Ever since I can remember, my dad has made jelly rolls for Christmas Eve. He would spend all day in the kitchen making them, one for each of his brothers and though we were never given one to eat ourselves, we often fantasized about how wonderful they must taste. Now, the making of these delicious rounds of goodness is no easy feat, as anyone who’s ever stood for 10 minutes beating the eggs into a lemony frothiness can attest too. And considering my Dad is no cook, he once asked me how to make spaghetti noodles, his annual dive into powered sugar & measuring spoons seems a bit of an oxymoron.
Yet, for those who know & those of us who have inherited his sweetooth, my Dad’s joy in baking is infectious & something all six of his children indulge in. We grew up hearing stories of his state fair chocolate chip cookie victory at the tender age of 5 even though it was often hard to juxtapose the image of our dad, the baker, with our dad the quiet and reserved construction man. Yet, when he steps into the kitchen, we all know that something magical is happening, and we converge in chatty chaos as we watch him patiently flip through the tattered Betty Crocker book, searching out his recipe. As with any sojourn into a slightly unfamiliar world, there have been missteps, such as the infamous bacon grease doughnuts, which understandably, did not win any awards. Still, my dad bakes on, making an apple pie for thanksgiving or a batch of cookies for the hell of it and yet the jelly rolls are still our favorites. And this year, in an era of new change, he made us kids one and as I’m sure he always feared, it was gone in seconds.