Monday, July 11, 2011

Sister Schubert's Orange Rolls & a Tribute to Anne George

A tabletop vignette in honor of one of my favorite mystery writers, Anne George.
Though nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her poetry book, Some of it is True, Anne George, Alabama's 1994 state poet and cofounder of Druid Press, is probably best known for her Southern Sisters Cozy Mystery Series. The Southern Sisters series of books, honored with the coveted Agatha Award, feature prim and proper Patricia Anne "Mouse" Hollowell retired English teacher, and flamboyant, thrice-married Mary Alice "Sister" Crane. This delightful, funny, unique series ended after only eight books when George died in 2001 of complications during heart surgery.  I mourn that woman to this day.

Anyone familiar with this series (and if you're not, click on any of the links below and buy a book now!), is more than well aware that the sisters love to indulge on Sister Schubert's Orange Rolls. While packages can be picked up in the freezer case of your local market, the recipe is also contained within Sister Schubert's Secret Bread Recipes cookbook.  As the cookbook tends to be a bit hard to find at a non-collectible price, I'll share the recipe with you here in the hope that you'll not only try the orange rolls, but the Anne George series as well.

A year ago I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I missed the Sisters so much that I decided, just for the fun of it, to spend the month channeling Anne George, so I could visit with these wonderful ladies once again.  The first couple of pages of the book are at the bottom of this post.  For those of you who love the series as much as I do, let me know what you think.  I'm up to Chapter four... should I continue?

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup coarsely grated orange rind (about 5 oranges)
1 recipe Parkerhouse Rolls dough (see below)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
2-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup coarsely grated orange rind (3 oranges)

Combine first three ingredients; set aside.  Grease 4 (8-inch) round cake pans; set aside.

After Parkerhouse dough has risen per directions, sift 1/2 cup flour in a thick layer over work surface.  Turn half of dough out onto floured surface.  (Dough will be very soft.)  Set remaining half of dough aside.

Sift 1/4 cup flour evenly over dough.  Roll dough into a 30- x 20-inch rectangle.  Spread half of orange ring mixture over dough.  Roll up dough jellyroll fashion, starting at the short side, just to the center of the rectangle; cut dough along side of roll to release it.  Roll up remaining half and rectangle in the same fashion.  Set rolls of dough aside.  Repeat procedure using remaining 3/4 cup flour, dough, and orange rind mixture.

Cut each roll of dough into 16 (1-1/4-inch thick) slices.  Place 16 slices, cut sides down, in each prepared pan, leaving 1/4-inch space between slices.  Brush slices with 1/2 cup melted butter.  Let rise, uncovered, in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts. 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake rolls, uncovered for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool slightly in pans on wire racks.  Combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and 1/2 cup orange rind; drizzle over warm rolls.  Yield: 64 rolls.

The secret to the light-as-a-feather texture to these rolls: Don't knead the dough!

1 package active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
5 cups sifted al-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Combine yeast and warm water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.  Combine 4 cups sift flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in yeast mixture and shortening.  Add eggs and remaining 1 cup sifted flour; stir vigorously until well blended.  (Dough will be soft and sticky.)  Brush or lightly rub dough with some of the melted butter.  Cover loosely; let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.  Proceed with above directions.
Chapter One
        "I don't think I've ever seen anyone punch a corpse before, have you Mouse?" my sister Mary Alice asked, addressing me by my childhood nickname, as she plunked her capacious handbag onto the center of my freshly scrubbed kitchen table. 
        It was a beautiful May day in Birmingham, and I'd spent the previous week opening up, airing out, and freshening in preparation for the summer.  The table, almost emitting a golden glow under multiple coats of paste wax, was about to become victim to the infamous weighty handbag of my dear sister.
        "No, I don't think I have ever seen anyone punch a corpse before, Sister, and neither have you.  No one at the wake today punched poor, old Mr. Harper."         "Well, no, they didn't, and I wasn't talking about poor, old Mr. Harper, but he did look good, didn't he?" she said, pulling out a chair, plunking her nearly six-foot tall, and unashamedly 250-pound body into it while heaving her feet up onto another.

