Grief Recipe Stories: Mom's "Almighty" Rolls

Grief Recipe Stories / Grief Recipe Stories : Eleanor Haley

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This grief recipe story is brought to us by Julia Walsh of Laguna Niguel. Julia shares: "I am a teacher and gerontologist, a wife, mother, and a proud German Shorthaired Pointer owner. I enjoy gardening, cooking, butterflies, and genealogy. I am learning more about grief and loss every day."

Food is important in our family. We connect across generations and show our love for each other by making favorite recipes at holidays or special occasions, or just whenever the family gets together. 

My mother, Lorraine, was celebrated as our family’s best cook. She was always happiest when she was in the kitchen making food for all of us. Her grandchildren would watch in amazement, because she made everything look so easy, and she would throw together the ingredients without needing to check a recipe or stopping to think about it. 

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She learned to cook from her mother, Mary, and she patiently taught me her favorite recipes when I was a child. She even made a family cookbook with all of her favorite recipes, which is now a cherished keepsake. 

My mother’s most famous recipe was what we call “The Almighty Rolls” because they were so good that eating them was an almost religious experience. The family would circle the kitchen when she was baking these rolls—to make sure that, when they came out of the oven, we were right there and ready to grab one hot. Of course, she would always make a double recipe so there was plenty for everyone to steal before dinner. 

My mother died suddenly last November right before Thanksgiving and she left a hole in our family that we can never fill. As we approach the anniversary of her death, she is in our thoughts every day. 

We honor her amazing life by doing the things she loved to do and sharing stories with each other. This year, and every year, we will be making her “Almighty Rolls” for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and every special occasion we have in our family. 

I might shed a few tears when I am making her rolls, but I will also feel closer to her, and so proud of who she was— a wonderful, nurturing, loving presence in our lives. 

Mom's "Almighty" Rolls - Grief Recipe Stories

Recipe by Julia Walsh


  • 3 pkgs active dry yeast

  • 2 1/4 cups milk

  • 3 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 10 cups flour (more of less as needed)


  • Dump the following in a large bowl: 3 pkgs yeast, 6 cups flour, 3 tsps salt, 3/4 cup sugar
  • Combine 2 ¼ cups milk, ¾ cup water, 1 ½ sticks butter in a medium-sized microwave bowl. The butter does not have to be melted. Microwave about 3 minutes (depending on the power of your microwave) and stir. Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature – it should be between 110-115 degrees.
  • Pour the bowl of liquids into the dry ingredients and beat with a mixer (use a bread dough attachment if you have one) for 1 minute. Add 3 eggs and beat for 1 minute. Mix in enough remaining flour so the dough comes together and is easy to handle.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).
  • Place dough in a large greased bowl and turn over until the greased side is up. Cover with a slightly damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  • Punch down the dough and let rise for another 30 minutes
  • Punch down and divide into thirds. Roll into 12-inch circles. Spread with melted butter. Cut each circle into 16 pie-shaped pieces. Roll up, beginning with the outer rounded edge. Place on pan, point down.
  • Let rise on the pan for 20-30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned (about 12 minutes, depending on your oven)


  • My family dubbed these rolls “The Almighty Rolls” because they’re so good, eating them is almost a religious experience

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4 Comments on "Grief Recipe Stories: Mom's "Almighty" Rolls"

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  1. Joni Sensel  December 6, 2019 at 11:25 pm Reply

    I tried these for Thanksgiving, and boy, does even the smallest recipe make a LOT! They were tasty, though. Thanks for sharing your memories and recipe.

  2. RaeAnn Graybael  November 26, 2019 at 8:14 am Reply

    Will try

  3. Connie Lappa  November 25, 2019 at 10:42 pm Reply

    What a wonderful tradition! Such a great way to honor your mother’s memory and keep her a part of the holiday.

  4. Deb Percy  November 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm Reply

    My Mom always made homemade bread for the holidays. I remember her rolling n kneading n letting it rise, putting in pans,letting it rise n the wonderful smell coming from the oven n filling the house with the warmth n comfort that only her bread could bring. I am now the one everyone looks to for the warmth n comfort of that memory.

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