There are just some recipes that bring back memories that make you feel good. This recipe and this way of shaping dinner rolls (my grandmother always called them picnic buns) take me back to my childhood. I grew up on 2 ½ acres in Kenmore, Washington. There were two homes on this parcel of land. One home was occupied by my dad, mom, two younger brothers and me; the second residence belonged to my maternal grandfather and grandmother. We had fruit trees, various types of berries, a couple of cows, a lot of chickens (my grandfather sold eggs for a living), a creek, a copse of trees, and the biggest vegetable garden you could ever imagine. My mom, the dear woman, could not find her way out of a recipe if her life depended on it (in other words, she was not a good cook). And my grandmother, who on a regular basis could not make jello, did make two types of food that were sensational. She made the best bread and pies imaginable. Why she could bake a pie that tasted like heaven and cookies that were almost unpalatable will forever remain a mystery? But her Banana Split Pie and Mince Meat Pie were heaven sent. Also, any kind of bread she baked was perfect in every respect. So in memory of my grandmother, who was patient, loving, taught me to appreciate art, kittens, clouds, and how to bake bread, I offer you her signature rolls.  I hope this recipe brings back good memories of special food you too once shared with loved ones.


  • ¼ c. warm water
  • 1 T. or 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • ¾c. warm, scalded milk (not too warm or your yeasty beasties won’t be happy)
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ¼ c. Crisco (sometimes I use butter – sorry grandma)
  • 3 ½ c. or more flour
  • Vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, (I use the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer), combine the water, yeast, milk, sugar, salt, egg, and Crisco. Let proof for about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Add enough remaining flour to form a medium stiff dough. Pour about a teaspoon of oil over the dough and roll into a ball. When dough ball is completely greased, cover the mixer bowl with a tea towel, let rise for about 90 minutes or until doubled. Punch down and let rise again until doubled, about 30 minutes. Butter a 9×13-inch pan. Punch down dough again and divide into 18 pieces. (I just squeeze off small balls of dough as I place them into the prepared pan.) Cover with a tea towel again, and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Serve warm.




One thought on “PICNIC BUNS

  1. Peggy

    Love this family story
    I can just see you running through the garden and past the cows to help your grandmother in the kitchen. Reminds me of visiting my grandparents and eating vegetables from the garden.
    Granddad continued to make Grandmommy’s unusual pumpkin pie recipe after she died. She made it from scratch with winter squash. THe recipe came about when Grandmommy was doubling the recipe and forgot partway through, so the ratio of milk to squash was off. The squash rose to the top and formed a 1/2 inch layer with a smooth custard below.

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