For My Grammy
It was 9:51AM on a Sunday morning when my mom called.
I knew. Right away I said, “What’s wrong?”
Shaking and in disbelief I calmly walked through what had happened and listened to my poor mom cry. I didn’t cry but just told myself, “it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.”
After finally allowing myself to go there, I realized, this is real. My Grammy won’t answer the phone again with that signature, “Heeello?!” A hello that is both eager and surprised to say hello. I won’t get my adorably thoughtful Christmas gifts. I won’t get her little comments on Facebook. I won’t hear her stubborn remarks about how she REALLY doesn’t need help. And I won’t get to see her face again.
Losing someone is horrible. Even when you expect it, it is still so unexpected. Grammy took pride in re-assuring everyone that she was FINE and quite happy with her life. She was so present until the end. She was so incredibly strong.
So when I think about the fact that she’s gone… I really can’t think about it because it hurts too much. But I think the best way to remember her are with my memories of her. Here are a few of my favorite ones:
- The Eggplant. Yes, I know…what? Ok. So Grammy was at my parent’s house visiting in LA. We decided to play a game after dinner called Taboo. If you’ve never played the game before the way it works is there are different teams and the goal is to guess the word the person is trying to describe but they can’t say specific descriptors. So let’s say for a word like cheese; you can’t say cheddar, Swiss, French or macaroni. Get it? Ok. So Grammy and I are a team and she’s up first. The first card she gets she looks and me and goes, “Well… its a sandwich.” So naturally I yell out, “Turkey, ham, cheese, roast beef, meatball, club, tuna, pastrami, French dip!” Well, we ran out of time… You wanna know want the sandwich was… EGGPLANT! EGGPLANT, GRAMMY?! We must have laughed about that for an hour. Who describes eggplant as a sandwich!? Well, Grammy does. And now if we ever, EVER play taboo and get the word eggplant, all I have to say is “well… its a sandwich.”
- One of my favorite memories of my Grammy is the bond she shared with my husband. Though they only got to hang out a few times they were truly kindred spirits. Michael Jilg adored my Grammy. And my Grammy was enamored by MJ. I remember when she came to visit us a few years ago and it was during march madness. It was the final four and Grammy was super into the games! Duh! She told my mom, “ I’m making whiskey sours and Braunschweiger balls for the game!” The whiskey sours Grammy made were delicious of course. Give me a little whiskey and a little can of frozen lemonade and I’m in whiskey sour heaven! And so was MJ. Along with the Whiskey Sours were the Braunschweiger balls. No, that wasn’t a typo. To be clear, a Braunschweiger ball is a green olive stuffed with pimento that’s been wrapped in Braunschweiger which is essentially cooked pate in a tube and then dusted in parmesan cheese. Can you say YUUUUMY?!!!… Oh boy. So Grammy made her FAMOUS Braunschweiger balls and unknowingly Michael moseys up to the balls and says, “Nice! What are these!?” While popping one into his mouth. He makes eye contact with Grammy and miraculously is able to chew and swallow with a smile. And tell my Grammy, these are “delicious.” Honestly, bless his giant heart. Grammy just had made like 40 of these balls and Michael Jilg gladly consumed like 10 just to be sweet and make my Grammy feel good. I think she knew they were kinda awful but was just testing Michael’s loyalty to me. I think a bond formed that night between my Grammy and my husband and its a memory I’ll never forget. And to finish off the night of the Braunschweiger ball, MJ and I were leaving to go home and getting into the car and Michael said, “Wait! I won’t see your Grammy again this trip!” So he ran back to the TV room where she was resting with her feet up and gave her a big hug goodbye. She still talked about that and how much she just thought Michael Jilg was “just really neat”. Those two had a bond of some kind. And I am incredibly grateful for that
- As I’m sure lots of you know, I love a good themed party. A themed party decked out with a special cake, balloons, favors, prizes, surprises and special feelings. I get that from my mom. My mom is the queen of making someone feel special on their birthday. She will go to the greatest lengths to make sure she can do everything she can to make you feel like a star on your birthday. As a kid, my mom and dad put on literal shows for our birthdays. One year they created a ~Cruise Ship~ theme party where the captain was thrown overboard and we had to find the out who the bad guy was! My mom was so animated. She was so about creating a special day for me. She learned how to be this kind of mom from her mom. My Grammy taught my mom how to do those mommy-like things. She taught my mom the power of the Barbie Cake, games like “Rob your neighbor!”, and she taught my mom to make lemonade out of any situation. One story I always think of was the story of the Snoopy Cake. Though I wasn’t there (of course) I can feel my Grammy going through this day. It was the “cake walk” at my mom’s elementary school. All the moms brought their different cakes to be “oooed and awwwed” by the kids in hopes of winning the cake at the cake walk. Grammy brought a cake she made that had Snoopy on top of his doghouse. She spent hours and hours making this beautiful cake. And when she brought it in, everyone wanted her Snoopy cake. During the cake walk, she turned around and all the sudden Snoopy and his house where on the ground. Her beautiful Snoopy cake was ruined! Ugh! I’m still so sad for her about this! BUT you know what she did? Grammy somehow managed to find chocolate frosting snd cover the cake with chocolate and pecans. And it was delicious. I hope one day to be as cool, calm and collected at my Grammy. But she truly passed down the traditions of how to be an awesome mom to my mom. She taught my mom dedication, commitment, compassion, manners, love, and most of all, how to be a mommy. Though I am not a mommy yet, I know I will carry on traditions from my Grammy. I can promise you, there is a Barbie Cake Birthday Party in my future.
