I loved Aunt Melba's Buns! (with video)

Rod and Melba

During the last two weeks I’ve looked at literally hundreds of pictures of my Aunt Melba. Black and white pictures. Colored Pictures. Movies and stills. Pictures as a child, a young adult, a mature woman and as a senior citizen.

There were pictures of Melba as a daughter, a sister, a cousin, and a close friend. Pictures as a wife, a mother, and a grandma.

There are pictures from North Dakota to Washington. From campgrounds to cruise ships. Pictures of family dinners, family reunions, family picnics and family vacations. All that and so much more.

You can imagine what I saw in each of the pictures. If you knew her, you know it was her big, bold and beautiful smile. So many times I asked myself what the story might be that goes with each picture. Where did each of those smiles come from? And each time I suspected that every smile was equally genuine and heartfelt.

When I was asked to say a few words about my cousin’s “Mama Melba,” a variety of topics and thoughts came to mind. We were neighbors for twenty years, she was my mother’s baby sister, she was all those things that I could see in each of the pictures.

And try as I might to select a most meaningful, memorable, and appropriate story, it was something else that I couldn’t stop thinking of – something that I didn’t see in even one of the pictures. Maybe some of you would have come up with the same memory. But how many of you would have stood up here and admitted it? You know what I’m talking about. I couldn’t stop thinking about my Aunt Melba’s buns.

Truth be told, Melba wasn’t the only one in the family with great buns. She was second generation. Our grandma Mac had great buns too.

Come on now – I’m talking about the buns they baked!

Melba's buns

And the more I thought about those buns, the more the story I wanted to share with you took shape. You see, just like the bread she baked, our Melba was a person we all looked forward to enjoying at the next get together. She served herself up to her friends and family without pretention and in a way that was warm, tasteful, and could put a smile on a persons face just by being in the room.

I found the recipe card for Aunt Melba’s buns – It had been posted on the wall at our 2009 family reunion and ended up in my sister Judy’s scrapbook.

As special as the recipe is and as good as those buns are - just like Melba’s life - it wasn’t hidden away or guarded as a secret. Melba shared herself with everyone she met and never held back. Just like Aunt Melba the recipe isn’t complex. Some would it’s both are wonderful and simple. Just the basics - made from scratch, by hand, and with love.

Aunt Melba's Buns

The ingredients are: Three cups of milk - One cup of water - One cup sugar - Half cup of shortening - Two packets of yeast - Two eggs - and 14 cups of flour.

Many have tried to recreate the appetizing and inviting aroma, the soft, smooth texture, and the buttery rich taste of those incredible buns. Only a few have been successful.

For it’s not the ingredients that present the challenge. It’s knowing when and how to add just the right touch. Having a sense for when to let the dough sit and rise on its own, and when to be hands on and knead it back down into it’s bowl to rise a second time. Aunt Melba had that special sense – and she touched us all in just the right way and at just the right time, so that we would grow on our own.

I confess – My name is Rod and I loved my Aunt Melba’s buns. But just like you, I loved your mother, your grandma, your cousin, your neighbor, your friend and our aunt Melba even more.

So the next time you savor the flavor of a home baked roll or a warm loaf of bread, let it remind you to savor the memory of Melba Marie Horne.

Her smile, and her great buns always left us wanting more.

 I created this video to celebrate the memory of my Aunt Melba's life and selected the photos from hundreds that were reviewed. I apologize if anyone was overlooked. I hope it brings back fond memories of a special woman.

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.