mom and sisters helped. And her neighbor and home teachers came also. She was so appreciative of what we did. I baked cookies to thank everyone who helped.”

The Walton girls have found that it’s more fun to plan projects in which the family can help. Now that their sister Kelsey has turned 12 and is in Young Women, everyone in the family is looking for more ideas for doing Personal Progress projects as a family.

Grandma’s Rolls

In a saucepan, combine:

2 cups milk

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

Bring to a boil, then cool.

In a small bowl, combine:

1 cup lukewarm water

2 heaping Tbsp. yeast

2 tsp. sugar

Set aside and let dissolve.

2 1/2 tsp. salt

3 beaten eggs

7–9 cups flour

When the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, pour into mixer. Add a cup of flour, all of the yeast mixture, salt and three beaten eggs. Beat until smooth. Add flour a little at a time while mixing until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl but is not stiff.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size. Punch down, cover, and let rise again until doubled in size.

After dough has risen a second time, divide in half. Place on a floured board or counter. Roll out until 1/2 inch thick, and cut into circles. Place on a greased cookie sheet so rolls are almost touching. Let rise about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375° F for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Photography by John Luke; still life photography by Christina Smith and Matt Reier

Grandma Ilean Corbridge agreed to reveal the secrets of her baking, to the delight of her granddaughters: Whitney, Kaylen, and Kelsey Walton; Holly and Suzie Skinner; and Kylee Simkins. They measured and stirred and, as Suzie said, “We learned the secret to the magic rolls.”

Knowledge sometimes cannot be written down. Nothing beats being shown Grandma’s way of doing something, such as making a pie, especially when so many warm family memories involve good food.