- My last moments with my Grammy were at my wedding. She was so looking forward to this special day for Michael and me. It’s crazy to think this was only 11 months ago that she was there and perfect. My Grammy was so present during our wedding, before, during and after. My Grammy had that thing when she just knew the right thing to say at the right time. She had so much wisdom, poise and reassurance in her voice. Just like my mom. I remember my mom talking to her about a few of my worries and her response was so confidently, “They will do the right thing. They will show up.” And guess what, she was right. My Grammy was so happy to be part of every single part of our wedding. Before, during the Fiesta party and rehearsal dinner, to walking down the aisle, to watching me open every single gift we received the day after. She was committed to me during that time. And it is something I will forever remember.
I am still heartbroken that she’s gone but I find comfort in her memories and keeping them alive. One memory that I knew I could keep alive was her cooking and baking. Grammy kept a box of recipes at all times. Filled with some funny 1960s recipes but then also filled with some of her famous creations, including her infamous Caramel Rolls. If you knew Jean Hauck, you knew about her Caramel Rolls. People treated them as gold! And when you walked in the door and saw the tin foil on the counter, you knew you were lucky enough to get one! The sweet and soft roll mixed with a little cinnamon sugar filling and the unmistakable caramel and pecan topping is a memory that will forever be in my heart. So I decided, I HAVE to make them. I meticulously measured everything and read her very specific directions and they took me practically all day because I wanted them to be absolutely perfect. And guess what, they were. They tasted just like the ones Grammy used to make. And Grammy, I promise to keep this tradition so alive and continue to pass this down from generation to generation.
For my Grammy.
The Famous Caramel Rolls
- 1 package of rapid rise yeast
- 3 cups flour plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 cup melted butter for brushing
Caramel Topping split between two standard loaf pans.
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups pecan halves
- First, combine 1 package of yeast, 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Once added, beat on medium for 2 minutes. Then add in 1 beaten egg and another 1/2 cup of flour and beat on high for 1 minute. Guess what? Now add more flour! Hey there’s a method to this! Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of flour on low speed until it begins to form a soft dough. Brush the dough with some soft shortening, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for two hours or until it has doubled in size.
- Then melt 1/4 cup of shortening, with 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of water. Once the shortening has melted and the mixture has come to 120º, add to the dry ingredients. It is important the wet ingredient to not exceed 120º because it could kill the yeast!
- Once added, beat on medium for 2 minutes. Then add in 1 beaten egg and another 1/2 cup of flour and beat on high for 1 minute. Guess what? Now add more flour! Hey there’s a method to this! Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of flour on low speed until it begins to form a soft dough.
- Next, Brush the dough with some soft shortening, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for two hours or until it has doubled in size.
- After about 2 hours, take the dough from its warm and cozy spot and punch the dough. Yes, punch it down in the center and the lay onto a floured surface. Gently knead the dough for about a minute. Cut the dough in half and roll out to 3/8 inch and a 12 in” X 8 in” rectangle. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Now time to add your filling!
- Brush the melted butter all over the two rectangles of dough. Then add the sugar and cinnamon mixture, sprinkling all over the buttered dough rectangles.
Now time to roll it all up.
- My Grammy specifically used the term, “Roll in jelly roll like fashion”. Roll until you get a 12 inch cinnamon sugar log. Then carefully cut into 8 equal pieces. They should be 1 1/2 inches each.
- Place the rolls into a pan that has been prepared with half of the caramel topping and the pecan halves. I like to melt the brown sugar, butter and honey a little in each pan before adding the pecans to it but it is not necessary!
- Place the 8 rolls into one pan and the other 8 rolls into the other. Cover and place in a warm spot for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, the rolls should have risen again. Bake in the oven at 350º for 25 minutes.
- Take the rolls out and immediately invert them onto a wire rack with towel underneath. The reason you’ll want to invert these quickly is so the caramel topping sticks onto the rolls!
To watch a quick tutorial or if you have any more questions watch how I make them here!!