         "As good as a ninety-two-year old man can look, I suppose," I replied.
         "I wasn't talking about Mr. Harper, I was talking about Sue Ellen Troop's ex-husband, Gary."
         "Sue Ellen...Troop?"
         "You remember her Mouse, from the old neighborhood.  She used to be Sue Ellen Reynolds and she's the one who always wore her hair in pigtails and used to eat rocks.  She was younger than us, but used to hang around the big kids just staring with those big eyes."
         "Sue Ellen Reynolds," I said thoughtfully.  "Sure I remember her, or at least I think I do.  At least I remember a pudgy little girl who used to eat pea gravel if that's what you're calling rocks.  I wonder why she did that?"
         "Well, who knows?  Kids do all sorts of dumb things," she continued. "She moved across town after she got married and just sort of dropped out of sight.  She and Gary had two boys, the older one, Jerry, I think his name is, used to play little league ball with my Randy."
         "Oh, I do remember the boys, both handsome in completely different ways, as I recall; the oldest light like her, the younger one dark, I presume like his father, but I don't remember him."
         "Dark in more ways than one," she shivered.  "That guy gave me the creeps.  He could turn on the charm when he wanted to, but there was something in those black eyes of his that always indicated you had better not mess with him.  Of course you remember him, Mouse, he was in your class at school, the one with the lazy eye.
         "It's true."
         I chewed my cookie thoughtfully.  "I do remember him.  Didn't he also have a chipped tooth?"
        "That's him!  I always wondered what she saw in a guy with a lazy eye and chipped tooth."
         Mary Alice is five years my senior and has been married four times.  Her first three husbands were exactly 28 years older than she; each one made her a widow, and each left her richer than the last.  I wasn't about to mention that the first of the three, Will Alec, had  been lacking a chin.  Her current husband, Virgil Stuckey, isn't rich, isn't much older than Mary Alice, and is certainly going to give her more of a challenge than the other three, considering he's a sheriff and not inclined to put up with any guff.        
        "I think," I told her, "that all of this has been fixed.  I saw him somewhere recently, and he didn't look too bad."

         "He looks like Al Gore, but with a bigger butt."
         Al Gore, I thought.  Yes, he did, only not quite as nice, but it was true, his butt was bigger.
         "So Sue Ellen's ex-husband is...dead?" I asked.
         "No, he's not dead!  What makes you think that, Mouse?  Are you paying attention?  No he is not dead, I'm sure she wishes he were though.  They had a terribly nasty divorce years ago, and he completely turned both of those darling boys of theirs against her.  Alec Baldwin called it 'Parental Alienation' in his split from Kim Bassinger, but Sue Ellen just calls it plain old brainwashing and said she will not be able to leave this earth until she has told him just exactly what she thinks of him and then punched him in the face.  She said even if he happened to be dead and she hadn't gotten the chance beforehand, that she'd walk right up to the casket and give his doughy face a good punch.  The boys are grown now, but I don't think she ever reconciled with the older one...Jim?  Jake?  One of those J names.  Got any cookies?"
         The image of someone punching a corpse in a casket was not a pleasant one.  I wondered if the imprint from the fist would stay or if the face would spring back.  Would the mouth pop open?  They eyes?  Lord!  I shook my head to erase the image and pulled a tin of my second best cookies from the cupboard (I knew Mary Alice would eat a lot of them, so no way was I going to present her with my best cookies), and put them on the table.
         "Is this the best you've got, Patricia Anne?  Some of the chocolate on these looks like it's starting to turn white."
         "Yes," I lied, "That's the best I have."  The retired English teacher in me cringed at got.
         "Well, I don't think there's going to be enough for all of us," she said between crunches.
         "All of us?" I asked using my hand to brush the crumbs into a pile.
         "Yes, I invited Sue Ellen to come by.  She should be here any minute.  You might straighten up a bit while we're waiting, and make some coffee."
Southern Sisters Mysteries

Murder on A Girls' Night Out (1996)

Murder on A Bad Hair Day (1996)

Murder Runs in the Family (1997)

Murder Makes Waves (1997)

Murder Gets A Life (1998)

Murder Shoots the Bull (1999)

Murder Carries A Torch (2000)

Murder Boogies with Elvis (2001)
Murder on a Girls' Night Out: A Southern Sisters MysteryMurder on a Bad Hair Day: A Southern Sisters MysteryMurder Runs in the Family: A Southern Sisters MysteryMurder Makes Waves (Southern Sisters Mysteries)Murder Gets A Life (A Souther Sisters Mystery)Murder Shoots the Bull: A Southern Sisters Mystery (Southern Sisters Mysteries)


Vanessa Coppa said...

