Cara came home over the weekend, bringing some college friends with her. These girls were all from the big city. One girl had over 750 kids in her graduating class. Cara's class was 94. When she took them to view her little country school, they were amazed that the doors were unlocked (they were having play practice). She showed them the one room school house that finally closed its door about 7 years ago. Washington Park provided an over view of the town. I'm not sure what the girls thought of life in the woods. My job was simple. I was to provide the pepperoni rolls. Jeanie e-mailed me to ask what pepperoni rolls are. It is embarrassingly simple. It is just my favorite bread recipe, usually doubled. After the first 'raise', I simply pinch off knobs of dough, roll them flat with a rolling pin, and lay a row of four pepperoni slices in the middle. I lay another roll on top of that, add a generous amount of mozzarella cheese, another row of pepperoni, and then I fold the top edges toward the middle, and the side edges on top of those. I arrange them in three baking pans, letting them raise one more time, and then I bake them. When they come out of the oven, kids devour them, dipping them in spaghetti sauce. It is the comfort food of choice for kids in my house.
As I knead the dough, I think about it. I wonder how many times I have made these. If you were to ask the kids, they would answer "Not enough." I have made them all through their childhoods. Pepperoni rolls were rewards for good report cards, and pepperoni rolls were birthday fare. Pepperoni rolls provided comfort during hard times. They made tears stop. Later, a batch of them sent along where ever my children were headed provided a bit of home, a reminder that their mother loves them, a bit of familiarity amidst the unfamiliar.
I knead the dough as I gaze out the window, thinking. I have no children at home now, but I've been making a lot of pepperoni rolls lately, for the children who do not live here. It makes me feel better. I'm providing a bit of home. I am reminding myself that my children love me. It is a bit of familiarity in the midst of this new, unfamiliar way of life.