Roll out the strawberries!

June has arrived – the first month of summer.  Yes, I know that summer doesn’t officially arrive until the 20th, but with all that has been going on in our world, it is good to know that seasons are changing as they always do. 

When I sat down to write this morning, I had a story to tell.  However, current events kept flooding my mind.  They reminded me that we live in a broken culture, in a society that often views people differently due to their skin color.  As I reflected on the current riots and unrest, I recalled that my parents taught their children that a person was a person no matter the pigmentation of their flesh.  We are all human beings created by God, and we all descended from common ancestors – Adam and Eve.

Since I grew up in the South, I remember things were different during my early childhood years.  “Colored people” were expected to sit at the back of the bus, not in the front.  My family was on an outing to downtown Knoxville, and the bus we took was crowded.  At one of the stops, a black woman boarded.  Her arms were loaded with packages, and she walked to the rear, looking in vain for a seat.  Seeing her dilemma, Dad stood up and offered her his place.  Surprised, she stated that she could hardly believe a “white” man would give up his spot for a colored person.  He replied that she was a lady, and thus deserved his seat.

Several years later, my family moved out of Knoxville to another county.  One Saturday afternoon, Dad drove into the city to do some shopping.  Dad didn’t return in a timely manner, and the rest of the family were getting worried about him, wondering if maybe he had been in an accident.  When he finally arrived home, he told us why he was so late.  He saw a couple stranded on the side of the road because their car had broken down.  They had been there for a while, but no one had stopped to help them.  Dad paid no attention to the fact that they had a different skin color, he did what he could do to help them out of their predicament.  This involved taking the man back to the city to purchase a needed part for the car.  As before, the people of color were surprised but grateful that a “white” man would stop and help them.  To dad, they were just people who needed help.

Fast forward several years – I was on a Trailways bus making my first trip to Indiana.  It seemed as if we stopped in every little Tennessee town between my starting point and the state border.  The last stop was Jellico, where an older black couple entered the crowded vehicle.  The only two seats available were the one beside me and the one just behind it.  The lady took the place by me.  I offered to move so she could sit by her husband, but she said she was fine.  We had quite a conversation on our trip north.  I found out that they were traveling to see a relative in Detroit, Michigan.  When we stopped for lunch, I was informed that she had plenty of ham sandwiches, so I should purchase a drink and not food.  We parted ways when we arrived in Cincinnati, as I had to change buses to head for Indianapolis.  However, the mother hen that took me under her wing told me to come to see her if I was ever passing through Jellico.  Time has erased my memory of her name, but not my recollection of her kindness.  We were people with people, skin color didn’t matter.

I realize that I have told these stories before, yet not all in the same column.  Life can be challenging enough without adding prejudice towards others due to racial differences.  It is unfortunate that we can’t see each other as God intended – we are all His creation.  We breathe.  We drink.  We eat.  We need love and not hatred.  Please, Lord, heal our wounded hearts.

Need a good recipe to share with someone?  Try Roasted Strawberry Cream Cheese Rolls.  I found it on the King Arthur website.  It does take extra work to roast the strawberries used in the filling.  It is definitely worth the effort!  I recently found the remnants of my baking in the freezer and enjoyed the flavor all over again.  The recipe is lengthy, which is why there is only one.  Take advantage of strawberry season and try these scrumptious sweet rolls!

Roasted Strawberry Cream Cheese Rolls


1 quart fresh or frozen strawberries

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

4 teaspoons Instant ClearJel

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons grated orange peel (zest)


3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons milk or cream

Filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Wash and hull strawberries; toss them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Spread berries in single layer on baking sheet; bake for 25 to 30 minutes for fresh, or 40 to 45 minutes if baking from frozen. Berries will collapse somewhat and give up their juices. Remove from oven; let cool 10 minutes on pan.

Scrape berries and any liquid from pan into a medium bowl. With fork or potato masher, break up berries until they’re in 1/4 – 1/2-inch chunks. Mix together remaining 1/2 cup sugar with ClearJel and cinnamon; sprinkle over berries. Stir well. Add orange zest; stir. Set aside.

For dough: Place milk, cream cheese, and butter in microwave-safe bowl; heat for 90 seconds, or until lukewarm. Transfer to large mixing bowl; add sugar, egg, yeast, salt, and flour. Mix; knead to make a soft dough that bounces back when you give it a poke.

Cover dough; let rise until almost doubled and puffy-looking.

To assemble: Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured surface; pat into an 18″ x 13″ rectangle. Spread strawberry filling over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch strip along one long edge uncovered.

Starting with filling-covered long edge, roll dough into log, pinching seam to seal it. Slice log into 12 equal pieces.  Place rolls, cut side up, in greased 9-by-13-inch pan.

Cover pan with plastic; and let rise until almost doubled. While rolls are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Uncover rolls; bake for 28 to 30 minutes until a light golden brown. Remove from oven; cool to lukewarm on a rack.

Frosting: Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla, then milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until frosting is spreadable but still thick. Spread or pipe over rolls while still slightly warm.

Store leftover rolls, well wrapped, in refrigerator for a couple of days. Freeze for longer storage.





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