My mom likes this series. I'll have to borrow the books from her the next time I'm home. I've never had orange rolls, but they look good! I'm not crazy about cinnamon rolls (had too many once and become sick) so these orange rolls would be a nice change of pace.

Babs said...

I'm not familiar with the Anne George's books, but then I've never been a reader of mysteries. However... the exerpt of chapter one is so interesting and funny that I'll look for her books from now on. I love to read anything with "Southern" in it. lol Most of the authors I read are from the South, with the exception of Rosamunde Pilcher who's from Scotland and I love her books.
Thanks and have a great Tuesday,

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Well, Babs, I am greatly complimented that you liked the excerpt of Chapter One. I wrote that in the style of Anne George. Thank you!

crisdsanchez said...

I love it! Please do continue. I have missed the sisters and mourn Anne George's passing, too. Cris Sanchez. P.S. In my mother-in-law's Southern family, she is the one known as Aunt Sister

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Thanks for your comment, Cris. I'll have to serialize what I've written just far, tying each into a recipe. Should be fun!

Ann Summerville said...

Love your blog. Thanks for posting this.

Donna Elick said...

These look too good to be true!

Kimberly T. said...

I haven't read the books, but those orange rolls look AMAZING!! Just might have to make those for dinner tonight.

Christi said...

those rolls look great! thanks for the recipe.

visiting from tempt my tummy!

the july giftaway is on! hope you'll enter!!

Mary said...

Your rolls look delicious & so is your writing! I'm not familiar with Anne George, or this series! I'll have to see if my paperback swap has some of her books available! I vote continue writing!

Bernie said...

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed all those books, and I have just had a dig amongst the shelves to re read them.

Always wanted to make those buns, these sound fabulous, guess what we are having tomorrow, if I ever stop reading.

Keep on with the serial, you cannot leave us there. LOL


Lady Behind The Curtain said...

This looks so good. I would love it if you came over to Cast Party Wednesday tomorrow and shared some of your recipes with us.
I hope to see you there!

Miz Helen said...

Hi Patti,
I was going to try to answer your question about the squash. Are your plants blooming?
Miz Helen

Beth said...

Hi Pattie, I see that you grow blueberries too; the pancakes look wonderful. I wanted to stop back as you talked about a "tour" of my garden. On Sunday I'll be posting a pretty complete tour - the post is called Garden Rooms. You have a wonderful wknd!

So Domesticated said...

I love a good mystery series... and a good roll recipe! My next trip to Barnes and Noble will have me looking for Anne George's books!

Lady Behind The Curtain said...

Thank You for sharing your recipe with me at Cast Party Wednesday. I would love to see more of your recipes tomorrow!
I hope to see you there!

Jennifer said...

Hi, I too love Anne George and mourn her loss. It's good to find someone who feels the same way. I didn't discover her until 2007 and when I found out she had passed away I was terribly sad. I've read the books so many times that Mouse and Aunt Sister feel like part of my family. I loved your story, I hope you have continued it!

Christy Lynn said...

I love your first new chapter! I am a huge fan of and George and I’m currently listening to an audible addition of murder runs in the family. A couple of suggestions… Mary Alice’s son is named Ray not Randy. Also, Mary Alice says she’s five a I love your first new chapter! I am a huge fan of and George and I’m currently listening to an audible addition of murder runs in the family. A couple of suggestions… Mary Alice’s son is named Ray not Randy. Also, Mary Alice says she’s 5’12” And admits to weighing 250 pounds – – no telling how much she really weighs. Keep going on the story. I was so sad to hear that Anne George had passed away and there wouldn’t be any more southern sisters stories. If you’ve never listened to the audio recordings, Ruth Anne Phimister does an amazing job narrating and bringing the stories to life.

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Thanks for your nice comment, Christy. I am midway through a dozen projects, so it will be a while before I pick up on this book again, but thank you for the encouragement.