FEATURED AUTHOR RECIPE
It took much negotiation within my family to share this recipe with you, and I repeatedly went over the details with my mother. Because what’s below isn’t just a list of ingredients and directions. I am sharing the essence of happiness, the taste of love. You see, this is the recipe for my grandmother’s buns. But even calling her “my grandmother” implies some sense of formality that was never there. Sure, my grandmother had a name. It was Dena. But Dena reveled in being a grandmother and she met all the storybook requirements: she had the short stature, the fluffy white hair, the knitting/baking/cooking/card playing expertise, a garden of fresh veggies for chicken soup and fruit trees for making pies and jam, a deep understanding of ritual (i.e., a trip to the five-and-dime toy store on every grandchild’s visit) and the ability to tell fascinating stories of the olden days as we sat around the kitchen table. Pretty much everyone –adults, kids, neighbors – called her Nanny. It made sense. She looked after all of us.
The recipe here, known as Nannybuns to all who eat them, capture everything that is wonderful about comfort food: they have a touch of sweetness, a fluffiness, a magical deliciousness that immediately brings a sense of well-being to the eater. And comfort food is all about feeling good.
Certainly that’s what I wanted from my novel Comfort Food: a lighthearted, upbeat story that looks at family, friendship, and the food that brings us all together. My goal is to make you laugh a little, smile a little, and just enjoy a bit of an escape. When I write stories, I essentially aim to do what Nanny did in her kitchen: To create a fun world where you can put your cares at the door. Getting to know Augusta “Gus” Simpson, the main character in Comfort Food, was a joy for me: Gus is the host of a cooking show – I always feel so good watching food television! – who has focused much of her life on being a nurturer of others. She’s that little bit too perfect, if you know what I mean. But it’s really how she copes with all the stress of her life. And, in the story of Comfort Food, Gus finds herself on a journey of personal discovery and redefinition, spurred on by the arrival of her milestone fiftieth birthday, two twentysomething daughters who keep insisting they’re all grown up, and an ambitious colleague who unexpectedly challenges Gus’s assumptions about her approach to career and self-fulfillment. And throughout Comfort Food, which is set against the backdrop of a reality-television-style live cooking show called Eat Drink and Be, is a celebration of food, of tastes new and familiar, of dishes that that make our mouths happy and our hearts full. At one point, Gus reveals that her favorite comfort food (just like mine!) is her grandmother’s homemade buns, something she’ll never be able to recreate exactly. But a recipe and sweet memories still taste mighty good indeed. And so I give you the never-before-been-shared-outside-the-family Nannybuns. Enjoy!
Nanny Buns (Homemade Buns)
My grandmother’s recipe as explained by my mother.
For the yeast proofing:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the buns:
1/4 cup sugar
For the glaze:
1/4 cup heavy cream